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Belgrade Media Report 15 May 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 15 May 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic receives Ossowski (Beta)
• Selakovic: We are more encouraged and stronger following talks in the Patriarchate (RTS/Tanjug)
• Rada Trajkovic sues Vucic and Djuric for endangering her safety (N1)
• Jojic, Radeta to tried in ICTY after witnesses refuse to testify in Serbia (Beta)
• Serbia, B&H, Montenegro sign border protocol (Tanjug/B92)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Erdogan, Putin discuss crisis related to formation of B&H CoM (Nezavisne)
• Radoncic: SBB B&H Presidency will reach decision on whether SBB B&H will become part of authorities on Thursday (N1)
Montenegro
• ODUPRISE Representatives travel to Brussels without opposition (Vijesti)
• Abazovic discussed Montenegrin political crisis with Weiss and Sarrazin (TMN)
Republic of North Macedonia
• VMRO-DPMNE will cooperate with Pendarovski only if it has to (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Zaev’s adviser Taleski is the new NATO coordinator (Republika)
Albania
• Democrats challenge ruling majority: Elections will not be held (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Roth: Albania deserves the opening of negotiations (European Western Balkans)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic receives Ossowski (Beta)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with Special Envoy of the German Federal Foreign Office in charge of EU Affairs Thomas Ossowski, who is also an EU policy officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. Brnabic said that full EU membership is a key strategic goal for Serbia, while Osowski emphasized that Germany is Serbia’s friend and partner and strongly supports the European integration process. Brnabic presented the reforms that Serbia has implemented on the European path, especially in the rule of law. She pointed out that Serbia’s priorities are reforms that cover Chapters 23 and 24 and that their goal is to strengthen institutions and the rule of law. Brnabic outlined the activities Serbia has undertaken regarding constitutional amendments and activities to develop a new media strategy. Ossowski concluded that it is necessary to continue the implementation of reforms on the European path, and that Germany will continue to provide strong support to Serbia.

 

Selakovic: We are more encouraged and stronger following talks in the Patriarchate (RTS/Tanjug)

 

The meeting of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Patriarch Irinej and the bishops in the Patriarchate has brought more encouragement both for our nation and our state, Serbian President’s General Secretary Nikola Selakovic said. “Borders to the church are an abstract and relative term, but to us, the state, they are important. I ask you to use everything that you had heard here to strengthen you in the fight you are conducting…I have been hearing here for decades about the strong positions on Krajina, Montenegro…and then we calmly watched how all that was going away, how Serbia was vanishing from these regions and we haven’t done a thing,” Selakovic paraphrased the words of one of the bishops. His request to the President was to fight in order to protect maximally our nation, to receive the most for our state, because if we all fight in this way it will be easier for us whatever the outcome is, says Selakovic, adding this is somewhere the policy of the President as well. Recalling that more than 95 percent of the people expressed themselves at the census as believers, Selakovic adds that the church has the right to a stand. “The church has the right to its stand, it should present it, and it is good to hear the concrete position of the state and for us to point to each other to perhaps certain parts to which we didn’t pay attention and with which we should be dealing,” said Selakovic. Selakovic told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that there were no fierce disputes at the meeting, but that there were disputes in which the President responded with arguments to certain questions. “The President of the Republic said at least five times that he hadn’t come to the Synod because he needed or requested something, but to answer the questions of our bishops,” said Selakovic. According to him, there is a tendency of some media to spread notorious lies on the course of the meeting and its outcome. The first lie that was placed before the meeting was that the majority of bishops was against this meeting, because, if it were so, Vucic and Dodik would not have attended it, says Selakovic. “The second notorious lie was that Vucic threatened the bishops with papers of secret services. Such words are a disgrace of Djilas and his best man,” said Selakovic. He stresses that Vucic presented from papers UNSCR 1244, the Brussels agreement and the report on how much Serbia is spending money in Kosovo and Metohija to strengthen the survival of the Serbian people. “Many unknowns of Resolution 1244 were presented. The President took out that paper and quoted it in some parts, because some members of the Synod demonstrated ignorance on its content. Thus, they didn’t know that FR Yugoslavia is called in Resolution 1244 to terminate terrorizing,” says Selakovic. He says the truth is that one of the bishops from Montenegro spoke about that, just as President Vucic said that Serbia is not mentioned anywhere but Yugoslavia. Selakovic reiterated that Vucic said he wasn’t coming to the meeting to request anything but to respond to the bishops’ questions. Commenting the reports of certain media that certain bishops criticized the President, Selakovic reiterated that these are lies. “It says in this false article that Bishop of Slavonia Jovan Culibrk criticized the President, but the Bishop of Slavonia praised President Vucic before all members of the Synod for improving the state-of-affairs in the army, and this is not to be compared with what was eight years ago and what was left by Tadic’s, Djilas’ and Jeremic’s government,” said Selakovic. There was one group of four or five bishops that presented itself as one organized group. They had confronted stands. “Most of the bishops understood the real essence of the politics. There was one of the bishops who told the President that he should perform his job well as he was already performing,” said Selakovic. “When they asked him what will you do now, the President said he would do what it seemed everyone was doing and what had the support – I will be playing dumb as the whole world is playing dumb, as the Albanians are also playing dumb,” said Selakovic. He says they also mentioned delineation, but this idea was completely rejected and it is not on the table any longer. It was important to realize and state – what is it that Serbia has in Kosovo and Metohija, adds Selakovic. “What is it that we have if they were holding our Patriarch in 2008 and they will not let him to Kosovo and Metohija, then the question is what we have, what is our sovereignty,” said Selakovic. He denied that the President disciplined anyone at this meeting, as there were reports in certain media. “There were 50 people there, the Patriarch and two Presidents. I was there, took notes, I can testify,” said Selakovic. This meeting was very useful and the level of unity after the meeting is greater, concluded Selakovic.

 

Rada Trajkovic sues Vucic and Djuric for endangering her safety (N1)

 

The president of the European Movement for Kosovo Rada Trajkovic filed criminal charges against Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for a statement which, according to her, could put her life at risk, her lawyer Vladimir Gajic said on Tuesday, N1 reported. She also submitted charges against the Head of Office for Kosovo and Metojija Marko Djuric for publishing secret documents from her testimony before Pristina’s prosecutors related to the assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic gunned down on January 16, 2018, outside his party’s headquarter in northern Kosovo. Explaining the criminal charges, Gajic said that “both Vucic and Djuric used the highest state authority positions and unfoundedly and falsely accused Rada Trajkovic of being a traitor, an associate of the enemies of the state and foreign secret services, what most drastically imperiled her safety making her fear for life.”

 

Jojic, Radeta to tried in ICTY after witnesses refuse to testify in Serbia (Beta)

 

Serbian Radical Party officials Petar Jojic and Vjerica Radeta, charged with contempt of court by the ICTY, will be tried in The Hague and not in Serbia, the court said. Chinese Judge Liu Daqun annulled an initial decision to pass the proceedings on to Serbia, and issued a

new order for the arrest of the two Radical Party officials and their extradition without delay to The Hague. Explaining the decision, the judge said that the key witnesses in the trial had “unambiguously” stated that they would not testify if the trial was held in Serbia, out of serious concern for their safety and the safety of their families. Radeta, an MP, said that neither she nor Petar Jojic intended to go to The Hague voluntarily and that there was no legal basis for their extradition.

 

Serbia, B&H, Montenegro sign border protocol (Tanjug/B92)

 

Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), Serbia, and Montenegro have signed a protocol on the establishment of a three-border border point between them. The signatories said this was done for the sake of current and future generations – in order to allow free movement of citizens in accordance with international law. The protocol was signed in Sarajevo on Wednesday by the B&H Minister of Civil Affairs Adil Osmanovic, State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior of Montenegro Dragan Pejanovic and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Veljko Odalovic. Odalovic said that Serbia is absolutely placing priority on resolving regional issues. Osmanovic said that the signing of the protocol is meant to strengthening mutual cooperation and respecting between the three countries. When asked about the controversial points on the border between B&H and Serbia, Osmanovic said that these were four: the Hydroelectric Power Plant Zvornik, the Hydroelectric Power Plant Bajina Basta, along the Belgrade-Bar railway, and in the Priboj Municipality. “The position of B&H is to sign a border agreement first, and then approach possible interventions and resolve disputes,” Osmanovic said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Erdogan, Putin discuss crisis related to formation of B&H CoM (Nezavisne)

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked over the phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about the crisis related to formation of the B&H Council of Ministers. Statement issued by the office of the President of Turkey reads that Erdogan initiated discussion about this issue, and “pointed out the need to increase the level of cooperation with international organizations, for peace and stability in the region”. According to daily, Erdogan said earlier that rotation of the Chairman of the Presidency of B&H every eight months and inability to establish country’s own army are serious problems for B&H.

 

Radoncic: SBB B&H Presidency will reach decision on whether SBB B&H will become part of authorities on Thursday (N1)

 

Whether SBB B&H will take part in the negotiations on formation of the authorities at the B&H and the Federation of B&H level will be known on Thursday, when new meeting between leaders of SBB B&H and SDA, Fahrudin Radoncic and Bakir Izetbegovic, will be held. Radoncic confirmed for N1 that SBB B&H Presidency will reach a decision on whether SBB B&H will become part of the authorities at the B&H and the Federation of B&H level on Thursday. One of the topics that will be discussed by Radoncic and Izetbegovic on Thursday will be the National Annual Program (ANP) for NATO in the context of authority formation. “We have to exit that dead-end which (SNSD leader) Mr. Milorad Dodik is dragging us in. I believe that there are initiatives so that we could all exit that in a successful way because there is simply no alternative,” Radoncic stressed. Meanwhile, a phone meeting between leaders of HDZ B&H, SDA and SNSD which was supposed to be held Tuesday morning did not take place. HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic told the media on Monday that formation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) can no longer wait. Covic recalled that agreement on distribution of ministerial posts was long reached, but added that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. SDA Vice-President Safet Softic stressed that things got additionally complicated after Dodik’s latest statements on the B&H Armed Forces (AF). “It sometimes seems to me that Mr. Dodik seems as Radovan Karadzic in the making. There are many things that he said and did so far which provoke normal people in B&H,” Softic underlined. Dodik commented what he called hysteria regarding his statements on the B&H AF, interpreting it as deliberate drawing of attention away from the process of formation of the authorities.

 

ODUPRISE Representatives travel to Brussels without opposition (Vijesti)

 

The civic movement ODUPRISE delegation travels on Wednesday, 15 May to Brussels, where they will stay until 18 May, but it is still not confirmed who of the European officials they will meet. In Brussels, they should present an Agreement on the future that they have signed with opposition MPs and, as they stated, ask for EU support resolving the political crisis in Montenegro.  The delegation will be representatives of the movement Dzemal Perovic, Omer Sarkic, and Nikola Grdinic, while representatives of the opposition are not traveling to Brussels. At the previous meetings of the opposition leaders and the Movement ODUPRISE, it was agreed that this would be a delegation that included a representative of Democrats and Nebojsa Medojevic from the Democratic Front (DF). At the last meeting, the Organizing Committee of the ODUPRISE movement discussed the platform of meeting with European officials, member of the Committee Dzemal Perovic told Vijesti they had previously requested a meeting with European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, but yesterday there was no confirmation that they would meet with him. Due to the trip to Brussels, expected to be of great importance, yesterday’s meetings with representatives of opposition parties were postponed, whose goal was to restore unity before the next protest scheduled for 21 May. Representatives of the ODUPRISE movement had to meet separately yesterday with the leaders of the Democrats and the SDP to resolve the disagreements, but this was abandoned. According to Vijesti, Perovic announced a meeting with SDP President Ranko Krivokapic but later informed that the meeting was canceled. The party of Aleksa Becic has previously refused an invitation to a joint meeting, complaining that it was a “non-legislative attempt to shift responsibility.” Democrats then said that a meeting of leaders “who did not crush opposition unity and an agreement on the future” should be held. “If the organizer of the meeting believes they should call SDP, Democrats will not attack them, but will not participate in it,” said the Democrats to the ODRRISE movement.

Becic refuses further co-operation with SDP over the decision to vote in Kotor for the dismissal of mayor Vladimir Jokic from Democratic Montenegro. After the SDP members with the Kotor opposition voted for the removal of Jokic, state-level opposition parties accuse them of cooperating with the regime. Becic then said that he would not sit with Krivokapic at the same table, while the ODRRISE movement noted that the SDP had excluded itself from the Agreement on the future. Krivokapic has meanwhile announced that he will not run for the party congress in June, but that the SDP remains committed to the Agreement. Perovic told Vijesti that until the return from Brussels they will not meet with any of the opposition leaders and that after arrival they will decide on next steps.

 

Abazovic discussed Montenegrin political crisis with Weiss and Sarrazin (TMN)

 

Dritan Abazovic, the Civilian Movement URA leader, met in Berlin with Martin Weiss, a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast European Society of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of the leading organizations for the analysis of Balkan policies, announced URA.

During the meeting with Weiss, Abazovic thanked them for the permanent support that Germany provides to Montenegro, considering strengthening the friendship between the two countries as particularly important, but also warned of the latest political and legal crises in our country, URA states. “After the biggest electoral affair in the history of modern Montenegro, marked by the name of “Envelope,” mass protests began, the largest since gaining independence. Despite all the necessary evidence and video material that became viral, state institutions have once again proved that they are in the clutches of organized crime, which coordinates the very top of the wave” said Abazovic during the meeting. Abazovic told Weiss that in the meantime, the first instance verdict was issued in Podgorica in the case of the “Coup,” and, as he pointed out, the resolution of the political crisis has become even more complex and unpredictable. “Since 2016, the entire opposition has been in the boycott, after which part has returned to parliament and if the authorities meet no condition. Now the two leaders of those subjects, who broke up the boycott, were sentenced to prison terms. It means that half of the opposition is in the boycott, and the other half is potentially (if the verdict is confirmed) in prison. The state prosecutor’s office was involved in one case and ignored the high level of corruption. The president of the state does not know how much money he has on the cards. The National Television (RTCG) has become worse than in the time of Slobodan Milosevic while vast quantities of narcotics are seized on board the Army of Montenegro’s ship. When to add all mentioned then everything indicates that we are in the institutional twilight,” said Abazovic at a meeting with Weiss. He said that the solution lays in the acceptance of citizens’ demands from the “Agreement for the future,” a more precise determination of pro-European forces and the creation of preconditions for the normalization of political circumstances that will lead to the preparation of the first fair elections in the history of Montenegro. “Without it, Montenegro will continue to engage in a dictatorship, which is contrary to the interests of citizens, but also our international partners, especially the EU. Sooner or later it will become apparent to everyone. No one has the goal of having a private-owned state in the heart of Europe. It would undoubtedly open up the space for the interests of other centers of power that have anti-democratic plans for the region. Therefore, we must adopt standards differently and raise the level of political culture,” concluded Abazovic. He met in Berlin and with the deputy of the European Greens to Bundestag, Manuel Sarrazin. Speaking on the political and legal crisis in Montenegro, Abazovic warned that Montenegro is the only country in Europe in which power has never been removed. “We have to find the strength to do so, in Montenegro, there are potentials for a strong European alternative,” Abazovic said Sarrazin. One of the topics discussed with the Greens was the issues from the field of nature and environmental protection, and Sarrazin was particularly interested in the subject of the protection of Solana Ulcinj. “For the example of Solana, whose protection and reconstruction is strongly supported by the Green Party group in the Bundestag, the scheme is explained for many other similar ventures of organized crime. We must break the concept of a private-owned state and captured institutions, we have the potential to become a successful European story, and it is, therefore, necessary to insist on alternatives. Political change is the only way to make the system democratic and just. We must never give up on that,” said Abazovic during a meeting with Sarrazin. They also pointed out that Abazovic and Sarrazin expressed readiness for URA and Greens of Germany to improve cooperation and intensify communication in the future. Greens’ parliamentary group announced soon to visit Montenegro, they said from the URA.

 

VMRO-DPMNE will cooperate with Pendarovski only if it has to (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

The newly elected President’s extended hand of cooperation to the opposition is taken with a grain of salt in the so-called “White Palace”. VMRO-DPMNE does not believe that President Stevo Pendarovski’s messages sent to the main opposition party are sincere, pointing out that if they were, in fact, sincere, then party leader Hristijan Mickoski would have received an invitation to attend the inauguration last Sunday. And not just that, the main opposition party yesterday strongly attacked Pendarovski claiming he was a man without integrity, and a shadow of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, which gives him the freedom not to physically attend Pendarovski’s inauguration last Sunday. That is, practically, a continuation of the presidential election campaign, where VMRO-DPMNE repeatedly blamed the government’s favorite for not having a position and quoted him saying “We think 102.5% like Zaev”. However, after the election run-off on May 5, political elites are expected to bury the hatchet and, in the interests of the country, try to cooperate at least in achieving Euro-integration. “We are, of course, ready for dialogue and we will cooperate whenever the future of our country is at stake. If we are called for a conversation, we will accept, but you cannot expect of us to fall into a trance that the president said he would reach out a hand to the opposition. If he really meant it, he would have invited us to the inauguration. On the other hand, what does ‘reconciliation’ with the opposition mean to him? What are his credentials in this matter? Will he tell the Prime Minister what is not right, and that he shouldn’t do it? It is not enough to just tell stories, yet he needs to show specific examples, said VMRO-DPMNE. In his first speech as President, Pendarovski promised to equally represent both those who voted for him and those who were against him. He said he expected citizens to value him according to the attitude that he will have towards the opposition, and stressed that in today’s Europe there was almost no country that is so small, and so internally divided. “In the political sphere, the first thing that I will do is to extend hand for cooperation to the opposition. I feel that my first commitment as president proposed by the political majority is to protect the status and rights of the political minority, because democracy exists only when different minorities in society are protected from the possible arbitrariness of the majority, and for that only the laws, most often, are not enough. Political differences between people and parties will continue to exist because they are natural and necessary, but the energy and potential of society must be united over several strategically important things of which I will insist, and for which I will propose models for achieving wider state consensus. By this I mean of our Euro-Atlantic aspirations, above all, for which there is a full agreement among the relevant political entities on the rhetorical level. However, the modalities for their realization in which we believe are different,” said Pendarovski, pointing out that he would insist on involving the best experts in the processes towards NATO and the EU, no matter where they came from. VMRO-DPMNE accepted the election defeat in the presidential elections, but neither Mickoski nor Siljanovska congratulated the winner. MPs from the ranks of VMRO-DPMNE attended Pendarovski’s address in Parliament, but did not react to any of his messages, nor applauded. “Zaev hand-picked an obedient character to install as President through electoral engineering and pre-arranged delivery of votes. Pendarovski hasn’t spoken a word about the crimes, corruption and nepotism displayed by the government. He remained silent while his political mentor Zoran Zaev was being amnestied for his crimes. He never spoke out about the lack of reforms which will likely cost Macedonia the opening of EU accession talks,” VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release. Pendarovski’s term will last until 2024. In the next year and a half, a successful cohabitation is expected between him Prime Minister Zaev, something that was absent while Gjorge Ivanov resided in the Vodno presidential villa. But if VMRO-DPMNE succeeds in winning the next general elections, the Mickoski-Pendarovski duo will have to push Macedonia towards Brussels. The parliament yet again explained why opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski was not invited to the inauguration of the newly elected President Stevo Pendarovski. The parliament said that there is no practice of inviting leaders of political parties, who are not MPs, to the inauguration of presidents. The parliament added that the holders of high-ranking state posts were invited according to a previous list, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited foreign guests.

 

Zaev’s adviser Taleski is the new NATO coordinator (Republika)

 

Zaev’s foreign policy adviser Dane Taleski will replace Stevo Pendarovski as the new coordinator on NATO issues in the Macedonian Government. Pendarovski held this position in Zaev’s Government, but he dropped it after running for President. The position should remain active until Macedonia joins NATO.

 

Democrats challenge ruling majority: Elections will not be held (ADN)

 

Democratic Party (DP) leader Lulzim Basha was as clear local elections will not be held on 30 June, despite PM Edi Rama‘s determination. During his speech in the press conference, Basha declared that on June 30th, there is no government that can meet the conditions for free and fair elections. “The people and the opposition will continue this battle until victory. Edi Rama’s removal is the key to paving the way for the EU process. The situation today resembles the end of the 1991 regime. On 30 June, no government can meet the conditions for free and fair elections. The voter register is outdated and often manipulated. There are also many other technical details that make it impossible for 30 June elections to be held. Meanwhile, PM Rama stated that he expects the victory in all 61 Municipalities of the country.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Roth: Albania deserves the opening of negotiations (European Western Balkans, 14 May 2019)

 

BERLIN – Albania made progress on path to Europe and it deserves the opening of negotiations, stated the Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth during the meeting with the Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania Gent Cakaj. Expressing appreciation for the solid support that Germany has provided and is providing to Albania, with this being indicative of the importance of cooperation between the two countries, Cakaj thanked Minister Roth for Germany’s support, and his personal contribution, it is written in a press release of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania. Minister Roth reconfirmed the support from Germany, which remains committed to Albania’s European perspective, and stated that respect for the democratic and constitutional institutions is crucial for this. The German Minister appreciated the pace of reforms and encouraged the Albanian authorities to carry on with the good work done. “Albania has come a long way towards integration and deserves that negotiations start,” Minister Roth stated, confirming that Germany remains a strong supporter of the Western Balkans’ integration into the EU. Both Ministers acknowledged that the decision for opening the negotiations is of strategic importance and that the Berlin Process must be considered as an instrument for European integration. They have also recognized that Albania has made the progress required for launching the negotiations and that the political decision will be based on the Commission’s report.

 

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