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Belgrade Media Report 22 May 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 22 May 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Relations between Serbia, Croatia important for stability of region (Beta/RTS)
• Odalovic: Quint’s message does not fit anywhere (RTS)
• Kuburovic: No extradition discussed with Brammertz (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Croat ministers boycott B&H CoM session (FTV, RTRS)
• Covic: HDZ B&H is not conditioning formation of B&H CoM and Federation of B&H government (Dnevni avaz)
• After SDA accepted Dodik’s request on IPAP, DF threatened it would call off coalition with SDA (Dnevni list)
• Russia sees RS as main political and economic partner in B&H (ATV)
Republic of North Macedonia
• North Macedonia receives positive signals about the launch of accession talks (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Zaev and Ahmeti meet to plan their purge of corrupt government members (Republika)
Albania
• Basha warns again: Local elections will not be held (ADN)
• Rama-Thaci meeting (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• US Wants Kosovo Army to Be in Control of the Disputed Territory – Analyst (Sputnik)
• Frontex launches first joint operation outside EU, in Albania (EurActiv/AFP)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Relations between Serbia, Croatia important for stability of region (Beta/RTS)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic spoke with Croatian Ambassador to Serbia Gordan Bakota on the situation in the region and the bilateral relations of the two countries. She pointed out that the relations between Serbia and Croatia are important for the stability of the region, and that, consequently, it is necessary to improve the dialogue and intensify cooperation in resolving open issues. The Croatian Ambassador assessed that the Western Balkans’ EU accession was crucial for the prosperity of all countries in the region, and announced that this would be one of the important issues during the presidency of Croatia to the EU Council in the first half of 2020. He informed the Prime Minister that the goal of Croatia is to organize the EU-Western Balkans Summit during its Presidency, in which the European perspective of the region and the enlargement of the EU would be an important topic. The officials emphasized the importance of improving relations in the field of minority rights, so that all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, noting the importance of cross-border cooperation and the use of IPA funds. They also discussed the cooperation between the chambers of commerce of Serbia and Croatia and plans for organizing the economic summit of the two countries during 2019. Brnabic and Bakota concluded that the visit of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to Serbia in the coming period would be a good signal for further improvement of cooperation and interstate dialogue.

 

Odalovic: Quint’s message does not fit anywhere (RTS)

 

“This is an attempt to blur the essence, a message of unity that was sent at the elections, for which the Serbs turned out in much greater numbers than at the last elections,” the General Secretary in the Serbian Foreign Ministry Veljko Odalovic told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS). “The message is inappropriate and doesn’t fit anywhere, neither in the electoral process that passed without problems,” says Odalovic, adding these elections were not even conducted by Serbia, but by the Kosovo Central Election Commission.

Neither the Commission nor those who monitored, including foreign observers, didn’t have objections to the electoral process. “None of them found a comma, not to mention something more serious in order to object. Suddenly, the Quint, invented more than 20 years ago, appears in order to blur the essence,” said Odalovic. He points out that the Serb community has its course and goal and that it sent a message that the attempt at breaking the unity of the Serb community has not succeeded. “Both Pristina politicians and their sponsors have been building a policy on disunity of the Serbs,” says Odalovic, noting that the Serb representatives received nearly 22,000 votes. Regarding the announcement of a parliament session where President Vucic will be speaking about Kosovo and Metohija, Odalovic says the opposition should also attend it. “Topics were opened in parliament at all decisive moments. We presented the document in 2013 that was the course of all dialogues, in all phases. One should run away from that, this is a good thing,” concluded Odalovic.

 

Kuburovic: No extradition discussed with Brammertz (Beta)

 

Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic denied having discussed the extradition of two officials of an ultra-nationalist party to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague during her meeting with Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. Brammertz is in Serbia to meet with the Justice Minister, Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac and Chief War Crimes Prosecutor Snezana Stanojkovic pending his report on Serbia’s cooperation with the UN Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to the UN Security Council and take part in a regional conference of war crimes prosecutors. “The topic of the meeting was promoting regional cooperation, not extradition because that is not a decision by the prosecution but an order which we have to get from the court,” Kuburovic said when asked about the extradition of Serbian Radical Party (SRS) officials Vjerica Radeta and Petar Jojic on charges of threatening and intimidating witnesses during the trial of their party leader Vojislav Seselj.  She said the Justice Ministry had not received the extradition decision and would wait to see what it says before taking whatever action it can in line with the law.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Croat ministers boycott B&H CoM session (FTV/RTRS)

 

A session of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) was postponed again on Tuesday, as Croat Ministers failed to show up. Namely, Ministers from HDZ B&H and B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak failed to show up which is why there was no quorum to hold the session. Ministers from SDS, B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic and B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic accused Croat Ministers of boycott, which is, as they claim, a result of an agreement between SNSD and HDZ B&H. B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ B&H) dismissed allegations about the obstruction. The reporter noted that thus, the political crisis in B&H has reached its peak; there are no sessions of the B&H Parliament, a new convocation of the B&H CoM will not be formed anytime soon due to conditioning of SDA, while outgoing Ministers fail to hold sessions. Head of SNSD Caucus in the B&H HoR Stasa Kosarac reacted by saying that instead of preaching, the outgoing Ministers should better resign as they have no legitimacy to represent Republika Srpska. Kosarac stated that Croat representatives are conducting the Croat policy, adding that he will not give any further comments. Kosarac added that part of the international community (IC) and pro-Bosnian structure want to minimize the election will of Croat and Serb voters, adding that it is pity that Mektic and Sarovic work for the purpose of this minimization.

 

Covic: HDZ B&H is not conditioning formation of B&H CoM and Federation of B&H government (Dnevni avaz)

 

HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, asked to comment a statement of Minister of Security of B&H Dragan Mektic that SNSD is obstructing work of the Council of Ministers of B&H through HDZ B&H, said: “I never commented Mektic, and I am not going to begin now… With regards to HDZ B&H, we are not blocking anything. Our stance is known – we want urgent formation of the Council of Ministers (CoM), because unfortunately, that is the reason the parliament of B&H is not functioning seven months after the elections. In my talks with SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, I am trying to remove all the problems related to it, and our people are dealing with everything else related to the CoM.” Commenting the fact that Dodik is rejecting the adoption of the Annual National Program for the continuation of NATO integration, Covic said: “The Euro-Atlantic integration does not have an alternative. That is a strategy of policy I am leading. And reaching the, candidate status, opening of negotiations – that is a different story. When it comes to NATO, the first step has been harmonized a long time ago, and it is activation of the famous Membership Action Plan… We need to form the Council of Ministers and review what this road we agreed upon with NATO representatives in the past demands of us. If it is some phase – I have nothing against that, but truthfully, I do not see the use of it.” Covic rejected allegations that HDZ B&H is conditioning formation of the Federation of B&H Government with the adoption of amendments to the Law on Elections of B&H, underlining that all of their partners know HDZ B&H is focused on those amendments. “I call on SDA namely to finally start a new cycle, instead of constantly buying more time, because that is luxury… We will have to find a solution for implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court of B&H, and that is not too much insistence,” said Covic and underlined once again that HDZ B&H only insists on legitimate political representation of all constituent peoples. Asked about his recent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Zagreb, HDZ B&H leader said that they discussed the same issues they discussed last year when she met with B&H Presidency members. “I explained to her that HDZ B&H, regardless of the fact that Bosniak people elected two members of the Presidency, is not going to enter a trap in which is it expected to force certain obstructions” said Covic and underlined that HDZ B&H supports formation of B&H CoM and the Federation of B&H Government, as well as the adoption of the amendments to the Law on Elections. “When it comes to the European path, she clearly stated that B&H must not miss its chance as it did in the past, and it is now up to the elected leaders to do their job professionally,” said Covic and concluded that Merkel is one of the biggest friends to B&H. Covic also said that in his opinion, formation of B&H CoM depends on Izetbegovic, but he is yet to see whether they promote identical stances following scheduled meetings with both Izetbegovic and Dodik.

 

After SDA accepted Dodik’s request on IPAP, DF threatened it would call off coalition with SDA (Dnevni list)

 

SDP leader Nermin Niksic said on Saturday that he has “serious information that the SDA leadership agreed on Friday morning to accept Milorad Dodik’s proposal that B&H joins the IPAP (Individual Partnership Action Plan) instead of the MAP (Membership Action Plan), however SDA suddenly changed its decision in the afternoon and gave up on the IPAP under someone’s mysterious pressure”. According to the daily, Niksic did not know who applied the pressure, however some (unnamed) sources in left-wing circles in Sarajevo claim DF leader Zeljko Komsic went berserk when he heard what SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic is proposing to him and threatened he would break down coalition between SDA and DF. Daily explains that the IPAP is individual cooperation of each country with NATO, which is a model applied by Serbia too, arguing that Dodik, who follows Serbia, advocates IPAP. Concluding the article, daily notes that many questions could be answered after the forthcoming meeting among Dodik, Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic scheduled for this week.

 

Russia sees RS as main political and economic partner in B&H (ATV)

 

Republika Srpska (RS) parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic met with Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matviyenko, in Moscow on Tuesday. On this occasion, Matviyenko stressed that Russia sees the RS as the main political and economic partner in B&H and appreciates constructive relations with the RS. Commenting on the meeting, Cubrilovic told ATV that it is clear that the RS enjoys Russia’s support and that good cooperation between the RS and Russia continues. Matviyenko also stated that Russia closely monitors developments in the RS and that Russia is very interested in further cooperation. During the meeting, the officials emphasized that Russia respects the Dayton Agreement and that Russia believes that it is time for the OHR to be closed. Cubrilovic stated that the RS will be consistent in implementation of a resolution of the RSNA on the military neutrality. Cubrilovic informed Matviyenko that Chairman of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik is looking forward to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during the upcoming International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.

 

North Macedonia receives positive signals about the launch of accession talks (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn is convinced that North Macedonia will receive a recommendation to launch EU accession talks before the start of the summer. Hahn announced this from Vienna, where he attended an economic forum, adding that a lot of work is being done to convince skeptic countries for the enlargement of the union. He said that the country is now ready to join the union, as it has no open issues with neighbors. Hahn appeared convinced that all the first chapters which relate to the rule of law, will open by the end of the year. The EU ambassador to Skopje, Samuel Zbogar is also optimistic that the progress report, that will be published next week by the European Commission, will reflect the big progress that North Macedonia has made. “I’m convinced that the report will recommend the opening of negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia,” Zbogar said. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and new President Stevo Pendarovski have said that they will follow a joint strategy for the integration of the country in Euro-Atlantic structures. They’re optimistic that the country will be given a date for the opening of negotiations. However, many political analysts are skeptical about this. According to experts, once the new president, Stevo Pendarovski signs several bills that are waiting to be signed by him, this will offer momentum to the integration of the country. However, according to them, one month is not enough for the implementation of these laws in practice. “Despite reforms, the evaluation of the European Commission on North Macedonia is expected to be political, as a result of the name change, which was an important process for the region,” says Mersel Bilalli, university professor and adviser to Zaev. Next week, the European Commission will publish the progress report on North Macedonia and this report is expected to be decisive for the opening of negotiations.

 

Zaev and Ahmeti meet to plan their purge of corrupt government members (Republika)

 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Ali Ahmeti met in the government to discuss ways in which they can fulfill Zaev’s promise to purge the most corrupt officials from their government in early June. It was agreed that the two will meet with their party officials and then meet again to plan the reconstruction of their government. The goal of these meetings is to secure the personnel choices which will improve the capacity of the institutions and will implement better economic results and meet citizen expectations, the government said in a press release. Their coalition lost 2/5 of the votes in a year and half, between the 2017 municipal elections and the first round of the 2019 presidential elections, which raised alarm and prompted Zaev to make his promise to purge the corrupt and incompetents from his government.

 

Basha warns again: Local elections will not be held (ADN)

 

Democratic Party (DP) leader Lulzim Basha held a meeting with citizens who responded to his invitation to overthrow Prime Minister Edi Rama‘s government. According to him, the union of people shows that there will be no local election on 30 June 30. “These citizens conveyed us the message that they are fighting for freedom and democracy. This is the best solution to tell Rama that the elections with thieves and criminals will not happen,” said Basha. Meanwhile, German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michal Roth, stated that the protests are acceptable to democracy, but violence and hatred, boycotting the elections, and leaving the Parliament, are absolutely unacceptable. By speaking about the current political situation of Albania, Roth said that Albania has come a long way on its road the EU, but that the opposition is endangering recognition of these achievements with its stumbling policy. “We need to get involved more. Despite criticisms, the EU is the biggest guarantor of peace and stability in the world, but our problems sometimes hinder our attention to our closest neighbors,” said Roth. He added that that Albania has fulfilled the conditions set by the European Council, so it is expected that in June 2019 it sees the results.

 

Rama-Thaci meeting (ADN)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama received on Tuesday the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci.

According to the Kosovo’s Head of State, at the meeting with Premier Rama, they discussed the political situation in Albania, Kosovo and the region. “As always, it is a pleasure to meet Prime Minister Edi Rama. We talked about political developments in Kosovo, Albania and the region, as well as Kosovo’s preparations for the Paris Summit,” said Thaci. Meanwhile, the President of the Republic, Ilir Meta, had meeting with the deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Fatmir Limaj. The Head of State got acquainted with the agreement made between the two governments that will further strengthen cooperation between the countries. According to Meta, further strengthening of Kosovo’s partnership with the US and EU guarantees its Euro-Atlantic integration and consolidates security in the region. “We assessed the progress of the recent local elections in Kosovo recently. Kosovo has long deserved the abolition of the visa regime with the European Union, meeting entirely all the criteria. Further strengthening of Kosovo’s partnership with US and EU guarantees its Euro-Atlantic integration and consolidates security in our region,” said Meta.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

US Wants Kosovo Army to Be in Control of the Disputed Territory – Analyst (Sputnik, 21 May 2019)

 

One man can’t win a war, thought the Western allies, and decided to invite the army of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, created contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, to participate in NATO exercises.

Organised by the US European Command (USEUCOM), the exercises, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Croatia’s accession to NATO, will be held in three stages on the territory of Croatia itself, as well neighbouring Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in May and June. The first stage of the military manoeuvres named “Immediate Response 2019” began on 10 May.

Ljuban Karan, a military analyst, who served as a lieutenant colonel in the SFRY counterintelligence service, commented on the paradox of the Kosovo Army, which NATO doesn’t recognise, but is still training to collaborate with its own forces. According to Karan, the policy of any state in relation to Serbia should be assessed not by deceptive diplomatic manifestations that are meant to disguise the true attitude other countries, but by events such as these exercises. “What is happening with the so-called Kosovo Army clearly indicates that the talks have come to a deadlock due to someone’s intentions, and that a military solution is being planned for Kosovo. Therefore, they [the United States] secretly support this formation [On 14 December 2018, Kosovo’s parliament approved plans to turn the Kosovo Security Force into a full army]. This is clear evidence that the Americans, together with this army, have plans for the future and want the Kosovo armed forces to become a real military force that could control the territory of Kosovo in the future”, the expert said. He added that all this obviously goes against Serbia’s interests, and creates grounds for a conflict around Kosovo and Metohija. “By inviting the so-called Kosovo armed forces to take part in the exercises, they show all NATO countries, and especially those, that don’t recognise Kosovo’s independence, that they consider it independent, and as an independent state it can have an army and side by side with all other NATO members participate in all the ‘friendly drills of the Alliance'”, Karan explained. According to the military analyst, however, this isn’t the only reason for the Kosovo Army to take part in NATO exercises. “The Kosovo Army still doesn’t have heavy weapons. These drills give its men the opportunity to learn how to handle heavy armaments and other weapons, which they will receive in the future. So you don’t have to spend time training them: as soon as they get the weapons, they will be ready to use them”. “Their army is receiving training, their staff is getting better, their command and servicemen are being trained, and we still perceive them as only and ‘a newly formed army…’ This isn’t quite the case”, the Serbian expert warned.

Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

 

Frontex launches first joint operation outside EU, in Albania (EurActiv/AFP, 22 May 2019)

 

The European Union’s border agency Frontex said it had launched Tuesday (22 May) in Albania its first-ever joint operation outside the bloc’s territory.

The announcement came just days before EU elections with the bloc’s migration policy under attack from populist candidates such as Italian vice premier Matteo Salvini and French far-right National Rally top candidate Jordan Bardella. Bardella recently said that Frontex, tasked with protecting bloc’s external borders, acted as a “receptionist for migrants”. Shrugging off such criticism, EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos labelled the operation launched in Tirana a “real game changer and a truly historical step bringing this region closer to the EU by working together … on shared challenges such as better managing migration and protecting our common borders”. Albania, which hopes to open EU membership talks in June, will through the scheme receive help with border control and tackling cross-border crime. The Balkan country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama hailed a “very important step in relations between Albania and the EU” and said it was “strengthening cooperation in the security field”. Starting Wednesday, Frontex teams will be deployed at the Greek border alongside Albanian border guards.

The European Commission has initialed similar deals with Bosnia, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which should come into force soon. Those countries and Albania lie on the so-called Balkans route used by thousands of EU-bound migrants. Hundreds of thousands used the route in 2015 and 2016, fleeing war and poverty across Africa and the Middle East — but it was effectively closed in March 2016. Strengthened cooperation will “contribute to the better management of irregular migration, further enhance security at the EU’s external borders and strengthen the agency’s ability to act in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood, while bringing that neighbourhood closer to the EU,” a Commission statement said. The EU decided considerably to strengthen Frontex after the huge 2015 influx sparked chaos. By 2027, the agency expects to deploy 10,000 border and coast guards to help countries cope with migrants.

 

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