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Belgrade Media Report 28 December 2017

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 28 December 2017
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: I expect more serious debate on Kosovo in spring (Tanjug)
• Brnabic: Government always open to dialogue with media (Beta/RTS)
• Brnabic: Republika Srpska will always have family member in Serbia (Tanjug)
• Kuburovic: Special court new chance for justice (RTS/Tanjug)
• Serbian Ambassador to Croatia refuses to receive protest note (Tanjug/B92)
• Stefanovic: Serbia has nothing to with piling up of migrants on border with Croatia (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Ivanic: Changing of DPA is impossible (BNTV)
• Dodik: Neither me nor anyone from RS will beg anyone in Sarajevo to allow them to come and to take part in marking of RS Day (RTRS/TV1)
• Izetbegovic: EC Questionnaire will be handed over in January 2018 (NAP)
• Inzko: Agreement on reform of election legislation is absolute priority (Fena)
• What has Covic prepared for Izetbegovic? (Dnevni list)
• Changes to B&H Law on Excise Duties published in Official Gazette (N1)
Croatia
• Migrants protest on Serbian-Croatian border (N1)
Montenegro
• URA and Demos still without caucuses (Pobjeda)
• Montenegro ready to improve relations with Russia (CDM)
fYROM
• Sela leaves government, AA deputy ministers resign (Telma)
• Zaev: Resignations from officials of the Alliance of Albanians were expected (Meta)
• VMRO-DPMNE to define steps for further actions of MPs (Republika)
• VMRO-DPMNE MPs won’t attend parliament Q&A session (MIA)
Albania
• SMI, Vasili: Vote against US in UN, undoable shameful act (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Arbitration: Erjavec threatens legal proceedings against Croatia (RTL)
• The ‘Macedonian issue’(ekathimerini)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: I expect more serious debate on Kosovo in spring (Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday he believed a more serious debate in the internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija could begin in early spring. “It is important that, in every possible way, people have thus far demonstrated that they are able and willing to express their various, differing views on Kosovo and Metohija,” Vucic told reporters in Lebane, southern Serbia. As he stressed, this shows the democratic capacity of Serbia’s society to talk and try to solve problems, although we are currently far from a solution. “I hope and I believe that in the future we will succeed in rationalizing our demands and our policy and preserving what belongs to our people. I believe that we will in early spring manage to go into this kind of a more serious process,” concluded Vucic.

 

Brnabic: Government always open to dialogue with media (Beta/RTS)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced on Wednesday at the annual reception organized for directors and editors of the media on the occasion of Christmas and New Year holidays that the government is always open to dialogue on all themes. In her address, Brnabic expressed her gratitude to the media for cooperation and dialogue in 2017, assessing that there were some nice and difficult moments. She added that the government is full of optimism for the next 2018 year and that she expects even better cooperation with all media representatives.

I know that we have some open issues with some media representatives, that we have some misunderstandings, but we are open to dialogue, Brnabic said, pointing out that the Serbian government is not an enemy of the media.

Answering journalist questions, she announced that regional cooperation will remain one of Serbia’s key priorities in 2018, saying that our country will remain flexible, tolerant and open to dialogue with Croatia, although, she said, relations with this country are always complex. She stressed that Serbia will continue to focus on the Berlin Process, on its three aspects – the agenda of infrastructure linking rail and roads, the establishment of a common economic space and a regional platform for youth. She said that regional cooperation must remain one of our main priorities, because it is important for us to achieve sustainable growth, in full capacity and with all our potentials. If the entire region is not perceived as stable, Serbia will suffer the consequences of this, in terms of lack of investment, less money from funds and international financial institutions and more expensive loans, Brnabic pointed out.

 

Brnabic: Republika Srpska will always have family member in Serbia (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in Banja Luka that the government of Serbia allocated 250,000 Euros for the newly established Solidarity Fund of Republika Srpska (RS) for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, conditions and injuries of children abroad. Brnabic stressed that Serbia does this primarily because the people in Serbia and the RS are tied by great friendship and solidarity. At the donor’s dinner “With love to brave hearts”, the Serbian Prime Minister presented a great humanitarian campaign “Battle for Babies”, which was also initiated in the RS a few years ago when 33 incubators for premature babies were deployed from Banja Luka, through Sarajevo and Brcko, to Trebinje and Prijedor.

On the eve of the donor’s dinner, Brnabic met with the RS Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic. The officials concluded that the political and economic relations between Belgrade and Banja Luka are good and that, in accordance with the Agreement on Special and Parallel Relations between the Republic of Serbia and the RS, they will continue to develop. She reiterated that Serbia respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H, but with respect to the interests of the RS and clear respect for the provisions of the Dayton Agreement. This is a basic condition for the stability of B&H, as well as the stability of the wider region, because without that stability, none of us will be able to advance to a modern and developed society, Brnabic pointed out.

 

Kuburovic: Special court new chance for justice (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic said Wednesday Serbia remained committed to justice being served for Serbs who were victims of war crimes and noted that international bodies had failed to deliver justice to Serb victims. After visiting a memorial room dedicated to Serb victims from Kosovo, she said the new special court set up to try war crimes committed by the KLA was a new chance for the families of people who had been killed or gone missing during the Kosovo conflict. “I am sure that the Republic of Serbia remains devoted to processing Serbian crimes. I hope that Serbian judicial institutions will end proceedings that haven’t ended yet and that families will find satisfaction in punishing crimes,” said Kuburovic, adding that we have recently seen the inglorious end of the work of the ICTY, which had shown selective justice to Serbian victims who did not get justice. She recalled that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had announced that he will expand his jurisdiction and deal with the problem of missing and killed persons. According to her, there is a lot of archive and material for cases that will be launched before the new court for KLA crimes. “I believe that evidence will be valid and that nobody will be able to say that Serbia has not submitted everything necessary,” Kuburovic said, adding there still hasn’t been an opportunity for Serbian judicial institutions to cooperate with the new court because not a single indictment has been issued. She explains that hundreds of cases have been launched before War Crimes Prosecution, but the problem is that the Albanians, charged with crimes, are not available to Serbian institutions, so launched cases have not ended. “I believe the Prosecution will continue to work. Serbia has demonstrated that it prosecutes regardless nationality, that victims matter, which we couldn’t see in the states of the region, where justice was selective,” she said. She voiced hope that the law that concerns processing of KLA crimes will remain in effect under the influence of the international community, and that the announced indictments will be issued.

Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar has stated that the government and Serbian President are committed to reaching justice for Serbian victims and added that the President, and this government as well, have done much more than everybody before them. “The next thing we need to do is to present you with concrete results so at least a tiny part of what you feel and think should serve justice,” said Loncar.

 

Serbia refuses to receive protest note of Croatian Foreign Ministry (Tanjug/B92)

 

Serbian Ambassador to Croatia Mira Nikolic on Thursday refused to receive a protest note at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Nikolic informed her interlocutors that it was established, based on checks and interviews with a number of potential witnesses and participants in the event from which competent authorities took statements, that the motive of an incident in the village of Sonta in Serbia was not the national affiliation of the injured party, or the perpetrators.

It is unclear how the incident could have received such a qualification, considering that persons of the same national affiliation took part in it, the Ambassador said.  Nikolic warned that such moves by Croatia could, in some other circumstances, destabilize the otherwise peaceful situation in Serbia’s multinational areas, and the harmonious relations between the country’s numerous ethnic communities. With this in mind, Nikolic refused to receive the Croatian protest note, the Serbian Foreign Ministry announced today. The Ministry added in a statement that it regretted that once again, an incident that has nothing to do with the ethnicity of its participants was being abused by the Republic of Croatia in a way that creates a distorted picture of the peaceful coexistence of members of different ethnic groups in the Republic of Serbia. “Such stances of the Republic of Croatia do not contribute to building trust and stability, for which both countries are declaratively advocating, and to which the Republic of Serbia gives full contribution through its positions and concrete activities,” the Ministry said. “We hope that the Republic of Croatia will refrain from such gestures in the future and focus on building and improving good neighborly relations, which is the interest not only of our two countries but of the entire region,” the Ministry concluded.

The incident in question happened in Sonta on 24 December shortly past midnight, when a fight broke out between several persons after a verbal altercation. The police in nearby Sombor in the meantime identified three young men who caused the incident. The Sombor police then announced that the incident was not ethnically motivated, and that those who took part were under arrest. However, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic condemned the attack on three Croat youths in Sonta and announced a protest note to Serbia. “We have filed a protest note, we call on Serbia to protect Croats living in Serbia,” Plenkovic said at the beginning of his government’s last session this year.

 

Stefanovic: Serbia has nothing to with piling up of migrants on border with Croatia (RTS)

 

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Wednesday that Serbia has nothing to do with the piling up of migrants on the border with Croatia, stating that about a hundred migrants who were on the state border with Croatia, returned to the centers in Serbia. He reported that Croatia informed the EU that Serbia has participated in bringing the migrants to the state border with Croatia, which, as he underlined, is not true. A few days ago, some 100 migrants headed for the border with Croatia, because they received certain information that the country would open borders if it was more than they did, which did not happen, explained Stefanovic. According to Stefanovic, the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration and the Serbian Interior Ministry have tried to respond to the migrants from going to the border with Croatia. He also said that the Commissariat and the Interior Ministry are in constant communication with Croatia and the EU, and reiterated that there is no claim that Serbia has any evil intention and abuses the presence of migrants.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Ivanic: Changing of DPA is impossible (BNTV)

 

Commenting on the recent stories on possible changing of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) and holding of a conference ‘Dayton 2’, Serb member of B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic assessed that this is absolutely unlikely to happen. In his opinion, the story about changing of the DPA is another empty political story presented to the public, which emerges every once in a while. Ivanic argued that the DPA can change only in case of an internal deal within BiH, which in his opinion is impossible, bearing in mind the opposing views on this topic. He added that the DPA can also change in case that, international parties – which took part in formation of the initial DPA – reach a deal on the ‘Dayton 2’, which is according to Ivanic, also impossible. “Functioning within the current framework is certain for the next 20 years”, concluded Ivanic. Asked when the Alliance for Changes (SzP) will present names of their candidates for the upcoming elections, Ivanic briefly responded by saying that this depends on the leadership of the SzP. He underlined that concrete names of joint candidates are expected to be presented at the end of January, i.e. at the beginning of February 2018.

Asked to comment on Dodik’s reaction to his call to enable participation of members of B&H Armed Forces (AF) in marking of the RS Day on 9 January, Ivanic said: “I believe that Dodik deals more with formal, than with essential issues”. He argued that attendance of members of the Third Infantry (RS) Regiment of B&H AF in the celebration is important, adding that it is irrelevant to whom they will line up. Ivanic underlined that members of the Third Infantry Regiment continue the tradition of the RS, as they are the only ones who carry coat-of-arms of Nemanjic family and continue the legacy of the RS Army. He stressed: “I do not see any reason to make a problem out of their participation”. Ivanic stressed: “I hope that we will overcome this unnecessarily-created dilemma”. Ivanic stressed that 15 days ago, foreigners asked him to prevent participation of members of the Third Regiment in the celebration, which he declined. Ivanic added that foreigners also asked lining up of a mixed unit, which in his opinion, would be seen as provocation, which he also rejected. He called on Dodik to present another solution that will create conditions for participation of members of the Third Regiment in the celebration. Ivanic concluded: “There is no need to give up on a certain number of the people (members of the Third Regiment) and this is an issue of their elementary human dignity”.

 

Dodik: Neither me nor anyone from RS will beg anyone in Sarajevo to allow them to come and to take part in marking of RS Day (RTRS/TV1)

 

RS President Milorad Dodik responded to Ivanic by saying that the Serb soldiers are welcome to come, but that they do not want to beg anyone in Sarajevo for permission. RTRS quoted Dodik as saying: „Neither me nor anyone from the RS will beg anyone in Sarajevo to allow them to come and to take part in the marking of the RS Day. It is unacceptable for the Third RS Regiment to be in some corner as last year, invisible and lined up in honor of an individual, and not in the name of the RS.“ Dodik said that the RS Day will not be used to defy anyone, not even the international community, nor the political Sarajevo, but that he simply wants to celebrate it in a way acceptable to the RS and its people, whose presence will not and cannot be contested.

Dodik stated that his decision will not be withdrawn. He explained that 9 January is important day for the RS, adding that people in this entity will continue to celebrate this day regardless to decision of B&H Constitutional Court (CC) that is in his opinion political.

Dodik explained that in previous period, the RS authorities have been requesting from the Serb member of B&H Presidency to approve participation of BiH Armed Forces in the ceremony marking the RS Day and that there have not been any problems regarding this issue until the ceremony held in January 2017. He reminded that after an attempt to ban participation of the B&H AF’s Third Regiment’s ceremonial platoon in the RS Day ceremony, Ivanic engaged the ceremonial platoon to line up in his honor during the abovementioned ceremony. Dodik stressed that this platoon was supposed to line up in honor of the RS, adding that the method used by Ivanic was humiliating for everyone, including the RS, members of B&H AF and Ivanic, because this platoon was rather “on sidelines” of activities held during marking of the RS Day. The RS President reminded that the ceremonial platoon of the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) will be engaged to line up in honor of the RS during the ceremony marking the RS Day in 2018. Dodik reiterated that his decision regarding participation of B&H AF in this ceremony will be commended by majority of citizens. The RS President said that he will not oppose possible Ivanic’s decision to engage ceremonial platoon of the Third Regiment of B&H AF to line up in his honor during the upcoming ceremony. Asked to comment his recent decision saying that he does not consider Serbs in BiH AF “as his own”, Dodik said that he never stated something like that, adding that he said that he does not consider B&H AF as armed forces of the RS.

 

Izetbegovic: EC Questionnaire will be handed over in January 2018 (NAP)

 

SDA held a New Year’s press conference in Sarajevo on Thursday. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic stated on this occasion that ICTY verdicts have put a seal on what neighboring countries did and he added: “The verdicts were passed against individuals and not peoples, but Serb(ian) and Croat(ian) politicians took the chance. They started to insult the Court and the verdicts. Respect paid to Slobodan Praljak was particularly interesting and Praljak is a criminal, or to put it more precisely, the leader of criminals…” Izetbegovic also said that peoples in B&H must live together despite of everything and for this reason the request was made to change the Criminal Code so that those who deny genocide and verdicts can be sanctioned. As for RS President Milorad Dodik, Izetbegovic said that Dodik bans Bosniak children to study Bosnian language and historical facts about genocide and the siege of Sarajevo. Izetbegovic added: “Dodik ended up on the US’ black list. The way for reaching of an agreement with Bosniaks is not pressure but relaxation of relations. Croats share territory with Bosniaks… I hope that Croats will stop hindering signing of the agreement with Islamic Community, that they will stop with attacks on OSA and sending of one-sided changes of Election Law. SDA personnel were offering solutions as well but never the solutions which weaken the state. We also opposed neighbors on some occasions and some political parties took the side of neighboring countries.” He stressed that SDA has paid special attention to independent judiciary. He added that despite constant crisis due to unstable coalition a step towards the EU integration was made. He said: “The EC’ Questionnaire is almost complete after long silence of the RS. It will be handed over in January 2018 and activation of MAP has also been expected.” He reminded that all decisions are being passed without consensus and that this is the first lesson that BiH politicians must learn on the road towards the EU integration.

 

Inzko: Agreement on reform of election legislation is absolute priority (Fena)

 

High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko believes that what used to be an obvious pre-election rhetoric has unfortunately transformed into a constant rhetoric and – even more concerning – a policy of divisions. However, Inzko noted that the citizens of B&H will have an opportunity to vote and support “constructive leaders“, those ready to work on progress and prosperity, at the 2018 general elections in the country. In an interview to Fena, the High Representative said that he hopes citizens will support politicians and parties dedicated to peace and stability. Furthermore, Inzko underlined that from his point of view, agreement on reform of election legislation is an absolute priority, as it would secure unhindered implementation of election process in 2018 and successful implementation of election results. “Continuation of path towards Euro-Atlantic integration is also important. It needs to be accelerated and implemented,” Inzko said. The HR believes that B&H needs courageous social and economic reforms, with strengthening of the rule of law as the utmost priority. Also, according to Inzko, issues the citizens of B&H are faced with on a daily basis have to be resolved as well – from the quality of public administration’s services to functional and more efficient healthcare protection system. “Citizens of B&H deserve leaders who are working on true progress. Such constructive and honest leaders often appear at the local level, and even at higher levels, albeit to somewhat smaller extent. Such people should be supported and that is when the country will start making progress and moving forward at faster pace,” Inzko said. Commenting on the work of B&H institutions in 2017, Inzko said that certain progress has been made, but much more could and should have been done. “I am sure that citizens of B&H expected more concrete results that would reflect on their lives,” the HR said, adding that it is necessary to speed up the reform processes in the country. “Professional and efficient system of the rule of law is of key importance for stability and prosperity of B&H, but also something that would help convince people to stay here,” Inzko concluded.

 

What has Covic prepared for Izetbegovic? (Dnevni list)

 

The daily reports that rumor in the B&H parliament has it there is a big political trade ongoing, which can be described as “if you do not support my thing and something else, then I will not support anything yours”. According to the daily, decision of speaker of the BiH House of Representatives (HoR) Borjana Kristo not to convene BiH HoR session, which should discuss the state budget for 2018, is part of these games. Osmovic notes that ‘political drama’ is entering a new stage and that the state is in for “a free fall” foremost regarding new Law on Elections of B&H. Namely, daily reminds that HDZ B&H President Dragan Covic announced HDZ B&H will prepare a new proposal of changes to the Law on Elections “that should be a little clearer”, however Covic refused to speak about its contents. Daily’s unnamed sources claim it could be a more radical proposal than the one that did not receive the support, which will certainly heat the political atmosphere up. Daily’s unnamed sources say HDZ B&H could come up with a request according to which territory of former Herzeg-Bosnia is one constituency. According to some information, continues the daily, despite the fact everything is being kept a secret, some foreign diplomats managed to receive details. “Croats brought name Herzeg-Bosnia into today’s Federation through the Washington Agreement and I do not see anything disputable why someone minds name of one of three constituent peoples. However, I fear it is not the name that is disputable but the wish to go into re-federalization of the Federation in the future with this act,” said Covic. HDZ BiH’s proposal will not be supported by SDA, as well as by SDP and DF, whilst position of SBB BiH is unknown. In addition, daily claims that Covic and SDA President Bakir Izetbegovic are at odds, that they do not any have communication and that they only meet during protocol occasions.

 

Changes to B&H Law on Excise Duties published in Official Gazette (N1)

 

The adopted amendments to the Law on Excise Duties in B&H were published in the B&H Official Gazette on Wednesday. „Collected revenues from road tax in the amount of BAM 0.25 for the construction of highways and construction and reconstruction of other roads are kept on a separate sub-account opened with the Central Bank of BiH, and these revenues will be distributed in accordance with the Law on Single Account Payments and Revenue Allocation,“ reads the new, amended Law on Excise Duties in B&H.

 

Migrants protest on Serbian-Croatian border (N1)

 

According to Croatia’s Ministry of the Interior, the protest of about 150 migrants held on Tuesday on the Serbian-Croatian border was supposed to grow into a more massive gathering so that migrants could then cross the Croatian border, but the matter was resolved in cooperation with the Serbian police and the European Commission, reports N1 on Wednesday. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Wednesday that the Croatian border police was well organised and familiar with those plans, adding that for several days there had been reports that such an event was being prepared. According to him, a group of about 150 migrants organised themselves on the Serbian side of the border, and according to the information available, the gathering was supposed to grow to approximately 2,000 people, when the migrants would attempt to cross the border. The Minister said that the migrants were invited to come to the border through social networks and those efforts, according to the police data, included some of the non-governmental organisations in Serbia. However, the matter was resolved in contact with the Serbian police and the European Commission, the Minister said, adding that Serbian police officers last night dismantled a tent settlement that would be wholly removed today, while the migrants would be accommodated in centres throughout Serbia. Commenting on the cooperation with the Serbian police, the Minister said that what happened yesterday, especially overnight, showed that the countries could cooperate if they wanted to. “The Serbian police probably came to the conclusion that this image was not good for Serbia because people wanted to enter an EU member state in an illegal manner. It was clear that the Croatian police, protecting its own territory and enforcing the laws of the Republic of Croatia but also EU legislation, would not allow that,” said Bozinovic. He added that Croatia had the ambition to become a member of the Schengen Area and as such must implement the EU laws, in particular regarding the protection of external borders from illegal migration. Although there are sometimes differing accounts in the media, it is not true that Croatia is not cooperating in the context of the migrant crisis, the Minister said, pointing out that in late November the first 40 Syrian refugees from Turkey came to the country. They will be integrated into Croatian society, and additional 50 refugees are expected early next year. Also, 77 migrants from Italy and Greece will also be coming. However, Croatia is tasked with protecting the external borders in a way that prevents illegal migrations, which is a policy of the European Union, which would not provide funds to the border police if it wanted migrants to cross the border across fields and rivers instead of regular border crossings, he said. The next year will be crucial for the completion of technical preparations for joining the Schengen Area, for which Croatia has received the support of the European Parliament, the Minister said, adding that the police were conducting a number of activities to strengthen state border controls.

 

URA and Demos still without caucuses (Pobjeda)

 

The URA Civic Movement and Demos have not yet reached agreement on establishing a joint caucus and it is uncertain whether it will be done, learns Pobjeda. According to the newspaper, the caucus will not be formed at least until January. “Due to the November elections and the topical issues there are no conditions to continue discussing this matter. It is uncertain whether the agreement will be reached. Let’s wait for the plans of the civic opposition to be clear, or whether there are any plans at all,” the Pobjeda’s source said. According to Pobjeda’s unofficial information, the decision to terminate the negotiations was influenced by the decision of the URA and Aleksa Becic’s Democrats to start talks about forming a solid alliance, which would involve cooperation at the local and state level.

 

Montenegro ready to improve relations with Russia (CDM)

 

The geopolitical relations have caused a slowdown in the co-operation with Russia, but Montenegro is ready to overcome this, said Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic during a meeting with the newly-appointed Montenegro’s Ambassador to Russia Ramiz Basic. “Geopolitical relations have caused a slowdown in cooperation, but Montenegro is ready to overcome this in the common interest and for the benefit of the citizens of both countries,” Vujanovic said. In this context, he pointed to the special importance of the diplomatic mission of the newly-appointed ambassador expecting his full contribution. Vujanovic emphasised that Montenegro and Russia had a more than three centuries long tradition of good relations, with a common interest to further improve it in many areas. The newly-appointed ambassador Ramiz Basic expressed commitment to invest maximum efforts into his diplomatic mission to be successful.

 

Sela leaves government, AA deputy ministers resign (Telma)

 

The deputy ministers of the Alliance for Albanians have resigned, Telma has reported.

The Alliance leader Zijadin Sela confirmed to Telma that Deputy Foreign Minister Arta Toci and Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Remzi Memeti resigned, adding that they will submit their resignations today or tomorrow in writing. We are leaving the government because the contract we had with Zaev has been violated. It is obvious that this is done under the pressure of Ali Ahmeti, who establishes the same principle of rule and coalition as was the case when Nikola Gruevski was the Prime Minister, Sela told Telma. Another reason, according to Sela, is the Law on Languages, which has not yet been adopted, and it is on the agenda of a parliamentary session that will be held no later than the end of January.

 

Zaev: Resignations from officials of the Alliance of Albanians were expected (Meta)

 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that the resignation of deputy ministers from the Alliance for Albanians was an expected step after party leader, Zijadin Sela, failed to accept the government’s bid for a vice-presidential post for reforms in the government. He added that he would not rush to dismiss staff in institutions both from the previous government and from the Alliance for Albanians because, as he said, quality personnel should remain at their posts and he believes in the capacity of those citizens. At a news conference in government where the economic growth plan was presented, Zaev said he expects the opposition to return to parliament as soon as possible to work together on reforms that will help the country move towards the EU and NATO. He also added that tomorrow, at MPs questions in parliament are for opposition MPs. “Tomorrow, MPs questions in parliament are for MPs from the opposition, if they do not attend, the session will be short. I do not intend to answer questions from MPs for a long time from the parliamentary majority, even though they have the opportunity to ask questions. If MPs from the opposition do not attend tomorrow, I hope they will participate at the session after the New Year, scheduled on 9 January,” said Zaev.

 

VMRO-DPMNE to define steps for further actions of MPs (Republika)

 

The coordinators of the parliamentary groups of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM will hold a meeting today to discuss the future functioning of the parliament. VMRO-DPMNE’s parliamentary group decided in the next period to define the steps for further action, read the statement of VMRO-DPMNE. VMRO-DPMNE’s parliamentary group reiterated its support for the unjustly detained colleagues and other citizens in connection with the events of 27 April, reaffirming the positions that the law must not be violated by the motives for political persecution. It is the government’s responsibility i.e. the majority of SDSM, to ensure the normal functioning of the parliament. VMRO-DPMNE believes that the Republic of Macedonia can only progress if the legislature functions in a democratic atmosphere, where conditions for participation of the opposition and its participation in the adoption of the laws will be created, the statement said.

 

VMRO-DPMNE MPs won’t attend parliament Q&A session (MIA)

 

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE deputies will not attend tomorrow’s Q&A session, interim coordinator of the party’s parliamentary group Vlatko Gjorcev told MIA. The party decided to boycott the Q&A session following the Skopje court order for extending the detention of 29 people, involved in parliament violent events, including VMRO-DPMNE MPs. “We are for dialogue, communication, normalization of the relations. Leaders of the (ruling) SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE held a meeting to that effect, while we have had phone conversations with SDSM MPs,” Gjorcev said. The order for extending the detention of suspects is contrary to the wishes for reconciliation and resumption of dialogue, Gjorcev said. The largest opposition party has been boycotting the parliament since the enforcement of a detention measure for six VMRO-DPMNE MPs. Some of the opposition MPs however retook their seats only for President Gjorge Ivanov’s annual address. The party has not made a final decision yet on its further steps in regard to its parliamentary activities. Earlier, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev voiced expectation for the opposition VMRO-DPMNE deputies to attend the Q&A Parliament session, scheduled for Thursday. If they fail to attend the session would be rather brief, as I’ve no intention to take questions from the MPs representing the majority, Zaev told reporters.

 

SMI, Vasili: Vote against US in UN, undoable shameful act (ADN)

 

The chairman of Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) parliamentary group, Petrit Vasili defines an undoable shameful act Albania’s vote against USA in the UN Assembly. In a public declaration on Wednesday he stated that the Albanian government clearly placed itself against USA through the vote in favor of UN resolution. “The Albanian government voted against US and this is inalienable fact. Every faded alibi presented by the government deepens this historic mistake. No Albanian citizen stands beside the government when the latest votes against US.

The obscurantist motives of this vote against USA by the Albanian government are clear and evil-minded. Every attempt to advocate this shameful act that can’t be undone is just as obscurantist as the government’s motives for this vote against USA,” wrote Vasili. In conclusion he declared that a strong denunciation without any complex of this shameful compromise is the only fair attitude that serves to country’s interests and acts against the anti-US clique that currently rules the country.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Arbitration: Erjavec threatens legal proceedings against Croatia (RTL, by Lauren Simmonds, 28 December 2017)

 

As RTL reports on the 28th of December, 2017, Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec threatened Croatia with legal proceedings once again today if the country fails to agree to the arbitration decision on the Croatian-Slovenian border, which so far, Croatia has refused to recognise or implement. Erjavec told reporters after a meeting with the Slovenian Prime Minister, Miro Cerar, that Slovenia would likely launch legal proceedings against Croatia in the spring if the country continued to oppose it. ”From Friday, from which the six month deadline for the agreement on the implementation of the arbitrators’ decision, Slovenia enters the phase of “real implementation” of the arbitration decision, and any violation of the arbitrator’s decision will represent a “violation of international law and the law of the European Union”, stated the head of Slovenian diplomacy. According to him, Slovenia can, in that case, decide to launch legal proceedings against Croatia for what Slovenia considers to be a violation of international law, with reference to two particular articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Arbitration judgment is part of international law, Erjavec stated, and when it comes to implementing it, one cannot speak of a one-sided act, but of respect for international law. “I expect from the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, to refrain from [engaging in] incidents and all actions [that go] against international law,” Erjavec said. “As an EU member and NATO, Croatia must be forced to respect an international verdict that is part of international law,” he concluded.

 

The ‘Macedonian issue’(ekathimerini, by Costas Iordanidis, 28 December 2017)

 

Late conservative prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis said in February 1993 that the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was not that important, adding that “no one will remember [the incident] 10 years from now.” We have come all the way to the end of 2017 and the name dispute is once again at the center of domestic politics. Yet no agreement has been reached ahead of the NATO summit in July, which will yet again examine the Balkan state’s bid to join the transatlantic alliance. We won’t trouble ourselves here with the history of the “Macedonian issue” in its latest reincarnation (because that is what it’s really all about) and its poor handling. The latter mainly concerns the early years, when the conditions were created for a permanent deadlock as Greek political leaders meeting under then President Constantine Karamanlis ruled out the recognition of the new state if its name were to include the term “Macedonia” or a derivative of that word. In a tragicomic twist, the proposals submitted to both sides by UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz in the negotiations that followed suggested a compound name, thus contradicting the common decision of Greece’s political leaders. It should be noted that, at the same time, the word “patriotism” was also distorted. Aside from territorial expansion, the term is traditionally associated with the expansion of a country’s economic, political and cultural influence in its immediate neighborhood. However, the Greek version of patriotism that emerged in the 1990s was defensive, driven by ethnic discrimination, and totally counterproductive given that the pressure shifted from Skopje on to Athens. Furthermore, Greek patriotism poured oil on the flames of irredentism in FYROM, which was mainly channeled through the fugitives of the 1946-49 Greek Civil War who fled to Yugoslavia. In a sense, all this is a continuation of that war by other means. We move ahead under pressure and exploring conciliatory initiatives. We are in for defeat regardless whether a solution is reached or not. It’s a complete deadlock, but no one seems to realize what is at stake. All sides feel that they are in the right – either they are pursuing a compromise solution or rejecting one. Only one politician, former prime minister Georgios Rallis, resigned as a deputy on March 29, 1993 in protest at Mitsotakis’s handling of the matter and PASOK’s intransigence. The man was simply revolted.

 

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