Brnabic: Relations with Vatican with no open issues (Beta)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said during talks with State Secretary of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin that relations of Serbia and the Vatican are good and without open issues, with mutual interest in further strengthening of relations in the spirit of mutual respect, trust and tolerance. Brnabic informed Cardinal Parolin about the current circumstances in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina and underlined Serbia’s sincere determination to continue the dialogue. She expressed her gratitude to the State Secretary on the principled stance of the Holy See regarding the non-recognition of the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. Parolin informed Brnabic that the Vatican follows with special attention the situation in the region and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, stressing that the protection of the cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo and Metohija is of utmost importance for the Council. The interlocutors agreed that the work of the Mixed Commission on Aloysius Stepinac and the interchurch dialogue that came out of it, although the final decision has not yet been made, has had positive effects on the relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, as well as from the point of view of the methodology, and is an important example for the study of other historical periods and personalities. Cardinal Parolin conveyed the support of the Vatican to European integration of Serbia, adding that the EU is basically a project of peace and coexistence of different religions and nationalities, to which Serbia and the region of the Western Balkans belong. Brnabic and Cardinal Parolin concluded that there is a mutual interest in more intensive cooperation in the field of culture and education, recalling that the existing Protocol on Cooperation between the National Library of Serbia and the Vatican Library is in force, as well as the Agreement on cooperation in the field of higher education.
Dacic: Pressures will not accelerate compromise regarding Kosovo (Tanjug/Novosti)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has stated that requests for introducing “new players” in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue now are completely unreasonable only for the purpose of Pristina strengthening its positions. “The US is very well-informed and indirectly included in the entire process even now,” Dacic told Novosti, commenting the invitation of Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for the US to join the dialogue. Dacic points that any kind of deadlines or pressure will not accelerate or lead to the necessary compromise, except if Pristina is not pressured to fulfill agreements, primarily the one on the Community of Serb Municipalities. He says that during the recent visit to Moscow and the meeting with his colleague Sergey Lavrov, he had received assurances that Russia stands firmly along with our positions in preserving territorial integrity and sovereignty. “This means also readiness for them to join the dialogue if necessary,” concluded Dacic. Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin assesses that Pristina wants to get everything in the negotiations without giving anything, and that because of this it wishes to draw as many as possible strong countries on its side. “But Serbia is not anymore a country of defeating politics. Haradinaj’s frequent calls for the US to join the negotiations shows that it is in a deadlock. Vulin opines that reaching a compromise is still far away and that this will be very difficult. The Chairman of the Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun stresses that the US stand is clear – they recognized independence of Kosovo, but are stating that they will not impose a solution now, but will only support the Belgrade-Pristina agreement: “The fact that Haradinaj is calling Washington to join the dialogue is intended more for internal political circumstances, because it wishes to weaken the negotiating position of Hashim Tachi. Still, it is clear that, once the final status is discussed, it will not pass without the big powers, primarily the US and Russia. If Haradinaj is requesting the inclusion of the US, then he is requesting a discussion on the final status. He stresses that Belgrade is now in a situation that it can block Pristina in international organizations, while it also has strong support of Russia, whose stand is that it will not support anything to Serbia’s detriment.
Ljajic: Frozen conflict is continuation of agony (Tanjug/Kurir)
Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic thinks that the frozen conflict doesn’t represent a solution for the Kosovo issue, but means only a voice for continuing the agony where Serbia would find itself with itself and with Kosovo. A frozen conflict is a solution without a solution, said Ljajic in an op-ed for Kurir. He assessed that we are late with the partition of Kosovo and that there is neither readiness of the main international players to support one such option at this moment.
Mihajlovic: Outcome of dialogue depends on both sides (Tanjug)
Whether this year is crucial for finalizing the Belgrade-Pristina talks depends primarily on us and our preparedness to head towards a compromise, as well as on the other side, Serbian Deputy PM and Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic said Friday. She said this in a comment on a statement made earlier in the day by US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott, who said 2018 was the final year for resolving the issue of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Scott: I hope for the compromise between Belgrade and Pristina, perhaps even this year (RTS)
The US ambassador to Serbia said the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should enter a more intensive phase and expressed the hope that the compromise would be reached “perhaps even this year”. Scott told the RTS that it is clear that neither Belgrade nor Pristina will get everything they want, but that it is important that both sides reach a compromise. “That’s why this dialogue led by the EU is so important. I think it needs to enter a more intensive phase, I hope that the compromise would be reached perhaps even this year,” Scott said.
Head of Bosniak Caucus in Federation of B&H HoP Catic announces request for Federation of B&H HoP session to discuss Proposal Law on Constituencies (Oslobodjenje)
Head of Bosniak Caucus in the House of Peoples of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament Osman Catic told the daily that he plans to request scheduling of an urgent session of the Federation of B&H HoP to discuss the Proposal Law on Constituencies and Number of Mandates in the Federation of B&H Parliament, unless Federation of B&H HoP Speaker Lidija Bradara schedules one on Monday. The Proposal Law, submitted in the procedure by SDA, SBB B&H, SDP, DF and Our Party, has been adopted by the Federation of B&H House of Representatives on June 20. The Croat parties oppose the solutions from the Proposal Law, claiming that the issues related to the Law on Elections should be resolved at the state level. Others’ delegate Aner Zuljevic told the daily that they expected the adoption process is going to be obstructed, because HDZ B&H is unable to challenge the Proposal Law with proper arguments. “This is a just and fair proposal, which is supposed to ensure just and fair elections and their implementation,” he said and noted that the proposal does not guarantee any political party can be in authority regardless of their election results.
Jadovno victims killed in NDH in WWII commemorated; Croatian police arrest member of ‘Јadovno 1941’ Association and RS Army Colonel Dane Lukajic for war crimes (RTRS)
The 77th anniversary of killing of more than 40,000 Serbs and Jews in the Ustasha-run death camp compound Gospic-Jadovno-Pag in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during the World War II was marked on Saturday. On this occasion, a commemoration for the victims was held at Saranova Jama on Mount Velebit in Croatia. Families of the Jadovno victims, large number of pilgrims from Republika Srpska (RS) who wanted to honor the victims attended the commemoration. RS President’s envoy Miladin Dragicevic said the day of remembrance of killings in Jadovno 1941 should get the status of important dates of the RS’ interest. Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Mladen Ivanic, who also attended the commemoration, stated that Jadovno, Jastrebarsko, Stara Gradiska and other sites have to be part of history books since there are large number of sites in B&H and Croatia where the Serb people were executed. Police arrested member of the ‘Јadovno 1941’ Association and RS Army Colonel Dane Lukajic from Banja Luka as Croatian authorities charge him with war crimes. Lukajic was on his way to Velebit to attend the commemoration for the Jadovno victims. Commenting on the arrest, Ivanic told reporters after the commemoration that he reacted immediately and that certain activities were taken in order to engage competent authorities in this case, including the B&H Embassy to Croatia. RS President Milorad Dodik also commented on the arrest and said that the arrest is intolerable and the case is not under jurisdiction of the Croatian judiciary. He added that he expects Ivanic to send a protest note and ask Croatian authorities to release Lukajic as soon as possible, stressing that it seems that Croatian authorities are obviously bothered by the commemoration organized for the Jadovno victims and that it would be useful if they could show respect for places were large number of Serbs was executed. “Croatia would be better off if it released Lukajic at once for the sake of good relations we nurture and try to build with the Croats in B&H,” Dodik told the press. The Croatian police said that the former security of the Yugoslav People’s Army /JNA/ 5th Military Area Dane Lukajic /67/ was arrested in Licko Petrovo Selo on suspicion that “he committed a war crime against prisoners of war in Camp Manjaca outside Banja Luka (B&H) in September 1992.
Becic and Abazovic’s Initiative will wait until autumn (Pobjeda)
Formation of ad hoc working group that would focus on election and other reforms can’t be implemented before autumn, although the leaders of Democrats and URA, Aleksa Becic and Dritan Abazovic urgently invited the Chief of the parliament to accept it. MPs of the leading coalition and the Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said several times that they were willing to open the dialogue about the formation of ad hoc body but in the parliament only. However, Democrats and URA request that their Initiative be accepted first and then they will stop boycotting Parliament. Formation of such ad hoc working groups is not uncommon in the practice of the parliament of Montenegro. There have been several reforms which focused on the election legislation. Their job was very long and difficult but eventually, they always resulted in the two-third majority necessary for the adoption of election law. The proposal Becic and Abazovic made reminds of the similar initiatives but the task of the new temporary body would be a lot more complex: it would focus on various topics – from Judicial Council and media laws to the reform of election legislation. MPs of the opposition and leading parties might dedicate the entire next year to tackling these questions.
Zaev: EU accession talks a historic decision (MIA)
As the EU announced it will allow accession talks with Macedonia, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that his country will “proudly walk through the gates of Europe.” Regarding the different interpretations of the EU’s decision to start membership talks, with the government claiming it as a historic success, but critics saying it is another postponement and disappointment for the country, PM Zaev says there is no other description for the decision other than historic. “We have a date for negotiations: June 2019. Until then, together with our friends and partners from the European Commission, we will work on accomplishing the criteria, or in other words, implementation of the phases in the agreement with Greece and finalizing of the reforms. We are very close to our goal of reaching the EU standards. We have a clear goal ahead of us. We have our last homework assignment to finalize — the last phase of the reforms. Then, we can proudly enter through the gates of Europe,” notes Zaev. Asked how much harder does the conditional invitation from the EU makes his efforts to convince the nationalists and the opposition to support the deal, the PM says he remains firmly and fully dedicated to demonstrating that this agreement with Greece solves the biggest problem that was preventing our development since our independence. “We have a crystal-clear confirmation of the Macedonian language and identity of Macedonians, at home and abroad. Translatable, without any limitations, into all languages in the world, an identity for overall use. Those political factors that cannot see this are creating new divisions. We need to unite around this new historical opportunity. I believe in this, and I will invest all my political integrity and energy to that end,” stresses Zaev. On the strong resistance in Greece against the recognition of a “Macedonian nation” and “Macedonian language” as part of the agreement, he says the fact that opposition political parties of both countries are against the agreement shows that a good compromise between the people of both counties has been reached. “The citizens of Macedonia have full recognition of the Macedonian identity on all accounts, and the citizens of Greece have recognition of the Hellenic inheritance of the ancient part of history. The opposition political parties in both countries have had an opportunity to solve this dispute for decades, but they have not done anything. On the contrary, they were only strengthening the differences. Now, when faced with the fact that a solution is possible, and that this solution is equally acceptable for both sides, they choose to resist it, instead of accepting that this is the only way the two countries can move forward,” underlines PM Zaev.
Zaev: EU to launch screening process for Macedonia next month (MTV)
As the European Union set the date, the screening process should be launched in late July and I expect for Macedonia’s accession talks to actually commence next June, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says in an interview with the national MTV, conducted in Brussels. He notified that a referendum on Skopje-Athens name deal would most probably be scheduled for late September.
The screening, or analytical examination of the EU acquis, is a preparatory phase of accession negotiations. The screening process is carried out jointly by the European Commission and each of the candidate countries. This process allows the latter to familiarize themselves with the acquis and, subsequently, to indicate their level of alignment with EU legislation and outline plans for further alignment. A further purpose of screening is to identify those areas of the acquis in which progress is needed if the candidate countries’ legislation is to be compatible with the EU rules. These areas are divided into chapters. ‘I hope that we shall start opening chapters in June 2019,’ Zaev says. Referring to NATO membership, Zaev says the Alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has explained the steps regarding the procedure for Macedonia’s accession to the organization. ‘The spot where Macedonia’s flag will be hoisted is already determined. By completion of the negotiating process, which will take about three months, Macedonia takes its place on the table along with NATO members,’ Zaev says. PM Zaev is certain that recent achievements, namely settled bilateral problems and invitations for EU, NATO membership, will stimulate not only the Macedonian government but all institutions and citizens to deliver tangible results.
Mogherini and Hahn: A clear EU path ahead (MIA)
The road ahead is clear. It leads towards your membership to the European Union. To accomplish that, all political forces share the responsibility to maintain a constructive dialogue and continue to deliver on the citizens’ aspirations, including notably through reforms in the rule of law, security services, public administration and a functioning market economy, say High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn in an op-ed released by the EU. “These principles lie at the heart of the European success story. They are also what the citizens of your country ask, want and deserve. This is our joint path: the more Skopje delivers on its people’s needs, the more quickly it will advance towards full membership to the EU”, say Megherini and Hahn. They note that the historic agreement between Skopje and Athens made Europeans proud as it is a strategic game-changer for both countries, and for the whole of Europe. “It shows that even the most sensitive and history-laden issues can be solved, with courage and vision. The two of us were present at the signing ceremony at Lake Prespa. What we saw there has further strengthened our confidence in a continent united and at peace, with the European perspective for the Western Balkans as a driver of stability at our doorstep,’ add Mogherini and Hahn. They note that this week, EU Member States positively echoed this achievement and set out a clear path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019, setting a clear vision for the year ahead and beyond. “We have immediately started work on this new, common chapter, with the European Commission launching preparations for the accession talks. We look forward to working with you as you rise to this new challenge with the same resolve that has led you to recent successes,” say the European Commission officials. Not so long ago, they add, the country was in a deep political crisis, but you have managed to overcome it and moved forward on key reforms – not for Brussels, but for all people in the country. “You reached agreements with Bulgaria and Greece, championing new dynamics of cooperation in South-East Europe and opening doors for investment, jobs and growth. All these positive steps are an inspiration for the entire region,” highlight Mogherini and Hahn. The Commission has already started the necessary preparatory work towards June 2019, including the future negotiating framework, and it also stands ready to provide support in the continuation of reforms. “Everybody has a role to play in this historic process. Unity, courage, responsibility and pragmatism from all will be essential. All political groups and parties, local authorities and civil society should take ownership of this process and together prepare the ground for the negotiations,” said Mogherini and Hahn. According to them, the work in the year to come is an investment in the country’s EU integration. “Every step counts. Walking this path will not only allow you to open negotiations, but to do so in the most effective way. The moment when negotiations formally open, you will already be running,” note the EC officials. They say the doors of the Union are open and the country’s path towards the European Union has become irreversible. “It is now up to you to walk forward on this path towards a future of common prosperity and security. It is the free and sovereign decision of your people – of no one else. Our dream of a united European continent lies in your hands,” underline Mogherini and Hahn.
Osmani: Time for opposition to choose sides in Euro-integration process (MIA)
Vice Premier for European Affairs Bujar Osmani urged Saturday President Gjorge Ivanov to be constructive and engage in the process of Macedonia’s European future, and called on the opposition to choose sides during this historic period for the country. “Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy, with the Parliament having the final say when it comes to adoption of laws, while the President has only a small portion of the executive authority, which should in no way be the decisive factor in taking such decisions. Ivanov’s actions are, in a way, an attempt to change the system without constitutional revision, which is punishable by law,” Vice Premier Osmani told a press conference at the Secretariat for European Affairs. The Vice Premier said he did not get the impression during his visit to Brussels that European leaders are concerned that Ivanov could prevent this historic process. “I did not get the impression in the EU that they are overly concerned, because no one can stop this historic process that the country and the region are going through, let alone Ivanov,” said Osmani. Regarding the opposition, he said now is the time for them to choose sides. “The strategic objective of opposition parties is membership in NATO and EU. The consensual will of citizens, including the people voting for the opposition, is membership in NATO and EU. Therefore, it is time for the opposition to clear up dilemmas it has regarding its orientation and communicate them to the public. We are open to the public and the common policies regarding the strategic objectives,” added Osmani. He voiced optimism that the referendum and the constitutional revision would be completed by the year-end. I don’t expect the opposition to go against the will and the strategic commitment of citizens to NATO and EU,” said Osmani and added that no one can prevent the will of eighty percent of citizens favoring Euro-Atlantic integration.
Mickoski: VMRO-DPMNE not backing off EU and NATO trajectory (MIA)
The opposition supports Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic path, VMRO-DMNE has taken this trajectory since its establishment and there is no backing off it, said party leader Hristijan Mickoski on Saturday. “The opposition is firmly supporting Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic path, but it is too pretentious to think that the opposition will stand alongside those who have signed the capitulation document,” Mickoski said in response to of Vice Premier for European Affairs Bujar Osmani, who asked the opposition earlier today to choose sides during this historic period for the country. The VMRO-DPMNE leader said there is no Euro-Atlantic future for Macedonia since no reforms have been initiated for 13 months. “The least that the ministers charged with Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration can do after this diplomatic fiasco is to resign immediately,” underlined Mickoski.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
EU Migration Summit Pledges Cooperation With Balkans (Balkan Insight, by Gjergj Erebara, 2 July 2018)
The EU’s last-minute compromise statement backs formation of processing centres inside the EU and ‘disembarkation platforms’ outside EU borders – and promises more financial help for African states and cooperation with Western Balkans. EU leaders ended a heated debate about handling migration at 4.30am Friday by accepting Italy’s demand for more help in handling the burden and agreeing in principle to set up “disembarkation platforms” to process asylum seekers outside the EU and closed processing centres within the EU. EU leaders also agreed to spend more money helping African countries curb migration. The European Council’s final published statement also urged continued collaboration with and support for the Western Balkan states, which were at the centre of the 2015 refugee crisis and have again come into the spotlight lately, due to concerns about a new Adriatic coastal route opening up. “Cooperation with, and support for, partners in the Western Balkans region remain key to exchange information on migratory flows, prevent illegal migration, increase the capacities for border protection and improve return and readmission procedures,” the statement reads. The Council said it supported the idea of establishing so-called “regional disembarkation platforms” outside the EU – but there was no mention of which countries would host such centres, despite much speculation in Albania and other Balkan countries that they were being considered. “The European Council calls on the Council and the Commission to swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM,” the statement adds. After the idea of these “platforms” was first proposed by politicians in several EU member states, Tunisia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia quickly stated that they would not host them, either in exchange for money or for faster EU integration processes. Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama told German Media that Tirana would “not accept camps even in exchange for EU accession”. Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic spoke likewise. “I don’t care about anybody’s money, not even the EU’s money,” he said. More likely host countries mentioned in the European media are Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Egypt. However, Morocco has already ruled out participation. The Council also proposed “controlled centres” to process asylum seekers and refugees within EU states – but again did not mention any names of countries, and was careful to stress that such centres should be built “on a voluntary basis” and with “shared efforts”. Central European states led by Hungary remain adamant that they will not accept even token numbers of asylum seekers, and have rejected appeals to show solidarity with the rest of the EU on the issue. The Council meanwhile said the EU sought deeper collaboration from African countries, which are often the sources and transit points for migration, and gave a green light for the disbursement of 500 million euros from the EU Trust Fund for Africa. In another win for Italy, it said migrants found in Libyan waters were the responsibility of the Libyan coast guard – and so were to be turned back to Libya. Italy’s new government has taken a hardline approach towards allowing boats carrying refugees and asylum seekers to dock in Italian ports, leading to heated rows with France, Spain and Malta. A crisis developed last week when a German humanitarian vessel, the Lifeline, was refused landing for six days, eventually docking in Malta.