Kuburovic: Serbia probably to demand that Mladic receives medical treatment in Serbia (RTS)
Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic has stated that Serbia will probably ask temporary release and medical treatment in Belgrade for the war commander of the RS Army Ratko Mladic, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes committed in B&H.
Kuburovic attended on Thursday the closure ceremony of The Hague Tribunal and on that occasion, visited Mladic who awaits second-instance verdict of that court while staying in incarceration. According to her, the meeting was organized at his initiative and lasted more than one hour. “Doctors from Serbia visited Mladic two days ago. According to reports of Serbian doctors, a request for his temporary release and treatment in Serbia will probably be addressed,”
EU: Belgrade and Pristina decide in dialogue (Beta)
Belgrade and Pristina decide about goals, pace and who participates or mediates in their dialogue about normalizing relations. This stems from the explanation Beta received from sources in the European External Action Service (EEAS). Asked by Beta to comment on the statement by
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him that Moscow was ready to join the dialogue if, upon Pristina’s request, the US decided to do so, the official of EEAS said that work on a new phase of the dialogue on the comprehensive normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is ongoing. He said that it is Belgrade and Pristina identifying the scope, the steps, the rhythm, the formats of the dialogue. This is what presidents Hashim Thaci and Vucic are exchanging opinions about and, as he stated both sides have reconfirmed their strong commitment to the implementation of all outstanding agreements. Officials close to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said the importance of good relations, understanding and the region’s European integration was emphasized during her meeting with the prime ministers of the Western Balkan countries this week. “In this context, the importance of the ongoing discussions between Presidents Thaci and Vucic to advance in the dialogue for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which High Representative Mogherini facilitated, was highlighted,” the official said. The source said the meeting in Brussels reiterated the importance of advance in the dialogue for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which High Representative Mogherini facilitates.
Dittman, Djuric discuss Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
The Head of the Serbian Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric and German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann discussed on Thursday the political and security situation in Kosovo and prospects for continuing the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Djuric told the Ambassador that Belgrade is honestly and truly determined to solve all open issues through dialogue and that Serbia wants to be a permanent pillar of stability in the region,” the Office has stated. Djuric and Dittmann also discussed the course of the internal dialogue in Serbia about Kosovo, launched at the initiative of President Vucic. “Thanks to such an open internal dialogue, we have the historic opportunity to consider a whole spectrum of possible solutions, and thus strengthen the capacities for proactively facing challenges,” Djuric said.
Brnabic, Antic put Trans Balkan Corridor Transmission Line into operation (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antic officially launched on Thursday in “Elektromreza Srbije” (EMS) the Trans Balkan Corridor for Electricity Transmission from Pancevo to Resica, in Romania, 68 km long. Brnabic pointed out that this is the most modern “energy highway” and that Serbian energy in this way stays on its feet, assessing that this is a fantastic success and that, in addition to investments in road and rail infrastructure – Corridors 10 and 11, the Moravian Corridor and the railway corridor, we are also developing energy infrastructure. She sent congratulations to the entire team who finished the job three months before, inviting everyone else to look at this case. Brnabic pointed out that it is good that domestic companies were involved in this task, and reminded that many projects in the past three years were initiated and completed, for example, the Clinical Centre Nis.
Antic said that today is an excellent day for the Serbian energy system, because it is a capital project that will bring benefits to Serbia in the long run, increase security of supply and further reduce losses. A pan-European power corridor will pass through our country, which will allow the electricity to travel from the east to the west. It has a capital impact on our overall transmission opportunities and reduces network losses, which are otherwise the smallest in Europe, he said.
The Trans Balkan corridor will connect Romania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Italy to the transmission lines. The pipe line goes from Resica in Romania to Pancevo, Obrenovac and Bajina Basta, then to Pljevlja in Montenegro and Lastva, and then under the sea to Vilanova in Italy.
Antic: Srbijagas and Gasprom introduce new point of Russian gas import to Serbia (Beta/RTS)
Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antic has said that an annex to the commercial agreement between Srbijagas and Gasprom was signed during the visit to Moscow of Serbian President Aleksadar Vucic to introduce a new point of supply of Russian gas at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Antic said that gas supplies to Serbia have thus been ensured even in case of expiry of the gas contract between Russia and Ukraine and that Gasprom has the obligation to deliver gas to Serbia at a total of 3 points, and that it is up to Gasprom to choose the point of gas supply.
Kukan: General impression positive (Tanjug)
Progress on rule of law and the process of normalization of relations with Pristina remain substantial for the overall pace of Serbia’s EU accession talks, says a declaration adopted by the European Parliament’s EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) in Belgrade Thursday. Speaking at a press conference, SAPC delegation head Eduard Kukan expressed satisfaction with the fact Serbia had been making progress on the EU path, but added there were areas where more energy needed to be invested and more results achieved.
ICTY officially closed down (FTV)
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was closed down at a solemn ceremony held in the Dutch Parliament on Thursday. It was stressed on this occasion that the ICTY is leaving a rich heritage behind it, not only for the area of the former Yugoslavia but also for other international courts that were established after the ICTY. Participants also said that the time of impunity for war crimes is a part of the past. ICTY President Carmel Agius handed over a medallion to President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Theodor Meron as a symbolic act of transfer of competences from the ICTY to the MICT. “Establishing the ICTY was expression of joint determination to fight against impunity and for humanity,” Agius stressed at the ceremony.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his address that after the ICTY, there are no longer questions as if justice is possible, but the only questions now are when and how to serve justice. Guterres also stated that the international community and the UN should have taken over part of responsibility for what happened in Srebrenica in 1995. He added that the ICTY established undeniable truth about developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and rest of former Yugoslavia and that everyone has to accept it in order to build better future. Gutteres said that thanks to victims, this court leaves very important legacy – archives documenting everything that happened in Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Vukovar, Suva Reka and elsewhere.
Meron said that not only the MICT has the task to make sure that the ICTY’s flame of justice remains lighten, but “each one of us has this task as well.” Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY and the MICT Serge Brammertz reminded that politicians were the ICTY’s biggest opponents, noting that they have to distance themselves from crimes, to reject convicted war criminals and stop hiding behind false statements on collective guilt. Ever since establishment of the ICTY in 1993, this court indicted as many as 161 persons for war crimes, 90 of them were convicted, 19 were acquitted of charges, 13 were sent to local courts for processing, while processes against 37 of them were cancelled or their indictments were withdrawn.
B&H HoR representatives discuss HNS B&H’s Proposal of Election Law of B&H (N1)
Adopted agenda of Thursday’s session of B&H House of Representatives (HoR) included 102 items. However, the session was interrupted after hours-long discussion on second item – Proposal of Amendments to the Election Law of B&H prepared by Croat Caucus in B&H House of Peoples (HoP). Although Croat Caucus in B&H HoP is a formal proponent of this law, it was prepared by the Croat National Assembly (HNS). HDZ B&H’s request to discuss the Proposal in regular and not urgent procedure was rejected and it was discussed in urgent procedure. However, MPs did not vote on this law because the session was interrupted due to Christmas reception held in premises of the Parliament of B&H. HDZ B&H and SNSD are only parties supporting the Proposal. HDZ B&H claims that this law is minimum Croats need to achieve institutional equality, i.e. to prevent the situation in which other people would elect their representatives in state institutions. SDS deems that this issue is something parties from the Federation of B&H should reach an agreement about. SDA, SDP and some other parliamentary parties are against the Proposal. They claim that this law is discriminatory and beneficial only for Croat people. Speaker of B&H HoR Borjana Kristo (HDZ B&H) said that intention of those who claim that B&H is only their country is clear. She added that B&H is a country of Croats as well, adding that all Croat representatives will do everything in their power to provide constitutional equality for their people.
Deputy Speaker of B&H HoR Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) said that this Proposal is unacceptable for SDA because it confirms existing and introduces new types of discrimination when it comes to election of members of B&H Presidency. “When it comes to the Federation of B&H House of Peoples (HoP) it violates the Federation of B&H Constitution”, stressed Dzaferovic.
SNSD’s Dusanka Majkic emphasized that this party will support the Proposal because they respect the right of every people to elect their political representatives.
B&H HoR Deputy Speaker Mladen Bosic (SDS) said that once the agreement on amendments to the Election Law of B&H is reached, the Alliance for Changes (SzP) will support it only in case that it addresses the issue of representation of the Serb people in the Federation of B&H.
Sasa Magazinovic (SDP) stated that SDP supported discussion on this proposal in urgent procedure so that “it can be rejected urgently”, in order to prevent HDZ B&H’s intention to continue with increase of inter-ethnic tensions.
Dodik asks Ivanic to have B&H support Israel and Trump (Nezavisne)
The B&H Presidency passed a decision that they will abstain from voting in the UN General Assembly on the Resolution that rejected the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik sent a letter to B&H Presidency member Mladen Ivanic in which he asked B&H to support Israel and US President Donald Trump, following Trump’s decision to relocate US’ diplomatic representation office from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I am asking you, as the member of B&H Presidency from the RS, to do everything you can to make sure that the Head of B&H Mission to the United Nations (UN) will not support a resolution that will be discussed by the UN General Assembly (UN GA) and whose aim is to reject decisions of the US President,” Dodik stated in his letter. The letter also reminded that the RS and Israel have friendly relations so any kind of diplomatic activities of B&H which might jeopardize this friendship must be stopped. “We understand the complexity of the situation in the Middle East and we advocate peaceful solving of the problem between Israel and Palestine”, the letter noted. At the same time, B&H Presidency stated that it decided that B&H will abstain from voting before the UN GA, regardless of Dodik’s letter.
Ivantsov: There will be no more use of Bonn Powers (Nezavisne)
Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov said that Russia did not join the Communique adopted by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board because he does not believe the document reflects realistically the situation in B&H. “We believe that political directors of the PIC should have focused more on the issues vital for maintaining political balance in B&H. I primarily think about the crisis in the central institutions and the institutions of the Federation of B&H. We see that the Presidency of B&H is not working properly. The Council of Ministers is not able to pass decisions, and the Parliament is divided into two or even more opposing fractions,” said Ivantsov and said that the PIC should have honestly pointed out the crisis present in B&H institutions, and focused on the causes of that crisis. “We should have focused more on the election legislation, and even more importantly for our partners, the European future of B&H. Considering the importance of the European future for our partners, we believe that this should have been the focus of the Communique,” said the Ambassador and noted that the PIC also discussed some currently irrelevant issues for the future of B&H, including the Hague Tribunal. “The Tribunal is not questionable, but we cannot agree it worked without making mistakes. We cannot agree it was completely functional, efficient and that it served justice fully.” Ivantsov stated that biasness of the ICTY was visible in the case of suicide of Slobodan Praljak and in verdict against Ratko Mladic and the fact that he was not allowed to receive medical care he chose. The Ambassador wondered why the Euro-Atlantic future of the country must be related to the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, underlining that the NATO member countries that are also members of the PIC should have presented their own opinion separately, not through the PIC Communique. Asked if Russia agrees with the part of the Communique related to the Law on Elections of B&H, Ivantsov said that they do, because that is currently one of the most important issues in the country, because it is about the rights of all the constituent peoples and violation of rights of at least two peoples. “We should have dealt with helping establish better dialogue, understanding and improvement of relationships amongst the peoples,” he said and pointed out that education is one of those issues, as well as the fight against corruption. “I believe that the PIC members should use their influence and role to help resolve such issues, but also to refrain from imposing our own stances and solutions. The final decisions should be passed by domestic politicians, not someone from the outside.” The Ambassador stated that the OHR should have been closed a long time ago, because it no longer has a relevant role in B&H, underlining that the only possible intervention Russia would agree with would be in case of potential armed conflict. “There will be no more use of the Bonn Powers,” concluded Ambassador Ivantsov.
Dodik: B&H AF will no longer participate in marking of RS Day (K3 TV)
RS President Milorad Dodik said that the Armed Forces (AF) of B&H will no longer participate in marking of the RS Day on 9 January. “I refused any kind of participation of B&H AF in marking of the RS Day. I do not want to enter any polemics on this subject anymore,” Dodik said and added that an honorary platoon of 50 policemen, who will be lined up in honor of the RS, was established. Dodik noted that the platoon will be presented on the RS Day and added: “We do not need B&H AF. Well done to all Serbs who are part of B&H AF, but we do not see them as ours,” Dodik stated and concluded by saying that Serbs must be present in B&H AF because of political reasons.
Government denies knowledge of Russia’s energy plans for Croatia (Vecernji list)
The Russian Ambassador to Croatia says his government made an offer to Croatia but never received a reply. The Croatian government has not received any official offer, nor a request for a meeting, nor any information about the alleged plans of Russian President Vladimir Putin for investment in the energy infrastructure in Croatia. This was stated by several sources from the government after Russian Ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov accused the government at an energy conference of not responding to Russia’s intention to participate in the gasification of Croatia, the construction of new power plants and other energy projects for more than a month. “Even if the proposal exists, it should be presented in an appropriate way,” commented a source from the government, adding that Ambassador Azimov is known to perform his ambassadorial duties in a somewhat ‘unusual’ way. Azimov claims that Russia is ready to deliver Croatia one billion cubic metres of gas per year and that infrastructure energy projects were also a topic of the meeting between Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-October when the President officially visited Russia. After that, Azimov claims, specific assistance was offered to Croatia. The Russian Embassy did not want to explain what was precisely included in the offer in depth, or whether it was officially sent to the government. If the information given by Ambassador Azimov is correct, it is possible that the Russian proposal remained at the level of discussion between the two presidents in Russia.
The Office of the President didn’t release any more information about projects offered to Croatia during her visit to Moscow. What is known, and has so far been realized, is an intergovernmental agreement on the basis of which Croatia will supply Zarubezhneft’s refinery in Bosanski Brod in Bosnia with gas, which should resolve the long-standing issue of the pollution of the air in Slavonski Brod in Croatia. From the developments surrounding this refinery, it’s clear that Croatia is not entirely negative in its attitude towards cooperation with Russian energy companies, although Azimov has accused Croatia of refusing strategic partnership under the pressure of the EU and the US. Yesterday, a memorandum was signed between a Bosnian gas company and the Croatian oil and gas company INA on the delivery of natural gas from the Croatian to the Bosnian gas system. Such cooperation has long since been rejected by the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia, and it is quite certain that the critical pressure was exerted by Russia.
Euro, Schengen and OECD foreign policy goals in 2018 (HRT)
Ahead of the Christmas holidays, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, organized a reception for representatives of the Diplomatic Corps. Besides diplomats, about one hundred other guests, representatives of political authorities, and church figures attended the gathering. Plenkovic and Pejcinovic Buric emphasized three key foreign policy priorities for Croatia in the coming period – joining the Eurozone, the Schengen border regime and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “Croatia will assume the chairmanship of the Central European Initiative into which it will attempt to revive and provide with better content, while from May to November next year it will also chair the Committee of Ministers of the European Council,” said Pejcinovic Buric. Pointing out one point as particularly important, Plenkovic noted the desire to “build a tolerant, inclusive society in which there is respect for human rights, freedom off the press, free speech and criticism, in which minorities are firmly protected and integrated into society.”
Croatian-Serbian flood protection project completed (Hina)
The final news conference of the Croatian-Serbian cross-border project “Ever-moving border emergency response” (EMBER), aimed at procuring flood protection and rescue equipment for civil protection teams in Croatia’s eastern Vukovar-Srijem County and the Sava River part of Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina, was held in Vinkovci on Thursday, as the Croatian-Serbian flood protection project has been completed.
Tannock: Medojevic accused all MEPs of being corrupt (CDM)
European Parliament’s rapporteur for Montenegro Charles Tannock experienced an unpleasant moment in Montenegrin parliament a few days ago when Democratic Front MP Nebojsa Medojevic accused him of being corrupt. Tannock says that Medojevic was making up allegations to undermine his integrity, and his accusing comments should be directed to all MEPs, since he was not the only one who reports on the progress of Montenegro. Tannock has been the EP’s rapporteur for Montenegro since the end of 2009. Medojevic accused him of unrealistic and tendentious reports on our country’s progress in EU integration and that they were product of corruption by Milo Djukanovic. “Tannock tells falsehoods about Montenegro, as I have informed British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson,” Medojevic said at the session of the EU-Montenegro Stabilization and Association Committee on Monday.
Lawsuit to Strasbourg court over election irregularities (Dan)
Montenegrin opposition intends to file a lawsuit to the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg over election irregularities in the recent local elections. This is stated in the minutes from the meeting of the Municipal Election Commission (OIK) in Mojkovac. During the meeting, SDP representative pointed out that the lawsuit to Strasbourg court would be filed after all other legal remedies had been exhausted. SDP official Mirela Radic Ljubisavljevic told Dan it was impossible to guarantee the right of free voting in a country where harsh economic conditions are enabling the regime to either extort or buy votes from people. She said that the opposition intends to internationalize the problem of violated voting rights in Montenegro regardless of the Strasbourg court’s final ruling.
Zaev, Sela fail to agree on health minister post (MIA)
The Alliance of Albanians wishes for its candidate to be appointed as a new health minister, party leader Zijadin Sela told reporters Thursday after a meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The post has been vacant for two months as Arben Taravari from the Alliance of Albanians, who served as Health Minister, was meanwhile elected for Gostival Mayor at the recent local elections. “We have had a meeting with the PM and we hold to our position to not accept posts created overnight that undermine the Alliance of Albanians… The government’s composition was agreed when it was constituted,” Sela said. While in office Taravari was rather successful in managing the health care sector, Sela said. He failed to say whether his party would remain the government’s coalition partner. The party, he added, will keep participating in and supporting the reform process. “We were playing the main role in ousting the regime, and remain focused on dealing with the rest of the regime’s proponents, who are now part of this government, as they should be brought to justice,” Sela said.
Mickoski will be the only candidate for the leader of VMRO-DPMNE at the congress (Meta)
The general secretary of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, will be the only candidate for leader of VMRO-DPMNE at the urgent party congress that will be held today and tomorrow.
“Two candidates arrived, one of the candidate announced that he will be running. The meeting of the legal commission finished a while ago, and it was determined that only one of the bids is valid”, said Ivo Kotevski, the director of the VMRO-DPMNE Centre for Communications. He did not want to disclose the name of the candidate whose candidacy was not accepted.
The general secretary of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, announced his candidacy for party president yesterday afternoon in anticipation of the urgent congress that will be held. Mickoski says that this is personal for him, and is “one of the most serious decisions in his life” and that he supports the candidacy with “clear thought, great faith, and with an open heart.”
Carovska-Jevtic: Issue of return of Kosovo refugees to be closed (MIA)
The plan for return of displaced persons to Kosovo who are on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia as a result of 1999 armed conflict was discussed Thursday by Minister of Labor and Social Policy Mila Carovska and Kosovo Deputy PM and Minister of Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic. At the meeting they expressed views on final closure of this issue in 2018, for which technical groups that work on the plan for integration and return of families have been formed and support from the UNHCR and the EU have already been received support, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy said in a press release. There are around 300 Kosovo citizens in Macedonia. In the past period, 271 persons expressed their desire and returned to Kosovo and at the moment 284 persons have the status of persons under subsidiary protection in Macedonia.
However, there is a possibility many of these persons to use the programs offered for voluntary return to Kosovo during 2018. The issue of reactivating the signing of the Memorandum of Voluntary Return was discussed aimed at ensuring that this document to guarantee the success of the process and its definitive closure in 2018, reads the press release. Jevtic said that the persons that will return to Kosovo will receive material assistance and chance to be employed in order to achieve sustainable return and successful reintegration in Kosovo. They also discussed the issue of implementation of the agreement between Macedonia and Kosovo on confirmation of insurance periods as well as other possibilities for deepening the cooperation.
US Ambassador Lu, meeting with the new Chief Prosecutor Marku (ADN)
The US Ambassador in Albania, Donald Lu had a meeting on Thursday with the provisional chief prosecutor, Arta Marku. This meeting, which takes place in the Prosecution General premises, is the first one between them since Marku’s election as provisional chief prosecutor.
One day ago the US Ambassador Lu held different meetings with Democratic Party leader, Lulzim Basha and the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) chairwoman, Monika Kryemadhi. The opposition’s protest in and out of the parliament and the acts of violence during the voting process for the provisional chief prosecutor Marku were the highlights of these meetings.
New Chief Prosecutor ultimatum to the subordinates (ADN)
The provisional chief prosecutor Arta Marku gave an ultimatum to the subordinates during their first meeting on Thursday. She asked from the prosecutors to continue their work with the same commitment pursuing the law violators. Marku also urged them to follow the ongoing investigations related to the alleged ties between politicians and organized crime.
Earlier she met with US Ambassador Donald Lu who encouraged the provisional chief prosecutor to fight corruption in the highest levels.
Disorders in parliament, 10-day expulsion for 7 opposition MPs (ADN)
Parliamentary Bureau accepts the Socialist Party (SP) request for a 10-day expulsion of 7 opposition MPs on grounds of disorders in the last parliamentary session. The SP request was approved at the end of a Parliamentary Bureau meeting summoned by Speaker Gramoz Ruci on Thursday. The bureau approved a 10-day expulsion as restrictive measure for Monika Kryemadhi, Flamur Noka, Bardh Spahia, Ervin Salianji, Endri Hasa, Kejdi Mehmetaj and Endrit Brahimllari. Meantime the Socialist MP Bujar Cela was expulsed for a 5-day period of time because it hit the Socialist Movement for Integration MP, Kejdi Mehmetaj. A 5-day expulsion was approved by the Parliamentary Bureau for Mehmetaj. The Parliamentary Bureau decision will enter in vigor since January 15 when the new parliamentary session begins.
Opposition MPs’ expulsion, Paloka: Illicit act (ADN)
The vice-speaker of parliament Edi Paloka defines the 10-day expulsion of 7 opposition’s MPs as the act of an illicit parliament. Speaking to the journalists at the end of Parliamentary Bureau meeting on Thursday Paloka said that opposition will continue to defend the constitution while warning a strong reaction. “We will continue to do everything within our possibilities to defend the constitution. Let the parliament be warned that much more has yet to come. The parliament legitimacy has been zeroed, but in spite of this fact we will respect the MPs oath acting in defense of the constitution,” declared Paloka.
Basha meeting with 5 EU diplomats (ADN)
The head of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha had a meeting on Thursday with five diplomats of the EU Countries in Albania, Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Greece. The main purpose of this meeting held in the DP Headquarters, was the election by the majority of the new provisional chief prosecutor, which according to the opposition is unconstitutional. Basha underlined the fact that the last action of the majority brings the country in a new judicial crisis.
According to him, the three unconstitutional steep were the intentional delay to establish the High Council of Prosecutor’s Office, the occupation of its powers by the parliament, the election of the chief prosecutor by a simple majority and without passing the veto. He assured EU diplomats that the opposition’s protests will be democratic and the stance of the opposition against the capture of justice by Prime Minister, Edi Rama.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serb President Sees Second Term Unlikely After EU Work Ends (Bloomberg, by Gordana Filipovic and Misha Savic, 22 December 2017)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic probably won’t seek a second term, as he intends to complete the work needed to lead his country into the European Union when his mandate ends in 2022. Vucic, who as the leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party is the Balkan state’s most powerful politician, said in an interview that he’d announce proposals to tackle the issue of Kosovo — the biggest hurdle to EU entry — by early April. He also repeated a vow that Serbia will not join EU nations in imposing sanctions against Russia, though he “can’t guarantee what will happen after I leave this post.” “Am I going to be the president in 2025? I’m not,” said Vucic, 47, in the presidential palace library in central Belgrade on Thursday. He put the chance of his stepping aside at “99 percent” and said he wouldn’t return to the post of prime minister, which he held before winning an April presidential election. “My idea is to finish my job in this office in the next four and half years and that’s it.” Vucic has vowed to make Serbia ready for EU entry by the start of next decade while maintaining strong ties with Russia. It’s a delicate balancing act: while many Serbs see Russia as a powerful traditional and cultural ally, some EU nations accuse President Vladimir Putin of meddling in their domestic affairs, and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn told Serbia in September that it must make clear “that it puts EU integration first.” “What I say in Brussels, when they ask me about our ties with Russia, I say we are traditionally good friends, we have a good relationship and we’ll keep it, and that’s it — and we are on our EU path,” Vucic said, noting that Moscow has supported Belgrade in the debate over Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. “I always say what our politics is, and I say the same thing in Washington, Brussels, Moscow.” The dinar gained 0.1 percent to trade at 118.6784 against the euro at 8:45 a.m. in Belgrade. It has appreciated 3.9 percent this year, making it the fourth best-performing currency worldwide.
Support for joining the EU has plunged since last decade. An opinion survey by the Ministry for European Affairs in Belgrade showed that 49 percent of Serbs favored joining the EU in June, versus 27 percent against. That compares with a 73 to 12 for-against split in 2009. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared in September that Serbia and fellow former Yugoslav republic Montenegro were frontrunners in the western Balkan accession process and the bloc would step up work for the region to join the EU through 2025. Vucic said that he and other Serbs “were not very jubilant” about the timing but hearing a date from the bloc’s executive was positive. “I don’t think it’s the most important issue whether it’s going to be 2023 or 2025 — the issue is whether we’ll be able to join or not,” he said. While he probably wouldn’t be in power if the date is later, his political legacy would be clear: “If we do our job by 2022, everything will be well known in 2022.” The biggest hurdle will be normalizing ties with Kosovo, whose split from Serbia followed the war that ended when a NATO bombing campaign forced out late Serb President Slobodan Milosevic’s forces in 1999. Vucic, who has called for an “internal dialog” over Kosovo, said he’d present a proposal next year, first to Serbs, then to the international community. While he refused to reveal specifics, he said it will be crucial to improve ties with Albanians, who make up the vast majority of Kosovo’s 1.8 million people — with the rest mostly ethnic Serbs — and that both sides would have to make compromises.
“I don’t think that it’s possible to have a kind of solution in which one side will get and gain everything and the other side will lose everything,” he said. “This is one of the last chances to overcome one of the biggest problems in this region, for good.”
FYROM Considers Referendum for Name Dispute with Greece (eu.greekreporter.com, by
Philip Chrysopoulos, 22 December 2017)
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) government, is mulling a plan to hold a referendum over the name dispute with Greece. According to local media, the FYROM administration deems it would be better if the citizens decided whether or not to accept a new name as a compromise with Greece. Athens has vetoed the name “Macedonia” as it belongs to a whole region in Northern Greece. Athens is concerned with the possibility that the name “Macedonia” might lead to territorial claims in the future. The veto does not allow FYROM to become a NATO member or join the European Union. Skopje and Athens representatives Vasko Naumovski and Adamantios Vassilakis, met with the United Nations intermediary Matthew Nimetz in Brussels, and discussed ways of how to enhance cooperation and reach a deal, but no new name was put on the negotiations table. Macedonia is the name of a northern province in Greece, and Athens is worried that the use of the same name by the neighbouring state, could lead to territorial claims. “In this phase, we still don’t have a solution. However, as it has been said more than once, it is necessary to have a referendum,” the government’s spokesman, Mile Bosnjakovski told reporters on Thursday. Also, FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said, that a referendum was part of the electoral programs of all major political parties, therefore the pre-electoral pledge should be kept. In January, the two sides will resume negotiations. In Greece there was an unsubstantiated report that the name proposed by FYROM is “New Macedonia”.