Serbian and Croatian presidents did not talk about the past (Tanjug/B92)
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic says she and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic did not talk about the past. She made the remark after their meeting in Zagreb on Monday.
Speaking to the media, Grabar-Kitarovic said she was satisfied with the meeting, that according to her, had been under preparation for months. “I wanted this meeting to happen under different circumstances, a different climate, but after the escalation of the verbal war I decided to end that, and invite Vucic as soon as possible,” she said, apparently referring to the recent diplomatic flare up over an exhibition organized at the UN in New York about the Croatian WW2 death camp Jasenovac. Grabar-Kitarovic then thanked Vucic for responding to the invitation to improve the burdened relations between Serbia and Croatia, especially due to the past which, she said, they did not mention for now. “Our obligation as presidents is to meet, to talk, to solve that which separates us, to find a way to the future, and a future for the entire region of Southeastern Europe,” said the Croatian President. Aleksandar Vucic thanked the Croatian President for her cordial welcome. “It was not an easy move for you, either, especially given the atmosphere created in Zagreb, throughout Croatia. I congratulate you on the courage, I am confident that people will be able to understand all our political moves,” Vucic said. He added that he had come to Zagreb to talk, to try to solve problems. “Serbia and Croatia will have to – whether everyone in Serbia and Croatia wants it or not – have much better relations in the future. We will have to look into the future with different eyes, to think about whether our words will affect the other side, and vice versa,” said Vucic and added that the two Balkan countries will have relations like Sweden and Norway. Vucic said he spoke with Grabar-Kitarovic about the border, and added that the two countries have different positions on this issue. “Croatia is citing land records, Serbia is citing the law. We will try to resolve this completely bilaterally in the next two years, if not, we will go before judiciary organs,” Vucic emphasized. The two presidents also discussed missing persons, and Vucic announced that he would talk with representatives of relevant Croatian associations next week.
Continued support of Austria to European integration of Serbia (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said today that Serbia highly appreciates the continued support of Austria in the process of joining the European Union and that country’s position that the integration of the Western Balkans in the European Union is one of the foreign policy priorities of Austria. During the talks with Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Public Service and Sports of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache, Brnabic expressed expectation that Austria will continue to support Serbia during the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2018. The two officials agreed that the adoption of the European Commission’s Enlargement Strategy is an encouraging message for Serbia and its citizens, and a clear signal to the government to continue the reforms that it has begun.
Strache conveyed Austria’s support for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the EU mediation. He expressed expectation that both sides will constructively engage in the implementation of the Brussels agreement. The interlocutors assessed as very positive the initiative for the establishment of cooperation between the National Academy of Public Administration of the Republic of Serbia, which will soon start working, and the Austrian Federal Academy of Public Service, for the exchange of experience in the field of professional development. Speaking about the Serbian diaspora in Austria, Strache said that the Serbian community is a significant and important part of Austrian society, which managed to preserve its culture, roots and connection with its home country and to get integrated successfully. He concluded that the diaspora represents a significant potential for further improvement of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Building new relations with US on grounds of former cooperation (Beta/RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic voiced conviction after meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the new US administration has more understanding for the positions of Serbia. Dacic stressed that the meeting in Washington was very good and that the discussion was dedicated to the future and bilateral relations between Serbia and the US. He mentioned that prior to the conversation with Tillerson, he wrote in the guest book that this meeting is dedicated to the centenary of the US and Serbian alliance in the First World War. For us the very important date this year will be 28 July because on that day 100 years since the Serbian Day in the USA will be marked. That is the day when Woodrow Wilson ordered the Serbian flag to stand out at the White House in recognition of all victims that Serbia gave in the First World War, Dacic said. Since then 100 years have passed, and that is why we want to reset our relations, to seek common interests, to look for ways in which the United States can help achieve our key goal – stability, peace in the region and solving open issues. First of all, I am referring to the attempt to resolve the problems of Kosovo and Metohija permanently, Dacic stated. He voiced conviction that his interlocutors carefully listened to all the arguments he put forward, saying that this meeting confirms that the new US administration has more understanding of what Serbia is talking about in relation to previous administrations, especially those that were drawn into the war conflict in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Dacic: Important visit to Suriname (Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with Suriname’s top-ranking government officials to discuss the development of bilateral cooperation and current international issues. During a visit to Paramaribo, Dacic met with Suriname’s President Desire Delano Bouterse, Speaker Jennifer Geerling-Simmons and Foreign Minister Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle, the Foreign Ministry reported. “This is a very important visit for us. Historically speaking, our countries were close during the time of the Non-Alligned Movement, former Yugoslavia and Tito. It is time to renew our friendship and make it stronger. I wish to especially express gratitude for a very important decision for Serbia, withdrawal of recognition of unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo,” Dacic said and Serbian Foreign Ministry announced. “We are prepared to develop a strategic partnership with Suriname, and I am pleased to say that today we are signing several agreements and a road map, because it is very important to expand bilateral cooperation in all segments,” the Serbian Foreign Minister said. Dacic specified that an agreement to lift visas had been signed, together with a Memorandum of Cooperation and Political Consultations between the two foreign ministries, a friendship agreement and a road map laying out specific steps in cooperation until 2021.
Djuric: Positive trend in relations between Serbia and France (RTS/Tanjug)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric and French Ambassador to Serbia Frederic Mondoloni agreed today that there is a positive trend in the bilateral relations of the two countries. Djuric and Mondoloni expressed hope that after the meeting of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and French President Emmanuel Macron, there will be a great future ahead of French-Serbian relations. Djuric briefed Ambassador Mondoloni on the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, pointing out that Belgrade largely fulfilled all obligations arising from the Brussels dialogue, while, on the other hand, not even five years after the signing of the Brussels agreement has Pristina started implementing the agreement on the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities. The topics of the discussion were the political, security and socio-economic situation in Kosovo and Metohija, and Djuric informed his interlocutors about the results of the work of the Serbian government in the province, which, according to him, are the most visible in the construction of houses, apartments, schools, kindergartens , hospitals, health centers and clinics, cultural centers, restoration of religious and cultural heritage, as well as continuous agricultural, economic, social and legal assistance to the Serb people in the province. The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the Serbian government, are sincerely interested in stability in the province and are ready to respond to all the challenges in the province through a dialogue with Pristina, according to the statement of the Office of Kosovo and Metohija.
Kosovo Serbs: Wonderful to know that the state stands behind you (RTV)
It is a wonderful feeling when you know that you are not left to yourself and that the state stands behind you, the Kosovo Serbs assesses after the meeting with the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric. Following the visit of President Vucic, the Republic of Serbia assisted in resolving existential issues to Serb citizens in Kosovo and Metohija, and thanks to this assistance their survival and stay in the province has been enabled, they announced after the meeting in Belgrade.
Serbian Justice Ministry: Pristina delivers documentation on Ivanovic murder (Tanjug)
Pristina’s documentation on the assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic was on Friday delivered to the Serbian Justice Ministry via the EULEX office in Belgrade. The documentation includes the autopsy report and the crime scene investigation report and will be sent to the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.
Mektic says Serbs must acknowledge genocide in Srebrenica; Mektic denies allegations (Vecernji list)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Minister of Security Dragan Mektic (SDS) denied that during the interview for ‘Vecernji list’ on Friday evening he said that Serbs must acknowledge the genocide in Srebrenica. He also denied that he stated that the genocide was committed in Srebrenica. “I absolutely did not comment the issue related to Srebrenica in this way and I fully reject and deny this. I spoke about the crimes in Srebrenica in the context of a statement of Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik, which was partially mentioned in the interview. I stated that in the 2000s, Milorad Dodik publically stated for a TV that he finds it very clear and with no doubt that the genocide was committed in Srebrenica”. Mektic also said that he told ‘Vecernji list’ it would be better for them (Serbs) to face with the crime nowadays, in order to avoid the situation of blaming future generations, in 20, 30 years. Shortly after Mektic’s denial, ‘Vecernji list’ reacted by publishing of an audio recording of the interview and the crucial part in which Mektic said: “There are relevant documents, we must acknowledge what happened. We cannot…Look at Germany, the German Parliament again apologized for the holocaust a couple of days ago. We must go through the catharsis”.
Dodik: Srebrenica is place of suffering of both Bosniaks and Serbs (Glas Srpske)
President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik told that Srebrenica is undoubtedly the place of a horrible crime against both Bosniaks and Serbs, and that genocide could not have happened against only one of those two peoples. According to Dodik, the only difference is in dynamics of crimes committed in Srebrenica. “Approximately 3,500 Serbs were killed during three years of war and nobody can deny that. However, Bosniaks’ constant demands and attempts to qualify the crime against Bosniaks as genocide have to be rejected. If there was a genocide against Bosniaks, there was a genocide against Serbs as well. Serbs were being killed continuously and purposely. Women, children and elderly persons were being killed,” Dodik said. He reminded that data provided earlier by the Government of the RS and approved by former President of the RS Dragan Cavic were used as the basis for processes against certain individuals, not against an entire people. “Bosniaks have rushed to characterize crimes against Bosniaks in Srebrenica as genocide. That is unacceptable even when it comes from them, and especially when it comes from those in the RS who are trying to characterize those events as such. It is necessary to establish a new international commission, because it is obvious that the one which prepared the report on Srebrenica under the leadership of SDS has failed to establish the real data. Only the new verification of those events can serve as the basis for any new assessment of what had happened,” Dodik said.
Statements of Mektic on genocide in Srebrenica spark strong reactions (RTRS)
Standpoints of B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic about Srebrenica, given during an interview for ‘Vecernji list‘ daily newspaper, have sparked strong reactions in Republika Srpska (RS). Representatives of veterans’ associations, former officials and politicians in the RS condemned Mektic’s words. President of the RS Veterans’ Organization (BORS) Milomir Savcic stated that they do not deny that a crime and not genocide was committed in Srebrenica. In a statement, Savcic argued that no document or data proves that military leadership of the RS held a meeting, and adopted a plan to imprison people and kill prisoners of war in Srebrenica.
Director of the RS Center for Investigation of War, War Crimes and Search for Missing Persons Milorad Kojic said that he did not read Mektic’s words, which is why he will refrain from comments. Kojic stressed that evidence clearly show that the crime committed in Srebrenica is not genocide. President of the RS Association of Families of Fallen and Captured Soldiers and Missing Civilians Nedeljko Mitrovic assessed that this is part of a pre-election campaign.
Chairwoman of the RS Association of Women Victims of War Bozica Zivkovic-Rajilic assessed Mektic’s words as a disgrace.
Head of SDS Caucus in B&H Parliament Stasa Kosarac argued that this is a proof that Mektic serves to those who try to mark the Serbs as the genocidal people, for years. Kosarac argued that Mektic is obviously ready to fulfill every order coming from leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and Muslim secrete services, whose main goal is to destabilize and ruin institutions of the RS. Leader of the ‘United Srpska’ Nenad Stevandic asserted that some members of their own people do not understand the political circumstances and added that those Serbs only protect their own and party positions in Sarajevo.
Former RS Prime Minister from the ‘Original SDS’ Gojko Klickovic underlined that the Hague Tribunal did not adjudicate Serbs people for the genocide, but this is what Mektic is trying to do. Former Speaker of the RSNA Momcilo Krajisnik warned that whoever plays with this story is damaging the image of the Serb people. He warned that prior to judging, they should first hear Mektic’s opinion about the way his words were presented, bearing in mind the official stance of the RS, that the crime and not the genocide, was committed in Srebrenica.
Representative of the Association ‘Creators of the RS’ Bozidar Vucurevic said that he is not surprised with this kind of words coming from Mektic, who fails to say anything patriotic for years.
Former RS Minister of Interior Tomislav Kovac called on Mektic and SDS to say where exactly the (alleged) genocide was committed. Kovac underlined that no judiciary institution proved that the RS leadership issued an order to destroy members of one ethnicity. Kovac argued that this statement is detrimental to efforts of defense of former RS President Radovan Karadzic to prove that he did not issue an order to destroy Bosniak people.
Vice President of SDS Milovan Bjelica told RTRS that he does not think that Mektic gave this statement and that he is sure this was taken out of the context, bearing in mind that he knows Mektic’s opinion about this issue.
Leader of PDP Branislav Borenovic said that terrible crimes were committed in B&H, and that it is hard to accept some qualifications of certain crimes. “No people should be responsible for something individuals did”, stated leader of PDP.
Covic: Amendments to Election Law of B&H top priority issue for Croats (N1)
Chairman of B&H Presidency and leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic reiterated in Djakovo, Croatia that amending of the Election Law of B&H is the most important issue for Croats, as the smallest constituent people in B&H. Covic went on saying that the decision of the Constitutional Court of B&H, passed upon the motion filed by Bozo Ljubic, saying that constituent peoples must be represented by their legitimate representatives in B&H Presidency and the Parliament will have to be implemented. “This is the issue of survival of Croat people,” explained Covic. He emphasized that political pressures aimed to turn Croats into national minority will fail.
Inzko: Changes to constitutional organization require agreement of constituent and other peoples (Slobodna Dalmacija)
After Croat member of the B&H Presidency Dragan Covic recently said that “the third entity is a realistic possibility,” High Representative Valentin Inzko reacted in a statement: “The international community has on several occasions, through the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board, expressed dedication to territorial integrity of B&H as a sovereign state, which has two entities. All changes to the constitutional organization must go through procedures in which representatives of constituent peoples and other peoples would have to reach an agreement,” said HR Inzko.
Konakovic announces leaving SDA, but not post of SC Prime Minister (TV1)
Prime Minister of Sarajevo Canton (SC) Elmedin Konakovic on Friday evening announced leaving SDA, after he resigned from all posts in the party, but not his post of Prime Minister. He said that he did not inform his party about leaving them, and added that several MPs in the SC Assembly have left the SDA Caucus. Konakovic stressed that he had to defend himself after catching others in crimes, and added that he was ordered to protect those whose crimes he has proven. SDA refused to comment. SDP called on Konakovic to inform relevant institutions and the public about criminal actions of SDA staff in public companies and submit criminal reports against those who violated the law. SDA Cantonal Board in Sarajevo stated on Sunday that Konakovic, who recently announced that he will leave the party, should also resign as the SC Prime Minister. “The voters gave this mandate to the party and not to Konakovic. If he sticks to his principles, that should not be a problem for him, as he said he disapproves the appointment of staff according to their political affiliation,” reads the statement issued by SDA Cantonal Board in Sarajevo. Konakovic was also urged to prove his accusations against SDA to the competent authorities and the public. They added that the act done by Konakovic is a selfish move of an overambitious and ungrateful person who cares more about his personal promotion than about the interest and stability of Bosnia and Hercegovina and its capital.
Foreigners want formation of third bloc in RS (EuroBlic)
The daily learned that certain western diplomats and foreign lobbyists are actively working on formation of the third political bloc in Republika Srpska (RS), which would be consisted of PDP, DNS and NDP. A source told the daily that this idea has been present in influential international circles for the past several months and added that this bloc is supposed to present an alternative to existing political alliances. The source also noted that the program of this bloc is expected to strongly support European integration and economic development and current misunderstandings among coalition partners of both existing blocs only go in favor of formation of the third bloc.
NDP Vice President Zdravko Krsmanovic, who announced the possibility of establishment of a new political alliance in the RS several months ago, told the daily that there is a need to create a new political option which would represent an alternative to left-wing coalition with SNSD at the helm and right-wing coalition with SDS at the helm. “The fact is that PDP, DNS and NDP have quite similar political programs and views on future of the RS. This has nothing to do with foreigners but with the need of the RS to get something new which would give citizens hope in future. I believe this story can be realized even before the elections and, if not by that time, then certainly after the elections,” Krsmanovic said.
Political analyst Ivana Maric stated that she does not think a new political bloc capable of rivaling the existing two coalitions can be established in the RS any time soon. “If someone has the intention to overthrow the authorities in the RS, then I cannot see how someone can do it by establishing third bloc instead of creating a large opposition bloc”, Maric stated.
Netherlands Embassy evacuated due to bomb threat (Fena)
Ministry of Interior of Sarajevo Canton received anonymous information on “a bomb planted in the building of Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands to B&H”. Fena learns that member of B&H Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies, with assistance of Sarajevo Canton MoI, is currently inspecting the building. Media reported that the building of the Embassy, located in Grbavica district of Sarajevo, was evacuated this morning, after unknown persons informed employees about the planted bomb.
Serbia to help Croatia in search for missing persons (Dnevnik.hr/Hina)
Visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at a news conference at Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic‘s office in Zagreb on Monday that he would do his best to help find the war missing. Vucic arrived in Croatia for a two-day official visit on Monday morning. The program of his visit started with his talks with the Croatian President, which lasted longer than expected. Opening the news conference, President Grabar-Kitarovic said that she and the Serbian President raised many questions during the talks. “We did not agree on many things, and we brought our positions closer on some. It is extremely important that we agreed to continue our talks,” she said. Vucic said that he had noticed protests against his visit but that they did not bother him. Speaking about the missing persons issue, Vucic said that he had provided the Croatian authorities with documents on three persons missing from the 1991-1995 war in Croatia. “We have the names of three persons for whom we know where they were killed,” Vucic told a joint press conference with his host, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. He did not give their identities, the place where they were killed or their ethnic background. The Serbian President also gave back to Croatian authorities documents from Dvor na Uni, a Croatian town on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), which were taken to Serbia after the Croatian military and police operation “Storm” in 1995. Vucic brought to Zagreb registers of births, marriages and deaths from that majority Serb municipality in Croatia’s Banovina region.
Croatia has been seeking from Serbia for years the restitution of its cultural goods, stolen and taken to Serbia at the time of the Croatian military operation in the summer of 1995 in which areas controlled by Croatian Serb rebels were liberated. Vucic said that he had told his associates in Belgrade to refrain from insulting remarks about Croatia in the next 100 days so as not to hamper efforts to settle numerous outstanding issues between the two countries. Commenting on the ongoing visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Zagreb Spokeswoman for the European Commission Maja Kocijancic stated that “Every step that leads to the improvement of relations in Southeast Europe is important and welcome”.
Protest held on Ban Jelacic Square against Vucic visit (HRT)
More than one thousand protesters gathered on Zagreb’s central Ban Jelacic Square today to voice their displeasure with the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Organizers, including the Homeland War Widows Association, say there would have been even greater numbers at the protest, but at 7AM this morning the police suddenly banned an already agreed to protest gathering. According to a statement released by the police, for security reasons it was deemed necessary to close down access to St. Mark’s Square to all civilians, including protesters. The police further stated that the measure was not an attempt to ban a previously announced public gathering. It resulted nonetheless in the protesters being forced to abandon their gathering in St. Mark’s Square, between the seat of Croatian Government and the parliament building. Before relocating to Ban Jelacic Square, protesters did manage to reach the Stone Gate, an entranceway to the Upper Town and St. Mark’s Square, where they lit candles in honor of all those killed or still listed as missing from the Serbian aggression of the 1990’s.
The protest on Ban Jelacic Square was under heavy police monitoring, including intervention police units and numerous police vehicles equipped with cameras. Throughout the protests there were chants of “traitor” apparently directed at President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, whom protesters criticized for inviting Vucic to Croatia but then saying that their discussions would not cover a Serbian apology for the crimes of the Serbian aggression, nor war reparations, an issue raised by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. During the protest a recording of Vucic’s speech in Serb occupied Glina in 1994, in which he glorified the Greater Serbia ideology, was played. It was received with a resounding chorus of boos.
Djukanovic’s up on arms over Berane election results (CDM)
Although he had been invited to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in the USA, the leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), Milo Djukanovic, decided to stay in Montenegro due to his party obligations. According to information, DPS leader has not been satisfied with the results of the Berane local elections, held on Sunday, 4 February. Djukanovic’s DPS will hold 17 seats in Berane’s local parliament and will remain as the opposition in this town, as in 2014. The Zdravo Berane coalition will have 14 seats and after the potential talks with the Democrats (4 seats) they will be able to form a government. In the light of forthcoming local elections in 12 municipalities, including the capital, Djukanovic has allegedly announced numerous changes regarding the party’s personnel structure.
Jovicevic gives up; Brkovic and Tadic-Mijovic opposition’s presidential candidates? (CDM)
Andrija Jovicevic, former minister of police, will likely reject Democratic Front’s (DF) offer to be presidential candidate, CDM learns. On the other hand, potential presidential candidates of the civic opposition include author Balsa Brkovic and Milka Tadic-Mijovic. DF officials discussed presidential candidacy with Jovicevic two days ago, but Jovicevic said that it was too late to run for president now and that “it was not right moment because all current developments”. CDM’s source claims that Jovicevic has not yet announced his final position, but that he is closer to the decision to refuse than to accept the presidential candidacy. “There is a fear that the entire opposition will not stand behind Jovicevic, because some members of the civic opposition have already announced they will not support him. So he does not want to enter the race unless he has support from all sides” source claims. Civic opposition is also thinking about a presidential candidate it will suggest to DF. Author Balsa Brkovic is mentioned as one of the potential ones.
The civic opposition is trying to agree on the common presidential candidate, but it will not be that smooth. Social Democratic Party is said to be one of the obstacles. “We are talking, we are negotiating. It goes well, but there are also obstacles. SDP has stances that do not match the rest of the civic opposition. SDP proposes candidates for which the rest of the civic opposition is sure that they have no chance. They even suggest people who do not want to get involved in the presidential race. SDP does not want to even negotiate with DF on a common candidate. We hope that we will overcome this and that we will find a solution and come out with one candidate, supported by all the opposition,” CDM’s source said. Print media, referring to sources from the opposition, say that a part of the civic opposition, led by SDP, proposed Milka Tadic-Mijovic as common presidential candidate, whereas DF favors Andrija Jovicevic. Tadic-Mijovic has not accepted to be a candidate yet. Source claims that she is not willing to enter the presidential race, but that the leaders of the civic opposition are trying to convince her to accept.
According to information from DF, it will not be easy either. The decision to accept Tadic-Mijovic has to be made by the alliance’s presidency. However, a number of its members do not want to support Tadic-Mijovic. On Thursday civic opposition meeting in Podgorica was attended by the leaders of Demos Miodrag Lekic, SDP Ranko Krivokapic, Socialist People’s Party (SNP) Vladimir Jokovic and the URA Civic Movement Dritan Abazovic, as well as the representative of the Democrats Danilo Saranovic. Allegedly, Vanja Calovic-Markovic was also proposed at the meeting, but that Krivokapic’s initiative was rejected, since the MANS executive director earlier rejected such a proposal.
Democrats to provide full support to opposition’s candidate (CDM)
The Democratic Montenegro has reiterated that it intends to provide full support to the opposition’s presidential candidate whomever it nominates. “Bearing in mind that there have been more and more speculations about the candidacies for the president of Montenegro, we use this opportunity to repeat our clear position: whoever elected to be the opposition’s representative in the forthcoming presidential elections, we will provide our full support,” the party has stated. They also reiterated that the Democrats haven’t participated in the procedure of the selection of the opposition’s candidate and that they don’t intend to interfere at all. “The leader of the Democrats has given up his candidacy and therefore put an end to his potential candidacy for the president of Montenegro. We look forward to having a candidate representing the opposition, whoever it nominates,” the Democrats explained.
Hahn: There are no additional conditions for Montenegro (CDM)
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that Montenegro had made the greatest progress in EU integration, and that it was up to it to maintain that status. At the joint press conference with PM Dusko Markovic, Hahn clearly said – “there are no additional conditions for our country’s membership in the EU”. “There is work that still needs to be done. We clearly said what we expect from Montenegro – to implement the reforms and keep the leading position on the EU path. Democracy and the rule of law are key values. The boycott of Parliament is not a way of resolving disputes. I expect dedication to the rule of law and media freedom. Special Prosecutor’s Office (SDT) and the Anti-Corruption Agency (ASK) should be independent. We will not add further conditions for membership, nor eliminate the existing ones,” Hahn was clear.
Asked how far Brussels was ready to go in defending the public broadcaster from political influence, the commissioner said that the freedom of expression and freedom of the media were some of the key values of the European Union and that this was something the EU always dealt with and was committed to. “Transparent, independent media throughout the region are something that we will emphasise over and over again. I realised that certain improvements are needed and that this is part of the development of the society, in a way, to deal with these challenges and the required standards,” Hahn said. Markovic said that Montenegro already acted as an EU member in many aspects. “We are in solidarity with regard to foreign and security policy, which shows our commitment and acceptance of European values,” Markovic said at the press conference.
Demarcation with Montenegro must not be overturned (RTCG)
One of the most important connoisseurs of Kosovo’s circumstances, Alternativa MP Iljir Deda said he was optimistic that the agreement on the demarcation of the border with Montenegro would be ratified in the Assembly of Kosovo. Deda told that Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Limaj informed him of the initiative to reach an agreement with Montenegro and that, if mistakes were found in the agreement, the demarcation could be re-negotiated. “At the request of the Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Limaj we officially met today. He informed me about his initiative for talks with Montenegro and I’m giving him room for that. He told me that Montenegro was ready to help Kosovo to adopt demarcation. If everything goes as I’m informed I believe everyone in the Assembly will vote for a demarcation agreement,” said Deda.
He stressed that demarcation must not be overturned in the Assembly. “The idea is to adopt it with guarantees. There are many opportunities for the two governments to give guarantees, commitments, to decide or anything else, but only if the demarcation goes on,” said Deda.
He stressed that if Kosovo wants to obtain visa liberalization for the EU this year, demarcation should be ratified in February, otherwise liberalization will not happen in the next year.
Grubi meets with Nimetz in New York and tells him DUI want a dignified solution (Meta)
The DUI MP Artan Grubi held a working lunch in New York with United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz on Friday, announced the cabinet of the Parliamentary Committee on European Affairs. At the meeting, Grubi conveyed the impressions from the previous meetings in Washington, and discussed the process of the name dispute. “The views of the two prime ministers provoke optimism that the solution is closer than ever. According to Grubi and DUI, the final solution that is set to be achieved must be dignified and mutually acceptable. The compromise must enable Macedonia’s unconditional and urgent integration into NATO and the EU, which will result in sustainable peace and stability in our country and the region, and together with systemic reforms, it represents a prerequisite for economic development and social well-being. DUI fully supports Mr. Nimetz’s efforts and all the negotiators in the name dispute with our southern neighbor,” read the statement
Janushev: SDSM and DUI are competing with each other which party is going to make appeasements with the name (Meta)
It seems like SDSM and DUI are competing who will make a bigger appeasement without making an evaluation of the consequences it might have on the highest national interests, stated today VMRO-DPMNE’s General Secretary, Igor Janushev. “MP Artan Grubi bragged that the form of the new name has already been agreed upon. The same person has publicly stated that the mediator will have offered additional ideas that he received, no less than from the Greek authorities. If it wasn’t tragic it would have been funny for the Macedonian representative to offer ideas received from Greek authorities. What is worrisome is the very fact that Grubi himself revealed that the biggest problem wasn’t only the form of the name, but the other part of the agreement as well that referred to the identity, the language, the nationality, the use and its translation. Who is lying to us? Is it Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrov who are saying that the identity is not negotiable or Artan Grubi and DUI when they say that an agreement concerning the identity, the language and the nationality is underway” asked Janushev. Macedonia and the Macedonian nation didn’t deserve to be treated this way by Zoran Zaev and the ruling party said the General Secretary of VMRO-DPMNE.
Russia wants its cooperation with Macedonia to flourish further (MIA)
The dialogue between Macedonia and Russia is characterized by sustainable partnership and friendship between the two nations spanning several centuries, Russian Ambassador Oleg Shcherbak said in Bitola attending an event marking the Diplomats’ Day. Russia, the Ambassador said, wants to see its cooperation with the Macedonian friends advanced further in all areas. “We are prepared to walk the road as far as Macedonia is prepared to go,” stated Shcherbak. In 24 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, there was not a single interference by the Russian embassy in Macedonia, not a single interference of Russia’s foreign policy in Macedonia’s internal affairs, the Russian Ambassador underscored. “I take this occasion to reiterate that we champion overall progress of our cooperation with the Republic of Macedonia in all spheres, in politics, economy, culture, in the humanitarian sphere. I would like to stress that we stand ready to further develop our cooperation,” Shcherbak said. February 10 is declared a national day in Russia to celebrate Diplomat’s Day, a professional commemoration day honoring Russian diplomats around the world. Traditionally, the Russian Embassy in Macedonia marked Diplomat’s Day in Bitola by laying wreaths at a monument dedicated to the Russian imperial consul Alexander Rostkovski, who was assassinated in Bitola 115 years ago.
Russian MFA on Strategy for the Western Balkans: Our principle is not “with us or against us” (Meta)
Russia sees no obstacles in developing relations with countries that want to become members of the European Union, and does not approach them with the principle “with us or against us,” said a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zaharova when she was asked to comment on the European Commission’s Strategy for EU Enlargement with countries from the Western Balkans, including Macedonia. Zakharova did not want to comment on the Strategy, pointing out that they, “should study it first” and then “share its conclusions”. “As far as our relations with both the Western Balkan countries and the European Union countries are concerned, they are of fundamental importance to us. We are developing relations with these countries, as well as with the integrative associations in which they belong”, said Zakharova, answering a question regarding how the Russian MFA assesses the European Commission’s Strategy and what impact it will have on Moscow’s relations with the countries of this region and with the European Union. She pointed out that Russia’s position has always been clear on this issue. “We, of course, set off from EU membership and the respective obligations of the countries of the Union, and we strive for harmonious development in several directions, both in the bilateral format and in the format of the Union. As far as those non-EU members are concerned and looking at their membership or closer interaction with the European Union, we see no obstacles in developing relations with them and we never force the question “you are with us or against us.” We are always for the harmonization of these relationships. We believe that practice and experience show that such a way is possible,” said Zakharova.
Over 64 percent of Macedonian citizens favor EU accession, 66 percent want NATO membership (MIA)
A poll by the Institute for Political Research-Skopje (IPIS) shows that 64.2 percent of Macedonian citizens favor EU accession while 66 percent want NATO membership.
Eighteen percent of respondents are against EU accession, while 17.8 percent are undecided. In comparison to the 2016 poll, 66.9 percent of Macedonian citizens favored EU accession, while 24.8 were against. Regarding NATO, 15.3 percent are against, while 18.7 percent are undecided. In 2016, 70.7 percent favored the NATO accession, while 21.4 were against. A total of 45.4 percent of respondents believe that relations with Greece will improve in the future, while 15.5 percent claim they will worsen. Asked about current relations between Macedonia and Greece, 20.9 percent say they are good, 31.7 percent-somewhat good, 26.3 percent-somewhat poor, 14.9 percent-poor. When asked about interpersonal relations between the two countries, 23.3 percent of respondents say they are good, 37.6 percent-somewhat good, 22.6 percent-somewhat poor, 10.2 percent-poor. The IPIS poll was carried out on a sample of 1,113 adults from Macedonia in the period between 16-21 December 2017.
Zaev-Yildirim: Turkey supports Macedonia for NATO membership, bilateral cooperation to be promoted (MIA)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev met Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Zaev kicked off late Sunday his official visit to Turkey accompanied by Minister for Foreign Investments Adnan Kahil, MPs Enes Ibrahimi and Jusuf Hasan and State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Viktor Dimovski. Zaev at the beginning of the meeting expressed his condolences to the victims in the fight against terrorism aimed at protecting the territorial sovereignty and integrity of the country. Both sides agreed that the fight against terrorism is an important issue for world peace protection, government’s press service told. Both prime ministers and delegations expressed preparedness to contribute towards creation of conditions for enhancing economic cooperation between two countries and boosting trade exchange. The launch of the joint committee between the two countries has been agreed, which will effectively address all the needs for better cooperation at every level. Zaev said minister without portfolio Adnan Kahil will head the committee from Macedonian side. Zaev said that all investments are important for our country, and Turkey is the sixth country in Macedonia according to the number of investments. We are prepared to create conditions for more investments, because there are interested investors. The meeting was also focused on possibility of facilitation especially in agriculture. “We expect progress in EU and NATO integration this year, and we expect this to have impact on increase of investments and better quality of life of the citizens,” Zaev underlined. At the meeting between two delegations, Zaev requested Turkey’s support for Macedonia’s NATO membership, while Yildirim said that the Republic of Turkey supports the Republic of Macedonia for this strategic goal.
Has Albania fulfilled the criteria for EU accession? (ADN)
Has Albania fulfilled the criteria for the opening of accession negotiations with European Union? The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs gave a positive answer to this question on Sunday.
The 2017 report on the progress of Albania’s integration process into the EU, handed over to the parliament, states that the country generally meets the requested criteria. This document defined the judicial reform as one of the deepest undertaken in Albania, while adding that the process of Albania’s legislation approximation with that of EU goes on. The report also underlines that vetting process implementation remains one of key elements for the opening of accession negotiations. May 18, 2017 agreement between Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition’s leader, Lulzim Basha is also mentioned in this report as positive contribution to country’s European integration.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Vucic Hands Files on Missing Serbs to Croatia (BIRN, by Filip Rudic, 12 February 2018)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic handed over files on Serbs who went missing in wartime to his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, as both pledged to resolve disputes that have heightened tensions.
On his first presidential visit to Zagreb on Monday, Aleksandar Vucic gave Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic about a dozen packages of files on missing Serbs from the Croatian municipality of Dvor, as they jointly pledged to resolve the issue of missing persons from the 1990s war.
The two presidents also vowed to resolve their continuing border dispute and to fix bilateral relations, which have remained tense amid repeated rows between Zagreb and Belgrade.
“I think Serbia and Croatia will have to have much better relations in the future, regardless of whether everyone in the political [establishment] wants to or not,” Vucic told media after their meeting. Asked whether Belgrade will also give Zagreb documents from the Vukovar hospital, where Croatians went missing amid a massacre in November 1991, and from Serbian prisoner-of-war camps in order to help locate missing Croatians, Vucic said that every assistance will be provided. Grabar-Kitarovic also said they had agreed to do everything possible to help resolve the issue of missing persons “as soon as possible”. “Of course there are many problems in that regard, since a lot of time has passed since the war,” she said. Serbia and Croatia also agreed to form commissions to try to resolve their border dispute in two years, and if they fail, they will launch an arbitration process. Belgrade and Zagreb are in dispute over their 136-kilometre border along the Danube. Serbia claims that the Danube should be the natural border between the two countries, while Croatia wants the border to be along the boundaries of the cadastral municipalities located along the river. Vucic also said that all Serbian officials will “have an obligation” not to insult Croatian officials for the next 100 days, regardless of what their Croatian counterparts do. “Some could say that was our job anyway. True, but it was hardly the case on both sides,” Vucic said. At the start of their joint press conference, Grabar-Kitarovic said that the recent tensions made her invite Vucic to Zagreb sooner than she wanted, and that she was happy that he accepted. Vucic and Grabar-Kitarovic also discussed the issue of minority rights in both countries, and said that progress has been made. After meeting the Croatian President, Vucic went to meet Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who has previously demanded that the issue of war reparations is raised with Serbia. Vucic will also meet Cardinal Josip Bozanic, head of Croatia’s Catholic Church, which is in a dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church over the beatification of Croatia’s WWII Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac. Vucic’s visit to Zagreb was organized after a period of tension and sharp rhetorical exchange between Serbia and Croatia. Several hundred Croatian right-wingers protested in Zagreb against Vucic’s visit.