Between the 16th and 19th of April 2015 the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) office in Belgrade , the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) organized the third and final seminar of the 2014 Course for Promising Politicians (CPP) in Zagreb, Croatia. The candidates of this program are young and promising social democratic politicians from the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania.
Yesterday the Croatian government has recalled his ambassador from Serbia for consultation after the war crimes suspect and leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Vojislav Seselj, burned the Croatian flag at a meeting in Belgrade. Seselj has been in custody from 2003 – when he voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Court for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) – until November 2014 when he was provisionally released due to his deteriorating health condition. However, on 30 March 2015 ICTY ordered Seselj’s return to custody because he violated the release conditions by stating that he would not return to the Tribunal for the verdict in his war crimes trial.
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of the conservative nationalist VMRO DPMNE and the country’s secret police chief have been accused of ordering a massive wire-tapping on more than 20,000 people by opposition leader Zoran Zaev (Social Democratic Union, SDSM). Zaev claimed he can support this accusation with tons of material which are in his possession. According to Zaev, the Prime Minister has continually received daily reports on his political opponents by the secret services. The opposition has released some audio materials and transcripts that consist of phone conversations between Zaev and his fellow colleagues, and even a phone call with his young daughter.
Op zondag 12 oktober gingen de stemgerechtigden van Bosnië-Herzegovina (BiH) voor de 7e keer sinds het einde van de burgeroorlog in 1995 naar de stembus om de parlementen van de centrale staat, Republika Srpska (RS) en Moslim-Kroatische Federatie (FBiH) te kiezen. Daarnaast werden drie roulerende presidenten gekozen: een Moslim (Bakir Izetbegović, Partij van Democratische Actie, SDA), een Kroaat (Dragan Čović, Kroatische Democratische Unie, HDZ) en een Serviër (Mladen Ivanić, kandidaat van de Partij voor Democratische Vooruitgang and Servische Democratische Partij). De belangrijkste conclusies: de massale straatprotesten van februari 2014 hebben niet voor grote politieke verschuivingen gezorgd, 19 jaar na de oorlog stemt men nog steeds langs de etnische lijnen, in RS wordt voor het eerst sinds 2006 echt getornd aan de macht van de president Dodik en de sociaaldemocraten (SDP) hebben flink verloren. In het onderstaande zal ik verder ingaan op het laatstgenoemde.
The EU’s rule-of-law mission (EULEX), a civilian security and defense mission deploying around 1,600 EU police and judicial personnel in Kosovo, is facing serious credibility challenges after allegations of an EULEX judge taking bribes. ‘The reputation of the European Union on Kosovo is at stake’, S&D Group member of the European Parliament (EP) Tonino Picula said.
Van 26 tot 28 September vond op het Kroatische eiland Korcula de jaarlijkse zomerconferentie van het Central Eastern European Gender Network (CEE Gender Network) plaats. De Korcula School ging dit jaar over het thema geweld tegen vrouwen. FMS trainer Janna Besamusca reisde naar Kroatië af om een presentatie te verzorgen en mee te discussiëren.
Senior Kosovo leaders face indictment for crimes against humanity after a report by US prosecutor Clint Williamson was released on 29 July. The charges include killings, abductions, disappearances, sexual violence and other forms of persecutions against Serb and Roma minority populations, as well as political opponents, since the end of the conflict with Serbia in 1999. Although the suspects are not named, they are referred to as "senior officials of the former Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA), who fought against Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian regime. The EU special investigative task force (SITF) which led the investigation is likely to prosecute some top figures of Kosovo politics, who accessed leadership positions after the country’s independence in 2008.
Serbia Prime minister’s two days visit to Russia on Monday and Tuesday was marked by negotiations about the South Stream gas pipeline project, which aims at transporting Russian natural gas to Southern and Central Europe countries through the Black Sea. It should also diversify delivery routes of Russian gas by bypassing the Ukrainian territory. While Belgrade has increasingly turned westwards by declaring its accession to the EU as its foreign policy priority, it has reaffirmed its willingness to preserve good relations with Moscow. This position may be challenged by the finalisation of the South Stream, opposed by Brussels.
Inter-ethnic tensions have recently been on the rise in Macedonia. The convicting to life imprisonment of six Albanians accused of killing five ethnic Macedonians during 2012 Orthodox Easter near Skopje has triggered mass demonstration on behalf of the Albanian community living in the country. Opposition to the police last Friday led to at least twenty injured demonstrators. Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski declared yesterday that “The state won’t let these protests escalate to an extent where they can jeopardise the interests of the people and the [country’s] institutions”.