May 2023 | Mass shootings spark anti-government protests
Two mass shootings (at a school and in several villages) that claimed the lives of 18 people have prompted mass anti-government protests and a movement against President Aleksandar Vučić. Protesters attribute the prevalence of violence in society and the media to the political elite, citing hate speech, glorification of criminals, and the illicit circulation of guns. Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said that the events following the shootings are a result of foreign services and that there will be no “Maidan” in Serbia. Vučić has initiated an amnesty period for those who turn in their arms. Vučić convened a rally, during which he restated that he will resign as the leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) to form a supra-party movement “to be the president of all the citizens.” The new SNS leader, current Minister of Defense Miloš Vučević, said SNS will be part of Vučić’s People’s Movement for the State.
April 2023 | IFJ warns about biggest crisis in years for journalists in Serbia
Following a visit in Serbia and multiple meetings with journalists, editors, media unions and associations in Serbia, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) concluded that independent journalism in the country is experiencing its biggest crisis in years. The organization warned about the lack of safety for journalists, weak rule of law, hostility towards independent reporting, as well as capture of the media. The undermining of the prosecution of attacks on journalists by political leaders has been cited as a major challenge. The IFJ has said that Serbia is one of the EU candidate countries where the media faces the strongest attacks and pressure, and where critical journalism is seen as unpatriotic by the political class. Both President Aleksandar Vučić, and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić were cited for insults and attempts to discredit independent journalism.
March 2023 | Serbia and Kosovo reach verbal agreement on normalisation of relations
Following years of EU-backed negotiations that kicked off in 2011, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell announced that Kosovo and Serbia have reached an agreement on how to implement the EU-sponsored plan on the normalisation of relations. The deal signals an important shift as both countries commit to following the agreement points, which include recognition of national symbols, use of separate documents, protection of Serbian cultural sites in Kosovo and guarantees for self-management of Kosovo’s Serbian minority. Parties agreed not to impede each-other’s EU integration process or attempts to join international organizations (i.e., Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations). However, the 11-point agreement was not signed, and disagreements remain. The agreement was interpreted in distinct ways in Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said the agreement is a de facto recognition of Kosovo, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has backtracked in front of domestic audiences, saying that he won’t sign anything and that Serbia’s “red lines are recognition and Kosovo’s ascension to the UN.”
December 2022 | Kosovo-Serb politician detained at the Serbian border
Rada Trajkovic, a prominent Kosovo-Serb politician and fierce critic of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, was detained by the police at the Serbian border leaving Kosovo. She was recently appointed as an adviser to Nenad Rasic, a Kosovo Serb politician who took the post of the Minister of Communities and Returns in Kosovo. Trajkovic has called for the preservation of the Serbian community’s presence in Kosovo, for coexistence and reconciliation. She accused the Serbian president of trying to threaten her and for “criminal actions” against Kosovo-Serbs. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti condemned Trajkovic’s detention as a “typical retaliation against law-abiding Kosovo-Serbs.”