Serbia committed to strengthening strategic partnership with China in 16+1 initiative (RTS/Beta/Politika)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic emphasized at the Summit of the People’s Republic of China and 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe that is held in Sofia that the relations of Serbia and China are very important. Brnabic said in a speech addressing the participants of the summit, previously opened by the prime ministers of China and Bulgaria, Li Keqiang and Boyko Borisov, that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, while he was head of the Serbian government, recognized the importance of strengthening our relations with China and initiated the strengthening of friendly relations and cooperation in all segments. Brnabic especially thanked Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for personal support within the 16+1 mechanism and the China Global Initiative “Belt and Road”, initiated by President Xi Jinping. Serbia is committed to actively participating in these initiatives that are important for our country and the whole region, and contributed to better integration and strengthening of cooperation, said the Prime Minister, adding that, in addition to infrastructure projects, significant projects in the fields of energy, economy and culture. According to Brnabic, modernization of the Belgrade-Budapest railway, which is jointly implemented by Serbia, Hungary and China is the first cross-border project under this cooperation mechanism and is crucial for infrastructure connectivity. That is why it is most important today for Serbia the signing of the Commercial Agreement on the modernization and reconstruction of the Hungarian-Serbian rail link in the territory of the Republic of Serbia on the section Novi Sad-Subotica-state border (Kelebija), which is worth €943 million, said the Prime Minister and added that this was fully covers execution of works on the project. She said that regional infrastructure projects are the most important for our country, and that they will contribute to linking and stimulating the economic progress of the region.
She noted that it is precisely for this reason that the “Highway of Peace’ is key for Serbia to the Albanian port of Durres, a highway linking Belgrade and Sarajevo and the highway to Bulgaria.
Brnabic emphasized that the remarkable political significance of the 16 + 1 mechanism is that it is a strong link between the East and the West and China and Europe. I want to thank the people of China, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, for the strong support they provide in the implementation of projects. This facilitates the exchange of goods and the mobility of people and positively affects the stability of the entire region and further progress, said Brnabic. She concluded that the Serbian government and President Vucic were committed to continuing their active participation in the 16 + 1 mechanism and strengthening the strategic partnership and the steel friendship between Serbia and China.
Vucic: Serbia, India maintain mutual respect, support (Tanjug)
The relations between Serbia and India are characterized by mutual respect and a high level of support in the most significant areas, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at a meeting with Indian Ambassador Narinder Chauhan Monday. Receiving a farewell visit from Chauhan, Vucic thanked her for leaving a lasting mark in the history of the traditionally good relations between their countries through the diplomatic skills and committed work demonstrated during her term in Belgrade, making the relations even more substantial.
Vucic: Any solution regarding Kosovo must pass referendum (RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has stated that, whatever is going to be done regarding Kosovo and Metohija, will have to go to a referendum, adding that any kind of decision is not possible without constitutional amendments, and that those who are “toppling” the referendum are working against the country’s future. He says that the referendum is opposed by all those who think that they are toppling him with this. “But in fact, they are toppling their country, its future and chance to get more than what we have now,” noted Vucic. He says that the Serbs should decide what they want, and that his obligation is to be serious and look into the future, to have more investments. He says that at this moment he doesn’t know what he would propose to the people, but, he says, he will come before the public if he has something to propose. “Will even my party accept this? Hardly. Will the public in Serbia accept this?” wondered Vucic. He thinks that responsible people will accept, he believes that responsibility and seriousness are winning, and that he certainly doesn’t fear to say what he thinks. “I am doing what my consciousness tells me. I am working honestly, responsibly and seriously, people can and do not have to accept it, and there is a greater chance that they will not accept it,” said Vucic. He says he doesn’t understand those who are lying both themselves and the people that Kosovo can be an autonomy within Serbia. Still, “we are fighting and we will get better and more than before”, said Vucic, estimating that nobody will be satisfied, that things will not be good to anyone, because things in Serbia are not viewed rationally.
Dacic: We are often unaware of resistance to EU enlargement (RTS/Beta/B92)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that the essence of the meetings within the Berlin Process is that the topic of EU enlargement is still current. Dacic told RTS that he and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic are having meetings with ministers of internal and foreign affairs. After that, the central summit of the prime minister will take place with heads of state and governments of some EU countries. “This time the United Kingdom strives for this not only apply to the economy or to what is often referred to as ‘connectivity’, but rather to the fact that there are also some political issues such as reconciliation in the region, missing persons,” said Dacic. He added that the central topic in all summits is that the initiative has been launched, and that someone remembered to show that EU enlargement to the Western Balkans continues to be on the agenda. Dacic pointed out that great gratitude is owed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for this. “From our perspective, we’re often unaware of the big resistance to this in the EU. In the same way as in our countries there may be some fatigue from the permanent delays of enlargement, or the fatigue from the ongoing reforms, there is a kind of fatigue from enlargement in the EU in the sense that countries are considering whether it is in their interest,” Dacic said. He pointed out that there are still different views and that idea are being presented that it is necessary to stop further admission of new members to the EU. For that reason, Dacic said, it is of great importance for the Western Balkans, and in this case specifically for Serbia and Montenegro, that the year 2025 was defined as a framework date for possible accession. “The essence of these summits is, in addition to certain concrete projects that contribute to the development of our political and economic relations in the region, to show that this topic is still current,” Dacic said. He stated that it was announced the next summit will be in Poland and that the Berlin process will continue. After a ministerial meeting on Monday, the London conference will conclude on Tuesday with a meeting of prime ministers of all Balkan states.
Drecun: Pristina trying to skip formation of ZSO (RTS)
The draft Statute of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) should be presented on 4 August in Brussels. Brussels has set this deadline to Pristina, when the Serbs, five years after the signing of the Brussels agreement, announced they would form the ZSO on their own, the Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told RTS. “Pristina’s hinting that they expect a final solution, and this according to them independence of Kosovo, demonstrates that they wish to skip the formation of the ZSO at any cost. They insist on us recognizing them and treating them as an independent state, but this will not happen even at the cost of not being admitted to the EU. We have a sloppy reaction of Brussels, which reacts like a tiger without teeth. Pristina accepts this criticism and doesn’t react. We had enough with such reactions from Brussels, we need action. Pristina is persistently announcing that they are ready to discuss the final solution, but it seems they are focusing more on the formation of the armed forces,” says Drecun. Over the past days we have seen Pristina’s objections over the fact that some Serbs, some 20 of them, had left the Kosovo security forced. The US representative in Pristina has also stated that he is concerned over this. “But they are not concerned over constant inter-ethnic incidents. The only legal armed presence in international and this is in accordance with Resolution 1244. It is unacceptable for us to have any other formation of armed forces. Pristina is trying to gain legitimacy, through the Kosovo security forces, for the armed forces by having the Serbs take part in them,” explains Drecun. “We are obviously entering a phase when an agreement could be reached, but it isn’t implied that this will occur. There is enormous pressure and expectations, especially from the US, but when you ask how this agreement should look like, they don’t know,” explains Drecun. President Vucic had stated that he will present a proposal before citizens as soon as he has something to present. However, now certain opposition parties in the parliament are stating they don’t want a referendum. “This shows the absurdity of the existence of some opposition parties. We can expect a referendum is there is a concrete proposal on agreement with Pristina for which you need support of citizens and not only majority in parliament,” Drecun told RTS.
Ljajic: Easiest to freeze Kosovo issue from a café (Novosti)
I am big opponent of a frozen conflict regarding Kosovo and Metohija, which is now appearing as some dominant mood in the public. This is no solution, but an option to sit and do nothing, looking at the sky, expecting something to happen, for some higher power to resolve this. Yet, this is the worst possible thing both for Serbia and the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian trade Minister Rasim Ljajic told Novosti in an interview. The platform proposed by the SDPS clearly states that new should negotiate membership of Kosovo in international organizations, except the UN. If we enable UN membership, what else is there to negotiate about? wonders Ljajic. I think that all parties should give their view of important state issues, and not to wait for Vucic to resolve this, so they can attack and criticize him when there is any kind of solution, says Ljajic.
Smajlovic: Even if we recognized Kosovo in 2008 we wouldn’t be in EU (B92/TV Prva)
“There is a theory that there had been talks about an exchange of territory, but that the Americans told the Serbs this cannot happen, all related to the Crimea issue,” journalist Ljiljana Smajlovic told TV Prva. “On the other hand, the Albanians were told they didn’t have to make any concessions to the Serbs because the Serbs were guilty of war and everything else… Giving the UN chair (to Pristina) in exchange for a promise of fast-track EU membership for Serbia seems to me a very bad trade. We cannot quickly become a member of the EU – even if we recognized Kosovo in 2008, we would not be a part of the EU today. It is clear that the EU is struggling to survive and there will be no rapid enlargement. They swung a carrot at us called ‘2025’ (as possible date of accession) – but none of that entered the EU budget. And let’s face it – there is no fast-track membership,” Smajlovic said. She added that none of the people currently in power in Europe can guarantee or promise anything. “I think that the demand that Serbia cease to resist Kosovo getting the UN chair is so huge that I don’t know what the Albanians should do in return. To begin with, we need to go into the discussion that those few Serbs (in Kosovo) should be guarded like the apple of the eye, to have all their rights respected, to live completely safe and as a privileged minority, such as some minorities in European countries. And then we could begin to talk about everything,” Smajlovic added. According to her, there is no need to hurry, because we already know that we will not become a member of the EU in 2025. “Although they constantly say the ball is in our court, Merkel, after Croatia’s (EU) entry, said that there would be a long break in the enlargement. Now we have heard it from Macron, so I don’t know how to convince anyone that we will join the EU quickly when no one is allowed to enter. The ball is not in our court, the point is that all of it would be impossible even if Macron agreed,” Smajlovic said. She also said that the only possible way to solve the Kosovo problem is if the president of Serbia and of the ruling party, Aleksandar Vucic, intends to present some dramatic change in the situation, such giving Kosovo the UN chair – in a referendum. “It’s interesting that the opposition opposes it. They say that Vucic is hiding behind a referendum and that he wants the people to handle a hot potato. If Vucic’s solution is no different than the status quo, then there is no need for a referendum – we know what the mood is. If the proposal is some kind of dramatic change, it seems to me that the referendum is the only way to do it. For the opposition it is risky, and Vucic said they are afraid of their own voters. If he proposes a solution the opposition voters accept too, I think the opposition would find it problematic to oppose that solution both because of their own voters and because of the West,” Smajlovic said. Asked to comment on the statement of former US Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter that the biggest problem in the Balkans is the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, she stressed that his words should not be taken seriously because he heads an NGO and what he says depends on the job he is paid to do. “Such persons do not speak on behalf of the US administration. For example, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations Pete Marocco is from the administration. He, like Wess Mitchell, is part one of the new people, the Trump people. They know what they’re talking about and they’ve agreed on it with Trump’s staff. They should be listened to, not what a former ambassador is saying,” Smajlovic said.
Dodik: There is no justice for Serbs in B&H; Shameful report written and imposed by Ashdown will be abolished (ATV)
Commemoration and religious service for some 3,500 Serb victims killed in Podrinje region during last war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) were held on Saturday. Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik announced that “shameful report” of the RS Government (Referring to report on Srebrenica developments) that was written and imposed by former High Representative Paddy Ashdown will be abolished. Dodik added that this decision will be abolished only if there is unity in the RS National Assembly. RS President underlined that he expects support of opposition parties, especially SDS to his initiative. Dodik also stated that verdicts recently rendered by B&H Court against three Bosniaks who raped Serb 10-year-old girl in 1993 in Sarajevo are too low for this type of crime. “This is evidence that there is no justice for Serbs in B&H. Also, B&H is not country for Serbs. We are part of it due to force of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). We are prepared to respect the DPA and its stipulations, but we are also aware that illusion in form of B&H some have been attempting to build is detrimental for Serb people,” explained RS President. Serbian Minister of Defense and representative of Serbian President at abovementioned commemoration Aleksandar Vulin said that July 7 is historic day that Serbia and the RS mark together. He underlined that Serbs “are alone” in honoring of their victims, emphasizing that no representative of the international community decided to attend Saturday commemoration and honor Serb victims. He added that B&H Court’s decisions in cases against wartime commanders of RBiH Army Naser Oric and Atif Dudakovic and others who committed atrocities against Serbs represent clear message that there is no justice for Serbs. RS Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic emphasized that developments from the past must be nourished and must “keep Serbs awake” in order to enable them to avoid similar tragedies in the future. Besides officials from the RS and Serbia, commemoration in Bratunac was attended by Russian Ambassador to B&H. Reporter reminded that some 50 Serb children were killed in Podrinje region during last war. Also, Vulin reminded that those who attempted to assassinate Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic three years ago in Potocari still have not been processed.
Covic meets Wigemark, discusses political situation and election issues in B&H (Vecernji list)
Croat member of the B&H Presidency and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic met with EU Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Lars-Gunnar Wigemark in Mostar. The two officials held an open and friendly meeting, and they exchanged opinions on the current political situation in B&H, reforms and the future of the country. Covic underlined the importance of a solution for the Law on Elections of B&H that is going to guarantee equality of all the constituent peoples in the country, with consistent implementation of the principle of legitimate representation at all levels of authority. Covic also pointed out that B&H must fully implement all the decisions of the Constitutional Court of B&H. He expressed regret over the fact that an agreement on the elections in Mostar has not been reached in time. At the end of the meeting, Covic expressed his dedication and optimism with regards to implementation of reforms necessary for the European future of B&H.
Bosniak parties want to create their own state through separatism (Vecernji list)
The Main Board of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) sent an open letter to political parties, representatives of the international community, competent institutions and entire public and called for stopping of entity separatism, as the HNS assessed the attempt of five Bosniak parties to adopt an entity level law on elections. The HNS assessed that this represents an attack on the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and a move which leads to establishment of a Bosniak state within the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Following the adoption of the mentioned Law (on constituencies) in the Federation of B&H House of Representatives (HoR) and opinion of the Federation of B&H government, it became obvious that Bosniak political representatives are willing to pay full institutional and political control over the Federation of B&H with destroying of constitutional-legal order of this joint state as well as with brutal violation of the DPA. Everything points to the fact that the ultimate goal of such politics might be turning of the Federation of B&H into a Bosniak entity and, after that, turning of the Bosniak entity into a Bosniak state,” the letter noted. The letter also urged all political parties to protect the DPA, B&H Constitution, constitutional-legal order and rule of law. The letter especially called the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and Peace Implementation Council (PIC) to protect the DPA and B&H Constitution. The letter warned that there are only three months left to implement the decision of B&H Constitutional Court in ‘Ljubic’ case but a group of five Bosniak political parties, i.e. SDA, SBB B&H, SDP, DF and Our Party, is trying to solve the implementation of this decision through the Federation of B&H Parliament instead of solving it through B&H Parliament. The letter reminded that B&H CC ordered only changes to the Law on Elections of B&H and not the adoption of some new law at the entity level and assessed that the move of Bosniak political parties represents “entity coup d’etat”.
HDZ B&H to attempt to prevent adoption of Law on Constituencies by invoking mechanism for protection of vital national interests (FTV)
Weeks after Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Representatives (HoR) adopted the Law on Constituencies, it is still not clear when and if the Federation of B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Is going to discuss it. HDZ B&H’s Barisa Colak stated that HDZ B&H will try to prevent its adoption in the Federation of B&H HoP. SDA demands urgent session of Federation of B&H HoP. HDZ B&H already announced its intention to invoke the mechanism for protection of vital national interest. However, the Federation of B&H Constitutional Court which decides on protection of national interests is working on the edge of the quorum, because only five of seven positions in the Council for National Interest are occupied. “Five judges have to vote “for” or “against” the decision on admissibility, which is a necessary consensus among Council members on that matter. If no consensus is reached, no decision can be made. To decide on the second stage of the proceedings, two votes from the members of the Council are sufficient to reach a decision on the violation of vital interest of constituent people.”, the Federation of B&H Constitutional Court stated. Head of the Bosniak Caucus in the Federation of B&H HoP Osman Catic stated that the law was adopted in the Federation of B&H HoR in urgent procedure because of the upcoming elections, and added that the same should happen in Federation of B&H HoP. President of Federation of B&H Marinko Cavara announced that he will not sign the law. Head of the DF Caucus in the Federation of B&H House of Representatives o Dzenan Djonlagic stated that it is the duty of everyone involved to sign the law, including the President of Federation of B&H, so that it could be adopted as soon as possible. He added that if Cavara does not sign the law, it would mean an abuse of his position and the devaluation of B&H institutions. Expert on Constitutional Law Sukrija Baksic stated that it is not defined in the Federation of B&H Constitution whether the Federation of B&H President can independently deny signing a law that was adopted in the parliament.
B&H Presidency approves signing of declarations that will be adopted at EU-Western Balkans summit (BHT1)
The B&H Presidency gave at the last-minute approval to the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) for signing of four declarations at the summit of prime ministers of Western Balkan countries which will be held in London on Monday and Tuesday (9 and 10 July). B&H CoM representatives confirmed that the B&H Presidency held an urgent telephone session which the public was not informed about and decided to give approval to the CoM for signing of the four declarations, including the Declaration on War Crimes, Declaration on Missing Persons, Declaration on the Fight Against Corruption and Declaration on Regional Relations and Good Neighborly Cooperation, at the upcoming London summit. The Chairman of the B&H CoM Denis Zvizdic, B&H Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak and B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic will represent B&H at the London summit. Zvizdic stressed that there is nothing controversial in the four declarations that will be signed at the summit of leaders of Western Balkan countries, adding that projects that will be presented at the summit were well prepared. As far as security is concerned, B&H made excellent, visible, credible and measurable progress in the fight against terrorism and all forms of extremism.”
Serb paramilitary leader’s sentence for war crimes reduced (Hina)
Croatia’s Supreme Court has reduced the 15-year prison sentence to 13.5 years for Dragan Vasiljkovic aka Captain Dragan, wartime commander of a Serb paramilitary unit, for war crimes committed against Croatian soldiers and civilians during the 1991-1995 war of independence.
The final verdict, delivered on 12 June and published on the Supreme Court’s website on Friday, partly sustained objections made by the defendant. He was given seven years for each of the first two counts of the indictment, and the sentence was converted into a single sentence of 13 years and six months. The Supreme Court upheld the remainder of the verdict handed down by Split County Court on 26 September 2016 which found Vasiljkovic guilty of war crimes in the Knin in June and July 1991 and during an attack on Glina, while acquitting him of ordering the murder of two unidentified Croatian soldiers at Bruska near Benkovac in February 1993. Vasiljkovic has denied all the allegations.
Djukanovic: European perspective still significant to Montenegro (RTCG)
President of Montenegro and leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, Milo Djukanovic claims that recently held elections marked a 20-year long political life in Montenegro. At the session of the Council for Monitoring the Electoral Program of the DPS, Djukanovic told his party has been continuously protecting Montenegro from any destabilization attempts. “In the 1997 elections, Montenegro opted for a specific position. Those were the times when citizens had to choose either the road towards the European quality of live or the one which could solely destroy their lives,” told Djukanovic. The DPS leader emphasized that over the past 20 years Montenegro restored its independence and headed towards the European perspective. “Economic growth remains our topmost priority and we should create more job opportunities & higher salaries” said Djukanovic, adding that another main goal is to develop institutional capacities. Djukanovic underlined that the state won’t give up the European values, but also urged the European partners to encourage Montenegro by appreciating all its efforts on the road to EU. Europe must recognize progress Montenegro has achieved, according to Djukanovic.
Szijjártó: Montenegro is ready to join EU even this year (Pobjeda)
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pcter Szijjarto, believes Montenegro deserves to enter the EU as soon as possible and that’s why he’s not pleased with the European Commission (EC) documents stipulating that MNE should accede to the EU in 2025. In an interview for Pobjeda daily, Szijjarto stressed that Hungary will leave no stone unturned in encouraging Montenegro’s accession to the EU. “Based on the achievements, Montenegro is ready to join the EU even tomorrow and it’s in the interest of the EU to accept new members, especially in the context of economic, security and political requirements. If we look at the outcomes, we can definitely say Montenegro and Serbia are leaders in the process of EU integrations,” Szijjarto told Pobjeda. This is the reason why Hungary doesn’t support the EU policy which suppresses ambitions of the candidate states: “With more member states, we are stronger and if we look at results Montenegro has achieved so far, there are no obstacles for your country to enter the EU this year, the next one or whenever. We are currently insisting on opening of all the remaining chapters this year so that you might be able to close them asap,” said chief of Hungarian diplomacy. Speaking about the recently published EC Enlargement Report, Szijjarto told he found this document very frustrating, underlining that his country is going to use all the available mechanisms to accelerate the EU enlargement agenda.
Linking Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway with ports in MNE&AL expected (CDM)
Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at Central Eastern Europe-China Summit, better known as ‘16+1’ summit, told Montenegro has been ready to contribute to the comprehensive strategic partnership between the European Union (EU) and China. He also said he expects a feasibility study on connecting the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railroad with ports in Montenegro and Albania to be drafted after the Summit. “As a future EU member state, Montenegro is all ready to contribute to a comprehensive strategic partnership between the EU and China. We expect the feasibility study to examine possibilities for connecting the Belgrade-Budapest fast railroad with ports in MNE and Albania, as already agreed in Budapest. Similar position has been given in the Guidelines, which include posts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia,” Markovic said. He emphasized that Montenegro is about to enter the final phase of construction of the first Bar-Boljare highway section, and this project represents an example of fruitful cooperation within the ‘16+1’ Mechanism. “The government of Montenegro is creating conditions for continuing construction of other highway sections, towards the border with the Republic of Serbia. I hereby invite you all to encourage companies from your countries to express their interest in implementation of this project in partnership with the Government of Montenegro. We need to improve cooperation between banks and financial institutions from the Central and Eastern Europe countries and People’s Republic of China,” underlined Markovic.
Macedonia expects to be invited to join Alliance at NATO Summit in Brussels (MIA)
The Republic of Macedonia expects to be extended an invitation to join the Alliance at this week’s NATO Summit in Brussels. Defence Minister Radmila Sekerinska and Stevo Pendarovski, National Coordinator for Macedonia’s membership preparation in NATO are to hold Monday a briefing ahead of NATO Summit. After receiving NATO membership invitation, Macedonia expects to sit at the table with the Alliance and membership process should not take longer than 6 months, Deputy PM Radmila Sekerinska said in Sunday’s interview with Radio Free Europe adding that she does not expect that addition problems will occur during the process. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained the steps following the meeting with PM Zoran Zaev on June 29 regarding the procedure for Macedonia’s membership. The successful referendum on agreement with Greece remains key requirement, but Macedonia is to participate at all NATO meetings even prior to full-fledged membership. “Once all national procedures have been completed to finalize the agreement, you will join NATO. Without the finalization of the agreement, your country can not join NATO in the foreseeable future. So, this is an historic opportunity which cannot be missed,” Stoltenberg underlined.
Zaev: By joining forces Central, East European countries may attract new investments (MIA)
By joining forces, the Central, Eastern European countries may boost the exchange of people, goods and services, and by taking advantage of China’s expertise, make this region an attractive destination for Chinese companies and tourists, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Saturday at the Central and Eastern Europe – China ’16 + 1′ summit in Sofia. Citing the Chinese saying ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’, Zaev said the 16+1 initiative ‘is also the first step of an extraordinary voyage that will enable Macedonia to deepen its ties with other countries, make progress in the spheres of energy and infrastructure.’ He notified that in March this year the China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European Countries) Coordination Centre for Cultural Cooperation was opened in Macedonia’s capital Skopje. This September Macedonia will also host the fifth Chine-CEEC High-Level Think Tanks Symposium and in 2019 the fourth ministerial forum on cultural cooperation, Zaev said. ‘2018 is rather significant for the Euro-Atlantic integration of my country. Last year we signed a Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria, and last month we have signed a deal that puts an end to long-standing name dispute and promotes strategic partnership with our southern neighbor Greece, thus ensuring a prospect for turning our strategic goals into reality, as well as advancing the bilateral cooperation with the countries in the region,’ Zaev said. He expressed belief that the summit would produce many new ideas ‘which will advance the mutual cooperation and communication between the citizens of our countries.’
Zaev also notified that this year Macedonia and China were celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties. In honor of the anniversary, he extended gratitude to China on its support of Macedonia and pledge for resuming the successful cooperation, the government said in a press release.
Macedonia-Montenegro defense cooperation sets example for Western Balkan region (MIA)
A delegation of Montenegro’s Ministry of Defense, led by State Secretary Slobodan Filipovic, on an invitation of his Macedonian colleague Dragan Nikolic, paid a working visit to Macedonia.
Within the visit, the excellent bilateral co-operation between the two ministries and armies was highlighted, which could serve as an example for the region. In this respect the cooperation in educating Montenegrin cadets at the Macedonian Military and the flying training of members of the air force of the two armies was notified. Nikolic briefed Filipovic about the strategic priorities of the Ministry of Defense, including the adoption of the Strategic Defense Review and the activities deriving from this document, the Ministry of Defense said Saturday in a press release. The Montenegrin delegation visited the Aviation Brigade to get familiar with its mission and tasks and attended the ceremony of the Day of High Guests at the Summer Camp 2018.
Greek-Albanian issues to be postponed (ADN)
The acrimonious aftermath of the Macedonia name deal has prompted the government to defer efforts to resolve bilateral differences with Albania, wrote Greek Ekathimerini. According to reports, the Greek Prime Minister’s Office is reportedly waiting for the name deal’s ratification in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM) and Greece before it tackles the Albanian issues. Reportedly, negotiations between Athens and Tirana will however continue – in particular, between the committees dealing with the demarcation of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of both countries, which had recently embarked on an effort to resolve all pending issues. The effort to demarcate the EEZs of both countries has stumbled in the past due to political disagreements within Albania. Apart from abolishing the status of war that has remained in effect since World War II, Greece also wants to secure the rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania, wrote Ekathimerini. According to past statements by the Greek Foreign Ministry, progress has been made on the issue of the Greek minority. The Greek government has categorically denied that the thorny issue of the Chams, which Tirana has pushed intensely, is among the issues to be negotiated. Chams claim rights to the property they left in Greece when they were expelled during WWII. Greece dismisses the claims, saying that the Chams were Nazi collaborators.
So far both sides have reportedly made progress on so-called low-priority issues such as the scrapping of consular fees for Albanians in Greece and the recognition of Albanian driving licenses. Moreover, Albania has already begun the process to exhume the remains of Greek soldiers who fell in southern Albania during the Greek-Italian war in 1940-41. Prime ministers Edi Rama and Alexis Tsipras, who will meet in London on Tuesday, are expected to discuss the progress reached so far in the negotiations between the two countries.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
China says open for trade with east Europe as clash with U.S. ramps up (Reuters, by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov, 7 July 2018)
SOFIA – China remains open for trade with foreign partners and can only benefit from an economically strong Europe, its premier said on Saturday as he pressed for expanded ties with the continent’s eastern wing while waging a tariff war with Washington. Li Keqiang told a summit with central and eastern European leaders that China would continue opening its markets and implementing other reforms that had fuelled its economy, providing opportunities for EU members and aspirants in the bloc’s poorer half. “It is two-way traffic,” Li said through an interpreter. “…Opening up has been a key driver of China’s reform agenda so we will continue to open wider to the world, including widening market access for foreign investors.” Li’s attendance at the seventh “16+1” summit in Sofia coincided with the first salvos in what risks becoming a protracted global trade war, as Washington and Beijing slapped tariffs on $34 billion worth of each others’ goods. Some participating countries have begun doubting the value of the annual meetings, and China has come under pressure to show its courting of individual countries from the Baltics to the Balkans would not hurt the European Union as a whole. “If Europe is weakened, it will only be bad news for China, not the other way around,” Li said. “This (16+1) platform needs to stay open. It needs to be transparent.” Officials from the EU, World Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were invited and Li said those organisations were welcome to jointly fund projects in central and eastern Europe.
KEEPING IT SWEET
Mindful of the need to keep relations with the EU on an even keel as his trade battles with U.S. President Donald Trump intensify, Li has been careful to stress China’s support for European integration and rules in trade and procurement. He said China was ready to fund a Global Partnership Centre in Sofia that should help Chinese companies understand EU market rules and adhere to them in the region. Analysts have said Li, who will travel to Germany on Sunday ahead of a wider China-EU summit in Beijing, would avoid any issues that might irk western EU governments. He is holding bilateral meetings in Sofia with all the leaders of the eastern countries. He said these were also not meant to divide Europe. Some 18 bilateral agreements and memorandums were signed, but no new major deals were announced. China has promised billions of dollars for development projects in the region as part of its Belt and Road strategy to carve out new export markets. More than 1,000 business people from China and central and eastern Europe attended an economic forum alongside the summit, seeking deals in trade, technology, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism. Bulgaria hopes the summit will help secure funds to build new infrastructure, mainly in the Balkans, which still lags richer western EU states. “16+1 is a format that aims to strengthen Europe,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said in his opening remarks. “It gives more opportunities to those who joined the EU later to catch up faster.” Last month Hungary finalised the construction timetable with Beijing for a Budapest-Belgrade rail link. But outside Hungary, Chinese investments have not met expectations. Countries taking part in the summit include the region’s EU states, plus Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Croatia will host the next 16+1 summit in 2019.
(Writing by Jason Hovet; editing by John Stonestreet)