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Belgrade Media Report 12 July

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LOCAL PRESS

• Stefanovic: Arrests part of pressure on Serbs (TV Prva)
• Jeremic: One signature changes everything (NIN/FoNet)
• NATO: Stronger links with Serbia good for everyone (Beta)
• Rama: I hope for Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo (N1)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• The 23rd anniversary of Srebrenica genocide was marked on Wednesday (TV1)
• Serbs from disputed list should come back from Germany asap (Srna)
• Pressure on Serbs for their commitment to Russia (Srna)
• Declarations signed in London harmful for Serbs (Srna)
Croatia
• Croatian President confident in NATO unity (Hina)
fYROM
• Stoltenberg: NATO members agree to formally invite Macedonia to start accession talks (MIA)
• Rejoice Macedonia, Zaev says about NATO membership invitation (MIA)
• Referendum on Skopje-Athens name deal will be successful, Zaev tells NATO conference (MIA)
• Dimitrov meets State Department official in Brussels (MIA)
Albania
• NATO Summit in Brussels, Rama: Positive assessment for Albania (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Federica Mogherini to host a next meeting in the framework of EU-facilitated Dialogue (EEAS press release)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Stefanovic: Arrests part of pressure on Serbs (TV Prva)

 

The recent arrests of Serbs in Kosovo are part of the pressure on the local Serbs, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told TV Prva. According to him, the Serbs are being pressured into accepting the forming of a Kosovo military and into considering whether there is room for them in Kosovo. “The Serbs living in Kosovo do not want an army to be formed nor anything else not allowed by international regulations and UN resolutions,” he said. “It’s clear now who is trying to block the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations,” Stefanovic said, adding that Belgrade is doing everything to normalize life in Kosovo while Pristina is trying to block the talks and not implement key points of the Brussels agreement.

 

Jeremic: One signature changes everything (NIN/FoNet)

 

The leader of the People’s Party Vuk Jeremic has stated that in the context of the dialogue on Kosovo one signature changes everything, because Pristina would not have to negotiate anymore about anything after it would acquire, with Serbia’s signature on the so-called agreement on comprehensive normalization of relations, the right to a seat in the United Nations, and this is the last thing they haven’t received. “That is why I repeat, this one signature would change everything, and this is why we need to do everything to prevent this from happening,” said Jeremic in an interview to NIN weekly. Jeremic noted it was necessary to change the negotiating strategy with the Kosovo Albanians, which hasn’t brought literally anything to the state and the Kosovo Serbs, while, on the other side, the Albanians received everything they asked for.

 

NATO: Stronger links with Serbia good for everyone (Beta)

 

The empowering of the NATO – Serbia relations is good for the Alliance, for Serbia and the region as a whole, NATO leaders have said in a joint statement in Brussels on Wednesday, Beta reported. They “welcomed the constant progress in building up of NATO – Serbia partnership,” the statement after the first day of the Alliance’s summit, said. “We reiterate the need of the continued progress in the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue which should lead to an overall normalization of relations including a legally binding agreement,” NATO leaders said.

They added they encouraged both sides “to speed up the efforts to normalize relations and fully implement the agreed deals.” “We are entirely committed to the stability and security in the Western Balkans,” the Alliances’ leaders said. Speaking about KFOR, NATO leaders said they welcomed Kosovo’s efforts to improve its ability to guarantee safety to its people and to contribute to the regional security,” adding the cooperation with Kosovo Security Forces went on through a NATO liaison team. But, referring to the transition of the Kosovo Security Forces into an army, the leaders say that any change in the NATO format will depend on conditions on the ground, not on any calendar deadlines.

 

Rama: I hope for Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo (N1)

 

The Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama said on Wednesday he respected Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic’s efforts in Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, but that from Tirana’s point of view the best solution would be Belgrade’s full recognition of Kosovo.  He said he knew it is not easy for my friend (Vucic). “I would like to see that the Albanians in Serbia are respected as the Serbs in Kosovo are, but that’s not the case,” Rama told reporters in Brussels at the sideline of the NATO Summit.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

The 23rd anniversary of Srebrenica genocide was marked on Wednesday (TV1)

 

The 23rd anniversary of Srebrenica genocide was marked on Wednesday. On this occasion, commemoration and collective funeral of 35 victims of the Srebrenica genocide were held in Potocari. Besides victims’ family members, a number of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) politicians, politicians from the countries in the region and representatives of the international community attended the commemoration in Potocari. All of them sent a message that one must never forget what happened in Srebrenica in July 1995, as well as that one must never allow similar crimes to happen anywhere else in the world. Addressing the commemoration, President of the Organizing Committee for 23rd Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide Nermin Alivukovic said that returnees in Srebrenica are worried, insecure and bitter, adding that truth about the crimes is being covered up. “I expect all B&H officials, primarily those at the state level, who can and who because of all Srebrenica victims have moral obligation to do so, to make sure the area on which genocide was committed is treated in a specific way,” Alivukovic underlined. Participants of the commemoration also said that it is important to establish facts about what happened so that those responsible could be punished and future could be built on justice and truth. Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic said that she came to Potocari to pay her respects to the victims and to express her deepest condolences to their families. High Representative Valentin Inzko said that Srebrenica genocide represents a planetary tragedy and a huge stain on the conscience of the international community, condemning all those who continue to celebrate war criminals and their wrongdoings in spite proven facts. “We should also remember that B&H citizens lived in peace and good neighborhood for centuries, much longer then they are now living separated from each other. Ability of B&H citizens to live in harmony regardless of their differences still exist and I believe that it is strengthening,” Inzko told the commemoration in Potocari. US Ambassador to B&H Maureen Cormack stressed that the US will assist B&H until justice is served and until all victims are found and identified. “I am honored to be here at the marking of the anniversary of genocide. I am touched by the dedication of surviving members of families of genocide victims, as well as  friends who are so dedicated to be here and mark what happened here in a way to make it a path towards peace and reconciliation,” Ambassador Cormack underlined. President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), Judge Theodor Meron, was quoted as saying that everyone will light the “candles of remembrance” in their own way, by paying tribute to those who tragically lost their lives in Srebrenica in 1995 – at the Memorial Center in Potocari and all over the world. “We are all guardians of this vital but fragile flame. We are responsible today, as well as in days to come, to make sure that fathers and brothers, husbands and sons and all other victims of those horrible events are still remembered, that the lessons of Srebrenica are never forgotten,” Meron stated. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn also issued a joint statement that reads: “While we are remembering, we are also responsible to build a better future based on reconciliation.” “This commemoration reminds us of one of the darkest moments of humankind and recent history of Europe, as well as our obligation to prevent such crime from ever happening again,” reads the statement. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted as saying that the killed people will not be forgotten. “We are paying tribute to genocide victims… The horrible genocide in Srebrenica reminds us of the fact that we must remain persistent in order to secure prosperous future for all citizens of B&H, regardless of their religious and ethnic affiliation,” reads the statement issued by Pompeo. European Parliament’s Rapporteur for B&H Cristian Dan Preda remembered Srebrenica victims, and he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of genocide in Srebrenica and their family members, some of whom are still looking for the remains of their loved ones. Remembering Srebrenica is a moral duty for us Europeans. And we must abide by the promise to never let genocide happen again.”  Chairman of the B&H Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic said that he expects the international community to have firmer positions for a safer future. “For a normal human being, it is hard to imagine that a crime of such proportions could happen in Europe at the end of the 20th century, and it happened,” Izetbegovic stressed, adding that he is still wondering why Srebrenica genocide happened and what were the reasons behind something like that. Commemoration in Srebrenica was also attended by Metropolitan of Montenegro Mihailo, the first Orthodox priest to visit the town after the genocide took place. Mihailo is carried as saying that he has spoken and still speaks about the crime against innocent people in Srebrenica. “I often ask myself whether it was done by people or beasts”, said Mihailo. Mihailo earlier said that only genocidal people can say there was no genocide in Srebrenica.  Member of the Presidency of B&H and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic published a message on Twitter marking 23rd anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica, and he wrote: “Terrible crime was committed in Srebrenica. Today, we pray for forgiveness, even in the name of those who do not have courage for it… We build joint European future together, founded on truth and reconciliation.” LDP leader Cedomir Jovanovic on Wednesday attended the commemoration, stressing that he has been coming to Potocari for years because of Bosnia, Bosniaks, Serbs, and primarily because of children. He underlined that evil is pushing down the good, the lies are pushing down the truth, but that tombstones in Potocari will do more for peace and for the future than living people. “It seems to me that Bosniaks suffered here 23 years ago and that my people and all those who deny Srebrenica genocide are suffering every day. They are preserving the little peace we have here among us much more than our intelligence” Jovanovic said. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci used his Twitter account to pay respect to the victims. Thaci wrote that over 8,000 people were slaughtered in the Srebrenica genocide and this crime and the victims must never be forgotten. Thaci noted that perpetrators of the Srebrenica genocide, namely Serbian military units in B&H and Serbian supporters and ideologues in Belgrade, must not be forgotten as well. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Wednesday paid her respects to victims of genocide in Srebrenica. Grabar-Kitarovic posted a picture of herself laying flowers at the monument to Srebrenica genocide victims in Potocari, along with a message that Srebrenica genocide should not be forgotten and that it is necessary to prevent such crimes from ever happening again.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted on Wednesday that genocide in Srebrenica was the most shameful event in history which happened before Europe’s eyes. “I wish God’s mercy on our Bosnian brothers who were martyred in the Srebrenica Holocaust. We will fight together to prevent such crimes against humanity from happening again,” Erdogan wrote on his Twitter account.

 

Serbs from disputed list should come back from Germany asap (Srna)

 

President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik says that, after the Mothers of Srebrenica association gave a list of 22,000 Serbs to a German prosecutor, Germany will start chasing after those people, and that is why they should go back home as soon as possible. Commenting on a statement by the Mothers of Srebrenica leader Munisa Subasic that she would demand that everyone from the list currently staying in Germany be brought to justice in the Western European country instead of in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dodik said that the German judiciary had no jurisdiction in these parts. “Those people will now obviously be chased after. What they have to do is to come back home as soon as possible. That’s how the German judiciary will not be able to do anything on those grounds” Dodik said. Dodik interprets this move with the list as a provocation and manipulation and bullying the people on the list, which RS does not recognize, given that the list was created, under pressure, by a commission in charge of researching the events in Srebrenica, which was formed in 2003 by the RS government at the time. “It was a government report which was false and untrue. It was done under pressure and imposed by the international community, which they are now using and abusing” said Dodik. According to him, the list includes all the people who were members of any units in those parts, even the people who did not have responsibility for anything. The list that the Mothers of Srebrenica leader submitted to the German prosecutor contains the names of 22,000 Serbs, including even those who had nothing to do with the armed conflict, from chefs to cleaning ladies. Cabinet of member of B&H Presidency from the RS Mladen Ivanic expressed full respect for all innocent victims but at the same time, the Cabinet condemned any kind of manipulations and games played with names of people, after so many years. The statement also reads: “The Hague Tribunal reached verdicts for responsibility in Srebrenica and any kind of games with names – after so many years – are unacceptable. Institutions of the RS and B&H should make everything to protect their people from eventual prosecution”.

 

Pressure on Serbs for their commitment to Russia (Srna)

 

The President of the Republika Srpska (RS) Organization of Families of Fallen and Captured Soldiers and Missing Civilians, Nedeljko Mitrovic, has told Srna that the statement by German investigators that not a single perpetrator of genocide in Srebrenica should feel safe in Germany, is a pressure on RS and Serbia for their military neutrality and commitment to Russia.

Mitrovic has said that the initiators of sending to Germany the list with the names of 22,000 members of the RS Army suspected of alleged crimes in Srebrenica estimated that that country is the most sensitive to this issue for a number of genocides Germans committed during WWII.

“They think that Germany simply must answer to such a call. On the other hand, this is a reaction to good relations between Germany and Serbia,” Mitrovic has said. He has said that Organization’s branches in the Podrinje and Srebrnica will send to Germany and other European states the list with the names of around 1,500 persons who committed crimes against Serbs in that area. Klaus Sorn, a German police investigator and the chief inspector of the Federal Criminal Police Office, has said in Potocari that not a single “perpetrator of genocide in Srebrenica hiding in Germany” should feel safe from investigation, arrest and judgment.

 

Declarations signed in London harmful for Serbs (Srna)

 

Declarations on war crimes and missing persons are harmful for the Serbs and that is why they should not have been signed in London, and it is very symptomatic that the British stand behind them, says Milorad Kojic, head of the Centre for Research of War, War Crimes and Search for Missing Persons of Republika Srpska (RS). “A joint declaration on war crimes and a framework plan for the resolution of the issue of persons went missing in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia do not contain anything that would benefit Serbs,” said Kojic to Srna and stressed that some parts of these documents create a possibility for punishing the Serbian people, adding the history was falsely represented. Commenting on the fact that the Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdic, authorized by the B&H Presidency, signed four joint declarations: a declaration on missing persons, a declaration on regional relations and mutual cooperation and a statement on fighting corruption. Kojic has said that Serbian representatives should not have allowed this to be done having in mind that the Center earlier gave a negative opinion on some of these documents. He says that the Center gave a negative opinion on the declaration on war crimes since it says that every country should recognize rulings of international and domestic judicial institutions, stressing that the issue of collective responsibility would be imposed, even though the founding act of the ICTY says that the ICTY prosecutes and tries individuals, and in no way groups and collectivities. “Having in mind selective operations of domestic judicial institutions and the ICTY, this fear is absolutely justified which is why we gave a negative opinion because we must not allow the imposition of a collective guilt on RS and the Serbian people. This can produce very damaging consequences for the survival of RS,” Kojic has said. He says that the Center gave a negative opinion on a part which pertains to a provocative use of symbols because it is not precise enough, since, according to the declaration, if any of the constituent peoples assesses any symbol as provocative, the use of such a symbol would represent the violation of that act and would entail punishment. “This would create an opportunity for the marking of significant dates for the Serbian people, where we use symbols of the RS Army, to be considered as being insulting for the other people. We who would do it would be punished,” Kojic says. Regarding a framework plan for the resolution of the issue of persons went missing in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Kojic has said that the Center received a proposed framework plan which was agreed at the Collegium of Directors of the Missing Persons Institute which is composed of a Bosniak, a Serb and a Croat and that no one included them to a task force which dealt with this act. “This act defines certain things which are not good and represent the violation of the Law on Missing Persons. Serbian representatives in joint institutions should not have allowed it to be signed,” Kojic has said. He reiterated that it is the position of the Center that all responsible for war crimes must be prosecuted and that huge efforts must be invested in discovering these people.

 

Croatian President confident in NATO unity (Hina)

 

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Thursday she was confident that NATO leaders at their summit in Brussels would reach a consensus on common objectives, despite the negative atmosphere created over the past several days and expressed satisfaction that the Alliance would pay attention to NATO’s southern flank. “Unfortunately, the atmosphere created over the past several days is not as constructive, but I believe that through our common values, notably solidarity, we will achieve the necessary level of consent regarding NATO’s common objectives,” Grabar-Kitarovic said before the NATO summit, held in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, amidst tensions between the two sides of the Atlantic. “What is important for Croatia is that we have managed to attract attention of NATO members which have for years been focusing on other areas, notably on Europe’s east, and have them focus on NATO’s southern flank and dangers coming from that area – potential terrorist activities, illegal migrations, arms and people smuggling and all other problems we are seeing in the Mediterranean – and have the focus of the summit shift to the southern dimension and in that sense, Croatia is one of the countries that is particularly active,” Grabar-Kitarovic said. The President said that NATO enlargement was particularly important to Croatia and welcomed the announcement that a positive message would be sent to Macedonia from the summit. “To us it is particularly important to stabilize Europe’s southeast. I am glad that positive messages would be sent today to Macedonia, following an agreement with Greece. I believe and I hope that the agreement, which I believe is historic, would be confirmed at a referendum. I understand the feelings that some Macedonians have, however, I believe this compromise solution is good as the name Republic of Northern Macedonia has the word “Macedonia” in it. I hope that all of us in NATO will help Macedonia wrap up this process. The admission into the Alliance can be expected only in a year, a year and a half, and it is important that in the meantime Macedonia can attend meetings without the right to vote,” the Croatian President said. Grabar-Kitarovic expressed her disappointment with the fact that Bosnia’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) had not been activated. “Croatia is in a group of countries that advocated the activation of MAP for Bosnia. The activation of MAP is far from membership, as we can see on Macedonia’s example which has gone through 18 annual MAP cycles, however it would strongly help Bosnia implement reforms and provide it with the framework necessary for dialogue,” the President said.

 

Stoltenberg: NATO members agree to formally invite Macedonia to start accession talks (MIA)

 

NATO member states have agreed to invite Macedonia to start the accession talks, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference on Wednesday. ‘We welcome the historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the solution of the name issue and agreed to invite the government in Skopje to start accession talks. Once all national procedures have been completed to finalize the name agreement, the country will join NATO as our 30th member,’ Stoltenberg said. He however reminded that Macedonia could join NATO only if the country changed its name. It is up to the people in the country to decide, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – they will either support the agreement and become members or do the opposite and won’t become members, he said.

 

Rejoice Macedonia, Zaev says about NATO membership invitation (MIA)

 

Rejoice Macedonia! The doors for our full-fledged NATO membership are opened, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Wednesday in regard to the decision of the Alliance’s members to invite the country to start the accession talks. ‘This afternoon NATO members states have decided to invite the Republic of Macedonia to start the accession process. Our partners and friends voiced appreciation for our staunch commitment to meet all standards stated Zaev. Today is a great, historic day for the Republic of Macedonia, he said and promised that the incumbent government would bring more good news to citizens in the upcoming period.

 

Referendum on Skopje-Athens name deal will be successful, Zaev tells NATO conference (MIA)

 

I am certain that majority of the citizens of Macedonia will cast a positive vote at the forthcoming referendum on the name deal with Greece, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Wednesday in Brussels at the conference ‘NATO Engages – The Brussels Summit Dialogue’.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the decision for Macedonia to start the accession talks, which means that now Skopje and Athens should start work on meeting the obligations deriving from the deal, Zaev said. ‘We have taken the obligation to call a referendum, as the name of our country is to be changed. The referendum should take place in late September or early October. The process is rather democratic and I believe that vast majority of our citizens will vote for’ Zaev told the conference, also attended by Defense, Foreign Ministers, Radmila Sekerinska and Nikola Dimitrov respectively, Vice-Premier for European Affairs Bujar Osmani and National NATO Coordinator Stevo Pendarovski. Zaev said the name talks were not easy. However, he said, the Prime Ministers of both countries decided to put the future of citizens above their political careers. The copy-paste comments of opposition parties from both countries are a solid confirmation that the deal is fair. By reaching an agreement, Macedonia and Greece have moved mountains, proving that settling of such sensitive issue is possible, Zaev said. To a question what could Macedonia offer to the Alliance, Zaev said the country’s NATO membership status would contribute to the stability of the region considered to be rather dangerous in the past. He also notified the country’s substantial contribution to NATO-led missions across the globe. Under the NATO decision to invite Macedonia to start the accession process, the country will become part of a family it belongs to,’ Zaev said. ‘NATO Engages’ event brought together current and next generation leaders to discuss international security in the 21stCentury. The event’s themes included defense and security, deterrence and dialogue as well as how NATO can project stability in today’s world. The event was organized by the consortium of the Atlantic Council, German Marshall Fund (GMF), Munich Security Conference (MSC), and Women in International Security (WIIS) in partnership with NATO.

 

Dimitrov meets State Department official in Brussels (MIA)

 

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, who is a member of the Macedonian government delegation at the NATO Summit in Brussels, led by PM Zoran Zaev, held Wednesday bilateral talks with Nathan Sales, the US State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism. The two interlocutors discussed international activities and the support of Macedonia to the global coalition for the fight against terrorism, the Foreign Ministry (MoFA) said in a press release. “Minister Dimitrov presented the national activities undertaken to prepare the society in tackling these challenges all the while noting, first and foremost, the importance of preventing such threats, most notably paying attention to young people, who are the most vulnerable category in the society, and by engaging the civil sector, non-governmental organization and educational institutions in the country,” stated the press release. Furthermore, FM Dimitrov is taking part in the NATO Engages event, organized by the Atlantic Council, the German Marshal Fund, the Munich Security Conference and the Brussels-based foundation Women in International Security, which also saw the participation of Zoran Zaev.

 

NATO Summit in Brussels, Rama: Positive assessment for Albania (ADN)

 

Prime Minister, Edi Rama, informed on Wednesday through social media, that Albania was assessed positively in the NATO Summit for the given contribute. According to him, the country has received assessments for increasing the defense budget and participation with 13% of its troops on joint fronts. “Albania was very positively assessed for its contribution to the Alliance’s program, by increasing defense budget, 13% participation of its troops on joint fronts, and active access to anti-terrorism and violent extremism. By highly praising the agreement reached between Athens and Skopje, Albania supports the initiation of procedures for the NATO membership of the Republic of North Macedonia as soon as possible” said Rama.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Federica Mogherini to host a next meeting in the framework of EU-facilitated Dialogue (EEAS press release, 12 July 2018)

 

Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, will meet next week, on 18 July, President Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo and President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia in the context of the continuation of her facilitation of the EU-facilitated Dialogue. She will review with them the progress in discussions on the comprehensive normalisation agreement so far and plan the next steps and meetings, in order to ensure the work between both sides continues at intensified pace.

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