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Belgrade Media Report 13 July

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 13 July 2017
LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic: Serbia dedicated to regional cooperation (Beta/Politika)
• Serbia determined to continue with its EU integration (Beta)
• Dacic: Europe not complete without Balkan region (Beta)
• Stable Serbia is the key to progress in the region (RTS)
• Serbian Orthodox Church and Academy prepared to join resolution of Kosovo issue (Novosti)
• Opposition suspicious concerning Vucic’s dialogue on Kosovo (Danas)
• Tadic: We are now before a fait accompli (Blic)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• 2017 Western Balkans Summit within Berlin Process begins in Trieste (TV1)
• Crnadak meets Hahn (Hayat)
• Conclusions to lead to complete isolation of B&H (Oslobodjenje)
• Zvizdic meets Merkel, discusses EU integration and reform processes (Oslobodjenje)
• New German-Turkish initiative considers civic B&H? (N1)
• Trial of SBB B&H leader Radoncic resumes before B&H Court (FTV)
Croatia
• Slovenian and Croatian Prime Ministers meet in Ljubljana (24sata.hr)
Montenegro
• Markovic with Merkel: Now is a real opportunity to come to Montenegro (CDM)
fYROM
• Zaev: Good neighborly relations, Euro-integration not political issues, but necessity (MIA)
• New Macedonian, Serbian PMs hold first meeting at sidelines of Western Balkan Summit (MIA)
• Merkel voices support for Macedonia’s reforms, Euro-Atlantic integration (MIA)
• Hahn: The requests of the civil sector in the Balkans are acceptable (Meta)
• Athens tells Roth to refrain from giving history lessons (Meta)
Albania
• Rama: The stronger and more democratic Macedonia, the stronger and better Albania will be (ATA)
• Bushati: Trieste Summit to focus on concrete avenues for two initiatives (ATA)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Western Balkans: further than ever from EU membership? (Eurotopics)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: Serbia dedicated to regional cooperation (Beta/Politika)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said yesterday at the Summit of the Western Balkans leaders in Trieste that Serbia is committed to regional cooperation and that, after difficult economic measures, it will continue with fiscal consolidation and strengthening of its economic growth. Brnabic pointed out that this would be impossible without regional stability, and added that the countries of the Western Balkans within the framework of the Berlin process should build mutual ties. She particularly emphasized that she primarily refers to connecting the young people, and that the region of the Western Balkans should focus on positive things and concluded that the whole region would then move forward together. This is beyond politics. We all have to think victoriously. We have to overcome the situation where one gets, and the other loses. We need to think that we are all getting, she said. She stressed that she wants to work with her colleagues from other countries towards connecting local self-governments of different countries in order to initiate local economic development together and attract investors. In particular, Brnabic pointed out that the countries of the Western Balkans are connected by digitization and that this is the key to success for our region. In this context, she underlined the importance of encouraging young people. They have the entrepreneurial energy and that is why we need to encourage start-ups and innovation activities. This is the development opportunity of our country, in which young people see their chance, concluded Brnabic.
The Agreement on the Transport Community was signed as one of the concrete results of this year’s Summit of the countries of the Western Balkans in Trieste.

 

Serbia determined to continue with its EU integration (Beta)

 

Brnabic met at the Trieste Summit of the Berlin Process with European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, and on this occasion, conveyed Serbia’s clear determination to continue with its European integration. Brnabic and Hahn estimated that it is important that the countries of the Western Balkans work together on regional networking, strengthening economic ties and regional stability, and that the summit of the countries of the Western Balkans in Trieste is an opportunity for it. At the same time, Hahn said that he supports Serbia’s efforts to join the EU. The meeting was also attended by Minister of EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic.

Dacic: Europe not complete without Balkan region (Beta)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that it is high time that the countries of the Western Balkans become focused on seeking common interests, as the intensification of mutual differences and the search for culprits, could lead to a dead end. Dacic pointed out at the Summit of the Western Balkans that is held in Trieste that through the numerous projects it supports, the EU enables closer cooperation and integration within the region, which contributes to the EU integration process. At a time when member states question the functioning of the EU as the highest level of regional integration that the world knows, Serbia and the Balkans see the EU as a successful creation, whose part we want to become, he stressed. That is why, he added, it is extremely important that the EU further encourages us and that our European path gets clearer in terms of timeframe. We will strengthen our economies, better prepare for EU accession, the region will be more attractive to potential investors, we expect faster economic growth, job creation and technological advancement. By implementing this plan, we will improve our export capacities and ensure competitiveness in the global market, said Dacic.

 

Stable Serbia is the key to progress in the region (RTS)

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has met with the Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Michelle Howard. Vulin expressed condolences to Admiral Howard on the tragic death of 16 members of the Marine Corps in the fall of a military transport aircraft in the state of Mississippi. “Strengthening our military capabilities is a priority of the Ministry of Defence, and exercises with NATO partners certainly contribute to this, as well as exercises with partners who are not members of this military alliance. In this way, we are building capacities for participation in the peace-keeping operations of the European Union and the United Nations thus becoming a credible partner for contributing to regional and global security, which is in line with clear foreign policy priorities of Serbia such as the EU membership,” the Minister said. Vulin stressed that Serbia is sincerely committed to preserving regional stability fully respecting and considering the Euro-Atlantic orientation of its neighbours, as it expects neighbors to respect the path chosen by our country. “We are not ready to be part of any military alliance and we are firmly committed to the policy of military neutrality. On the other hand, the Serbian Armed Forces actively participates in exercises with NATO member states that surround us. We see this as an opportunity to strengthen confidence among the countries of the region, which is crucial for its stability,” the Minister said. He emphasized that, considering the importance and the area of responsibility of the NATO Command in Naples, an open and sincere dialogue and maintenance of regular contacts at the highest level is a precondition for the promotion and strengthening of partnership cooperation. The Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR have an especially positive form of the cooperation, the Minister said. “KFOR is currently the most responsible factor in maintaining peace and security in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, and it is therefore crucial that KFOR stays in Kosovo for as long as necessary. The position of Serbia is that the announced transformation of the so-called Kosovo Security Forces to the so-called Kosovo Armed Forces constitute a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and certainly does not contribute to the establishment of lasting peace and security in the region. Political agreements must be respected and cannot be changed,” Minister Vulin said. Admiral Michelle Howard agreed that the stability of the region is the key to its overall progress, especially for Serbia’s relations with its neighbors and its accession to the European Union. She also highlighted the good communication between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR and excellent cooperation on the operational and technical level, which was confirmed through regular meetings of the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces and the KFOR Commander, as well as a large number of joint activities.

 

Serbian Orthodox Church and Academy prepared to join resolution of Kosovo issue (Novosti)

 

The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) are prepared to join the dialogue on a solution for Kosovo and Metohija that will be launched by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, these institutions told Novosti. However, part of the opposition is suspicious when it comes to the manner of conducting these talks and the possibility of reaching a consensus. The Serbian Patriarchate tells Novosti that the church will gladly help the state leadership: “One of the headquarters of the church is in Kosovo and Metohija, our greatest sanctities and monasteries are there and it is very important that Serbia invests maximum effort that it remains part of it. It is also very important to help the Kosovo Serbs to stay on their land and normalize their lives.” SANU Secretary General Marko Andjelkovic says that the President of the Republic would make the honor to this institution if it would invite SANU members to present their opinion on topics important for our society, as well as on Kosovo and Metohija. “The public should bear in mind that SANU members are free thinking people so SANU cannot be requested to take a united stand by way of outvoting,” says Andjelkovic. “However, by being acquainted with the opinion of SANU members, one can perceive frameworks for resolving problems, which can benefit all who have the opportunity to pass decisions on state and others issues in their mandates.”

The Chairman of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun says that consensus is necessary in order to define the further strategy in a situation when we will not recognize Kosovo and the Albanians do not accept anything less than independence: “There will be also those with daily-political goals that will oppose everything from the authorities, but the most important thing is for the greater part of the society to agree, so such a response will have legitimacy.” Opposition parties have a much more reserved attitude. Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Kosovo and Metohija from the ranks of the Social-Democrat Party (SDS) Goran Bogdanovic says he doesn’t understand why has Vucic not consulted the opposition when the agreements were signed in Brussels: “I don’t know what could we discuss when 90 percent of the things have already been resolved, while the Serbs have been largely integrated into the Kosovo society. What could be fixed now? Of course, we have never run away from discussing Kosovo and Metohija.” Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) leader Milos Jovanovic says he doesn’t see on what does Vucic want to open the dialogue if he himself says that he will not recognize Kosovo’s secession: “We can only discuss how to protect Serbian territory and to ensure a safe life for the people in Kosovo and Metohija without giving legitimacy to the secessionist authorities. It is strange the speed with which he wishes to resolve this problem when Serbia is not strong enough to implement its stands on the ground.”

 

Opposition suspicious concerning Vucic’s dialogue on Kosovo (Danas)

 

Representatives of opposition parliamentary parties are suspicious concerning the idea of Serbian President to launch a broad national dialogue on the Kosovo issue. Part of the opposition sees the dialogue as a possibility for passing brave decisions. Member of the presidency of the Liberal-Democrat Party (LDP) Djordjo Zujovic thinks that politics are not a monologue and listening only to one owns stand. “This is why we need open talks and dialogue of people who are prepared to confront opinions, and one such initiative is certainly not disputable. The only disputable thing can be only our right to decide on behalf of the people in Kosovo… we supported both Brussels agreements and defended them even more than those who are in power presently. This moment deserves special attention and we do not oppose open talks in society, but it needs to follow brave decisions and solutions, as everything is futile without this,” says Zujovic.

Democratic Party (DS) leader Dragan Sutanovac tells Danas that the Serbian President should prepare a platform for talks that should specifically state his policy and manner how and what he wants to be a solution for Kosovo and Metohija. “Everything else would be looking for an alibi primarily for himself and the Serbian Progressive party (SNS). The DS has supported the signing of the Brussels agreement and expects the implementation of what had been signed. For us, the Kosovo issue is not a daily-political issue and if we want a lasting and sustainable solution, it is necessary that we all approach this. We will examine the invitation once we receive it and we will not give an alibi to anyone for decisions already made,” says Sutanovac.

Dveri Movement leader Bosko Obradovic points out that Vucic’s invitation for a dialogue regarding Kosovo and Metohija is nothing else but preparation of the public for recognition of Kosovo and throwing out of Kosovo and Metohija from the constitutional preamble. “Dacic’s and Vucic’s government has already recognized independent Kosovo, made a border with Kosovo and Metohija and abolished state institutions in Kosovo and Metohija by signing the anti-constitutional Brussels agreement. Now in the line is public international recognition of independent Kosovo by our government and accepting the false state to receive UN membership. Vucic is now trying to prepare the ground for this and to draw other parts of the Serbian society into its own betrayal of Kosovo,” Obradovic tells Danas. He says that Dveri will strongly oppose this.

 

Tadic: We are now before a fait accompli (Blic)

 

I presented my four-point plan five years ago. This plan is perhaps not applicable now after the signed Brussels agreement so that now it is probably late for some solutions that have been possible until now, former Serbian president Boris Tadic tells Blic. He says that Vucic and Nikolic were deceiving citizens in the 2012 campaign by promising they would annul everything signed by the previous government. “By signing the Brussels agreement they disabled us from achieving what was possible at the time. Now we are before a fait accompli and any talk on this topic serves only to divide responsibility and to fool the public that there is any kind of dialogue with this government,” says Tadic. He says the dialogue on this topic made sense only before the signing of the Brussels agreement. “This government allowed the establishment of a legal system of independent Kosovo throughout Kosovo and Metohija and in the north. We didn’t accept this during my mandate and we fought successfully to keep what Serbia didn’t lose during the 1999 war. This government surrendered what had not been lost at the time. They boast with the agreement on the so-called Community of Serb Municipalities, but this Community would have jurisdictions at the level of some NGO or even less than that. Not only that they negotiated only this, but they can’t even succeed in the implementation of that,” concludes Tadic.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

2017 Western Balkans Summit within Berlin Process begins in Trieste (TV1)

 

The 2017 Western Balkans Summit took place in Trieste, Italy, on Wednesday. The Summit is the fourth annual summit within the Berlin Process initiative for European integration of Western Balkan states. The gathering was attended by heads of government, foreign ministers and the ministers of economy of Albania, B&H, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as EU member states from the region Croatia, Slovenia and EU member states Austria, France, Germany, Italy as well as representatives of the European Union (EU) and the international financial institutions. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of B&H (B&H CoM) Denis Zvizdic was at helm of B&H delegation. Apart from Zvizdic, members of B&H delegation included Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of B&H Mirko Sarovic, Minister of Communications and Transportation of B&H Ismir Jusko and Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H Igor Crnadak.

The Trieste Summit was an opportunity to discuss concrete avenues to strengthen regional cooperation and thus further advance the EU integration process of the Western Balkans. Addressing those present, representatives of the EU underlined that the future of the Balkans is within the bloc, adding that Brussels wants to help strengthen the economy and regional connectivity in the region. Addressing the Western Balkans Summit, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn stated that the European integration process cannot be successful without economic progress. He added that it is necessary to focus on infrastructure and employment of young people. According to him, Brussels wants countries of the Western Balkans to become EU members and one of key reasons for this is for young people not to leave their countries.

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini emphasized that the Berlin Process should follow the Balkans’ path towards the EU, which can never be complete without the Western Balkans. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic underlined that the fiscal policy and the policy of stability would be impossible without regional development or regional stability.

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano urged Balkan leaders to put their differences and past behind them and press ahead with integration for the sake of regional peace and economic growth. Reporter noted that the Summit was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron.

 

Crnadak meets Hahn (Hayat)

 

On the sidelines of the Trieste summit, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak met with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who also confirmed that Republika Srpska (RS) Government’s conditions regarding the Transport Community Treaty are unacceptable to the EU. Crnadak stressed the importance of the Transport Community for B&H and other countries of the region. According to Crnadak, the RS government’s refusal to give its consent makes no sense because, if the Transport Community is useful to Serbia and all other countries of the region, he wonders why it would not be useful to the RS as well. He added that he would not want the projects and grants for B&H to be endangered in this situation.

 

Conclusions to lead to complete isolation of B&H (Oslobodjenje)

 

A conclusion adopted by Republika Srpska (RS) government with regards to the establishment of the transport community has been deemed unacceptable by the Ministry of Transport and Communications of B&H; the European Commission stated previously it will not accept any changes to the Agreement on Establishment of the Transport Community. The Ministry of Transport and Communications of B&H issued a press statement on Wednesday, according to which the RS government’s proposal to have the state and two entity ministries must present harmonized stances within the Secretariat of the Transport Community is unacceptable because “the procedures have already been agreed with the Western Balkans countries – signatories of the Agreement”. The Ministry also underlined that the European Commission did not give an approval to the requests of the RS Government. Federation of B&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic sent a memo to the Council of Ministers of B&H, according to which signing of the Agreement represents a significant step in the integration process of the country. He also noted that rotation of the three ministries is unnecessary in presenting stances of B&H, because “that would represent interfering in the constitutional responsibilities of B&H CoM”. Daily noted that failure to sign the Agreement and blockade of B&H’s access to the Transport Community will have negative consequences for the country, as B&H is going to lose a possibility of liberalization of the railway sector or a possibility of new investments. SDA issued a statement saying that the blackmail coming from the RS Government is unacceptable, and that they represent continuation of attempts of RS President Milorad Dodik to obstruct foreign policy subjectivity of sovereign B&H and an attempt to obstruct Euro-Atlantic integration process.

 

Zvizdic meets Merkel, discusses EU integration and reform processes (Oslobodjenje)

 

Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the margins of the 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste on Wednesday evening. Following the meeting, Zvizdic stated: “What is encouraging is the message that Germany fully supports European integration of B&H, as it has been doing the whole time. I must note that, based on the German-UK initiative, the European process in B&H has been reopened. We talked about the current activities related to the European integration. Esteemed Chancellor was very interested in political relations in B&H and creation of positive European ambiance that should not be blocked by any institutions or forces in B&H, and she of course, gave us support in order to reach the status of a candidate as soon as possible, and to be able to strengthen our economy.” Chairman Zvizdic also thanked Chancellor Merkel for her personal engagement through the Berlin Process, and to Germany for its continuous support to B&H.

 

New German-Turkish initiative considers civic B&H? (N1)

 

According to diplomatic sources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to lobby in Berlin that Germany initiates new constitutional changes in B&H, which would introduce civic system, instead of ethnic system. Reporter noted that Zagreb is against such initiative, while Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic seeks equality of all three peoples and changes of the Election Law that will guarantee this equality to Croats. Bosniak member of B&H Presidency and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said that Croats launched the initiative for changes of the law unilaterally, but added that he does not think that they will gain result that Croat member of B&H Presidency and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic would be content with.

Covic stated that after 2018 elections, B&H has to remain a country of three constituent peoples. Over the last few months, Croatian policy was focused on federalization of B&H, but on the other hand, B&H’s EU path was accelerated by the German-UK Initiative. Reporter noted that Zagreb achieves its goal slowly, which is that B&H is the main foreign-policy priority of Croatia. Grabar-Kitarovic uses every opportunity to lobby for equal position of Croats in B&H and advocates emancipation of B&H. Such stances often shock official Sarajevo, which would rather choose the announced German initiative. State MP Sasa Magazinovic (SDP) said that Grabar-Kitarovic is a politician of local capacity, which she proves with her bilateral meetings and mentorship towards B&H. “I call on Croatian politicians to show their friendship for B&H with actions,” he said. The previous attempt of constitutional changes in B&H, so-called ‘April package’, from 2006 failed. Constitutional changes in B&H do not require public debate or referendum, but only a two-third majority in both Houses of B&H Parliament. Reporter noted that such majority does not exist in B&H.

 

Trial of SBB B&H leader Radoncic resumes before B&H Court (FTV)

 

A trial of leader of SBB B&H Fahrudin Radoncic continued before B&H Court on Wednesday. Radoncic is accused of inter alia, interference in work of judiciary. Once again, Radoncic accused Bosniak political mafia of killing Ramiz Delalic a.k.a. Celo. Testimony of key witness in this case Azra Saric from 2014 sparked the biggest attention during the hearing. After the Court rejected a request of B&H Prosecutor’s Office to close the hearing for the public, prosecutor Elvira Stanojlovic read the testimony of Saric. Among other things, Saric stated that Delalic told her a month before his death that some persons are threatening him, without revealing any names. According to Saric, Delalic’s enemies were Naser Kelmendi, family Gasi and Zijad Turkovic. Saric stressed that no one threatened her and that former Radoncic’s wife Azra Radoncic did not offer her money and an alibi. B&H Prosecutor’s Office claims that the murder of Delalic is linked with this case and extension of the investigation made Radoncic a suspect of Delalic’s death, along with Kelmendi. Radoncic stated that someone is trying “to connect him with Kelmendi and that the public is being prepared for some things”. The reporter noted that “things” which Radoncic mentioned is the ongoing investigative proceeding which connects him with Delalic’s murder. Stanojlovic stated that case of Kelmendi was not forwarded to prosecutors in Kosovo, but only evidence and testimonies. During the hearing, members of defense team of Radoncic disputed legality of evidence in this case. The next hearing is scheduled for 16 August.

 

Slovenian and Croatian Prime Ministers meet in Ljubljana (24sata.hr)

 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar met on Wednesday afternoon in Ljubljana. This was their first meeting after the announcement of the arbitration decision which Slovenia considers binding, while Croatia refuses to accept it, reports 24sata.hr. A meeting between the two prime ministers was followed by a wider meeting of the two delegations, after which Prime Ministers Plenkovic and Cerar held a joint press conference.

“The primary challenge for both states is how to establish trust and strengthen it. The arbitration decision offers us a chance to make a step forward,” said Cerar. Plenkovic thanked Cerar for his hospitality and stressed that Croatia and Slovenia were two neighboring countries that needed to cooperate. “It is important to build trust and resolve open issues. Today, we have discussed open issues between the two nations. The position of Slovenia about the implementation of the arbitration decision is clear, just like ours. For us, the process has been compromised and corrupted by the Slovenian side. This arbitration verdict is not binding for us, and we have no intention to implement it. But, we are ready to talk about political, diplomatic, technical issues to resolve this problem. Clearly, we do not seek any unilateral moves. Prime Minister Cerar will visit Zagreb in September, and then we will try to analyze all the open issues,” said Plenkovic. “At this first meeting, we have defined the positions very precisely. We did not enter into the merits of the case since it is important for us to discuss in an open dialogue everything which is connected with the borders and find an acceptable solution that would be a sign of political maturity. How similar will the compromise be to solutions from the past, I would not prejudge it,” said Plenkovic. “The discussion was friendly and constructive, went in the direction of seeking answers, but the positions remained the same. Plenkovic did not want to discuss the implementation of the decision. This is not the issue of relations between the two states, but the issue of the rule of law and respect for rights that is a fundamental value that is recognized by the EU. I think that both countries as EU members must follow and respect decisions of the international law. We will be looking for points of similarities, but for us, it is clear that we want to implement the arbitration decision. We both believe that we can solve this question ourselves,” said Cerar, adding that, if it turns out that there is no possibility of an agreement, he will turn to the European Commission. “Slovenia will not cause any tensions with regards to the implementation of the arbitration decision,” said Cerar when asked whether Slovenia would create problems with Croatia’s entry into the Schengen Area. “It is important that we have a dialogue. The Slovenian government will continue to make its views clear,” Cerar said. Cerar is convinced that Croatia will gradually accept the arbitration decision, while Plenkovic believes there is no international mechanism which could force Croatia to enforce a ruling in a legal process to which it is no longer a party.

 

Markovic with Merkel: Now is a real opportunity to come to Montenegro (CDM)

 

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste. Montenegrin PM expressed gratitude to Merkel for her vision and leadership, pointing out that now is a real opportunity to visit Montenegro. At the plenary session of the Summit, Markovic pointed to the importance of the Berlin process in the integration of Montenegro and other countries in our region, thanking Merkel and Federica Mogherini for their personal commitment to the joint project. “In addition to these activities, we sincerely welcome the efforts and progress neighbors are making on the European path. I believe that this meeting is a strong confirmation that the strategic commitment of all Western Balkan countries – membership in the European Union – has no alternative,” Markovic said.

 

Zaev: Good neighborly relations, Euro-integration not political issues, but necessity (MIA)

 

The new Macedonian government is committed to the enhancement of relations among countries of the Western Balkans and considers there is great need of creating a framework for achievement of this goal, towards reforms and focused, accelerated progress, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the address at the Western Balkans Summit held in Trieste. Zaev said the harmonization with EU standards would lead to a higher living standard in the regional states, making their citizens secure, safe and happy. “I am aware that the citizens of Macedonia are tired of long-standing stagnation. However, I would like to share the optimism in the country that is replacing this fatigue. This optimism comes as a result of the horizons opened by the democratic changes in Macedonia, but also the extended hand from Brussels and the international community, who recognized this and opened the doors of faith and hope. This is an opportunity that should not be missed, this is a chance for progress. We know this”, stressed Zaev. According to him, the government has the political will to support and embrace the agenda over the region’s networking, which represents a chance for progress of the area. “Networking is not only a political issue. Good neighborly relations are not an issue of political culture. They are a necessity. They are bridges towards Europe and the world. They signify specific benefits in the people’s lives. Proper infrastructure networking brings economic development. I therefore welcome the signing of the Transport Community Treaty, which facilitates the networking of regional countries in compliance with EU legislation”, said Zaev. He added that the Government is committed to building Macedonia through observance of the rule of law and good governance, which is important for achievement of the strategic objective – EU accession. “The deep and long-standing political crisis resulting from the disrespect of these basic obligations has shown that this is a requirement for the citizens, who have the constitutional right to justice and observance of their liberties and rights. All equal before the law. All feeling protected. That is why judiciary reforms are among the urgent reform priorities in Plan 3-6-9 that the government has adopted. We have given ourselves ambitious short-, mid- and long-term goals for the coming 3, 6, and 9 months. We aim to get a clear European Commission recommendation for the start of EU accession talks this autumn, thus opening the path for discussions among member-states over a date for the launch of the pre-accession negotiations. I assure you, Macedonia can and will be EU’s credible partner in the region. This will also send a motivating message for the entire Western Balkans. We need your assistance and support”, urged Zaev. Regarding security issues, Zaev stressed that Macedonia remained a firm partner in the management of challenges related to the fight against terrorism, illegal migration and radicalization. “Macedonia sees itself as part of the big family of nations and states. Macedonian citizens have chosen the right path, the path of democratic changes. On behalf of the Macedonian citizens, I would like to say that we will cooperate and contribute to the regional and European development”, underlined Zaev in the summit address.

 

New Macedonian, Serbian PMs hold first meeting at sidelines of Western Balkan Summit (MIA)

 

The new Prime Ministers of Macedonia and Serbia, Zoran Zaev and Ana Brnabic respectively, held Wednesday their first meeting at the sidelines of the Western Balkan Summit in Trieste. The meeting, which addressed the bilateral and regional cooperation, was also attended by the Foreign Ministers of both countries, Nikola Dimitrov and Ivica Dacic. Zaev and Brnabic agreed that the economic cooperation of Western Balkan countries could contribute to region’s political stability – the foundation for development and progress. Macedonia is ready to nourish good relations with Serbia and work on advancing the economic ties between the two countries, Zaev said.

 

Merkel voices support for Macedonia’s reforms, Euro-Atlantic integration (MIA)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced substantial support for Macedonia’s new government, its determination for thorough reforms and the country’s EU integration. Macedonia’s government is committed to implementing the necessary reforms and ensuring the country’s Euro-Atlantic future, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told Merkel Wednesday as they held talks at the sidelines of the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste. Merkel announced German support of Macedonia’s reform and Euro-Atlantic integration processes, the Macedonian government said in a press release. Merkel and Zaev also voiced readiness for intensifying the bilateral cooperation in spheres of mutual interest, the press release reads.

 

Hahn: The requests of the civil sector in the Balkans are acceptable (Meta)

 

For most part circa 90% of the requests and the recommendations of the civil sector in the Balkans are acceptable, only a way has to be found for their implementation, said the European Commissioner Johannes Hahn in Trieste after he attended the meeting between the representatives of the civil sector and the heads of the diplomacies of the Western Balkans countries. During the meeting, the head of the Macedonian diplomacy has encouraged the civil organizations and initiatives to criticize the government. After yesterday’s whole day Forum of the civil society, the requests of the ministers and the Euro Commissioner were presented to them by Srgjan Sushic, a consultant at the German Foundation “Heinrich Boll” which is also a co-organizer of the event. The ministers, among which is the head of the Macedonian diplomacy, Nikola Dimitrov, have reacted positively and have requested from the civil sector to have a more active role. Dimitrov stressed the role of the non-government sector at the recent crisis in Macedonia, remarking that it has helped in the Euro-integration processes.

 

Athens tells Roth to refrain from giving history lessons (Meta)

 

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs appealed to the Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth “from refraining from history lessons” when visiting the Balkan countries. “We call on Michael Roth, the German Deputy Foreign Minister to be more cautious when visiting Balkan countries, and to try and avoid giving history lessons and show the necessary respect for the sensitivity of his European partners,” reacted Greek MFA, after Roth’s statement in Skopje that “no one outside Greece and Macedonia understands the dispute, which is absurd”. Roth, at a joint press conference with the Macedonian Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, said that history should remain history and we should move towards a common future.

 

Rama: The stronger and more democratic Macedonia, the stronger and better Albania will be (ATA)

 

At the margin of the Trieste summit, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday had a meeting with PM of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. After the meeting, Rama said in an interview: “The stronger and more democratic Macedonia becomes, the better Albania will be.” “There have been no tensions between our two states. However, there have been domestic political tensions and a rhetoric inside Macedonia which sounded scandalous somewhat, a point which I would not prefer to comment. It is very simple, Albania would be stronger and better off if Macedonia were stronger, more democratic and more successful, because in Macedonia there are Albanians, a state-forming population and the better they are, the better we are, the better the future for all,” Rama said. Asked about the conversation with Zaev, Rama said: We spoke about the future, we have never concerned ourselves with the past, instead we discussed the steps towards strengthening of bilateral relations in all walks of life. In the conversation with my peer, I have made it clear that we want nothing but the success of Macedonia in all walks of life, Rama said.

 

Bushati: Trieste Summit to focus on concrete avenues for two initiatives (ATA)

 

Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said that 2017 Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, Italy will develop two initiatives, transport treaty and economic regional area. Speaking to Albanian media, Bushati said that these are back-up initiatives on our way toward membership into the European Union. The essence of the Berlin Process initiative is to encourage further regional cooperation so that to accelerate in this way the European integration perspective of the Western Balkans states. Bushati said that Transport Community Treaty would complete all the mosaic of economic and trade cooperation among the countries of Western Balkans and the European Union while preparing all our countries for the difficult and challenging process of EU membership. Likewise, the effort for establishment of a regional economic area aims at boosting further cooperation in the commercial and economic field so that to cope together the economic challenges that derive from membership into the EU. On the political plane, the Western Balkans is under better conditions as compared to 3-4 years ago when there was certain pessimism in regard to the enlargement process. At present, it’s high time to work together with the EU institutions to implement the projects we have agreed on paper and which would have a positive impact for our citizens, said Bushati. Being part of this initiative, the progress of projects’ implementation should be of prime interest for Albania, said Bushati. He pointed to connectivity and energy projects. “The political cooperation should keep up the same pace and cover even issues related with the movement of people in the Western Balkans,” said Bushati. However, Bushati appreciated the European Commission’s financial support insufficient to nourish the ambitions of the Western Balkans’ countries. “A greater political spirit and a greater financial support is needed by the European Union and the other international financial institutions”, concluded Bushati.

 

INTERNATIONAL PRESS

 

Western Balkans: further than ever from EU membership? (Eurotopics)

 

“All Balkan states have a clear prospect of joining the European Union”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised at the first Western Balkans Conference three years ago. This year’s edition of the summit with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia ended on Wednesday. But these countries’ prospects of joining the EU have decreased, Europe’s media believe.

No one dares try anything new

The same old ideas are presented at the summit each year, Der Standard admonishes:

“Yet the strategies employed so far haven’t brought the region significantly closer to the EU. This is because these states lack efficient administrative structures for managing EU funds effectively. For true change to occur they need better analysis, more investment and the courage to try out new approaches. Launched by Angela Merkel in 2014, the Berlin Process has accomplished little to date also because the EU member states haven’t made any serious moves on EU enlargement for years. People are now pinning their hopes – justifiably or not – on President Emmanuel Macron.”

 

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG (DE) / 13 July 2017

Change in the wrong direction

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung there has been no recognizable progress in the Western Balkan states in recent years – on the contrary:“If there has been any political change to speak of, it has not been in the direction of democracy and the rule of law but towards authoritarianism and nepotism. Against a backdrop of economic and social stagnation corrupt political elites are increasingly making use of nationalist rhetoric. It’s high time the EU once again addressed developments in this region above and beyond events like this – important – West Balkan summit. If it doesn’t, it may soon be forced to pay far more attention to the region than it would like to.”

 

IL SOLE 24 ORE (IT) / 13 July 2017

Moscow gaining ground

The fact that Moscow is extending its influence makes the prospects of the Balkan states joining the EU any time soon increasingly unlikely, Il Sole 24 Ore complains:“The Balkan countries still come across as the continent’s orphans. And while the European project, dogged by dwindling solidarity, is losing its power of attraction, in certain countries like Serbia, as in the Middle East, Russia’s influence is growing. Since the annexation of Crimea Moscow has renewed its efforts to bind the states of this region to itself. It is in this context that Montenegro’s accession to Nato should be viewed. As a member Montenegro is completely irrelevant. Its membership is aimed solely at putting Russia’s nose out of joint.”

 

DELO (SI) / 12 July 2017

Make the Balkans a priority

The summit is an important attempt to ensure that the EU remains attractive for the Balkan states, Delo explains:“Because of its plans for energy and infrastructure projects, Russia has no interest in seeing the region destabilised right now. Turkey has enough problems at home and with its neighbours. And China is entirely focused on economic and strategic interests. But the EU can only overcome the challenges these big players pose if it makes the Balkans a geopolitical priority. From this perspective the Berlin Process is the most significant regional mechanism for regulating the accession processes in the Balkans. It can help the mutually interdependent countries of the region, but they must do their homework themselves.”

 

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