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Belgrade Media Report 14 May 2018

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 14 May 2018
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: Serbians will have chance to declare themselves on Kosovo (Beta)
• Djuric: We are for compromise on Kosovo and Metohija, we don’t want unilateral solutions (RTS)
• Drecun: We do not accept Kosovo’s membership in the UN in exchange of ZSO (Radio Belgrade)
• Laketic: Results from Italy are basis for the work of our commission (RTS)
• Mihajlovic: Government reshuffle is not on agenda (RTS)
• KFOR could leave Kosovo (Novosti)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Covic: There is no room for changes to Election Law, now it is necessary to find technical models for holding of elections (Srna)
• Covic: Changes to B&H Election Law in this year are out of the question; B&H does not need foreign diplomats to say what will happen if the Election Law is not changed (RHB)
• They are asking for fair elections, and hoping for Inzko’s reaction (Nezavisne)
• There are two methods at disposal of B&H CEC when it comes to resolving issue of election of delegates in Federation of B&H HoP (TV1)
• Cormack: There are concrete and practical solutions for issue of electoral legislation (FTV)
• RS government holds urgent session on issue of influx of migrants (RTRS)
fYROM
• Solution to name issue in the hands of PMs Zaev, Tsipras (MIA)
• Opposition VMRO-DPMNE calls for urgent leaders’ meeting on name negotiations (MIA)
• Xhaferi: Language law to be published in Official Gazette at appropriate moment (MIA)
Albania
• Saimir Tahiri to face court on Tuesday (ADN)
• US Embassy welcomes security measure against Tahiri (ADN)
• EU supports Albania on fight against crime and corruption (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Serbia, a commission of inquiry on impoverished uranium (ANSAmed)
• Interview: Belt and Road Initiative features win-win for China, CEE – expert (Xinhua)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: Serbians will have chance to declare themselves on Kosovo (Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that the citizens of Serbia will have the opportunity to declare themselves on a solution for Kosovo. Vucic told a news conference in Belgrade with the Chair of the German Bundestag Committee on the EU Affairs Gunther Krichbaum that Serbia is ready for talks and a compromise, but not for blackmail and threats. “Citizens of Serbia will have the opportunity to declare themselves on what we think is a rational and compromise solution,” Vucic said.  He said he had seen the declaration by the Serbian Orthodox Church but saw no solution for Kosovo in it. “A solution means that we have a frozen conflict and are waiting for better times,” he said.  Krichbaum said Serbia is on the right path but added that the EU will not import unresolved problems. He said one of the possible solutions is to have a frozen conflict with Kosovo. “We cannot import unresolved conflicts. Cyprus was an example of that and we do not want it repeated,” he said.   Germany wants all sides to respect and implement agreements, Krichbaum said. “Serbia is on the road to the EU and that cannot be stopped if Serbia is determined to go down that road,” he added.

 

Djuric: We are for compromise on Kosovo and Metohija, we don’t want unilateral solutions (RTS)

 

In comment to the alleged talks of the Quint states on Kosovo and Metohija, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has told RTS that there is something in what the papers had been reporting that they are trying to coordinate their stands. “We should not have any doubts. All those countries agree absolutely on one issue, that Kosovo is an independent country for them. They can agree practically only on how and in what way to tighten the circle and create conditions to force Serbia to make concessions regarding the Kosovo issue,” noted Djuric. “We are for talks, for compromise, we will never accept imposed unilateral solutions and nobody should have any dilemmas on this,” said Djuric. Speaking about the stand of the Holy Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), Djuric says that he has enormous respect for the pastoral and spiritual experience of the church and that he would like to have seen in their proposals more concrete proposals of a solution, and not only pointing to the problem. “What we could see is that for example they are mentioning the issue of partition. I must say, nobody has offered to us partition of Kosovo and Metohija. Nobody has offered us at least one part of the territory of our province. I would like all stands to be as much as possible in contact with the reality of all important social factors,” noted Djuric. He adds that, if nothing else, the SPS representatives supported Serbia’s territorial integrity and preservation of integrity and this is good. “But, I am saying that it would not be good to create in Serbia an atmosphere where important social subjects will suspect implicitly each other with the relationship towards the Kosovo status. We are all on the same side, this is our one state,” says Djuric. “We saw the departure of Cedomir Jovanovic to Pristina, presentation of stands that are contrary to Serbia’s interests, when you go to Pristina and say that you support practically independence of Kosovo and Metohija at this moment; that you support membership in international organizations. As we could see, this was done by Cedomir Jovanovic and Sasa Jankovic, Djilas and many others,” says Djuric.

 

Drecun: We do not accept Kosovo’s membership in the UN in exchange of ZSO (Radio Belgrade)

 

The only acceptable solution for Belgrade is to reach a compromise with dialogue, said the Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun. Serbia will not accept the membership of the false state of Kosovo in the UN in exchange of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), Drecun told Radio Belgrade on Saturday. “Any kind of pressure or plan for Serbia to be forced to proceed contrary to defined ‘lower limits’ is simply condemned to failure. The stand of Western countries that recognize Kosovo as a state is such that they would want us to recognize this self-declared state and that it becomes UN member. All those reports that speak about some offers ‘something for something else’ is actually an attempt to show that Serbia is offered everything for nothing and this, of course, is unacceptable,” said Drecun. He says that we are offering to sit at the negotiating table and to reach a compromise solution for the final status of Kosovo, everything else is outside of what Serbia will accept.

 

Laketic: Results from Italy are basis for the work of our commission (RTS)

 

Members of the commission that will be dealing with the investigation of the consequences of the 1999 bombardment on the health of people and the environment will be from the ranks of Serbian MPs and it will report to the parliament about its work every six months. The plan to is for it to also propose some measures by 2020. Darko Laketic has been proposed as the president of the commission. He says that they will propose as members of the commission primarily doctors, but also other experts who can contribute to proving cause-and-effect links of bombardment with depleted uranium with the increase in the number of malignant diseases. The commission will also invite experts who testified before the Italian parliament, and the reports from Italy will also be the basis for the work of our commission since they managed to prove the existence of certain “institutes”. “At issue is the institute of qualified probability on the occurrence of the illness and on one very, very dedicated work of this commission. They examined, and interrogated hundred, two hundred people. Some are ill, some are in the top of the Italian army, some are in the top of medicine. This conclusion and scientific methodology through which they reached these results is of essential importance because precisely this scientific methodology and these results will be our starting basis for our further work with the formation of our commission,” said Laketic.

 

Mihajlovic: Government reshuffle is not on agenda (RTS)

 

The Serbian government should achieve results and be efficient, and its reshuffle is not on agenda, Serbian Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic has told RTS. Mihajlovic said that, if this topic is ever discussed, it will probably first be discussed within the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). “There is a president of this country and the biggest political party, and if a moment to discuss this ever emerges, I guess we will first talk within the party,” said Mihajlovic. According to her, what matters the most is that the government members are efficient.

 

KFOR could leave Kosovo (Novosti)

 

“The forming of armed forces is a decision of the Kosovo institutions, in line with constitutional procedures, while KFOR continues to monitor the debate on the future of the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF). In case armed forces are formed, the Alliance member states will individually decide on whether KFOR should remain on the territory of Kosovo,” KFOR commander General Salvatore Cuoci told Novosti, adding that at present NATO has no plans on changing or reducing its mission, which continues to perform tasks according to Resolution 1244 and the Military-Technical Agreement.

Does KFOR would train personnel of the existing KSF, i.e. is this also part of your mission’s tasks?

“KFOR within its mandate and tasks supports the development and improvement of the capacities of the KSF. This means the KSF should be capable of reacting in crisis situations and helping civilian authorities in case of emergency situations. The latest example is the drill ‘Silver Saber’.”

Does NATO support the unilateral independence of Kosovo?

“NATO adheres to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries in the region in accordance with UNSCR 1244 and the Helsinki Final Act. Official recognition of states is the exclusive and sovereign right of each NATO member state individually.”

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Covic: There is no room for changes to Election Law, now it is necessary to find technical models for holding of elections (Srna)

 

Croat member of the B&H Presidency Dragan Covic said that he sees no room for changes to the Election Law of B&H, and that now it is necessary to find technical models for holding of elections, in order to avoid post-election crisis. He reiterated that Croats want to have legitimate representatives in the Presidency of B&H and the House of Peoples (HoP) of the Federation of B&H. Covic said that during the meeting with B&H Presidency members in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it is necessary to find solution in order to avoid blockade. “It would be hypocritical, and even irresponsible, to talk about how we will be looking for solution in the Election Law in the next several months, after we did not want to do that in the last two years”, Covic said. It means, he added, that it is necessary to find technical path. Furthermore, HDZ B&H leader said that Bosniak side is obstructing the process. “Bosniak side’s tactics is to keep the status quo, so that they can once again elect two members of the Presidency of B&H. I think that it would be a catastrophe,” Covic said.

 

Covic: Changes to B&H Election Law in this year are out of the question; B&H does not need foreign diplomats to say what will happen if the Election Law is not changed (RHB)

 

Following the session of Croat People’s Assembly (HNS), Dragan Covic addressed the media and said that there is no point in discussing the changes to B&H Election Law on this year. He said that HNS session dealt with election activities and he deems that any kind of activity, concerning the changes to Election Law, is now impossible. He further noted that B&H does not need foreign diplomats to say what will happen if the Election Law is not changed and added that there is no point in discussing changes now, being that the state is brought into dead end street. “We are entering the process that we will adapt to. In this way we will go with different plan, we are launching project B. Implementation of election results remains to be open issue”, said Covic. He stressed that politicians acted irresponsibly and they started to search for solutions in last month. Covic noted that HNS clearly declared in favor of joint participation in elections and added that when it comes to HNS candidate for B&H Presidency the process will be launched today and will be completed shortly. Covic said that B&H is heading towards uncertainty and HNS is doing everything possible to avoid the crisis and will continue to do the same after the elections. He added that he is not even considering the option of guessing how some legal voids will be filled. “Election Law of B&H cannot be touched in this year. Any kind of activities concerning changes of election legislation in this year, are out of the question. For us this has no sense at all,” said Covic.

 

They are asking for fair elections, and hoping for Inzko’s reaction (Nezavisne)

 

Ten political parties in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which signed the protocol on fair and regular elections on Friday, stated that they will call on High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko to impose decision on changes to the B&H Election Law if the House of Peoples (HoP) of the Parliament of B&H fails to adopt those changes next Tuesday. Those changes, according to daily, are of technical nature and include scanning of ballots. The protocol was signed by SDP, DF, SBB B&H, Our Party, HS B&H, NSRzB, A-SDA, GS, Independent Bloc and the Independent B&H List. SDP B&H leader Nermin Niksic said that representatives of HDZ B&H and SNSD have not been invited to a meeting, because it is obvious that those two parties are blocking the adoption of changes to the Election Law of B&H in the B&H HoP; at the same time, after initial participation, SDA did not actively participate in the work of this informal coalition. Furthermore, Niksic said that representatives of the Alliance for Changes (SzP) did not attend the session because of the special RS Assembly session in Banja Luka. SDS’ Mladen Bosic said that he does not know anything about the protocol and that he is not sure SDS will sign it. Deputy President of HDZ B&H Borjana Kristo said that it is not possible to implement proposed changes to the Election Law, not just because of the lack of funds, but also because of the way changes were created. Kristo also said that she does not want to comment on calls for HR’s reaction. “I doubt that the international community will react”, Kristo said, and reiterated once again that it is not possible to implement technical changes to the Election Law. SNSD’s representative in the House of Representatives of the Parliament of B&H Dusanka Majkic said that the protocol once again demonstrates the lack of ideas and inefficiency of political parties in the Federation of B&H – because whenever they need solution to overcome problems, they are trying to make High Representative do their job. “It means that they have no capacity for any kind of decisions”, Majkic said, assessing shifting of responsibility to the HR as “shameful”. Leader of Our Party Pedja Kojovic stated that abovementioned parties signed the protocol because they are prepared to accept basic democratic principle enabling citizens to decide about the future of political parties in elections. DF leader Zeljko Komsic said that all political actors agree that adoption of amendments to the Election Law stipulating improvement of monitoring of election process is necessary to enable fair elections. President of HS B&H Bozo Skopljakovic said that technical changes to the election process do not affect vital national interest of any of constituent peoples in B&H. Skopljakovic stressed that in case B&H authorities fail to adopt these changes, HR should impose them.

 

There are two methods at disposal of B&H CEC when it comes to resolving issue of election of delegates in Federation of B&H HoP (TV1)

 

Member of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) Suad Arnautovic said that if an agreement on the amendments to the Election Law of B&H is not made soon by political leaders in B&H, B&H CEC will act in line with competences granted to this body by the Parliament of B&H through certain stipulations of the Election Law of B&H. Arnautovic underlined that it is an obligation of the B&H CEC to decide about the number of delegates in the Federation of B&H HoP elected from every canton in period after census is carried out in B&H. He explained that due to the fact the most recent census was held in 2013 and its results were published in the Official Gazette of B&H in 2016, the B&H CEC has full right to decide about the number of delegates in the Federation of B&H HoP. “This is one of methods we can use to resolve abovementioned issue. Another one refers to direct application of Article 8.3 of the Federation of B&H Constitution”, explained Arnautovic, adding that this article reads that at least one representative of every constituent people from every canton has to be elected to the Federation of B&H HoP if representatives of every constituent people are elected in cantonal assemblies. Arnautovic explained that this means it will be possible to implement results of the elections, despite the fact some of those participating in negotiations on changes to the electoral legislation claim otherwise.

 

Cormack: There are concrete and practical solutions for issue of electoral legislation (FTV)

 

US Ambassador to B&H Maureen Cormack commented on Saturday on meetings of political leaders aimed at reaching an agreement on changes to electoral legislation in B&H. Cormack stressed that it is possible to find solution for this issue, adding that it requires political will of country’s leaders. The US Ambassador noted that the EU has been working to engage an expert from the Venice Commission to participate in this process, adding that she believes talks on changes to the electoral legislation will resume in upcoming weeks. “I hope that you will call on all of your political leaders to achieve this goal, because there are concrete and practical solutions for this issue”, Cormack stressed.

 

RS government holds urgent session on issue of influx of migrants (RTRS)

 

An urgent session of the RS government was held in Banja Luka on Sunday. The participants of the session discussed the issue of influx of migrants to B&H. They concluded that conditions were not created for admitting these migrants anywhere on the territory of the RS. RS Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that the RS government will not accept any one-sided decision made by the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) that refers to measures that will be implemented on the RS territory. RS President Milorad Dodik also attended the session and said that the RS officials will do everything in their power to protect their citizens, their way of life and properties. The participants of this session concluded that additional police officers of the RS Ministry of Interior (RS MoI) will be engaged in protecting all border crossings. They will help the B&H Border Police in maintaining and protecting the B&H borders. The RS government has asked the B&H Presidency to dispatch units of the B&H Armed Forces, that will assure absolute control of the borders, alongside the B&H Border Police and the members of the RS MoI. The RS government believes that one of the measures that should be implemented is closing the borders for migrants and then dealing with those that are still in B&H. Cvijanovic stated that some data shows that in the upcoming period around 50,000 and 120,000 migrants are expected to come to B&H, so this problem needs to be carefully dealt with at this moment, to prevent any incidents. “We in the RS do not have the capacities to deal with such an influx. We do not have the funds, the accommodations, or any other resources that are needed so that these people would get proper care. There are many unresolved issues in B&H and many chances that were lost, during which some firm regulations should have been adopted, that regulate such situations. I highly doubt that this problem will be manageable and that there will be people who are equipped for dealing with this. To prevent such a situation, in which we are incapable of dealing with this issue, we should introduce measures of prevention of all the things that could become a big problem in the future,” said Cvijanovic. Dodik supported the conclusions of the RS government and added that those are measures that will protect all of B&H. “This is a huge test for B&H. If B&H is not capable of protecting the interests of the RS, then we most certainly do not need that kind of B&H. We will find a solution to defend ourselves from this influx and we have many opportunities to do so, nobody has to worry about us. We do not want for our population structure to change in the future,” said Dodik.

 

Solution to name issue in the hands of PMs Zaev, Tsipras (MIA)

 

Conveying the statement of the UN mediator in Athens-Skopje name negotiations, Matthew Nimetz, Greek media reported Sunday that now the solution to the matter is in the hands of Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras. “Tsipras-Zaev meeting: New window for Solution”; “Skopje issue: The Baton in the PMs’ Hands”; “Sounio revives ambitions for settling Skopje issue”, read some of Greek media titles about the meeting of Greek, Macedonian Foreign Ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov respectively, with UN mediator Nimetz, MIA reports from Athens. “The six-hour Kotzias-Dimitrov-Nimetz talks opened the way for a meeting of the Prime Ministers” Greek state-owned ERT reported. “Without a progress in the negotiations, a meeting of the two Prime Ministers wouldn’t have been scheduled” Alpha TV said in its central news program. After, according to Nimetz, productive Kotzias-Dimitrov talks in Sounio, the Tsipras-Zaev meeting in Sofia will be decisive for the name negotiations, the Greek Portal 24/7 says. The two countries are hoping to sort out differences over the name dispute that have soured relations for over two decades and blocked FYROM’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO, Greek paper Kathimerini says in its report on yesterday’s negotiation round in Sounio. “Athens and Skopje are reportedly examining a scenario whereby the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will be given enough time to approve a deal that will ensure that its name will be used ‘erga omnes’ – domestically and internationally – and to review its constitution. According to this scenario, FYROM will be immediately inducted into NATO and will begin accession talks with the European Union as soon as it meets these two key Greek demands,” Kathimerini reported.

 

Opposition VMRO-DPMNE calls for urgent leaders’ meeting on name negotiations (MIA)

 

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE called Sunday for an urgent leaders’ meeting, at which Primer Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov in the presence of President Gjorge Ivanov would brief on the details and pace of Skopje-Athens name negotiations. VMRO-DPMNE secretary general Igor Janusev told a press conference on Sunday that the party leader, Hristijan Mickovski, cut short his visit to Italy to attend such meeting. “Mickoski is already on his way to Macedonia. Decisions have to be made. We call for an urgent leaders’ meeting to be scheduled for tomorrow” Janusev said. Zaev, although a Prime Minister, is not entitled to make the decision on this key matter, he said, pointing out that since the last leaders’ meeting in January the party has no information on the aspects and new details of the name talks.

 

Xhaferi: Language law to be published in Official Gazette at appropriate moment (MIA)

 

Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi says he will send the law on usage of languages for publishing in the Official Gazette in a proper time. “Considering the fact that there is no deadline for this law to be published in the Official Gazette, I’ll decide when it should be done. After being published, other relevant institutions will be able to present their opinion on the law’s text, namely comment the public remarks,” said Xhaferi.

 

Saimir Tahiri to face court on Tuesday (ADN)

 

Former Interior Minister, Saimir Tahiri will face court on Tuesday. ADN learned that he will develop a hearing session in the Court of Serious Crimes. Just one day ago this Court decided to give “house arrest” as a security measure against him. In the same day, Tahiri will face even the new evidences that the Court has against him. Tahiri’s lawyers has declared that they will appeal the decision in order to remove the house arrest security measure.

 

US Embassy welcomes security measure against Tahiri (ADN)

 

The U.S. Embassy welcomed late on Saturday the progress made by Albania in its fight against organized crime and corruption. The reaction comes few minutes after Court of Serious Crimes gave the security measure ‘house arrest’ for former interior minister Saimir Tahiri. “The court decision to place Saimir Tahiri under house arrest is a sign that this important corruption case will be decided fairly and transparently in the courts. The arrest of Met Kanani in Turkey and 14 members of his criminal gang in Albania is a sign of the seriousness of the police and prosecutors to target organized crime. Finally, the arrest of suspected cocaine trafficker in Germany and his requested extradition to Albania is a sign that impunity is over for criminal bosses in this country. We applaud the difficult and courageous work of Albanian State Police, Serious Crimes Prosecutors and Serious Crime Judges,” reacts U.S. Embassy.

 

EU supports Albania on fight against crime and corruption (ADN)

 

The EU commends on Sunday the work of Albania’s law enforcement authorities and the recent positive developments related to investigation into organized crime and corruption cases. “While recalling that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental element of the right to a fair judicial procedure, the EU also expresses its expectation that the Albanian authorities firmly continue their fight against corruption and organized crime, which is essential for the advancement of Albania’s EU accession process,” shortly reacted the EU Delegation to Albania.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbia, a commission of inquiry on impoverished uranium (ANSAmed, 14 May 2018)

 

1999 NATO raid ‘unprecedented crime’, Vucic says

Belgrade – Serbia is to establish a parliamentary commission to probe the consequences of the use of impoverished uranium in airstrikes carried out by NATO in Spring 1999 during the Kosovo war, President Aleksandar Vucic has said, denouncing an increase in the cancer rate amongst children. Inaugurating a new oncological hospital in Belgrade on Sunday, Vucic described the NATO airstrikes as an “unprecedented crime”. “I had never fully believed those theories, but talking to doctors I learned that impoverished uranium has been the cause of numerous cancers and that the disease is more common among children whose parents were born in the 1990s,” Vucic is quoted by the media as saying. The commission will be assisted in its work by the report from a similar commission established in Italy, which took part in the NATO bombings and saw 4,000 of its soldiers serving in Kosovo develop cancer and nearly 300 die from the disease.

 

Interview: Belt and Road Initiative features win-win for China, CEE – expert (Xinhua, 13 May 2018)

 

BELGRADE — Infrastructure investments and other projects within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative are benefitting Serbia as well as the whole of Europe, an expert has said. Neven Cveticanin, a senior research assistant at the Institute of Social Sciences of Serbia, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the stable and fruitful bilateral cooperation helps improve Serbia’s economy and its people’s living standard, and also sets an example for Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries to strengthen their cooperation with China within the framework of the win-win initiative. In May last year, a Serbian delegation, headed by then Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and including several ministers, attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, during which several cooperation agreements were reached between the two countries. One of the cooperation achievements is the Pupin Bridge in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, over the Danube River. Funded and built by Chinese enterprises, the bridge is regarded as a friendship bridge between the two peoples, the expert said. “It is a useful bridge that links two parts of Belgrade. Vehicles and pedestrians are seen crossing the bridge everyday,” said Cveticanin. He referred to a steel mill in Smederevo, which kept the about 5,000 jobs after it was purchased by a Chinese company, as another major achievement of bilateral cooperation. The achievements are also visible on the streets in Serbia, the expert said. “We notice that more and more Chinese come to the country for tours or businesses and Chinese restaurants and goods are popular among Serbian customers.” The growing bilateral cooperation also provides the two countries’ scholars with opportunities to exchange views and learn from each other, said Cveticanin, who participated in a meeting of think-tanks from CEE countries and China last December in Beijing. The expert suggested that the two sides increase science and education cooperation within the framework of the initiative and promote engagement between universities and scholars. Cveticanin believed that the cooperation sets an example for CEE countries. “If Serbia-China cooperation can make such achievements and benefit their economies and peoples, this kind of cooperation can be a good example for other countries.”

 

 

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