Vucic: Problems will be solved in peace, I’ll address nation (RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the solution between Serbia and Kosovo must be rational, and that all problems be resolved in peace. Vucic said that after talks in Brussels with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
He said that several things had been achieved on Sunday, and that they are very important for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.
“It was agreed that all the problems we have must be resolved in peace, respecting each other. This is very important for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, for all citizens of Serbia. We talked about focusing on dialogue, to show that we can talk and to work on solving open issues. I am not an optimist, but we have opened many questions,” Vucic told RTS.
“Our interest is to preserve national interests, but also our people, so that what happened to it in the 1990s does not happen (again), and that’s why we are trying to find a compromise solution,” he said. He added that a rational solution must be found, which will show respect for the other side. Vucic announced that he would address the nation in the coming period, when he sees whether there was a chance to make a compromise solution.
“I will not sign anything, instead we will go before the people. No one should be afraid of autocracy and decision-making without the support of the people,” he stressed. Vucic also said that he could not say now when he would go before the public, and that it will happen “when he has a picture in his head of what is possible, and whether there is any compromise at all.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Brussels, on June 24 that several things that are important to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija had been arranged, including the peaceful resolution of all problems, with mutual respect and the guaranteed security and safety of citizens. Vucic said that it had also been agreed to step up the dialog.
“Representatives from Europe will be coming to Belgrade, seen and unseen. We will be coming to Brussels more often, too, that is certain,” he said, Beta reported. He stressed that “all of the world’s great powers” needed to be involved in any compromise if the Serb and Albanian peoples agree with that compromise, because no one could make that happen without painful and good things for both peoples.
Mogherini on the talks: Intensifying of work agreed (B92)
The European diplomatic service announced that Federica Mogherini had met with Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci in the framework of the dialogue mediated by the EU.
“Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, hosted in Brussels a High-Level Meeting of the EU facilitated Dialogue with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci. The High Representative and the Presidents had an intensive and productive discussion on the framework of an agreement on comprehensive normalisation of relations between the two sides. They agreed to intensify the work in the coming weeks” reads the statement.
Dacic: The issue of Kosovo is not a done deal (RTS, Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that the compromise is necessary, in order to reach a lasting solution in the process of normalizing the relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
“If there is no lasting solution, everyone will lose. The obstacle to a permanent solution is Pristina’s attitude, not wanting a compromise” said Dacic.
Minister Ivica Dacic assesses that the serious talks are taking place and that the positions are still far apart. He stressed that both delegations understand the importance of continuing the dialogue, and also expects Pristina to realize that it is necessary for the cold heads to think about finding a lasting solution that would help achieve reconciliation, regional peace and stability, economic development and the progress in the process of European integration.
“Serbia sticks to the position it has advocated from the beginning, which is that we want to continue the dialogue and achieve the lasting solution which is based on a compromise. The way to reach a compromise is certainly more difficult when one party ultimately insists on its position.” We expect the Pristina side to understand that the issue of Kosovo is not a done deal” Dacic said. He said that the international circumstances and the understanding of the Kosovo problem throughout the world has changed.
Dacic assessed that Pristina is acting badly because it is not creating the preparation for the compromise and it is sending the message as till when the talks will be held, as Tachi did earlier, “forecasting” that the deal will be completed by the end of March next year.
“If we want a compromise, we are ready. If one insists that Serbia accept the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, then we should not waste time” Dacic said.
According to him, the solution must be acceptable to everyone in the dialogue and it cannot be based on the recognition of Kosovo by Serbia.
“Why do you need Serbia if you have sorted everything out? I just don’t know which membership Pristina expects to get, in which international organization, when it is lacking the votes, and how it will advance in the EU integration, when five EU members do not recognize Kosovo” says Dacic. He reiterated that Belgrade, in Brussels, is primarily committed to the national interests of the country and will not accept any ultimatum.
“We are not in a position where we have everything, so we will lose something. We are in a position where we have nothing and are looking if we are going to be able to save something and achieve a better result” says Dacic.
“I promise you and I guarantee that without compromise Kosovo will sustain damages, because there will be less and less countries that recognize Kosovo” Dacic said. He also said that it is possible that Vucic and Thaci meet without Mogherini at some point.
Mihajlovic: It is important to intensify dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina (Tanjug)
It is important that the talks between Belgrade and Pristina continue, but also intensify, said the Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihalovic, adding that it is even more important that the two sides agree that every problem will be resolved peacefully.
“I hope Pristina will respect that” Zorana Mihajlovic told reporters in a commentary on yesterday’s continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels, attended by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.
According to her, the continuation of the dialogue is important both for people living in the southern Serbian province and for the future of the dialogue.
“It is also important to intensify the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, because the time has come to solve this issue because of the future of Serbia” Mihajlovic said.
Asked to comment on the statements of the opposition about a possible referendum and speculation of what kind of question will be presented to the nation, Mihajlovic said that she doesn’t want to comment the opposition, because, as she said, those are the people who once led Serbia and who created many problems, which now must be fixed, “to get something from nothing”. “This” nothing “is not the results of the policy of this Government, but the previous governments” Mihajlovic emphasized.
She pointed out that the President of Serbia “will certainly address the nation at some point” and that at this moment it is too early to predict how the referendum will be implemented.
“Let’s see how the talks with Pristina will be going, whether they will be intensified, whether the agreements will be respected, and the agreement is to solve everything peacefully” Mihajlovic concluded.
Ljajic: It’s no secret that Serbia is absolutely ready for a compromise (RTS, Tanjug)
Minister of Trade and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic said that it is no secret that Serbia throughout the negotiation process showed absolute readiness to reach a compromising solution in the dialogue with Pristina.
“Only solution based on a compromise is a guarantee for a stability in this region. Every imposed solution, any unilateral solution, leaves behind an eternal hidden problem, with which the next generations will have to deal for years and decades” Ljajic told reporters.
“Accordingly, if there is willingness of the second party, third party, the third party may be the most important in this case, the international community, I think there may be some sort of solution that would leads us towards the stabilization of the situation,” Ljajic said.
He emphasized that, if the solutions are already set in advance and if they expect from Serbia to accept them, then that will be a step backwards.
Serbia to open two more chapters in EU accession talks (B92)
Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic will lead Serbia’s delegation to the Eighth Intergovernmental Conference in Luxembourg on Monday. Chapter 33, which deals with financial and budgetary provisions, as well as Chapter 13, concerning fisheries will be opened during the conference, the Serbian government has announced.
In the current accession process, Serbia has opened 12 chapters, two of which have been temporarily closed. Joksimovic will hold a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn before the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference.
Following the Intergovernmental Conference, which will begin at 19:30 CET, Joksimovic will address journalists, together with representatives of the European Commission and Bulgaria, as the country that holds the presidency of the Union.
Interview with Zoran Zaev: I believe referendum will succeed (Politika)
The patriotic duty of every politician, especially to every prime minister, is to take care for the interest of the citizens who gave their trust and for the interest of the state. I am prepared for leadership, to lead all processes which mean security, strengthening the international position of Macedonia and the region. I feel fulfilled, because I serve the citizens and the state and I work on realization of a great vision, good for everyone, PM Zoran Zaev said in Sunday’s interview with Belgrade-based newspaper Politika answering question on his feelings following the “political revolution” reached by pen and signing of agreement with Greece at Prespa Lake.
“If we received confirmation, erga omnes of our Macedonian identity and language, if the geographical qualifier North we added in our name Macedonia opens the road to the EU and NATO, if the agreement puts our state Macedonia on the map of states in the world at a dignified level, with identity completely protected, for centuries and centuries, if this agreement means an ease and a confirmation for Greece that we have no territorial or other pretensions to the geographical region of Macedonia that is on the Greek side, then the only thing we can say is that both sides lost is vanity that showed up until new political leadership of the states sat on the table,” Zaev said when asked who won and who lost with the new name Republic of North Macedonia.
“Macedonia and Greece firstly got political leaders, who are ready to carry dignified and courageous decisions for the benefit of their citizens, and now they got both good friend and neighbour, and they gave the world the courage, that if there are good intentions and will, there is a solution to every problem. Macedonia got present and secured a future, and secured the promise of its ancestors by signed agreements with Bulgaria and Greece; Macedonians to have their own, respected and internationally recognized state,” Zaev said.
Giving an explanation of the familiar details of the Prespa agreement with Greece, the name of the state, the maintaining the Macedonian identity, language, MKD code … Zaev in the interview said that “the state institutions will follow the principle of the agreement and the newly established name. All other organizations, associations, companies, can use the adjective Macedonian, both in our country and elsewhere in the world. For example the Macedonian culture.”
In regard to implementation of the agreement in Macedonia and stance of the President Gjorge Ivanov and the opposition, Zaev said that nothing depends on Ivanov and other politicians, but depends on citizens.
“The citizens will vote on a referendum on the historic agreement with which the state is moving forward. What is up to me and the Government, we will try to fully and thoroughly explain the citizens about the benefits of the agreement with Greece and remove all prejudices by which irresponsible politicians, driven by personal interests, are misguide the public. I am an incurable optimist as you know and I believe that the referendum will succeed, which will mean success for every citizen of Macedonia. But, however, we, as a government, will clearly explain our position before the referendum. Whether other political parties will have the arguments and courage to do the same, will see. But everyone should respect the vote of the citizens, both President Ivanov and the opposition, and we as a government,” Zaev said.
He said that they will fulfill their political duty as a government that has won the trust of citizens, to implement the will of the citizens. If this implies that we will have to initiate, as a parliamentary majority, the impeachment of President Ivanov, and we will do this through constitutional and legal procedures.
Regarding the Russia’s position despite their “warning” that by admission to NATO, the security of the region is threatened, Zaev said that the Russian Federation is a great friend to the Republic of Macedonia.
“Economic, cultural cooperation, in the field of agriculture is at the high-level, and we expect to further develop. Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic future will not break this cooperation, on the contrary Russia will get in Macedonia a stronger, more stable partner in the fields in which the citizens of both countries share the interests. I am convinced that there must be awareness that world peace is a global interest, and that requires stable and safe states that are developing along the path they have chosen. Over 75 percent of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia are favoring membership of our state in the EU and NATO, that is our right and we should respect each other and support each other. It is a democracy,” Zaev said.
Zaev in regard to the stability of the region said that governments of Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria are ready to be generators of development of entire region on economic plan and in realization of the Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
“We have given an example that if there is a political will, there is a solution for every open issue. I believe that the agreements between Macedonia and Greece and Macedonia and Bulgaria will be a strong motivation for closing other bilateral issues in the region. A stable Balkans means a stable Europe and a stable world. This is already clear to the international community as well and I strongly believe that EU member states will find the strength to back Macedonia and to get a date for starting accession negotiations in a few days, and then to get an invitation to become the next 30th NATO member state,” Zaev underlined.
In regard to the relations with Serbia, Zaev said that Macedonia and Serbia are neighbors, but firstly friends that share century-old history, tradition, culture, past and today we are connected with common European future.
“We can promote cooperation in every field and it will only involve further new cooperation and development of relations. We need to establish a mutually acceptable period of time for holding of the intergovernmental session. Citizens of both countries are strongly and emotionally connected, they respected each other, and we also have an obligation as political leaders to provide the citizens economic development and European perspectives. We will also achieve this with the Republic of Serbia in the interest of our citizens and states” Zaev said.
Zaev in the interview also referred to the reforms in the judiciary and economy, and in response to the opposition’s demands for early elections, he said “I consider that it is better for each government to complete its full mandate entrusted from the citizens, to show results, and then to organize elections. Also, it is not good for economic cycles to have an early election, it violates the plans of businesses and citizens. Certainly, the issue of early elections depends not only on me, but on the general political environment and the behavior of all political parties, and in that direction, we will act in accordance with the highest and real needs of the citizens and the state,” Zaev said.
Zaev ended the interview with the following message to Serbia “Citizens of the Republic of Serbia let us build new bridges, maintain the old ones, through which our cooperation will go easier and faster and by them we lay new foundations that will enable us from the common past to move towards common, bright, promising future.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Serb political parties from RS reach agreement on joint Serb list for upcoming general elections in Federation of B&H (FTV)
All Serb political parties from Republika Srpska (RS) will jointly participate in the upcoming elections at the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina level. President of the Coordination of Serb Associations in Mostar Dusan Golo said that they will participate in the elections with a joint Serb list that will be supported by every political party from the RS. Golo expressed hope that they will manage to elect at least one representative at the cantonal level and in the House of Peoples. Representatives of the Alliance for Changes (SzP), however, stated that they will not allow SNSD to have exclusive rights to the list. SDS leader Vukota Govedarica said that the SzP does not intend to undermine the Serb list, as they believe that it would do more harm than good. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said that he is merely supporting the agreement made by people from the Federation of B&H, regardless of their political affiliation. Golo said that this is a chance for the Serb population in the Federation of B&H to have their interests properly represented, which was not the case in the past. Journalist Nebojsa Vukanovic said that SNSD and HDZ B&H will profit the most from this agreement, and that SNSD will make sure that the majority of Serbs in the Federation of B&H vote for HDZ B&H’s candidate for Croat member of the Presidency of B&H Dragan Covic, while on the other hand Croats from Posavina will vote for Dodik.
Dodik: I am not interested in election of Bosniak member of B&H Presidency, each people should have its authentic representative (Dnevni list)
Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik stated that he is not interested in the election of the Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), arguing it would be fair if each people had its authentic representative in B&H Presidency instead of “calculating people who will lie”. He underlined that he does not want to elect the Bosniak member of B&H Presidency, just like Bosniaks should not elect the Serb member, although, he underlined, Mladen Ivanic was elected thanks to votes of Bosniaks. According to Dodik, the Islamic Community of B&H will play the key role in election of Bosniak member of B&H Presidency. “I will not obstruct the work of B&H Presidency, but due to his wartime past, possible election of SDA’s candidate Sefik Dzaferovic would surely complicate relations in this institution. I would like to cooperate with pragmatic politicians. I never have and I never would want to create a single problem for a Bosniak, or a Croat, or the Federation of B&H. Whatever the Federation of B&H thinks is its priority, I will sign it immediately, but the RS’s right to its own priorities must be acknowledged as well” said Dodik.
Council of Europe delegation to visit B&H and urge politicians to find way to hold local elections in Mostar (Vecernji list)
A delegation of Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities will visit Sarajevo and Mostar. The delegation will officially launch the initiative to find a solution which will enable local elections to be held in the City of Mostar. The last local election was held in Mostar in 2008. The delegation will hold meetings with Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Peoples Speaker Lidija Bradara, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Sefik Dzaferovic, President of B&H Central Election Commission Irena Hadziabdic and High Representative Valentin Inzko, as well as various diplomats. A round table with representatives of NGO sector and local political parties will be held in Mostar. The daily reminds that Council of Europe already repeatedly asked for a solution for Mostar, and urged B&H politicians to solve this issue separately from the issue of amendments to B&H Election Law.
Dodik: British who arrived in B&H are specialists for destabilization (ATV)
President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik commented the British who have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), saying that these are specialists for destabilization and that it is a delusion that they are soldiers. Dodik recalled that one year ago, the UK Government approved GBP nine million for programs of support, aimed at preventing the so-called Russian influence in the Balkans. “Target points are of course the RS and Serbia and you see the way in which they are doing that. Our people have to be aware that we especially cannot count on the benevolence of the British and that they are here with the purpose of creating a unitary and centralized B&H and not with the purpose of legalization of the situation and the Dayton organization which we promoted and which they, through their High Representative Paddy Ashdown, desecrated the most” underlined Dodik.
Assistant Secretary of State Mitchell: Common goal of USA and EU is to reform Western Balkans (Dnevni list)
US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell stated that United States and EU have the common goal to reform the Western Balkans in the process of EU integration. Another common goal is prevention of Russia’s energy-related blackmailing of Europe, he added. He emphasized that the US and EU cooperate in relation to Serbia and Kosovo, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mitchell stated that despite different opinions on some issues, there are many issues that unite the allies.
Pope Francis, Trump, Putin and others congratulate Croatia’s Statehood Day (Hina)
On the occasion of Croatia’s Statehood Day, observed on June 25, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has received congratulations to all Croatian citizens from numerous statesmen, including Pope Francis, US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the heads of several European states, her office said on Sunday.
In his note, Pope Francis voiced hope that commitment to justice and peace will enable the building of a society in which every person can find their place, serenity and happiness.
President Trump says that US-Croatia partnership continues to grow stronger, both within NATO, where the two countries’ troops stand shoulder to shoulder, defending the common freedom, and in the economy and culture. He adds that every year more and more Americans discover Croatia’s beauties and that the US is open to Croatian students, investors and entrepreneurs in their efforts to turn their dreams of a stronger and more prosperous future into reality.
President Putin has said that Russia attaches great significance to cooperation with Croatia and believes that, with joint efforts, they can build mutually useful cooperation to the benefit of their peoples, in the interest of maintaining stability and security in Europe.
In his note, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlines that Germany and Croatia are closely linked, that nurturing bilateral relations and politically shaping the European Union remains their task, and that this joint pushing for the benefit of the two countries, their citizens and Europe will be evident not just symbolically but also concretely in 2020, when the two countries will succeed each other in chairing the Council of the EU, which he says will additionally strengthen cooperation.
Hungarian President Janos Ader said the partnership and friendship of Hungary and Croatia has a remarkable history which makes it unique in the region in many ways. He is confident the two countries can contribute, through joint action, to forming Europe’s future and increasing the economic and political weight of their region.
Slovak President Andrej Kiska has said he is glad the two countries are successfully continuing to develop close and friendly relations reflected in a strong partnership and alliance in the EU and NATO. He is confident the upcoming NATO summit will be an opportunity to strengthen common security and remember shared values.
In his note, Italian President Sergio Mattarella says Grabar-Kitarovic’s visit recent official visit to Italy confirmed the excellent bilateral relations. He adds that the strong ties between Zagreb and Rome, which are even stronger after the renewal in January of the coordinating committee of the two governments’ ministers and the constant contribution of the two respective minorities, provide another opportunity to deepen relations through NATO and the commitment to EU enlargement.
The Governor-General of Australia Sir Peter John Cosgrove recalls in his note meeting with Grabar-Kitarovic when she visited his country last August. He says Australian Croats have enriched Australian society, providing the foundations for the strengthening of academic, business and cultural exchange.
Congratulations to Croatian citizens on the occasion of Statehood Day have also come from presidents Alexander Van der Bellen of Austria, Prokopios Pavlopoulos of Greece, E. Alain Berset of Switzerland, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez of Cuba, Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Abdul Hamid of Bangladesh and Michel Aoun of the Lebanon. Congratulations have also been sent by kings Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrein and Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan, Emperor Akihito of Japan and Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman.
Brajovic: Opposition should tell us about its plans (Pobjeda)
The Parliament of Montenegro and the ruling coalition MPs are ready to tackle all the open issues with the opposition colleagues, but only in the parliament. I don’t think it’s good to find out about the opposition’s plans via media or the international organizations, Montenegrin parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic told Pobjeda daily, when commenting on the requests of the Democrats and the Civic Movement URA.
When asked to comment on Aleksa Becic and Dritan Abazovic’s request to establish an ad hoc working group which would tackle various issues, and the electoral legislation as well, Brajovic told the Parliament worked hard without the opposition and the ad hoc working group had already been established.
“Based on the recommendations of the ODIHR and thanks to their support, we amended a range of laws and therefore improved the electoral atmosphere. Despite our sincere invitation, the opposition rejected to participate in the work of the working group and it also blocked adoption of the Law on Election of MPs, for which we needed a two-thirds majority” Brajovic pointed out.
As for the fact that majority of the opposition’s MPs ceased to boycott the parliament, Brajovic underlined that he had already warned them the citizens of Montenegro would know how to punish for perceived disrespect in the elections. “Whatever their reason would be, and I think it’s because their popularity rating significantly went down in the polls, our opposition colleagues are welcome to join us in the parliament,” concluded Brajovic.
Macedonia expects EU talks date, NATO invitation following Greece’s consent (MIA)
Greece’s letter expressing its consent to Macedonia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration following the name agreement between the two countries is to be submitted to the EU General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on June 25-26.
Greek FM Nikos Kotzias confirmed on Friday he has received the note from the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the agreement’s ratification in the Parliament, saying Greece would fulfill its part of the deal.
“The letters have been drafted since Wednesday. I chose to sign them in Brussels on Sunday, so that they are filed to the European Commission and NATO early on Monday. These are letters saying I had been notified by the other party about the agreement’s ratification in the parliament, and that based on the existing obligations and prerequisites, the country can move forward,” explained Kotzias. He said progress depends on a positive response from the General Affairs Council, where difficulties have existed due to the opposition of certain countries to approve a date for the start of EU accession talks, adding such an outcome would not be good.
He mentioned the countries that had opposed Macedonia and Albania’s EU integration – Luxembourg, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and France – of which only the last one has remained. The French Embassy has said the country’s stance would be unveiled at the EU Council meeting on Friday (June 29).
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged France not to block Macedonia’s accession to the NATO and EU.
In Saturday’s discussion over the phone with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Pompeo urged him to support NATO extending an invitation to Macedonia to join and the EU opening accession talks, following the signing of the name agreement between Greece and Macedonia.
“Secretary Pompeo urged French Foreign Minister Le Drian to support NATO extending an invitation to Macedonia to join, as well as the EU opening accession talks, following the signing of the name agreement between Greece and Macedonia,” reads the press statement of the US Department of State.
The final decision will be taken at the meeting of heads of state and government of EU member-states on June 28-29.
Sekerinska sends letter to NATO counterparts asking support for Macedonia’s membership invitation (MIA)
Following the agreement reached with Greece, Defence Minister Radmila Sekerinska sends letter to 29 NATO Defence Ministers asking for their support for Macedonia to be extended NATO membership invitation at the July Summit.
Sekerinska had phone conversations with some of the Defence Ministers who welcomed the reached agreement and expressed their support for Macedonia’s membership to NATO, Defence Ministry said in a press release. In the letter to her counterparts in the Alliance, Sekerinska writes:
“I am writing to you after reaching a historic agreement on the name dispute with Greece. This obstacle to our Euro-Atlantic integration has been removed. I am asking for your support for Macedonia to receive an invitation for full membership in NATO at the upcoming Summit. It took courage, leadership and diplomacy to achieve this goal on both sides. Our people are united and unambiguous in the desire to become part of NATO and the EU, with 75 percent of our citizens favoring NATO membership.”
Sekerinska writes that Macedonia’s accession to NATO will consolidate democracy in the region, strengthen stability and security in the region and set a positive example for the Western Balkans. She reminds that Macedonia made a major step forward in accordance with the recommendations of the NATO Summit in Warsaw in improving good neighborly and interethnic relations, the rule of law, media freedom, credible elections and the independence of the judiciary.
We will continue working on these reforms, Sekerinska writes. As an example of promoting good neighborly relations, she points out the overcoming the differences and partnership with Bulgaria and adds: “This approach was repeated in the settlement to the dispute with Greece, and we are convinced that our partnership with Athens will deepen in the coming years.”
As additional arguments for preparedness for NATO membership, Sekerinska outlines in the letter the increased defence budget and the decision for its further increase to 2 percent of GDP by 2024, the completion of Strategic Defence Review in accordance to NATO standards, participation of our troops in NATO-led missions.
“We need your support now more than ever. In accordance with the decision of NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, now that mutually acceptable solution on the name dispute has been reached, we expect to receive invitation for NATO membership,” Sekerinska writes.
Sekerinska spoke over the phone with German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, Italian DM Elisabetta Trenta, Romanian DM Mihai-Viorel Fifor, who expressed their support for Macedonia to be extended NATO membership invitation at the NATO Summit in Brussels, Defence Ministry said in a press release. Earlier this week, Sekerinska had phone conversations with the Defence Ministers of Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, who delivered the same message.
Greece to send letters to EU and NATO today (MIA)
The letters saying Greece will not oppose Macedonia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration will be signed on Sunday and sent early on Monday, said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Friday, MIA reports from Athens.
Speaking to reporters, FM Kotzias said he had sent a letter to the NATO Secretary-General prior to last week’s signing of the name agreement, referring to the prerequisites for membership as stipulated in the agreement itself. The Greek FM confirmed he has received the note from the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the agreement’s ratification in the Parliament, saying Greece would fulfill its part of the deal.
“The letters have been drafted since Wednesday. I chose to sign them in Brussels on Sunday, so that they are filed to the European Commission and NATO early on Monday. These are letters saying I had been notified by the other party about the agreement’s ratification in the parliament, and that based on the existing obligations and prerequisites, the country can move forward,” explained Kotzias.
He said progress depends on a positive response from the General Affairs Council, where difficulties have existed due to the opposition of certain countries to approve a date for the start of EU accession talks.
“Such an outcome would not be good,” stressed FM Kotzias, saying the issue of Macedonia and Albania’s enlargement would be discussed on Monday.
He mentioned to the countries that had opposed Macedonia and Albania’s EU integration, saying “in the meantime, three of the five countries – Luxembourg, Denmark and Germany – have left this group, but the Netherlands and France still remain.”
In the meantime, the Dutch Parliament gave green light for Macedonia to open EU accession talks. PM Zoran Zaev expressed his expectations Friday that Macedonia will get date for opening EU accession negotiations next week. He hopes that the steps taken by the country will convince all those who still have expressed certain reservations for EU enlargement.
I am informed that the Dutch Parliament passed positive decision for our country on Thursday. I hope that this will happen in the future also for Albania, because they also worked very much as a country. As far as our country is concerned, I hope that France and other countries, although they expressed reservations, will make the breakthrough, because the reforms can be done in parallel while Macedonia is negotiating for membership, Zaev said, expressing hopes that the heart of French President Macron will soften and I understand the internal debates that are being opened in France, but France is our great friend. If Germany, France, Britain, Italy and other countries go forward, then Europe will move forward, and the motivation of our citizens will be even greater, Zaev added.
Albania-Greece ready for a maritime agreement (ADN)
Albania and Greece will have soon an agreement on the delimitation of maritime zones. The agreement is expected to be officially reached on the first 10 days of July, Greek media reported on Sunday. One day ago the Albanian Foreign Ministry, announced the closure of the third round of talks on the delimitation of maritime zones between the two countries considering it constructive and in a positive climate.
“The third round of talks on the delimitation of maritime zones between Albania and Greece was closed on June 22, 2018, in Athens. The meeting was constructive and developed in a positive, friendly and cooperative climate. Negotiating teams will continue to work to find a lasting solution and in the interest of both parties” said the Foreign Ministry.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Kotzias: Europe must keep its word to North Macedonia and Albania (EURACTIV)
In our opinion, as long as the European Commission started and set a horizon this summer to launch formal negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, we will have to deliver the promise we made, says Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in an interview with EURACTIV.
FM Kotzias appeals to all sides to understand that there are indeed problems with these countries, but by joining a monitoring and screening process, they can solve them more efficiently.
“I’ve told my counterparts they can be as strict as they want. But we must not block that prospect. I am afraid that if a date for accession is not given to North Macedonia, all this effort we made with great sacrifices and compromises from both sides, could be jeopardized. Furthermore, if one of the two countries starts the negotiations, and let’s say, Albania is left out, this will create a state of instability in the region,” says FM Kotzias.
According to him, if some countries had issues with North Macedonia and Albania, they should have notified them before.
“Now, we have the Commission’s report and the proposal to look at the opening of the negotiations. Now we reached the point and we have to do it. Europe must keep its word,” adds Kotzias.
Pertaining to the opposing countries, the Greek FM says in the beginning it was Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, but some contradictions in German politics as well.
“In Germany, there is a conflict within the ruling coalition and this makes Angela Merkel quite cautious about measures that will integrate third parties or how the migration issue will be tackled. I understand it. The French are not happy with the way the debate about the future of Europe is going. And the Dutch have expressed disagreements, but I think it will be easier for them to overcome them. So the point is to bring France together with Germany in order to avoid destabilising the Balkans,” says Kotzias.
Pertaining to the name agreement, he says it has been Europe’s best news for the last five years.
“It’s a solution to a problem that came at a time when we had a crisis in the eurozone, a crisis of identity, deepening or enlargement, the Brexit, the migration issue. It’s crucial to emphasise that the solution of the name dispute helps recognise the potential of diplomacy to solve problems and that Europe does not look back,” notes Kotzias.
Regarding the reactions of the oppositions in both countries, he says that Greece’s New Democracy operates as a VMRO-DPMNE branch in Athens, while VMRO operates as a branch of New Democracy in Skopje.
The FM says the dividing line is no longer ‘those in Skopje and we in Athens’ but among those who want the solution of the problems and the European orientation and those who push for a non-solution.
“I believe Zaev will not bow to the pressure. He is a much more resilient politician than he seems at first sight,” underlined Kotzias.