Mario Kordic is the New Mayor of Mostar

Mario Kordic from the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) is the new Mayor of Mostar, the City Council decided during the secret vote which took place Monday (15.02). 

This was the second attempt at the election of the Mayor after the first vote was annulled because it was done publicly, which violated the City Statute. 

Kordic was elected in the third round of voting where he received a simple majority of 17 votes, which guaranteed him the position of the first man of the city on the Neretva River. His opponent from the Coalition for Mostar, Zlatko Guzin, got 16 votes. Two votes were invalid.

Self-Determination Movement Wins 48% of the Vote in Kosovo Elections

The Vetëvendosje (Self-Determination) movement, led by Albin Kurti, is the convincing winner of early parliamentary elections held in Kosovo on Sunday (14.02), with 48% of the vote won, preliminary election results showed after more than half of the ballots were counted. 

According to exit polls published after polling stations were closed at 7 p.m., Kurti could win 53% of the vote or 58 of a total of 120 seats in the Kosovo Assembly. 

His party is followed by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, with 18.32% of the vote, and the Democratic League of Kosovo, with 13.65% of the vote, while the Serb Slate, the leading Kosovo Serb party, declared victory with 3.81% of the votes won. 

Serb Slate leader Goran Rakić said his party had secured all ten seats in the parliament guaranteed for the ethnic Serb community. 

A total of 1,052 candidates and 28 political parties, movements, coalitions, and civic groups ran in the elections. 

As an independent country, Kosovo is today being returned to its people as the bearer of sovereignty, Kurti, a former prime minister said in a comment on the preliminary results. 

The candidate of the Democratic League of Kosovo for the prime minister and incumbent Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, told reporters, he accepted full responsibility for his party’s election result, which, he said, was different than expected. 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić congratulated the Serb Slate, saying that he had hoped for such an outcome. 

“This is an important thing and a difficult period is ahead of us,” Vučić told the Belgrade-based Pink TV. 

The last parliamentary elections in Kosovo were held in October 2019, when Kurti was elected prime minister, however, his government was given a vote of no confidence already in March 2020. The Kosovo parliament in June 2020 voted to elect a new government headed by Avdullah Hoti of the Democratic League of Kosovo. 

Croatia Rejects Diplomatic Note From Bosnia on Economic Zone

Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has rejected as unfounded a diplomatic note sent at the end of January by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the announcement of the declaration of an exclusive economic zone in Croatia’s part of the Adriatic Sea. 

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic sent the note due to the announcement that Croatia would declare an exclusive economic zone (IGP), stating that it endangered the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular, it’s right to access the high seas. 

In its response to Sarajevo, Croatia’s ministry said that it saw no reason for such a reaction because there were no violations of international law in this case, which senior Bosnian officials such as current Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik agreed with. 

In December 2020, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman directly informed Minister Turkovic about all plans for declaring an exclusive economic zone, Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolic informed the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers and Dodik later said the declaration of the zone did not call into question the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

“One should bear in mind that the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not violated in the process of Croatia declaring an exclusive economic zone and that the country is behaving correctly in that regard. In order to sail from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the high seas, that is international waters, one must pass through Croatia’s territorial waters and that is clear to anyone who looks at a map, except to Turkovic”, Dodik said in an earlier comment on the note sent from Sarajevo to Zagreb on 27 January. 

Based on those facts, Croatia’s Foreign Ministry told the Bosnian Foreign Ministry that it could not accept its note as a legitimate and official position of Bosnia and Herzegovina on that matter. 

The declaration of Croatia’s exclusive economic zone takes effect on 13 February, and Croatia’s Foreign Ministry underscored that this would not affect Bosnia and Herzegovina as Croatia’s Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP) applied to it since 2003. ZERP will now become the exclusive economic zone. 

The Ministry recalled that in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Croatia had provided unhindered access to and from the shores of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the ZERP.

Serbia to Deliver First Vaccines to North Macedonia

President Aleksandar Vucic delivered the first contingent of anti-coronavirus vaccines to North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the Tabanovce border crossing between the two countries on Thursday, February 11th.  

Zaev published on his Facebook on January 18 that North Macedonia was set to receive 8,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from Serbia and that details on delivery were discussed at the time.

Macron will attend the next Brdo-Brijuni summit

Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Tuesday, February 9th, he received a letter from his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in which he accepted an invitation to participate in the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit. 

The meeting of the leaders of the initiative’s member states were to have taken place last year, but was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date of the next summit has not been set as the pandemic is not over, although the epidemiological situation in Slovenia is improving. 

Pahor said he planned to convene the event as soon as conditions allowed, likely in March or April. He said it could serve as an open and useful dialogue and deliver messages about EU enlargement, resolving bilateral relations between the countries in the region, and the joint commitment to peace, stability, and prosperity in Southeast Europe. 

The Brdo-Brijuni Process is a Slovenian-Croatian initiative that Pahor conceived in 2010 when he was prime minister, to boost trust and help Western Balkan countries on their European path. 

It has become customary to invite the leader of an EU member state or institution as a guest. 

Serbia Will Punish Officials Who Cooperate With Criminals

Serbia will decisively show it knows how to resist every type of crime and sanction those from the authorities who cooperate with criminals and share information with them, Nebojsa Stefanovic, current Defense, and former Interior Minister has said on Monday (08.02).  

After the National Security Council session, following the arrest of dozens of members of a major crime organization last week, Stefanovic added the agenda included the situation in Kosovo, fight against organized crime, and Serbia’s security system needs. 

President Aleksandar Vucic headed the meeting. 

According to Stefanovic, Belgrade „continues to fight against organized crime and defy the organized crime groups.” 

„We’ve analyzed all the links the organized crime groups had with some members of the state institutions which the state will sanction. The last operation you have seen will continue, not only against that crime group but against others operating in Serbia,” Stefanovic said. 

He added the need to empower the state institutions to better conduct that fight and secure safety for the people. 

As far as the situation in Kosovo is concerned, Stefanovic has said it was „complex both politically and security-wise”, and that the state measures for the safety of the Serbs there had also been discussed. 

„We want to protect the Serb population there and analyze all challenges in the situation that is becoming more complex… We’ll continue to protect the stability and safety of the Serbs population in cooperation with KFOR, thus showing we are serious and responsible partners and send a clear message we won’t allow any pogrom”, Stefanovic said. 

Kosovo voters go to the polls on February 14 for early elections following the current government was ousted. 

Montenegrin Town Supports Naming Street After Ratko Mladic

The council in charge of naming and renaming settlements, streets and squares in the northeastern municipality of Berane, Montenegro, adopted a proposal to name a local street after former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, who is appealing his life sentence for war crimes, including genocide, committed in Bosnia. 

The head of the council, Goran Kikovic, said that the decision was made by an advisory body that has no decision-making powers but forwards its opinion on the proposals to the competent Secretariat, and that the final word on naming streets or renaming them comes from the competent ministry. 

“The Council received a large number of proposals from institutions and individuals, and it is true that among them were proposals for one of the streets to be named after general Ratko Mladic, and that proposal passed, while the proposal for another street to bear the name of a duke, Pavle Djurisic was not approved because three members out of seven who attended the session voted against it”, he said.

Palestinian Foreign Ministry Disappointed by Kosovo

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment over the establishing of diplomatic relations between Kosovo and Israel and Pristina’s intention of opening an embassy in Jerusalem. 

“The step was taken by Kosovo with the signing of the agreement with the occupier state and declaration of its intent to open an embassy in occupied Jerusalem is a step that is completely counter to all efforts by Kosovo to convince the states of the world to recognize it”, the statement sent to the media in Serbia by the Embassy of Palestine said. 

It said that the agreement signed by Kosovo and Israel on February 1 is disappointing because it called Kosovo “which is trying to find a place among independent states is expected to literally abide by international legitimacy and international law”. According to the statement, Kosovo has shown that it is ignoring and openly violating international law and resolutions complicating the position of any state that is considering recognition. 

“The Ministry hopes that the decision-making institutions in Kosovo will reconsider the step and quickly annul the decision”, it said. 

High Rep in BiH Gives RS Entity 3 Months to Annul Honors to War Criminals

The international community’s administrator in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, sent a letter addressed to the leadership of the Republika Srpska (RS) entity parliament and heads of all its caucuses, requesting that charters issued by this institution to those convicted of war crimes be annulled within three months. 

“On October 24, 2016, the organizing committee which was established to mark the 25th anniversary of the existence and work of the RS National Assembly (as the parliament is officially called), awarded special charters and recognitions to numerous institutions, organizations and individuals, and you as the Speaker of the RSNA (Nedeljko Cubrilovic) had presented them. Among those who received them were all former speakers of the National Assembly and members of the First Presidency of the RS, including Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Biljana Plavsic, whose actions shocked the world during the armed conflict [in Bosnia] and caused unimaginable human suffering. As you know, Karadzic, Krajisnik, and Plavsic were convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia”, reads the letter from the High Representative in BiH who is in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war 1992-1995 in the country. 

It further states that “the glorification of war criminals, including glorification in the form which we witnessed on October 24, 2016, directly hurts and provokes those who suffered the consequences of the war and damages the memory of the victims.” 

“In the end, it destabilizes the region and threatens the prospects for reconciliation in BiH”, Inzko said. 

Inzko noted that the removal of the plaque of the convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic from the premises of the student dormitory in Pale, near Sarajevo, was the first step in the right direction. 

“This creates an extraordinary opportunity for the RSNA, under your leadership, to continue on this path and to show political maturity, moral responsibility, and moderation towards the future, by revoking the charters with decorations awarded to convicted war criminals Karadzic, Krajisnik and Plavsic, which would place you personally and the institution you lead on the right side of history. I am giving you and the RSNA a period of three months, until the end of April 2021 [to do so]”, Inzko stated in a letter to Cubrilovic. 

On 24 October 2016, the RS National Assembly (RSNA) marked the 25th anniversary of the withdrawal of Serb delegates from the former Socialist Republic of BiH’s Parliamentary Assembly and the formation of the Assembly of Serb People in BiH. On this occasion, the current RSNA leadership gave special awards to all former RSNA speakers and members of the first RS Presidency, including convicted war criminals Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, as well as Radovan Karadzic, who was convicted of crimes against humanity. 

The event resulted in condemnations by various international organizations. 

The Election Campaign in Kosovo Started on February 3th

Kosovo Central Election Commission (CIK) confirmed on Tuesday, February 2nd the list of 1,794,862 eligible voters for early general elections due on February 14, paving the way for the campaign to start on Wednesday (03.02).  

It will last through February 12. 

The list includes 102.000 voters from the diaspora. 

The early elections will be held at 888 voting centers with 2,382 polling stations.