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Belgrade Media Report 08 May 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 08 May 2019


• Vucic: I will not recognise Kosovo within present borders, no matter what (RTS)
• Dacic: Pristina will cross the red lines real soon (Tanjug)
• Vucic in Italy with an official who is in favor of re-examining Kosovo’s recognition (Tanjug)
• EU Delegation chief: Pristina to lift taxes, no alternative to dialogue (N1)
• Fabrizi: Focus on reforms, rather than on whether EU wants you (Tanjug)
• Dacic to Djukanovic: I agree, lets will return to Badinter’s borders (RTV)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• EBRD 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum begins in Sarajevo, Thaci and Vucic not attending (TV1)
• Summit of Brdo-Brijuni Process; Serb leaders are not welcome; Viskovic: Dodik and Vucic should go to Tirana anyway (RTRS)
• PM Markovic: We don’t respond to unfounded objections from Serbia (CDM)
• Merkel and Macron want to build up momentum for Serbia – Kosovo dialogue (Pobjeda)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Pope Francis: Your land is a bridge between East and West and a meeting-point for numerous cultural currents (Nezavisen vesnik)

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Vucic: I will not recognise Kosovo within present borders, no matter what (RTS, Blic)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic late on Tuesday spoke about possible solutions for Kosovo, but also about expectations from the upcoming meetings in Rome, but also in Tirana.

The president was a guest on Serbia’s public broadcaster RTS when he spoke about solutions for Kosovo after the Berlin summit, noting that he does not want to deceive his people by speaking badly about Haradinaj and Thaci.


“The essence is in this, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. We are in a difficult situation, and no one in this country should act stupid. We all know what’s happening in Kosovo and now everyone is looking for the culprit” Vucic said, adding that he says that “a culprit” is needed, he means that this culprit would be himself.


“They lied to us from the West, together with their Albanian proteges. That was not legal. We are in a terribly difficult situation. Nobody play stupid in this country. Everybody knows everything perfectly well. As if they do not know that when the Albanians proclaimed independence they were running away from the country,” he said, in apparent reference to now opposition politicians who were in power in 2008, and added:

“We have seen the power of the great powers. I hope that I will at some point have the time to write a book about how pressure works. You’re constantly hearing, ‘We are against delimitation, but we want reconciliation to occur’.”


Asked about the solution offered by him, and to whom he offered it, Vucic said that he “failed to reach agreement on anything, and then had nothing to present to the people.”

“The idea was rejected, without anybody even hearing out what I was offering. I did not even get halfway in conversations with the opposite camp. The idea of any compromise was rejected. Since it seems to me that everyone is acting stupid, what borders are we talking about? Half the world considers one kind of borders, another half others. I thought it was important to find a compromise solution. I apologize to the people for not lying to anybody. Everyone is talking about changing the borders. Now it’s you Vucic who is to blame for wanting to get something back,” the president said, and continued: “I didn’t succeed because everyone was playing stupid. Germany’s response was negative from the beginning. Nothing is going on on the diplomatic plane, and that’s the worst for Serbia. I tried to do something that was the hardest. I was exposed to the most brutal campaign when they were saying I was going against Serbian interests, without even knowing what they were talking about. Again, unlike them, who were silent, I fight like a lion. I will not let anyone raise their voice to Serbia, I fight and safeguard peace and stability of our country. Overthrow me in the streets, I will not recognize Kosovo. Whichever way they invite us, in whatever format, we go with the stance that Serbia is an internationally recognized country. We do not recognize Kosovo, and that’s that” Vucic said.


Asked if him not succeeding meant that Serbia “lost Kosovo,” Vucic said that he has been “fighting for six years like a lion and would not let anyone raise their voice to Serbia, without bringing it to a situation to be bombed.”


“I did not have the support of the domestic public for this. That hurt me the most. At the same time, I was the only one who helped Oliver Ivanovic. Both privately and as the president of Serbia, and for that there are witnesses from his family, and it is not a problem that I came under blows from others, but that Serbia did. I said that I hope that we will be able to say in the shortest possible time who is behind the murder (of Ivanovic). As I was told, they know everything, but the evidence is missing. I am completely certain that they are on an extraordinary trail when it comes to the investigation” said Vucic.


Asked again about the idea that he had for Kosovo, the president said, “It’s not right to talk about something which I had no opportunity to even mention.” “Who was in power in 2008 when Kosovo declared independence,” Vucic asked, adding, “This is a generational problem, but formally independence was proclaimed during the time of the authorities of Djilas and Jeremic, and what did they do?”  Serbia is fighting and is not on its knees like in 2008, and that’s why everyone is bothered by our country and by Vucic, the president said. “Juncker interrupted Ana Brnabic when she spoke about Kosovo and said: Serbia acts responsibly, but the other side does not exist there,” Vucic said.


The president said that he has not yet been invited to Paris by President Macron, and that he still does not know what would be the subject of discussions there.  Vucic pointed out that this situation would continue until some new Serbian government emerges willing to recognize Kosovo.


Dacic: Pristina will cross the red lines real soon (Tanjug)

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic does not expect significant progress in resolving the Kosovo issue at the Paris summit that will be held on July 1. The meeting will be organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. Dacic expects pressure on Serbia to continue, but says his country has become accustomed to pressure, and that “nothing will come out that” – when it comes to recognizing Kosovo – its southern province – as independent. “That will not be accepted either by President Vucic or this government” Dacic told Tanjug.


Commenting on various interpretations of the results of the summit in Berlin in late April, primarily Pristina’s that said the deadlocked Belgrade-Pristina dialogue had already “begun” – and what can be expected from the meeting in Paris, since it is scheduled in the same format, Dacic said the time between now and the meeting was “too long and far away, bearing in mind the stormy political scene in Europe and in our region.”  “It’s a long way to that meeting in Paris, to be able to already speak about what will happen there. First, EU elections must be completed, the mood and balance of power within the European Union will depend on the results of these elections,” he said.


Asked whether the very selection of the participants in the meeting was, as he had commented before the Berlin meeting, a kind of pressure on Serbia – Dacic said: “Essentially, at that meeting, everyone was expressing themselves about some things that don’t concern them.” “This is about trying to find elements for unblocking the dialogue and we must have very precise formulations, meaning that the dialogue format will not change. The dialogue will remain in Brussels, modeled and managed by Federica Mogherini, that is, the EU foreign policy chief, and who will hold that office starting late this year, we’ll see after EU elections,” he said. Bearing in mind the real balance of power in the western hemisphere, Dacic continued – “of course they will continue with pressure in order to, in the future, complete this ‘sovereignty of the state of Kosovo’.”

“Of course, we said that we will never recognize without an agreement and without a compromise,” Dacic said, explaining that the message of Vucic was formulated as, “what is a solution now, except for Kosovo – not thanks to him or to him recognizing it – gaining independence and sovereignty over the whole territory.” That is a point of view on the issue of historical responsibility, not Vucic’s stance on the fate of Kosovo and Metohija, Dacic said.


Speaking about the upcoming meeting in Paris, Dacic said it was very important that Macron and Merkel are dealing with the issue, adding that they are there “to help unblock the dialogue” – but also warned about Pristina’s “almost irrational behavior.” “The treatment Haradinaj and Pristina are used to is best seen in them refusing to revoke taxes (on goods from central Serbia) even after Mogherini who represents the EU, Merkel as the strongest economy in Europe, France as a permanent member of (UN) Security Council, the US administration and Trump sending a letter (in favor of revoking taxes),” he said. “Of course, they have the support of those who helped them (Kosovo) be created, but that support has its limits. It has its red lines. I think they will cross those red lines real soon, precisely with this kind of behavior” Dacic said.


Vucic in Italy with an official who is in favor of re-examining Kosovo’s recognition (Tanjug)

The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic met in Italy with the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Mateo Salvoni, to talk about Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic sees Salvoni as one of the most influential politicians in Europe. Salvini is in favor of re-examining the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. After meeting with an Italian official, the President of Serbia is traveling to Tirana, where the Brdo-Brioni Summit will be held, as an initiative that was launched by Croatia and Slovenia in 2013 for the purpose of speeding up the Western Balkans’ accession to the EU. The presidents of the Western Balkans Six have announced their attendance, including Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency members Milorad Dodik, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, while North Macedonia’s outgoing president Gjorge Ivanov‘s participation has yet to be confirmed. The summit is being hosted by the presidents of Croatia and Slovenia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Borut Pahor, alongside Albanian President Ilir Meta, while EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose country will host the next Berlin Process summit in Poznan at the start of July, have been invited as special guests. The meeting will begin with a working dinner, while the main part will be held on May 9 when a joint declaration is to be adopted, which will call on the new European Commission to keep enlargement in the Western Balkans on the agenda.


EU Delegation chief: Pristina to lift taxes, no alternative to dialogue (N1)

The Europe Union stand is clear – Pristina has to revoke the decision on the 100 percent import duties on goods from Serbia to enable the dialogue on normalization of relations to resume, and both sides have to commit themselves to the talks, since they have no any alternative, Sem Fabrizi, the chief of the EU delegation in Serbia said. Fabrizi said the EU hoped that Belgrade and Pristina would return to the negotiations as soon as possible. “The EU mediates the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue for several years now… And we are ready to continue immediately” Fabrizi said. He added one should learn from history how to transform the competition into the cooperation.


Fabrizi: Focus on reforms, rather than on whether EU wants you (Tanjug)

The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, says candidate countries for EU accession should focus on reforms, which should not be merely cosmetic. “We still have unfinished work. Integration of the Western Balkans awaits us. If we look at the last round of enlargement, I would say that the conditions have not changed” said he.

“The EU has not quite changed the ‘cards’ on the table, and I would not agree with such criticism that is heard during each round of enlargement” Fabrizi told an international conference in Belgrade dedicated to the topic. He added that the “credibility of the process” remained the same, stating that enlargement can occur if the conditions are met, otherwise, if a country does not meet the conditions then it cannot become “part of the European family.”

“I often hear that candidate countries are worried that the European Union does not want them, but the emphasis should be on reforms,” the EU representative said.

Fabrizi pointed out to the importance of reconciliation and good neighborly relations, and said that the only way to change the picture of Europe is to “change the way we communicate, which is why the Western Balkans is now the process of reconciliation and the establishment of good neighborly cooperation.” He reiterated that countries in the enlargement process must focus on reforms that, as he said, must produce results like the development of the economy, while respecting social development and social rights.  “If all the elements from the freedom of the media to security are there, then a country is ready for (EU’s) enlargement” Fabrizi said.


Later in the evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was a guest on RTS and commented the issue of the EU integration. “Serbia has no right and cannot give up on the European integration, because it is the road to the society we want to belong to and the economic progress” Vucic said. Asked if there was a possibility of a standstill on the European path because of Kosovo, Vucic noted that in this matter all the essence and the depth of hypocrisy, in the part of the Serbian political public, can be seen. As he said, when he advocates compromise as a solution he gets accused of being a traitor who would recognize Kosovo independence for European integration, and when he says he will not recognize Kosovo he is criticized of halting Serbia’s EU integration. “Whether they want us, it’s a question for them: I will not cry, appeal or beg anyone. I will appeal for investment, for peace and stability, always, but I will not beg anyone to tell us that we belong to their society” emphasized Vucic.


Dacic to Djukanovic: I agree, lets will return to Badinter’s borders (RTV)

At a summit held in Berlin at the invitation of the leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Emanuel Makron, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, everyone in the region spoke of some things that do not concern them – like the ways and the models by which Belgrade and Pristina should solve their relations and problems.

He said that Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic was correct in some statements, but that several days ago he stated that “if the principle of the boarder change would be accepted it would be to the detriment of the principle of the Badinter Commission and that they should have some additional guarantees that it wouldn’t spill to the other territories” which Dacic says is a misinterpretation when it comes to Kosovo and Mrtohia. “Milo Djukanovic knows really well that Badinter’s commission did not even take into account the provincial border, but the Republican border and that the Badinter principle was violated when someone recognized Kosovo” said Dacic and added “Serbia agrees with that principle. Let’s go back to Badinter”.


Bosnia and Herzegovina


EBRD 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum begins in Sarajevo, Thaci and Vucic not attending (TV1)

The 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commenced in Sarajevo on Tuesday. Almost 3,000 people are attending the conference, including high-ranking officials and governors of the EBRD, ministers of economy, finance and treasury, representatives of the business community and representatives of the civil society. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci will not attend the 2019 Annual Meeting and Business Forum of the EBRD that commenced in Sarajevo on Tuesday, due to the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) has not recognized Kosovo. Thaci explained that he cannot attend the EBRD’s conference on Wednesday and Thursday because bilateral relations are at the lowest possible level. Earlier, Serbian Ambassador to B&H Aleksandar Djordjevic announced that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will not arrive in Sarajevo either. He noted that Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic will attend this event instead of him.


Summit of Brdo-Brijuni Process; Serb leaders are not welcome; Viskovic: Dodik and Vucic should go to Tirana anyway (RTRS)

Leaders of the Western Balkans 6 will meet in Tirana on Wednesday at the Summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process. Representatives of the countries of the region are supposed to attend the meeting, as well as Serb leaders who according to RTRS, do not seem to be welcome to this event. Namely, member of the ‘Kosovo Self-Determination Movement’ Boiken Abazi stated that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik are not welcome in Tirana and he called on citizens to protest. Republika Srpska (RS) Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic stated that there is no a single reason why Dodik and Vucic would not appear at the Brdo-Brijuni meeting in Tirana. Viskovic said that “someone is obviously bothered by other people visiting them”. According to Viskovic, Dodik and Vucic should go to Tirana and those who participate in the protest “are probably those who have nothing better to do”.




PM Markovic: We don’t respond to unfounded objections from Serbia (CDM)

Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic, assessed that the relations between Serbia and Montenegro are good, and that Montenegro doesn’t respond to casual and unfounded complaints from Serbia. “I would say that relations with Serbia are good. Lately, we have seen that there is a little nervousness, as well as the objections to the Montenegrin politics regarding the entire region, its stabilization, peace and prosperity. As you can see, Montenegro does not react to such objections, as we consider them unfounded. Montenegro has been pursuing a consistent policy, Montenegro is a country that spreads dialogue and tolerance in the region with everyone, and above all with Serbia” said Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. We understand Serbia’s difficult heritage in resolving the Kosovo issue, so we sometimes understand the nervousness, noted PM Markovic. He added: “We don’t often agree with the objections from Serbia, but as you see, we do not react nervously. We want to contribute to Serbia so that it can resolve its difficult issues not only for itself but also for the sake of the region as a whole.”


Merkel and Macron want to build up momentum for Serbia – Kosovo dialogue (Pobjeda)

German Chancellor, Angela Markel and French President, Emmanuel Macron, would like to build up the momentum towards normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo that is being carried out under the auspices of the EU. Germany and France hosted the Summit of the Balkan six and the EU which was held in Berlin last week and where they spoke about the continuation of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Asked if the fact that Germany and France directly involved into settling Kosovo problem means that these two states aren’t satisfied with the EU effect, spokesman of the federal government says that both states endorse the continuation of the dialogue.

Spokeswoman of the European Union, Maja Kocijancic, pointed out yesterday that the Head of the European Diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, remained the only mediator in the dialogue.

She points out that she appreciates any engagement in endorsing the dialogue, including the new meeting, and she also stresses that Mrs. Mogherini is accomplishing her mission very well.

Asked to comment on the EU views, representatives of the German Government said they were collaborating with Brussels. “Both President Macron and German Chancellor are fully endorsing the process of normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia, with the help of the EU”, concluded the representatives of the Government. Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Macron took over the initiative at WB in the moment when elections are ahead. Last week’s Summit wasn’t a replacement of the Berlin process, but the opportunity for the exchange of opinions over the current situation in the region.


Republic of North Macedonia


Pope Francis: Your land is a bridge between East and West and a meeting-point for numerous cultural currents (Nezavisen vesnik)

After meeting with President Gjorge Ivanov and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Pope Francis addressed government officials, representatives of the diplomatic corps, and members of the civil society gathered at the presidential residence on Tuesday.

Thanking the President and the Prime Minister for the welcome and the gracious invitation to visit North Macedonia, the Pope greeted representatives of religious communities, and especially the country’s Catholic community, saying it’s “an active and integral part of your society, sharing fully in the joys, concerns and daily life of your people.” The Pope expressed his happiness to be visiting the country on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, which occurred a few years after the country became independent in September 1991. “Your land, a bridge between East and West and a meeting-point for numerous cultural currents,” Pope Francis said, “embodies many of the distinctive marks of this region. “With the elegant testimonies of its Byzantine and Ottoman past, its lofty mountain fortresses and the splendid iconostases of its ancient churches, which speak of a Christian presence dating back to apostolic times, North Macedonia reflects all the depth and richness of its millennial culture. “But allow me to say that these great cultural treasures are themselves only a reflection of your more precious patrimony: the multiethnic and multi-religious countenance of your people, the legacy of a rich and, indeed, complex history of relationships forged over the course of centuries.” “This crucible of cultures and ethnic and religious identities,” The Pope continued, “has resulted in a peaceful and enduring coexistence in which those individual identities have found expression and developed without rejecting, dominating or discriminating against others. “They have thus given rise to a fabric of relationships and interactions that can serve as an example and a point of reference for a serene and fraternal communal life marked by diversity and reciprocal respect.”

Diversity and reciprocal respect, the Pope said, were the exact characteristics that were most important for the nation to integrate into Europe. “It is my hope,” the Pope added, “that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights. “Here, in fact, the different religious identities of Orthodox, Catholics, other Christians, Muslims and Jews, and the ethnic differences between Macedonians, Albanians, Serbs, Croats, and persons of other backgrounds, have created a mosaic in which every piece is essential for the uniqueness and beauty of the whole. “That beauty will become all the more evident to the extent that you succeed in passing it on and planting it in the hearts of the coming generation” the Pope said.



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