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Belgrade Media Report 11 August

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 11 August 2017

• Selakovic: We have what to protect with the Declaration (TV Pink/Tanjug)
• Ljajic: SDPS to present platform on Kosovo on 1 September (RTS/Tanjug)
• Kurti: Dialogue with the Serbs, ZSO conceived as RS (Ekspres/Tanjug)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Reactions to Croatia’s decision to reduce fees (Al Jazeera)
• Magazinovic: I believe that Vucic chose his side and his side are EU and USA (TV1)
• Durakovic calls on Vucic to continue working on inter-ethnic dialogue between Bosniaks and Serbs (TV1)
• Moore: RS Ministry of Education started denying Bosnian language for no reason (Hayat)
• Nikolic: Opposition missed a chance to present itself as an alternative to the government (Mina)


• Kosovo Albanians, Serbs Fear for Trepca Mine’s Future (BIRN)

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Selakovic: We have what to protect with the Declaration (TV Pink/Tanjug)


The goal of the declaration on the survival of the Serb nation is to preserve the Serbian language and culture from decay – and we have something to protect, Serbian President’s Secretary General Nikola Selakovic has stated. He told TV Pink that the Serbian language and the Serbian alphabet are disappearing from day to day and that it has become natural for second and even first generation descendants of our emigrants to Canada or the United States to speak Serbian less well, or not at all. In the surrounding countries, where the Serb people have lived for centuries, their basic rights are threatened today, among them the right to use their mother tongue, to education, and information. “Serbia is now drawing the line under the 20th century, the century that brought to us much glory and much bitterness, a century that brought a lot of victories, but much more suffering. A century after which we need to reexamine where we are in Europe and in the Balkans, and what our future will be,” Selakovic said. He recalled that since 2014, Serbia has been particularly focused on the rights of its national minorities – rights in the field of education and culture – and has shown everyone in the region how to treat minorities. “The Serbian government has supported publications in Croatian, the building of infrastructure in Tavankut, the opening of a music school in Senta,” Selakovic recalled. However, the same cannot quite be said of our surroundings, he continued, and mentioned that the 2011 census in Croatia showed that out of 186,000 Serbs, less than 53,000 said they spoke Serbian – i.e., more than 130,000 people did not dare to say that they speak the Serbian language. He also mentioned that for the last three years, Operation Storm anniversaries have been marked in Serbia and in the RS as anniversaries of the suffering of Serbs during a pogrom, and that in that time, something has been achieved. “We have achieved that no foreign ambassador appears at the (Croatian) celebration of Storm in Knin, we have achieved that the least number of people showed up, that our word about the truth and the suffering of the Serbs is heard much clearer in the world,” Selakovic concluded.


Ljajic: SDPS to present platform on Kosovo on 1 September (RTS/Tanjug)


Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic, who is also the SDPS leader, has stated that this party will present its platform on Kosovo on 1 September. “We will present then our solution, and it is not up to us whether somebody will like it or use it. We don’t pretend that this is something ideal, that this solution will be implemented, but we will not hide behind slogans and we will very clearly state what we think,” Ljajic told journalists in Guca. He reiterated that he saw the solution in three phases – the first one is the resolution of economic issues, since there is interest for Serbia to cooperate with Kosovo, to sell its goods, noting that it sells there twice as much goods than in the US. He says the second phase refers to negotiations on the Community of Serb Municipalities, property and cultural heritage, while the third phase refers to negotiating on Kosovo’s status in international organizations along with the condition that Serbia has benefits, such as acceleration of the EU path, financial support for infrastructural projects. “After that there would be a period of five years to see how all this functions, to test the agreed, and then we would have a conference on resolving the final status,” concluded Ljajic.


Kurti: Dialogue with the Serbs, ZSO conceived as RS (Ekspres/Tanjug)


VV candidate for Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he is not in principle against dialogue, but thinks it should be conducted with Serbs from Kosovo, while for the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) he says it is conceived as a new Republika Srpska. In an interview with Belgrade’s Ekspres, he said negotiations with Belgrade are suspended, arguing that there were too many investments and too little gain during the six-year negotiations. “It is time to consider why. We need talks with the EU on negotiations with Belgrade,” Kurti said. “We are not against dialogue in principle, but we are opposed to dialogue without the principle. First of all, we will establish a dialogue with Serbs from Kosovo,” Kurti said, arguing this would be an open dialogue, democratic and social, from bottom up, dedicated to economic development and focused on hiring people. He also claims with the current dialogue in Brussels, Serbia wanted to get closer to the EU, while at the same time strengthening Serbia within Kosovo, and that in these negotiations Kosovo was a topic of dialogue, and not one of the parties, because of negligence of corrupt Kosovo authorities. According to him, past slogan ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ is replaced by Serbian government with ‘Kosovo will become Bosnia’, comparing the Community of Serb Municipalities with the way the RS was created. “On April 26, 1991, 14 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina created their own community of municipalities that proclaimed independence on January 9, 1992, and on February 28, of the same year got its Constitution,” Kurti said. Asked whether he supports the formation of the ZSO, and in which way would he ensure safety and normal life of Serbs in Kosovo, Kurti claims the idea and request for the ZSO did not come from Kosovo Serbs, but from Belgrade. “When on December 23, 2015 the Constitutional Court of Kosovo declared the ZSO was not in compliance with 23 articles of the Constitution, no Serb from Kosovo was upset, but only Belgrade became very angry,” Kurti claims. He believes the integration of Serbs and their well-being can be achieved through social integration through equality and development rather than, as he says, only institutional integration through privileges for Serbian ministers and deputies.




Reactions to Croatia’s decision to reduce fees (Al Jazeera)


B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic commented that the new decision of the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development is expected to be published in the Croatia’s official gazette on Friday. He added that countries of the region also expect that the changed rulebook will be applied as of 11 August. Sarovic underlined that B&H did not want to introduce any countermeasures against Croatia and that “patience and negotiation dialogue won” in this case. Sarovic also thanked to ministers from countries of the region for joint engagement in resolving of this issue. He went on saying that it is clear that by introducing the disputable rulebook Croatia wanted to protect its agricultural producers.

Foreign Trade Chamber of B&H expressed content with the abovementioned decision of Croatia, i.e. abolishing of unnecessary non-tariff barriers for export of B&H agricultural products. They thanked to B&H Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations for proper reaction that contributed to abolishing of the discriminatory decision Croatia introduced.


Magazinovic: I believe that Vucic chose his side and his side are EU and USA (TV1)


Commenting on the recent statement of RS President Milorad Dodik saying that the RS and Serbia will unite in this century, President of the Main Board of SDP and MP in B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Sasa Magazinovic said that all those who decide to respond to similar Dodik’s statements are rather naïve, because this type of rhetoric is everything Dodik can offer. “He can talk about secession of the RS and uniting of the RS and Serbia, because these are things that will never happen. But, same as some of his colleagues in the FB&H, Dodik cannot talk about increasing employment rate, economic progress, significant increase of pensions,” stressed Magazinovic. He said that some Dodik’s political opponents in the FB&H will try to divert attention of citizens to these issues, in order to prevent them to talk about real problems.  Magazinovic said that ruling parties in BiH underestimated their voters and citizens, adding that this will lead to their defeat in upcoming elections. Asked if Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic should distance himself from the abovementioned Dodik’ statements, Magazinovic underlined that sooner or later Vucic will turn his back on Dodik, adding that Dodik is aware of that and this is making him nervous. Talking about Vucic, Magazinovic said that people do not change that easily, adding that he remembers Vucic when he was a nationalist. “However, I believe that he has chosen his side and his side are the EU and the USA,” emphasized Magazinovic.


Durakovic calls on Vucic to continue working on inter-ethnic dialogue between Bosniaks and Serbs (TV1)


President of movement ‘Odgovor’ Camil Durakovic called on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for continuation of joint work on inter-ethnic dialogue between Bosniaks and Serbs. Durakovic also proposed adoption of a declaration on recognition of Bosnian language as a mother language of Bosniaks and Serbian language as a mother language of Serbs and on their equal use, protection and including of these two languages in the system of education. “Let this be ground of dialogue on protection of cultural identity,” stated Durakovic.


Moore: RS Ministry of Education started denying Bosnian language for no reason (Hayat)


Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Jonathan Moore told Hayat that the RS Ministry of Education started denying Bosnian language for no reason. Moore underlined that this violates international principles, because one people denies the language of other people. According to Moore, this is part of political propaganda since there is a lot populism and nationalism on the political scene both of the RS and the FB&H. The OSCE Mission Head noted that this issue serves for the purpose of scoring “cheap political points”. He explained that the issue can be solved if the RS Pedagogical Institute would harmonize its policy with the constitution, in a way that is not discriminatory to anyone.


Nikolic: Opposition missed a chance to present itself as an alternative to the government (Mina)


By ignoring US Vice President Mike Pence’s call to return to parliament, Montenegrin opposition missed the last chance to present itself as an alternative to the government, said the chairman of the Committee on International Relations and Emigrants Andrija Nikolic. During a meeting with US Ambassador Margaret Ann Uyehara, Nikolic pointed out that such deliberate failure to understand the benevolent suggestions of top international officials was not surprising. “It is not the first time that the leaders of the Montenegrin opposition demonstrate that their accumulated hatred against the ruling party and its chairman hinders them in fulfilling their task of serving its nation as elected representatives of citizens,” said Nikolic, the parliament announced. According to Nikolic, the fact that the leaders of the civic opposition passed over publicly expressed Pence’s position on the attempts of Russian agents to destabilize Montenegro on election day and to kill the former prime minister. Nikolic said that Pence’s visit took place at the right moment for Montenegro and Euro-Atlantic allies, primarily in terms of strengthening Montenegro’s position on the political and security map of the region, but also as a direct reply to those who are constantly trying to destabilize the Western Balkans. According to Nikolic, this is at the same time the most convincing demonstration of the quality of US – Montenegro relations. He thanked Uyehara for the continued US support to Montenegro in the most turbulent phases of recent history “when civil peace had to be preserved, as well as the right to decide on our own future”. Nikolic also expressed the expectation that Pence’s recent visit to Montenegro and the clarity of his messages would be an additional incentive for all progressive forces in the country and the region to be even more actively engaged in promoting the values ​​of democracy and the rule of law. As he said, this is a road map to a better and fairer living and working environment for every person.




Kosovo Albanians, Serbs Fear for Trepca Mine’s Future (BIRN, by Die Morina, Maja Zivanovic, 11 August 2017)


Kosovo Albanian and Serb workers at the giant Trepca mining complex have a pessimistic outlook about the future of the mine because of its financial troubles and disputes between Pristina and Belgrade.

The Trepca mining complex is split physically along ethnic lines, but Serb workers in the northern part of the former Yugoslav complex and the Kosovo Albanians in the southern part both have concerns about whether it can keep operating. The fall of Yugoslavia and post-war ethnic divisions helped bring Trepca to the verge of bankruptcy. A Kosovo law that Pristina said was intended to help save the complex has not been implemented yet because there has been no government in Pristina since the last one collapsed earlier this year. “Trepca currently has no legitimate management, therefore it is in an institutional vacuum and has remained at the mercy of destiny,” Shyqyri Sadiku, the head of the union representing 1,360 Kosovo Albanian workers at the mine, told BIRN. “If Trepca continues with this bad management, it will go into bankruptcy,” he added. The law which has not yet been implemented would transform the mining and industrial processing complex into a shareholding company in which the Kosovo government would control 80 per cent of the shares, while 20 per cent would remain the property of its workers. This was strongly opposed by Belgrade, which rejects Pristina’s claims of ownership and says it wants to protect the jobs of Serbs working there. Srpska Lista, the main party representing the Serb community in Kosovo, boycotted Kosovo’s institutions for six months in protest. Dusan Dragovic, the head of the union representing around 3,000 Serb workers in the northern part of the mine, said he was not optimistic about the future for Serbs working there, many of whom want to leave Kosovo altogether. “The future of the whole of Kosovo will be the future of Trepca. We are here, and we have nowhere else to go. Those who had some other option, they left,” he said. The Kossev news website quoted Most TV on Sunday as reporting that “with the understanding of the government of Serbia, the [Serb] management expects 600 to 700 workers to decide to take severance pay” at Trepca. Dragovic confirmed the severance offer but said it was still in the survey phase. “I think right now there are around 500 of those [workers] who applied for it. Applications are until August 15, with the possibility of extending the deadline, as we have workers who are living in Serbia and are not informed [about the severance offer],” Dragovic told BIRN. He explained that, since the northern part of Trepca is not able to pay its workers, the Serbian government decided in 2003 to pay around 90 euros a month to each worker out of the state budget. Around a third of the Serb workers however do earn extra money about this 90 euros a month by working in smaller mines around the Trepca complex. “Some of us started production in 2005 in small mines near Leposavic, so we have salaries. But not all workers could be involved, just a third,” he said. During the first six months of this year, there has been a decrease in production of 6,000 tons at the mine, while the working conditions remain poor, according to Sadiku. “Miners up are forced to work hard to the age of 65. From 2014 to 2017, 20 miners died and many others got diseases,” he said. He summed up a series of reasons for the poor outlook at the mining complex. “The workers’ conditions are very bad, the financial situation is not stable, we have bad management, misuse, corruption and nepotism, and the labour law and the collective [bargaining] agreement [with the union] is not being implemented,” he said.

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