HRW: In 2019 Bosnia and Herzegovina Saw Little Improvement in Protecting People’s Rights

In 2019, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) marked a slight improvement in the defense of human rights, the state fails in practice to protect women from gender-based violence, and media freedom remains compromised and the pace of war crimes prosecutions slow, stated Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its latest report on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“December 2019 marked 10 years since the Sejdić-Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which found that the Bosnian constitution discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities by not allowing them to run for the presidency. In the decade that followed, the ECtHR has found similar constitutional violations in three further cases, but the constitution still has not been amended”, the HRW report said. In October, the ECtHR ruled that Bosnian authorities had discriminated against a resident of the city of Mostar on the grounds of her place of residence, by failing to hold municipal elections for 11 years because of a disagreement among its main parties about the voting system. The court ordered Bosnia to hold elections in Mostar within six months (by April 2020).

The 2019 World Bank study examining Roma inclusion in the Western Balkans between 2011 and 2017 found only limited progress in improving access to education, employment, health, housing, and documentation for Roma in the country.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) between January and September 2019 registered 109 incidents of hate crimes – 66.67 percent involving religion or ethnicity.

As for the number of asylum seekers coming to BiH – the report notes their increase. “Between January and August 2019, the state Service for Foreigners’ Affairs registered 18,071 new asylum seekers, 5,000 more than the same period last year. The most common country of origin was Pakistan, followed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Syria” is noted in the report. In the first of half of 2019, 17,165 people indicated an intention to seek asylum. Only 426 people actually applied during the same period.

On accountability for war crimes HRW underlines that the revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy to improve the process of allocating cases across courts has awaited approval by the Council of Ministers since February 2018, made no progress in 2019, slowing down the rate at which war crimes cases are prosecuted.

“In a positive move, in July 2019 BiH signed agreements with Serbia and Croatia to facilitate better cooperation in the search for missing persons from the 1990s wars. There was less progress in coming to terms with the past. In April, the Serb member of the Bosnian Presidency Milorad Dodik called the Srebrenica genocide a myth”, the report warns.

Regarding women’s rights, HRW notes that BiH has an established legislative framework for tackling gender-based violence and human trafficking and institutional gender equality mechanisms, including in politics. Implementation remained patchy or non-existent in 2019, according to women’s rights organization Kvinna Till Kvinna, leaving women vulnerable to domestic violence and employment discrimination, and underrepresented in political life.

“The state response to gender-based violence remained inadequate, despite the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women. According to Kvinna Till Kvinna, police officers do not always inform women of their rights and available support, and perpetrators are just given a warning”, the report said.

On media freedom, HRW underlines that journalists continued to face interference with their work. “As of August 2019, the BiH journalists’ association BH Novinari recorded 41 violations of journalists’ rights, including three verbal threats, eight instances of political pressure, six physical assaults, and five death threats. Most of the cases were reported to police and at time of writing 15 were with the relevant prosecutor’s office. Although the number of solved cases has not significantly increased, BH Novinari reported police were more engaged and proactive with cases than in the past, and that other relevant state institutions communicated better regarding attacks on journalists”, according to the HRW report.

HRW: Serbia Slightly Improved the Protection of Human Rights in 2019

The latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Serbia notes that in 2019 there has been a slight improvement in human rights protection in the country, that the prosecution of war crimes in national courts is slow, the asylum system remains flawed while the situation with journalists remains insecure, with ongoing attacks and threats for reporting on sensitive issues.

The report also indicates that the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue stalemate continues. “In August, the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy called on Belgrade and Pristina to stop thwarting the European Union-mediated dialogue, stalled since 2018.”

In its May 2019 report on Serbia’s accession negotiations, the European Commission stressed that the lack of progress in the area of freedom of expression and media freedom was aserious concern and called on authorities to step up efforts to investigate attacks and threats against journalists. The Commission also called on Serbia to increase measures to protect the rights of LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities, persons with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable individuals.

“Serbian journalists continued to face attacks and threats. Pro-government media outlets frequently smear independent outlets and journalists, describing them as “traitors” and “foreign mercenaries”, the report underlines, adding that “Media plurality was compromised by majority of media being aligned with the ruling party.”

“Between January and late July, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) registered 27 incidents of violence, threats, or intimidation against journalists, including eight physical attacks and 19 threats. Serbia dropped from 76th to 90th place on the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index list out of 180 countries.”

The reports also highlights some of the individual cases of harassment against reporters, including Pristina journalist Zana Cimili, who received anonymous death threats on social media, and Slobodan Georgiev, Serbia’s editor for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), who was threatened in a video in which he and other independent journalists have been declared traitors.

HRW also states regarding accountability for war crimes that “progress on prosecutions was slow and lacked political will, adequate resources and strong witnesses support mechanisms. The low numbers of high-ranking officials prosecuted and convicted by courts remained a problem.”

The report recalls that Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT)” expressed concern in July to the UN Security Council that in Serbia, and other former Yugoslav countries, convicted war criminals are considered heroes and glorified by politicians, with widespread denial by public officials of war crimes. He called on Serbia and neighboring countries to support the regional cooperation process to hold war criminals to account.”

The HRW report further elaborates that members of the US Congress called on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to “take action to resolve the 1999 murders of three Albanian-American Bytiqi brothers after they were detained by Serbian police. In May, Vucic told the Serbian parliament that there is no evidence of who committed the murders. In July, Congress’s House of Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution urging Serbia to hold responsible people to account for the three killings.”

Regarding the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the normalization of relations, HRW says EU-sponsored negotiations stalled in November 2018 after Serbia blocked Kosovo from joining Interpol. In response, Kosovo imposed 100 percent import duties on all goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The report also warns that in Kosovo, progress towards accountability for serious war crimes committed during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war was slow. “Tensions between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians continued, particularly in the north. Roma, Ashkali, and Balkan Egyptian communities continued to face discrimination.”

Dodik: The Republic of Srpska Will Decide on NATO Integration Through a Referendum

Citizens of the Republic of Srpska will decide on whether to join NATO in a referendum and the right to do so was affirmed in the Reform Programme the country sent to the Alliance recently, Milorad Dodik, the leader of Bosnian Serbs, said on 13.01.2020.

Bosnia sent the document at the end of December, overcoming a deadlock between the three members of the country’s Presidency which kept the country from forming a new government for more than a year after the October 2018 election.

According to earlier decisions, the country was supposed to send the Annual National Programme (ANP) to the Alliance, which would represent the next step toward membership.

But at the same time NATO remains unpopular with Serbs in both Serbia and in the Republic of Srpska (RS) since the alliance launched airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and against the Serbian military in 1999 during the conflict between Belgrade and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

The President of Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, was opposed to sending the document, while his Bosniak and Bosnian Croat colleagues insisted on it.

The three finally reached a compromise in mid-December 2019 and the country sent a ‘Reform Programme’ instead of the ANP.

Bosnian Serb opposition parties sharply criticized Dodik, arguing that the Reform Programme is the same as the ANP, and accused him of leading the country to NATO membership.

“The Republic of Srpska has the intention to have any decision regarding the military integration with NATO be the subject of a referendum for the people to decide”, Dodik said during his speech at an event at the Kozara barracks for Orthodox Christmas.

He reiterated the Republic of Srpska decision on military neutrality.

The Reform Programme which Bosnia recently sent to the Alliance “affirms the right to decide on the issue and that no decision on integration will be made without the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Parliamentary Assembly of RS”, he said.

Dodik explained that there are several reasons for his opposition to NATO membership, with the primary one being that Serbs had a “negative experience” with the Alliance.

“If we would forget that they bombed us, then we would justify it”, he said.

Dodik firmly stated that “RS will not allow the establishment of the NATO border on the Drina River, which is the border with Serbia.”

High-ranking Judicial Official: PDA Wants to Restore Influence Over the Judiciary System

The main Bosniak party in the country Party of Democratic Action (PDA) seeks to restore its influence in the work of the judiciary system now because during the past three years more people were indicted for war crimes committed against Serbs than during the previous 11, Milan Tegeltija (head of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council – HJPC), said on 13.01.2020.

He and his institution have been “under fire” over the state of the judiciary, with both local politicians and international community officials, including Bosnia’s international administrator, Valentin Inzko, asking for a reform of the HJPC.

Tegeltija said that “the judiciary managed to distance itself away from that political control and make itself independent, but then the witch hunt which came from certain political circles in the Federation BiH entity, primarily from the PDA, started again.”

He said that, between 2004 and 2015, 53 indictments were raised against 102 persons in cases where Serbs are the victims, while 41 indictments in such cases were raised against 126 persons since 2015.

“Until a few years ago the judiciary at the state level was largely controlled by the PDA and this was, because of certain political interests, silently supported by certain international factors,” he told ‘Politika’.

Criticism of the HJPC was also contained in a report on Bosnia’s judiciary which independent EU expert Reinhard Priebe put together recently. He advocated for a reform of the institution as well.

Tegeltija said that Priebe does understand the problems stemming from Bosnia’s complex constitutional structure and the reasons for the unsatisfactory prosecution of corruption cases, but he would not elaborate on any political dimensions of the report.

The Illegal Transfer of Migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina Increases

More than 60,000 illegal migrants have crossed Bosnia and Herzegovina from early 2018 to the end of 2019 en route to Western Europe, increasing the number of cases of human smuggling, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) reported.

Referring to Bosnian Border Police data, BIRN points out that there were 80 smugglers seized for illegal migrant trafficking in 2019 (22 foreigners, 9 of whom were Serbian citizens) and 70 in 2018.

Based on these complaints, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s prosecutor’s office has indicted 46 people, ten fewer than 2018.

Forty-seven people charged in the last two years have been found guilty.

Most of the defendants pleaded guilty, which is why the sentences ranged in most cases from probation to a maximum of three years in prison.

The Pakistani citizen Usman-Ali Maqsood-Ahmed, the organizer of one of the trafficking channels received the longest sentence, as well as a fine of about EUR 4,000.

In 2018, his group illegally transferred at least 46 citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and India, from which they earned at least 35,000 euros.

Usman-Ali Maqsood-Ahmed have been falsely introducing himself as a migrant to BiH, offering to citizens from those countries a transfer from the border with Serbia through Bosnia and Herzegovina to the border with Croatia.

At the same time, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (08.01) said his government would never put up barbed wire on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop illegal migrants because there are natural obstacles and that would be a bad political message to the neighboring country.

“Some of our neighboring EU Member States have put up physical barricades and barbed wire. We did not choose this because we have natural barriers such as the Danube and Sava Rivers, mountains and forests”, Plenkovic replied to a Dutch journalist’s question on migration policy, which Croatia will advocate during the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Plenkovic added that Croats live on both sides of the BiH border, and as prime minister, he would never build a barrier between Croats.

According to him, it is necessary to stop illegal migration and to reform the Dublin Regulation, adding that migration is the issue that has changed Europe’s political mood the most since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A New York Times journalist asked whether a country accused of beating and shooting at migrants, stealing from them and returning them from Zagreb to BiH could propose a reform of migration policy, to which Plenkovic responded that these were allegations, not facts and that “Croatia chose to invest in police capabilities instead of barbed wire. We are considering every humanitarian aspect. We have no evidence of what you are saying, except for two shooting incidents that occured by accident on Croatian territory. But that was accidental, and it was not the official Croatian policy or the intention of the Croatian police”, Plenkovic added.

Telekom Serbia Takes Over Kosovo Cable Operator and Removes Independent Television

Kosovo’s Serbian radio-television station Mir has been removed by Kosovo’s largest cable provider VGN, said Nenad Radosavljevic, CEO of RTV Mir, on Tuesday (07.01).

RTV Mir was removed from VGN over the weekend after the cable operator sold its equipment and broadcast rights to MTS D.O.O, which is entirely owned by Serbian state operator Telekom Srbija.

RTV Mir was established in Leposavic in 1999 and has so far aired programs in northern and central Kosovo.

“According to the information I received, RTV Mir was removed from the VGN cable system two days ago, but it was not removed by other cable operators”, Radosavljevic told RTV Kosovo and Metohija. He added that he had talked to the owner of VGN, who told him that the cable operator had sold everything to MTS D.O.O. on 30.12.2019.

“Other cable operators in Kosovo and Serbia are aware of the trend of state-owned companies buying them in order to shut down independent media that are telling truths which the authorities do not want to be broadcast. The public will not receive timely and accurate information about political events that have entered a more tense stage”, Radosavljevic said, adding that he expects MTS D.O.O. to take over all other cable operators in northern Kosovo, where the Serb population is predominant and to follow a shutdown of all independent media.

Radosavljevic said he had informed the Media Commission but did not expect a response in the near future.

Protests in Montenegro Against New Religion Law

Thousands of Montenegrin Serbs protested on January 2 and 3 against the new law on religious communities in the country, which they say threatens the rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC).

Protest marches were held in Podgorica, Herceg Novi, and northern Montenegro, where the majority of the population is considered Serb.

The religious procession in the capital was led by Montenegrin bishop Amfilohije, a fierce critic of the authorities in both Montenegro and Serbia.

Montenegrin media reported that several thousand people had gathered infront of a local monastery in the northern Montenegrin town of Berane to protest the law. The protest included the mayor of the city and local officials who are members of opposition Serb parties (Berane is the only city controlled by the opposition in the country).

Official Belgrade shares SOC’s concerns about the implications of the new religious law.

The Montenegrin Orthodox Church is not autocephalous, and some media outlets in Serbia cite Bartholomew I, the current Archbishop of Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarch, that he will never recognize the independence of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said on Friday (03.01) that his country faces another challenge to its independence and freedom following attacks on Montenegrin diplomatic services in Belgrade and Ljubljana and an attempt to burn the state flag.

Markovic’s reaction comes as a result of a protest outside the Montenegrin embassy in Belgrade on 02.01 evening, organized by fans of the Red Star sports club. After a basketball game against German Bayern, during which supporters chanted slogans against Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, fans headed to the Montenegrin embassy,​ ​where they tried to burn a Montenegrin flag with pyrotechnics.

Before them, students from the Belgrade Law Faculty, as well as members of the Serbian nationalist movement “Zavetnici”, also protested outside the embassy.

Similar incidents have been reported at other Montenegrin consulates in Serbia and Slovenia, which Podgorica’s foreign ministry described as “vandalism”.

Montenegro’s Foreign Ministry summoned Serbia’s ambassador to Podgorica, Vladimir Bozovic, for “prolonged attacks on the Montenegrin embassy in Belgrade and the country’s flag”, but the Serbian ambassador declined to accept the protest note.

In the meantime, the supreme body of the SOC in Montenegro is distancing itself from any possible incidents, which it said has information can be arranged on Christmas Eve (06.01) and Christmas (07.01).

In addition, about 100 representatives of the Serbian academic community and civic activists, including Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts chair Vladimir Kostic, called for changes to the Religious Freedom Act as soon as possible, as well as for a dialogue between the state and representatives of all traditional religious communities in Montenegro. They propose that the Montenegrin state and the SOC conclude a treaty that will permanently resolve the issue of the functioning of the SOC in Montenegro.

The academicians argue that the law creates a legal framework for the nationalization of property of traditional religious communities and that itdirectly encroaches on property rights guaranteed by the Montenegrin Constitution.

As a result of the tensions, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (04.01) decided not to make a private visit to Montenegro on Christmas Eve, saying that Patriarch Irenaeus agreed and supported him in this regard. “I do not want to give an alibi to the Montenegrin authorities to accuse Serbia that this is an attack on Montenegro’s independence and constitutional order. We respect Montenegro’s independence and constitutional order and have never threatened it in any way nor are we interested in that”, said Vucic.

“I do not believe in the conflict between the presidents of Montenegro and Serbia, Milo Djukanovic and Aleksandar Vucic, it is suspected that the whole situation and tensions that emerged were prepared in the kitchen of Vladimir (Beba) Popovic, who is a political advisor to both Djukanovic and Vucic”, commented on recent developments in Montenegro and Serbia the political analyst Slobodan Stojanovic. “I cannot say for sure that everything was staged, time will tell, but there are reasons to think so.” He added that “regional populists start spreading ethnic hatred when they need to raise ratings.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina Form a Government 14 Months After the General Elections

Fourteen months after BiH’s general elections a government was formed on December 23rd after Bosnia’s House of Representatives confirmed the appointment of all ministers, with the exception of the Minister of Human Rights and Refugees which will be approved at its next session. The new Council of Ministers proposed by its Chairman Zoran Tegeltija was elected and sworn in with 29 votes in favor, eight against and one abstention.

The new ministers are Vjekoslav Bevanda of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) as Finance Minister, Ankica Gudeljevic (HDZ) as Minister of Civil Affairs, Josip Grubesa (HDZ) as Minister of Justice, Vojin Mitrovic of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) as Minister of Communications and Transport, Stasa Kosarac (SNSD) as Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Fahrudin Radoncic of the Union for a Better Future (SBB) as Security Minister, Bisera Turkovic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) as Foreign Minister and Sifet Podzic from the Democratic Front (DF) as Minister of Defense.

BiH was unable to form a new government since the October 2018 elections and the previous ministers remained in office for a technical mandate because Bosniak and Croatian members of the tripartite Presidency, respectively, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, refused to vote for the new candidate for Chairman, who was supposed to come from the party of Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik (SNSD). The reason behind this decision was Dodik’s refusal to sign the Annual National Program (ANP), which BiH was to send to NATO Headquarters in Brussels as the next step on its path to membership in the Alliance, as this document would activate the country’s Membership Action Plan.

NATO remains unpopular with Serbs, both in Serbia and in the Republika Srpska (RS) semi-autonomous entity since the alliance staged air strikes against Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and against Serb forces in 1999 in order to stop ethnic cleansing during the conflict between Belgrade and the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Although a decade ago, newly appearing on the RS political scene, Dodik’s SNSD agreed to BiH’s accession to NATO, later on, with increasing Russian influence in Serbia and the region, changed its decision blocking the country path toward a future membership in the Alliance. In line with Serbia, Republika Srpska also adopted a Resolution on Military Neutrality in 2017, opposing membership in any military alliances.

Contrary to this decision, Komsic and Dzaferovic said they would not vote for Dodik-backed Tegeltija to head the future government unless the ANP is signed. At the end of November 2019, the Bosniak and Croat Presidency members expressed support for Tegeltija after a joint meeting with ambassadors of the United States, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia.

In return, Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik supported a document called the Reform Programme outlining the program of reforms in the field of defence and security, which was sent to NATO, instead of the ANP. In essence, the Reform Programme is not significantly different from the ANP and is also acceptable to NATO, which paved the way for the implementation of BiH’s Membership Action Plan.

The Reform Programme Irreversibly Takes Bosnia and Herzegovina to NATO

The Reform Programme will take Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Republika Srpska, to NATO, and this is an irreversible process, opposition Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) leader Branislav Borenovic said at a press conference (21.12), blaming the leader of the ruling party SNSD Milorad Dodik for the complete weakening of the position of Republika Srpska (RS) and its institutions in this regard.

The statement comes a day after the opposition revealed the contents of the Reform Programme, a document that will be sent to NATO Headquarters in Brussels instead of the Annual National Program (ANP) and which is seen as a step forward in BiH’s relationship with the Alliance.

Although Serbian leadership and RS institutions strongly oppose the country’s path to NATO, SNSD leader and BiH tripartite Presidency member Milorad Dodik recently signed the Reform Programme.

“He did this all alone without consulting not only the citizens and the public but not a single institution of Republika Srpska. The NATO membership process will be led solely through the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, without a single opportunity of the Republika Srpska institutions to take part in that process”, Borenovic said.

“It is completely clear, the Reform Programme will take Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska to the NATO alliance and that’s an irreversible process” he added.

According to Borenovic, it would be much wiser if things were defined differently. “We believe that this whole process was hidden for no reason from the public and that it was an attempt to divert attention from the nature of this document” he underlined, adding that the process would involve the transfer of competencies from Republika Srpska level to the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Dodik is trying to hide behind the decision of the Republika Srpska parliament. The document has been signed and goes to Brussels and its signing by Dodik means abolition of the institution of the National Assembly”, said opposition leader Borenovic. According to him, the parliament of the semi-autonomous region of BiH had to decide first on this issue, and then proceed with signing.

“We are not talking about the content of the document itself, but about the procedures, how it was created and why it was hidden from the public?”, Borenovic insists.

The Reform Programme was signed in mid-November, more than a year after BiH’s parliamentary elections, with this document being a major obstacle to forming a state-level government. While Bosniak and Croat members of the State Presidency conditioned the government formation with the adoption of what was initially known as the Annual National Programme and later the Reform Programme, the Serb member strongly objected the document adoption, rejecting also the country’s path to the NATO.

The document was eventually signed by him, which led to the appointment of Prime Minister and the final formation of BiH government.

Illegal Migration to Serbia

In a joint operation by police authorities of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, key organizers of a channel for the illegal transfer of migrants across the Drina River to BiH, operating for nearly two years, were arrested on December 17th. Eight suspected traffickers have been detained. A message from the Serbian Interior Ministry says that the smugglers had transferred 203 migrants across the border between the two countries in the period November 17 – 23 only. According to the report, the operation was carried out on the Serbian side by the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Department for Illegal Migration of the Border Police, the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and the Security Intelligence Agency, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina the State Investigation and Protection Agency as well as the Prosecutor’s Office have participated.

Serbian police has arrested six in Belgrade, Loznica and Ljubovija, while police in Bosnia and Herzegovina arrested two others. They are accused of organizing a migrant channel through Serbia to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and illegal transfer of persons to BiH, for which they have taken more than 100 euros per migrant.

According to a statement by the Commissariat for Refugees of the Republic of Serbia, a total of 4447 migrants are currently housed in Serbia’s 17 asylum centers, including 807 children, most of them from Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Bangladesh.

The Commissariat statement underlines that “Serbia acted responsibly, humanely and organized with maximum efforts to meet the standards in the care, housing, legal, social and health care of migrants in its territory”, paying special attention to the vulnerable categories of people with children providing them with pre-school, primary and secondary classes.

According to the Commissariat, migrants currently in Serbia have only one goal – to reach Western Europe as quickly as possible. “Serbia is committed to playing an even more active partnership role in addressing the issue of migrants”, the press release said.

At the same time, as the weather has cooled, there have been dozens of cases of migrants self-lodging in houses and villas in villages in the Sombor area and other places in Vojvodina, leading to discontent among local citizens. Rumors have been circulated that about one hundred thousand illegally migrants originally registered in Serbia will be returned from Germany. People were worried that the state could not accommodate such a number of migrants, and increased incidents of self-accommodation would lead to tensions and potential conflicts.