Friday, October 30, 2009

Bosnia Serb leader says has quit EU, U.S. talks

Bosnia Serb leader says has quit EU, U.S. talks
Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:38am EDT

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - The prime minister of Bosnia's Serb half said on Friday he would pull out of talks on constitutional reform led by the United States and European Union set to speed up Bosnia's path to EU and NATO membership.

Milorad Dodik was the first among Bosnia's Serb, Muslim and Croat leaders to reject a EU-U.S.-proposed constitutional reform package this month, calling it "unconstitutional and biased against Serbs."

Dodik then invited rival leaders to come to Banja Luka -- a town 200 km northwest of Sarajevo -- on Friday to start negotiations without international mediation. But only officials of two small parties appeared.

"This is not my defeat," Dodik said. "It's a defeat of politicians from the federation who agree to meet only in the presence of the international community. I will never again take part in any talks mediated by the international community."

Postwar Bosnia is made up of the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation under the Dayton peace accords that ended the 1992-95 war that accompanied Yugoslavia's collapse.

Continued tensions between those two halves has stalled the country's progress and some fear the lingering tensions there could delay the EU integration process for the entire region.

"This is the beginning of political chaos in Bosnia- Herzegovina in which local leaders have become disoriented and the international community is losing patience," said Gojko Beric, an analyst who is the author of "Letters to the Celestial Serbs: Reflections on an Ethnic Conflict."

Beric said further dialogue involving the leaders and international community is badly needed to break the political deadlock but that constant bickering between rival leaders does not leave much reason for optimism.

Parliamentary party leaders offered various reasons for rejecting Dodik's invitation to talks and many cast doubt over his plan by insisting on international presence.

"I've just tried to ensure that local politicians get together and try to agree on some issues that would speed up the European path," Dodik told a news conference. "That is something the international community wanted us to do."

The U.S. and EU-proposed reforms package included measures to end Bosnia's status as an international protectorate and constitutional changes to help make it a credible EU and NATO candidate.

The leaders of the main ethnic and opposition parliamentary parties subsequently rejected it for different reasons and the talks on Bosnia's future mediated by EU and U.S. senior officials ended without breaking the stalemate in the country.

(Additional reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Adam Tanner)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kosovo: Serbs find mine at cemetery

25 October 2009 | 11:24 | Source: Tanjug

STARO GRACKO -- An AP mine was removed from a village cemetery, after local Serbs from Staro Gracko in Kosovo reported finding in on Saturday.

Kosovo police, KPS, told Tanjug news agency that KFOR's teams disarmed the device found at the Orthodox cemetery.

Serbs from Staro Gracko were prohibited from visiting the graves of their loved ones for several years because of "danger and suspicion" that there were explosive devices there, reports said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Serbia, Russia agree to establish joint humanitarian center

Serbia, Russia agree to establish joint humanitarian center

BELGRADE, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Serbia and Russia agreed here on Wednesday to establish a joint humanitarian center in the southern Serbian city of Nis for immediate response to emergencies such as fire, floods and earthquakes.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister IvicaDacic and Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu signed a plan on the center's initial stage of development.

Later, the two leaders told a joint press conference that the center should serve the entire region and offer quick and efficient support in case of emergency to other countries in southeastern Europe.

The center was planned to be a well-equipped logistic base and Nis was chosen for its airport and infrastructure, Dacic said, adding that the center would have all necessary capacities to tackle emergency and natural hazards that often hit the region.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Serbia on Tuesday opened new possibilities to fortify bilateral overall cooperation and served to prove their satisfactory political and interstate relations, Dacic said.

The center, comprising a joint anti-mining center, would be formed before 2012, Shoigu said.

A conference would be held in Belgrade next February on the formation of the center. Besides Serbian and Russian representatives, officials from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Montenegro would also attend the conference, he said.

Russian forces helped these countries with emergencies, such as putting out fires, almost every year, so the opening of the center would facilitate their rescue and relief efforts, Shoigu said.

Signing the plan was a serious step toward implementing the agreement on cooperation in humanitarian response to emergency situations, natural disasters and technological accidents, which was signed on Tuesday during Medvedev's visit in Belgrade, he added.

Skopje quiet over Kosovo decision

Skopje quiet over Kosovo decision

21 October 2009 | 13:24 | Source: B92
SKOPJE -- Macedonian officials have refused to explain their decision to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

Future relations between Serbia and Macedonia have been called into question after Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić criticized Skopje’s decision.

The Macedonian Foreign Ministry’s official position is not to comment on Belgrade’s reaction to the decision to establish diplomatic relations between Macedonia and Kosovo or to Jeremić’s statement.

The opposition notes that the government’s decision to stay quiet is in keeping with the current practice that the government "always subtly applies when it comes to sensitive subjects that could jeopardize its reputation."

“The president and the foreign minister should explain to parliament why diplomatic relations are being established now and in this manner. Macedonia, which is planning to build its international reputation based on a consistent policy, should not behave so erratically,” said Vlado Buchkovski, a former Macedonian prime minister and leader of the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).

“I am sure that this decision is connected to the most important question—the name dispute,” he added.

Meanwhile, former Macedonian Foreign Minister Slobodan Chashule hopes that the Serbian government, which, in his opinion, is demonstrating increasing maturity, will realize that this was the only possible way to address the matter of the"Macedonian-Kosovo border".

“The Macedonian government had no other choice, as it was essential to our country for Kosovo to accept the border we signed with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its successor, Serbia, as a state obligation,” he said.

Chashule said that it had to be made clear that Macedonia was not changing the border agreement, which he himself as foreign minister had submitted to the UN in 2001.

Serbia supplies electricity to northern Kosovo

Serbia supplies electricity to northern Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo -- Serbia is supplying northern Kosovo, including the northern part of divided town of Mitrovica, with electricity after the Kosovo Electric Corporation (KEK) disconnected the region from its grid Monday (October 19th). Serbian officials said they intervened to avoid a humanitarian crisis, adding this is a temporary solution provided from the Novi Pazar power line. KEK disconnected the Serb-dominated region from its network citing the risk of overload. The company had previously warned that it would cut service due to non-payment of bills. The government said Tuesday that Serbia's interference is a result of the lack of rule of law in northern Kosovo. (Koha Ditore, Express, Kosova Sot, Zeri - 21/10/09; Klan Kosova, Kohavision - 20/10/09)

Establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo not priority of Montenegro

Establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo not priority of Montenegro

21 October 2009 | 21:19 | FOCUS News Agency

Podgiorica. Establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo has not been priority of Montenegro government but the issue would be included in the agenda of the next period, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party, Serbian Politika newspaper online edition informed. Speaker of the party Rajko Kovacevic said that “Montenegro co-ordinates its decisions with its European partners,” but refused to point when the country would establish diplomatic relations with Pristina.
The issue on establishing diplomatic relations between Montenegro and Kosovo has risen after Macedonia and Kosovo have signed several days ago agreement on the demarcation of Macedonian-Kosovan border, the edition writes.

Serbia confirms first H1N1 flu death

BELGRADE, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Serbian health authorities have confirmed the country's first death from the H1N1 flu virus.

The 46-year-old woman died in a hospital in the city of Kragujevac, about 80 km south of Belgrade, the state-run Tanjug news agency said on Wednesday, quoting local health officials.

The woman, suffering from severe pneumonia, was admitted for treatment on Oct. 5. She was initially diagnosed on Sept. 29 but refused hospitalisation, the report said. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alison Williams)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From RAS-The International Serbian Organization - re: Inaccessibility of RAS's website

RAS - The International Serbian Organization regrets the current inability to operate its heretofore internet domain and all inconveniences any of our friends are experiencing because of it. RAS believes that the website has been maliciously attacked but assures the public that all inappropriate activity against the organization is being dealt with in order to preserve legality of the organization and the public trust, which RAS has worked so hard from its initiation to establish. You will soon be able to revisit RAS at a new improved website. All changes are being executed by RAS in order to preserve the organization's integrity, legitimacy and functionality in the spirit of team work, appropriate procedure and our common goal to selflessly labor for the benefit of our people.

РАС - Међународна српска организација жали што је дошло до немогућности управљања нашим досадашњим интернет доменом и због свих непријатности које је због тога доживео ико од наших пријатеља. РАС верује да је дошло до напада на наш сајт али уверава јавност да се успешно носи са тим проблемом да бисмо сачували законитост нашег рада и поверење јавности, које је РАС од самог оснивања организације вредно градио. Ускоро ћете моћи да поново посетите РАС на новом и унапређеном сајту. Све промене се чине од стране РАС-а да би се очувао интегритет организације, њен легитимитет и њена функционалност, дух тимског рада, да би се следиле прописане процедуре и да би се постигао наш заједнички циљ да се ради за добробит нашег народа.

Germany to repatriate thousands of Kosovo refugees

Germany to repatriate thousands of Kosovo refugees,,4789691,00.html

German and UN KFOR troops still ensure security in Kosovo
A deal to be signed soon between Germany and Kosovo will pave the way for the return of thousands of refugees, many of them Roma, who fled the Balkan wars of the early 1990s.

The German interior ministry has said that a repatriation agreement for Kosovo refugees would be signed within weeks. A ministry spokesman, Stefan Paris, said in Berlin on Wednesday that the accord to be signed with the government in Pristina met all international standards for handling refugees and that all humanitarian aspects had been considered in the decision.

The German government came forward with the announcement following a parliamentary question raised by the Left party, which has expressed concern that minorities are discriminated against and persecuted in Kosovo. Many of the refugees are Roma, also known as Gypsies.

Once signed, the agreement would stipulate that Kosovo in principle accepts all people holding identity documents, or who had previously lived in the region, according to a report by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

UN recommends voluntary returns
Tensions remain between ethnic Serbs and Kosovo Albanians

Currently, there are more than 14,000 officially registered refugees from Kosovo living in Germany, including 10,000 Roma, all or whom are required by law to leave the country once their home region no longer presents a danger to life and limb.

The German interior ministry has pledged to apply for a maximum of 2,500 repatriations to ensure that Kosovo is not overburdened by a sudden influx of returnees. Last year, 900 Kosovars returned to the region. Similar programs have been carried out in the past for refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The ministry says that ethnically-motivated violence in Kosovo has declined significantly since the breakaway Serb province gained independence in February 2008, and is therefore encouraging people to return by paying them 750 euros ($1,120) plus travel expenses.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, after visiting the region earlier this year, has said that Kosovo was still susceptible to ethnic tensions and that living conditions were poor. The agency has recommended that refugees return on a voluntary basis only.

Editor: Nancy Isenson

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Macedonia embroiled in encyclopaedia row

13 October 2009
Macedonia embroiled in encyclopaedia row

Published: Tuesday 13 October 2009
EU candidate country Macedonia has removed a controversial encyclopaedia from libraries after the manual triggered furious reactions from EU members Greece and Bulgaria as well as neighbouring Kosovo and Albania. The reason behind the removal was strong pressure from the US and the UK, diplomats told EurActiv.

In April 2008, Athens vetoed Skopje's invitation to join NATO, arguing that the name 'Macedonia' could lead Skopje to make territorial claims over Greece's own northern province of the same name (EurActiv 04/04/08).

A nationalist backlash followed in the small country of 2.5 million, which former US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrook famously called "a hole in the middle of nothing".

As a result of this situation, Macedonia still finds itself unable to start accession talks with the EU, despite the fact that it received the status of candidate country as early as December 2005.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has repeatedly warned that the unsolved 'name dispute' with Greece could negatively affect Macedonia's EU agenda. Meanwhile, UN-sponsored talks to solve the dispute are making no progress.

Following angry reactions, including the burning of the Macedonian flag in Kosovo, the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Art (MANU) recently decided to remove its recently published two-volume, 1,671-page work, the 'Macedonian Encyclopaedia'.

The work has managed to offend most of Macedonia's neighbours. Greece, which is pressing Macedonia to change its name because it coincides with that of the northernmost Greek province, considers that Skopje is misappropriating large chunks of its ancient history.

Similarly, Bulgaria considers that Macedonia is cherry-picking heroes and glorious episodes from its 19th and early 20th century struggle against Ottoman domination.

But those most offended this time were the Kosovars and the ethnic Albanian population of Macedonia itself, as MANU refers to ethnic Albanians as "settlers" who came to the country in the 16th century and to Albanians as 'Shiptari' or 'Planinci', which has derogatory connotations. The Albanians are widely recognised as the descendants of ancient Illiryan tribes, who settled in those lands in approximately 1,000 BC.

The authors also claim that the ethnic Albanian movement in Macedonia, the National Liberation Army, was trained by US and British special forces in 2001, and that ethnic Albanian leader Ali Ahmeti, now leader of the Democratic Union for the Integration of Macedonia, is suspected of war crimes. In fact, Ahmeti has never been indicted. Both the US and UK embassies have rejected the information as "false" and "ridiculous".

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha called the book "absurd and unacceptable" and complained of "identity based on the forgery of history".

Bulgarian and Greek leaders kept a low profile, but according to diplomats, the encyclopaedia has infuriated both Athens and Sofia.

The Bulgarian Embassy in Skopje issued a statement saying that the content of the Macedonian Encyclopedia had the single purpose of collecting political dividends.

"It is unacceptable for a country aspirant for NATO and EU membership to resort to terminology typical for the ideology of the Cold War era," the statement says.

Skopje, meawhile, was apparently less concerned about the reactions in Athens and Sofia. The ambassador of an EU country told EurActiv that in fact it was pressure from the USA and the UK which convinced Skopje to back down and remove the book from the shelves.

MANU published a press release promising to convene an extraordinary assembly that will focus on reactions, remarks and suggestions related to the encyclopaedia.

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Former Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, who holds a Bulgarian passport, strongly criticised the MANU encyclopaedia, calling it "an absolute rehabilitation of communist power and Macedonia's communist period". Georgievski was categorical in saying that the authors of the work are pro-Serbian and that their main aim is to prevent Macedonia from joining NATO, and to complicate the country's EU accession process.

"The encyclopaedia is anti-Bulgarian, anti-Albanian, anti-Greek and pro-Serbian in its basis. All of the personalities in the time of communism are presented as positive. The encyclopaedia not only rehabilitates the communism period but also Macedonia in the time of royal Yugoslavia," Georgievski noted, speaking to the Focus news agency.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Serbia to launch genocide counter-suit against Croatia

Serbia to launch genocide counter-suit against Croatia

Monday, 05 October 2009

Serbian government is set to file a counter-lawsuit to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Croatia alleging genocide during 1991-95 war.
Serbia will sue Croatia for war crimes and ethnic cleansing committed against the Serb minority during the 1991-95 war in Croatia.
The government and expert team representing Serbia in The Hague-based court are collecting the necessary papers to file the lawsuit.
"I may confirm that we possess evidence for 10 lawsuits and we can win them all. The case is practically closed, and now we just need to prepare the evidence to establish the genesis of war crimes committed on Croatia's soil," an unnamed official of Serbian foreign ministry said.