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Belgrade Media Report 15 August

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 15 August 2017


• Dacic on Kosovo: We should do what we can do while we can, there is no time (RTS)
• Rama: I feel Vucic’s pain and resoluteness to resolve the Kosovo problem (Blic)
• What does the Athos model imply for temples (Novosti)
• Stankovic: No parallels with Serbia’s south (Novosti)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Covic: Vucic and Kitarovic to visit B&H in August or September (N1/Vecernji list)
• Covic: Dodik has understanding for position of Croats (Nezavisne)
• Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms the case regarding revision of B&H’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia (BHT1)
• SBB B&H leader Radoncic announces vote for dismissal of Zvizdic and lawsuit against Izetbegovic (Dnevni avaz)
• Disagreements over construction of Peljesac bridge continue (TV1)
• Film about Alija Izetbegovic means forging his biography (Srna)

• Plenkovic: Peljesac Bridge Project will continue (Vecernji list)

• Today the session for Zvrlevski’s dismissal continues, there is little chance of a solution (Meta)
• “The king of prostitution” Dilaver Bojku – Leku murdered on a beach in Struga (Meta)


• Macedonia Urged to End Parliamentary Paralysis (BIRN)

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Dacic on Kosovo: We should do what we can do while we can, there is no time (RTS)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that there is not much time for resolving the Serbian-Albanian conflict: “We should do what we can do while it can still be done. There is always time for stories that Kosovo should be recognized”. According to him, in Serbia there are two proposals for resolving the Kosovo issue – war that we can’t win and recognition of independence, whereby we would, he says, lose entire Kosovo. “The Serbian –Albanian conflict has been ongoing for centuries and the Serbs are losing in both proposals. I am trying to propose a lasting solution that is based on a compromise of ethnic and political law. I am the one who has experienced most attacks since this is the only proposal in which Serbia and the Serbs are getting something. It is the only realistic one because both the Serbs and Albanians support it,” said Dacic. He says that Pristina thinks that the situation has been resolved and that President Vucic launched the dialogue so Serbia would recognize Kosovo. “I can say that both on behalf of the government and the President, Serbia will never recognize the self-declared independence of Kosovo. If they wish to resolve matters without Serbia, why are they inviting it for dialogue,” Dacic wondered.

British Ambassador to Serbia Dennis O’Keefe said during talks with Dacic that Great Britain opposed change of borders. “I told him that it wasn’t nice that he speaks about that because they changed the borders of Serbia,” noted Dacic. “Who was the one who recognized the borders of Kosovo? Kosovo will not become a UN member. We didn’t determine borders either with Bosnia or with Croatia, let alone with some creation that calls itself independent Kosovo. In places where the Serbs live, there will never be an independent Kosovo. It can with tanks,” said Dacic. He says that in his proposal there is no word on force but on agreement. “We are interested in Serbian churches, compensation for usurped property. We are permanently eliminating the causes around which the Serbs and Albanians are fighting – whose are the territories. Greater Albania is a concept that has existed since the Prizren League,” said Dacic.


Rama: I feel Vucic’s pain and resoluteness to resolve the Kosovo problem (Blic)


I exceptionally respect the initiative by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to start an internal dialogue on Kosovo in Serbia to directly and unconventionally face the past, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in an interview to Blic on Tuesday. Rama said he was very touched by Vucic’s article in the daily last week. He said he could feel true pain while reading it and at the same time an impressive determination. Asked what he thinks is the right solution to the Kosovo problem, Rama said that is very simple – full recognition of the independence of Kosovo by Serbia. He said it’s clear to him that from the position of the Serbian president that is more easily said than done and that everyone, including the Albanians, have to work hard, be patient, direct and unconventional. Rama said he thinks that everyone should bear in mind that a solution to the Kosovo issue is in everyone’s interest, not just the interest of the Albanians and that it is very important to find a solution as soon as possible.

Commenting Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic’s suggestion of a division or delineation between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, Rama said that is an unusual proposal and added that it is not a good idea to start from there. He cited other similar proposals, including the one under which Kosovo should unite with Albania immediately and one under which Serbia would not have to recognize Kosovo but that larger Albania, Rama said it is not practical to start from theoretic outcomes. Initiatives like Dacic’s, regardless of good intentions, can discredit the entire political process, Rama said.


What does the Athos model imply for temples (Novosti)


The Serbian Patriarchate still doesn’t have a final stance on the starting points for an internal dialogue on the future of the province. All options, including the last proposal by Ivica Dacic, will be carefully examined before harmonizing the definite stance, the Serbian Orthodox Church headquarters commented on how Dacic sees the future of Kosovo and his idea on securing the Serbian Orthodox heritage by creating monastery communities based on Mt. Athos within Greece.


Stankovic: No parallels with Serbia’s south (Novosti)


There is no parallel between resolving the problems of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and the functioning of the local self-government in three municipalities in Serbia’s south – Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, the Head of the Coordinating Body for Serbia’s south Zoran Stankovic said. He stressed that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is conducted independently and that the issue of managing the local self-government in the south cannot be viewed in the context of the Brussels negotiations.




Covic: Vucic and Kitarovic to visit B&H in August or September (N1/Vecernji list)


Chair of B&H Presidency Dragan Covic said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic should visit B&H in the end of August or at beginning of September. Covic stressed that it is good thing Vucic and Kitarovic accepted invitation to visit B&H. He added that goal of meetings with leaders of neighboring countries is to put B&H in focus of their interests as well as to discuss all open issues of importance for all three countries. Vucic is expected to be the first one to visit Sarajevo, and that visits of Serbian and Croatian presidents are of key importance for the stability in the region. Covic told Vecernji list that after those visits, it would be possible to talk about trilateral meeting that would additionally strengthen mutual partnership and contribute to resolving of open issues.


Covic: Dodik has understanding for position of Croats (Nezavisne)


Chair of the B&H Presidency Dragan Covic said that the Repubika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik is demonstrating a high level of partnership respect and that he honors agreements, and that he has understanding for position of Croats. “I expect that from the main Bosniak leaders too, foremost member of Presidency of B&H Bakir Izetbegovic”. Speaking about changes to the Election Law, Covic said that the Croat People’s Assembly of B&H offered the first proposal but that they are ready to accept any other solution that will guarantee that one people cannot election member of B&H Presidency and delegates of the Federation of B&H House of Peoples for another people. Covic also deems that a large number of Bosniak, nationalistic structures is taking aggressive-hostile stance when they come in conflict with Croats.


Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms the case regarding revision of B&H’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia (BHT1)


On the basis of a criminal report filed by NDP leader Dragan Cavic, the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H has formed a case related to Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic and former B&H’s agent before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Sakib Softic.

Cavic filed the criminal report against Izetbegovic and Softic for false presentation, incitement to false representation and usurpation of constitutional powers. Namely, Softic, encouraged by Izetbegovic, filed the motion for the revision of genocide lawsuit against Serbia before the ICJ although his term of office as B&H’s agent before the ICJ had expired. The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H told BHT1 that it is yet to reach a decision on launching an investigation into this case. According to Spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H Boris Grubesic, the case is formed and certain checks are underway, but no investigation was launched against concrete persons. He explained that the case was formed based on the criminal report filed by Cavic.

Member of NDP Executive Board Momcilo Novakovic said that due to the delay in the case, he is skeptical that judicial institutions will determine responsibility of Izetbegovic, although plenty of evidence exists. He said that with delays in the process, Izetbegovic will avoid penalty.


SBB B&H leader Radoncic announces vote for dismissal of Zvizdic and lawsuit against Izetbegovic (Dnevni avaz)


SBB B&H leader and delegate in B&H House of Peoples Fahrudin Radoncic stated that SBB B&H will vote for dismissal of Chair of B&H Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic. A session of B&H House of Representatives, which may discuss no confidence vote for B&H CoM Chair, has been scheduled for the beginning of September. Reportedly, all opposition parties plus SBB B&H will support dismissal of Zvizdic. “We will certainly vote for dismissal of incapable Zvizdic,” Radoncic stressed, adding that Zvizdic and his party leader proved that their wish for continuation of “family-based” power is behind the “grand story about European road”. Asked if speculations about him preparing a lawsuit against SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic are true, SBB B&H President replied that Izetbegovic has been lying for months and is trying to destroy his (Radoncic’s) reputation and his fight against Greater-Serbian concept and his grand life results, all that in interest of presidency nomination of his wife Sebija Izetbegovic. “And finally, he is unmercifully stepping over Shaheeds of my family in favor of his family deserters and collectors of war donations. Of course, he will get a chance to prove his immoralities before court”, Radoncic underlined.


Disagreements over construction of Peljesac bridge continue (TV1)


Disagreements over the construction of the Peljesac Bridge continued as Croatia expressed determination to construct the bridge and eliminate disagreements with neighbors through talks. Croatian authorities expressed expectations that efforts to stop the construction of the bridge will be useless. To remind, SDA MPs in the parliament of B&H sent a letter to members of the European Parliament and it reads that Croatia is obstructing B&H’s access to international waters. Member of the Presidency of B&H Bakir Izetbegovic said that Croatia’s attitude is ignorant although B&H’s stances are clearly expressed in stances adopted by the Presidency in 2007 and the letter sent by former member of the Presidency Nebojsa Radmanovic. Former Croat member of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic confirmed that the Presidency adopted these stances in 2007 and said that Croatia can construct the bridge but only in agreement with B&H which must include the agreement on borders. Komsic stressed that state ministries of Croatia and B&H did engage in talks but he does not know if any agreement was reached. Komsic noted that even if such agreement was reached, it was never verified by the Presidency of B&H or the Parliament of B&H.


Film about Alija Izetbegovic means forging his biography (Srna)


President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik stated that Alija Izetbegovic’s policy was the policy of death for many Serbs and a policy of Muslim nationalism and expansionism in these parts and that the shooting of a film about his life is just a way to forge his biography. He pointed out that the peak was the fact that Bakir Izetbegovic on Sunday took part in the work of a crew shooting the film about his father and that he showed up at Tarcin, the place where Serbs were incarcerated, tortured and died, where his father had used to come to check whether the torture was bad enough to satisfy his vanity. Dodik recalled that Alija Izetbegovic had written the Islamic Declaration and had been a well-known and recognized member of the SS Handschar Division in World War Two. “Having in mind all this and also the fact that Alija Izetbegovic, as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reported on the day of his death, was prevented only by his own death from ending up in the Tribunal and answering for his crimes, we see this as the way to forge his biography,” said Dodik.  According to Dodik, it “turns out” Radovan Karadzic is to blame just for being alive and for going to The Hague to be tried, while death prevented Alija Izetbegovic from going there to be prosecuted. Dodik added that Bakir Izetbegovic had said a few days ago that he was continuing the policy of his father, which the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) representatives in the joint institutions had been aware of but failed to react. “The pursuit of the path of such Alija Izetbegovic, even by his own son, was unnecessary to comment on by Mladen Ivanic and others who have lately boasted about safeguarding the Serbian national interests,” said Dodik.  Dodik said he was expecting “a reaction from them” and that was why he did not say anything about the subject because his stance had been well known for a long time. “The only thing left to do for Bakir Izetbegovic, who has a surname and doesn’t have a name, is to continue to implement his father’s policy,” Dodik submitted. The RS President added that the public broadcaster RTRS should make a film about Radovan Karadzic and his part in the struggle for the Serbs’ freedom.  He also said the government should provide the necessary resources to shoot the film as soon as possible. “If Alija Izetbegovic can have the film with the assistance of his son Bakir, then I see no reason why a movie about Radovan Karadzic and his role shouldn’t be made,” Dodik said. A day after Izetbegovic’s passing, Florence Hartmann, the ICTY spokesperson at the time, stated that Izetbegovic had been on the Tribunal list of suspects for crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Izetbegovic was a suspect and had been under an investigation. Due to his death, the investigation has been suspended,” Hartmann then told a press conference at the ICTY. She did not say precisely what Izetbegovic had been accused of or give any other information about the investigation, saying she “could not reveal any details”.


Plenkovic: Peljesac Bridge Project will continue (Vecernji list)


PM Andrej Plenkovic aside from offering reassurance around the Peljesac Bridge issue, which has recently rekindled tensions with Bosnia, he talked about the controversial property tax and announced that expert discussions would take place, after which, it would be decided when the new law will start being implemented. Plenkovic stated that the Peljesac Bridge construction project is set to continue, pointing out that it is a strategic project for the Republic of Croatia and the largest individual project funded by the European Union, noting that it should be complete by 2020 or 2021. “As far as the Peljesac Bridge is concerned, I think that the Government of the Republic of Croatia has been quite clear, and that’s what I said a few days ago. Not only is the project of the construction of the Peljesac Bridge continuing, but we have secured 357 million euros,” Plenkovic told journalists. Plenkovic spoke in reference to a statement made by the Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, who said in a Sunday interview with Sarajevo’s Faktor.ba portal that Croatia should not build the Peljesac Bridge before defining the maritime border between the two nations and ensuring the right of undisturbed access to the open sea. The Croatian Prime Minister reiterated that he advocated for proper dialogue with all of the country’s neighbors, including with Bosnia and Herzegovina. “If anything needs to be explained, we’ll explain everything to our neighbors. The technical characteristics of the bridge are such that they allow for the passage of all types of vessels.” To a journalist’s inquiry as to whether an international dispute over the Peljesac Bridge is to be expected, the Prime Minister replied denying any such notion. “I expect to build the Peljesac bridge project linking southern Dalmatia with the rest of the Republic of Croatia. This is a strategic project for the Republic of Croatia and the largest single project funded by the European Union and I hope that it will be realized by 2020 or 2021.” reiterated Plenkovic.


Today the session for Zvrlevski’s dismissal continues, there is little chance of a solution (Meta)


Parliament speaker, Talat Xhaferi, scheduled the parliamentary debate concerning the sixth session for the dismissal of the Attorney General, Marko Zvrlevski, for today.

Yesterday’s session passed with remarks and counter-remarks by MPs from VMRO-DPMNE, who asked that they not discuss Marko Zvrlevski’s dismissal, but instead, the strategy for refugees, the agreement with Bulgaria, the borrowing, the landfill in Struga and the partization of the administration. MPs from VMRO-DPMNE, while discussing among themselves, said that SDSM is selling state and national interests, and the debate on Zvrlevski’s dismissal is the only way to de-focus the public from the real issues. The ruling party, SDSM did not take part in the debate, only the coordinator of the parliamentary group, Tomislav Tuntev appeared on the rostrum and said that what VMRO-DPMNE are doing regarding the session on Zvrlevski’s dismissal “resembles April”, alluding to the events and violence which took place on April the 27th during the election of the parliament speaker. He noted that the majority would not take part in such a “senseless debate”. The opposition, VMRO-DPMNE announced that they had submitted to Parliament another vote of no confidence, this time against the Minister of Health, Arben Taravari, because, according to the party “he is the worst Minister of Health that the Macedonian people have ever seen,” said VMRO-DPMNE. They added that every MP should vote on the motion of no confidence against Taravari, regardless of Party orientation, because the citizens’ health is more important than anything. Taravari is the 7th minister from Zoran Zaev’s government, to receive a motion of no confidence by the opposition coalition in the past ten days.


“The king of prostitution” Dilaver Bojku – Leku murdered on a beach in Struga (Meta)


The controversial businessman from Struga, Dilaver Bojku – Leku was shot yesterday on the “Aqua Sky,” confirmed sources for Meta who are investigating the case. An unknown person, at 16.45 h, shot Bojku in the head after which he ran away. The businessman was transported to a hospital in Struga, but according to information, he passed away. So far, MoI hasn’t issued an official statement about the event, and an investigation is under way that should provide information about who the attacker is and his motives. Fifteen years ago Bojku was nicknamed as “the Balkan king of prostitution” and in the last few years after he returned to Macedonia he began investing in the restaurant business and he took Aqua Sky under concession.




Macedonia Urged to End Parliamentary Paralysis (BIRN, by Sinisa Jakov Marusic, 15 August 2017)


Calls are growing for the parliamentary speaker and the ruling majority to take more decisive action to end the opposition’s stalling tactics in the legislature, which have been paralysing parliament’s work.

The parliamentary speaker and the ruling majority are being urged to take action to curb the stalling tactics of the opposition VMRO DPMNE party which have been blocking parliament’s work for the past month and a half. Gjorgi Spasov, a diplomat and a former MP said that the speaker Talat Xhaferi and the Social Democrats-led majority “must demonstrate strength and bravery to remove this blockade and the many others that are expected”. Spasov said that the majority otherwise risks not being able to proceed with its ambitious reform plan aimed at restoring the rule of law and country’s EU and NATO accession bids and causing disappointment amongst its voters. Soon after going into opposition in late May, the former ruling VMRO DPMNE formed ten separate parliamentary caucuses which gave it significantly more opportunities to stall the new government’s proposed bills, regulations and appointments. Since then, parliament has been stuck in endless recesses demanded by the various VMRO DPMNE parliamentary groups, while VMRO DPMNE MPs have also used long off-topic speeches and replies as delaying tactics. The VMRO DPMNE controls 51 MPs in the 120 seat parliament. Because of the VMRO DPMNE’s filibustering, parliament on Monday again failed conclude its debate on the announced dismissal of chief Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski, who has been widely criticised for ignoring major corruption cases in the past and siding with the VMRO DPMNE while it was in office. The debate about his dismissal, which is seen as one of the first stepping stones towards judicial reforms that the new government has promised, has been dragging on for over a month. As they have done before, VMRO DPMNE MPs on Monday indulged in lengthy discussions amongst themselves that rarely mentioned the topic at hand but rather focused anything from the ongoing wildfires to the recently-signed friendship agreement with neighbouring Bulgaria. Since the VMRO DPMNE controls ten caucuses, its allotted time for replies to discussions are ten times longer and it is allowed ten times more recesses than in normal conditions. Tito Belicanec, a law professor at Skopje’s state university, also said that parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi must act and reduce the number of “fictive” VMRO DPMNE caucuses to just one. Belicanec cited article 33, line 2 of the parliamentary rulebook, which prohibits parties from having more than one caucus when they are clearly do not have internal divisions. “If any of the coordinators of the ten fictive caucuses asks for a recess, that should be allowed, but if anyone else [then] asks for another recess, Xhaferi should decline,” he said. According to article 81, line 3 of the parliamentary rulebook, a caucus coordinator has the right to one one-hour-long recess per day. However the VMRO DPMNE’s ten caucus coordinators often ask for one recess after another. Xhafier has also been advised to cut off speakers who often go off-topic during debates. On several occasions, Xhaferi has prolonged parliament’s work well after midnight to somewhat compensate for the lengthy discussions, but has so far not acted to curb them. The Social Democrats-led majority has also objected to the forming of the VMRO DPMNE’s ten caucuses but has not yet filed any formal motion aimed at annulling them. VMRO DPMNE MP Ilija Dimovski insisted however that the party is not paralysing parliament for its own political ends. “The goal is constructive, in order to allow debate in parliament,” Dimovski said. “We will use the mechanisms we are allowed fully in order to influence [parliamentary] processes,” he added. The VMRO DPMNE’s stalling threatens to delay or block vital legislation. Laws and provisions that form part of the recently-announced government plan called ‘3-6-9’, which contains a set of EU-sought reforms planned for the next three, six and nine months, may get tangled up in the long parliamentary sessions as well. These include a set of reforms in the judiciary, the police and other sectors, as well as a new law aimed at making the official use of the Albanian language more widespread. The plan is the new government’s first push towards regaining the European Commission’s recommendation for the start of EU accession talks, which had been frozen due to the long-running political crisis in Macedonia. This is not the first time this year that the VMRO DPMNE has resorted to filibustering tactics. In March, the party’s MPs used lengthy discussions as a delaying tactic in an attempt to prevent the election of speaker Xhaferi and stop the new government coming to office.

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