Serbia Has Sold Arms to Both Armenia and Azerbaijan

The Armenian diplomat Sosi Tatkidzan told on Wednesday September 30, she had checked several times before talking and has evidence that Serbia exported arms both to Armenia and Azerbaijan as well, and that same went for Russia. 

“Serbia exported much more weapons to Azerbaijan than to Armenia, and that’s clear by the number of arms that arrived in Azerbaijan which received more advanced weapons”, Tatkidzan said. 

She added that “Russia and Israel” are two main arms suppliers to Azerbaijan. Can you imagine, Israel, whose people also suffered a genocide like Armenians! That’s why we think they shouldn’t do that, especially since they sell them modern arms.”

“So, it’s not true that Serbia had been selling weapons to Armenia only. What appeared in the media was the newest contract, but the fact is that Serbia sold arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan”, Tatkidzan added. 

She said that as soon as “Azerbaijan start using money from gas and oil to support its army, they thought they could solve the situation in an armed conflict”, the diplomat said and added that the propaganda against Armenia is “quite normal” in Azerbaijan. 

Tatkidzan said her country was ready for a solution acceptable to all three sides (including Nagorno Karabakh, the disputed area) and claimed the latest conflict was not spontaneous. 

“The world may wrongly assume that it is about the state of war. That translation is incorrect. Our Constitution contains the Declaration about war in which, thanks to God, we are not yet. We also have a war situation, translated as military situation, meaning you have only several restrictions introduced during coronavirus pandemic not only in Armenia but in Serbia as well”, she said. 

The measures include: the Prime Minister becomes the army chief-of-staff; ban on spreading unchecked information; all military equipment mobilized, and all reserve military personnel recruited”, the diplomat who cooperates with many Armenian and international NGOs, has said.  

Tatkidzan added that there was a curfew in Azerbaijan, the Internet was almost completely blocked, apart from Twitter and all civilian flights were grounded. 

Tens of Thousands of Bosnians Plan to Emigrate

Bosnia is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of emigration and the total number of Bosnians abroad amounted to around 1.7 million at the end of 2019, said the results of a study conducted by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation called “Sustainability of emigration from Bosnia and Herzegovina”. 

“The emigration from Bosnia is not just the result of job search and efforts to ensure existence, that is, it is Bosnia is not just suffering from economic migration. It is conditioned by a combination of economic (lack of jobs, low wages, poor business environment), political (corruption and nepotism, crime, privileges, legal uncertainty, lack of rule of law, discrimination in human rights, political uncertainty, inefficient and inaccessible public administration) and social factors (poor treatment of work and workers, underdeveloped social services – health, education, welfare and pension system)”, the research states. 

According to this research, 87.3 percent of the interviewed people cited working conditions as the reason for leaving the country, followed by corruption and nepotism 77.4 percent, poor public services 73.9 percent, a better future for families and children 73.3 percent, the better quality of life abroad 65.8 percent, desire to achieve success and progress 63.9 percent, political uncertainty 62.9 percent, lack of perspective 61.4 percent, and fear of uncertainty 57 percent. 

During the observed four periods of migration, researchers observed a transformation of reasons for emigration, from existential to the factors of the well-being of individuals and entire families. Before leaving the country, 51.6 percent of respondents felt discriminated against. The most common form of discrimination was based on ethnicity (20.2 percent of respondents), political affiliation (17.6 percent), and the possibility of getting or starting a business (16.9 percent). 

One of the more important indicators of the quality of life abroad is the attitude of the respondents about the quality of life of children. Some 96 percent of respondents believe that the general quality of life of children abroad is better than in Bosnia. 

When it comes to those who plan to move out of the country, as many as 97.5 percent said they would take their children abroad, and 91.2 percent of respondents would not want their children to return to Bosnia. Most of them want to immigrate to Germany, followed by Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, USA, and Slovenia.

The reason – 99 percent of respondents believe the children’s quality of life is much better abroad than in Bosnia, the research said among other things. 

EU Expects North Macedonia to Meet Commitments

The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell told North Macedonia’s new Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani in Brussels on Monday (28.09) that the EU expects Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s cabinet to meet its commitments and speed up reforms. 

“Borrell stated that the EU expects the new government to continue to deliver on the country’s EU commitments, to sustain and accelerate the implementation of EU-related reforms. This concerns in particular rule of law, the fight against organised crime and corruption, as well as further strengthening of good neighborly relations”, a press release said. 

The EU High Representative “welcomed North Macedonia’s contributions to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations and the fact that North Macedonia’s level of alignment with EU foreign policy positions has increased in recent years”, it added. 

Borrell said that the EU remains committed to supporting North Macedonia during the coronavirus pandemic and added that the European Commission will also come forward in October with a very substantial Economic and Investment Plan to support the Western Balkans’ long-term recovery and bring the region closer to the EU. 

First Arrest in Kosovo on the Order of the Special Prosecutor

The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Kosovo arrested the former head of the intelligence department of the Kosovo Protection Corps, Salih Mustafa, in Kosovo, based on an arrest warrant issued by a pre-trial judge of the Kosovo Specialized Chambers. 

“Right now, Mustafa is being transferred to the detention unit of the Specialized Chambers of Kosovo in The Hague, where he is to appear before the pre-trial judge”, the Special Prosecutor said in a statement. 

It added the arrest was carried out under the Law on Specialized Chambers and the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office. 

The earlier statement did not say what Mustafa was indicted for, but later on September 24, it was published that “the confirmed indictment against Salih Mustafa charges him of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, cruel treatment, torture, and murder as war crimes committed in the context of and in connection with the non-international armed conflict in Kosovo.” 

Mustafa has been a member of the National Liberation Movement since 1988, under the leadership of Afrim Ziti, Fahri Fazli, and Fadil Vata. 

He was arrested in 1993 and sentenced to five years in prison for organizing an armed uprising. 

Deputy President of the Organization of War Veterans of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Nasim Haradinaj said the arrest was a result of ‘raised hands’ and accused the deputies who voted for the formation of the Special KLA court. 

Belgrade to Withdraw from European Peace Operations

Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti said on September 23, that the Defense Ministry sent the Foreign Ministry a proposal to withdraw all Serbian military personnel from European Union peace operations.

The daily was told unofficially that the proposal was sent to the Foreign Ministry. It added on its web site that the government can’t discuss the possible withdrawal of Serbian military personnel from peace missions before the Foreign Ministry gives its opinion.  

Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Chief of Staff General Milan Mojsilovic went to the Pasuljanske Livade military training grounds to observe a live-fire exercise by MiG-29 combat aircraft, which Vulin said was the first time in 20 years that those aircraft used missiles against targets on the ground.

Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on September 11 that a final decision has to be taken on peace missions. Speaking after the Serbian authorities decided to pull out of military games in Belarus in line with EU policy, Vulin said that if internal military activities are being discontinued, the same should be done with peace mission personnel regardless of whether they are under UN or EU command, adding that the military will implement any government decision. He told a promotion ceremony later that the military had discontinued its engagement on some 200 international military cooperation activities. 

Problems Over Forming New Montenegro’s Government

The first problem in negotiations among Montenegrin winning coalition occurred on September 21, after an unsuccessful meeting between the leaders of the Democratic Front (DF) and the head of the Civil Movement Ura.

The DF leaders Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic could not make Ura’s Dritan Abazovic say who he did not want in a new cabinet from the opposition coalition parties and what his stand was about the abolishment of the disputed Law on Religious Freedom.

Mandic and Knezevic insisted they don’t want people that Abazovic proposed for the coalition government from DF and the coalition “For Better Montenegro”, but Abazovic refused to withdraw them. 

The three were joined by Joanikije, a Serbian Orthodox bishop, and the head of the Eparchy of Budimlja and Niksic. Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is against the law, claiming it will deprive it of its property in Montenegro whose also Orthodox church is under the SPC jurisdiction.

Analysts agree the protests against the Law substantially contributed to the defeat of the President Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) after they together ruled the tiny Adriatic republic for three decades.

After its victory, the opposition coalition pledged to at least amend the Law, keep all international obligations the previous regime committed to, not to withdraw the recognition of Kosovo’s independence and to remain a NATO member state.

Abazovic apparently is under pressure from both SPC and his Movement’s official who opposes the abolishment of the Law, adding the problem can postpone the election of the Parliament Speaker.

Implementation of Washington’s Agreement is White House Priority

The US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell said the implementation of the agreement the two sides signed at the White House on September 4 was a priority of Trump’s administration. 

He accompanied the delegation of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)   in its visit in Pristina and Belgrade. Started from September 21, the DFC delegation headed by the executive director Adam Bohler has a five days trip to Greece, Kosovo, Serbia and Israel to improve the economic cooperation and development. 

A part of the deal is Kosovo and Serbia cooperation with the DFC and the US Export-Import (EXIM) Bank on a memorandum of understanding for the realization of the ‘Motorway of Peace,’ (Autoput Mira), the railway connections Pristina – Merdare, and Nis – Pristina, and a provision of loan financing of small and medium-sized companies, additional bilateral projects, and the DFC permanent presence in Belgrade. 

DFC Executive Director Adam Bohler and EXIM Bank Director Kimberly Reed, who will also be part of the US government delegation, signed letters of intent with Serbia and Kosovo on September 22, to help finance the construction of the ‘Motorway of Peace’ between Nis and Pristina.  The content of an agreement that the head of the DFC delegation signed with Hoti has not been made public but quoted Hoti who said that continues on the White House Agreement signed earlier this month in Washington by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hoti.   

Grenell met with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and was presented with a presidential medal for his contribution to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. 

The US delegation arrived in Belgrade on September 22 and was welcomed on the international airport by the president Alexander Vucic and the prime minister Ana Brnabic. DFC and Serbia will realize infrastructural projects worth 3.7 billion dollars, said Zorana Mihajlovic, Minister of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure.  

She added the opening of the DFC office in Belgrade was also politically important, and that Vucic’s visit to the US crucial for 130-year-long bilateral relations between Serbia and USA.   

Washington Worried About Current Situation in Serbia

In interview to Voice of America (VOA), the Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department and a special envoy for the Western Balkans, Mathew Palmer said, that Washington is concerned about the “current trends in Serbia” regarding the last elections, anti-government protests across the country, but also about the Finance Ministry Department for suspecting of Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism’s financial probe into Serbian journalists’, media and NGOs’ accounts. 

“We noticed the Freedom House report, which put Serbia among the countries with a hybrid regime. Freedom House is a well-respected organization which uses the methods recognized in the world”, said Palmer, commenting on the ‘Countries in Transition’ FH report published in May. 

He added that the people in Serbia did not have many choices in the elections on June 21. 

“We wanted the opposition to take part in the elections, but it claimed the election conditions were not fair enough for it to participate. We are worried about the lack of opportunity for the opposition parties and their representatives to appear in the media. That particularly applies to the public broadcaster – RTS TV. We would like some changes to happen and that Serbia’s public has a chance to choose among different options”, Palmer told. 

Referring to the Finance Ministry’s investigation of NGOs, journalists and media, he said the move would not help Serbia on its proclaimed road to the European Union membership. 

“We are also concerned about the perception of selective implementation of the law which targets the civil society and investigative journalist. That could only make Serbia’s way to the EU more difficult”, Palmer warned. 

He confirmed that the USA “strongly supports Serbia’s European perspective and its bloc’s membership. But, for that to happen, Serbia needs to qualify and to carry out democratic reforms. We hope that Belgrade and Serbia see us as partners in that process and there still is a lot of work to be done”. 

Referring the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, Palmer announced that “an agreement would ideally lead to mutual recognition.”   

Palmer mentioned the situation in Montenegro ahead of general elections, promising Washington’s help in fighting disinformation and warning people about its external nature. 

“A part of that aid is technical, but also in developing abilities for the surveillance of the sphere where the information comes to so that the disinformation can be recognized. We also will help in developing counter-narrative”, Palmer clarified and added the aim was to make it difficult for “the sides which use that information for inciting mistrust.”

In this respect, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM COE)  has published in May analysis of mechanisms used by the Russian information agencies and media to spread the narrative aiming at slowing down the Western Balkans’ Euro-Atlantic integration and cause the polarization of the peoples in the region. 

Republika Srpska Rejects Memorandum on Security Cooperation with US

The parliament of the Republika Srpska vetoed on Wednesday July 29, a memorandum aimed at improving the security cooperation between the US and Bosnia and Herzegovina, calling it harmful to vital interests of Republika Srpska, the semi-autonomous entity of BiH dominated by Serbs. 

Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb leader and the Serb member of tripartite Presidency of BiH, said the agreement which was passed by his Croat and Bosnian counterparts on July 22, was “very harmful” to the Serb-dominated entity’s vital interests, calling on members of the parliament of the Republika Srpska to support his decision and reject it with a two-thirds majority vote. 

The security memorandum in question deals with further enhancement of cooperation between Bosnia’s Security Ministry and the US Department of Homeland Security in the use of travel information. 

The memorandum is especially important as it strengthens Bosnia’s cooperation with the US in the field of organized crime and counter-terrorism. 

Dodik believes that the exchange of travel information is contrary to Republika Srpska interests and Bosnia’s Constitution. 

“This Memorandum excludes any possibility of engaging the police and any other agency of the Republika Srpska on these matters, and that is the main reason why I thought this Memorandum should not receive our support”, Dodik said addressing the emergency session. 

The Interior Minister Dragan Lukac said that his Ministry supports all initiatives contributing to the fight against terrorism and organized crime, but that “the Memorandum approved by the Bosnian Presidency neither protects the basic human rights of Bosnian citizens nor does it respect the constitutional structure in Bosnia”. 

Apart from this agreement, the Republika Srpska National Assembly also rejected the Agreement on Bosnia’s participation in the International Student Assessment Program (PISA) 2021 and the Decision on Bosnia’s accession to the International Reading Literacy Development Survey (PIRLS) 2021. 

Thus the Republika Srpska parliament rejected three decisions adopted by the collective head of state of Bosnia and Herzegovina aimed at improving the educational system in the country and the security cooperation between the US and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Dodik: It is Time for Serbs to Hold a Referendum on Secession from BiH

BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik said it’s high time to rehabilitate the United States’ 1995 idea for Serbs to hold a referendum on secession from BiH, advocated by then-US President Bill Clinton.

Commenting on the declassified documents from 1995, at the time of the events in Srebrenica, Bill Clinton had a plan for the Muslim-Croat federation to get a little less than half of BiH, while the Americans would put pressure on the Muslim side to agree for Serbs to hold a referendum on secession from BiH two to three years after the end of the war. Dodik said that the time had come to rehabilitate the idea and for Serbs to finally get the right to self-determination, as all other nations have.

“It is obvious that there is no will of Bosniak political representatives in BiH to respect the original Dayton and that we are hostages of that Bosniak sidedness, whose goal is to create a unitary BiH. The time has come for Clinton’s idea to be renewed and for the provisions on civil rights and freedoms to be applied, which stipulate that the peoples of BiH have the equal right to self-determination, as they have in all normal countries”, said Dodik.

He emphasized that BiH in the actual political shape has no future, no better life for its citizens, no progress of any kind until things move from the deadlock.

“It is time for Republika Srpska to affirm its right to self-determination and to live normally and peacefully next to each other, because all these years it has been shown that BiH has no chance of any agreement that would respect the rights of all three constituent peoples”, Dodik insisted.

“It has been 25 years since the Dayton Agreement, and nowhere is BiH where it is. It was only confirmed that it was a failed experiment of the international community. It is time to affirm Clinton’s idea and for Serbs to get the right to choose where and in what country they want to live. This is not their state, nor do Serbs perceive it that way. Their state is Republika Srpska”, said Dodik.

According to documents that removed the seal of confidentiality, former US President Bill Clinton asked the government in Sarajevo in 1995 to cede territory to Serbs in order to end the war in BiH, but it was only one of the few ideas to finish the Bosnian war.