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Belgrade Media Report 13 June 2018

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 13 March 2018

LOCAL PRESS

• President Appeals: Do not join the Army of Kosovo (MONDO, Tanjug)
• Vulin: Setting up Kosovo army is unacceptable for Serbia (Beta)
• Vucic’s Cabinet: We did not get a call for dialogue (Tanjug)
• “Angry at himself” for allowing highway blockade” (VIP)
• Vucic wishes happy Russia day to the country’s citizens, President (RTS, Tanjug, VIP)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Head of OSCE Berton: Crisis is not inevitable, Election Law can be resolved within an hour (Dnevni list)
• OHR stances are in collision with Federation of B&H Constitution and Election Law (Vecernji list)
• Federation of B&H Minister Vujanovic and fuel distributors agree on reducing fuel prices in Federation of B&H no later than by end of week (FTV)
• Protests over increased fuel prices continue in RS, RS Government to discuss this issue on Thursday (BNTV)

Montenegro
• They respect and value Vujanovic’s work (RTCG)

fYROM
• Zaev: No longer fYROM, the name Republic of Northern Macedonia has been agreed on (Meta)
• Zaev: Implementation of the name deal (MIA)
• Zaev refers to minority issue in name deal, possibility of early elections (MIA)
• Republic of North Macedonia with Macedonian language and identity (MIA)
• No one has the right to hinder Macedonian future: Zaev and Dimitrov tell Ivanov (MIA)
• UN’s Nimetz welcomes name deal (MIA)
• EU’s Mogherini: EU to open accession negotiations with Macedonia (MIA)
• Leaders and officials congratulate Athens and Skopje over name agreement (MIA)
• MEP Vajgl: Name deal opens Macedonia’s road to EU, NATO membership (MIA)
• Mickoski: Opposition VMRO-DPMNE views the name deal as ‘capitulation’ (MIA)
• VMRO-DPMNE’s Mickoski calls for urgent meeting with Ivanov and Zaev (MIA)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Greek PM faces domestic backlash over Macedonia name deal (Reuters)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

President Appeals: Do not join the Army of Kosovo (MONDO, Tanjug)

Foreign agencies are working, Aleksandar Vucic noticed and asked if they wanted “a Serb to attack a Serb”? Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that he had not seen any EU papers in relation to a binding agreement with Pristina, he had seen some other papers, which he rejected…

He says he also joins the Serb List appeal for Serbs not to enroll in the so-called Kosovo Army. As a response to a question from a journalist regarding the allegations that one of the EU countries requested an insight into the draft of the final agreement, prepared by the Union, Vucic answered: “I have not seen an EU paper, either as a draft, or as a suggestion, but I have seen some others that I have rejected. They have never shown it to me and I have not seen it,” said the president of Serbia.

When some paper arrives from Pristina, it is known that it’s not only from there, but when a paper arrives “from the other side of the Atlantic” – it is known that Europe was also involved…

“When something serious comes, I will notify you,” he told the reporters.

In relation to the announcement by the Russian Ambassador in Serbia for a possible participation of Moscow in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Vucic said that the talks are under the auspices of the EU and that, “as far as we are concerned, they can continue in the same format”. “But if somebody thinks that a dialogue of such high importance can end without US and Russian participation, is not looking at the real picture”, Vucic said, adding that, if Washington participates, it’s in Serbian interest to include Moscow, which does not recognize the independence of Kosovo.

“We are ready to continue the talks, but to reach great results, results that should mark our future with peace and compromise, the EU is necessary, but also the great powers; USA, Russia and China,” Vucic said.

Responding to a question on whether there are Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija who are enrolling in the so-called Kosovo Army, Vucic answered that he does have the information regarding this issue and that he joins the appeal directed by the President of the Serb List, Goran Rakic, which encourages Serbs to stop enrolling.

As he said, “they cheated the Serbs, offered them huge salaries…”

He added that a large number of Serbs in a village in the Novo Brdo municipality had enrolled, but that “we were working on it” and that many Serbs were in different armies when there should only be one army – the Army of Serbia. It is crucial, he emphasizes, that Albanians in Kosovo do not have any right to form a so-called army.

 

He underlined that when those who hate Serbia criticize him, he knows that he did something good and reiterated that foreign agencies of countries that recognized self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo are clamoring for “Kosovo to get a chair in the UN and for Serbia to get nothing.”

 

Vulin: Setting up Kosovo army is unacceptable for Serbia (Beta)

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin, who during a visit to

France met the country’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, said that a Kosovo army was unacceptable for Serbia, and that any disrespect for the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 could destabilize the region. The Serbian defense ministry quoted the French

minister as saying that her country respected President Aleksandar Vucic‘s policy and Serbia’s

neutral military status.

“I have underlined again that setting up a Kosovo army is absolutely unacceptable for Serbia, and that the move, contrary to Resolution 1244, might destabilize the Balkans. For that reason, Serbia, as a pillar of peace and stability in the Balkans, can say with certainty that it enjoys great respect from France,” Vulin said. The Serbian minister said that France was a friendly state, respectful of Serbia’s neutral military status. The two ministers discussed cooperation between

the two armies, as well as cooperation in the two states’ military education, the future and military staff of peacekeeping missions.

 

Vucic’s Cabinet: We did not get a call for dialogue (Tanjug)

President Aleksandar Vucic has not yet received an invitation for the continuation of the dialogue, stated the Cabinet of the President of the Republic. In addition to denying the allegation of Pristina television Klan Kosova that President Vucic, as well as Hashim Thaci, received a call for the continuation of the dialogue, allegedly for June 27, as the television reported. Vucic’s Cabinet reminded that he himself recently specified that the 27th and 28th of June are the date when he cannot travel to Brussels due to important obligations he already has in the agenda. Therefore, the information that the continuation of the dialog will be on June 27, is not correct.

The Kosovo clan announced that the dialogue will continue on 27th, that the actors have already received calls for that meeting and that it should mark a new phase of the dialogue, preceded by a meeting within the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, scheduled for June 24.

 

“Angry at himself” for allowing highway blockade” (VIP)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Tuesday that there is room to consider decreasing the price of diesel (which sparked frequent road blockades across Serbia these past few days) but that this won’t be the topic of discussion “as long as the violent protests of drivers last”.

“These protests will have to end, because no one will tolerate violence”, Vucic declared in Nova Pazova and added that he too bears “part of the responsibility” as he “asked” the government to

allow the holding of these protests on the streets. Vucic said that the price of diesel fuel could drop a little bit, but only because it is important for agriculture and transportation companies, not because he has to yield to pressure.

“I don’t yield to the pressure of Americans and I certainly won’t yield to pressure from the street”, Vucic declared Still, the Wednesday edition of daily Danas reports, quoting government sources, that PM Ana Brnabic opened “a what is for the time being an informal process” to lower excise on fuel, something that protesters insisted upon.

Danas reports that Vucic “ordered” interior minister Nebojsa Stefanovic to apply “mild repressive measures” if protests continue, in order to prevent traffic collapse.

The daily hasn’t even commented the fact that Vucic, as President, has no formal authority to give any kind of order to any government member. On the other hand, everyone in Serbia is aware that he makes all decisions and that the PM and the ministers obey his instructions.

Vucic said on Tuesday that protests were “violent and politically motivated protests” with a degree of violence “which was not seen in Serbia for ten years”. In spite of the fact that at all the protests only a single incident was recorded, and even that one was not entirely clarified, Vucic on Tuesday hysterically attacked the media who called this conflict an “incident”.

 

Vucic wishes happy Russia day to the country’s citizens, President (RTS, Tanjug, VIP)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wished a happy Russia Day, June 12 to the citizens and the president of the state, Vladimir Putin, also wishing them prosperity and well-being in the future.

Vucic read his letter to Putin at the Russian embassy, saying that the national holiday was

important to all Russian friends, too, as they respected the centuries of Russian statehood, the

eternal values of patriotism and commitment to freedom and independence, as well as the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of the Russian people.

“As your sincere friend, I’m very happy to see that Russia is a strong and independent state, which with you as the president, and relying on your vision and clear political thought, has been very successful. The new May decree is yet another confirmation that with the years of commitment and hard work, you have indebted the modern Russian state, contributing to political stability, the unity of goals and consolidation of society,” Vucic said in the letter.

The Serbian president also expressed his gratitude for Russia’s support to Serbia’s substantial national issues, primarily Kosovo and Metohija.

“Our firm relationship, built on mutual respect, understanding and trust, makes me confident that I can continue to expect your full support in strengthening bilateral ties and carrying out joint

projects, to which Serbia will give its full contribution as a reliable partner and a true friend,” he said. Vucic said that the Russian and Serbian peoples were bound by a true historical friendship, and that their mutual trust could serve as a good example to many nations across the world.

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin said on June 12 that the two countries were linked by 1,000 years of brotherly love and mutual understanding and announced support to Belgrade for “the most complex issues.”

“We will support Belgrade in the most complex issues, including preserving the sovereignty and

territorial integrity of Serbia. We know that the Serbs are a resilient people. We will support Serbia in looking for an acceptable compromise with Pristina. It is important to look for one without arrogant foreign pressure,” Chepurin said in Belgrade at a Russia Day reception.

At the ceremony in the Russian Embassy, he said that the reception had been attended by “a record number” of Western ambassadors and added that “this instills optimism.”

“We will develop our ties with Serbia with zest in the political, economic, military technical and cultural spheres. We will develop ties between cities and regions,” the Russian ambassador said.

He announced that all games played by Serbia and Russia in the upcoming World Cup in Russia would be broadcast on a big screen at the Belgrade Russian Center.

 

The reception was attended by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic, ministers Ivica Dacic, Nebojsa Stefanovic, Zoran Djordjevic and Vanja Udovicic, leader of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj, representatives of political parties, the diplomatic corps, Serbian Armed Forces, religious communities and others.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Head of OSCE Berton: Crisis is not inevitable, Election Law can be resolved within an hour (Dnevni list)

Commenting the last meeting with representatives of Venice Commission regarding changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Election Law, Head of OSCE Mission to B&H Bruce Beron told that it is not impossible to reach compromise. “Solution can be reached, even within an hour, if leaders truly express the will to reach the compromise. As it is the case with many other issues, it is very difficult to reach compromise in this country. Sometimes this is considered a weakness, especially during the election year. It is certain that citizens deserve honest and free elections. They also deserve forming of authority bodies after the elections. Citizens deserve nothing less”, said Berton. Asked about the “provisional solution” which was mentioned after the last meeting, Berton said that he is not informed about the details. “As far as we are concerned, it is not too late to reach a solution, especially for the posts which are not elected directly. I am familiar with the general stance that Election Law should not be changed during the pre-election period, however, I believe that it is not too late for the posts which do not refer to direct elections, such is the Federation of B&H House of Peoples”, said Berton. He argues that political leaders could reach a solution if they would make an effort. “International community wants to assist by enabling discussion, but will not impose solutions. In our opinion, it would be bigger damage if the possibility to make amendments to Election Law is rejected, than to agree on them later on, even during the election year”, said Berton. Ambassador added that failure to reach agreement could result in legislation paralysis, which is something that B&H cannot afford. “Not to say what kind of message this would send to the EU, having in mind B&H’s desire to join the Union”, said Ambassador.

Berton rejected an inaccurate, accusations coming from Croat representatives, who accuse OSCE of decreasing rights of Croats, stressing that from the first moment the OSCE focused on honoring of human rights of all citizens regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation, adding that they base their work on Dayton Agreement, ruling of ECHR and Constitutional Court of B&H. Speaking about possible OSCE concerns regarding possible lack of transparency in election process, being that technical changes of Election Law were not adopted, Berton answered affirmatively, noting that public has very little trust in implementing of elections. He also noted that nobody in B&H objects these improvements, but only carrying out of them.

 

OHR stances are in collision with Federation of B&H Constitution and Election Law (Vecernji list)

The HNS Main Council stated on Sunday that changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Election Law, as advocated by High Representative Valentin Inzko are pro-Bosniak and directed against Croats. This especially refers to stances regarding use of 1991 census in filing up of the Federation of B&H House of Peoples and insisting that every canton is to nominate one representative from each of constituent peoples, as this opposes the decision of the Constitutional Court, which erased such provision from the Election Law of B&H.

 

Secretary General of Croat People’s Council (HNS) Josip Merdzo argues that in this case, the OHR failed the consistency test, stressing that the Croat side is advocating stances based on the Federation of B&H Constitution, provisions of Election Law and they also referred to rulings of Constitutional Court of B&H and international conventions.

“Most notably, the Federation of B&H Constitution clearly defines authority levels where 1991 census is used… This refers exclusively to judicial and executive power. In transitional and final provisions, Article 11A is defining this”, said Merdzo, adding that he does not know why OHR claim that this also refers to legislative power.

Asked what the provisions read, Merdzo said: “That filling is applied in line with the last census. Election Law also reads that the House of Peoples will be filled in line with determined calculation by the new census. We have 2013 census and this provision exclusively takes this census as relevant”, said Merdzo.

Asked about insisting of Bosniak side and international community that Annex VII needs to be taken in consideration, Merdzo said that Annex VII is one of civilization goals and nobody is disputing it and this is the reason why judicial and executive powers are trying to fit into the old census. Stressing the fact that in many regions this composition differs from the 1991 census, Merdzo stressed that legislation bodies are not treated by Federation of B&H Constitution or other regulations.

Asked if the OHR is biased in interpreting of the CC rulings, Merdzo said that formally they have not seen OHR’s proposal, but they heard Inzko’s statements and it is clear that such stance differs from the CC ruling and provisions of the Federation of B&H Constitution.  “So, 1991 census cannot be applied on legislation bodies. The decision of the CC and provisions of Election Law, clearly refer to the last census. And then when you hear that the OHR advocates something else, it does not take long to conclude what this is all about” said Merdzo.

 

Federation of B&H Minister Vujanovic and fuel distributors agree on reducing fuel prices in Federation of B&H no later than by end of week (FTV)

Following a meeting with representatives of fuel distributors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) in Sarajevo on Tuesday, Federation of B&H Minister of Trade Zlatan Vujanovic held a press conference and announced that fuel price should be reduced as early as of Friday. Vujanovic said that the attendees of the meeting ruled out further increase in fuel price as unacceptable. Vujanovic claims that the Federation of B&H Ministry of Trade has received over 100 requests for correction of fuel price. Vujanovic explained that B&H distributors took into account the possibility of rationalization of their operating costs, as well as stabilization of global circumstances. Vujanovic stressed that the authorities have legal measures to sanction distributors who do not correct fuel price. Vujanovic reiterated that considering the number of received requests for correction, fuel price should be reduced on Friday. The fuel prices will be reduced thanks to decrease in trade margin. Vujanovic claims that the Federation of B&H Government has a solution in case of new increases, saying this would include introduction of measures of direct controls of price limitations.

B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic explained that, even though the Law on Excise Duties in B&H was adopted by the authorities at B&H level, it is up to the entity governments to decide on benefits and solutions as well as to limit further increase of fuel prices. “The state level does not avoid any kind of coordination in this regard, but responsibility is essentially on the entity governments” Sarovic underscored.

 

Protests over increased fuel prices continue in RS, RS Government to discuss this issue on Thursday (BNTV)

The Republika Srpska (RS) Ministry of Interior (MoI) has made an official request to the RS citizens on Tuesday to organize protests, in regards to the increase of fuel prices, in accordance with the laws and regulations. Any incidents and misdemeanor will be sanctioned by the RS MoI. The citizens of the RS stated that they do not fear any sanctions. For the third consecutive day, the Banja Luka citizens have blocked the entrance road into Banja Luka. The vehicles that participated in the protest made a several-kilometers long line. The participants of the protest stated that they will gather every day, until prices of fuel in the RS are reduced.

 

RS Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic stated on Tuesday that at Thursday’s session of the RS Government, the ministers will discuss the information submitted by the RS Ministry of Trade and Tourism in regards to fuel prices and their possible reduction. Cvijanovic stated that although everyone has the right to express discontent, it cannot be done in a way that will prevent other citizens to enjoy their rights. Cvijanovic underlined that recent increase of price of oil is consequence of prices at the world market.

 

Montenegro

 

They respect and value Vujanovic’s work (RTCG)

The support of former Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic to the United Nations Office in Montenegro and the contribution to peacekeeping missions are respected and truly valued, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. In his letter, he thanked Vujanovic for the cooperation between Montenegro and that organization during his term of office.

Guterres said that Vujanović’s support to the UN Office in Montenegro, as well as the contribution to peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Liberia and Western Sahara, is highly respected and truly valued.

He emphasized Vujanovic’s participation in the campaign “It’s About ability”, which, he said, changed the perception of children with disabilities in Montenegro and led to a significantly greater involvement of these children in regular education.

“It was a privilege to work with you and I hope our roads will cross again,” the letter says.

Albanian President Ilir Meta said he was pleased with the excellent and friendly cooperation he had with Vujanovic, both on his personal agenda and in terms of advocating and deepening friendly and good neighborly relations between the two countries and the people.

Hungarian President Janos Ader assessed that Vujanovic has significantly contributed to the improvement of the cooperation of the two countries in the past decade and that during his mandate, processes were taking place, which were of crucial importance for Montenegro and the wider region.

“As President, from the very beginning you played a prominent role in achieving Montenegro’s independence, in ensuring the conditions of independent development, that is, in strengthening the international authority of the state,” the letter states.

 

fYROM

 

Zaev: No longer fYROM, the name Republic of Northern Macedonia has been agreed on (Meta)

“The Republic of Northern Macedonia” has been translated into all languages, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev confirmed at a press conference this afternoon as a solution to the dispute with Greece. According to Zaev, Macedonian language, Macedonia is protected and strengthened “once and for all”.

“A name that is dignified, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, translated in all languages for overall use, is specified with an amendment to the Constitution, confirmation of the Macedonian language, Macedonian without a footnote, the nationality is Macedonian / citizens of Northern Macedonia”, Zaev said.He called for national unity and announced that the agreement will go to a referendum in the fall and then ratification in parliament.

“We have come to a historic centuries-old solution, and by resolving the dispute, we are building a friendship with Greece, which has never been greater. In our hands is the key to opening the European perspective. We are resolving two and a half decades of dispute which was pulling our country down. With the solution we strengthen the Macedonian identity. There is no FYROM anymore. We are recognized from the Republic of Greece. Our profit is priceless, a guarantee of security and a strengthened identity. The Republic of Northern Macedonia is envisaged to be for overall use, “Zaev said at press conference.

First, the agreement will be presented to all, and then signed by the representatives of the two governments.

“Following are letters from the Greek government to the EU and NATO that there is no name dispute and that there are no obstacles to NATO membership and a recommendation to start accession negotiations. We believe that in June we will start negotiations with the EU, and in July we will receive an invitation for full membership.

In the autumn, a referendum follows, on which citizens decide on the future. Citizens will be part of the future, let’s say yes to the Macedonian future.

After the referendum, Greece will ratify the agreement and protocol for NATO membership by the end of the year, “the prime minister said.

 

Zaev: Implementation of the name deal (MIA)

The international codes for the country remain MK and MKD, while register plates will change into NMK, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told reporters on Tuesday regarding the practical implementation of the name deal.

“NMK will be put on the register plates to avoid any provocations,” said PM Zaev, with the abbreviation referring to name Republic of North Macedonia.

According to him, the agreement will be valid once it is ratified by both parliaments, following the referendum and constitutional changes.

Regarding the way in which the new name is to be introduced for internal use, Zaev explained that it would be used as each EU accession charter is opened.

“The new name will be introduced through the opening of each chapter, no later than five years. For example, when opening the education chapter no later than five years, the diplomas from our universities will change. A part of the internal changes cannot be encompassed by the chapters, meaning that internal use will eventually apply by the country’s NATO full-fledged membership,” added Zaev.

He clarified that the ‘Macedonian’ adjective would be used for everything that originates from the identity and the language, while the new name would be official for all aspects related to state institutions.

“By accepting the constitutional revision and ratification of the agreement, this government will be the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, but we will speak of a Macedonian Government,” said Zaev.

Asked about Greece’s concessions in the process of negotiations, the PM highlighted the acceptance of the Macedonian identity and the Macedonian language.

“These are their concessions. We have separated the Hellenic and our Macedonia,” said Zaev.

He stressed on several occasions that citizens would have the final say at a referendum, which would be mandatory for state institutions.

Pertaining to the selection of adjective North ahead of the other alternatives, Zaev noted “there are ‘north’ countries, no ‘upper’ ones, while ‘new’ sounds as if we were created yesterday”.

 

Zaev refers to minority issue in name deal, possibility of early elections (MIA)

The change of Article 49 of the Constitution will unify the provision with the European practice regarding the country’s concern for the diaspora, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at Tuesday’s press conference over the name deal reached with Greece.

Asked if the agreement contained a provision that removed the constitutional wording for “protection of the Macedonian minority” outside the country’s borders and introduction of the article that exists in the Greek constitution regarding the diaspora, as reported by Greek media, PM Zaev said there is harmonization with the European practice.

“In this way we will specify the part regarding the concern for our diaspora across the globe, without irritating any neighbor,” he added.

The PM said he would like the Government to finish the full mandate, but added that if the situation called for early elections, they would take place in parallel with the name referendum or the presidential elections.

“Maybe in parallel with the referendum, maybe together with the presidential, but they also might be regular ones. I have presented my opinion that the full mandate should be completed. This is good for the economy and the citizens,” Zaev told reporters.

According to him, early elections have always caused problems for both the citizens and the economy.

“If things depend on other circumstances and factors, we are prepared for elections. Opinion polls are tempting for us. I am not saying this as a threat, but merely to highlight our sincere approach to the upcoming period. However, if circumstances point differently, the country’s interests come first,” underlined PM Zaev.

 

Republic of North Macedonia with Macedonian language and identity (MIA)

The Greek media has already published items from the alleged agreement regarding the name, reached by Macedonian and Greek prime ministers, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras.

According to the media, the name “Republic of North Macedonia” (for overall use) was agreed upon. The use of adjectives, such as Macedonian before words like “citizenship” and “language” will be preserved and are guaranteed. A special commission will agree on the use of trade marks by both countries. The Macedonian language will be recognized (with a footnote explaining that it is a Slavic language).

“Regarding citizenship, the term “Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia” will be used. According to Greek media, there will also be an explicit clarification that the citizens of that country are not related to the ancient Greek civilization.

 

No one has the right to hinder Macedonian future: Zaev and Dimitrov tell Ivanov (MIA)

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov met Wednesday with the President Gjorge Ivanov and briefed him about the deal reached between PM Zaev and Greek PM Tsipras. The meeting lasted only two minutes, ending with Zaev and Dimitrov telling Ivanov that “no one has the right to hinder Macedonian future”.

Ivanov announced that he will address citizens during the day following his two-minute meeting with PM and FM.

 

UN’s Nimetz welcomes name deal (MIA)

The United Nations mediator in Greece-Macedonia name negotiations, Matthew Nimetz, welcomed Tuesday a deal reached between the Prime Ministers of both countries, calling it a mutually beneficial solution for the broader region.

‘I would like to congratulate the parties for reaching a successful conclusion to the talks and for resolving the difference between them. I am certain that the agreement will lead to a period of enhanced relations between the two neighboring countries and especially between their people,’ Nimitz said in a written statement.

The UN envoy notified further that he was encouraged by the dedication of both governments to deliver mutual benefits for all their citizens through the establishment of a strategic partnership as a basis for intensified cooperation across all sectors.

“Above all, I want to congratulate and commend the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias, who have demonstrated leadership, vision and determination in the negotiating process and never faltered in their efforts to reach a mutually beneficial solution for their own nation but also for the broader region” Nimetz said.

Referring to his role in name talks, Nimetz said he was honored to have served as facilitator between the two parties and expressed his appreciation to the UN Secretary General for his unwavering support and great interest. He also mentioned his predecessor, the late Cyrus Vance, for his lasting contribution to peace in the region.

 

EU’s Mogherini: EU to open accession negotiations with Macedonia (MIA)

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, commended Tuesday the premiers of Macedonia and Greece ‘for their determination and leadership in reaching the historic agreement.’

“This achievement belongs to the leaders of the two countries and their teams, but first and foremost it belongs to all the citizens of both countries, and of Europe as a whole,” she said in a statement.

The negotiating process, under the auspices of the United Nations and the mediation of the personal envoy of the UNSG, Matthew Nimetz, and with the European Union’s strong support, is also clear proof of the power of multilateral diplomacy, dialogue, respect and willingness to find win-win solutions to even the most difficult of issues. Together, we must now make good use of the window of opportunity that has been pushed wide open to accompany and consolidate the winds of peace and cooperation in the entire region. The European Union perspective of the Western Balkans, reaffirmed recently at the Sofia Summit, remains the most powerful stabilizing force for the region, and we have an interest and responsibility to make good use of it. It was also a crucial incentive for this agreement, in the spirit of good neighbor cooperation, read the statement.

“We now look forward to the Council endorsing our recommendation of 17 April to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June. This is not only merited, in recognition of the considerable reform results of the country, but it will contribute crucially to the full implementation of the agreement in the interest of both countries, of the region and of our Union as a whole. The European Union encouraged and supported the negotiations from their very beginning. We will now accompany the next steps with all our means in the same spirit of dialogue for our common European future,” Mogherini said.

 

Leaders and officials congratulate Athens and Skopje over name agreement (MIA)

European Council President Donald Tusk extended congratulations Tuesday to the Prime Ministers of Macedonia and Greece over reaching an agreement on the name dispute.

“Sincere congratulations to PMs Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to you the impossible is becoming possible” reads the statement.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Tuesday the agreement on Athens-Skopje name dispute.

“I warmly welcome the agreement reached between Prime Ministers Tsipras and Zaev on a solution to the name dispute between Athens and Skopje. This historic agreement is testament to many years of patient diplomacy, and to the willingness of these two leaders to solve a dispute which has affected the region for too long. I now call on both countries to finalize the agreement reached by the two leaders. This will set Skopje on its path to NATO membership. And it will help to consolidate peace and stability across the wider Western Balkans” Stoltenberg said.

 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed Tuesday the name agreement between Macedonia and Greece.

“Skopje and Athens made history today. The 25-year-long dispute over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia separated the Macedonians and the Greeks. It is excellent news that both sides have now reached a solution and agreed over the name Republic of North Macedonia. This demonstrates what patience, reason and mutual respect can do. It was worth not to give up hope, to be in close communication and that both sides have always reached compromises in times of difficulty,” the FM Maas says in a statement.

He adds that the negotiations were long and hard, but the commitment and vision of the two prime ministers and their foreign ministers have eventually led to success.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate both governments for this historic agreement! I urge all political forces in Skopje and Athens to contribute to the implementation of this historic agreement. It strengthens good neighborly relations between the two countries and contributes to the stability of the Western Balkans. In addition, it removes the key obstacle for Skopje’s approximation to the EU and NATO” underlines German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

 

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Tuesday the agreement reached between the governments of Macedonia and Greece on the name issue.

“The agreement is opening the road to European, Euro-Atlantic integration of our neighbor. This is a real chance for the country to make progress and start the accession talks by the end of Bulgaria’s EU Presidency. Bulgaria has recognized the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name since 1992 and the new name Republic North Macedonia should not be considered as a basis for possible change of existing borders or aspirations towards neighbors, i.e. their language, culture, history and identity. Bulgaria will insist the two neighboring, partner and friendly countries to offer guarantees that these principles will be unequivocally voiced and confirmed in the agreement between them” Bulgaria’s MoFA said in a press release.

 

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati welcomed Tuesday the name agreement reached between Macedonia and Greece.

“Two progressive leaders of the neighboring countries made history today and showed the EU and the world how vision and willingness to overcome the past can find space for the future where it appears to be none! Hats off to Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras. The Balkans is today a better place thanks to you both” stated PM Rama.

FM Bushati congratulated both countries for the breakthrough agreement on the name issue.

“This paves the way not just for one country but for the entire region towards the Euro-Atlantic family. Despite all odds, diplomacy works!” stated Bushati.

 

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj have congratulated Athens and Skopje over the name agreement.

“I congratulate our neighbors in Athens and Skopje on reaching a historic deal on the new name for the republic. Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev and their citizens are to be congratulated. The renewed opportunity of NATO and EU integration helps also Kosovo and the entire Western Balkans” stated Thaci.

PM Haradinaj said the name issue resolution was great news.

“Congratulations to both Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras for the vision and persistence. Hopeful that all other remaining open issues in the Balkans will be resolved with the same constructive approach” stated Haradinaj.

 

British Ambassador to Macedonia Charles Garrett on Wednesday welcomed the agreement reached by the premiers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras on the Macedonia-Greece name dispute saying it would pave Macedonia’s way for integration into the EU and NATO. According to him, it is beneficial not only for Macedonia, but also for the region.

Ambassador Garrett, who signed today a cooperation memorandum with the Macedonian government, said he hoped Macedonia would get a date to open accession talks at the meeting of the Council of the EU, followed by an invitation to join NATO.

 

He referred to the statement of UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said that the agreement ‘took leadership and political courage.’ “I urge all political leaders in both countries to recognise the benefits that resolving this long-standing issue will bring,” he stressed.

Ambassador Garrett said it was important to point out all the messages of congratulations sent from London, Washington, Berlin, the top EU and NATO officials, etc.

According to him, these messages show the recent development of events has been overwhelmingly welcomed.

 

MEP Vajgl: Name deal opens Macedonia’s road to EU, NATO membership (MIA)

Ivo Vajgl, special rapporteur for Macedonia in the European Parliament, welcomed Tuesday the agreement reached by Prime Ministers Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, saying that it opens Macedonia’s road to the EU, NATO membership.

“The agreement reached by the Prime Ministers of the two neighboring countries, Greece and Macedonia, creates conditions for better, more productive relations, contributing substantially to the stability of South-East Europe. The negotiators of both parties and the UN mediator, along with the EU officials, deserve recognition for achieving the goal. The agreement on the name is now opening the door for Macedonia (Republic North Macedonia) to become a full-fledged EU, NATO member. The EU, NATO members should welcome the agreement as an opportunity for resuming the enlargement process towards all SEE countries” Vajgl said.

It is now vital, he said, for political parties and citizens of both countries to support the agreement.

 

Mickoski: Opposition VMRO-DPMNE views the name deal as ‘capitulation’ (MIA)

Opposition VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski has cancelled a trip, planned meetings for tomorrow and called on Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to immediately hand over to him the agreement on the name dispute with Greece.

“At the onset he (Zaev) was against altering of the constitution. Afterwards he accepted a geographic identifier to later on convince the citizens of Macedonia that a constitutional revision and the solution Ilinden Macedonia were confirmation of the identity’ Mickoski told a press conference on Tuesday.

Zaev, he said, wishes to ‘smuggle’ the agreement, as he as Prime Minister announced it earlier as a historic achievement.

“This is a rather exhibitionist behavior at the stake of own country. We demand for Zaev to urgently hand over to us the so-called agreement he intends to sign. This is not the right solution, but a capitulation” Mickoski said, pointing out once again that his party would not accept constitutional revision for changing of the country’s name.

 

VMRO-DPMNE’s Mickoski calls for urgent meeting with Ivanov and Zaev (MIA)

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski is calling for ‘urgent and extraordinary’ meeting with President Gjorge Ivanov and PM Zoran Zaev to go through the provisions of the deal reached by Macedonia and Greece on the name Republic of North Macedonia to be used both internationally and bilaterally.

Having already submitted a request for a meeting with the head of state, Mickoski said he still hadn’t received an invitation from Ivanov. “However, by the end of the day I expect to meet with both Ivanov and Zaev,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

The opposition leader called the agreement reached yesterday ‘a defeat of the Macedonian diplomacy’ and demanded that Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov should resign from the post.

VMRO-DPMNE, he said, won’t back changing of the Constitution allowing the constitutional name to be changed and the party will use all legal means necessary at a disposal against the agreement.

Mickoski fell short of revealing what kind of measures could be taken adding that the citizens would be informed about the party’s intentions on time.

Asked to comment on the fact that the deal had been praised by all key international actors and whether VMRO-DPMNE had changed its stance championing EU and NATO integration, Mickoski said the international community had been advocating for a deal to be reached without delving into the content of the document.

“The reaction of the international community is logical, but it is the people of Macedonia who will live with the consequences of Zoran Zaev’s capitulation move,” he stated.

In comments to the media, Mickoski denied that VMRO-DPMNE was under the influence of Russia. Speaking to reporters, he also said he had never met or communicated in any way with the leader of the Greek opposition, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Greek PM faces domestic backlash over Macedonia name deal (Reuters)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was accused on Wednesday of surrendering part of his nation’s identity, as a deal he struck to settle a name dispute with Macedonia prompted a barrage of criticism from opposition politicians and media. Under the agreement announced by Athens and Skopje on Tuesday, the Balkan state known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” would henceforth be called the “Republic of Northern Macedonia”.

The accord would open the way for the small nation’s eventual membership of the European Union and NATO, currently blocked by Greece’s objections to its current name.

But conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called it “deeply problematic”, because the majority of Greeks were against it and Tsipras lacked the political legitimacy to sign it.

“We are in a situation that is unprecedented in Greece’s constitutional history. A prime minister without a clear parliamentary mandate willing to commit the country to a reality which will not be possible to change,” Mitsotakis said. The accord requires ratification by both countries’ parliaments, and the junior partner in Greece’s coalition, the right wing Independent Greeks party, has said it does not back any deal that gives away the name Macedonia. That chimes in with the view of many ordinary Greeks, who feel the name implies territorial claims on a northern Greek province of the same name, the birthplace of national hero Alexander the Great. The name dispute has soured bilateral relations since 1991, when Greece’s northern neighbor declared its independence from former Yugoslavia under the name Republic of Macedonia. In a front-page editorial conservative daily Eleftheros Typos called the agreement “the surrender of the Macedonian identity and language,” while centre-right Kathimerini referred to “a deal with gaps and question marks”.

NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION?

Responding to the conservatives, Deputy Foreign Minister George Katrougkalos said the deal would put an end to the perpetuation of the name Macedonia as an identifier for the Balkan state.

“If they believe this (that the government does not have the legitimacy), they have the means … to question it with a no-confidence motion. Why aren’t they doing it?” Katrougkalos told Greek Skai TV. Centre-left daily Ta Nea newspaper said that, while the historian of the future would have the luxury of time to assess the deal, “until then one must keep in mind that there are no compromises without concessions.” Activist group The Committee for The Hellenic Identity of Macedonia said it would organise protests in Athens and northern Greece if the deal went ahead and urged lawmakers not to ratify it. “We peacefully assert that they have no right to sign (a deal) against Greek people’s will,” they wrote on Facebook. Mikis Theodorakis, who composed the music to the film ‘Zorba the Greek’, said the agreement would “stigmatize us forever” if it went ahead.

 

 

 

 

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