International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

White House reschedules Kosovo meeting

August 23, 2020

The White House has rescheduled the meeting between officials from Belgrade and Pristina for September 4, a US administration spokesman told the Nova.rs portal.

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said that the meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti would be held on September 4 because of the meeting agenda.

The meeting was originally scheduled for September 2. Vucic said on Saturday that there were indications that the meeting might be rescheduled.

"National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien has invited the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to Washington on September 4. The talks were postponed for two days because of the agenda," Ullyot said.

He is reported to have said that the US administration believes that progress on economic issues is the first step to progress in the peace process.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632281/White-House-reschedules-meeting-on-Kosovo.html

Coronavirus UPDATE: 3 deaths, 170 new cases

August 22, 2020

The Serbian Health Ministry said in its daily 3:00 pm bulletin on Saturday that 3 people died of coronavirus-related ailments over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 695.

It said that 8,670 people had been tested over the previous 24 hours, including 170 who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The total number of people tested to date stands at 862,729 with 30,548 confirmed cases.

The bulletin said that there are 1,116 active cases, including 46 patients on ventilators.

 Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632171/Coronavirus-UPDATE-3-deaths-170-new-cases.html

Slovenia puts Croatia on its quarantine list

August 21, 2020

Slovenia's government on Thursday decided that Croatia would be put on its red list of epidemiologically unsafe countries due to a rise in new Covid cases lately.

The decision goes into effect on Friday, and Slovenians, who are spending summer holidays in Croatia, are supposed to return to their homeland until Monday to avoid a 14-day quarantine.

The government's spokesman, Jelko Kacin, informed the press about the Janez Jansa cabinet's decision on Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday, Kacin hinted at this possibility describing the situation in Croatia as dramatic.

The Slovenian news agency STA reported that "Slovenia has put Croatia on the red list of countries from which travellers must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine effective on Friday, but the government has also put in place a number of exemptions to make sure trade, commerce and cross-border ties run smoothly."

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631917/Slovenia-puts-Croatia-on-its-quarantine-list.html

Slovenia logs 38 new Covid cases

August 22, 2020

In the past 24 hours, of 1,096 tests performed for coronavirus, 38 have returned positive in Slovenia, the government stated on its Twitter account on Friday.

Thus, there were five fewer cases than on Thursday when 43 cases were identified after 1,168 tests were performed.

In the past 24 hours, there has been one more coronavirus-related fatality, and Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll now stands at 130.

Currently, there are 341 active cases, including 18 hospitalised patients, and not one is in intensive care.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631915/Slovenia-logs-38-new-Covid-cases.html

North Macedonia reports 159 new coronavirus cases, six deaths due to COVID-19

August 22, 2020

Six more people died due to COVID-19 and 159 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in North Macedonia, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday.

The total number of deaths due to Covid-19 has increased to 563, and the number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the epidemic to 13,458.

There are currently 2,843 active cases in the country, five people on ventilators and 31 on oxygen support.

The Institute for Public Health of North Macedonia registered another 75 patients who recovered, which increased the number of those cured to 10,052.

In the previous 24 hours, 1,733 coronavirus tests were conducted in the country and a total of 136,051 since the beginning of the epidemic.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632227/North-Macedonia-reports-159-new-coronavirus-cases-six-deaths-due-to-COVID-19.html

Croatia breaks its daily record again with 306 new coronavirus cases on Saturday

August 22, 2020

A record 306 new coronavirus cases have been detected in the past 24 hours, which puts the number of active cases in Croatia at 2,052, the national COVID-19 response team said on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 143 are undergoing hospital treatment, including 12 who are on ventilators. One more person has died.

Since February 25, when the first case of the coronavirus infection was reported in the country, 7,900 people have contracted the disease, of whom 170 have died while 5,678 have recovered.

A total of 6,868 people are self-isolating.

To date, 148,742 people have been tested for the virus, including 2,574 in the last 24 hours.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632165/Croatia-breaks-its-daily-record-again-with-306-new-coronavirus-cases-on-Saturday.html

Another 318 coronavirus cases and six deaths due to COVID-19 in Bosnia

August 22, 2020

Health authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina reported 318 new coronavirus cases and another six deaths due to COVID-19 on Saturday.

Of the 1,013 samples tested in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) region since Friday, 232 were positive for the virus. Three people died due to COVID-19.

Authorities in the other semi-autonomous entity, Republika Srpska (RS), reported 86 new coronavirus cases among the 577 samples tested as well as three COVID-19 deaths.  

More than 17,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus so far in Bosnia while more than 11,000 have recovered and more than 500 have died due to COVID-19.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632123/Another-318-coronavirus-cases-and-six-deaths-due-to-COVID-19-in-Bosnia.html

Vucic: Bosniak political leadership is trying to turn a friend into an enemy


August 22, 2020

Bosniak political leadership is “forcibly trying to turn a friend into an enemy,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday as he denied allegations by Bosnia’s Party for Democratic Action (SDA) that he is endangering the integrity of their country.

The allegations came after Bosnian Serb leadership sent a document on “the status of Serbs” in Bosnia to the Serbian President in an effort to get him to include the issue of Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska (RS), in negotiations regarding the status of Kosovo.

The document was sent after a recent meeting between the Vucic and the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, Milorad Dodik, in the Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the RS.

RS President Zeljka Svijanovic explained on Friday that the document includes information about violations of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, arguing that the RS is, as well as Kosovo, a “strategically important, primarily national issue” for Serbia.

Dodik said that the document points out that “western countries have double standards when it comes to the issue of the RS and Kosovo.”

Vucic should negotiate the status of Kosovo and of the RS as a package, Dodik said.

The Serbian President said that he read the document but would not comment on it. He announced he will meet with Dodik, Cvijanovic and RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic on Wednesday in Belgrade.

The SDA strongly criticised Vucic and his announced upcoming meeting with Dodik.

"Coordinated actions of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the RS authorities to connect the status of Kosovo with the RS entity in the current negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo represent a continuation of aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of endangering its integrity," the party said in a statement.

Vucic said the allegation is “senseless” and that there is no evidence for them.

"They are forcibly trying to make an enemy out of a friend, which is a big mistake. And they have been doing it for a long time, not just since yesterday. I will not be their enemy no matter what they do and how they behave and I will always work on the best possible relations with Bosniaks,” Vucic told Serbian TV Prva on Saturday.

He argued that Bosniaks “have no idea” how he will react on Wednesday when he meets with Bosnian Serb leadership to discuss the document as he did not express his stance on it.

He said Dodik told him that he expected a certain kind of support and help from Serbia.

“I told him ‘OK, but please think about it carefully, look at everything and send it to me so that I can get acquainted with it if you are looking for and expecting something from Serbia. Otherwise, I am not interested. I will not interfere in your internal affairs," he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/


Vucic: Trump might attend Washington meeting between Serbia, Kosovo reps.

August 21, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that the meeting between representatives of Serbia and Kosovo in Washington will most likely take place on September 3 and 4 because "there are indications" that "in case something important happens" US President Donald Trump will also participate in it.

"Negotiations on all key issues of normalization, not recognition, are being conducted under the auspices of Brussels, and this must be something different," Vucic told TV Prva.

He added that he expects both Washington and Brussels to continue to pressure Serbia to decrease cooperation with other foreign policy actors - "less and less with Russia and more with China."

Vucic said that Serbia signed a "partial capitulation" in 1999 and that it must stop acting "as if nothing had happened".

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a632143/Vucic-Trump-might-attend-Washington-meeting-between-Serbia-Kosovo-reps.html

Nis gets first woman mayor a day after minister congratulates her

August 21, 2020

The Nis City Assembly elected Dragana Sotirovski to the post of mayor, a day after her fellow Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) officials, including cabinet Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, congratulated her on the election.

Sotirovski, a former local correspondent for the state TV (RTS), is the first woman to head the southern Serbian city’s administration. She comes to the post from the position of head of the Nisava Administrative District, a post which ended her 25 year career as a journalist.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631976/Nis-gets-first-woman-mayor-a-day-after-minister-congratulates-her.html

Dodik to meet with Vucic to discuss document on status od Serbs in Bosnia

August 21, 2020

Bosnian Serb leadership sent a document regarding the status of Bosnia’s Serb-majority region of Republika Srpska (RS) to Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, as part of an effort get him to include the issue of the RS in the negotiations regarding Kosovo.

Vucic announced that he will invite the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, as well as RS President, Zeljka Cvijanovic, to Belgrade to discuss the document. He said he read it but would not comment on it.

Cvijanovic explained that the document does not treat the issue of Kosovo but of Republika Srpska and that it “shows the real situation when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that due to its international legal obligations, Serbia must be informed of how Dayton (Peace Agreement) was violated."

She said that the RS is, as well as Kosovo, a “strategically important, primarily national issue” for Serbia.

Dodik said that the document points out that “western countries have double standards when it comes to the issue of the RS and Kosovo” and that it contains information about the status of Serbs in Bosnia and ongoing violations of the Dayton Peace Agreement in the country.

The main Bosniak party in the country, the Party for Democratic Action (SDA), strongly criticised Vucic and his announced upcoming meeting with Dodik.

"Coordinated actions of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the RS authorities to connect the status of Kosovo with the RS entity in the current negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo represent a continuation of aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of endangering its integrity," the party said in a statement.

It said that this is evidenced by Dodik's statements that he met with Vucic in Banja Luka where they agreed that the RS authorities will send a document about the status of the RS to the Serbian President.

"Which unequivocally confirms that Vucic, in contrast to the declaratively fair and conciliatory policy, leads a duplicitous and aggressive policy with territorial claims towards Bosnia and Herzegovina behind the scenes,” the party said.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631981/Dodik-to-meet-with-Vucic-to-discuss-document-on-status-od-Serbs-in-Bosnia.html

Vucic: Washington meeting on Kosovo could be postponed

August 21, 2020

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that the White House meeting between officials from Belgrade and Pristina could be postponed.

He said that the meeting could be postponed for a day or two. “I am waiting to see what this is about and I will inform you,” he told reporters at Batajnica air base.  

Vucic said that official Belgrade has been called to accept certain things but did not specify what. He said that he would inform the public following the coming meetings with officials from Pristina. Vucic said on Thursday that no final agreement would be reached in Washington.

Vucic told reporters at Batajnica Air Base after observing a special forces exercise that the Serbian military would present all of its armaments at a live fire exercise which would “make the Earth shake”. He said that the military needs to have more live fire exercises and parachute drops “because we are not making an army to threaten anyone but to defend the country from every aggressor”.

Asked to comment reports that he had received a document mentioning Kosovo and the Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia-Herzegovina from Bosnian Serb officials, Vucic said that he would invite RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic and Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency member Milorad Dodik to Belgrade to explain the document. “I did not take part in drafting the document, I did read it and I will read it two more times to study it,” he said.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631873/Vucic-Washington-meeting-on-Kosovo-could-be-postponed.html

Lavrov: Kosovo dialogue has no alternative

August 21, 2020

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is stagnating but still has not alternative.

A press release on the Foreign Ministry web site quoted Lavrov as telling the daily Trud that there should be no blackmail or arm twisting as part of outside influence.  

“The dialogue is stagnating today but it has no alternative however much someone wants to cut the Gordian knot. Activities are intensifying in Brussels and Washington to move the negotiation process forward. Outside influence should be free of blackmail and arm twisting against one side while fanning the dubious appetites of the other side. The alternative to the dialogue is very dangerous for everyone,” Lavrov said.  

He said serious and honest talks are needed on the future of Belgrade-Pristina relations. “It can yield results only by taking into account the legal interests of the Kosovo Serbs and their concerns while respecting international law,” Lavrov said, and added that the Kosovo problem was caused by what he called the shameless grabbing of part of Serbia’s territory. According to Lavrov, the quasi-state of Kosovo was created in place of the Serbian autonomous province by a unilateral decision which ignored UN Security Council Resolution 1244. He said the political leaders of the quasi-state are openly ignoring international law, legal demands and the interests of Serbia and the Serb people.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631817/Lavrov-Kosovo-dialogue-has-no-alternative.html

US General warns Serbian authorities over weapons deal with China

August 21, 2020

A former commanding general of US forces in Europe told Radio Free Europe that the Serbian authorities should avoid replacing dependency on Russia for dependency on China.

Retired Lt. General Frederick Hodges, one-time commander United States Army Europea (USAREUR), said that Serbia has the sovereign right to buy weapons from China or anyone else it chooses. “Serbia certainly has the sovereign right to buy arms from China or wherever else it wants but the government should keep its eyes wide open. I would expect the Defense Ministry to pay due attention when it comes to determining the interoperability of Chinese and its own systems and defense concept as well as sustainability in long-term maintenance, munitions, training, replacement…,” Hodges is quoted as telling the RFE.  

Serbia is reported to be in the process of buying Chinese advanced anti-aircraft defense missile systems instead of similar Russian systems.   He expressed the hope that the Serbian government will do what is best for the country’s youth, reaching the best possible agreements that will benefit them in the future.  

Doing business with China usually includes some negative outcome such as a transfer or theft of technology, infussion of Chinese labor at the expense of local labor and extremely unfavorable agreements to repay Chinese loans, the general is quoted as saying. He added that the West should be competing with China to offer the best possible conditions. Hodges now works at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631799/US-General-warns-Serbian-authorities-over-weapons-deal-with-China.html

EU: Building of wire fence between Serbia and North Macedonia not agreed upon

August 20, 2020

The European Union denied the construction of wire fence on the border between Serbia and North Macedonia was a part of any agreement with the bloc.

Ana Pisonero, the European Commission (EC) spokesperson, told Radio Free Europe (RFE) that the EC financially and technically helped its partners in the Western Balkans in managing migrations and allocated over 100 million Euro to Serbia for the purpose in 2015.

"Those funds, however, do not include building fences which, as it has been wrongly published, is not a part of any agreement," Pisonero warned.

RFE reported on Tuesdaythat Belgrade started constructing the wire fence on its border with North Macedonia to prevent illegal migrations, citing Shqiprim Arifi, the head of Serbia southern Presevo municipality, as saying the construction of the wire fence was a part of an agreement with the EU.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a631707/EU-Building-of-wire-fence-between-Serbia-and-North-Macedonia-isn-t-agreed.html

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