Brnabic: Brussels has mechanisms to initiate a procedure for violating the SAA (Tanjug/RTS/Beta)
The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi delivered on Wednesday to Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic the Annual Report of the European Commission on the Republic of Serbia. At a press conference held in the Serbian government, Brnabic assessed that the Report is basically positive because it recognizes the progress in some areas, primarily in the economy, but expressed the expectation that in the future there will be no political assessment of progress towards the EU in some important areas. She voiced hope that the estimates of Serbia’s progress will be based on facts, rather than on the political views of some parties. We will continue to implement the recommendations of the European Commission and pay attention to the essence, not the form, Brnabic said, and criticized the EU for using double standards on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija. She said she is worried about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija and the constant and increasingly frequent incidents. I am concerned about the lack of a concrete response from the EU to everything that is happening. First of all, today is 2,226 days since the signing of the Brussels agreement and the obligation to form the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). Brussels is the guarantor of this agreement, and the EU has guaranteed its implementation, she explained. She said that the Report on the progress states that Pristina “has yet to engage in the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities” and underlined that this shows double standards. I am also concerned about the lack of reaction to the incidents that happened, and to the fact that since 6 November Pristina does not only violate the CEFTA agreement, but also clearly violates the SAA. Brussels has mechanisms to initiate a procedure for violating the SAA. But apart from verbal condemnation, they have not launched these mechanisms, she underlined. If the EU wants the rule of law so much and insists on it so much, then they should insist on the rule of law in their own actions. They should guarantee the application of the Brussels agreement and the establishment of the ZSO and they should respect the SAA agreement. This agreement stipulates mechanisms for cases when the agreement is violated and they should apply them, Brnabic said and underlined that Serbia is continuing its European path.
Joksimovic: EU to pass mechanisms towards Pristina (RTS)
Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the general assessment is that Serbia has done more than what has been noted and mentioned in the EC Report on Serbia. She says that the Report is in principle position as it acknowledges progress in almost all areas and that there is no regress in any. However, she says there are areas that were given many political assessments and that the perception has somewhat disrupted the purity of facts. When it comes to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Joksimovic says this is noted as one of the most important items based on which the possibility of opening new chapters is measures. She points that the Report mentions that Pristina, by introducing illegal taxes, is holding back the dialogue. Even though Pristina is being called to invest efforts towards the formation of the ZSO, she says it is clear there is no will for this since six years have passed. If there is the wish, it is clear what is on the EU as the guarantor of the Brussels agreement, to pass mechanisms whereby its will convince Pristina to withdraw taxes. She says the taxes are primarily violating the CEFTA agreement, but also the SAA that Pristina had signed with the EU. Joksimovic says it is also necessary to condemn Pristina’s activities from the previous two-three days in northern Kosovo and Metohija. She adds that Brussels issued a statement but that this isn’t a clear condemnation in the way that Belgrade expected that.
SzS: Operation in north Kosovo orchestrated by Vucic and Haradinaj (Beta)
The opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) assessed that the Kosovo Police operation in northern Kosovo had been orchestrated by Vucic and Haradinaj. According to the SzS, the statement by KFOR spokesman Vincenzo Grasso proved this, who said that the Serbian authorities had been duly informed about the operation. “It is obvious that this joint theatrical play by Belgrade
and Pristina had the purpose of overshadowing the fact that Vucic actually did not report before the Serbian parliament about the negotiations so far, which have been a fiasco, nor did he present a plan for their resumption,” the SzS assessed in the statement. The moves by the authorities in Serbia, the opposition coalition claimed, are irresponsibly and impermissibly playing with the lives of the Serbs in Kosovo. The SzS urged the authorities to stop spreading hysteria and fear for the sake of winning daily political points, and to start behaving responsibly. “The authorities had to react through political channels the moment they received information about the planned operation of the Kosovo Police, in order to prevent the scenes which we saw yesterday,” reads the SzS statement.
Dveri: Vucic’s message – Belgrade must recognize Kosovo or Albanians might attack (Beta)
The Dveri movement assessed that the main message of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the session of the Serbian Parliament was that Belgrade must recognize the independence of Kosovo so that the Albanians will not attack. Soon after that, Dveri stated, members of the
security forces of Kosovo launched another torture campaign against the Serbs in Kosovo.
“The defeatist stance of the Serbian president practically encouraged the Albanian separatists to
make that move,” the Dveri movement underscored. Recollecting the fact that the Serbs, who were arrested on 28 May, were employees of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 2013, the Dveri accused Vucic of allowing, through the Brussels agreement, the assimilation of Serbian police with the official security forces of independent Kosovo. “This act practically left the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija without any protection,’” the Dveri movement stated, suggesting that Vucic did that under pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The fundamental problem is that the authorities in Serbia are not taking any political or legal steps against Albanian terror, but keep repeating that they are dedicated to peace and want to reach a peaceful
solution. Such stances absolve the Albanian side of all responsibility for violent behavior,” the Dveri movement stated. They concluded that by all accounts, one more in the series of incidents in Kosovo and Metohija will only serve the Serbian authorities as an argument in favor of the unconstitutional insistence on signing a comprehensive peace agreement with Kosovo, by which Serbia would recognize it as independent.
Otadzbina: Vucic intends to sign agreement with Pristina (NSPM/Beta)
The Movement of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija Otadzbina (Fatherland) stated that the report on
Kosovo and Metohija presented by President Aleksandar Vucic before the parliament was intended to pave the way among the public for a comprehensive peace agreement, which Vucic is intending to sign with Pristina. According to the movement, Vucic’s report is full of
stupidities, unbelievable lies, and horrible political hypocrisy, with not a single word about a political platform for negotiations with Albanian separatists. “If such a platform had existed, as it existed from 2006 to 2008, Vucic would have never dared to sign the treasonous Brussels agreement,” the movement said in a statement.
Scott: Belgrade, Pristina have to get back to talks (N1)
US Ambassador Kyle to Serbia Scott told N1 on Thursday that Belgrade and Pristina have to get back to the table because their dialogue has been regressing in the past six months. He said the situation is not good but added that diplomats have to be optimists and look for solutions. We have to be realistic, the situation is not good, there is no dialogue and there is mistrust on both sides, he added. The Ambassador said that Washington’s stand and goal remain unchanged – a comprehensive agreement to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina which means that there has to be a dialogue. Both sides have to return to the negotiating table to see how we can move forward, Scott said. The key to continuing the dialogue lies in removing the barriers an tariffs which are stopping the negotiations. The US feel that the tariffs are not helping and should be removed. Measures have to be taken to move the process forward and in the past six months things have been moving backwards, he said. Scott said the Serbian parliament session on Kosovo was important and what President Aleksandar Vucic said was interesting about getting to grips with the bitter truth about Kosovo. Scott voiced support for the idea of getting the sides together to think about moving forward. We will continue to support a comprehensive agreement on normalization, he said. The ambassador recalled that Washington was not invited to the Western Balkans summit in Berlin or to the coming meeting in Paris. According to Scott, the solution for Kosovo must come from the region not from Brussels or Washington but from Pristina and Belgrade and the solution has to be a lasting one and contribute to Serb-Albanian reconciliation and help stabilize the region.
Hahn presents enlargement package on Western Balkans and Turkey (BHT1/FTV)
EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn presented the enlargement package in front of the European Parliament Foreign Policy Committee (AFET) on Wednesday. Hahn proposed the beginning of negotiations on the EU membership with Albania and Northern Macedonia. During his presentation, Hahn stressed that the EU cannot import instability and the entire region needs to work on cooperation and reconciliation. He stressed that it is necessary to improve the standard of living for the citizens of Western Balkans. Hahn admitted that praise needs to be given where praise is due. He commended Northern Macedonia for their historical agreement with Greece and the bilateral agreement with Bulgaria. He added that both Albania and Northern Macedonia implemented many reforms. It was stressed that Serbia and Montenegro have to be more decisive and put more effort in several key areas. The reform of the Rule of Law was highlighted as one of the most important ones. It was stressed that dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina needs to be improved again and a positive surrounding needs to be created. Hahn said that Kosovo needs to focus on its EU path, which was shadowed by the imposing of 100% custom duties on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). The EU Commission adopted the opinion on B&H. Hahn stressed that the EU is dedicated to its support to B&H, but B&H needs to take further steps in regards of reforms. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that they saw progress in the Western Balkans for which they thought it was not possible to achieve. She stressed that this was the result of the joint work between Brussels and the Balkans. Mogherini stated that their joint responsibility is to make the changes irreversible. MEP Eduard Kukan said that Albania and Northern Macedonia can expect that their negotiations will not begin this year. Commenting on the situation in B&H, Kukan said that B&H is far behind other countries in the region. He explained that the EU parliament is trying to be polite and to help the country. Kukan explained that they are creating various initiatives to help convince the politicians in BiH that the country needs to join the EU united. He stressed that the politicians need to place the European interests before their personal ones if they really want to join the EU. When it comes to Turkey, the EU stated that they believe the country is moving further away from the EU. Commissioner Hahn said that Serbia has to act with greater determination to implement reforms and meet the criteria required for Chapters 23 and 24 in its pre-accession negotiations with the EU. The report expressed concern over political influence on the judiciary and wide-spread corruption in Serbia, adding that the country has achieved good progress and is moderately prepared in terms of developing a market economy. Hahn said that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue should lead to a legally binding agreement to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo and called on both sides to avoid provocation. It said that Belgrade has to bring its policies in line with the EU foreign and security policies and added that Pristina and Belgrade have to restart their dialogue. The report said that certain progress has been made in the judiciary but warned that the extent of political interference continues to be a cause of concern. The Serbian authorities have also achieved some progress in fighting organized crime and corruption, expressing concern that corruption is prevalent in many sectors and poses serious problems. According to the report, Serbia is moderately prepared for competition pressure and market forces within the Union with some progress made but the level of investments still below the needs of the economy, a high public debt and incomplete key structural reforms of state-owned companies, the public administration and tax authority and an insufficiently developed private sector.
EC identifies 14 key priorities for B&H to fulfill (TV1)
The European Commission (EC) has adopted a positive Opinion on B&H EU membership application. Namely, the EC adopted a positive Opinion, but B&H cannot be granted the candidate status until it fulfills identified issues in relation to the EU standards. The Opinion identified 14 key priorities for B&H to fulfill. As one of the priorities, B&H is required to complete a reform of institutions so that, as a decentralized country, it could effectively enforce the EU acquis. B&H also needs to speed up the decision-making process in economy and attention should be paid to the issue of poor quality of education, as well as the infrastructure development. Commissioner Hahn addressed the European Parliament (EP)’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) on Wednesday and stated that the EC has prepared a list of 14 issues, where B&H is expected to make progress and pass decisions, before the candidate status is granted and before the accession negotiations start. “Now it is up to the member countries to analyze the document, decide upon it, and provide clear instructions on what could be the next possible steps” Hahn underscored. Hahn once again called for urgent formation of the authorities in B&H, at the Federation of B&H and state level. EP’s Rapporteur for B&H Cristian Dan Preda said it was difficult to come to a phase of submitting the membership application, while now there is a positive Opinion. “I hope that people from the Council will recognize the importance of approving the candidate status,” added Preda.
Comments on the European Commission Opinion on B&H’s EU membership application (TV1)
Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark presented on Wednesday in Sarajevo the key findings of the European Commission’s (EC) Opinion on B&H’s application for membership status in the EU to members of the Presidency of B&H, leadership of both Houses of the Parliament of B&H and Chairman of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Denis Zvizdic. Wigemark underlined that the opinion clearly says that until all levels of authorities are formed, the EC will not issue recommendation to the EU member countries to work on assessment of the opinion. He went on to say that the opinion does not talk about NATO membership and it talks exclusively about the EU integration. B&H Presidency members believe that the real state of things was presented in the EC Opinion. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik thanked the EC on Wednesday for its dedication when it comes to the EU path of B&H. Dodik underlined that B&H had missed opportunities, because of futile political competing. Dodik noted that not even the commitment of B&H to the integration has managed to remove the old positions of certain political entities, primarily Bosniak ones, which has led to a wide deadlock in fulfillment of constitutional and legal obligations. The B&H Presidency Chairman assessed that the EC’s stance when it comes to the need for formation of the B&H authorities is clear, but he reminded that this process has not been completed. Dodik noted that the EU also expects B&H to implement reforms, primarily in the field of the rule of law, in order to get the EU candidate status. Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated on Wednesday that it is necessary to protect individual rights of all citizens of B&H, in line with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Komsic said it would be good for all political actors in B&H to think about modalities of necessary changes of the B&H Constitution, within the fulfillment of obligations from the recommendations mentioned in the EC Opinion. Komsic assessed that, if there is no political will, B&H would be stopped on its path and it would become a hostage to retrograde policies, which Europe obviously does not want within its own values and norms of the EU acquis. Komsic said that measures and recommendations the European Commission listed as necessary for B&H to be given the status of the EU Candidate Country have special importance, because they are aimed at making sure than legislation in B&H is harmonized with the European acquis on some basic level. Komsic added that final harmonization will happen after B&H is given the status of Candidate Country and after the country begins negotiations about 35 chapters from the EU acquis. Bosniak Member of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic expressed hope that everyone in B&H will understand they must start working on implementation of the recommendations from the European Commission’s Opinion, and underlined that those reforms are necessary and beneficial to all the citizens of B&H. Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Denis Zvizdic welcomed publishing of the EC Opinion on B&H’s EU membership application and said that it represents a turning point for new relations with the EU. Zvizdic stated that there can be no modifications to the defined and clear European principles, norms and standards and they cannot be adjusted to suit political parties or individuals in B&H. Zvizdic underlined that the Opinion provides a clear diagnosis on the segments in which B&H has the obligation and the need to make changes if it really wants to become a full-fledged member of the EU. The B&H CoM Chairman said that B&H has received clear recommendations it needs to meet on the EU integration path, so that it could make the next step forward in that direction. “Those recommendations are based exclusively on the standards and the requirements of the EU”, he added. President of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic issued a statement, expressing his gratitude to the loyal friends of B&H who help them make another step towards the EU family. “Maybe we are not always up to the task, but with friends like Johannes Hahn, Vice President of EU Commission Federica Mogherini and Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic we can surely succeed,” wrote Covic. SDP leader Nermin Niksic told that the fact is that B&H could have received the EC’s Opinion even earlier, especially considering the fact that all countries in the region are far ahead in the European integration process. “What concerns is the fact that in the Opinion, we received very serious criticism in every chapter. This especially refers to the chapter concerning the judiciary and failure to carry out investigations” said Niksic. He noted that it is concerning that this status is in fact a reward for the parties which are incapable of forming the authorities at Federation of B&H and B&H levels, for seven months. “This conveys a message that they can do whatever they want, block the authorities, postpone processes and in the end, all will be forgiven. Is this an award for idleness of state institutions, it remains to be seen. On the other side, it is encouraging that it is mentioned that the elections have to carried out in line with EU standards,” concluded Niksic. SBB B&H deems the EC’s Opinion to be very positive and encouraging, adding that they deem this to be a turning point on the Euro integration path of B&H. “Expressed readiness of our European Partners and their selfless support, have to be properly taken by the side of election winners and those who are adopting key decisions in B&H,” reads SBB B&H’s statement. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic told that messages from the EU are as expected: “It is clear that serious reforms are necessary in B&H and that such Opinion of the EC is an attempt to, for the who knows which time, convey a message that B&H belongs in the EU, but that it is important for all authority levels, all institutions, to take responsible stance towards these demands. I think that out of all reforms the justice reform is the most important, because nothing has been done on the issue of fight against corruption and crime, but also that the work of public broadcasters has been nowhere near professional and objective”.
Dodik hosts press conference and discusses political situation in B&H (ATV)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the political situation in B&H and met the President of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic afterwards in Sarajevo. Izetbegovic refused to comment the one-hour meeting to the media. Dodik stated that SDA once again mentioned the NATO membership of B&H as a condition and that he refused to accept this. During his press conference, Dodik stated that B&H has failed as a state because eight months after the elections the B&H authorities were not formed. Dodik stressed that B&H has no authorities, no budget and no economic and development strategy, unlike Republika Srpska (RS). According to Dodik, the Bosniak political elite does not allow the newly elected Serb officials to start working in the B&H institutions and to take over the positions they were elected for. He stated that many projects are on halt because of this, as well as negotiations for upcoming projects. Dodik announced at the press conference that he will meet Izetbegovic and said that he does not expect much from the meeting. Dodik repeated after the meeting that he is supporting cooperation of B&H with NATO, but not the membership of B&H in NATO. ˝It is realistic that Bosniaks want to join NATO, because Turkey is a member and that Croats want to join NATO because Croatia is a member. It is also realistic that Serbs do not want to join NATO because Serbia is not a member. If we understand their stance regarding this issue, why cannot our stance be understood as well. No one will eliminate the NATO question, it will remain present. However, it was not supposed to be a condition,” said Dodik. Dodik also stated before his meeting with Izetbegovic that the Bosniak policy led to the state of apathy. He repeated that the Serbs are not allowed to have legitimate representatives in the B&H Council of Ministers (COM) and assessed that the current Serb representatives do not work for the interest of Serb people, but for their own interests. Dodik stressed that they just want to be represented in the B&H level authorities in a legitimate way, which was given to them by the constitution and the law. He believes that the CoM needs to be returned to its position of an assisting institution to the B&H Presidency. Dodik repeated that his side is ready to form the authorities immediately and to work on all issues in B&H, including NATO.
Bakir finally accepts military neutrality of RS (EuroBlic)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said that he is willing to accept different definitions of certain matters in the Annual National Plan (ANP) and he added that he believes it would be compromise if “one said that the ANP is not the same as the membership in NATO, although it is necessary to define certain matters in a different way within the ANP itself”. Izetbegovic also added that the existing text reads that there is a general consensus in B&H when it comes to journey to NATO, which is not true: “There is resistance of the RS parliament. Also, the RS opposes details of the police reform. We are flexible with regard to this and we can make certain changes within the ANP”. The daily asked Chair of SNSD Caucus in B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Stasa Kosarac to say whether the RS would agree to send the ANP to NATO which would state that there is no consensus on NATO in B&H and that the RS advocates neutrality. Kosarac replied by saying that he does not know whether this would be possible but he added that he would be “glad if Izetbegovic truly understood that the RS wants military neutrality”. Kosarac reminded that the RS institutions adopted the Resolution on Military Neutrality, which means that the integration of B&H in NATO is not possible and this is something the RS will not give up on. “It is visible that B&H, through defense reform, has established some kind of cooperation with NATO and there is no dilemma about this. When it comes to B&H, we think the kind of cooperation Serbia has with NATO is acceptable. However, we must be careful about Bakir Izetbegovic’s announcements having in mind he has been presenting new terms on a daily basis ever since bodies of the joint authorities were supposed to be established,” Kosarac concluded.
Croats want to change Law of Elections before formation of authorities, Bosniaks after formation (Vecernji list)
Writing about the process of formation of new authorities at the B&H and Federation of B&H level, daily notes it seems likely that, as far as level of B&H is concerned, political tactics will continue during the summer months, whilst formation of executive authorities at the entity level is not even at sight. According to the daily, there is progress in the fact that HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic have changes to the Law on Elections of B&H on their respective agendas, however their views what the reformed law should like are different. Namely, daily notes that the Croat side wants to adopt changes to the law in the B&H House of Representatives, which would abide by the principle of legitimate representation of the three constituent people, foremost in the Presidency of B&H and the Federation of B&H House of Peoples (HoP) and subsequently in the B&H HoP. Only then, adds the daily, Croat representatives are prepared to give the green light to formation of new executive authorities at the Federation of B&H level. On the other hand, continues the daily, Izetbegovic thinks there is no need to first adopt changes to the law, instead the parties should agree that the changes should be adopted by end of 2019. According to the daily, such offer could be seen as a ‘fair deal’, however such promises were given before too.
NATO Military exercise takes place in Croatia (Hina)
A military exercise was conducted on Wednesday at the Eugen Kvaternik compound in Slunj on the occasion of Distinguished Visitors Day within the Immediate Response 19 international military exercise, with the purpose of displaying combat abilities of artillery and anti-tank units and joint action. On that occasion, Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic congratulated multi-national troops for excellent performance of maneuvers and for demonstrating the power of togetherness, underscoring that he was impressed with their professionalism, dedicated work and adaptability. “That’s a guarantee of lasting security of the largest and most powerful alliance in the history of mankind and this exercise is the best possible celebration of the 10th anniversary of Croatia’s membership to the NATO alliance,” Krsticevic said. He thanked the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Lithuania and Kosovo “for recognizing the importance of implementing this joint training exercise and Croatian troops for the abilities presented.” Assessing that today’s world is full of challenges, Krsticevic said that “no one is capable of facing the new security paradigm alone, hence it is especially important to build alliances and strengthen partnership with other countries and we showed that alliance with today’s exercise” he said. Chief-of-Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Mirko Sundov and U.S. lieutenant general Christopher Cavoli who commands United States Army Europe (USAREUR), were among the guests on Distinguished Visitors Day.
Djukanovic: We are leaders in the region (RTCG)
Commenting on the EC Progress Report on Montenegro, President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, pointed out that he would analyze every single opinion expressed in the report in detail. He said that EU membership was Montenegro’s priority. “Montenegro has made a giant step forward and we are a leader in the negotiation process,” said Djukanovic. There are two key deficits – knowledge deficit and rule of law deficit. “There are more open questions and the country is addressing those questions as its priority problem. There are going to be more problems, let’s face it, but it’s important that policies in the region face the challenges responsibly” said the President. Montenegro managed to improve its stability in very difficult conditions. “This country is very responsible subject. If we have growth rates exceeding 4,5%, we can be satisfied and we can talk about the European perspective in near future,” said Djukanovic during the media conference with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor.
The two presidents agreed that Montenegro was leader in European integration, example of stability and that it was committed to reaching European standard of living. Montenegrin president said that relations between the two countries were excellent. “This is a great opportunity to sum up the quality of the so far cooperation and to consider the improvements we had made. We haven’t got any open questions. We might improve economic cooperation and encourage commercial relationship. We are very thankful for the support Slovenia provided in the area of defense. Our priority now is keeping the stable economic growth tempo. Pahor and I spoke about the region as well and we agree on the ways of settling problems,” said Djukanovic.
Pahor said that EU enlargement into the WB was a geo-political question. “That probably means that political will for the enlargement is going to be weaker in the next five years. Our solidarity will make this part of WB a whole and an attraction. Djukanovic and I have exchanged some views and estimates. Montenegro is the biggest positive surprise of the negotiation process. It’s a model of a stable country. Negotiations are under way. There are some complications, just like it was the case with other candidate countries. We will assist Montenegro to become EU member” said Pahor.
Haradinaj with Markovic: Kosovo is home for Montenegrin people (CDM)
Prime Ministers of Montenegro and Kosovo, Dusko Markovic and Ramush Haradinaj, pointed out the friendly relationship that the two countries are constantly cherishing. They said they would stay committed to achieving European and Euro-Atlantic objectives. “Kosovo is home for Montenegrin people,” said Haradinaj. Markovic thanked the government of Kosovo for recognizing Montenegrin community in Kosovo. During the meeting in Pristina they also spoke about bilateral relations, and particularly about the economic cooperation in infrastructure projects. “Infrastructure development is the basis of our accelerated development. I congratulate the President and his government on the results achieved in the development of road infrastructure,” said Markovic. Road from Pristina to the border of Kosovo and Macedonia, which was opened today, is priceless not only for the countries but also for the entire region. “It will connect Macedonia and Kosovo to Montenegro, it will strengthen and improve movement of citizens and tourists and, at the same time, it will open up more opportunities for our companies and our economy,” said Markovic. “Montenegro and Kosovo are developing their relations and partnership dynamically. Our key objectives are European and Euro-Atlantic. Our friends from Kosovo can always count on Montenegro sharing our experience and providing our support,” said Markovic.
Markovic: Cooperation between Montenegro and Kosovo won’t be an unstable Balkan bridge (CDM)
Montenegrin people in Kosovo and Albanian people in Montenegro are two pillars of the cooperation between our countries. We will endeavor to make sure that this isn’t just unstable Balkan bridge, but firm European bridge, said the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic, at the opening of the Development Center of Montenegrin People in Kosovo.
“This center will contribute to strengthening ties with the homeland and maintaining identity, culture, tradition and its values. At the same time, this Center will be a strong line for strengthening existing ties and increasing overall cooperation between Montenegro and Kosovo,” said Markovic. Markovic is glad that the President of the government of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, and other leaders, friends of Montenegro, are determined to improve the status and recognize Montenegrin people constitutionally. “The proof of such determination are today’s activities, endorsed by all the relevant institutions in Kosovo,” said Markovic and thanked Haradinaj for being sensible to recognize the importance of the Center. Markovic pointed out that the elements of multiethnicity, multiculturalism and respect for inequalities among the citizens of Montenegro that are built into the spirit of our country was something we were particularly proud of. “I’d like to use this ceremonial moment to convey a message to all Montenegrin people living in Kosovo or elsewhere – Montenegro will never neglect the contribution you make to the preservation of Montenegrin identity and awareness of its importance. I assure you that Montenegro will keep supporting your activities aimed at cherishing such values,” added PM. He stressed the importance of respecting differences and cherishing European civilization values. He also said that stable neighborhood cooperation was the basis for achieving common objectives of the two countries. Haradinaj said that Kosovo was home for the citizens of Montenegro and the president of Kosovo, Hasim Thaci said that the two countries would always be friendly towards each other. President of the Parliament of Kosovo, Kadri Veseli, said that Montenegrin people in Kosovo should feel as if they were in Montenegro.
Macedonia gets clear recommendation for opening of negotiations as last year (Republika)
We got very good news from Brussels. The European Commission recommended the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia, Samuel Zbogar said Wednesday. I congratulate you on your efforts and your dedication, but also the sacrifices you made in the past period, said the EU Ambassador. He noted that last June, the EU leaders set a clear path to opening negotiations this year, and first of all, deepening reforms in several areas and asked the EC to prepare a report on this. “What we are presenting today is not just a common progress report, but a report on the fulfillment of conditions set by EU member states in June last year. EU Commissioner Hahn said it was clear that the country used the opportunity offered and implemented the ambitious agenda,” said Zbogar. The country, as he said, met all the conditions and noted results in several areas: the rule of law, the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organized crime, public administration reform, intelligence reform and public administration reform. In addition, as Zbogar, the historic Prespa Treaty and the Treaty of good neighborly relations with Bulgaria were also achieved. According to him, the country should continue to deliver visible results in key areas such as the judicial system, the fight against corruption and crime, the public administration. Now. as he said, good progress has been made, but efforts to improve in these areas should be permanent. In the country, Zbogar pointed out, there is a will to continuously go forward, the culture of compromise in the political landscape has been improved, through the efforts of the Government to cover all stakeholders in the society, including the opposition and the civil sector in an inclusive and transparent manner. Zbogar stressed that the climate for freedom of the media and freedom of expression continued to improve, but, as he pointed out, lasting efforts are needed to improve the independence and professional standards of the public broadcaster, as well as its financial sustainability. It is essential that public services and political elites demonstrate a high level of tolerance in terms of criticism of their work in order to maintain freedom of expression. He encouraged all stakeholders in the country to find a solution to the new Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will include the SPO, as he said, so that the cases of prosecution of high crime and corruption involving senior officials could continue.
The European Commission has published the annual enlargement package, which sets out the progress made by the countries aspiring EU membership. The European Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn said that the European Commission recommends the opening of accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia, while demanding these two countries to pursue with their efforts to strengthen the rule of law. “With good news for Albania and North Macedonia. EU Commission repeats its recommendations of last year to open now accession negotiations with both countries! Both countries have delivered. To remain credible with the merit based process, the EU must stick now to its commitment and respond clearly and positively when countries fulfill theirs!” Hahn posted on Twitter.
What does EC report on North Macedonia say? (Nezavisen vesnik)
EU ambassador to Skopje, Samuel Zbogar has submitted to authorities in the country the annual progress report issued by the European Commission which recommends the opening of negotiations for North Macedonia. The report says that the country has made progress in all domains, particularly in key reforms. “North Macedonia continued to implement EU reforms”, the report states. The European Commission says that the country “is going through major changes and an open and inclusive political process” and that concrete results are tangible in all key areas: judiciary, fight against crime and corruption, public administration, etc. The report also praises the efforts made by the government in establishing dialogue with the opposition and civil society. Efforts in the fight against corruption must continue, bearing in mind that this phenomenon is widespread. “The country has shown determination in the improvement of the judiciary system and the implementation of a new juridical norm which is a solid basis for continuous progress,” the report says.
President Meta welcomes EC Recommendation for Albania’s Integration (ADN)
President of the Republic, Ilir Meta received on Wednesday the European Union (EU) Ambassador in Tirana, Luigi Soreca, on the occasion of Progress Report for Albania, published by the European Commission. The President welcomed the EC’s repeated recommendation for Albania to open accession negotiations with the European Union, with the hope that this recommendation will also get the approval of the member states. The Head of State also wished for the clear victory of pro-European forces during the elections to the European Parliament, as an encouragement for all aspirant countries for European integration. Soreca has handed this Wednesday afternoon to the Prime Minister Edi Rama the Progress Report of the European Commission, which evaluates that Albania has made significant progress and has therefore recommended to the Council of Europe, opening of accession negotiations. During the joint press conference held with Premier Rama, Soreca stated among other things, that in the face of this fact, all political parties should set aside political dictates and unite for country’s future. “I have the pleasure to confirm to you that the European Commission recommends to the Council of Europe the opening of accession negotiations with Albania. Announcements for the good work you have done. Vetting has moved forward and has advanced by issuing more than 140 decisions. Second, the fight against organized crime has led to a series of major operations. Raising the Task Force corruption has increased the proactive investigation process within the administration. Vetting has led to the removal of a number of corrupt judges. Consensus on integration, outperform polarization, overcome party divisions. Be united ahead of integration. We reiterate your commitment to dialogue. Today Albania has reached a very important milestone,” said Soreca. Prime Minister Rama stated that after this step, Albania expects the political decision of the Council of Europe. “We have done all the homework carefully so that the EC, which is the most reliable mechanism for evaluating the progress of a country, has today confirmed the unconditional positive recommendation for the opening of Albania’s negotiations with the EU. Actually, last year we got unconditional recommendation and the European Council decided in June 2019 to formalize the opening of the accession negotiations and in December the process started. This is the first step, while the second confirming step is the European Council, the gathering of all political leaders. We will do everything to influence political judgment,” said Rama.
German parties with different opinions for Albania’s negotiations (ADN)
The German Union CDU / CSU wants to resist the quick opening of EU accession negotiations with northern Macedonia and Albania. “We will decide in October” said the chairman of the Bundestag in European Commission, Gunther Krichbaum. According to him, a positive vote of the 28 member states of the EU in mid-June is not safe at all. On the other hand, the Foreign Minister of Social Democrats (SDP) Michael Roth, seeks a quick start of EU accession talks.
“Now is the time for the EU to keep the promise. We have to keep up the word for North Macedonia and Albania. Progress made is tangible,” said Roth on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the EU Commission recommended opening of accession negotiations with the two Balkan countries. The final decision, however, is in the hands of EU member states and can be taken on 18 June at a meeting of European Ministers in Luxembourg. In Germany, however, the Bundestag should open the green light and this is only possible with the approved by the CDU / CSU group. The opening of membership negotiations is critically seen particularly in the Netherlands, Denmark and France. EU states in principle approved the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia last June. However, the beginning of the talks would depend on further progress in reforms. Responsible Commissioner Johannes Hahn has warned that postponing and denying objectively progress to candidate countries could have dramatic consequences for the countries concerned and the region as a whole.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Russian Investigative Committee probing attack on Russian UN employee in Kosovo (TASS, 29 May 2019)
MOSCOW, The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a pre-investigation probe into the attack on Russian UN employee Mikhail Krasnoshchekov in Kosovo, the press service of the committee told TASS. “The main office of the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the incident that happened with the Russian national Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, an employee of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK),” the press service said. According to the committee, in the morning of May 28 Kosovar police officers intruded in the Serb-populated northern municipalities and arrested Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, who enjoys diplomatic immunity. Moreover, he was injured. “The unwarranted treatment and Mikhail Krasnoshchekov’s detention by the Kosovo special forces brazenly violate international law and the norms of civilized conduct,” the committee pointed out. The probe will study all the details of the incident and provide a legal assessment of actions undertaken in relation to Krasnoshchekov. Upon the completion of the probe, the committee will make a decision. The press service underlined that, in accordance with the norms of international and domestic laws, the Investigative Committee is fully entitled to launch investigation into the illegal treatment of a citizen with diplomatic immunity.
Kosovo raids aimed at dragging Balkan states into NATO – Russian FM (RT, 29 May 2019)
Politicians behind recent police raids in the Serb-dominated part of Kosovo ultimately want to wall the Balkans off from Russia and rope the region’s states into NATO, Sergey Lavrov has said. Dubbing Tuesday’s Kosovan special forces incursion into the Serb-majority northern areas of the breakaway region a “provocation” the Russian foreign minister also elaborated on the possible roots of the incident. Those provocations are beneficial for those who want to create a buffer zone between the Balkans and Russia. For the sake of dragging all of the states of the region into NATO. Serbia is being compelled to accept that a decision on Kosovo’s independence is inevitable, Lavrov said, adding that this move will pave the way for Kosovo’s NATO entrance in the future. At least 19 people including a Russian UN employee were detained during the Kosovo police raids on Tuesday. The worst skirmishes occurred in the town of Zubin Potok where locals set up barricades and burnt tires while gunfire was reportedly heard. Pristina maintains its special forces targeted an “organized crime network.”