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Archive for Serbia

Newsline: Twitter suspends accounts of seven Serbian embassies, consulate

Serbia said that the Twitter accounts of seven of its embassies and a consulate have been suspended without explanation. ”Official accounts of embassies in Armenia, Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kuwait, as well as the Consulate General in Chicago, were suspended,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding the suspensions occurred “without any explanation or prior notice of a possible violation of the social network’s rules.” “Without getting into Twitter’s business policies, we note that it’s unacceptable to censor diplomatic offices of a democratic state that has not been sanctioned in any way,” it added. The ministry said that Serbia finds it “absurd” that a number of its diplomatic and consular offices “were censored on a social network that boasts of promoting democracy and pluralism of opinion.” (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/twitter-suspends-accounts-of-7-serbian-embassies-consulate/2667129) Serbia has asked Twitter to unblock the accounts.

Newsline: EU warns Kosovo and Serbia over Jerusalem embassy plans

The European Union voiced “serious concern and regret” over Serbia’s pledge to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Muslim-majority Kosovo also agreed to normalize its ties with Israel, including establishing diplomatic relations. Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci said that his country “will keep a promise to place its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.” Serbia and Kosovo — which want to accede to the European Union — would be the first nations in Europe to follow Guatemala and the United States in relocating their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem. The potential move goes against the stance held by the EU. The bloc’s official policy states that the holy city’s status should be worked out between Israel and the Palestinians as part of peace negotiations. “There is no EU member state with an embassy in Jerusalem,” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said. (https://www.dw.com/en/eu-warns-serbia-and-kosovo-over-jerusalem-embassy-plans/a-54845226) “Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU’s common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret.” Stano’s comments follow a weekend of talks between the Balkan neighbors and a high-profile summit at the White House where Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed statements committing to measures improving economic ties. Both Balkan leaders said on Monday that they attached “the highest priority to EU integration and to continuing the work on the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue” on comprehensive normalization of relations.

Newsline: Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Apologizes After Infuriating Serbian Leader

Russia’s outspoken Foreign Ministry spokeswoman apologized after she drew a rare public rebuke from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for mocking him in a social media post when he signed a U.S.-brokered deal with Kosovo. “I apologize but my post was misinterpreted,” Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page. She had intended to attack U.S. claims of “exceptionalism” and not insult the Serbian leader, she said. (https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/russia-apologizes-after-vulgar-jibe-infuriates-serbian-leader-1.1490417) Zakharova earlier posted a photo of Vucic at the White House facing President Donald Trump on Friday along with a second photo of a famous scene from the film “Basic Instinct” in which Sharon Stone is sitting cross-legged during questioning by police. “If you are invited to the White House and the chair is placed as if you are being interrogated, sit down like on photo number two. No matter who you are,” the Russian diplomat said. “Just believe me.” The post drew an unusual – and furious – response from Vucic himself. “The primitivism and the vulgarity she showed speak of her, and by God, of those who put her there,” Vucic told reporters in Brussels. Zakharova, who was recently promoted to the rank of ambassador, has a reputation for blunt commentary and maintains an active social media presence as Russia’s foreign-policy spokeswoman. Her boss, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, spoke to Vucic later Sunday by phone. The Serbian leader informed Lavrov of the results of the Washington talks and the two sides agreed to develop their strategic partnership, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry website statement, which made no mention of the incident. Officials and diplomats must choose their language carefully on social media to avoid misunderstandings, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on a conference call Monday, in response to a question on the issue. Zakharova “has apologized, and we assume nobody can be in any doubt about the commitment and deep respect to Serbia in general and the leadership of Serbia in particular,” Peskov said.

Newsline: Serbia to move embassy to Jerusalem

Serbia announced Friday that it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, while Muslim majority Kosovo is to recognize Israel. The moves come as part of US-brokered discussions to normalize economic ties between Belgrade and Pristina. After two days of meetings with Trump administration officials, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti agreed to cooperate on a range of economic fronts to attract investment and create jobs. The White House announcement provided US President Donald Trump with a diplomatic win ahead of the November presidential election and furthers his administration’s push to improve Israel’s international standing. A statement from Netanyahu’s office hailed Serbia for being the first European nation to agree to move their embassy and said efforts continued to convince other European nations to also do so. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/serbia-to-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-mostly-muslim-kosovo-to-recognize-israel/) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the moves and said Israel would establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo. Netanyahu said that following discussions held in recent days among the Foreign Ministry, National Security Council and others, it was decided that Israel will establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo.

Newsline: Azerbaijani Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia Detained on Embezzlement Charges

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, Eldar Hasanov, has been detained on embezzlement charges. Azerbaijan’s State Security Service said in a statement on August 13 that Hasanov is suspected of embezzling from the Foreign Ministry’s consulate directorate. “The complex financial investigations revealed that the country’s ambassador to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro, Eldar Hasanov, had committed significant financial and other mishandling,” the statement said. (https://www.rferl.org/a/azerbaijani-ambassador-in-balkans-detained-on-embezzlement-charges/30783943.html) The statement added that further information would be provided at a later time.

Newsline: Montenegro Denounces Attack on Embassy in Serbia

Montenegro strongly denounced aggression against its embassy in Serbia during a protest by thousands of ultra-nationalists, saying the actions of soccer hooligans who threw flares and chanted “Set it on fire” represented an attack on the country’s independence. The crowd targeted the unguarded embassy in Belgrade and tried to burn the Montenegrin flag during the Thursday night protest of a religion rights law adopted by Montenegro’s parliament last month. Serbs say the law discriminates against the Serbian Orthodox Church. Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic tweeted that the embassy attack was an “uncivilized” act and another challenge to his small country’s independence and freedom. He said it was “stunning” Serbian police did not protect the embassy on Thursday or during other recent protests. (https://www.voanews.com/europe/montenegro-denounces-protest-attack-embassy-serbia) Montenegro split from much larger Serbia following a 2006 referendum. About one-third of the small Balkan country’s 620,000 citizens declare themselves as Serbs and want close ties with Belgrade.

Newsline: Serbia Lashes Out at U.S. After Diplomat’s Warning on Venezuela

Serbia rejected a warning from the U.S. over its support for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a week after Belgrade hosted a delegation from the Latin American state. U.S. Ambassador to Belgrade Kyle Scott tweeted that Serbia is “on the wrong side of history,” noting that more than 50 countries have endorsed Maduro challenger Juan Guaido. Serbia’s foreign minister responded by saying his country had “respect for international law and non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign countries.” The minister, Ivica Dacic, also criticized U.S. support for the recognition of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after fighting a war with its neighbor that was ended by a NATO-led bombing campaign against Serb troops. “As if Americans are on the right side by supporting Kosovo,” Dacic said in comments during a parliamentary meeting (https://www.yahoo.com/news/serbia-lashes-u-diplomat-apos-101226182.html). The disagreement underscores the balancing act that Serbia is performing as it tries to advance toward European Union membership while also keeping close ties with allies including Russia, China and Venezuela, which back Belgrade in its struggle to prevent Kosovo from being recognized as a sovereign state. Many countries in the EU have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader. But this week, Serbia hosted a government delegation from Venezuela, a strong signal that it’s keeping open ties with the Maduro government. Russia and China also back Maduro.

Newsline: Belgrade Court Acquits Suspects In 2008 Attack On U.S. Embassy

A Serbian court has acquitted the suspects in the 2008 arson attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. The Appeals Court of Belgrade said on January 16 that it had overturned suspended prison sentences for four suspects and confirmed an earlier acquittal of three other people by a lower court. Prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence to back the indictment, a statement said. Demonstrators tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and set part of it ablaze in February 2008 as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence a few days earlier. A 20-year-old man died in the incident, which has burdened relations between Washington and Belgrade for years.


Newsline: Serbia withdraws embassy staff from Macedonia

The Serbian government has pulled its entire embassy staff from Macedonia amid claims over “offensive intelligence activities” against Belgrade, in a move that is likely to strain relations between the two Balkan neighbours. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters that the withdrawal from the Macedonian capital, Skopje, was made after intelligence reports of “very offensive acts” planned against Serbian interests in Macedonia. He did not elaborate on the specific acts, adding that “everything will be much clearer” in the next 10 days. The recall was first announced by Macedonia’s ministry of foreign affairs, which said it was “not aware of the reasons for the decision”.


Newsline: US Embassy says no need for diplomatic status for Russian center in Serbia

The U.S. embassy in Belgrade said there’s no need to grant diplomatic status to the Russian staff of the controversial facility in Serbia that some consider a spy base but that Moscow insists is a disaster relief center. An embassy statement obtained Saturday by The Associated Press said its representatives visited the Nis center, 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Belgrade, this week at the invitation of the center’s management. “U.S. representatives were briefed on the current functioning of the center, but saw nothing in the activities that were shown which would indicate a need for diplomatic status,” the statement said. “The consistent demands for inviolability for the personnel and premises of the Center only raise question regarding long-term intentions for the facility.” Russia has denied speculation they are eavesdropping on American military interests in the Balkans from the so-called “Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center,” which was formed in 2011. Moscow says the center is only for humanitarian missions.