Following the assassination in Mitrovica of the top Kosovo Serb Politician Oliver Ivanovic, the Serbian authorities made unilaterally the decision to suspend the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Ivanovic, considered as one of the most moderate Kosovo Serbs, was shot dead in front of his party’s office in the Serb-run north of Mitrovica. As reported by the Albanian Daily News, the Head of the Serbian delegation in the bilateral dialogue which is taking place in Brussels, Marko Djuric, announced the withdrawal from the dialogue as well as the return to Serbia. Djuric, responding to the journalists, defined Ivanovic’s Murder “a terrorist and criminal act that must be punished”.
Rasim Ljajic, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, met in Bursa with Turkish Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu. They talked about the improvement of economic relations and in particular about infrastructure projects. Ljajic declared that the bilateral trade exceeded the record USD 1 billion in the first 11 months of 2017 (21% more than in 2016).
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Belgrade on Monday for a visit of six Eastern European countries. Vucic reminded that Serbia is the only non-EU country that Abe choose to visit during the tour. During this two-day visit, the delegations will meet with the businesspeople from the two countries, and Minister for European Integration Joksimovic and Japanese Ambassador Maruyama will sign a note on Japan’s overseas cooperation volunteer program.
According to Patriarch Irinej, Serbian President Vucic is fighting to preserve Kosovo and Metohija, as a response to the recent statements from an important bishop, Amfilohije, saying that Vucic is betraying Serbia and Kosovo. Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, also thanked God “for giving the RS a man, Milorad Dodik, who wisely guides his people and fights like a lion to preserve the RS”.
A report called “UK and the future of the Western Balkans” was published by the upper house of the British Parliament, warning about the democratic instability in the Western Balkans. About Serbia, it says that state media companies had been privatized, but on the other hand they had been bought by people close to the ruling party. The report expresses concern about the lack of support from EU towards the region. “Statements by senior figures in the EU such as the president of the Commission postponing accession to some distant date in the future are not helpful”. It also mentions the perception that NATO has among Serbs: according to the paper, the organization is “still perceived to be the villain among the ethnic Serb population”.
Belgrade-based sleuth journalist from Serbia’s Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Marija Ristic has probed into the reasons why mercenaries from Serbia have been taking part in the war waged by Russia against Ukraine in Donbas. “The most prominent case was against Radomir Pocuca, a former special police spokesperson, who over several months of fighting in Ukraine posted almost daily videos, photos and other entries related to his time in Donetsk. Pocuca also claimed that he went to help Serbia’s ‘Russian brothers’ for patriotic reasons, mainly as payback for Russia’s support for Serbia in the dispute over the former province of Kosovo [which declared independence in 2008 – which Serbia has vowed never to recognize]”, she wrote in the article titled “Facebook Reveals Serbian Fighters’ Role in Ukraine War”, posted by BalkanInsight on December 27. Serbs are said to remember that Russian fighters volunteered for the Serbian side in the 1992-5 war in Bosnia, which pitched Serbs against a combination of Croats and Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims].
Guinea-Bissau has withdrawn its decision from 2011 to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has claimed. “The prime minister of Guinea-Bissau informed me of this today”, Dacic told
Belgrade media on Tuesday.He added that the African country also sent a note to Pristina informing them of the revocation. Dacic explained that Guinea-Bissau in this way officially annulled a letter, and recognition contained in that letter, sent in 2011, which Pristina was manipulating with. Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embalo, who has been in office since November 2016, spoke in Belgrade last week to say that his country never recognized Kosovo – that is, that he “did not see any paper on the recognition of Kosovo”. The first state to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo was Suriname, which made the decision on October 27, 2017. Recently, the media in Kosovo also reported that Pristina updated the list of countries that have recognized it to remove Nigeria and Uganda from it, because these countries’ notes of recognition were “never received”.
Serbian Foreign Minister confirmed he wants to maintain the good relations with Ukraine, after Ukraine’s ambassador to Belgrade Aleksandrovych’s statement about Russia using Serbia to provoke a new war in the Balkans. FM Dacic explained why Aleksandrovych had to wait for 14 months for an audience with him, given that the same treatment, according to Dacic, was used against the ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Ukrain, Bulatovic. He also clarified why Serbia voted “against Ukraine” (against the UN resolution for human rights in Crimea): Ukraine supports the Western countries’ proposals to change the mandate of the UNMIK in Kosovo, a solution which is opposed by Serbia. Moreover, Ukraine acted against Serbia’s interests staying “out of the room” during the voting on membership of Kosovo in UNESCO in 2015.
The Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia will develop successful bilateral relations through which they can contribute to strengthening regional cooperation, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in the interview with Belgrade-based daily Politika during his first official visit to Serbia.Zaev told daily Politika that the political and security situation in Macedonia is stable. The political and security situation in Macedonia is stable, we have led the reform processes carefully, bearing in mind the civil and state interests and the current political leadership in the region that showed responsibility for a stable region, I am convinced that we are on the right track to our common strategic goals, Zaev said. He said that European values are needed for citizens in our countries, our perspectives are open and how fast we will reach the desired goal, it depends on us. Both Macedonia and Serbia need peace and stability in their countries as well as in the region and in the world, because only regional and world peace means a truly safe “home”. Political decisions are in fact ways to guarantee peace, but as long as we are together and on the side of peace – we have no problems, Zaev said.He is convinced that the commitment of the leadership of Serbia, the same as in Macedonia, is to resolve all issues peacefully, through dialogue, wisely and with a sense of responsibility.We owe it to the citizens anywhere they live in Macedonia, Serbia, Balkans or worldwide, Zaev said. Zaev agrees that the Macedonian and Serbian people are united with historical and cultural past, on the basis of which the future can be built.
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik said in an interview with DW that a referendum on the independence of the (Serb) entity is currently not an institutional topic.He claims, however, that BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) will not survive in any form, B92 informs. The RS president directly links Kosovo’s independence with the independence of the Republika Srpska (the Serb Republic): “I am not against Kosovo’s independence. I in favor of a conversation between Belgrade and that (Kosovo – DW), and if Belgrade so decides I have nothing against it, but them my next question is why the Republika Srpska cannot do it. If there are rights for one side, then there must be rights for others as well”. Dodik says that the Republika Srpska is burdened by the fact that Serbia has remained in the policy of preserving (its) territorial integrity. “If at that moment Serbia, when Kosovo separated, said it was ok, we would surely have already separated by now”, he says.At the end of the conversation, he drew a map of the Balkans the way he sees it – the RS and Serbia united, and Kosovo partitioned, with the north belonging to Serbia.