Gratitude to Cyprus for principled position (RTS/Tanjug/Beta)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic assessed with President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiadis that the relations of the two countries are based on solid friendship, historical closeness and solidarity of the two peoples as well as full understanding and mutual support in protecting important national interests. Brnabic stressed that full membership in the European Union is a strategic priority for Serbia, and that our country appreciates Cyprus’ unquestioned support to our European integration. Anastasiadis reiterated that Cyprus has a principled position on the preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia. He stressed that Cyprus will continue to support the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the full implementation of the Brussels Agreement. Brnabic expressed her gratitude for the principled position of Cyprus, and stressed that Serbia supports and hopes to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, while respecting all relevant United Nations resolutions.
Mutual support of Serbia, Cyprus in defense of national interests (Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides, who, as a member of the delegation of the President of that country, Nicos Anastasiades, is visiting Serbia. Christodoulides said in Belgrade that his country would view the proclamation of Kosovo’s independence as illegal for as long as a
compromise solution was not found. At a news conference with Dacic, Christodoulides congratulated Serbia on its significant progress in European integration, adding that Cyprus wished to support and help that process. Dacic said the position of Cyprus regarding the nonrecognition of Kosovo’s independence was very firm and that Serbia was grateful to the brothers from Cyprus for consistently voting against Kosovo’s membership in international organizations. “The matter here is the principle that nobody must be allowed to jeopardize the territorial integrity of UN members with unilateral acts,” he said. Serbian citizens who would travel to Cyprus should respect the dignity and territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country and should not visit the northern part of the divided island, Dacic said. Serbian tourists should not be tricked by the offers of the tourist agencies that promised to enable them summer vacation in the occupied part of Cyprus, and agencies who would do this would be penalized, Dacic said. “We consistently insist on honoring of our territorial integrity regarding Kosovo, so I call all Serbs to spend their summer vacation in Cyprus, but also to honor the sovereignty of this country, and the agencies that misused that and our people, “well, even put our two countries in an awkward situation – these people should be brought back – will be penalized”, Dacic said. He said that Cyprus, as well as other members of European Union that have failed to recognize independence of Kosovo, were important for Serbia because of that view. “We are thankful to our brothers for sticking to this principle in all international organizations and voting against acceptance of Kosovo. This is not the matter of individual issue, but principles, not to allow any kind of unilateral action that would jeopardize a territorial integrity of the UN member. Thus, our relations with Cyprus are a priority,” Dacic said.
Dacic: People must be prepared for what will come (Tanjug/TV Pink)
Serbia will never recognize Kosovo but wants a compromise solution, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told TV Pink. It would be a great success if Serbia and Kosovo came to a compromise, because Kosovo is within the reach of realizing its independence, says Dacic.
Serbia is surviving thanks to its traditional friends, because the international community thinks of the Kosovo issue as being resolved and does not want to talk about it. “Even if somebody said there would be no EU membership, Serbia cannot accept the unilateral act of Kosovo. I wonder if everyone agrees with what I said. If they agree then let’s go along that path, rather than have them say tomorrow Vucic and Dacic lead a policy of confronting the EU,” Dacic said. He added that the people in Serbia must be well informed and prepared for what will come. “What will happen if there is an attack on northern Kosovo, are we all ready to react and participate? NATO said that if someone enters Kosovo, they will consider it an attack on NATO,” he said. He added that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbia had been greatly honored in Moscow on 9 May, and noted that Western countries do not look at that with enthusiasm. Dacic said he supports the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church that there should be no independence and no partition of Kosovo, but then wondered if this was possible and realistic. “Let somebody say how we will fight so that there is no independence – by suffering, by war or by refusal to enter the EU in the next ten years? The situation is very complex and everyone should think about it,” he said. Asked whether it is realistic to sign a legally binding agreement with Pristina by the end of the year, he replied this would be difficult to achieve because the positions remain very far apart. “The West is forcing Pristina to remain in the current positions. And when you mention delineation in the West, they will not listen to it. We need to be aware of the consequences of all our decisions,” Dacic said. According to him, Serbia’s only chance is the US administration, i.e., to explain to them that there can be no stability in the region unless a solution is found for Kosovo that will satisfy both Serbian and Albanian interests.
Brammertz calls for better regional cooperation (FoNet)
UN war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz told Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic on Thursday that Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia need to upgrade regional cooperation and the powers of their war crimes prosecutors. According to a Justice Ministry press release, Brammertz said the adopting of a national strategy for war crimes procedures and a prosecution strategy was a good thing but warned that more effort has to be invested in implementing them and starting new cases. Kuburovic told the UN prosecutor that Serbia is fully committed to processing war crimes, adding that regional cooperation is at a high level, especially with Bosnia. She said Serbia and Croatia had formed two commissions charged with war crimes and had exchanged lists of war crimes suspects. Kuburovic said the Serbian judiciary was ready to take over the case against Serbian Radical Party (SRS) officials Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic who were charged by the ICTY with coercing witnesses in the war crimes trial of their party leader Vojislav Seselj.
Brammertz also met with President Aleksandar Vucic who said that cooperation with the UN MICT would continue despite disagreements. “They concluded that current cooperation is satisfactory but that Serbia needs to speed up the implementation of its obligations and activities in arresting suspected war criminals,” a press release said.
Djuric: What were they thinking (TV Prva/B92)
The head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said on Thursday it was quite logical that conversations about Kosovo are being held in various places. This was Djuric’s comment on media reports that said representatives of five Western countries were meeting in Washington to discuss the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. He added that it was perfectly well known which countries support Kosovo’s independence. “It’s logical to have conversations on various sides. We have them in Brussels, under EU auspices. Various countries are consulting with each other. We are talking constantly to those countries that do not recognize Kosovo,” he told TV Prva. When it comes to the meeting held this week between Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Djuric stressed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Merkel twice in the past month and a half. “I’d remind you that Vucic, other than yesterday’s phenomenal reception in Moscow, in the past month and a half had two meetings with Merkel. For us these are great opportunities to present our position,” he added. Djuric said that the goal of the dialogue is to reach a compromise. “We are ready to make an effort to continue these talks, we inherited an abyss. The goal of these talks now is to save the situation,” Djuric added. He also commented on the case of karate competitors from Kosovo being unable to take part in the European Championship in Novi Sad. “I don’t know what the politicians in Pristina were thinking. That agreements don’t apply to Pristina, that they only apply to us? Of course, they do,” Djuric said.
Message of the Holy Assembly of Bishops on Kosovo and Metohija (spc.rs)
The issue of Kosovo and Metohija represents the Serbian church, national and state issue of first order. Our Church as a spiritual mother of our nation as a whole and Serbia as a state of the largest part of the Serbian people, to which the territory of Kosovo and Metohija also belongs, bear the biggest burden of responsibility for preserving this historical province of ours within the borders of Serbia and for the future of the Serbian people in it.
Kosovo is not a question either of national ideology or mythology, nor even only of territory, it is the very core of the church and people’s being and existence, without which we get lost in the
process of general globalization and secularization. Serbia’s prosperity cannot be built on disintegration of what represents the cornerstone of its identity, history and statehood. Serbia can therefore not accept the “alienation” of Kosovo, nor its partition, which would also come down to “recognizing Kosovo’s independence” nor giving away most of the province’s territory”, it has been added.
As regards the state-legal status of our state in Kosovo and Metohija, that is its full sovereignty and integrity, the Assembly reiterates the clear, several times voiced stand of the heads of the Serbian Orthodox church, His Holiness Patriarch Irinej: “We appeal on our statesmen that they must not give their consent for the alienation of Kosovo and Metohija, because what is taken by force can be returned, but what is given to someone that is lost forever, and the Serbs and Serbia must not allow this.” We sincerely hope, with the prayer to God, that the problem, firstly created with the armed riot of Albanian separatists, and later with the occupation of the province, will be resolved exclusively by peaceful means on the principles of justice and law. Peace is the necessary condition so the Kosovo and Metohija Serbs could live freely, without fear for their bare life and for justice to at the same time a just solution for the Albanians there and for all communities that live in Kosovo and Metohija. Preservation of Kosovo and Metohija as an integral part of Serbia, according to all international standards, and at the same time in accordance with the Constitution of Serbia and the United Nations Resolution 1244 does not mean confrontation with the world but the ascertainment of the stand that no stable long-term solution can be found without basic rights and freedoms of a nation, without its identity, spirituality and culture. Never, as now, have we had a greater obligation to witness with arguments, in every place and at every occasion, that a society of people with equal rights and freedoms is not built in Kosovo and Metohija, but a society that is contrary in all aspects to basic values on which democratic societies rest.
There is still in public the idea on the partition of Kosovo and Metohija betwween Serbia and the self-declared „Kosovo state“. Moreover, consiously or not, the fact is ignored that partition is nothing but recognition of the „independent state of Kosovo“ and giving away the biggest part of the territoy of the province. There is no example in world history that some nation in peace, two decades after the armed conflict, is giving away its property for its property. With partition, the people of a large part of Kosovo and Metohija would automatically be left to the mercy and non-mercy to the regime of the so-called state of Kosovo, exposed to the pogrom similar to the one in March 2004 or, under pressure and silent terror, would be forced to exodus.
We note that the difficult situation in Kosovo and Metohija is a consequence of systematic non-fullfilment and violation of Security Council Resolution 1244, which guarantees the return of expelees and freedom to everyone, regardless of origin. Persistent attempts of certain countries to build at all cost in Kosovo and Metohija a construction on quick sand have led to the situation that Kosovo and Metoija, under the authority of former KLA leaders, today, more than ever, represents a black hole of Europe and a precedent that threatens the disintegration of many countries throughout Europe and the world. What has been created on lawlessness doesn’t bring peace and a perspective to the Kosovo Albanians themselves.
Still uncertain whether Spanish PM will attend Sofia summit (Tanjug/B92)
Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chasa is reporting that Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy will attend an informal meeting of the European Council on May 16 in Sofia. However, it is not yet certain whether Rajoy will also participate in the EU-Western Balkans summit on May 17, BTA agency quoted the daily. The report also stated that Romania, Slovakia, and Cyprus, which, like Spain, do not recognize Kosovo, will participate in the summit.
B&H Presidency members comment on their meeting with Chancellor Merkel (TV1)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency members Bakir Izetbegovic, Dragan Covic and Mladen Ivanic met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday evening.
They discussed, among other things, the Election Law of B&H and the upcoming official visit of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to B&H that is scheduled for May 20. According to TV1, one of the conclusions that could be drawn from this meeting is that influence that Erdogan has over Izetbegovic is a “thorn in the EU’s eye”. Germany will not make any moves that will be harmful for B&H, but it will try to reduce Turkey’s influence in B&H. Izetbegovic stated that the members of the B&H Presidency explained their stances to Chancellor Merkel regarding the amendments to the Election Law of B&H and she offered her full support to B&H, as a friend, so that this matter is resolved soon and to everyone’s benefit. Izetbegovic stated that failure to resolve this issue will halt B&H’s progress on the EU path and B&H will not get a candidate status by the end of the year. Izetbegovic stressed that it is impossible to harmonize demands by Croat member of B&H Presidency Dragan Covic and the civic concept, but added that nothing is impossible with friends by their side. “It was said very clearly that Germany is ready to offer its experts and its views in this matter, but the key responsibility of solving this issue falls onto B&H leaders,” said Ivanic. Chancellor Merkel repeated that Germany fully supports B&H’s EU path and that B&H should take its responsibilities and obligations towards the EU very seriously. Ivanic confirmed on Thursday that changes to the Election Law were the main topic at the meeting. He said that SDA and HDZ B&H are responsible for the crisis, and added that the two parties cannot even agree on what is a problem or what the solution is. Ivanic noted that Germany is aware of possible danger, and expressed hope that they will be present in B&H in the following months. Commenting on the meeting, Covic stated on Wednesday evening that B&H Presidency delegation has left a realistic impression which shows that everything is being done with an aim to stabilize relations in B&H in order to avoid crisis in the country after the elections, amid the failure to timely amend the Election Law of B&H. He reminded that Merkel and her associates tried to be supportive in terms of finding of a solution for the Croat people to be able to elect their representatives in a legitimate manner. Following the meeting, Merkel expressed hope that reform process in B&H will be resumed. “It is necessary to conduct reform of the election legislation. We are slightly concerned with the fact this reform has not been conducted by now, because election date was already scheduled,” explained Merkel. Merkel will meet with members of B&H Presidency again on May 17 on the sidelines of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia.
Reactions of other B&H politicians to B&H Presidency members’ meeting with German Chancellor Merkel (Hayat)
Reactions of other B&H politicians to B&H Presidency members’ meeting with German Chancellor Merkel: Member of SBB B&H Presidency Damir Arnaut stated that if Croat and Bosniak members of B&H Presidency, Dragan Covic (HDZ B&H) and Bakir Izetbegovic (SDA) respectively, were not able to agree upon changes to the Election Law, there is no reason for bragging on progress of B&H. Arnaut stressed that HDZ B&H and SDA do not want to reach an agreement, because they want to base their election campaigns on mutual fears. “Role of Germany is always welcome. Germany is very present in this area and it can boost economy in both the EU and the countries outside, but current authorities of B&H are not able to use this,” he said. SDP Vice President Sasa Magazinovic stated that HDZ B&H and SDA do not want the Election Law changed, because they only see the opportunity in chaos, since they have no results of work. He said that begging the EU for membership is not the way to join the EU, but results of work the politicians were not able to present in Berlin. “Good news is that we have support from abroad, but bad news is that we are led by poor students without work habits,” Magazinovic said.
No result achieved at meeting related to resolving of issue of Mostar (FTV)
The city boards of parliamentary parties in Mostar continued on Thursday the talks on a solution enabling local elections in that city, but once again the failed to reach an agreement. Collocutors discussed legal and practical deficiencies of the Mostar City Statute and agreed to continue talks at the next meeting in 15 days. The only step forward in the talks so far is seen in coming down to three models of election of city councilors that suit all parties but these models also face conditioning. One part of the parliamentary parties prefers to discuss the model of election of city councilors and then to proceed to dealing with the City Statute itself. On this occasion, Chairman of HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) City Board in Mostar Damir Dzeba stated that HDZ B&H’s stance remains that the model for organizing the elections should first be selected and then it will be easier to amend the City Statute. Chairman of SBB B&H City Board in Mostar Anel Kljako said that he fears that SDA and HDZ B&H have made a deal to prevent elections in Mostar. Chairman of BPS City Board in Mostar Omer Micijevic assessed that the City Statute is in need of integral amendments, but this should be discussed at the next meeting on this matter.
Dodik: Abolition of RS Army is historic mistake (Fena)
Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik addressed the central manifestation of marking of 13th anniversary of 3rd Infantry Unit of B&H Armed Forces and 26th anniversary of the RS Army. Dodik said that today, peace is the most important thing and that peace has to be preserved at any cost. “With all injustice, historic and those that are happening to us, we have to preserve peace at any cost”, said Dodik. He stressed that former RS politicians made a huge mistake by accepting abolition of the RS Army, adding that this decision was made under pressure. “Huge, historic and unnecessary mistake of RS politicians, was accepting abolition of the RS Army as structure gained in Dayton and part of the Constitution”, said Dodik. He reminded of forming of the RS Army, adding that this Army did not attack, but it defended RS people. Member of B&H Presidency, Mladen Ivanic also addressed the central manifestation and said that authority representatives are obliged to create better conditions for B&H Armed Forces, to make them better equipped and to have better living standard. He said that it is necessary to turn towards future and peace and in order to do this, “we need to understand each other better”. Ivanic added that he, as well as people working in B&H institutions, is ready to work on this, but they demand respecting of the RS, its existence and Serb people. He noted that “we are ready” for compromise, agreements and joint future, but will know how to respond to every attempt to jeopardize right of the RS and Serb people to exist and to be acknowledged.
Representatives of 11 political parties sign Protocol on Cooperation for Fair and Regular Elections in B&H (Patrija)
Representatives of 11 political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Parliament have signed on Friday Protocol on Cooperation for Fair and Regular Elections in B&H. Out of 14 political parties, which announced that they will sign the document, representatives of 11 political parties attended it. SDA did not show up, because they were not invited after they failed to attend all meetings on this issue apart from the initial one. SNSD representatives were not invited either, while SzP and HDZ 1990 will sign the Protocol afterwards. The Protocol was signed by SDP, DF, Our Party, SBB B&H, A-SDA, NSRzB, GS, HS B&H, Independent B&H List and Independent Block. The Protocol promotes continuation of the struggle for adoption of changes to B&H Election Law, which envisages additional control of the election process by using modern, technological methods. SDP President Nermin Niksic stated that this is an informal group of political parties adding that there are no political agreements in this Protocol but the intention of signatories is to oppose election theft. DF leader Zeljko Komsic said that this is the agreement made in order to get the real image of what citizens want in elections.
Military barracks ‘Neretva’ in Kalinovik one of possible locations for accommodation of migrants proposed by B&H CoM (N1)
B&H Presidency has tasked B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) with urgent convening a special thematic session dedicated to the situation in the field of migration, given the increased influx of migrants to B&H. As announced earlier, B&H CoM Chairman Denis Zvizdic scheduled a meeting of the coordination board for migrants for Monday, when this topic will be addressed. The increased influx of migrants to B&H as part of B&H CoM’s information is also supposed to be discussed by B&H Parliament in the upcoming days. This information prepared by B&H Ministry of Security based on the report of B&H Ministry of Defense says that five military locations in the country, i.e. in Bugojno, Semizovac, Banja Luka, Kalinovik and Sarajevo, might be suitable for accommodation of 1,380 migrants. RS President Milorad Dodik said earlier that it is unacceptable that B&H CoM or any other joint, B&H institution proposes or passes a decision on accommodation of migrants on the territory of the RS and added: “We shall not allow that migrants are accommodated in Zaluzani in Banja Luka, near Kalinovik or in any other place or facility in the RS. None can pass a decision regarding this one our behalf”. He stressed that he will demand from the RS government and RS Ministry of Interior to transport all migrants, who are found on the RS’ territory to the Federation of B&H, where migrants have been received so far.
HDZ coalition partners to demand Minister Dalic’s resignation? (Jutarnji list)
After the publication of Economy Minister Martina Dalic‘s e-mails concerning Lex Agrokor, the Croatian Democratic Union’s (HDZ) partners in the ruling coalition on Thursday demanded an urgent coalition meeting. “After these e-mails… it is absolutely clear that urgent talks within the ruling coalition are necessary and it is absolutely clear that the ruling coalition can’t and shouldn’t carry the burden of something that isn’t and shouldn’t be its burden,” Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) president Milorad Pupovac told Jutarnji list daily. “On the other hand, the completion of a settlement can’t be jeopardized by how certain legal solutions to come out of the crisis were arrived at. What is positive can’t be further contaminated by what is negative,” he said, referring to the crisis in the Agrokor food and retail group and a settlement between its creditors. Italian national minority MP Furio Radin told media he too demanded a coalition meeting because of the new developments concerning Dalic. Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS) president Darinko Kosor told Jutarnji list he expected an “urgent investigation” by the State Prosecutor’s Office of those involved in drawing up the law on emergency administration in systemic companies, dubbed Lex Agrokor. The Croatian People’s Party (HNS) unofficially said, “If the e-mails are authentic, the authorities must react and Martina Dalic has to resign.”
Prime Minister: There was no time for different option in Agrokor (Hina)
There was no time for another option, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters who asked him if it was necessary to have the same people who drafted the so-called Lex Agrokor now implement the law and make millions, which is evident from the e-mails which Deputy Prime Minister Martina Dalic exchanged with consultants and lawyers during the process of drawing up the said legislation. “Had we had a year or two, we could have formed two, three task forces and make comparative analyses of insolvency laws. But we did not have that time,” Plenkovic said, reiterating that Martina Dalic enjoyed his full support. He said that the government, faced with the economic collapse over the problems in Agrokor, had assumed the political responsibility, as had Dalic and other experts included in the process. He once again dismissed speculation about a government reshuffle.
Croatia regrets US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal (Hina)
Croatia regrets the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, but remains committed, together with its partners in the European Union, to honoring the agreement and expects Iran to continue implementing and meeting all the obligations under the agreement, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Republic of Croatia regrets the withdrawal of the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Together with our partners in the EU, we remain committed to full respect for and effective implementation of the JCPOA and expect Iran to continue implementing and meeting all the obligations arising from the agreement,” the statement said. US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that the US was withdrawing from the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran to prevent that country from developing a nuclear bomb, adding that he would immediately impose economic sanctions on Tehran. “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will,” Trump said in a statement at the White House. The Croatian ministry said: “Along with key security aspects of the international non-proliferation architecture and of regional and European security and stability, the JCPOA has opened up space to strengthen relations with Iran in many other areas, creating opportunities for development of economic cooperation and trade for the benefit of citizens of the EU and Iran. In that regard, the Republic of Croatia considers it necessary to make an effort to preserve the opportunities enabled by the agreement and ensure protection of economic, trade and business interests.” It said that Croatia advocates dialogue with its EU partners “on the new circumstances and a common approach.” The ministry concluded by saying that the US remains Croatia’s partner and ally. “We expect further dialogue with them on this and other issues of common interest.”
Dimitrov meets ex-Greek PM Papandreou (MIA)
Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov held talks Thursday in Sounio with former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. ‘Inspiring meeting with Mr. Papandreou about the future of our two countries facing a historic opportunity to become close future allies! History is important. But we can only change our future’ said Dimitrov after the meeting. Dimitrov, on an invitation of his Greek colleague Nikos Kotzias, is taking part in the second meeting of Balkan and Visegrad FMs, which takes place in Sounio on May 11-12. Besides the standard format that includes the four EU member-states from the Balkans – Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, plus Slovenia – this year’s meeting also brings together the EU candidates Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, plus Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Visegrad Group is represented by Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Roth: Both sides ready to resolve name dispute (MIA)
“Unless the name dispute is resolved this year, the status quo will linger on for years,” Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, said during the press conference held together with PM Zoran Zaev on Thursday. Roth said that both sides were willing to make a mutually acceptable compromise, adding that despite the key role of UN mediator Matthey Nimetz the Macedonian and Greek governments were those leading the process. He pointed out the necessity of being constructive, creative and flexible, praising the positivity and creativity of both governments. “I see the light at the end of a long tunnel,” Roth said. “We salute the positive climate in the relations between the two countries. “We think both sides are willing to work out a compromise and resolve the name dispute. Germany is giving its full support to the resolution of this issue in the near future.” Roth advised against drawing red lines and said he was in favor of the government pursuing a dialogue with the opposition.
He also praised Macedonia’s progress in carrying out the reforms required for its EU-accession.
“The country’s climate has changed considerably,” Roth said. “However, the accession-related reforms need to continue so that Macedonia can stay on the right track. The EC recommendation is a result of your government’s efforts. Germany supports the European perspective of Macedonia and will follow closely its progress reports.” He said that upholding the rule of law was the duty of not only the government but also everyone in the country, including the opposition. “Independent legislature is crucial in the fight against corruption,” he said. “Citizens have to see results.” Roth congratulated the Special Prosecutor’s Office on its successful work and stressed the importance of restoring trust in the court system and the need to resolve the telephone tapping cases. He also congratulated the government on its agreement with Bulgaria and the improved relations with Greece. Zaev expressed his thanks to Roth for the German support. He described Macedonia’s progress during 2017 as a quantum leap from an oppressed country to a functional democracy built on the idea of a ‘single society for all’. “The clear and unconditional EC recommendation is proof of this. We remain completely committed to reforms, good neighborly relations, and regional cooperation,” Zaev said. “Our goal is to start negotiations with EU and receive an invitation to NATO in 2018.” “We are convinced that EU leaders have recognized the considerable momentum Macedonia has built up and that the time for our European perspective is now, this year. “We’d like to move forward to a more prosperous future, contributing to a stronger European Union at the same time,” Zaev said.
Dimitrov meets Roth (MIA)
Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, held talks Thursday on the pace of Skopje-Athens name talks and Macedonia’s latest activities on its road to the EU, NATO membership. Dimitrov highlighted the significance of German support of Macedonia’s bid to join the Euro-Atlantic organizations. He also extended gratitude to friendly Germany for its overall, substantial support of Macedonia thus far, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ‘Macedonia’s progress in building true democracy, also recognized by the European Commission’s report, offers a rare opportunity for the country to succeed. An opportunity we should all fathom and seize,’ Dimitrov said. Roth commended Macedonia’s reform progress and reaffirmed Germany’s staunch support of the country’s road to the EU, NATO membership. He also commended the efforts of Macedonia’s government to settle the name dispute with Greece.
Pendarovski: Macedonia under no threat even if NATO fails to extend invitation (MIA)
In spite of some catastrophic predictions, Macedonia’s challenge in the coming period, should the country fail to get an invitation to join NATO, will not be to maintain its territorial integrity and sovereignty, because there are no such threats, but to develop its democratic institutions and the economy, said National NATO Coordinator Stevo Pendarovski on Thursday. Pendarovski told debate “Macedonia’s challenges ahead of 2018 NATO summit” it is important to focus on the economic development, especially from the aspect of foreign investments, which obviously easily come in countries that are part of a broad and stable security system. According to him, Macedonia’s challenges are quite specific and no other aspirant country is faced with a similar problem. Navy Captain Gorazd Bartol, head of the NATO Liaison Office in Skopje, said it is encouraging to see the government organizing series of events observing the NATO Day.
“It is also encouraging to see an increased dynamic in the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Furthermore, I see today’s conference as part of the intensive efforts in highlighting the importance of Euro-Atlantic integration. We have achieved great progress, but there is still more to do,” said Bartol. The NATO Secretary-General told me, he added, to tell you again that the doors of the Alliance are open for you. “The open-door policy was established by the Washington Treaty and accession has been a story of success. Each enlargement round has resulted in stability and prosperity in Europe,” stressed Bartol. He said the example of Montenegro clearly demonstrates that NATO doors remain open. “During this difficult endeavor you will receive every support that NATO can provide. The Alliance wants to see your country achieving its aspirations and successfully integrating as a stable, secure and democratically prosperous state. I salute you and hope the objective of the country to become NATO’s 30. member will soon become a reality,” underlined Bartol.
Website www.nato.mk, which will release exact and timely information on Macedonia’s path towards NATO, as well as NATO-related news, was also promoted at the event.
Parliamentary session interrupted due to opposition protests (ADN)
One little action is enough for the opposition to block the Parliamentary Session. Opposition’s MPs protested immediately after Parliament Speaker, Gramoz Ruci prohibited the DP leader, Lulzim Basha to speak much more that regulation allows in Parliament. After he warned Basha to close his speech because his time ended, Ruci closed the microphone causing the opposition protest within this Thursday’s session. Democrat MPs gathered in the podium and urged for more time for Basha, forcing Ruci to interrupt session until the situation will be calmer. Democratic Party leader, Lulzim Basha accused on Thursday in Parliament the Interior Minister, Fatmir Xhafaj for helping his brother, to not be extradited in Italy where according to DP he is condemned with 7 years of jail. For Basha and the opposition, Xhafaj is really a ‘big fish’ and even a mafia family that changed the Penal Code to help his brother. These words were those that irritated Parliament Speaker, Gramoz Ruci to close the microphone to Basha. One day ago, Democratic Party published documents which show that Interior Minister’s brother has been sentenced to seven years in prison in Italy. MP Alibeaj said that Mr. Xhafaj’s brother has been sentenced in 2012 and he hasn’t served a single day, because he has lived in Albania. “It is a duty of the Interior Minister and of his dependents to find Xhafaj and arrest him,” sid Alibeaj. On his side, Minister Xhafaj reacted after the opposition’s declaration, saying that DP claimed to make a new discovery, when this cold case of year 2002 has been ‘recycled’ by DP over and over again.
“The court verdict the DP published has always been online, easily accessible. There has never been any request from Italy during my term, or during DP tenure in power, for his arrest”, Xhafaj said. Democratic Party promises that it will be public soon new fact against Xhafaj. Basha declared in Parliament this Thursday that new facts, political and criminal offenses of Interior Minister Xhafaj will be made public by this political force. According to Basha, Xhafaj made law changes only to help his brother.
Accession talks, President Meta urges for collaboration (ADN)
From Gjirokastra where he participated at the opening of the new tourist session, President of the Republic, Ilir Meta, had a comment for the opening of accession talks by the European Union. “If all will collaborate, we will have a positive recommendation by the European Council on June,” President said. According to him, Albania has all chances to receive a positive recommendation on June if all will contribute and collaborate in this issue and will fulfill the main requests made.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Ahead of name talks, German envoy upbeat on solution (ekathimerini.com, by Vassilis Nedos, 11 May 2018)
Talks scheduled to take place in Athens on Saturday between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Dimitrov, on the Balkan country’s name are expected to be pivotal, diplomatic sources say. The two men are to meet with United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz the day after a meeting of ministers from the so-called Visegrad Group and Western Balkan countries. Although no snap deal is expected, there are hopes for progress that will then be examined by the Greek and FYROM prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev respectively, at a summit in Sofia next Wednesday. Germany’s ambassador in Athens, Jens Ploetner, Thursday expressed his support for Greek diplomatic efforts to solve a longstanding dispute with FYROM over the latter’s official name, opining that the disagreement can be resolved despite the obstacles.
In a discussion with journalists from Kathimerini and other newspapers, Ploetner underlined the significance of Greece’s role as a stabilizing force in the region and emphasized the progress that Athens has achieved in UN-mediated negotiations with Skopje but also in bilateral talks with Tirana. Berlin is of the opinion that a solution would benefit all sides, particularly FYROM and its prospects for joining NATO and the European Union, Ploetner said. He also commented on Greece’s scheduled exit from its third international bailout in August, remarking that Athens will still have obligations even if the program is concluded successfully.
Organised crime in Montenegro on rise amid claims of gang links to government (The Guardian, by Shaun Walker in Podgorica, 10 May 2018)
Shortly after sunset on Tuesday evening a man approached Olivera Lakić, an investigative journalist, outside her apartment in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, and calmly shot her in the leg from close range. Lakić saw the silhouettes of three men fleeing the scene as she fell to the ground. A tourist paradise of mountains, canyons and an Adriatic coastline, Montenegro also has a serious problem with organised crime. For years the picturesque tranquility has been regularly shattered by car bombs and shootings, and in recent months there has been a spike in the violence. Lakić wrote investigative articles for the newspaper Vijesti about cigarette smuggling, claiming senior police officials were involved in an illegal counterfeit trade. She had received numerous threats because of her work and was assaulted outside her apartment in 2012. Vijesti’s executive editor, Željko Ivanović, who on Wednesday visited Lakić in hospital, where she is recovering, said: “It took her many years to get over that attack, and it was only in the last year that she had started smiling, being optimistic and enjoying her job again. “It was absolutely clear that this was a very professional attack. They could easily have killed her, but instead they wanted to send a message: to her, to all journalists in Montenegro, and maybe to part of the government as well.” Ivanović was joined in his hospital visit by US and EU diplomats, who urged a proper investigation. Montenegro’s prime minister, Duško Marković, ordered a “swift and efficient investigation” into the attack. But, as a rule, such cases have not been solved. For years, Montenegro has been riven by gang violence linked to lucrative drugs and cigarette smuggling routes. Usually the killings take place away from the tourist hotspots, but not always. In 2015 an alleged criminal boss was shot dead on the waterfront promenade in Budva, a coastal town popular with tourists. He was killed by a sniper, who shot him from one of the towers of the old town and made a getaway by speedboat. In March this year two people were killed in a drive-by shooting at a cafe in central Podgorica, and hardly a week has gone by this year without news of a shooting or car bomb somewhere in the country. There are persistent allegations that government figures are linked to the criminal gangs. The country’s president, Milo Đukanović, has been the most powerful politician in the country for nearly 30 years, leading it to independence from Serbia and into Nato last year. Đukanović also said EU integration was a priority, and the country hopes for accession to the bloc in 2025. Critics say Đukanović’s government is forgiven many sins because of his commitment to Nato and European integration amid western fears about Russian influence in the region. Montenegrin authorities said that in 2016 they thwarted a Russian-backed coup attempt aimed at toppling the government and killing Đukanović. “There have been 25 physical attacks on Vijesti journalists or premises in the past decade. And this is the country that is supposedly the most reformed western Balkan country and on its way to EU accession,” said Ivanović. Last month Đukanović attacked Vijesti for promoting “fascist ideas” by criticising his son’s business dealings. On paper the Montenegrin government has a programme to fight organised crime, but local activists say the reality is more complicated. “This state has never had a genuine strategy to fight organised crime,” said Daliborka Uljarević, executive director of a leading Montenegrin NGO, adding that elements of the government had been complicit in criminal networks. “This is not a tango you can dance on equal footing. It captures you, and once you play with organised crime you’re controlled by it.”
Journalists have also frequently become targets. Last month a car bomb exploded outside the house of Sead Sadiković, an investigative journalist who lives in the town of Bijelo Polje. Sadiković was at work preparing his weekly television broadcast when the bomb went off.
“There were many threats before that, and various provocations as well,” Sadiković told the Guardian. “I reported all of them to the prosecution, without any concrete results so far.” He blamed “politically motivated hate mongers who were irritated by my reporting” for the attack, adding: “I don’t know what the authorities will do, but I’m not very optimistic … whenever someone speaks out in Montenegro, bombs go off or noses are broken.” Omer Šarkić, a 55-year-old employee of the state pension service, who organised a protest in Podgorica last month after the bomb attack on Sadiković, said he was disappointed that only about 100 people went out to protest. “These killings affect everyone in Montenegro, we’re sitting here now and we don’t know if someone might open fire right now,” he said, in an interview at a cafe in central Podogorica. “It’s like a war. First it happens far away from the cities but now it’s getting closer and closer. Ordinary citizens are now in danger but nobody is doing anything about it.”
Šarkić blamed political connections to the killings for police inaction. “Montenegro is such a small country that everyone knows each other and we know who the criminals are, but the police apparently are the only people who don’t. The criminals are connected to the government and that’s why everyone is so quiet.”