Drecun: Serbia must seize U.S. offer to talk Kosovo (RTS)
Milovan Drecun, head of the Serbian parliament’s Kosovo Committee, said that it was necessary to seize the U.S. offer to talk about Kosovo because it would not be on the table long. Drecun told RTS that Serbia must try to reach an agreement with the Americans, as the Trump administration has opened “room to maneuver for Serbia to regulate Kosovo differently.”
“The demarcation idea is over, especially for the sponsors of Kosovo’s independence, because they believe that Kosovo should continue to operate as an independent state. Still, the U.S. felt modeling that state differently should be discussed, especially with regard to certain parts where Serbs are a compact unit, like northern Kosovo” Drecun said. He said it was immature to expect others to solve Serbia’s problems and that it was necessary for Serbia to reach an agreement with ethnic Albanians to avert the most serious damage.
Dacic: Pristina wants to bury the agreement (RTV)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that Pristina’s goal was to bury the idea of any possible agreement and compromise with Belgrade, as deep as it can. Commenting on a report that the Kosovo Assembly had formed a working group to draft a resolution demanding that Belgrade admit the perpetration of genocide in Kosovo, Dacic said “that is a forgery, there isn’t even one conviction in The Hague that says the Serbian side committed genocide in Kosovo”. He said an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina was a long way off. Asked about a statement by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that Kosovo would be independent across its territory because his idea of demarcation was not accepted. Dacic said he did not “think that the fundamental message of the president of the state was directed at the citizens.” “I think it’s a response to the way the idea was met, and I’ve been talking about that idea for some ten years” Dacic said. Asked what this meant specifically, Dacic said it would entail a division into “the Serb and the ethnic Albanian part of Kosovo” but that the line of demarcation would have to be discussed.
Djuric: The resolution reflects the fear of Albanians from personal crimes (Tanjug)
Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric assessed that the announcement of the adoption of a new resolution in Pristina that would require Belgrade to recognize the alleged crimes in Kosovo is a reflection of the panic fear of the Albanian leadership from personal responsibility for the crimes they committed, not only during the conflict, but also later.
In a statement to Tanjug, Marko Djuric said that this initiative shows the continuity of Pristina’s irresponsible policy that cannot bring a solution to the relations between Serbs and Albanians, and which is pushing Albanian society in to new conflict.
“The Albanian leadership is showing that it does not want dialogue and normalization, they are persistently working on deepening of the conflict between us” Djuric said, commenting the announcement that the ad hoc commission of the Kosovo Assembly have drafted the resolution that would require Belgrade to “recognize that it committed a genocide in Kosovo and Metohija” during 1998 and 1999.
The head of the Serbian Government Office added that nobody needs to be remind that 247,000 Serbs were expelled, and that there are no Serbs today on the streets of Pristina, Pec, Prizren …
Director of the Office for KiM said that statements by some Albanian politicians pointing out the pretensions to the three municipalities in the south of central Serbia were considered tragic and dangerous.
“If they were not tragic and dangerous, they would be ridiculous. I could be joking and wondering why only three and not all of the 160 municipalities in the whole territory of Serbia, then we should all be in one undividable and united Serbia, as we should, according to our constitution and international law” said Djuric.
Once largest Serbia’s party to reunite with some of its rebels (Danas)
The Democratic Party (DS) once the most influential opposition and then for years ruling political force in Serbia will sign a declaration on joining ranks with some of the organizations formed after DS split following the election defeat in 2012, the FoNet news agency reported.
Zoran Lutovac, the head of DS, told the Belgrade independent Danas daily that DS, Social-Democratic Party and Together for Serbia will sign the declaration on joining forces on May 19, adding others were also welcome. He told the daily the first step would be the union of those three parties and the next stage was to form the single DS. “The doors to DS are open to all those who want to build a better society,” Lutovac said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Foggo in B&H: I do not understand why someone doesn’t want to be member of NATO (TV1)
A delegation of the NATO Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples) led by Admiral James Foggo paid a visit to Sarajevo on Monday. After meeting Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) officials, attendees said that the NATO remains committed to support to B&H. Asked about activation of the Membership Action Plan (MAP), Foggo reminded that the NATO offered B&H in December to file its first Annual National Program (ANP) that is actually “a design on how B&H observes its Armed Forces (AF of B&H) and not how Brussels says how the AF should look like”. Foggo also said that with delay regarding the MAP, B&H risks creation of a bad image. Foggo stated: “I do not understand why someone does not want to be a member of this organization. We are the organization that aims to prevent violence and the organization that is here for member states. Security of this country and these borders is in everyone’s interest. You know that in the upcoming days, there will be a big summit that wants to see security and stability. To you, security and stability is important”.
Addressing a press conference, B&H Minister of Defense Marina Pendes stated that most political leaders and parties in B&H say that they support the Euro-Atlantic path, although some of them say that they are against B&H’s membership in the NATO, but with certain kind of cooperation with the NATO. She underlined: “We discussed about this certain kind of cooperation with the NATO through activation of the MAP”.
Foggo also met with Bosniak and Croat members of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic respectively, with whom he discussed the first ANP for B&H, among other issues. B&H Presidency members informed Foggo about meeting the conditions and aspirations for the Euro-Atlantic integration of B&H. On this occasion, the advisor to B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik informed Foggo that Dodik does not support the MAP activation for B&H or the country’s membership and stressed that the EU membership represents priority.
Asked to comment the Republika Srpska (RS) stance regarding military neutrality, Foggo said that NATO has been conducting operations of defensive type and not offensive ones. “Primarily, we are organization that wants to prevent violence. Safety of borders of B&H is in everyone’s interest. We are not conducting illegal activities, such as annexation of Crimea. I cannot see why you would not be a member of such an organization” explained Foggo.
Preda asks EC if it planned activities aimed to stop genocide denial in RS (Hayat)
European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Cristian Dan Preda submitted to the European Commission (EC) the questions regarding the denial of Srebrenica genocide and celebrating of war criminals in Republika Srpska (RS). He asked the European Commission if it is planning to conduct activities to stop denial of genocide and glorification of war crimes in the RS. He reminded that International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) sentenced Radovan Karadzic to life in prison, finding him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in B&H. “Still, the RS authorities continue to deny genocide and to glorify sentenced war criminal Karadzic. He is being treated as a hero” emphasized Preda. He added that this affects remembrance of victims and chances for reconciliation in B&H, which is why he sent the question to the EC on April 16 asking if it is aware of frequent cases of genocide denial, what to do in order to stop this and what is the effect of these activities on the EU path of B&H.
Montenegrin MP: Thaci, Vucic to Sign an Agreement on Kosovo in Washington on June 12 (TMN)
Montenegrin opposition MP Nebojsa Medojevic claimed that Serbian and Kosovo Presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, respectively, will meet in Washington, D.C. in mid-June, and sign a deal on Kosovo in the presence of the US President Donald Trump.
“It is unbelievable that no one in Serbia has announced information that Vucic and Thaci will sign a solution for Kosovo on June 12 in Washington. According to my information, it is about delimitation and border change. The change of the borders in the Balkans is always dangerous, because it has, as a rule, caused the domino effect” stated Medojevic on Monday evening.
Metnar: We don’t underestimate Russian influence (Pobjeda)
In an interview with Pobjeda daily, Czech Defence Minister, Lubomir Metnar, says one of the primary threats against Europe is the possible conflict between Russia and some European state in the event of any open aggression, and that is why we do not underestimate Russian activities.
According to him, cooperation in the area of defence between the Czech Republic and Montenegro might be realized by developing military capabilities, e.g. in military geography, standardization and organization of armed forces.
“We should not forget the logistics and great potential for cooperation of our military police units. Moreover, this list wouldn’t be complete without possible cooperation in the area of military industry. The Czech Republic’s military industry offers many competitive and high-quality products” claims Metnar. We are aware of the security threats that the countries of the region have been dealing with and there are many negative circumstances that affect the security of the Western Balkans: the migration crisis, local instability and Russia’s influence and Russia represents one of the five biggest threats against NATO and security, said Metnar.
Republic of North Macedonia
Albanian parties dispute turnout numbers, demand credit for Pendarovski’s win (Republika)
While it is doubtless that Stevo Pendarovski owes his presidential election win to Albanian voters, various Albanian parties are now arguing over which one of them and to what extent contributed to his winning margin.
Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani from the ruling DUI party, which endorsed Pendarovski, said that they some 200.000 ethnic Albanians voted in the second round, and they broke for Pendarovski almost unanimously.
In the areas where Albanians are the dominant population, as well in places which are mixed, Pendarovski won 270.000 votes. We estimate that some 200.000 of those votes came from Albanians, Osmani said. Pendarovski won a total of 436.000 votes, as opposed to 377.000 for Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova.
On the other hand, Gostivar Mayor Arben Taravari, from the opposition Alliance of Albanians, which did not endorse Pendarovski but clearly contributed to his win, put the Albanian turnout numbers at 110.000 votes.
Not all of them came from DUI, Taravari was quick to point out. Blerim Reka, the opposition Albanian candidate who was supported by the Alliance and the BESA party, called on his supporters to vote in the second round, without endorsing a candidate, but the breakdown in Albanian areas where Reka did well clearly shows that his supporters joined DUI voters and voted for Pendarovski.
Also claiming credit for Pendarovski’s win is Muhamed Zekiri, SDSM party deputy leader who heads the SDSM Albanian wing. Zekiri posted a picture with Pendarovski following the vote and expressed his gratitude to his friends and supporters who voted for Pendarovski.
After the electoral win, Zaev eager to begin his purge of the Government and the public administration (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced that he will soon begin dismissing corrupt and incompetent officials from his Government, and already made the first move as Culture Minister Asaf Ademi resigned. Zaev made his announcement of what he calls “operation broom” as the party suffered a humiliating drop in support in the presidential elections, compared to the 2017 municipal elections, and was forced to get nearly all other political parties to support its candidate Stevo Pendarovski to be able to beat opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova.
“I intend to make certain changes, with some office holders, at the local and central level. I intend to do so because the party that has responsibility through its own bodies, but also the bodies of the state, to elect a Government and its representatives, to quickly make the changes because it is time to get to work. The state has a President, a wind in our backs and our anchors we all have and must make changes in some managing structures, of some officials who showed certain weaknesses” Zaev said.
Meanwhile, the person actually managing the public administration, Minister Damjan Mancevski, clarified that the “broom” will affect mostly public employees who haven’t been going to work. This designation usually covers ethnic Albanian public-sector employees hired under the “equal representation” clause from the 2001 Ohrid peace treaty. But, during his election rallies with his presidential candidate Stevo Pendarovski, Zaev announced purges along party lines, threatening public sector employees his party suspects of being VMRO-DPMNE supporters. “It is absolutely up to the Prime Minister. Whatever he decides, I absolutely support his decision” said Mancevski.
Early general elections in North Macedonia are seen as an option (Nezavisen vesnik)
The opposition has called for early parliamentary elections to be held a few months after the holding of presidential elections. Such request has been articulated by VMRO-DPMNE’s presidential candidate, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova.
“Victory in the presidential elections will give way to early parliamentary elections. The new government will launch reforms and will demand for the country’s new name not to be mentioned” Siljanovska said.
Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev has declared that if the governing coalition candidate, Stevo Pendarovski is defeated by the opposition’s candidate, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, then he will declare early elections. Zaev has made this statement at a time when his party leads the polls in the presidential elections. Analysts interpret the Prime Minister’s statements as a way of putting pressure on voters, who know that the country faces two major challenges which relate to EU and NATO integration.
Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) has underlined that early elections will not do any good for the country because they may act as an obstacle for the process of reforms. Political analysts say that the lack of necessary votes in parliament to adopt legal amendments concerning the Special Prosecutor’s Office will block the judicial reform and this is considered to be as a good reason for the country to head to early elections.
Albania expects opening of Accession Talks in June (ADN)
Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj, stated on Monday that in June, Albania expects the decision to open the country’s EU membership negotiations. According to him, country’s membership in the EU will be an additional opportunity that will make the country more institutionally functional.
“In June, we expect to receive the recommendation for opening of negotiations with EU. The Commission’s report is going to be a prove of our positive transformation on the irreversible path of European integration. The country’s EU integration process is even wider than that. The opening of membership negotiations, expected to take place in June, will be an additional opportunity to make the country more institutionally functional” said Cakaj.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the Parliament, Gramoz Ruci, is continuing to lobby with the EU Parliaments regarding the Albania’s opening of accession talks. Invited by his Austrian counterpart, Wolfgang Sobotka, Ruci started on Monday his official visit to Vienna, accompanied by the head of the SP Parliamentary Group, Taulant Balla, MP Fate Velaj and Albania’s Ambassador to Austria, Roland Bimo.
The first meeting was held with an extended group of MPs, members of the Foreign Policy Committee, the EU Subcommittee and the Austrian Friendship Group of the Parliament, chaired by Reinhold Lopatka, Chairman of the EU Subcommittee on Austrian Parliament.
Speaker Ruci thanked the parliamentarians of the Foreign Committee, the Subcommittee on EU and the Friendship Group for their attention to Albania and its European path, as well as the fact that they have been promoters of supporting the opening of negotiations Albania.
“Albania has 100% compliance with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. It has a proactive role for regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations. The EU’s expansion to the Western Balkans would further promote our commitment to reforms and will help to increase Albania’s constructive role as a leader in guaranteeing peace and stability in the region. The Western Balkans is not a problem anymore, but an added value of the European Union. Regarding Albania, we have done all the homework on the five key priorities that the European Council recommended” said Ruci.
“Special treat”: Serbia to receive new weapons from Russia (Sputnik)
It has been unofficially announced that new weapons will arrive in Serbia from Russia before a military parade to be held here on May 10. It remains unknown at this time type what type of weapons these will be, but Sputnik is reporting that this will be “a special treat” citing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. On May 9, the Russian Army will have the opportunity to display new products of the Russian military industry at Victory Day Parade in Moscow, the most important ceremony marking victory over fascism in World War II. A military parade will also be held in Serbia a day later. Military commentator Miroslav Lazanski – who has recently been appointed as the country’s new ambassador to Russia – assumes that Serbia will receive the Patsir (surface to air) missile systems. “But until the Serbian president as supreme commander officially announces it, I will say nothing definitely” Lazanski said.