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Belgrade Media Report 12 June

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LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic discusses attacks on Serbs in Kosovo with U.N. official (Beta)
• UNMIK will continue in Kosovo, say UN officials (B92)
• Djuric meets with U.N. representatives (Beta)
• Chepurin: Crimea is Russia; Kosovo is Serbia (Politika)
• Protests against fuel price increase continue (VIP)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Talks of political leaders on Election Law of B&H expected to continue this week (N1)
• SNSD’s Petrovic: SNSD, DNS and SP RS launch initiative for formation of joint Serb list in Federation of B&H (RTRS)
• Izetbegovic announces ‘purge’ in SDA’s membership; Bringing Kosovo and RS in connection is merely a message for the IC (Dnevni avaz)
• Dodik popular, Ivanic moderate (EuroBlic)
• Drivers block traffic in Banja Luka, Mostar out of protest against high fuel price (N1)

Croatia
• Dacic says developing good bilateral relations in interest of Serbia, Croatia (Hina)
• Deadline approaching for EU’s response to Slovenia’s complaint against Croatia (Hina)
Montenegro
• Support for reforms and upcoming membership (RTCG)
fYROM
• Agreement on Northern Macedonia, signing over the weekend in Prespa (MIA)
• Construction of Macedonia-Kosovo border crossing kicks off (MIA)
Albania
• Fleckenstein: Five key priorities have been fulfilled (ADN)
• Wadephul: Albania has not fulfilled priorities (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
• Greek coalition partner will not back name deal that includes term ‘Macedonia’ (Ekathimerini)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic discusses attacks on Serbs in Kosovo with U.N. official (Beta)

President Aleksandar Vucic met on June 11 with U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita.

Vucic welcomed the good cooperation with the U.N. and stressed the importance of UNMIK in ensuring peace and stability and the protection of the Serbs in Kosovo, but he expressed concern because of the frequent attacks by ethnic Albanians on local Serbs, according to a statement from Vucic’s office. The meeting was also attended by UNMIK Chief Zahir Tanin.

Vucic handed Keita a list of incidents registered in May as “evidence of systemic and serious violence against Serbs in the Province,” the statement said.

“Serbia believes the presence of UNMIK in Kosovo and Metohija is very important as the mission enjoys the most trust of the Serbs and other non-Albanian citizens,” Vucic said. He further said that Serbia was committed to participating in the collective security system, mentioning the increasing number of Serbian army and police personnel in U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Keita thanked Vucic on the engagement of Serbian personnel in U.N. peacekeeping operations. According to the statement, Vucic hailed the effort of U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres particularly in conflict prevention, noting that he believed a more coherent approach and the strengthening the institutional structure of the U.N. would ensure more efficiency in response to crisis situations.

 

UNMIK will continue in Kosovo, say UN officials (B92)

Ivica Dacic met on Monday in Belgrade with UN Secretary-General’s Assistant for Peace Operations Bintou Keita and Kosovo UN Mission UNMIK chief Zahir Tanin.

Representatives of the United Nations highlighted the importance of the contributions that Serbia, through participation in five United Nations peacekeeping operations with more than 300 members, provides for the preservation of peace and security in the world, the Serbian government announced.

They also “expressed determination to continue the presence and operation of the UN Mission in Kosovo and Metohija, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, as well as its commitment to preserving stability and building confidence among communities.”

Dacic “stressed the importance of the United Nations for the Republic of Serbia when it comes to the protection of territorial integrity and sovereignty, emphasizing the necessity of preserving UNMIK as a guarantor of status neutrality, in the unlimited scope and mandate, as well as Serbia’s determination to find a compromise and sustainable solution for the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.”

The Serbian foreign minister and fist deputy PM also “expressed readiness to continue the participation of the Republic of Serbia in peacekeeping operations in the framework of further contribution to collective security, as well as the determination to further enhance the cooperation of Serbia and the United Nations in the most important areas of the organization’s operations.”

 

Djuric meets with U.N. representatives (Beta)

Director of the Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric met on June 11 with U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita to discuss the problems of the Serbs in Kosovo, particularly a series of attacks against them over the past month. Djuric was concerned because, as he put it, there were more and more “threatening and aggressive statements” by the Albanian political elite in Pristina, which in no way contributed to creating a stable regional environment.

The Serbian government officials also said that the security situation in Kosovo required regular

meetings on Kosovo by the U.N. Security Council, adding that the international military mission, KFOR, remained a key guarantor of peace and safety for the Serbs in Kosovo.

Djuric also briefed the U.N. delegation about the Belgrade-Pristina talks.

The meeting was attended by Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office in Belgrade Simona-Mirela Miculescu, and head of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin.

 

Chepurin: Crimea is Russia; Kosovo is Serbia (Politika)

Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin has announced the possibility of his country getting “even more deeply involved” in resolving the Kosovo problem.

In an op-ed for the Belgrade newspaper Politika – and penned on the occasion of Russia’s Statehood Day – Chepurin said that Belgrade is, when it comes to Kosovo, about to face “ultimatum pressure from traditional Serb-haters” – and that Russia has been and will be on the side of Serbia.

“Our position remains unchanged – we will support that decision which Serbia and the Serb people will consider acceptable to themselves. We are proceeding from the Resolution (1244) of the (UN) Security Council forming the legal basis for an agreement,” the Russian ambassador to Serbia stated.

He pointed out that parallels are being made unjustifiably between Kosovo and Crimea, because these are “two completely different stories” – since Crimea separated (from Ukraine) “in accordance with the UN Declaration of 1970.”

“The Crime issue is definitely closed, Crimea is Russia, and Kosovo is Serbia. It’s not just a slogan, it’s the legal reality that must be respected,” Chepurin said.

Speaking about the good relations between Russia and Serbia, he said they date back to the emergence of the Russian state in the 10th century, and added that they are now based on relations of trust between the leaderships of the states, on economic ties, and the centuries-old cultural and spiritual unity.

 

The President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the citizens of Russia, national holiday of the Russian Federation. Vucic thanked Moscow for its support in matters which are essential and which represent the national interest of Serbia, primarily on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.

 

Protests against fuel price increase continue (VIP)

Encouraged by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s assessment voiced on Sunday that roadblocks in protest of rising fuel prices were allegedly politically motivated, i.e. that the opposition was behind them, ministers and other representatives of the governing coalition on Monday lashed out with full force at the opposition politicians, accusing them of a whole series of transgressions – from violating the Law on public assembly and endangering the freedom of movement of citizens, to an attempt to topple the authorities.

An incident was indeed registered at the protests on Monday that sporadically continued throughout the country

 

Protests were held on Monday around the country, however, fewer people took part in them than during the weekend, but there were still enough protests participants to stop the traffic in

many places for a short or longer period of time. All of them categorically denied that they were in any way instructed by the opposition parties or leaders. According to the interpretation of Serbian officials, however, one could get the impression that on Monday, as in the past days, there were many thugs on streets and roads across Serbia recruited by opposition parties with the intention of provoking chaos and tumble in the country – although it could not be so much far away from the truth.

Minister of Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic said that it was “a clearly organized protest by senior officials of opposition political parties.”

“That way they are trying to influence citizens who are not politically engaged. There is a clear background of road blockades, they are not hiding it, but on the contrary, they invite people through social media and party releases,” he said to the reporters, adding that “eight oppositionists with eight vehicles blocked (a Belgrade’s bridge

Of) Gazela.” The government is always ready to talk, but “no one from the street will dictate how the government will behave,” Stefanovic said, pointing out that the protests were a violation of the Law on Public Assembly and that, according to it, fines would be imposed for

interference with traffic. Stefanovic denied that readiness in the police was increased due to the blockade of streets and roads, as stated by the leader of the opposition Movement of Free Citizens (PSG) Sasa Jankovic.

“Everything takes place at a completely normal pace, which you can see on the streets,” Stefanovic said, adding that he believed that there was no need to convene a government session due to these protests, as Dragan Markovic a.k.a. Palma, the leader of the United Serbia (JS), a member of the governing coalition, demanded on Monday.

Stefanovic’s accusations against the opposition, however, were nothing compared to what others said on Monday, including a deputy leader of the governing Serbian Progressive Party (SNS),

 

Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin went a step further calling the protests over the increase in the price of petrol “a terror of a minority over the majority” in the organization of the opposition.

“Political parties are behind this, they support it and praise it as a lovely image of Serbia”, Vulin said for Pink TV.

The protest are also organized “in the same manner as in Ukraine in 2013”, he continued and said that “in the next couple of days there would also appear a photograph on which a driver of a truck or of an ambulance who is leaning out the window, will be offered a flower by a beautiful nice girl, which will be a symbol of the protest”, Tanjug reported.

“We had this in Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, where you also had police cordons. Luckily, our police will not form any cordons, it will take care about the respect of the law, it will not endanger anyone, it is showing maximum patience, and presence of

mind”, Vulin said.

 

Other representatives of the authorities decided upon a mix of political accusations and pathetic statements. “The automobile blockades in which there are babies, children and old people, especially in the great heat, endanger the lives of our citizens and this has nothing to do with the protests over the price of petrol, but rather with the introduction of chaos in our country”, cited in a written statement the Minister of Construction, Traffic and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic.

“Whether the price of derivates is high and whether the excises will be lowered, this will be said by the relevant ministries, but nobody has the right to block the streets and traffic since they are in that way endangering all the other citizens”, she stated.

 

Belgrade deputy mayor Goran Vesic made an announcement in a similar tone. Because of the blockade of the roads around Belgrade, the vehicles for delivering free meals were not able to reach the soup kitchens, he said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Talks of political leaders on Election Law of B&H expected to continue this week (N1)

Talks of political leaders on amending the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina B&H are expected to continue this week, through mediation of the international community (IC).

Chairman of B&H Presidency and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic considers that it will be difficult to reach an agreement, because there is a collision of two principles – one being a democratic principle according to which everyone has the right to run in the elections and to vote for whoever they want. In Izetbegovic’s opinion, this democratic principle has been confirmed in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)’s rulings in the cases ‘Sejdic-Finci vs. B&H’, ‘Pilav vs. B&H’, and ‘Zornic vs. B&H’. He underscored the need to implement these rulings.

On the other hand, the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) – which includes HDZ B&H – reiterated the rejection of a solution according to which the census of population from 1991 would be applied in the election process. HNS reacted to High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko’s recent interview for N1 in which the HR noted that the population census from 1991 should be used until the Annex 7 of the Dayton agreement is formally implemented. According to HNS’ reaction, Inzko “advocates violation of B&H Constitution and disregard for the B&H Constitutional Court (CC)’s decisions”.

The HR dismissed HNS’ allegations that this is a matter of violation of B&H Constitution, disregard for the CC’s decisions, or activities directed against Croat people.

Deputy Speaker of B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Borjana Kristo (HDZ B&H) stated that the B&H CC’s decisions should be the basis for regulating the manner of election of delegates in the Federation of B&H House of Peoples (HoP), and added that HDZ B&H will insist on legitimate election of political representatives in authorities.

 

Deputy Speaker of B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Barisa Colak (HDZ B&H) said he does not understand what is happening with Inzko, adding that Inzko “probably continued earlier practice of High Representatives”. According to Colak, only the census of population from 2013 can be applied in the elections.

HSS’ delegate in B&H HoP Mario Karamatic stressed he is interested to see how the census of population from 1991 will be applied, since many citizens no longer live at the same places.

Croat Party B&H (HS B&H) leader Bozo Skopljakovic criticized HDZ BiH and its leader Dragan Covic for not wanting to reach a compromise on the Election Law. Skopljakovic expressed HS B&H’s support to the use of the census from 1991, warning that HDZ B&H advocates “selective implementation of the CC’s decisions”.

 

SNSD’s Petrovic: SNSD, DNS and SP RS launch initiative for formation of joint Serb list in Federation of B&H (RTRS)

SNSD Secretary General Luka Petrovic told Srna news agency on Monday that SNSD, DNS and SP RS have launched an initiative for formation of a joint Serb list in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which can be supported by all political entities that are registered in the RS and that have elected officials in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Petrovic underlined that SNSD, DNS and SP RS expect absolute support of people in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but they also call on Diaspora to support this initiative. SNSD Executive Secretary for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Goran Broceta also noted that SNSD is open for a joint Serb list.

 

Izetbegovic announces ‘purge’ in SDA’s membership; Bringing Kosovo and RS in connection is merely a message for the IC (Dnevni avaz)

Chair of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic told MTV Igman that “purging” of personnel within SDA will continue before the upcoming general elections. Commenting on talks on changes to the Law on Elections of B&H, Izetbegovic said that he is afraid leaders of political parties will not manage to reach an agreement on this matter even after talks with experts of the Venice Commission. Izetbegovic explained that there are two conflicting principles, one basic democratic principle allowing everyone to run for any position or vote for whoever they want to vote for, while HDZ B&H’s stance is completely opposite to this because this party believes Croats have an exclusive right to be elected by Croats.

Izetbegovic also said that bringing Kosovo and Republika Srpska (RS) in connection is merely a message for the international community (IC) and he added that even Serbia is aware of the fact these are two unconnected matters. “This is a message for the international community that they will make problems with the RS in B&H if they pressure them too much to recognize independence of Kosovo”, Izetbegovic said.

Commenting the stance of the IC on B&H, Izetbegovic said that the international community got distanced ever since so called ‘April package’ (of constitutional changes) and police reform failed. He also noted that individual politicians will give up anti-state policy once they see it does not yield results and he assessed that Croats will be the first ones to give up on it. Izetbegovic also warned that there was not enough communication among pro-Bosnian parties and he reminded of poor relations he had with SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic.

 

Dodik popular, Ivanic moderate (EuroBlic)

EuroBlic daily analyzed main advantages and disadvantages of both political blocs in Republika Srpska (RS) and of each of the four key candidates for the RS President and Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency.

Political analyst Borislav Vukojevic said that the main advantage of candidate for Serb member of B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic (PDP) lies in the fact he carried out moderate policy in the past mandate and did not create any conflicts, while the other two B&H Presidency members Dragan Covic (HDZ B&H) and Bakir Izetbegovic (SDA) got in conflicts almost on a daily basis. “However, Ivanic’s biggest disadvantage is that he did not launch a single thing important for the RS in B&H Presidency”, Vukojevic said and added that it is redundant to speak about major political advantage of Ivanic’s opponent Milorad Dodik (SNSD) who has a strong political personality and enjoys support of people. “Nevertheless, citizens vote differently for B&H Presidency member in comparison to the RS President. Of course, there are many voters who will vote for each candidate of SNSD, but other voters might view his candidacy as counter-productive because Dodik’s policy in past ten years was based on development of the RS and neglecting of B&H. Now, suddenly, he is about to assume that post”, Vukojevic said. Vukojevic also assessed that the biggest advantage of candidate of the Alliance for Changes (SzP) and SDS for the RS President Vukota Govedarica is that he enters the race without the burden of past election defeats. At the same time, according to Vukojevic, Zeljka Cvijanovic (SNSD) gains an advantage from her current position of the RS Prime Minister but her disadvantage is that she was already defeated by Ivanic back in 2014 although everyone was convinced she will win.

 

Drivers block traffic in Banja Luka, Mostar out of protest against high fuel price (N1)

Another hour-long protest against increase of fuel prices took place in the streets across Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) on Monday, from at 17:00 to 18:00 hours. The protest included causing a general traffic blockade by turning off all cars in the streets for one hour with the aim to point to citizens’ discontent with constant increase of fuel prices. The protest was held in a number of areas including in Banja Luka and Mostar, but no traffic blockade was registered in B&H’s capital city, Sarajevo. Namely, the Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Interior (SC MoI) issued a warning to the citizens that they could be fined for disturbing the traffic flow. The SC MoI announced that alternative routes will be organized in case of new, illegal blockades of traffic. Representative of the Republika Srpska (RS) Association of Carriers of Internal and International Transport Nikola Grbic said in Banja Luka that carriers find the current fuel prices unacceptable as they cannot do business under such conditions. Grbic underlined that carriers warn that the fuel prices are high compared to the standard of living and they propose that additional levies in the form of road taxes should be introduced to foreign carriers. According to Grbic, it is up to B&H institutions to solve this issue.

 

B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic stated on Monday that protests and dissatisfaction are not surprising and such scenario was expected after increase of excise duties on fuel. According to Sarovic, only the Federation of B&H and RS Governments can influence reduction of fuel prices. He reminded that the Alliance for Changes (SzP) has warned that increase of excise duties on fuel will bring the increase of fuel prices but also the increase of prices of goods and services in B&H. Sarovic noted that the so-called excise coalition, i.e. SDA, SNSD, HDZ B&H and SBB B&H, were insisting on the increase of excise duties on fuel due to alleged construction of road infrastructure. “No one was thinking about consequences and I think that this is just the beginning of a process in which the situation will become even more complicated through drastic increase of prices, given the developments on the crude oil market. This will certainly affect the citizens’ standard and will have negative influence on B&H’s economy”, Sarovic assessed. He said that although the RS and the Federation of B&H Governments are trying to shift responsibility on B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) and B&H Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, the only thing for which his Ministry is competent is the issue of fuel quality and even in this field there are obstructions by entity authorities. Sarovic explained that only entities have obligation and competence for any intervention on the liquid fuel market in terms of prices, shortage or some other disorder, where only entity governments can influence the oil transport and storage costs and the level of various excise duties, road taxes and other taxes in line with the law. He stressed that all these levies are actually going into entity budgets, adding that not a single state-level tax can be reduced or annulled by B&H CoM.

 

Croatia

 

Dacic says developing good bilateral relations in interest of Serbia, Croatia (Hina)

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday, after many statements in recent months in which he attacked Croatia and Croats, that it was in the interest of Serbia and Croatia to develop good bilateral relations and seek common interests.

“It should certainly be in the interest of Croatia and Serbia to nurture good bilateral relations, at that no one should be expected to love anyone, it is rather the point of us looking to the future, and to resolve the problems which exist from the past”, Dacic said.

Dacic said that we needed to look ahead, that we should avoid that in which we have different opinions and look for a joint interest.

To the question of what was specifically done since the February visit of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Zagreb, Dacic said that he had come to show that Serbia wanted good

relations. As a positive step, he cited the agreement of the countries successors of the former SFRY achieved in May, on the sale of the residential apartment of the former Yugoslavia in New York, which is the first such case in the process of implementing Annex B of the Agreement on matters of succession which pertains to the division of diplomatic assets abroad.

“We have done something good, and this was that we together sold that building, the residence in New York. We shall await the visit of the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic”,

said Dacic, but was not able to answer the question of when this would take place.

“There were various ideas on this, Vucic and Grabar-Kitarovic discussed it during the last visit but we are always having incidents which draw us backwards. We are therefore telling you that we wish to move forward and are looking for joint statements. We do not need to agree on everything, we do not need to love each other, but we are certainly closer to one another than with some with whom we found ourselves in some European destinations”, he said.

 

Deadline approaching for EU’s response to Slovenia’s complaint against Croatia (Hina)

The European Commission would neither confirm nor deny on Monday that it would reply to a Slovenian letter about the Croatian-Slovenian border arbitration, the deadline for which expires on Saturday.

Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas answered in the negative when asked by the press in Brussels if a reply would be on the agenda of the Commission’s meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Asked if that meant the Commission would not reply to the Slovenian letter, he said that it did not and that the Commission could reply in writing. Asked if that meant the Commission would reply, Schinas again said no. We are in contact with both governments and when we make a decision, you will be the first to know, he said.

Slovenia on March 16 submitted a letter to the Commission, proposing a lawsuit against Croatia over its failure to comply with a border arbitration ruling, contending that Croatia was in breach of the EU law.

Before one member state can instigate proceedings against another, it must first put a proposal to the Commission, which has three months to reply. The Commission can accept the proposal, in which case it takes over the lawsuit. If it rejects the proposal or does not reply, the member state can file the suit at the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Croatia refuted Slovenia’s complaints in a letter to the Commission on April 17.

 

Montenegro

 

Support for reforms and upcoming membership (RTCG)

In the coming period, Montenegro will focus on rounding up the reforms in all chapters, with a special focus on the rule of law and with the full support of the EU, it has been said at the meeting of Montenegro’s main negotiator with the European Union, Aleksandar Drljevic, and the head of the EU Delegation in Podgorica, Aivo Orav.

Chief Negotiator Drljevic and Ambassador Orav, together with their associates, held the first meeting after the establishment of the European Integration Office.

As announced from the Government, they discussed the upcoming activities in terms of meeting the obligations from the negotiation process, as well as the financing of projects from IPA funds since the implementation of the projects is of the great importance in achieving European standards. An even more intensive and regular communication between the EU Delegation and the Office for European Integration has been agreed. The main negotiator emphasized they would work to improve cooperation with all other parties, especially representatives of the non-governmental sector and the media.

“In the coming period our focus remains on the chapters 23 and 24, but also on the implementation of activities in other areas in order to open other chapters and slowly start closing negotiation chapters during the Austrian presidency,” chief negotiator Drljevic said.

Orav congratulated Drljevic for taking over position of the chief negotiator, saying he was looking forward to continuing cooperation with a capable, strong and experienced team.

“The EU has provided a framework for Montenegro and all the countries of the Western Balkans. It is now up to you to do your homework, and we are waiting for you to become a member of the EU as soon as possible. We discussed priorities, it is clear that for Montenegro, priorities are Chapters 23 and 24. We also discussed financial support considering the fact that the EU gives about 35 million euros annually to Montenegro, “Orav said.

Representatives of the EU Delegation encouraged Montenegro to continue reforms on its path to the EU, assessing that so far the progress has been recognized and should be continued with same dynamics.

 

fYROM

 

Agreement on Northern Macedonia, signing over the weekend in Prespa (MIA)

 

Republic of Northern Macedonia is the name that has been agreed by two prime ministers, while the agreement will be made official this weekend, most likely on Saturday, the media claim.

“A deal could be announced even today,” said an unnamed government official. Tsipras and Zaev spoke on the phone yesterday for an hour, and said they would continue their conversation today. Then everything will be clear. After the final agreement has been reached, a joint statement for the Greek and Macedonian public is expected to be published.

The PM yesterday voiced belief that President Gjorge Ivanov would not put obstacles in the process. “I believe that Ivanov means Macedonia well and will not give Greece a reason not to send a letter to the EU and NATO,” stressed Zaev. This is, he noted, a historic opportunity. “We need to put Macedonia in the register of normal countries”. He added that the issue might end his political career, but he would nonetheless present his stance over a possible agreement, followed by a referendum.

“The issue is more than serious. The biggest responsibility lies with me and I am not running away from it. I will be the first to present my stance and citizens will have the opportunity to have a say at a referendum,” said Zaev. According to him, there are no plans for early elections, despite the opposition’s request. “I am convinced we would win at the early elections, but Macedonia will be on the losing side,” said Zaev.

He added that the referendum might be held by the end of September or the beginning of October, because all procedures would thus be completed by the year-end. “The EU elections take place in May 2019. Therefore, I think 2019 is not a year suitable for an agreement,” underlined PM Zaev.

 

Construction of Macedonia-Kosovo border crossing kicks off (MIA)

“We are laying cornerstone of the joint border crossing and we are literally laying cornerstone of the joint building of the two countries, which injects the whole project with an important political dimension of the exceptionally good relations between Macedonia and Kosovo constantly being enhanced with such projects”. This was stated Monday by Deputy PM for European affairs Bujar Osmani addressing a cornerstone laying ceremony marking the construction of the Belanovce-Stancic border crossing between Macedonia and Kosovo. Osmani noted the importance of the project for the local population both in the Lipkovo municipality in Macedonia and in Gnjilane, Kosovo, the Secretariat for European Affairs (SEA) said.

“The project will help the citizens of these two municipalities and those in the proximity communicate better, which in fact constitutes a basic precondition to increase trade exchange and economic cooperation between these regions. The project will also play a vital role in improving overall trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,” stated Osmani.

The Deputy PM pointed out other EU-funded, cross-border cooperation projects between Macedonia and Kosovo. Projects worth millions of euros are under way and in the coming period, over eight million euros are put at disposal for projects until 2020.

In addition to Deputy PM Osmani, the cornerstone-laying ceremony was attended by Kosovo Deputy Premier Enver Hoxhaj, Samuel Zbogar, EU Ambassador to Macedonia, Nataliya Apostolova, Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, ministers, mayors from Macedonia and Kosovo, etc.

 

Albania

 

Fleckenstein: Five key priorities have been fulfilled (ADN)

The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has published on Monday the report on Albania, which it will be addressed to the European Union Council of Ministers.

According to the reporter, Knut Fleckenstein, Albania deserves the unconditional opening of the accession negotiations, but on the other hand requires more cooperation from political parties to consolidate reforms in the country.

“Government attention should be focused on justice reform. I call for greater attention to be paid to political and public-private corruption. A persuasive record can only be achieved through proactive investigations, prosecutions and final sentences in corruption cases at all levels, including high-level ones,” said Fleckenstein. He added that another point to be prioritized by the Albanian authorities is the growing number of asylum seekers passing through Albania.

 

Wadephul: Albania has not fulfilled priorities (ADN)

Chancellor Merkel‘s CDU/CSU party’s number two, Johann Wadephul, reacted over the last political situation in Albania and the chances of opening accession talks. According to him, the EU priorities that would lead to the opening of accession negotiations at the end of this month, are not fulfilled.

“We want Albania to start membership negotiations as soon as possible, but it cannot happen at the end of this month. The condition for opening membership negotiations is that the Western Balkan countries fully meet the necessary criteria. This has not happened either in the judicial reform, in the fight against corruption, nor in the fight against organized crime. The Tahiri issue is a “big fish”. This issue is a real obstacle to opening negotiations,” said Wadephul.

Asked about the situation with the actual Interior Minister, he said that Xhafaj is in a conflict of interest.

“In my knowledge according to the presented facts and the law, the Interior Minister in this case, is in a conflict of interest. For its credibility to the Albanian people as well as to its European partners, the Interior Minister, who is responsible for establishing the rule of law, should be interested in a complete clarification of the issue. But this cannot happen if he remains on duty as a person involved. So we still have considerable suspicions if there is a political will to practice EU legal standards” said Merkel’s MP. He added that these obstacles are not major if there is a political will to steer away corruption and organized crime continuously, in order to respect and enforce law and order.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Greek coalition partner will not back name deal that includes term ‘Macedonia’ (Ekathimerini)

The head of the nationalist junior party in Greece’s left-led coalition government reiterated on Tuesday that Independent Greeks (ANEL) will not back any deal between Athens and Skopje on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that contains the term “Macedonia,” but also indicated that he will not put the fragile coalition at risk either.

Addressing a press conference in Athens on Tuesday, Panos Kammenos, who is also defense minister, said that while ANEL will not back a composite name with “Macedonia,” he and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras are maintaining “close cooperation on the issue.”

Kammenos added that it could be more than a year before Greek lawmakers are called on to approve any agreement reached between the prime ministers of the two countries, as FYROM will still need to put the proposal to the House in Skopje and to a referendum.

The current deal that is reportedly being discussed between Tsipras and his FYROM counterpart, Zoran Zaev, “will never be approved” by a referendum in FYROM or by lawmakers there, Kammenos said, suggesting that a breakthrough on the decades-old dispute is still a long way off.

Tsipras and Zaev spoke on the telephone on Monday in a discussion that was hailed as positive by both sides. A follow-up call that had been planned for Tuesday will apparently be delayed briefly as Zaev seeks to brief United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz on the latest developments, according to Skai.

Sources in the government, meanwhile, told Reuters on Tuesday that “a deal could be announced even today.”

Kammenos also took a swipe at the main opposition, calling on New Democracy to clarify its position on the talks. He further added that the parameters of the agreement currently under discussion are the same as those put forward by the conservative party’s prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, in 2007.

Meanwhile, the nationalist leader also took the opportunity to send a warning to ANEL lawmakers concerning the position they choose to adopt on the FYROM name talks issue, saying that “anyone who follows a different line will be automatically ousted from the party.”

 

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Belgrade Media Report 21 June 2018

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