Vucic: We Have an Adequate Answer to the ‘Great Albania’ Initiative

Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic said the former Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj is a “dangerous man” and the “Great Albania” would be a threat to everyone, Serbia, the region, and Europe. 

Vucic’s reaction comes after a statement from Haradianaj that if there is no progress on the visa liberalization process, or joining NATO, he himself will request a referendum in 2025 for joining Albania. Haradinaj has an open candidacy for Kosovo’s President, expected to be voted after the snap elections on February 14 take place. 

When asked by journalists to comment on the statement, Vucic said that threats should not be returned with threats, adding that Serbia will have an “adequate answer”. 

“My answer is you do your job, whatever you want, and we will have a good and adequate answer, and citizens should not worry”, Vucic said. 

He added that would like to have reactions from Washington, Brussels, and other power centers of the world about Haradinaj’s suggestions. 

“God forbid that someone from our side talked about some other type of unification in the Balkans not only would they impose sanctions on us, but they would almost bomb us”, Vucic said. 

Vucic said that with Haradinaj president and Vetevendosje’s leader, Albin Kurti as a possible coming Prime Minister, the country would have institutions that advocate unification with Albania. 

Kosovo Serbs to Stand with Serbia and Vucic

Serb List leader Goran Rakic told on January 18th, that the Kosovo Serbs have to stand together with Serbia and its President Aleksandar Vucic.  

“The Serb List had one goal since it was formed to have all Serbs in Kosovo on the same side and together with the state of Serbia and President Vucic, fighting for the interests of our people and other non-majority communities”, he said. The Serb List registered its candidates for the coming early elections to the Kosovo parliament last week. 

Rakic said that it’s better for the Serb List to “fight for its citizens inside Pristina institutions” than in Serb-populated areas. “That has not been and will not be easy but it is an obligation for each of us to support our people”, he said commenting on the decision to field candidates in the February 14 elections. 

Kosovo Serbs Field Candidates in Early Parliamentary Elections

The Serb List submitted its list of 20 candidates for the early elections to the Kosovo parliament on February 14.  

Serb List leader Goran Rakic told reporters in front of the Central Election Commission headquarters that the party has the strong support of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. “That is why I know that we will win all 10 of the seats reserved for Serbs in Kosovo”, he said. 

The KoSSev news portal said that about half of the candidates are Serb List MPs and added that the list is headed by Igor Simic and includes Ksenija Bozovic, an official of the GI SDP. That political organization was formed and headed by Kosovo Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic who was assassinated in front of his party offices in January 2018 and has not cooperated with the Serb List to date. 

Pristina: Mutual Recognition Clear Goal in Dialogue with Belgrade

Kosovo’s acting Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti said on Thursday (14.01) that Pristina entered the dialogue on the normalization of relations with Belgrade based on clear principles that should lead to mutual recognition, the idea which Serbia’s current authorities vehemently rejected.  

„We started the dialogue with Serbia with crystal clear message – Kosovo’s Constitution has been and is the guideline”, Hoti wrote on his Facebook profile. 

He said he had to react to „false things are being said”. 

„With regard to my approach and the Government of the Republic of Kosovo in relation to the dialogue process, false things are being said, so I would like to clarify:
We have entered into dialogue with Serbia on clear principles:
– The Constitution of Kosovo has been and remains a guide.
– Kosovo territorial integrity is non-negotiable.
– Kosovo’s constitutional organization is not affected.
– There is no association with executive powers.
– The final agreement should include mutual recognition between the two countries.
These principles are also supported by our partners. There will be no movement from these principles”, Hoti wrote. 

His party faces early elections on February 14, after the Constitutional Court ruled his cabinet’s election last June was illegal. 

In the meantime, Përparim Kryeziu, a spokesperson for the Self-Determination movement, said the party’s head and former Prime Minister Albin Kurti would be its candidate for the head of a new government expected to be formed after the early vote.

Petkovic Banned from Entering Kosovo to Deliver Aid

Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo said on Thursday (14.01) that Pristina’s authorities banned the Office’s head Petar Petkovic from entering Kosovo where he intended to deliver humanitarian aid to areas hit by floods.  

„It’s obvious the election campaign in Pristina already started and that the Serbs are the target again. The Albanian politicians’ move shows that political marketing was more important to them than the people’s life and safety. At the same time, such an attitude shows that the European Union is not capable of securing the respect of the agreed documents including that of the freedom of movements”, Petkovic said in a statement. 

He added he did not want to add to the tensions in Kosovo and said „there is one thing we all can be sure about – no one can stop us from helping our people. As we promised, Serbia’s aid will reach our people endangered by floods”, in Kosovo. 

Parts of Kosovo have been hit by heavy floods recently. 

Belgrade: Let’s Meet Half-way with Pristina

Petkovic, the head of Serbia’s Government Office for Kosovo, said on Wednesday (13.01) that Belgrade advocated a compromise with Pristina, adding the two capitals should “meet half-way so that neither side gets or loses everything.”  

Serbia was an internationally recognized country and did not need Kosovo’s recognition, he said, and added the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue in Brussels was about the normalization of relations, and not about mutual recognition. 

He accused Kosovo’s politicians of using it for internal politics and the forthcoming elections. 

“We have signed 48 agreements, and Pristina has to implement them. We have done our part”, he said, adding Kosovo’s acting President Vjosa Osmani “does not understand or pretend to be naïve when she says Brussels must pressure Belgrade into implementing the agreements.” 

“I welcome her words that the agreed must be implemented. We also insist on that”, Petkovc said. 

Sattler Calls for the Distribution of the Migrant Crisis Burden Equally in Whole BiH

The burden of the migrant crisis must be equally distributed on the whole territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union ambassador Johann Sattler told, adding that the humanitarian crisis in the country was unnecessary. 

According to him, some positive steps forward have been made regarding the migrant crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, recalling that tents for migrants have been set up at the Lipa village, Bosnia’s northwest. 

“Bosnia and Herzegovina are a signatory of international conventions, it signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU”, stressed Sattler, the Head of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that this is not about whether the country wants or not but that it has to take over the responsibility. 

Speaking in N1’s Dan program, Sattler said the responsibility cannot rest only with the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also with political leaders. 

“We cannot have this situation repeating every year. Last year it was (the infamous camp that closed down) Vucjak, this year it was Lipa. We want to avoid such reputation risk for BiH”, Sattler was quoted as saying. 

He mentioned Serbia as a country that established a migration management system in two to three years which is, as he said, not perfect, but is well organized. 

Sattler also said he did not want to ignore the security concerns of the local population in the northwestern Una-Sana Canton, adding that he could understand the locals but that closing down the Bira camp did not help as hundreds of migrants were left in the open. 

“We are trying to exert pressure on everyone. We repeat that all parts of the country should bear a part of the burden, including Republika Srpska and Herzegovina”, he underlined. 

Part of Migrants in Improvised Tents Refuses Registration

Dozens of migrants, mostly originating from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, found a shelter in one of the few improvised tent settlements near Bosnia’s northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, as the official migrant camps in that area are full of people. But, some of them, according to local authorities, refuse to be registered in regular camps. 

The migrants, 30 to 50 of them, are now struggling with snow, which made their tents collapse. Left in the open, some migrants are finding shelter in the abandoned houses in the area. 

Addressing the session of independent intellectuals ‘Krug 99’ on Sunday (10.01), Prime Minister of Una-Sana Canton, Bosnia’s northwestern region, Mustafa Ruznic, said the authorities secured the accommodation for all vulnerable categories, including women and children, a month ago. 

But, he warned, there is a number of migrants refusing to be registered in any of the camps on the territory of this canton. 

“Why? Our police believe it might be because of their status in the countries they come from. They simply don’t want to be registered. There is a small number of them in those mini-camps, up to 10-15 of them. They simply don’t want to come back”, stressed Ruznic. 

He called for better control of illegal migrations on Bosnian eastern borders, accusing all security ministers since 2018 of doing nothing about it and allowing the migrants’ free movement to the Una-Sana Canton. 

Bosnia’s Serb Presidency Member: Independent Republika Srpska Historic Goal

Independent and free Republika Srpska (RS) is a historic goal, Serb member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik said Saturday (09.01) marking the RS Day, for which Bosnia’s Constitutional Court said cannot be observed on January 9. 

“Our historic goal is independent and free Republika Srpska and we must learn the lesson that my generation inherited from our predecessors. Having no state is something that Serbs learned in the worst possible way in various rebellions and unfortunately in the latest civil war”, Dodik said addressing a ceremony in Banja Luka, the administrative center of Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s Serb-majority region. 

Despite the decision of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina from March 2019, which said that the holiday cannot be marked on January 9, the RS authorities have organized another celebration.   

The court decision came after a motion filed by Bosniak and Croat MPs, who argued that marking the RS Day on January 9, which is also a Serb Orthodox religious holiday violates the rights of non-Serbs living there. 

Bosnian Serbs celebrate January 9 because on that day in 1992 they declared the breakaway Serb state as founded. The so-called Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina covered about half of Bosnia’s full territory. 

It was later renamed Republika Srpska, which is under the current Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina an integral part of the country. 

Being a member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dodik is elected by voters in the country’s Serb-majority part. The other two members, Bosniak and Croat, are elected in the Federation (FBiH) entity. 

Republika Srpska was not given, it was fought for, Dodik said on Saturday (09.01), and it is everyone’s duty to preserve it. 

“The battle on the political arena against all those obstructing Republika Srpska will continue, and it will not be easy at all in the next year, but what differentiates the coming year from all previous years, as far as Republika Srpska is concerned, is the fact we celebrate 30th anniversary and we must prepare. We must be stronger and we must do it in the best way”, he added. 

World Bank Forecasts 2.8% Growth for Bosnia in 2021

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s GDP should increase by 2.8 percent in 2021 if the coronavirus pandemic is put under control and if economic activities recover, according to the World Bank’s latest report. 

The data published in “Global Economic Prospects 2021” the growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to be lower by 0.8 percent compared to the forecast presented in June last year, when the World Bank projected 3.4 percent growth for the country in 2021.

The new forecast comes after the GDP drop-in 2020 by four percent. 

According to the World Bank, the country’s real growth in 2022 could reach 3.5 percent. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Western Balkans, will according to the World Bank forecast achieve the GDP provided that the Covid-19 pandemic is put under control and political instabilities are reduced. 

The World Bank also finds the recovery in the European Union is very important for the recovery of the Western Balkan region.