Zagreb wants Serbia to prosecute individuals indicted for war crimes in Croatia in the 1990s, an issue that could turn into a key point for Belgrade's further European integration. Officials and experts say that calming tensions over the issue is in the vital interests of both nations.
Croatian Minister of Justice Orsat Miljenic told SETimes that Serbia must try senior army officers if it wants to "face the problem of war crimes."
The recent arrests of six people in Serbia suspected of human trafficking again brought to light the issue of illegal migrants crossing into the Balkan counties in order to make their way to EU member countries.
The Service for Combating Organised Crime arrested the six suspects for allegedly being part of a group that was assisting illegal migrants across the borders of Macedonia and Serbia. The migrants are mainly from Syria, Pakistan and Palestine.
Providing citizens with identification documentation means providing all citizens with the same rights and chances, officials and experts agreed.
By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 19/11/14
With the support of the EU, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), countries in the region are identifying and registering "legally invisible persons" and providing them with identification documents.
Nine Balkan militaries agree to jointly assist the civilian population in times of disasters.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 22/07/14
In the wake of damaging flooding in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) this year, military leaders of nine countries in southeast Europe are promising to work together to co-ordinate emergency response to future natural disasters.
Organisations in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey are providing humanitarian aid to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) following catastrophic floods that killed dozens and have left thousands homeless. The countries have sent specially trained teams, equipment, water, food, medicine and volunteers to Serbian and BiH authorities.
The prolonged problem of refugees and internally-displaced people that followed the 1990s breakup of the former Yugoslavia is still a key humanitarian and political issue in Southeast Europe.
Almost 2 million people displaced by the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s are still refugees. Half settled in more than 150 countries worldwide, and the rest in parts of the former Yugoslavia.
Serbia tops the European list in refugee numbers. In 1996, there were more than 600,000 refugees; now the number is about 60,000.
Though children are becoming a recognised part of migrants throughout Serbia, state protections are still minimal, according to a recent report by several NGOs.
The Children on the Move report was conducted by Atina, Grupa 484, and Fund for Open Society, three NGOs working in collaboration with Norwegian Save the Children and Save the Children for North West Balkans.
"The study was conducted between September and December 2012 and is the first such report in the region focusing on the children on the move," Aleksandra Galonja, Atina activist, told SETimes.
Despite a slowdown in refugee returns, the Kosovo government said it is working to help those who were displaced in coming home.
Kosovo's bad economy, the absence of housing assistance projects and, at times, threats of violence, have all been factors in preventing returns. But, according to Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, the government will continue to offer financial support for initiatives for the return and reintegration of the minorities.
BUCHAREST, Romania -- Sub zero weather in Romania has claimed 11 lives over the past several days, health authorities announced on Monday (December 21st). Across the Balkans, night temperatures plunged to -20 degrees Celsius. Winter storms and heavy snow have paralysed life many areas. In Serbia, dozens of cars remained stuck on roads, while in Croatia, rail traffic has been disrupted. Cold weather caused power cuts in about 130 towns and villages in Bulgaria.
SKOPJE, Macedonia/PRISTINA, Kosovo -- Macedonia and Kosovo have established diplomatic relations, the foreign ministries of the two countries announced on Sunday (October 18th).
TIRANA, Albania -- Deputy Defence Minister Petrit Karabina announced on Thursday (October 8th) that Albania has cleared mines and other unexploded ordnance from its territory. He said the last land mines were removed in early October in the northeastern part of the country. Most of the explosive devices were planted during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo. Over the past decade, mines and unexploded ordnance have killed 34 people and injured 238 others.
TIRANA, Albania -- The German Embassy in Tirana will donate 2.8m euros to Albanian authorities for a mine clearing project, the embassy announced on Friday (October 2nd). The project will focus on mines at the border with Kosovo, believed to have been planted during the 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo. Since then, mines near the border have killed 34 people and injured 238 others.
(Start, Telegrafi - 03/10/09; Alsat - 02/10/09)
PRISTINA, Kosovo -- Dragisa Milovic, mayor of the Zvecan municipality in Mitrovica district, on Wednesday (September 9th) gave permission to Albanians willing to rebuild their houses in the northern part of Mitrovica to continue their work. Milovic's decision is expected to end a lengthy dispute over whether Albanians should be allowed to return to the northern part of Mitrovica, which is dominated by Serbs. Milovic said that four of 16 houses that needed construction permits have met the criteria and that Albanians can continue clearing their war-damaged homes of debris.
PRISTINA, Kosovo -- Officials in Pristina appealed once again to all displaced persons, especially from the Serb community, to return to their homes in Kosovo. "Kosovo has had a bitter past, but this cannot stop us from building a future together," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said at a ceremony launching a project on returns and re-integration Tuesday (November 11th). International partners in the project, the European Commission and the UNDP office in Kosovo, also pledged to assist in its implementation. The project will cost 6m euros and span 21 months.
PRISTINA, Kosovo, Serbia - 15/08/2007 -- Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu warned on Tuesday (August 14th) that Pristina may reconsider its participation in negotiations on future status, if the notion of partitioning the province is proposed. Kosovo's territorial integrity is inviolable, local media quoted him as saying.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha also criticised the idea of partition, saying territorial changes would threaten regional security.
BELGRADE, Serbia -- Serbia has put forward six conditions for its participation in the negotiations on the status of Kosovo, the daily Vecernje novosti reported on Saturday (August 4th). Belgrade says the negotiations should concern the province's status, should be direct, should not be limited by a deadline, should not be aimed at a predetermined result, should not be based on the Ahtisaari plan, and should be held under UN Security Council auspices.
Members of Serbia's delegation for the talks have reportedly also been chosen.
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- KFOR personnel will remain in Kosovo if the UN Security Council does not pass a new resolution on future status, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said in Brussels on Wednesday (May 23rd). The decision followed a meeting between NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and US President George W.
BERLIN, Germany -- The commander of KFOR, Lieutenant General Roland Kather, said the situation in Kosovo is "calm and almost stable", in an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday (May 15th). He commented that in some German cities, there are three times as many incidents as in Kosovo. Kather acknowledged, however, a sense of nervousness on both sides in the province as a decision on Kosovo's future status draws nearer. He reiterated KFOR's readiness to respond to any provocations in the region.
PRISTINA, Kosovo, Serbia -- Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said on Wednesday (December 27th) that he anticipates the UN decision determining the province's final status within months, around spring. Speaking to reporters, he said he expects the UN special envoy for status talks, Martti Ahtisaari, to present his proposal immediately after Serbia's January 21st parliamentary elections and the UN Security Council to tackle the issue soon afterwards.
NEW YORK, United States - Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu departed New York Thursday (November 30th) after meetings with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, and ambassadors of the countries that serve as permanent members of the UN Security Council. A press release from Sejdiu's office said the president and Annan exchanged views on the situation in Kosovo and the status issue. Sejdiu said Kosovo will wait for Ahtisaari's proposal and that no further delays are expected.