International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Kurti: Belgrade not recognizing Kosovo diplomas, Serbian official denies claim

November 7, 2019

Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti said on Wednesday that his insisting on reciprocity in Belgrade-Pristina relations includes university diplomas, the Kosovo state TV (RTK) reported.

Kurti, the man seen as the next prime minister of Kosovo, cited the example of a young woman from southern Serbia who is attending university in Pristina saying that she won’t be able to get a job in her home town of Bujanovac because Serbia does not recognize diplomas issued by universities in Kosovo. He said that the problem has to be resolved through reciprocity with both sides recognizing each other’s diplomas.  

Kurti’s claims were denied by the deputy Director of the Serbian govenrment’s Office for Kosovo Dusan Kozarev who said that the Vetevendosje leader was spreading misinformation. Kozarev’s written statement said that Belgrade and Pristina had an agreement on mutual recognition of diplomas and added that 75 percent of requests to recognize diplomas from Kosovo universities after 2016 had a positive outcome. “In that same period, Pristina has not recognized a single diploma issued by the Serbian education system,” Kozarev said. “Pristina refused to accept a list of our universities and recognize the (Belgrade-backed) Pristina University temporarily based in Kosovska Mitrovica which led to our side discontinuing the recognizing of diplomas,” Kozarev said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541617/Kurti-says-Belgrade-not-recognizing-Kosovo-diplomas-Serbian-official-denies-claim.html

PM: ‘Alipay’ soon available in Serbia

November 7, 2019

Alipay, a third-party mobile and online payment platform, from the Chinese city of Hangzhou, established in 2004 by Alibaba Group, with almost a billion users nowadays, will soon be available in Serbia, according to the meetings Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has had during her official visit to China, Belgarde's news agencies report.

Brnabic office said in a statement she hoped that Alipay platform would come to Serbia within the next few months, adding it would be useful for an increasing number of Chinese tourists in the country.

Serbia’s Telecommunication Ministry and a commercial bank lead the talks on bringing Alipay to the country with Chinese hosts, Brnabic has said.

The next step, she added, would be a logistic centre and her Government would talk to Alibaba and other companies on opening their development centres in Serbia.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541525/Serbia-s-PM-says-Alipay-will-soon-be-available.html

Serbia's journalist receives death threats by phone

November 7, 2019

The Association of Serbia's Journalists (UNS) said on Wednesday that the Belgrade Vecernje Novosti daily correspondent from the southern town of Vranje Jelena Stojkovic had received several phone calls with death threats by an anonymous caller, the Beta news agency reported.

UNS said it requested from the Public Prosecutor to launch a proceeding for jeopardising the journalist's safety.

Stojkovic said the person told her "would kill her and her child," and that from what that person was saying, Stojkovic told UNS "it could be understood it was a mother of a schoolgirl from Vranje," she wrote an article about.

"When we published the story, we were cautious not to reveal the girl's identity. I'm not afraid, but the situation is unpleasant," Stojkovic, who reported the threats to the police after more than ten calls, said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541503/Serbia-s-journalist-receives-death-threats.html

Vucic opponents, supporters face off in front of RTS

November 5, 2019

Rival groups of opponents and supporters of the Serbian President faced off in front of the entrance to the Serbian state TV (RTS) waiting for Aleksandar Vucic to enter the building to take part in a political talk show.

The 1 in 5 Million organization called its supporters to gather in front of the RTS headquarters to “ask the president questions”. Minutes after they got there, a group of Vucic supporters appeared and the two groups faced off separated by a cordon, chanting with some pushing and shoving. The crowd of Vucic opponents and supporters numbered about 200 people and included supporters of Dveri movement leader Bosko Obradovic.

The streets leading to a side entrance to the RTS building were initially blocked by uniformed police officers but an N1 crew was prevented from walking to the entrance by a group of men in plain clothes who did not identify themselves. An N1 reporter said he was asked what station he worked for and was told that N1 can’t get through.

Vucic appeared on the talk show saying that he walked to a side entrance to get into the building. He said a few young men shouted at him from a café.

Student activists of the 1 in 5 Million organization said they were waiting at every possible place that the president could have passed but failed to see him.

Speaking to the pro-authorities TV Pink earlier, Vucic said the Upitnik talk show was not recorded in advance and added that he would not be going to the RTS studio in the Kosutnjak suburb.

Dveri leader Obradovic said he was there because he and his supporters were there because they no longer want to tolerate humiliation. “We are defending the constitution and laws which Aleksandar Vucic has been breaking for seven years,” he said. Obradovic added that he was there in a show of support for the students.

He said that Vucic is “the biggest political coward in modern history” and added that anyone watching the Upitnik talk show “can see the face of a frightened man who is facing the reality of no longer being in a position to rule”.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541383/Vucic-opponents-supporters-face-off-in-front-of-RTS.html

Police enter opposition-held Belgarde municipality “to collect documents”

November 5, 2019

Serbia’s Interior Ministry (MUP) said police, as ordered by the Higher Public Prosecutors’ Office, came the municipality of Stari Grad in down-town Belgrade on Tuesday to “gather documents related an investigation on possible wrong-doings in the municipality," N1 reported.

 MUP reacted to the posts on social networks, saying “eight policemen stormed the Stari Grad municipality building.”

The Ministry's statement added the Prosecutors’ Office “is conducting a pre-investigation proceedings” following claims made by the municipality head and an opposition leader Marko Bastac’s best man Lazar Lesnjak about his involvement in corruption.

Lesnjak charged that Bastac forced him to take bribe money from investors who illegally built on the Stari Grad, the only opposition-controlled district in the capital,  territory and bring it to him in envelopes. He said that once when he failed to do that, Bastac beat and tortured him for hours.

Bastac denied the whole story, saying he couldn’t see any other reason for “such a lie” except that his best man was blackmailed into saying that.    

Bastac, who was not in the building later told reporters "police were doing their job, did not look for me,' adding they searched the documents which were subject of control of different institutions before.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541218/Police-search-for-documents-in-opposition-held-Belgarde-municipality.html

Serbia’s opposition MP presents “new evidence” in arms trade case

November 5, 2019

Marinika Tepic, an opposition member of Serbia’s Parliament, showed reporters in the Assembly hall on Tuesday several photographs with cases of arms with the private GIM logo, a private arms trader company said to be owned by the father of the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, apparently stored in an Interior Ministry (MUP) warehouse on the Mt. Avala in Belgrade, N1 reported

Tepic asked, “why are the cases belonging to the private company in the MUP storage?”

She added she thought that a part of the stored arms was seized by the police, and then, as she said, were sold through GIM company.

The affair about suspected illegal arms trade started after central Serbia’s ammunition factory Krusik’s employ disclosed what he said were proves of dubious deals made by Stefanovic’s father Branko whose GIM company was buying arms from Krusik at a privileged price, damaging the factory.

Aleksandar Obradovic was apprehended at the workplace, kept in house arrest, then transferred to the Belgrade central prison for 20 days without any information before the Belgrade NIN weekly published his story, and he was back into the house arrest.

Obradovic also said President Aleksandar Vucic and Minister Stefanovic new about those deals.

Both the opposition and public consider him to be a whistle-blower, while the authorities say he cannot be granted that status under the law since he did not contact institutions about his findings but gave them to a foreign journalist.

Earlier on Tuesday, an opposition leader told reporters he filed criminal charges against Vucic, Stefanovic, his father and former CEO of the Krusik factory.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541240/Opposition-MP-shows-new-aveidenc-in-Serbia-s-arms-trade-affair.html

Palmer says US supports Serbia’s European integration

November 5, 2019

The US special envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer reiterated Washington’s strong support for the strategic European integration goal of Serbia and the entire region, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a press release following Palmer’s meeting with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.

The press release said that they exchanged views on topical regional and bilateral issues and expressed support for resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue as soon as possible.

They were also reported to have discussed issues of regional peace, stability and security and the economic prosperity and reforms in the countries of the Western Balkans.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541295/Palmer-says-US-supports-Serbia-s-European-integration.html

Opposition leader files criminal charges against Serbia's President, minister

November 5, 2019

Zoran Zikovic, the leader of Serbia's opposition New Party told reporters on Tuesday he had filed criminal charges against President Aleksandar Vucic, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and his father Branko, as well as against the former director of the Krusik ammunition factory Mladen Petkovic, after a whistle-blower linked them to suspicious arms trade, the Beta news agency reported.

Speaking outside the Prosecutors' Office for Organised Crime, Zivkovic said he accused the four of being a part of a criminal group and abuse of office in the arms trade.

Zivkovic added he accused Vucic of organising the criminal group in 2017, "to sell Krusik - made arms to the GIM company owned by Branko Stefanovic at 30 percent lower price."

"Until now, the whistle-blowers pointed at the crimes involving arms trade, but it's time for criminal charges," Zivkovic said.

He also charged Vucic of "protecting Nebojsa and Branko Stefanovic" and "banned criminal proceedings against them, telling the untruth" about their role in the arms deals after Aleksandar Obradovic, the Krusik's whistle-blower spoke out.

Zivkovic announced he would also file criminal charges against Vucic for "covering up" the murderers of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic, gunned down in northern Mitrovica in January 2018, adding Serbia's President had publicly said he knew who they were but failed to inform the prosecutors about it.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541208/Opposition-leader-accuses-Serbia-s-President-of-organising-criminal-group.html

US: Belgrade – Pristina agreement must be acceptable to us too

November 5, 2019

The US sees room for the resumption of Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations if Pristina abolishes the import tariffs on goods from Serbia and Belgrade stops its “campaign to delegitimise Kosovo,” Matthew Palmer, the State Department’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, says, the KoSSev website reports.

He told the RTV, state TV from Serbia’s northern Vojvodina province, that the aim of the dialogue, on hold for a year, was a mutual recognition while it should include a wide range of issues, like security, protection of cultural heritage, minority rights, economic cooperation.

Palmer reiterated that the Washington – Pristina relations were firm, but said Kosovo needed the European perspective since “it would not become the 51st US state.”

He also said that the US considered mutual recognition as an ideal solution, though it understood Serbia’s refusal to recognise the independence of its former province.

Since mutual recognition was a problematic issue, he added, “there are some things which could be easier for both sides to agree on at this moment and that will improve the current situation. But, that’s not up to me to decide. They must do that on their own.”

Still, Palmer warned that the US would not approve any deal in advance. “We want to see what the two sides would come up with, to inform us about that, and if we have some issues, we will approach both sides to fix them.”

“If both sides want our support in implementation (what they agree on), our political support, then we would like to get a deal which is OK,” he added.    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541151/Mutual-recognition-of-Belgarde-and-Pristina-is-ideal-solution-for-US-Palmer-says.html

Vucic says he will be replaced as Serbian ruling party leader

November 4, 2019

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that he would be replaced soon as leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), adding that the people who take over from him would continue to win at elections.

“Let me tell you, I know what N1 wants to hear – when will I be ousted within the SNS, as SNS leader. Soon, but don’t worry. Even the people who take over from me will have no problem beating the people who robbed Serbia,” Vucic told a news conference after a session of the SNS Presidency.  

He said the party would field more new young people at the coming parliamentary, provincial and local elections and added that its goal is to win an absolute majority of 126 seat in parliament or 46 percent of the vote. The Serbian parliament has a total of 250 MPs.  

Vucic said that the list of candidates for the parliamentary elections will include 20 percent of young and unsullied people adding that he wants similar people as candidates at provincial and local elections. He said that the dirty campaign being waged against SNS officials is making its mark which is why “new blood” is needed to set a new pace in a good direction.  

“Our goals are clear. We will stand in regular parliamentary, provincial and local elections , most probably late in March, with the aim of trying to convince the people that we have worked hard and responsibly and that we have taken the right decisions,” he said, adding that everything that the progress he claims was made was achieved thanks to the will of the people who understood the difficult reforms.

Vucic refused to speak about coalition partners and said that the SNS Presidency wants the party assembly held after the elections.


Dutch FM to Belgrade: Rule of law and freedom of media must improve

November 4, 2019

The Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Stef Blok told reporters after meeting his Serbia’s counterpart Ivica Dacic that it was clear the country belonged to Europe, but that he believed the states had to honour all the rules to be ready to become the European Union’s member, the FoNet news agency reported on Monday.

He added that Belgrade did a lot of reforms, but that the progress was needed in the rule of law and media freedom as well as in the protection of media and punishment for the attacks on journalists who, he said, should feel safe while doing their job.

Referring to the media freedom, Blok said that “we as the Union could make it a pre-condition for joining the EU.”

He added that the two discussed the EU accession, security in the region and reforms, adding Serbia had impressive financial results.

Dacic said that for the sake of improving bilateral relations it would be good for the Dutch Prime Minister to accept the invitation fro visiting Belgrade.

He thanked The Netherlands for support of the EU integrations and added Serbia started the reforms to strengthen the society’s capacity.

Dacic said the speed of the integration depended on Pristina. “Serbia wants a compromise in which there won’t be winners, but that the winners would be all our nations who live here,” he said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a540907/The-Hague-urges-Belgrade-to-improve-ruleo-of-law-and-media-freedom.html

Kosovo Serb says Serb List election victory not credible

November 4, 2019

Kosovo Serb politician Aleksandar Jablanovic said on Monday that the credibility of the percentage of votes won by the Belgrade-backed Serb List was doubtful.

Jablanovic, leader of the Party of Kosovo Serbs, told a local TV station in Gracanica, he is opposed to the Serb List because it is not a credible representative of the Kosovo Serbs and added that the 97 percent of the vote are vote it claims to have won were “stolen”. He said that his party has proof of election fraud which will be submitted to the Central Election Commission.

Jablanovic warned that the Serb community in Kosovo has been pushed aside and can’t trust Belgrade or Pristina. He added that it should be directly involved in the Brussels dialogue because it is about their future. “The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will define some of Serbia’s interests in Kosovo but it will determine the future of the Serbs in Kosovo,” he said and added that not everything that Belgrade is negotiating is in the best interests of the Kosovo Serbs. “The negotiations are meant to buy time and get points to ease Serbia’s path to the European Union,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a541071/Kosovo-Serb-says-Serb-List-election-victory-not-credible.html

Student protest over beatings in Novi Sad

November 4, 2019

Students in the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad organized a protest on Monday, demanding that the police find the men who beat up two students during a June protest by environmental activists.

The protest under the slogan Stop state Repression was held in front to the University Law School. Students Mihajlo Nikolic and Marko Djelevic, both activists of the Roof Overhead initiative, were beaten up on the university campus on June 8. A third student, Dejan Bagaric, was beaten up the next day following a 1 in 5 Million protest.  

Activist Miran Pogacar told N1 that the silence of institutions is a sign that these were cases of state repression. “We have violence perpetrated not only by the state but also by thugs who beat up three people on the university campus. That is one form of violence which is tolerated. The perpetrators have not been found,” he said, adding that his fellow activists asked the police about the investigation and found that it was not being conducted.  

Two young men appeared at the protest claiming to be students and shouting abuse at the protesters. They told N1 that the students had been beaten for carvings on trees not over the protest.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a540985/Student-protest-over-beatings-in-Novi-Sad.html

Vucic: Palmer tells me what he doesn't like in Serbia's politics

November 4, 2019

The US Department special envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer told reporters after meeting Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic that the European Union's failure to set a date for the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, was a historic mistake, adding his country supported the EU's integration of the whole region, N1 reported.

 He added "America wants the whole Western Balkans to have a European perspective, and we will do whatever we can to persuade the EU to change its stand before their meeting in Zagreb," Palmer said.

Asked about the next Kosovo government, Palmer said: "that it's clear Serb List won great support of Kosovo's Serbs and the right to be represented in Pristina's Government."

Vucic said his meeting with Palmer was open and frank, and that he was satisfied with their talk.

"I'm satisfied because we went through all disputed issues, all the differences between us, while determined to finding future solutions which will be good for bilateral relations between Serbia and US, but also a constructive approach and an attempt to return to the dialogue with Pristina as soon as possible," Vucic told reporters.

He also said he was "grateful to Palmer for being ready to listen to what we think. I talked to him about all disputed issues, but don't like to retell in public. Palmer told me what he doesn't like in Serbia's politics. I think that we made some issues more explicit."

Vucic said that it was well known that Belgrade and Washington had a different position regarding Kosovo and added he believed the conditions for the resumption of the dialogue on the normalisation of relations with Pristina would be created in two or three months. Serbia's President reiterated the invitation to his US counterpart Donald Trump to visit Serbia.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a540925/Washington-tells-Belgrade-it-support-Western-Balkans-road-to-EU.html

Kosovo PM: Serbia to stop madness before it’s too late

November 4, 2019

Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj warned that Serbia’s permanent arming with the Russian and Chinese military equipment was a direct threat to Kosovo, the Kosovo online website reported on Monday.

“This permanent arming (armoured vehicles, anti-aircraft defence system, drones…) is a direct threat to Kosovo, a fragile peace in the region and Euro-Atlantic perspective. Serbia must stop this madness before it’s too late,” Haradinaj wrote on his Facebook profile.  

Earlier, some European Union officials said they were concerned about Belgrade's deepening links with Moscow and China and its reluctance to harmonise its foreign policy with that of the bloc.

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, however, advised the region to cooperate with third countries after the EU practically stopped the enlargement by despite promise failing to give the green light to Tirana and Skopje for opening the accession talks with the Union.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a540897/Pristina-warns-about-Serbia-s-arming-from-Russia-and-China.html

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