The following media round up on international, legal and foreign policy issues from around the Balkans for the period from 12 August to 19 August 2021.
The Guernica Group will provide bi-weekly media updates with a focus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia . Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Croatia – 12 August 2021
Vinko Martinovic, who has served prison time for wartime ethnic cleansing, was arrested in Bosnia and is wanted by Croatia to serve another sentence for the post-war murder of a Bosniak woman.
The Bosnian State Court rejected Croatia’s temporary custody request because the extradition agreement could not be applied retroactively, and instead prevented Martinovic from leaving the country by seizing his travel documents.
Serbia – 13 August 2021
In a recently-published verdict in the trial of wartime Serbian security chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, it has been shown that despite its denials, the Serbian State supported the fighting units that committed crimes during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – 14 August 2021
The Mayor of Jablanica, Damir Sabanovic, has filed a criminal complaint against Milorad Dodik, a member of the Presidency of BiH for obstructing the decision to use helicopters of the BiH Armed Forces to extinguish fires in the municipality of Jablanica. In the criminal report against BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik, Mayor Sabanovic refers to information available from the media, which states that Milorad Dodik did not give consent for the engagement of military helicopters, which subsequently caused significant damage to the natural wealth of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Serbia – 17 August 2021
Belgrade Higher Court has dismissed a defamation case filed by Kosovo Serb businessman and politician Milan Radoicic against rival Kosovo Serb politician Rada Trajkovic, who accused him of being implicated in the shooting of Oliver Ivanovic in 2018.
Radojicic sued Trajkovic in August 2019, asking for 42,000 euros in compensation for the alleged damage to his reputation and honour due to Rada Trajkovic publicly associating him to the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.
North Macedonia -17 August 2021
North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry indirectly confirmed the expulsion of a Russian diplomat, after the media reported that a Russian deputy military attaché was told to leave the country last week.
“The Foreign Affairs Ministry, within its competencies, is taking all appropriate measures and activities in accordance with the Vienna Convention for diplomatic relations in order to protect the national security of the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as to protect the role and responsibility of the country as a member of the NATO alliance,” the ministry told the 360 Degrees news website in response to a request to confirm the expulsion.
Serbia – 18 August 2021
Serbia’s former foreign minister Ivica Dacic said that Serbia had hosted talks between the now former Afghan government and the Taliban three times between 2018 and 2019. The director of East-West Bridge think tank Jovan Kovacic ,which reportedly organised the negotiations, confirmed that the information was accurate, backing it up with photos from the meetings.
Serbia – 18 August 2021
The Higher Court in Belgrade announced that it has terminated proceedings against Nenad Bubalo, the former deputy commander of the military police of the Bosnian Serb Army’s 15th Bihac Brigade, because he has died.
Kosovo – 18 August 2021
Kosovo police have arrested three people over an attack on a young Kosovo Serb in the northern part of the ethnically-divided town of Mitrovica.
The Serbian government’s office for Kosovo said in a press release that “this attack, as well as a series of similar incidents to which Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija have been exposed since the beginning of the year, is a reflection of the irresponsible messages and actions of politicians from Pristina who encourage intolerance towards our people and draw a target on Serbs’ foreheads”.
Montenegro – 18 August 2021
In a press release, it confirmed that Montenegro supported a statement in which about 60 countries called on the new authorities “to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country”. However, Montenegro, unlike other Balkan countries, has said that it is not obliged to accept any Afghan refugees.
Croatia – 19 August 2021
Local courts in several EU countries, including Austria, Italy, and Slovenia, have ruled in favour of refugees and migrants who were pushed back over the Balkans external borders.
Such verdicts bring hope among human rights organisations and activists that something can be done to stop the practice of unlawful “pushbacks”, not just by Croatia on the EU’s borders, but between EU neighbours like Austria and Slovenia too.