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Belgrade Media Report 14 May 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 14 May 2019


• Vucic says Patriarch understands his worries about Kosovo (N1/FoNet)
• Patriarch Irinej: Vucic fights for Kosovo heroically (Beta/Politika)
• Consistent, systematic monitoring of human rights (Beta)
• Djuric: Important that Kosovo elections go without incidents (Tanjug/Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• OHR calls Dodik’s rhetoric irresponsible, provocative and consequently unacceptable (N1)
• EUFOR, US Embassy criticize Dodik’s statements on Bosnia’s Armed Forces (N1)
• NATO, OSCE, PM condemn Dodik’s statements on B&H’s Army (Fena)
• Dodik to critics over B&H Army statement: Why all the hysteria? (Srna)
• Dodik and Vucic attend session of Assembly of Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade (ATV)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Pendarovski: Start of EU accession negotiations is a deserved and required step (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Opposition’s rally continues – international community reacts (ADN)

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Vucic says Patriarch understands his worries about Kosovo (N1/FoNet)


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said late on Monday he informed the Holy Synod of the Serb Orthodox Church about “all my worries,” adding Patriarch Irinej, who said Vucic’s fight for Kosovo was heroic, understood him well, N1 reported. Vucic was present at the Holy Synod annual meeting in the Patriarchy in Belgrade. “Patriarch perfectly understood me – as I understand his worries – that one must bring some, I would say, difficult worldly decisions… One bishop said – whatever you do, you will be guilty,” Vucic said after the meeting. He added it was “up to us to continue to fight, to achieve the most we can, not to yield to blackmail to give what we have no right to, nor we can give to anyone.” “The Church has right to its stands, though they are sometimes different than ours. It’s important to listen to them because the Church always helps our people where they are endangered, and in Kosovo as well,” Vucic said, adding it was all he could say.


Patriarch Irinej: Vucic fights for Kosovo heroically (Beta/Politika)


Patriarch Irinej stated that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was heroically fighting for the state, people and Kosovo. The Patriarch said in Belgrade that this was the stand of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. “We have dedicated the majority of time to Kosovo,

we will not give up on the fight for Kosovo,” Patriarch Irinej said, stressing that it was unknown how that issue would be solved. “We will fight and we will not give up in the defense of Kosovo. How much will we succeed? We hope in God and history and the help of our friends that we will succeed. How much – remains to be seen, depending on the situation in the world and those who

support us and the other side,” the Patriarch said to the reporters.


Consistent, systematic monitoring of human rights (Beta)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic spoke with Head of the OSCE Mission to Kosovo Jan Braathu on the current situation in the province and the role of that mission in the conduct of the elections in the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo. The officials also discussed other issues of importance for OSCE activities, and pointed out the significance of the Mission in accordance with its mandate and status neutrality. They pointed out to the importance of a consistent and systematic monitoring of respect for human rights, as well as the strengthening of the Mission’s activities in this direction.


Djuric: Important that Kosovo elections go without incidents (Tanjug/Beta)


It’s important that mayoral elections in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo and Metohija take place without incidents and in a democratic atmosphere, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said in talks with the Head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo, Jan Braathu. Djuric stressed that any possible attempt at changing the electoral will of citizens by the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina must be prevented. Djuric also pointed out the increasingly frequent pressure by Pristina on the Serb List and neglect of the election will of the citizens of Serb ethnicity, a statement from his office said. Djuric and Braathu spoke about the political and security situation in Kosovo and Metohija and agreed that it was necessary to remove the obstacles to the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and renew efforts to build inter-ethnic confidence on the ground.




OHR calls Dodik’s rhetoric irresponsible, provocative and consequently unacceptable (N1)


The Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) commented the statement Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik made on Sunday in which he said that members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Armed Forces of B&H (B&H AF) will in the future wear RS Army uniforms at ceremonies marking RS Army Day, on 12 May. “The rhetoric of the B&H Presidency Chairman is irresponsible and provocative, so consequently it is unacceptable, especially bearing in mind that the Armed Forces of B&H represent an important element of stability, cohesion and security of B&H”, reads OHR’s statement. The OHR said that B&H Presidency members have the legal responsibility to secure the functioning of the B&H AF, and not to dispute the Armed Forces in any way. “The B&H Presidency’s responsibility is to support full implementation of the Law on Defense of B&H, which clearly defines obligations, competencies and behavior of the Armed Forces members,” reads OHR statement.


EUFOR, US Embassy criticize Dodik’s statements on Bosnia’s Armed Forces (N1)


Responding to statements by Milorad Dodik, the European Union Force (EUFOR) and the US Embassy in B&H said on Monday that B&H’s Armed Forces were established according to a law which the country’s parliament passed unanimously and that any attempt to undermine it is counter-productive and detrimental to stability. “The rhetoric and calls for actions of this kind are irresponsible and dangerous, and they do not help B&H achieve its declared goal – European integration,” the US Embassy told N1 in a written statement. It also said the US remains “committed to maintaining the peace and stability” in the country as well as the continuation of “our professional, productive and positive cooperation” with B&H’s Armed Forces. EUFOR reminded in its press statement that the Law on Defense was enacted unanimously at the B&H Parliamentary Assembly by the ruling parties at the time. “EUFOR believes that any statements which serve to undermine the B&H’s Armed Forces and its legal status as the single, united, military force of the state of B&H are counter-productive and should be avoided,” the statement said. B&H’s Armed Forces are composed of members from all three constituent peoples in the country and work for them, it said, adding that the country’s Armed Forces has “transformed from a security consumer to a security provider following the successful conclusion EUFOR’s Capacity Building and Training programme in 2018.” “EUFOR is proud of its association with B&H’s Armed Forces and rejects any statements or activities that could divide this organization and jeopardize the success that B&H’s Armed Forces has achieved in terms of providing a single, state-level, and internationally respected, military force, which represents all people of B&H,” it concluded.


NATO, OSCE, PM condemn Dodik’s statements on B&H’s Army (Fena)


NATO and the OSCE said that B&H has only one army and that statements made by the Bosnian Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik who called that a mistake were “unacceptable.” B&H’s Law on Defense was enacted unanimously in the country’s Parliament by the ruling parties, said the NATO HQ in Sarajevo in a press statement. “Ever since its establishment, the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces of B&H have worked hard on the complex tasks of building a single military force, developing the capabilities to operate with NATO forces and to provide assistance to civil authorities in case of natural disasters,” it said. The Alliance remains committed to supporting defence and security reforms in the country and advising authorities “on tasks within the B&H-NATO Partnership for Peace Program,” it added. The OSCE also said the structure of the Armed Forces today is the result of a unanimous decision, adding that it “has arguably been the most significant and successful reform since the end of the conflict.” “Inflammatory and divisive rhetoric on any topic, but particularly this one, is both out of place and unacceptable in modern B&H,” an OSCE press release said. The OSCE said that together with “all sides involved in the 1990s conflict” it has “worked hard to strengthen the confidence and security-building measures which will ensure lasting peace” in the country. “The Mission facilitated dialogue between the parties but ultimately it was the political and military leadership in B&H that agreed to merge three armies into a single, modern Armed Forces, capable not only of protecting the peace in B&H but of offering assistance to other peacekeeping missions around the globe,” it said. The Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic said that Dodik’s call to the soldiers “represents an open call for disintegration of Bosnia’s Armed Forces which are the most important guarantee for peace” and the “best example” of successful internal integration in the country. The best response to Dodik’s “dangerous and warmongering messages and threats” is strengthening state institutions, adequate actions by the judiciary and insisting on the rule of law, Zvizdic said. He also said that B&H should send its Annual National Programme (ANP) in order to activate its Membership Action Plan (MAP), which lawmakers from Dodik’s party are against. “EU and NATO integrations represent “the two most important goals” of B&H’s foreign policy, he said. “We expect adequate responses by all representatives and institutions of the EU and the international community so that these ruthless provocations are publicly condemned and permanently stopped and the processes of cooperation, peace and stability in B&H and the entire region are strengthened,” he concluded.


Dodik to critics over B&H Army statement: Why all the hysteria? (Srna)


Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that members of the Third Infantry RS Regiment of the B&H Armed Forces (AF) will be wearing the RS Army uniforms next year on the occasion of marking the Day of the RS Army, 12 May, and that he sees no problem about that. Dodik assessed that hysteria that was created after he announced this at Sunday’s marking of the Day of the RS Army serves nothing other than heating up the internal political situation and competing in who will answer him back in a louder or faster manner. Dodik stressed that the plan for this regiment members to wear the RS Army uniforms next year will not be prevented by threats of Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic, who announced a criminal report against Dodik accusing him of causing rebellion within the AF. Dodik expressed certainty that Serb people have the right to cherish their tradition and to demonstrate that as early as at the next marking of the Day of the RS Army. “The law reads that the Third Infantry RS’ Regiment cherishes the tradition of the RS Army and that it was created to extend that tradition. Uniforms are a part of that tradition,” said the B&H Presidency Chairman. According to the Presidency Chairman, it is not illegal to use “certain insignia from the past, including uniforms”, for the purpose of marking a historical day. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic noted that the RS Army “was neither illegal nor illegitimate”, and it was formed based on a decision of the National Assembly of the RS. Cvijanovic considers that it is foolish that politicians and the public in Sarajevo are bothered by the RS Army uniforms, which part of the members of the Third Infantry RS’ Regiment “and not all” would wear only on one day, the Day of the RS Army. According to Cvijanovic, there are attempts to dispute with Dodik about this matter, only for the sake of gaining media attention and due to lacking other topics that would be worthy of mentioning in media. The RS President specified: “The essence of that proposal is that it is only for the purpose of the protocol related to marking of that ceremonial part.”


Dodik and Vucic attend session of Assembly of Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade (ATV)


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and Patriarch of the Serb Orthodox Church Irinej addressed a joint press conference in Belgrade on Monday, after the session of the Holy Council of Episcopes of the Serb Orthodox Church. Addressing the press conference, Vucic stated that he has lately been relaxed when speaking about the Kosovo issue, even though he has a huge concern for the future of Serb people and “Kosovo and Metohija”. Vucic confirmed that he spoke about this issue before the Holy Council of Episcopes “openly and sincerely about everything that bothers our (Serb) people”, and he assessed that there was a good level of understanding of one another in this regard, with respect for the differences in stances. According to Vucic, there was an open, rational discussion with “some episcopes”. The Serbian President referred to this session as important and expressed belief that it will yield results. The Serbian President concluded that the Serb Orthodox Church “is an important social factor” and that it is necessary to hear its stances. “In any case, a difficult period is ahead of us”, he noted, and added that it is necessary to preserve peace and stability and not to accept any kind of blackmail. Speaking about Dodik’s attendance at the session, Vucic stated that “Dodik has understood the state position of Serbia very well”, and did not come to the session to score political points. He thanked Dodik for the support. Vucic confirmed that collocutors also spoke about good relations between Serbia and the RS – the past, the present and the future. Speaking about these relations, the Serbian President underlined that there will be new, common textbooks in Cyrillic, for the Serb ethnic area, through cooperation of Serbia with the RS. In addition, Vucic reminded that Governments of Serbia and the RS are working on opening a memorial center Jasenovac. The Serbian President also spoke about the demographic issues of Serb people, emphasizing that the number of Serbs who die exceeds the number of newly-born ones. Dodik addressed the press conference and thanked the Holy Council of Episcopes for the invitation to attend the session, saying it is honor to be there. Dodik assessed that this was an opportunity to openly discuss all issues related to “state and national policy”, where the Serb Orthodox Church indubitably has a huge role. According to Dodik, the discussion at the session was open and serious. Dodik commended Vucic for being very clear, leaving no dilemmas, during the discussion. “I think it is very useful to carry out talks at this level” the B&H Presidency Chairman stressed. The Presidency Chairman presented an opinion that important issues for Serb people, such as the Kosovo issue, cannot be solved without exchange of stances among important factors in Serbia and among Serbs in general. He noted that there is a need to be realistic and rational, warning that the number of Serbs in Kosovo keeps decreasing and concluded that “it is important to maintain dialogue, but it should not be carried out through the public, which only creates more issues”.


Pendarovski: Start of EU accession negotiations is a deserved and required step (Nezavisen vesnik)


The start of North Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations is deserved and required, for the purpose of stimulating comprehensive reforms and enhancing political culture in the country, President Stevo Pendarovski told EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar. “We expect the leaders of EU member-states to be consistent to their promises and acknowledge the work done, enabling North Macedonia’s progress in the Euro-integration field,” said President Pendarovski at the meeting. Interlocutors agreed that North Macedonia is the only functional democracy in the region, considering the successfully organized and administered presidential elections and the opposition’s recognition of the results and the citizens’ will, the President’s Office said in a press release. Ambassador Zbogar congratulated President Pendarovski on his election and handed over the letter of congratulations from European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. We hope for successful cooperation with President Stevo Pendarovski in the coming days and months, leading to North Macedonia’s EU integration, said EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar. “I met with President Pendarovski and brought the letter of congratulations from the European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in which they express readiness for close cooperation for the European future of North Macedonia and a common Europe,” said Ambassador Zbogar. He expressed appreciation for the President’s messages of reconciliation and unification of all political forces in the country during yesterday’s inauguration.

“I was also encouraged by his messages from the meeting. We discussed his possible visit to Brussels and meetings with EU leaders. This is something we will be working on in the coming weeks,” added Zbogar.


Opposition’s rally continues – international community reacts (ADN)


Thousands of Albanians protested again against Prime Minister Edi Rama this Monday, marking the fifth national protest. This protest started more peacefully, but some of the protesters started throwing Molotov cocktail towards the government building, but the fire was controlled by the heavy rain. Bad weather did not stop opposition’s supporters to came out on streets and demand the removal of the acting government. Opposition leader, Lulzim Basha called on the crowds to continue the protests until PM Rama’s removal. Opposition supporters marched in front of the main government buildings, but did not attempt to break the police barrier as they did on Saturday. Instead, they threw firecrackers at the prime minister’s offices. Hours earlier, officials from the United States, European Union and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe had called for restraint. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Slovakia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) George Tsereteli and OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella strongly condemned on Monday the use of violence by this weekend’s protesters in Albania’s capital Tirana, as well as the threats and attempted intimidation directed at the Head of the OSCE’s Presence in Albania and at the Organization in general. They also called on law enforcement officials to show restraint. The Chairperson-in-Office, the President of the OSCE PA and the OSCE Secretary General stressed that the right to peacefully assemble and protest is a fundamental prerequisite of a democratic state. But strong domestic institutions including, crucially, an effective parliament, are cornerstones of democracy and essential for political stability and rule of law. Violence and the intimidation of international organizations’ officials are unacceptable.  They thanked the Albanian authorities for swiftly protecting the residence of the OSCE Head of Presence and encouraged all sides to show moderation during the protests. “Riots are not a substitute for democratic political engagement. They cut off any chance of dialogue – and therefore any chance of finding common ground. We call on all political leaders and on the citizens of Albania to show responsibility, demonstrate peacefully, and act with restraint. The OSCE will continue to support the democratic process in Albania. A protraction of the crisis would inevitably hamper Albania’s domestic and foreign strategic priorities. Time has come to devise a domestic platform for dialogue which includes all relevant stakeholders, including all parties, civil society and academia, to overcome differences and work together in Albania’s best interest,” they reacted. The Italian Embassy in Albania has reacted on Monday to the opposition’s rallies by urging Democratic Party Leader Lulzim Basha, for peaceful protests. The Embassy calls on opposition Leaders to ensure that future protests stay within legal frameworks. “The right to protest is a key feature of a healthy democracy, but protests must remain peaceful. During the violent protest of 11 May, there were injured police and protestors, and several public buildings were damaged. The Italian Embassy in Tirana calls on opposition leaders to condemn violence and ensure that future protests are peaceful and stay within legal frameworks. It also requires order forces to show restraint. The Italian Embassy condemns the threats to the OSCE Presence in Albania, unacceptable actions in a democracy. Finally, the Italian Embassy asks all parties to start dialogue as the only way to resolve the current political crisis and to support the path of Albania’s European integration” said the Italian Embassy. The German Embassy also reacted. According to the German Embassy, the protest is a democratic tool, but that violent demonstrations are unacceptable. “Peaceful demonstrations are an important fundamental right in democracy. The violence we saw on May 11th, is totally unacceptable and incompatible with this principle. That is why we maximally condemn violence of any kind. Particularly we are concerned about the fact that the head of the OSCE Presence in Albania is threatened. We therefore call on opposition leaders Basha and LSI Chair Monika Kryemadhi to condemn all forms of violence against people and institutions and effectively prevent them. As organizers they are responsible for the peaceful development of demonstrations. At the same time, we appeal to the Albanian security forces to exercise their duty consistently, with discretion and in proportion to the situation,” said the Embassy. The German institution added that road protests do not replace the necessary political dialogue, that is why the Embassy called on all parties to resolve the controversy within a constructive political dialogue. The British Embassy in Tirana said that protests should be peaceful by condemning violence in the protest. The institution urged parties to dialogue and organize peaceful protests. “The right to protest is an essential ingredient of a healthy democracy. But protests must be peaceful.  We condemn the violence that took place during the protest which injured both police and protesters and caused damage to property. We ask the Opposition leaders to condemn violence and to ensure that the protests they hold are peaceful and held in accordance with the law. We also call for the police to show restraint and to respect the rule of law that they uphold. We condemn wholeheartedly the intimidation of the OSCE Ambassador and the damage caused to his official residence. There is no place for such action in a modern democracy. We call on all sides to enter into dialogue which is the only way in which the current impasse can be resolved. Violence and rhetoric are not the answer,” said the British Embassy. The US Embassy in Tirana urged for a peaceful protest. In a press statement, this Embassy says that peaceful demonstrations are essential to healthy democracies, and the right of citizens to assemble and to protest against their government is fundamental.  According to this Embassy, force and violence, however, have no place in the democratic process. “We condemn the violence that took place during the 11 May protests in Tirana and those responsible. The violence resulted in both injuries and property damage, including damage to the residence of the OSCE ambassador. These violent actions were unlawful and undemocratic. We call on opposition leaders, in particular Democratic Party Chair Lulzim Basha and LSI Chair Monika Kryemadhi to condemn publicly the violent acts of their supporters, to cooperate with any investigations aimed at identifying the individual perpetrators and holding them accountable, and to ensure that all future public protests are orderly and peaceful. Law enforcement authorities also have a responsibility to act with restraint, including when responding to provocations. Violent demonstrations are damaging Albania’s democratic reform efforts and the country’s prospects for moving forward on the EU path. The United States urges all sides to step back from confrontation and engage in a constructive dialogue aimed at bringing an end to the political impasse,” reacted the Embassy.




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