Sunday, October 30, 2011
Serbia and Kosovo i Metohija
This week started out comparatively quiet on the administrative crossing between Kosovo and Serbia. Serb citizens remained on the barricades near the village of Zupče under the observance of KFOR soldiers. A conference regarding the administrative crossing was to be held at the outset of this week between Serb president Boris Tadić and four municipal presidents who stated their intent on learning about Serbia’s exact position on Kosovo. President of the Kosovska Mitrovica municipality Zvečan Dragiša Milović highlighted that a viable solution to the current situation can only be found if Serbia’s highest legislators partake in the discussion. Head of the EULEX mission Xavier Marnak meanwhile asserted that the mission will stay put so as to insure safe passage to all citizens in the region. Serb citizens too affirmed their stay until KFOR and EULEX missions return to neutrality as well as the departure of Kosovar customs officials. Present at the meeting were Zvečan Krstimir Pantić, Branko Ninić, Slaviša Ristić and Dragiša Milović, each the respective municipal head of Kosovska Mitrovica, Leposavić, Zubin Potok and Zvečan as well as head of the Kosovska Mitrovica district Radenko Nedeljković, four municipal assembly members, head of Belgrade’s negotiation team Borislav Stefanović and the minister for Kosovo Oliver Bogdanović. At the meeting, president Tadić stated that KFOR forces ought to be able to deliver supplies across the border while EULEX forces should be able to move freely in northern Kosvo as soon as possible. Tadić added that such arrangements were reached in the Military Technical Agreement at Kumanovo, the Resolution 1244 and the Six Point Plan. However, Tadić reiterated that while Priština and Belgrade agreed as to the appearance of a customs stamp, there was never an agreement regarding a “functioning” Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossing. Tadić and the leading Serbs from the municipalities in northern Kosovo appealed to the Serb public stating that the best way to defend their rights is to stay calm and forsake any form of violence and extremism. The president added that Serbs should “not fall” for provocations while appealing to KFOR and EULEX forces not to partake in unilateral actions.
“Sloboda kretanja za Kfor i Euleks uz garancije”. Politika Online. accessed October 26, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Sloboda-kretanja-za-Kfor-i-Euleks-uz-garancije.lt.html
“Sila jača od dokumenata”. Politika Online. accessed October 30, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Sila-jaca-od-dokumenata.lt.html
“Bez dogovora, barricade ostaju”. B92. accessed October 23, 2011. www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=23&nav_id=551671
“Tadić: Omogućiti nesmetano kretanje Kforu i Euleksu”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 24, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti166989.html
“Na severu Kosova mirno, bes uklanjanja barikada”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 23, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/166961.html
“Slobodno za Kfor, Euleks uslovno”. B92. accessed October 25, 2011. www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=25&nav_id=552253
Serbia and the EU
Discussions regarding Serbia’s date for negotiations regarding EU membership are ongoing. Among the questions asked this week was how and/or if asylum seekers that have left Serbia for EU member states would affect its candidacy. Tanja Vajon, European rapporteur for visa issues explained thus that this situation depended on the Serb government. According to Vajon, “If the number of Serb asylum seekers does not reach alarming numbers, Serbia will not be held responsible to reduce the number of false asylum seeking individuals as a condition for membership” adding that she feels that Serbia is ready to do anything to resolve that problem. According the United Nations Agency for Refugees, there are a total of 10,300 asylum requests from Serb and Kosovar citizens to 44 developed states. These people make up the third largest source of applicants of asylum requests to industrialized countries. However, the Commission has just opened hearings on the regulation of the “White Schengen” agreement. Should the agreement be amended, there are possibilities that EU member states can request as suspension of the visa free agreement lest a state feels “threatened” by the large influx of asylum seekers from specific states.
The foreign affairs and deputy minister of Luxenbourg Jean Asselborn stated that Serbia will have to recognize Kosovo sooner or later if the state wishes to attain EU membership. The hinted at the option that conditions of a negotiation date may be influenced by Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo adding that he welcomed the Commission’s decision to recommend Serbia a candidate status as it unifies the continent while it underlines, “once and for all”, that “Serbia is in Europe”. The answer to Asselborn’s statement came prompt delivered by the foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić who asserted that Serbia will “not recognize Kosovo, neither today nor tomorrow, or at any time”. In his statement, given to B92, he cautioned that he can only speak for the current government while he was “deeply convinced”, he was hoping in fact, that whomever was bestowed with the public mandate would not hold a differing opinion. Jeremic further said that a dialogue regarding a high degree of autonomy for the Serbian population in northern Kosovo can only be held in line with resolution 1244, the Serbian constitution and decisions by the assembly of Serbia. Meanwhile, Predrag Simić, professor of political sciences, told Beta that such announcements only serve to exert pressure on Serbia while increasing existing tensions in Kosovo adding that they could be the culprit of crisis, especially in election times. According to Simic, a statement such as was given by Asselborn may encourage the ambitions of Priština officials thereby reducing the space of the continuation of negotiations between Belgrade and Priština. Serbia must find a peaceful way to resolve the situation in northern Kosovo including its administrative transition as failing to do so could bring about a very complex situation in Serbia which, according to Simić, may get out of control. Ivica Dačić, minister for the interior, added that “it would not be the end of the world if Serbia were to be denied candidacy for EU membership” (which will be decided on December 9, 2011). Dačić maintained that the EU has “lied” to Serbia starting in 2000 as the Union promised every year since then that Serbia would be given membership the coming year. With regard to Kosovo, the minister pointed toward the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s question as to why Kosovo was not to become a federation. This idea, said Dačić is interesting and has not been discussed thus far.
“Federalizacija Kosova?”. Politika Online. accessed October 28, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Federalizacija-Kosova.lt.html
“Dačić: Nije smak sveta ako ne dobijemo kandidaturu”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 27, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/167224.html
“Aselborn: Srbija da prizna Kosovo ako hoće u EU”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 26, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/167149.html
“Fajon: Azilanti neće uticati na kandidaturu”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 23, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166965.html
“Podrška Srbiji na putu ka EU”. B92. accessed October 25, 2011. www.b92.net/info/komentari.php?nav_id+552429
According to the Turkish news agency Anatolia Today (AA), the Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu expressed his hope for the ushering in of a new period for the people of Sandžak and all Muslims in Serbia following a dialogue with officials in Belgrade. In Belgrade, Davutoglu met with president Boris Tadić and head of the Serb diplomatic delegation Vuk Jeremić. However, no public statements were made in Belgrade or Ankara. Davutoglu only told reporters from the AA press that there exist “disagreements within the religious institutions in Sandžak” and that viable solutions to this problem will bring peace to the Muslim community in Sandžak as well as to all of Serbia. The foreign minister asserted that developing relation between Serbia and Turkey contribute to regional stability in the Balkans adding that Ankara attaches great importance to them. Davutoglu was expected to visit Belgrade on the 19th of October but was unable to do so due to terrorist attacks in the Turkish city of Hakkari. At this time, the media was speculating that Davutoglu’s visit may be conducted so as to unite the two conflicting Islamic communities in Sandžak. Discord between the two communities ensued in 2007 when the Islamic Community of Serbia was founded with Adem Zilkić at the helm. The other Islamic community, headed by Muamer Zukorlić, recognizes the supreme Islamic Community of Bosnia i Herzegovina (BiH). The media reported that Turky seeks to mediate between the two communities with the goal of integrating the Serbian Muslim community in agreement with the Islmaic Community of BiH.
A young man from Novi Pazar shot an automatic gun, reportedly a Kalashnikov, at the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo “having shouted Allahu Akbar” on the 28th of October. The shooter, Mevlud Jašarević, is reportedly a member of a Wahhabi movement which is linked to the Bosnian Wahhabi community of Gorni Maoči. According to Vesti Dansas, Jašerević joined the movement in Vienna but was expelled in 2009. He then lived in Sarajevo and Tuzla, BiH, before he moved to Novi Pazar, RS. He too was forced to leave Novi Pazar as he was seen moving close to group of diplomats while holding a knife. Since then, he has spend time outside of Serbia. Meanwhile, two other men, Dino Pačenković and Ahmet Spahić, were arrested on the basis of having cooperated with Jašerević. Pačenković and Spahić drove Jašerević to Sarajevo were he opened fire on the American embassy. The police in Serbia also arrested 17 members of the “radical wing” of the Wahhabi movement who were in close connection to Jašarević. From the 17 people, 12 were reported to be from Novi Pazar while two came from the Tutin municipality, two from the Sjenica municipality and one citizen of BiH. The police, in cooperation with the Security Information Agency, searched a total of 18 houses in which computers, laptops, 1800 CD’s, about 30 audio cassettes, 50 SMS cards, video cameras with 17 cassettes, five military uniforms, three “larger” knives, swords, baseball bats and literature on describing how to propagate the ideas of the movement were confiscated. The attack was condemned by members of the Presidency of BiH, officials of the Republic of Serbia and Mustafa Cerić, head of the Islamic community of BiH. Zoran Dragišić, professor at the faculty for security, stated following the incident in Sarajevo that Serbia was at risk regarding terrorism from three sources out of which the radical form of Islam, or the Wahhabi movement, presented the most potent danger adding that the threat of terrorism is not great, but nevertheless exists. Dragišić explained that Wahhabi organizations may operate to resolve the Sandžak issue or otherwise are part of a global Islamist network adding that Jašerević requested the U.S. “remove its hands from the Muslims”. According to this logic, said Dragišić, the Belgrade U.S. embassy may also become a target.
“Dragišić: Opasnost od terorizma u Srbiji nije velika”. Ekonome East Media Group. accessed October 29, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/167458.html
“Privedno 17 osumnjičenih za vehabizam”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 30, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/region/167450.html
“Uhapšena dva pomagača Jašerevića”. Vesti online. accessed Octover 30, 2011. www.vestip-online-com/Vesti/Ex-YU/175679/Uhapsena-dva-pomagaca-Jaserevica
“Novopazarac napadač na ambasadu SAD”. Vesti online. accessed October 28, 2011. www.vesti-online.com/Vesti/Ex-YU/175204/Novopazarac-napadac-na-ambasadu-SAD
“Davutoglu: Nov Period za Muslimane u Srbiji”. B92. accessed October 25, 2011.
“Davutoglu: Novi Period za Sandžak i Muslimane u Srbiji”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 26, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/167087.html
The minister of justice Snežana Malović stated today that Slovenia and Serbia reached an agreement on extradition legal assistance needed to fight crime more efficiently, especially the organized crime. The agreement enables cooperation in detecting, prosecuting and punishing perpetrators of crime. The justice minister added that the agreement between Slovenia and Serbia regulates in detail as to how convicted criminals are to be extradited explaining that previous cases have indicated the need for such cooperation. Other areas of cooperation include possible collaboration in defense and Serbia hopes to cooperate with Croatia, Hungary and Nigeria. Malović asserted that current cooperation between Croatia and Serbia is fairly intensive while there is room for improvement. Currently, Serbia and Croatia exchange information on international missions, transformation of defense systems and the field of telecommunication.
“Snežana Malović: Sporazumi za efikasniju borbu protiv kriminala”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 27, 2011. www.emg.rs/srbija/167244.html
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Serbia does not effectively control the administrative crossing between Kosovo and Serbia as reported by the European Commission, while an insufficient number of cases are filed against the organized crime. While Serbia has established an institutional framework in the field of justice, freedom and security, Belgrade so far has not implemented these rules nor has the government increased its capacity to further cooperation between the relevant institutions to successfully carry them out. Serbia must undertake greater measurements in policies that deal with migration, border control, the fight against organized crime, drug and human trafficking, money laundering and terrorism while reforming its police, judicial and customs cooperation. Though Serbia has established a framework under which to combat drug trafficking, the area is still the major route across which drugs are smuggled. Between August 2010 and September 2011, 1.9 tons of drugs were seized in Serbia; that is an increase in 0.7 tons from the previous year. Porous borders between BiH, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia are in part adding to setbacks regarding the fight against human and drug trafficking. In addition, lack of adequate databases and information exchange is hindering progress.
Regarding Sandžak policies, the president of the Executive Council of the Bosniak National Council (BNV) Džužević Esad stated that it was high time the government convened the inaugural session of the state council on the basis of elections held last year. Doing so, according to Esad, was the only way of overcoming the power vacuum in the region adding that further neglect would be detrimental to the state as well as to Bosniaks. At a news conference held last week, he maintained that the government is playing a “dirty game” as the failure to recognize any council presented the state with an alibi of ignoring or blocking Bosniak rights under the laws of the constitution. The government does not recognize the current BNV’s structure not does it wish to form a new one yet does not call for new elections either. This bestows the state with a comfortable position as the government can prevent the BNV from exercising its rights guaranteed by the constitution.
“Džužić: Prljave igre sa pravima Bošnjaka”. SandzakNews. accessed October 22, 2011. www.sandzaknews.com/vjesti/drustvo/422-dzuzevic:-prljave-igre-sa-pravima-Bosnjaka.html
“EK: Unaprediti kontrolu administrativne linije”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 17, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166457.html
Serbia and Kosovo
A meeting was held on the 18th of October near the barricades by Jagnjenica near the village of Zupča where the first KFOR convoys arrived so as to remove the barricades by the administrative crossings. Discussions were held between Slaviša Ristić, major of Zubin Potok, KFOR lieutenant Klaus Hunger and other representatives of the local government. The meeting was held in light of the KFOR posed ultimatum by which barricades were to be removed this week. Upon the convoy’s arrival, Ivica Dačić, deputy prime minister and minister for the interior, appealed to Serbian citizens not to confront KFOR troops while simultaneously cautioning KFOR forces not to apply force as the barricades “were not created by criminals”. Oliver Ivanović, state secretary for Kosovo and Metohia (KiM), instead proposed to find a solution through diplomatic channels. Jelena Trivan, vice president for the Democratic Party (DS), stated that the fact that KFOR has not removed the barricades in addition to having extended the timely ultimatum shows that the Serb leadership is doing its job. Trivan pointed toward discussions held between Serbia, Brussels Washington and NATO adding that the Serbian leadership is seeking to find a solution for the problems in northern Kosovo.
On October 20th, however, KFOR and EULEX forces again planned on removing the Brnjak barricades having replaced them with checkpoints for vehicles. KFOR troops stretched out barbed wire were Serb citizens had earlier stopped a KFOR convoy and set up barricades near the Brnjak crossing. In response, Serb citizens from Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvečana and Leposavica travelled by bus and private vehicles so as to join the protestors in Zubče and Jagnjenica. When KFOR soldiers attempted to remove the barricades, soldiers “repeatedly” fired teargas thereby “easily” wounding more than 20 people while an additional eight KFOR soldiers were injured. As of October 20th, KFOR soldiers were about 300 meters from the barricades were “dozens” of demonstrators have gathered thus far.
The parties present at this week’s meeting agreed upon the following six points:
1) That UNMIK forces be activated in place of KFOR troops
2) That dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia be returned to the UN Security Council
3) That Serbian military and police forces return to northern Kosovo
4) That barricades remain in place in northern Kosovo under the guise of KFOR troops
5) Refusal of agreements reached so far between Priština and Serbia (that Kosovo remain a vital part of Serbia including that decisions made by the public authorities of Serbia be executed in KiM)
6) To remove the cause leading to the erection of the barricades, meaning the Kosovar boarder control
The results hailed at the meeting are, however, according to head of Belgrade’s negotiation team for Kosovo Borislav Stefanović, unrealistic and an unpleasant surprise for Serbian authorities as well as for individuals in the international community. The demands made are driven by political interest maintained Stefanović adding that the outcome reflects the interests of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS). Instead of swapping international missions, the minister said, one should think about as to how to facilitate supplies for KFOR troops which in turn would lower tensions on the Jarinje and Brnjak border. Stevanović also questioned the preposition by which further dialogue was to be held under the guise of the UN Security Council as Serbia had agreed to EU mandates which in turn have been adopted by the General Assembly reminding that these are binding. In any case, there are too many states that have recognized Kosovo’s independence as of yet in addition to the fact that the Security Council is divided regarding the question on Kosovo. Stefanović, however, agreed that all decisions taken by Serb authorities ought to be binding for northern Kosovo as well as for the rest thereof.
“Zahtevi kosovskih Srba uglavnom neostvarivi”. Politika Online. accessed October 21, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Zahtevi-kosovskih-Srba-uglavnom-neostvariv.lt.html
“Kfor se vratio u bazu, Srbi nude ograničeno kretanje”. Politika Online. accessed October 19, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Kfor-se-vratio-u-bazu-Srbi-nude-ograniceno-kretanje.lt.html
“Kfor na barikadi u Zubču”. B92. accessed October 18, 2011. www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=18&nav_id=550340
“Kfor se vratio na bazu, akcija odložena za sutra”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 18, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166535.html
“Jelena Trivan: Na putu smo rešenja za sever Kosova”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 18, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166510.html
“KFOR ukljana barikade”. B92. accessed October 20, 2011. www.b92.net/info/vesti/index/php/?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd-20&nav_id=550932
SandžakNews reported about the general irritation that ensued throughout the Sandžak area following Mufti Muamer Zukorlić’s and head of Sebia’s Progressive Party Tomislav Nikolić’s meeting last week. According to the article, the news came as a shock to general population most of whom do not understand the Zukorlić – Nikolić coalition as the Sandžak population does not wish to cooperate with radicals. Nikolić is the successor to Vojslav Šešelj who is indicted by the ICTY for war crimes committed during the war in Bosnia.
Regarding Zukorlić’s earlier call for Bosniaks to boycott the population census, the online paper reported in the minister for labour and social policy and head of the Social Democratic Party (SDPS) Rasim Ljacjić’s words that the Mufti’s call to so ended as a fiasco. By the first four hours, according the Ljajić, it was becoming clear that the majority of Bosniaks were going to show up for the census thus proving that the population was politically mature. As for Zukorlić, the Mufti explained that his call for the boycott was a reaction to the Serbian regime. The census, according to Zukorlić, is likely to be falsified with or without citizen’s participation. The difference between those choosing to boycott, however, lies therein whether or not Bosniaks chose to partake in the process of falsification.
“Ljajić: Bojkot doživeo fijasko, Zukorlić: Popis će falsifikovati”. SandzakNews. accessed October 22, 2011. www.sandzaknews.com/vjesti/drustvo/4203-ljajic:-bojkot-doziveo-fijasko-,-Zukorlic:-popis-ce-falsifikovati.html
“Sandžak ljut zbog zbližavanja Nikolića I Zukorlića”. SandzakNews. accessed October 22, 2011. www.sandzaknews.com/kolumna/65-sandzak-ljut-zblizavanja-Nikolica-I-Zukorlica.html
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Serbia and the EU
Due to lacking progress regarding conclusive dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, the starting date for negotiations will be pushed back while the EU commission recommended that Serbia be given candidate status for EU membership. Definite decisions, however, will be made in December. Membership, to be sure, will be l tied to the clear progress regarding Belgrade – Priština relations. Specifically, improved relations between Belgrade and Priština entail regional cooperation and would subsequently lead to greater regional stability. According to a Beta article, it is clear that a prevailing number of EU member states would prefer to see a considerable improvement between Serbia and Kosovo prior to Belgrade’s accession to the EU. Yet, not a single state has explicitly stipulated that Serbia recognize Kosovo’s independence possibly because five EU member states have not done so either. These states include Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain, and Slovakia. Germany and France, meanwhile, are the strongest proponents of tightening the concession date of negotiations as well as Serbia’s candidacy for EU membership should Belgrade – Priština relations not improve significantly. On the other side, the European Commission highlighted Serbian results in reforming its judiciary, systemic law and the fight against corruption.
Vice president Božidar Đelić stated that “some countries” do not wish for Serbia to receive EU membership. “The reality is that these states seek to convince other member states that Serbia meet additional conditions” as Đelić maintained in an interview with Press Online. The vice president asserted that additional conditions may be placed on Serbia as long as these do not overstep the state’s “red lines” regarding Belgrade’s policy toward Kosovo. He added, however, that France was working on Serbia’s behalf so that no extra conditions would be placed prior to Serbia’s admission to the Union. Đelić too said that Serbia, to date, had brought forward creative solutions regarding the Kosovo issue adding that the next move was to come from the EU. Đelić, for instance, expects the EU’s help regarding the achievement of solutions for customs which in turn would ease further dialogue with Priština. For now, diplomatic protocol will determine as to the allowable goods carried across the administrative points.
According to Nenad Čanak, president of the League of the Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), the overall messages coming out of Brussels look positive. Other politicians, meanwhile, remain conscious. Serbia’s Renewal Movement Party (SPO) president Vuk Drašković, for instance, warned that while positive recommendations regarding EU membership are constructive, they could be reversed still. EU membership can be lost if Serbia does not establish regional membership cooperation, an important goal too for Serbia. In addition, receiving EU membership will not solve Serbia’s most pressing problems as Tomislav Nikolić, president of Serbia’s Progressive Party (SNS), asserted. According to Nikolić, these problems include a deficient economy and the low living standard of Serbian citizens. In Nikolić’s words “only a completely new government will be able to resolve these problems”.
Reacting to the EU commission’s recommendation, Serbian president Boris Tadić expressed his satisfaction adding that Serbia is ready to continue its dialogue with Priština as was conditioned by the Commission. EU candidacy would present Serbia with economic opportunities especially regarding possible investments that could potentially flow into the state. Tadić emphasized that accession would send a positive signal to Serbian citizens that their state is on the right track affirming that positive attitude is important while simultaneously cautioning from too much euphoria.
“EK preporučila kandidaturu za Srbiju”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 12, 2011. www.egm.rs/vesti/srbija/166127.html
“EU: Srbija sutra kandidat za prijem, datum pregovora kasnije”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 11, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166042.html
“Reakcije na dobijanje kandidature”. B 92. accessed October 12, 2011. www.B92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=12&nav_id=548940
“Đelić: Dijalog da, ali sa uslovima”. B92. accessed October 13, 2011.www.B92.net/info/vesti/indexphp?yyyy-2011&mm=10&dd=13&nav_id=549197
“Đelić: Pojedine Zemlje bi da postave nove uslove Srbiji”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 9, 2001. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165910.html
Serbia and Kosovo I Metohija
Serbia and Kosovo were to hold renewed debates on the 14th of October. Talks between Belgrade and Priština, however, were only to be held on technical issues as head of Kosovo’s delegation, deputy prime minister of Kosovo Edita Tahiri stated. Tahriri added that Serbia seeks to channel talks to include political issues particularly the administrative crossings in northern Kosovo. She recalled the U.S.’s and EU’s conception by which the nature of upcoming talks ought not to be changed contrary to Serbia’s request by which dialogue regarding the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings remain of principal importance ahead of questions regarding energy, telecommunications and regional cooperation.
State secretary at the Ministry for Kosovo Oliver Ivanović agreed with the Commission regarding the continuance of Priština – Belgrade dialogue. The problem is, according to Ivanović, that the EU does not have as great an influence in Kosovo compared to the U.S. For this reason, Serbia hopes that U.S. ambassador to Kosovo Christopher William Dell will influence Kosovo to return to hold dialogues with Serbia. Ivanović added that talks between Belgrade and Priština were always conducted “on the edge” as Kosovo diplomats seek to politicize talks so that continued dialogue will always hinge on Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
On the administrative crossing near Jarinje, Serb citizens and KFOR troops again collided over the removal of barriers erected by Serbs. KFOR troops, upon Serb citizen’s protest against the removal of the barricade, again closed the Jarinje crossing. The removal of the barricades, according to KFOR forces, was necessary so as to allow for normalized communication and supply to the Jarinje bases. Serbs, however, asserted they would remain on the barricades until Kosovar customs officials leave the administrative crossing. The barricades, however, are to be removed on Monday, October 17, 2011, said Ivanović upon information from KFOR. Ivanović added that such actions “will not lead to constructive results while it actually may raise tensions in the region”. Instead, the minister said, it is likely that upon a meeting planned between four municipalities (no specification) and KFOR an agreement will be reached regarding the movement of KFOR vehicles. The message from KFOR headquarters in Priština meanwhile remained unchanged. The barricades are to be removed under peaceful circumstances.
Former United Nations administrator to Kosovo Gerald Galucci stated that the Commission’s linking of Serbia’s membership to the situation in Kosovo meant in effect that Brussels is demanding that Serbia surrender the north of Kosovo to Priština. In an article published in the portal Transconflict, Galucci stipulated the removal of the barricades and the permanent placement of Kosovar customs officials in northern Kosovo. The five most influential players regarding Kosovo and Serbian relations, the U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, expect from Serbia to relinquish its position in northern Kosovo. The problem, however, is that president Tadić cannot give up northern Kosovo on political bases. Tadić, for instance, lacks the necessary political support to withdraw from its position thereby making the fulfillment of EU demands impossible. In Galucci’s words, “the EU should have simply said that it currently does not wish to admit new member states”.
“Kfor ponovo zatvorio novi alternativni put kod jarinja”. Polika Online. accessed October 16, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrke/Politika/Kfor-ponovo-zatvorio-novi-alternativni-put-kod-jarinja.lt.html
“Ivanović: Intervencija protiv Srba nije u interesu Kfora”. Politika Online. accessed October 16, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Ivanovic-Intervencija-protiv-Srba-nije-u-interesu-Kfora.lt.html
“Barikade ostaju, ali do kada?”. B92. accessed October 16, 2011. www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=16&nav_category=640&nav_id=549956
“Ivanović: Najava uklanjanja barikada jača napetost”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 16, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166403.html
“Galuči: EU od Beograda traži predaju severa”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 13, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166204.html
“KFOR zatvorio novi alternativni put kod Jarinja”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 13, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166202.html
“Ivanocić: Potreban pritisak na Prištinu”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 13, 2011.www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166200.html
“Sledeća runda razgovara o tehničkim pitanjima 14. octobra”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 9, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165909.html
While elections are planned to be held in 2012, Serbia’s parliamentary speaker Slavica Đukić-Dejanović stated that she would not be surprised would elections be announced in December. Đukić-Dejanović added that the upcoming decision on Serbia’s accession, also due in December, might be positive thus influencing the date of the elections. It is already clear, especially during the past 30 days, that Serbia is in pre-election mode. However, deputy prime minister and minister for the interior Ivica Dačić announced that elections will be held as announced, in 2012. Yet, asked about Đukić-Dejanović’s statement, he concurred that elections may theoretically be held in December simultaneously asserting that elections “will definitely be regular”.
Similar words as mentioned above by Nikolić (SNS), were voiced by the president of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) Nenad Čanak as he stated that “Belgradization is a great evil”. According to Čanak, the rest of Serbia cannot get better as long as all the money keeps flowing to Belgrade while Belgrade politicians receive the highest salary in the state. Serbia cannot emerge from its current [fiscal] crisis as long as the decision making process is being centralized. Executive powers should thus be transferred to municipalities. These and other questions including “the sweeping hordes of fascists on Belgrade streets who do not seem to be answerable to the law” remain unanswered, said Čanak adding that these should be banned and brought to justice. Inaction by the government has produced a counter reaction as a growing number of Hungarian nationalists become visible in Vojvodina also.
“Koalicija ne naša stvar”. Politika Online. accessed October 16, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Koalicija-je-nasa-stvar.lt.html
“Čanak: Beogradizacija je veliko zlo”. B92. accessed October 16, 2011. www.b92.net/biz/vesti/srbija.php.?yyyy=2011&mm=10&dd=16&nav_id=549883.
“Raspisovanje izbora u decembru?”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed October 11, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/166022.html
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Serbia & the EU
Internal affairs minister Ivica Dačić affirmed Serbia’s continued priority regarding EU membership. While Belgrade’s prospect of economic progress is significant, shared values between the EU and Serbia are an equally essential determinant of joining. This he said at the opening of the economic summit in Belgrade adding that Serbia is committed to resolving pending problems while seeking to preserve its national interest. Energy development and economic cooperation should further integration and not serve as dividing factors in the region, stated Dačić at the summit that hosted 40 participants and 200 delegates. Central themes discussed at the summit included regional economic stability, EU accession, macroeconomic stability, development of the Serbian economy, structural change, foreign investment policies in agriculture, telecommunications, trade, energy and environmental protection. Meanwhile, Ištvan Pastor, president of the Hungarian alliance Vojvodina, stated that Serbia was not to receive EU candidacy as long as Belgrade not change its law on the restitution of property. The determination of the law, said Pastor, is a candidacy wager that influences Serbia’s accession as Hungry contemplates its position over the above question. Nevertheless, Serbia is looking toward accession to the Union. According to public statements made at the first regional conference with attendees from Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, reforming the public administration sector is viewed as the focal priority on the road to EU accession. Good governance, for instance, is indicative of the quality of life as well as it is a key factor for economic competitiveness and growth as stated by Milan Marković, minister of human rights, public administration and local self governance. Marković stated that the quality regarding public services are at “the same” level throughout the region adding that the public sector, financed with taxes from the citizenry, ought to provide quality services and secure economic growth. The minister pointed toward the regions’ historic cooperation as well as “the terrible events of the past” emphasizing that finding renewed trust through cooperation will correct the difficulties experienced. This, Marković said, is the biggest challenge as well as it is a political priority of the regional governments. Governmental reform is but one step to cooperation as proven by states that have joined in 2004.
Serbian endeavor at reform is possibly paying off. Bečki Prese reported that Serbia has good chances regarding negotiation talks with the EU while negotiations on admission are not concrete. To be sure, the current situation in Kosovo nearly jeopardized Belgrade’s position, yet, Serbia, according to the report, has worked on reforming its judiciary as well as fighting corruption. The decisive act, however, was Ratko Mladić’s and Goran Hadžić’s capture and extradition to The Hague. These notions were affirmed by Milica Delević, the Serbian governments EU integration office director, adding that the EU is most likely to advocate a solution for northern Kosovo prior to Serbia’s admission.
“Milica Delević: Očekumem pozitivnu preporuku EK”. Politika Online. accessed October 8, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Milica-Delevic-Ocekujem-pozitivnu-preporuku-EK.lt.html
“Srbiji status kandidata?”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 7, 2011. www.emg.sr/vesti/srbija/165726.html
“Reforma uprave prioritet na putu ka EU i zahtev građana”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 6, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165669.html
“Pastor: Srbija bez candidature zbog zakona o restituciji”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 4, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165381.html
“Dačić: Članstvo u EU priorited Srbije”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 3, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165256.html
Vice president of the progressive party (SNS) Aleksandar Vučić pronounced the current government of Serbia the “worst ruling body ever” given that it indebted the state by 5.7 billion Euros. There are no perspectives for the state while the fabrics remain closed. Yet the leading politicians, said Vučić, remain silent on these issues adding that on the 29th of October on which the SNS marks its third year of existence, the party will unveil its political, economical and social plan.
Turning to Serbia’s battle against corruption, Čedomir Čupić – member of the anti corruption board – stated that resolving “big” corruption scandals would send a clear message regarding Serbia’s intentions. When seeking to resolve corruption, cooperation between differing state institutions including efficiency regarding persecution at the courts is imperative. Čupić thus recalled unresolved scandals thus questioning the effectiveness of the judiciary. While the courts are thought of as independent, questions regarding the judges remain. To this end, said Čupić, the anti corruption committee should receive greater investigative and executive functions – a notion met with agreement by justice minister Slobodan Homen. The minister stated that it is not ruled out that the agency be entrusted with greater responsibility in the fight against corruption.
Regarding human rights, Serbia received positive feedback from the United Nations (UN). The UN has thus prepared a series of action so as to demonstrate to the international community that Serbia has become a state that pays attention to human rights as UN resident coordinator William Infante stated. According to Infante, Serbia can be proud to serve as a model for inter-parliamentary and mutual cooperation between institutions dealing with human rights at the “Human Rights and Parliament” conference at the Serbian parliament.
“Čupić: Rešavati krupne afere”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 4, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165432
“Vučić: Vlada zadužila zemlju za 5.7 milijardi evra”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 4, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165403
Serbia & Kosovo
Investigations regarding the events of late September are still under way. Koha Ditore, a Kosovar news outlet, reported that the attack on KFOR soldiers was planned by a businessman named Zvonko Vaselinović – the same man as reported to having organized the opening of alternative roads around the administrative crossings. Vaselinović, however, denied these, as well as allegations that tied him to illegal cigarette and oil trade. Koha quoted Erhard Drews, the new KFOR commander, who witnessed the attack on KFOR soldiers adding that 10 soldiers have been wounded. The toughest job, according to EULEX, was to get an exact number as to how many Serbs were injured. According to ongoing investigations, the incidents transpired when a truck headed toward the barbed wire surrounding the KFOR base. Against a soldiers warning, the truck did not stop instead colliding with a KFOR soldier whose weapons the truck driver sought to seize. Another KFOR soldier opened fire on the truck driver upon which Serbian citizens on the barricades started to throw explosive devices toward the KFOR base as Koha Ditore reported. A similar version of incidents was published by B92 quoting Vuk Drašković, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement Party (SPO), who affirmed that the same conclusions were presented at the parliamentary committee on security. Before this news release, representatives of Kosovar Serbs and the Ministry for Kosovo argued that KFOR soldiers opened fire on unarmed Serbs as well as the ambulance. However, state secretary for Kosovo Oliver Ivanović stated that he does not share Vuković’s views. Ivanović bases his knowledge on the incidents regarding the administrative crossing Jarinje on eyewitness accounts as well as on those Serbs who have been injured. According to these versions, a Serb drove a truck toward the KFOR base with the intention of burying the barbed wire that was put in place by KFOR soldiers. The barbed wire was erected with the intention of blocking the road near the Jarinje crossing. KFOR soldiers, meanwhile, sought to halt the truck driver. Upon the driver’s refusal to halt the truck, a KFOR soldier sought to pull the driver out of the truck which led to “a reaction” of the other Serbian people on the barricades leading to the KFOR solders’ opening of fire on advancing Serbs. Witnesses also claimed that both, rubber bullets as well as live ammunition were shot at the demonstrating crowd, according to the eyewitness account quoted by Ivanović.
Meanwhile, Serbians in northern Kosovo still guard the barricades according to a schedule citizens have established so as to secure continued presence in Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvečanu, Zubini Potok and Leposavica. The Serbian Kosovars on the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings stated that despite the changing weather conditions, they will not abandon the barricades until the Kosovar customs officers leave the administrative crossings. Present are, despite the start of the school year, students as well as pensioners among other people. Since closing the Jarinje crossing, there has not been a single car or pedestrian traversing the route despite the EULEX’s announcement by which the crossing was reopened.
The current situation in northern Kosovo meanwhile is affecting the economic sector of Serbia as German investments were halted allegedly over the development there. The German ambassador to Belgrade Wolfram Maas did not specify if in fact the “Kosovo crisis” led to the delay of investment. German investors, however, are following the development on the border closely. According to recent survey, a German pharmaceutical company lost 1.5 million Euros due to the prohibition of delivering goods from Serbia to Kosovo.
Tasić, Jelena. “Državnim organima Srbije sam na raspolaganju 24 sata dnevno”. Danas.sr. accessed October 7, 2011. www.danas.rs/danasrs/politika/drzavnim_organima_sam_na_raspolaganju_24_sata_dnevno.56.html?news_id=225410
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Novi Pazar / Sandžak
Tomislav Nikolić, head of Serbia’s Progressive Party (SNS), stated upon a meeting with Muamer Effendi Zukorlić, Mufti of the Serbian Islamic community, that all Serb citizens are threatened, not only Bosniaks residing in Serbia. Nikolić asserted nobody living in Serbia could safely assume to be guaranteed a job, a perspective, education, medicinal treatment or a secure pension. He did not wish to get into the discussion as to whether Bosniaks were proportionally represented in courts or police forces simply adding that there is room for improvement. Nikolić stated that Zukorlić had to date plentifully proven that the rights of Bosniaks were jeapordized. “I join Zukorlić’s view and say the rights of Serbs are threatened too”, said the leading SNS politician. In response to the meeting, Zukorlić stated that only time will show as to whether Nikolić will prove himself to be a fair leader. The great injustices against the Islamic community and Bosniaks must thus be removed, an action by which Nikolić could demonstrate that he is different from the politicians that have been in power thus far. However, Nikolić’s statements demonstrate that there is no difference between the Serbian and Bosniak communities. The government, says Zukorlić, hitherto tried to portray his activism as a dividing factor contributing between an alleged gap between the respective communities. The meeting had other positive effects as explained by Zukorlić. People on the street, Serbs as well as Bosniaks, greet him on while he feels that citizens are happy about the discussion Nikolić and Zukorlić had. In the focus were five as of yet unresolved questions including the unification of the Islamic community, the return of confiscated territory to the Waqf (plot and/or buildings for religious and/or charitable purposes), accreditation of the International University, the allowance that the illegally excluded teachers be granted the right to resume their work as well lifting the ban on the Bosniak National Council.
“Nismo tražili savez sa Zukorlićem.” Politika Online. accessed October 8, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/politika/Nismo-trazili-savez-sa-Zukorlicem.lt.html
“Intervju: Muamer Zukorlić, glavni muftija Islamske zajednice u Srbiji – Nikolić deluje doslednije od Tadića”. Politika Online. accessed October 8, 2011. www.politika.rs/rubrike/politika/Nikolic-deluje-doslednije-od-Tadica.lt.html
“Nikolić: U Srbiji zu ugroženi svi, ne samo Bošnjaci”. Ekonom East Group. accessed October 7, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbija/165737.html