January 25, 2022

News

News Network

Joint Statement on Serbia’s National Referendum

13 min read

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the European Union on the occasion of Serbia’s January 16 National Referendum.

Begin Text:

France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union welcome Serbia’s January 16 referendum on constitutional changes as a key step to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to enhance the transparency and effectiveness of the country’s rule of law institutions.  We believe that these reforms are a step forward towards Serbia’s alignment with European standards and will support Serbia’s EU accession process.

We have encouraged all Serbian citizens to take part in the referendum, and believe it is important for eligible voters everywhere to be able to vote in elections and referenda.  We note with regret that the Kosovo government has not allowed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to collect ballots of eligible voters living in Kosovo for the upcoming referendum in accordance with past practice.  We call on the Kosovo government to allow Serbs in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote in elections and electoral processes in accordance with this established practice.

We call upon the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from actions and rhetoric that increase tensions, and to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue.  It is important that both governments achieve progress towards a comprehensive agreement that unlocks the EU perspective and increases regional stability.

End text.

More from: Office of the Spokesperson
More from Area Control Network
1. Global Warming Network
2. Christians Online
3. Put your website in the archives
4. Area Control Network News

News Network

  • Counternarcotics: Treasury Reports Some Results from Designating Drug Kingpins, but Should Improve Information on Agencies’ Expenditures
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), the Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) leads a flexible interagency process to designate and sanction foreign individuals and entities that contribute to illicit narcotics trafficking. OFAC identifies potential Kingpin Act designees, compiles evidence, submits it for legal review, and seeks concurrence from partner agencies on designation decisions. OFAC and U.S. partner agencies monitor and enforce Kingpin Act sanctions, but OFAC has not ensured consistency and transparency of the expenditure data it has reported to Congress. Federal Banking Agencies monitor the OFAC compliance programs of U.S. banks through regular bank examinations. Additionally, OFAC handles enforcement through warnings, monetary penalties, and other methods. As required, OFAC reports annually to Congress on Kingpin Act designations and corresponding agency expenditures, but it has provided limited guidance to partner agencies on expenditure data they report. As a result, agencies use different methods to calculate the personnel and resource costs associated with their Kingpin activities. For example, the Department of Homeland Security said it only reports personnel expenditures when it is the lead investigative agency, but the Department of Defense reports personnel expenditures when it is not the lead. Furthermore, OFAC has not reported the limitations in agency data in its congressional reports. This lack of clear expenditure information could hinder oversight of the Kingpin Act. OFAC officials noted challenges to assessing the overall effectiveness of the Kingpin Act, but they and their U.S. and international partners track and report a range of results. The primary challenge cited is the difficulty of isolating the effect of the Kingpin Act from multiple other programs combating drug trafficking organizations. Results reported by OFAC and its partners include, for example, from 2000-2019, OFAC reported that it had designated more than 2,000 Kingpins and their supporters, and frozen more than half a billion dollars in assets under the act. In addition, host government officials reported that Kingpin Act sanctions assist them in imposing penalties on drug traffickers. Number of Kingpin Act Designations, from 2000 to 2019 Why GAO Did This Study Drug deaths in the United States have been rising for years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 there were over 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths. This national emergency results in part from the activities of international narcotics traffickers and their organizations. The Kingpin Act, enacted in 1999, allows Treasury to designate and sanction individuals and entities that contribute to illicit narcotics trafficking. Sanctions and other consequences include blocking a designee's property and assets, denying U.S. travel visas to designees, and penalizing U.S. persons who violate the prohibitions in the Kingpin Act. Treasury is required to submit an annual report to Congress on agencies' Kingpin Act–related personnel and resource expenditures and sanctions activities. This report examines (1) how U.S. agencies designate individuals and entities under the Kingpin Act; (2) the extent to which U.S. agencies monitor, enforce, and report on sanctions under the Kingpin Act; and (3) what agencies have done to assess the effectiveness of the Kingpin Act. GAO reviewed documents from and interviewed officials at Treasury, the Department of State, and other partner agencies. GAO also performed fieldwork in Colombia and Mexico.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar After Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • United States Hosts December 2-8 Lead-Up Events in Advance of Summit for Democracy
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Foreign national found guilty of smuggling over $1M in meth
    In Justice News
    A Laredo federal jury [Read More…]
  • The Opening of the Israeli Embassy in the United Arab Emirates
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and Department of Labor Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Protect the Employment Rights of Servicemembers and Veterans
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) today signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enshrine the collaboration between the agencies to protect the employment rights provided to servicemembers by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
    [Read More…]
  • The United States and Saudi Arabia Advance Decades of Cooperation
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Report Detailing Government Efforts to Combat Robocalls Released to Congress
    In Crime News
    The Department of [Read More…]
  • This Week in Iran Policy
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Federal Real Property Asset Management: Additional Direction in Government-Wide Guidance Could Enhance Natural Disaster Resilience
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Selected agencies have taken some actions to incorporate resilience to natural disasters into their assets through processes used to make portfolio-wide decisions—known as “asset management”. GAO has previously identified characteristics for effective asset management, such as using quality data on assets. GAO found that selected agencies varied in how they incorporated resilience when applying these characteristics. For example, some agencies collected natural disaster risk data across their portfolios by conducting vulnerability assessments, whereas, others have not. In addition, officials from all four selected agencies said they primarily incorporate resilience information when constructing or repairing individual projects by using current design standards or assessing specific natural disaster risks. For example, according to officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a building at the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge in Texas was able to sustain multiple hurricanes because it was rebuilt to exceed design standards. Project at the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge that Elevated Concrete Piers and Improved the Roof Design to Address Hurricane Risks GAO found that federal government-wide guidance and requirements on asset management direct agencies to address risks such as climate change but do not explicitly direct them to incorporate natural disaster resilience into asset management decisions. In particular, a January 2021 executive order requires agencies to develop a climate action plan describing their vulnerabilities. However, neither this order nor Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance require agencies to use the information collected to make investment decisions. Accordingly, agencies with high exposure to future natural disasters may not proactively incorporate resilience into decisions when prioritizing investments across their portfolios. According to the International Organization for Standardization's standard on climate change and GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework, organizations should assess how they might be affected by climate change, including natural disasters, and apply that information to decision-making. Using information gathered from tools, such as vulnerability assessments, can help agencies determine if an investment in assets to enhance resilience could provide the most value to the agencies in meeting their missions when compared to other potential investments. Why GAO Did This Study The federal government spends billions of dollars each year to manage real property assets, such as buildings, levees, and roads. The rising frequency and severity of natural disasters expose these assets to damage and the government to fiscal liabilities. In 2020, the United States experienced 22 separate billion-dollar natural disasters. As the owner of real property assets, federal agencies can enhance the natural disaster resilience of real property through asset management. This can include actions to prepare for disasters. GAO was asked to determine how agencies prevent or reduce damage to real property caused by natural disasters. This report addresses (1) how selected agencies have incorporated natural disaster resilience into their assets and (2) the extent to which government-wide guidance directs agencies to incorporate natural disaster resilience into asset management. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed key characteristics and principles for asset management and natural disaster resilience from GAO's prior work; reviewed agency documents; interviewed officials from four selected agencies that owned a large number of assets (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, National Park Service, and FWS); and reviewed OMB guidance.
    [Read More…]
  • Civil Monetary Penalties: Federal Agencies’ Compliance with the 2020 Annual Inflation Adjustment Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In this fifth annual review, GAO found that the majority of federal agencies that could be subject to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended (IAA), have complied with the provisions of the act to publish 2020 civil monetary penalty inflation adjustments in the Federal Register and report related information in their 2020 agency financial reports (AFR), or equivalent. However, two agencies did not publish inflation adjustments in the Federal Register as of December 31, 2020, and did not report the required information in their 2020 AFRs for one or more of their civil monetary penalties. Why GAO Did This Study The IAA includes a provision, added in 2015, requiring GAO to annually submit to Congress a report assessing agencies' compliance with the annual inflation adjustments required by the act. This is the fifth annual report responding to this requirement. For more information, contact Paula M. Rascona at (202) 512-9816 or rasconap@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • New Jersey Man Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    A New Jersey man was sentenced to 78 months in prison today for conspiring to defraud the United States, filing false claims, and obstructing the internal revenue laws, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
    [Read More…]
  • Military Airlift: DOD Needs to Take Steps to Manage Workload Distributed to the Civil Reserve Air Fleet
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundDOD exceeded the flying hours needed to meet military training requirements for fiscal years 2002 through 2010 because of increased operational requirements associated with Afghanistan and Iraq; however it does not know whether it used Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) participants to the maximum extent practicable. DOD guidance requires it to meet training requirements and to use commercial transportation to the "maximum extent practicable." During fiscal years 2002 through 2010, DOD flew its fleet more than needed to train its crews, although its flying has more closely matched its training needs in recent years. DOD has also used CRAF participants extensively to supplement military airlift. Although DOD has taken steps to make more airlift business available to CRAF participants, officials said that overseas operations have provided enough missions to support both training and CRAF business obligations. However, with the drawdown in Afghanistan, DOD officials expect the need for airlift to decline by at least 66 percent--to pre-September 2001 levels--reducing both training hours available for DOD and business opportunities for CRAF. DOD does not use its process for monitoring flying hours to determine when it will exceed required training hours and allocate eligible airlift missions to CRAF participants. Therefore, it cannot determine whether it is using CRAF to the maximum extent practicable. As a result, DOD may be using its military fleet more than necessary--which officials say is less economical--while risking reduced CRAF participation.DOD provided several reasons for restricting commercial carriers from transporting partial plane loads of cargo over channel routes, including the need to promote efficiency, meet its military airlift training requirements, and fulfill peacetime business obligations to CRAF participants. Channel route missions are regularly scheduled airlift missions used to transport cargo and provide aircrew training time. These missions also help DOD provide business to CRAF participants. According to U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) officials, DOD generally requires aircraft conducting channel route missions to be completely full of cargo before takeoff. The policy restricting carriers from flying partial loads over channel routes allows DOD to consolidate cargo previously flown by commercial carriers in less than full plane loads and redirect that cargo into the channel route system, where it will be transported by either commercial or military aircraft as part of a full plane load mission. According to DOD, consolidating cargo into full loads flown over the channel route system has increased both the efficiency of these missions and the availability of missions that DOD uses to train its crews and fulfill its business obligations to CRAF.It is unclear whether the planned size of CRAF will be adequate to meet future airlift requirements. DOD last established its future requirements based on the wartime scenarios in the Mobility Capability Requirements Study 2016, issued in 2010. However, due to changing military strategy and priorities, the 2010 study does not reflect current mission needs. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 requires DOD to conduct a new mobility capabilities and requirements study. DOD has not begun this study or finalized its ongoing reviews of the CRAF program's ability to support future requirements. Once they are finalized, these studies should allow DOD to better understand future requirements for CRAF and whether the CRAF program will meet future airlift requirements.Why GAO Did This StudyTo move passengers and cargo, DOD supplements its military aircraft with cargo and passenger aircraft from volunteer commercial carriers participating in the CRAF program. Participating carriers commit their aircraft to support a range of military operations in exchange for peacetime business. A House Armed Services Committee mandated GAO to report on matters related to the CRAF program. GAO assessed whether DOD (1) met its military airlift training requirements while also using CRAF participants to the maximum extent practicable, (2) provided justification for restricting commercial carriers from transporting partial plane loads of cargo over certain routes, and (3) has established future requirements for CRAF and how the planned size of CRAF compares to those requirements. GAO reviewed guidance and policies pertaining to the program, flying hour data, and DOD-sponsored CRAF study reports. GAO also interviewed DOD and industry officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Fair Lending: CFPB Needs to Assess the Impact of Recent Changes to Its Fair Lending Activities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In January 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a reorganization of its fair lending activities that moved its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity (Fair Lending Office) from the Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending Division to the Office of the Director and reallocated certain of its responsibilities (see figure). As CFPB planned and implemented the reorganization, it did not substantially incorporate key practices for agency reform efforts GAO identified in prior work—such as using employee input for planning or monitoring implementation progress and outcomes. GAO identified challenges related to the reorganization (including loss of fair lending expertise and specialized data analysts) that may have contributed to a decline in enforcement activity in 2018. However, CFPB has not assessed how well the reorganization met its goals or how it affected fair lending supervision and enforcement efforts. Collecting and analyzing information on reorganization outcomes would help CFPB determine the impact of the changes and identify actions needed to address any related challenges or unintended consequences. Key Changes in Fair Lending Responsibilities under CFPB's 2018 Reorganization As of February 2019, CFPB stopped reporting on performance goals and measures specific to fair lending supervision and enforcement—such as the number of completed examinations and the percentage of enforcement cases successfully resolved. Without these goals and measures, CFPB is limited in its ability to assess and communicate progress on its fair lending supervision and enforcement efforts, key components of CFPB's mission. CFPB has used additional Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data that some lenders have had to report since 2018 to support supervisory and enforcement activities and fair lending analyses. CFPB incorporated these new loan-level data into efforts to identify and prioritize fair lending risks and support fair lending examinations. For example, the new data points improve CFPB's ability to compare how different institutions price loans, which helps its staff identify potentially discriminatory lending practices. Why GAO Did This Study Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, CFPB is responsible for two federal fair lending laws that protect consumers from discrimination: the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. In January 2019, CFPB completed a reorganization of its fair lending activities. GAO was asked to review issues related to CFPB's oversight and enforcement of fair lending laws. This report examines how CFPB has (1) managed the reorganization of its fair lending activities, (2) monitored and reported on its fair lending performance, and (3) used Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data to support its fair lending activities. GAO reviewed CFPB documents related to its fair lending activities (such as strategic and performance reports, policies and procedures) and to the reorganization of its Fair Lending Office. GAO evaluated implementation of this reorganization against relevant key practices identified in GAO-18-427. GAO also interviewed CFPB staff.
    [Read More…]
  • Death of Former Algerian President Bouteflika
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Poland Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Former Bureau of Prisons Corrections Officer Sentenced for Sexually Abusing an Inmate and Witness Tampering
    In Crime News
    Eric Todd Ellis, 32, a former Bureau of Prisons (BOP) corrections officer at the FCI-Aliceville facility in Aliceville, Alabama, was sentenced today in federal court in Birmingham, Alabama, to 18 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Ellis previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a ward and one count of tampering with a witness.
    [Read More…]
  • Maryland Nuclear Engineer and Spouse Arrested on Espionage-Related Charges
    In Crime News
    Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both of Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested in Jefferson County, West Virginia, by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Saturday, Oct. 9.
    [Read More…]
  • Human Capital: Complete Information and More Analyses Needed to Enhance DOD’s Civilian Senior Leader Strategic Workforce Plan
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundDOD's approach for determining its civilian senior leader workforce projections to meet future requirements incorporated the results of two separate assessments. In its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, DOD presented data that projected reductions of 178 civilian senior leader positions within its five career civilian senior leader workforces during fiscal years 2011 and 2012. To conduct its assessment for the strategic workforce plan, DOD used a computer modeling system that is managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and used by several agencies across the federal government. The system models significant career events, such as promotions, reassignments, and retirements, to produce projections. During this same time period, DOD also completed an efficiency initiative at the direction of the Secretary of Defense to, among other things, ensure that DOD's senior leader workforce is properly sized and aligned with DOD's mission and priorities. For its efficiency initiative, the department devised an internal DOD methodology in which it rank ordered positions in terms of higher and lower priority in order to identify reductions. This assessment identified a reduction of 178 civilian senior leader positions within DOD's civilian senior leader workforce for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. From the plan, it is not clear how these two efforts fit together, or how DOD drew from the strengths of each analysis. DOD officials explained to us, however, that they incorporated the results of the efficiency initiative into the strategic workforce plan when they issued that plan, so that the projections of the workforce plan and the results of the efficiency initiative would be consistent.DOD assessments of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps of its career civilian senior leader workforces did not identify areas that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions. Most of DOD's civilian senior leader workforce can be categorized into five separate workforces, and our review found that DOD conducted assessments of skills, competencies, and gaps for two of them--the Senior Executive Service and Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service workforces. However, the department did not include the results of either assessment in its 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan and only discussed the processes it used for conducting the assessment of its Senior Executive Service workforce. Further, DOD did not conduct assessments of skills, competencies, and gaps for the remaining three career civilian senior leader workforces--its Senior Level, Senior Technical, and Defense Intelligence Senior Level workforces. Officials told us that they did not assess these three workforces because the skills and competencies of these workforces are position-specific. However, section 115b of Title 10 of the United States Code requires that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all its senior leader workforces. Without conducting such assessments and reporting on them, it is difficult to identify those areas that will require increased focus on recruiting, retention, and training. Therefore, we are recommending that DOD conduct assessments of the skills, competencies, and gaps within all five of its career senior leader workforces and report the results in its future strategic workforce plans.Why GAO Did This StudyThe ability of the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve its mission and carry out its responsibilities depends in large part on whether it can sustain a civilian senior leader workforce that possesses necessary skills and competencies. Managing civilian senior leaders effectively is imperative, especially in light of DOD’s plans to reduce at least 150 civilian senior leader positions, the department’s current cap on civilian personnel numbers, and the existing pay freeze. Further, as DOD faces fiscal constraints, implements its efficiency initiatives, and prepares for an anticipated drawdown in Afghanistan, the department is faced with the complex task of re-shaping its workforce to meet future needs. This includes assessing the requirements for approximately 2,900 civilian senior leaders who help manage DOD’s overall civilian workforce of more than 780,000 personnel. In managing these senior leaders, the department must ensure that they are sufficient in number and properly prepared to achieve DOD’s mission. One particular challenge, noted in DOD’s 2010-2018 strategic workforce plan, is that more than 60 percent of DOD’s civilian senior leader workforce will be eligible to retire by 2015.Accordingly, section 115b Title 10 of the United States Code, enacted in October 2009, requires DOD to submit to congressional defense committees, on a recurring basis, a strategic workforce plan to shape and improve its civilian senior leader workforces. While this law does not specify a date for DOD to submit the plan, it does stipulate several requirements for the plan. These include an assessment of (1) the critical skills and competencies of the existing workforce of the department and projected trends in that workforce based on expected losses due to retirement and other attrition, and (2) gaps in the existing or projected workforce of the department that should be addressed to ensure that the department has continued access to the critical skills and competencies it needs. DOD's mandate previously required that the department's assessments cover a 7-year period following the year in which the plan is submitted to Congress. Therefore, DOD's latest civilian senior leader workforce plan covered the period 2010-2018.Following the enactment of this legislation, the Secretary of Defense, in August 2010, announced an efficiency initiative to eliminate unnecessary overhead costs by, among other things, reviewing DOD’s entire senior leader workforce and reducing the total number of civilian senior leader positions by at least 150. The Secretary’s guidance called for these reductions to take place in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. After the Secretary’s announcement, DOD’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness created the Civilian Senior Executive Study Group, and directed the group to conduct a DOD-wide survey of the number, placement, skills, and competencies of civilian senior leader positions and to provide recommendations for restructuring civilian senior leader positions to best align with missions and responsibilities. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness also directed the group to consider how to inform follow-on efforts to further analyze civilian senior leader appointment, management, and renewal policies. The Civilian Senior Executive Study Group, which consisted of Senior Executive Service and General Schedule-15 representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, each of the military departments, the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, issued its final report to the Secretary on November 23, 2010. The Secretary of Defense announced his decisions based on recommendations developed as part of the efficiency initiative, including recommendations made in this report on March 14, 2011.Subsequently, on March 27, 2012, DOD issued its 2010-2018 Strategic Workforce Plan, and GAO, as mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, is required to report on that plan within 180 days of its submission to Congress. For this report on DOD's 2010-2018 plan we (1) reviewed DOD's approach for determining its civilian senior leader projections to meet future requirements and (2) evaluated the extent to which DOD's assessment of the critical skills, competencies, and gaps in the existing and future civilian senior leader workforces identified areas that will require increased focus to help the department meet its vital missions.
    [Read More…]
  • Owner of Tax Preparation Business Sentenced to Prison for Filing False Returns
    In Crime News
    A former Gulfport, Mississippi, tax return preparer was sentenced to 46 months in prison today for aiding and assisting in the preparation of false returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst for the Southern District of Mississippi.
    [Read More…]
Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.