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Belgrade Media Report 14 June 2018

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 14 March 2018


• Serbian opposition accuses Vucic of preparing unrest in Kosovo (VIP)
• Brnabic: Vucic is fighting for the compromise and security of citizens (RTS)
• Vucic pleads with Germans to “hear Serbia out” (Tanjug)
• Czaputowicz: Both Serbia and Kosovo should be EU members (Beta)
• EP draft report calls for advancing rule of law, media independence, aligning foreign policy (Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik: 40 UK intelligence officers come to B&H masked into military unit and will be tasked to wiretap, monitor and draft information for media (RTRS)
• Ivanic too votes for path to NATO (Vecernje Novosti)
• Fuel prices expected to be reduced both in Federation of B&H and RS (N1)

• President wants to chair EU together with Prime Minister (Hina)

• Address of President Ivanov over Macedonia-Greece name agreement (MIA)
• Government: Citizens, not Ivanov, deciding on Macedonia’s future (MIA)
• PM Zaev: Government obliged to enable citizens to present their opinion on name agreement (MIA)
• FM Lavrov hopes name deal will be supported by the people of Macedonia and Greece (MIA)
• Joint press statement by NATO Secretary General and European Council President on solution to name dispute (MIA)
• Austria’s Kurz says sees clear prospect for Macedonia in EU (MIA)
• Slovenia’s President Pahor hails Macedonia name deal (MIA)


• Main opposition escalating attack on government deal with Skopje (IBNA)
• Macedonians Protest Against Name Deal with Greece (BalkanInsight)

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Serbian opposition accuses Vucic of preparing unrest in Kosovo (VIP)

Serbian President and leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Aleksandar Vucic is planning to cause unrest in northern Kosovo in the next few months to make the citizens of Serbia view the agreement with Kosovo, including its seat in the UN, with relief, Popular Party leader Vuk Jeremic said on Wednesday.

“We have already seen that scenario. Tighten, then light a fire and put it out and present it as a God given solution. That is how Vucic intends to get to a historic agreement,” Jeremic said. He said the preparations to cause unrest include the appointment to the post of Serb List deputy leader “the disreputable Milan Radoicic, a man who runs criminal activities in northern Kosovo in full cooperation with the Belgrade authorities and with their full support”.

“They will try to cause unrest so that the people will get afraid of a new war. That unrest should cause a situation among the public in Serbia in which any kind of agreement, including Serbia’s agreement for Kosovo to become a UN member, will bring relief because we have avoided the worst,” Jeremic said. He said that Vucic and his “ruling clique” are planning to sell out the people in what he said would be surely qualified as high treason in history books.

“We have to prevent him and we bear a huge responsibility. The SNS regime is holding Serbia in a state of de facto occupation” Jeremic said. He added that successive concession which run counter to Serbia’s national interests are being used by Vucic to buy international support to continue his “bandit repression” in Serbia.

“The international community is not criticizing the way in which Vucic is ruling Serbia because it expects him to resolve the Kosovo problem by the end of the year and he is planning to secure their support to remain in power for several more years, Jeremic said. SNS denies Jeremic claims: Jeremic’s claims of planned violence are a reflection of irresponsibility, political imagination and personal instability, SNS deputy leader Marko Djuric said on Wednesday. Djuric said that Jeremic and his party friends caused unrest in northern Kosovo in 2011 but abandoned the local Serbs for the sake of remaining in power.


Brnabic: Vucic is fighting for the compromise and security of citizens (RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic invests more than 80 percent of his time in finding a compromise for KiM, which will contribute to the security of Serbian citizens, as well as our population in the southern Serbian province, their right to life and work, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said.

“At least two are needed for the compromise, but now there are several factors. People in Pristina said that they do not have their own foreign policy, but that the US foreign policy is for them foreign policy” said Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. She says that for this reason she pointed out that it is also necessary to talk with US partners about the kind of long-term compromise that is needed, as well as with colleagues from Brussels who guarantee the Brussels Agreement, which has not been implemented for more than five years.

When Brussels pressed Pristina to implement the Brussels agreement in the area of ​​the Community of Serb Municipalities, then, they said that the ZSO is not important and that it will be the waste of time.

“You cannot do that. You have Serbia and a President who is making huge efforts and courage to leave the comfort zone and show that Serbia is ready for a compromise” Brnabic said.

She thus responded to the question of whether she believes that the pressure on Belgrade in resolving the Kosovo issue will be strengthened, and the process accelerated, given the accelerated process of resolving the relations between Greece and Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. However, the Prime Minister said that if we do not have another party that is responsible enough to implement what it has signed, then the other issues will not be discussed either. Brnabic said that she believes that talks will be difficult in the future, more difficult, as long as the Brussels agreement is not being implemented.



Vucic pleads with Germans to “hear Serbia out” (Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has asked Berlin to – before making decisions about Serbia – hear what Belgrade thinks and wants. Vucic said this on Wednesday in Belgrade, during the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the new building of the German embassy, that was also attended by the German ambassador, and German Ministry of European Affairs envoy Christian Helbach.

The President pointed out that “the easiest thing is to look back at issues from the past when we talk about the future, but it is necessary to think about how to change the country, to think about the children, and to know that work brings best results.”

Vucic said that, when Helbach speaks about the rule of law – he “could say that in many areas some EU members are at a lower level than Serbia, including the economy.”

But this, he continued, “is not something to brag about, nor would it be a satisfactory level.”

“We hope that the EU will leave the door open for Serbia because we want to be a part of the EU, but we also have to show determination to change ourselves and our own habits. Let’s escape from conspiracy theories and themes, think about how to change the country, think about the children and know that work brings best results,” he noted.

“We need to hear others out, as well as plead with others to hear us out. Before making decisions about Serbia, at least please show such respect to Serbia to want to hear out what Serbia thinks and wants, and the decision is, of course, up to you,” said Vucic.


Czaputowicz: Both Serbia and Kosovo should be EU members (Beta)

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz stated on June 13 that, besides Belgrade and Pristina, other countries should be included in the talks on the normalization of relations, adding that both Serbia and Kosovo should have a place in the European family.

“Other countries should join the talks on Kosovo, not just Serbia, and both states, Kosovo and Serbia, should be part of the EU,” Czaputowicz told reporters after the Second Belgrade Conference. He added that talks between Belgrade and Pristina were tough, burdened by emotions, but that the issue of Kosovo should not be an obstacle on the EU path, because the Union “creates new prospects for development.”


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated that, despite having recognized Kosovo’s independence, Poland had preserved a restrained approach, because it had not established diplomatic relations with Pristina. He said he had informed Czaputowicz about the course of the dialogue and about the fact that Pristina had not fulfilled its sole obligation from the Brussels agreement – the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

“Our path to the EU should not be burdened by Kosovo; we want a solution, but it should be a compromise,” Dacic stated. As for European integration, Dacic said it was not good that new conditions and problems were being presented to Serbia. Dacic and Czaputowicz assessed the relations between the two countries as good, with room for further improvement, especially in the economic sphere.


EP draft report calls for advancing rule of law, media independence, aligning foreign policy (Beta)

Serbia must align its foreign policy to the European Union’s and to bolster the rule of law, as judicial independence is not ensured and there has been no progress regarding freedom of expression and the media, reads a draft resolution of the European Parliament on Serbia.

The draft report by rapporteur David McAllister notes that the Serbian parliament is not fulfilling its role of oversight of executive authority and that work to normalize relations with Pristina, as defined in a future legally binding agreement, should be stepped up.

We invite Serbia to step up its efforts in the rule of law reforms, especially with regard to securing the independence and overall efficiency of the judicial system, reads the document, which Beta has reviewed.

The EP Foreign Policy Committee is slated to discuss the draft report next week in Brussels. With a note that judicial independence in Serbia has not been ensured completely, the document urges the authorities to bolster accountability, impartiality, professionalism and efficiency of the judiciary and to establish a system of legal aid.

The document calls on Serbia to align its foreign and security policy with the EU’s, including on Russia, and welcomes Serbia’s contribution to international peacekeeping operations and its constructive approach to the migrant and refugee crisis. The draft report praises Serbia’s continued engagement in the process of normalizing relations with Pristina and the decision by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to initiate internal dialog, but adds that work on a new stage of the dialog should be stepped up in terms of a comprehensive normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which must be defined in a legally binding agreement.

The document reads that concerns remain about the lack of progress in making headway in freedom of the press and expression and stresses that threats, violence and intimidation of journalists remain troubling. The document also welcomes the renewed effort to adopt a media strategy that should create a pluralist media environment.

The Serbian parliament still does not exert efficient oversight over executive authority, while the

transparency, inclusivity and quality of the legislative process needs improvement, the report stresses, also praising the reduction of urgent procedures in law adoption, though they remain frequent. Proceedings that limit the parliament’s capacity to discuss laws should be avoided, while the work of independent regulatory bodies like the ombudsperson should be supported, the draft report notes.


There has been certain progress in the fight against organized crime, but the fight against corruption needs a new push — the new law on the anticorruption agency must be passed quickly to improve planning, coordination, oversight and the enforcement of new laws and measures.

The document welcomes the dispatching of proposed constitutional reforms to the Venice Commission for review, and stresses the importance of the full implementation of the recommendations of this Council of Europe body. Before the proposal is sent to the parliament, there should be a comprehensive public discussion, the report says. Hailing the continued EU integration of Serbia, the document urges the authorities to actively promote this strategic decision to the public.

The report, which the EP should adopt in September, welcomes headway in developing a functioning market economy, securing economic growth and preserving macroeconomic and monetary stability, emphasizing that Serbia has made strides in resolving some weaknesses, especially through budget consolidation.


Bosnia and Herzegovina


Dodik: 40 UK intelligence officers come to B&H masked into military unit and will be tasked to wiretap, monitor and draft information for media (RTRS)

Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik stated for RTRS on Wednesday that 40 UK intelligence officers will come to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) masked into a military unit and claimed that they will be tasked to wiretap, monitor and draft information for media.  The EUFOR confirmed arrival of 40 UK soldiers to B&H, claiming that this is a minor, reconnaissance unit, while the UK’s ‘Times’ quoted UK Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson saying that soldiers will be sent to prevent the alleged Russian interference with the elections in October.  According to Dodik, there is no dilemma that the soldiers are military intelligence officers, whose arrival is hidden with the alleged needs of the EUFOR. In his opinion, certain individuals from the RS are wrong when they minimize the arrival of the UK soldiers. Dodik blamed Serb member of B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic of taking a passive approach in this case. Ivanic previously said that arrival of the 40 UK soldiers cannot jeopardize the RS. Commenting on Ivanic’s words given to media in the Federation of B&H that the authorities of the RS unnecessarily create the fuss and that SNSD is weaker than he thought if they are afraid of 40 UK soldiers, Dodik said that the RS does not need foreign intelligence officers. Dodik also raised the question whether the Presidency of B&H was informed about the request of the EUFOR command for reinforcement.

Dodik underlined: “They are members of intelligence service of a foreign country. Some people like Ivanic ask why are we afraid of that? No one is afraid. We are not afraid, but how is it possible that a member of BiH Presidency says that this is O.K.? This is definitely not O.K. The RS rejects this. This is obviously a part of the overall atmosphere of an attempt to secure that Ivanic and others pass to the joint level at the upcoming elections.”

Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov said that reinforcement of the EUFOR sends a wrong kind of message, as this makes the impression that the situation in B&H is tense. The reporter noted that the Ambassador left the thesis on the malignant Russian influence to the conscience of the UK Secretary of State.


Ivanic too votes for path to NATO (Vecernje Novosti)

Vecernje Novosti daily claims to have had an insight into a document of the US Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) dubbed ‘US Position on Membership Action Plan (MAP) Activation for B&H’, which reads that Serb member of B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic, together with the other two B&H Presidency members, voted for foreign-policy strategy of B&H which includes membership in NATO as a goal. The document also noted that the USA supports activation of the MAP for B&H in spite of the fact not all preconditions have been fulfilled yet and explained that the activation of MAP would weaken efforts of Moscow and Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik to block B&H’s way towards NATO.

The daily reminded that Dodik’s opposing to registration of military property in the RS to B&H, as one of preconditions, is the main obstacle to MAP activation. The daily also reminded that the RS adopted the Declaration on Military Neutrality, by which it practically blocked the process of Euro-Atlantic integration of B&H. Therefore, according to the stance of the US Embassy to B&H, it is necessary to neglect the set preconditions in order to bring Sarajevo closer to NATO and prevent “RS President Dodik to hold back B&H by his obstructions” by which he “encourages Russian malignant influence in the Balkans”.

The US Embassy to B&H concluded that postponement of MAP activation until after the October elections would not help their cause. Inset ‘They are looking at us’ – according to the document, members of Serb opposition parties in B&H “stated directly that it is necessary to activate the MAP as soon as possible” and also reminded that Ivanic said last year that hardly any representative of Serb people will vote for the membership in NATO for as long as Serbia is outside of this Alliance. He, however, urged NATO members in March to activate MAP without fulfillment of precondition related to registration of property.


Fuel prices expected to be reduced both in Federation of B&H and RS (N1)

N1 reported that the prices of fuel in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina remain the same and that finalization of the process of correction of the prices of fuel is expected to end until Friday.

Republika Srpska (RS) Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that the RS Government will present its stance on fuel prices on Thursday and possibly intervene. Cvijanovic added that there is room for intervention in certain situations, regardless of the open market and rules of market economy.

The RS Police prevented another attempt to block roads and traffic in the center of Banja Luka on Wednesday.  RTRS stated that the public in the RS is still in shock after a video that appeared on social networks showed people, protesting against increasing prices of fuel, checking an ambulance on a road. The RS Ministry of Interior stated that they are searching for two men, who took part in the incident and who will be adequately sanctioned. Commenting on this case, RS President Milorad Dodik told RTRS on Wednesday that this was shameful characterizing people who did this as hooligans. Dodik added that the RS Police will no longer allow blockade of roads, crossroads and chaos. He reminded that the RS authorities cannot influence prices of fuel, adding that every chance for decrease of the prices of fuel should be used. According to Dodik, even when the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia decrease prices of fuel, the prices of fuel in the RS will still remain lower by 10 percent compared with the Federation of B&H and 29 percent lower, compared with Serbia. He called on institutions of the RS to respect the law on public gatherings in terms of previous announcement of protests. Dodik added that those who failed to announce the protests should be held accountable. Dodik also called on citizens of the RS to believe in institutions of the RS and that they will do their part of the job. Certain media in the Federation of B&H and in the RS reported that the RS President characterized people who protested against increasing prices of fuel as hooligans. The Cabinet of the RS President denied the aforementioned claims, saying that Dodik referred to individuals who stopped and checked ambulance. The Cabinet of the RS President Dodik characterized the headlines as incorrect and tendentious, calling them to report about Dodik’s views on this issue in a correct way.




President wants to chair EU together with Prime Minister (Hina)

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Wednesday she wanted to contribute to Croatia’s upcoming chairing of the European Union instead of leaving the whole job to the government.

Under its constitution, Croatia is represented in the European Council by the president and the government, she told Croatian reporters covering her visit to Brussels. “I primarily leave the whole job regarding the European Union to the prime minister because that is something he is mainly involved in on a daily basis, but I too wish to contribute to the creation of the chairmanship because that is a matter of joint powers, notably when it comes to national security, immigration and all other foreign policy issues. I am confident we will cooperate. The government has the capacities and the know-how to lead this process, primarily in terms of technical details and policies. That’s something I won’t interfere in and will respect,” she said after talks with European Council President Donald Tusk.

During her two-day visit, she is also scheduled to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Grabar-Kitarovic told Tusk she was concerned about new migration trends and the new routes opening southeast of Croatia. She said it would not be fair to rely only on the member states on the EU’s external borders and that everyone should participate in solidarity.

They also talked about Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the President regretting that no progress had been made in amending its election legislation.

She welcomed an agreement between Athens and Skopje on Macedonia’s name, voicing hope that the country would be able to begin EU accession negotiations soon, together with Albania.

Grabar-Kitarovic said all issues with neighbors should be solved, including those with Serbia, as soon as possible and in parallel with the European integration process. Any interference by European institutions in Croatia’s border dispute with Slovenia would be counter-productive as that is a bilateral issue, she added.




Address of President Ivanov over Macedonia-Greece name agreement (MIA)

Full text of the address of President Gjorge Ivanov regarding the Macedonia-Greece name agreement:

“Respected citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, let me inform you that today for the first time I received the agreement reached between the prime ministers of the Republic of Macedonia and the Hellenic Republic. At the meeting I had this morning with Prime Minister Zaev and Minister Dimitrov, I told them that this is their personal agreement, their personal decision and their responsibility.

I told them that this harmful agreement means abandonment of the already built substantive state positions, which were confirmed at the last two leaders’ meetings. These are: non-alteration of the Constitution and non-acceptance of a name for overall use, or erga omnes.

Such a harmful agreement, which is unique in the history of mankind, is shameful and unacceptable for me. It violates the Constitution, the laws and it breaks the state institutions. I will not legalize political illegal agreements. The Government did not find strength and courage to build a common position and reach a national consensus. The whole negotiation process was carried out frivolously, irresponsibly and without transparency, as evidenced by the end result.

Dear citizens, The text of the agreement is defeating for the Republic of Macedonia.

It does not envisage only change of the constitutional name, but change of the preamble, as well as all the articles of the Constitution where the name and the terms derived from the name Macedonia are mentioned.

Is patriotism changing the preamble and deleting the state legal continuity of the Republic of Macedonia, the Krushevo Republic and ASNOM? Is patriotism deleting the article of the Constitution on the protection of the Macedonian minority in the neighboring countries? Is it dignified to inform all members of the United Nations that you have changed the constitutional name? Is it worthwhile to accept all Greek demands and ultimatums? Is it a leadership to accept a text of an agreement in which there is no legal certainty and guarantees for the Macedonian side?

Such an agreement opens up many issues and problems than it is supposed to close. Issues with incalculable consequences for the Macedonian state and the Macedonian people.

Greece managed to fulfill its maximalist demands. I strongly believe that what it did with the Macedonians in Greece, now, with this agreement, is trying to do with the Macedonians in Macedonia.

With such an agreement, the Macedonian identity is not strengthened, but rather, the already acquired rights in the United Nations are degraded. The covenant of our ancestors, those who created the centuries-old ideal and aspiration for our one and only Macedonia, is denied. The 73-year-old right of self-determination and statehood of the Macedonian people is being trampled; the 27-year-old history of the independent Macedonian state is erased. Everything that is sacred to Macedonia is trampled, and the unborn are deprived of the right and pride to be Macedonians.

The Republic of Macedonia is losing its sovereign equality arising from the Charter of the United Nations. I call on to stop abusing our strategic goals and commitments. The European Union and NATO should not be an alibi for a bad agreement which will cause unacceptable and detrimental consequences for the state and national interests of the Republic of Macedonia. Such an agreement does not unite the society, but additionally polarizes it.

As President of the Republic of Macedonia, as before, so in the future, I will work towards finding a solution that will not violate the dignity of the Macedonian people and the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. Finally, I call on the Macedonian people everywhere not to be afraid. Do not lose faith in yourselves. Keep and nurture our centuries-old ideal of insubordination. My position is final and no pressure, blackmailing or threat will make me change my mind. I will not support and sign such a harmful text of an agreement. Thank you.


Government: Citizens, not Ivanov, deciding on Macedonia’s future (MIA)

The Government regrets the fact that President Gjorge Ivanov failed to rise above his weakness and see the perspectives opening for the country following the agreement between Macedonia and Greece.

The Government press release came after Wednesday’s public address by President Ivanov, who said the agreement was detrimental for the country and would not sign it.

The Government says President Ivanov has no sense of responsibility and uses manipulation, thus harming the country, the citizens and acts directly against the strengthening of the Macedonian identity.

“Ivanov is not committed to finding solutions and is not investing efforts towards Macedonia’s NATO and EU integration, which represents the highest national priority for the citizens. Instead of putting brakes on Macedonia’s future and pushing the country into isolation, it would be best for Ivanov to isolate himself from politics. We are our own masters and this has finally been recognized by all neighbors, Greece and the international community. This agreement confirms and strengthens the Macedonian ethnic and cultural identity, once and for all times,” reads the press release.


PM Zaev: Government obliged to enable citizens to present their opinion on name agreement (MIA)

As responsible politicians we have an obligation at this moment to enable to the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia to voice their opinion on the agreement for settling the name issue, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Wednesday as he handed over the document to opposition VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski.

The long-standing name issue has prevented citizens for over 25 years to see a solution and have their saying on the matter, the PM said. This agreement vouches for the future of Macedonia as EU, NATO member, Zaev said, urging the opposition party to offer fair chance and let the citizens to have the final word on the deal at a referendum.

‘We should all work together to enable citizens to decide on their own future,’ Zaev said. PM Zaev also called on political stakeholders in the country to support the idea of a referendum for the sake of Macedonia’s strategic priorities – the EU, NATO membership, the government said in a press release.


FM Lavrov hopes name deal will be supported by the people of Macedonia and Greece (MIA)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he hoped that the deal over the new name of Macedonia would be in the interest of Athens and Skopje and that it would be endorsed by the citizens of the two countries.

“We have always said that we are in favor of finding a solution to this issue, without external interference and without some artificial conditions. We have been saying that we will support a solution that is in the interest of both Greece and Macedonia after securing overwhelming public support. I hope the deal reached yesterday is exactly that, Minister Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow alongside his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.

On his part, Kotzias said that Greece’s foreign policy was ‘active and democratic’. According to him, under these conditions the Greek government had solved the issue in order to end the long-running name dispute.


Joint press statement by NATO Secretary General and European Council President on solution to name dispute (MIA)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Council President Donald Tusk issued a joint statement Wednesday, commending the agreement reached between Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zaev Zaev on Athens-Skopje name dispute.

“We welcome the agreement reached between Prime Ministers Tsipras and Zaev yesterday on a solution to the name dispute. We hope that this unique opportunity to relaunch the wider Western Balkan region’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration will not be wasted. This agreement sets an example for others on how to consolidate peace and stability across the region” the statement reads.


Austria’s Kurz says sees clear prospect for Macedonia in EU (MIA)

Austria’s chancellor Sebastian Kurz says the resolution of Macedonia’s name dispute will help drive forward the country’s bid to join the European Union. Sebastian Kurz, whose country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in July, said Wednesday that Austria ‘sees a clear European perspective for the entire Western Balkans and, of course, also for Macedonia.’

Speaking in Berlin, he congratulated Macedonia and Greece on ending their decades-long dispute over the name, which is also used by a Greek region. Kurz said ‘this definitely ensures that it will now be possible to push ahead with Macedonia’s accession process.’


Slovenia’s President Pahor hails Macedonia name deal (MIA)

Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor lauded Wednesday the agreement between the governments of Greece and Macedonia to resolve the dispute about Macedonia’s name and pave the way for the country’s access to the EU and NATO. This agreement, Pahor said, could also stimulate a resolution of bilateral and multilateral issues in the Western Balkans. “The agreement promotes the peace, security and European prospect of the region” Pahor said.





Main opposition escalating attack on government deal with Skopje (IBNA)

Main opposition escalating attack on government deal with Skopje The landmark agreement Athens struck with Skopje to change the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Northern Macedonia has come under heavy criticism from the opposition to Greece’s SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government.

Main opposition New Democracy is expected to file a no-confidence motion against the government as early as Thursday. Party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has sought to pounce on the disagreement between the ruling coalition parties on the name-change deal.

After meeting with the President of the Hellenic republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday, Mitsotakis stressed that New Democracy rejects the agreement and will not vote for it. He argued that Tsipras lacks the political legitimacy to push through the agreement, since his coalition partner has made clear he will vote it down in Parliament. In this context, he called the President of the Republic to intervene and put the agreement to a vote in Parliament, before the government proceeds with signing it.

According to local media reports, the conservatives are also considering filing a motion of censure against the government. However, this attempt could prove unsuccessful, as ANEL leader Panos Kammenos has made clear he doesn’t intend to withdraw his support to the government, despite vowing not to back the deal struck with Skopje.

Prime Minister Tsipras defended in the agreement in a television interview last night, arguing that even if a censure motion is filed against the government, the Independent Greeks party will not bring down the government. “I see a deal where we only gain things, not give them away,” Tsipras told state broadcaster ERT.

Government sources rejected the opposition’s claims that it negotiated in secret with Skopje, ignoring the will of the Greek people, in order to make detrimental concessions to the neighboring country.

According to political analysts, the main opposition will seek to escalate its attack on the government, while taking advantage of the mass rallies being organized against the agreement with Skopje. Tsipras and Mitsotakis are expected to discuss the agreement in parliament in coming days.


Macedonians Protest Against Name Deal with Greece (BalkanInsight)

Roughly one thousand people rallied in the Macedonian capital Skopje on Wednesday evening to protest against the country’s announced name change and rejecting the historic deal reached with Greece the day before.


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