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Belgrade Media Report 31 May 2019

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Daily Media Highlights

Friday 31 May 2019

LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic on Thaci’s statement: If there is no EU reaction, we know what we will do (RTS)
• Vucic: Trust in western part of international community destroyed (TV Prva)
• Vucic visits Russian UN staffer injured in Pristina’s raid (B92)
• Brnabic: Pacolli’s statmenet in accordance with policy of preventing flow of goods (Beta)
• Slovak Prime Minister: EU should have reacted more firmly to Kosovo police action (Beta/Tanjug/RTS)
• Vucic, Chepurin: Police operation in northern Kosovo an obvious provocation (Beta)
• Stefanovic: Serbia demonstrated strength and firmness (RTS)
• Fabrizi: Serbia has not progressed enough in rule of law (RTS/Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik: Nobody can humiliate RS; RS parliament will decide about status of RS because this is unbearable (ATV)
• Dodik and Izetbegovic fail to reach agreement on formation of B&H CoM and activation of MAP on Wednesday (N1)
• Niksic: When it comes to formation of authorities in B&H, I am not optimistic at all (FTV)
• Komsic: HNS’ policy has experienced complete defeat (Hayat)
Croatia
• Szijjarto says INA-MOL dispute is burdening bilateral relations (HRT)
Montenegro
• Head of European Union Delegation in Montenegro (TMN)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Optimism in North Macedonia following progress report (Nezavisen vesnik)
Albania
• German Officials: Albania not ready for EU (ADN)
• US Embassy supports Albania’s integration to EU (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Lavrov urges UN to respond to Kosovo’s attempts to strip Russian diplomat of immunity (TASS)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic on Thaci’s statement: If there is no EU reaction, we know what we will do (RTS)

 

I am absolutely shocked with the fact that the EU has not reacted to Hashim Thaci’s statement that Pristina will not implement into practice what it had signed in Brussels, that is the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said during his visit to the UNMIK staffer at the Military Medical Academy (VMA) who was injured in the Kosovo police operation. He says that he hopes for the EU reaction today or tomorrow, stating that we know what we need to do if there is no reaction. We have waited for 24 hours for the EU to react. I am absolutely shocked that nobody had said one word for the document that was signed in Brussels, and whose implementation was guaranteed by the EU. If these documents are not valid for the Albanians, I don’t know with whom they think to talk in the future,” said Vucic. He says the Albanians have only one church where they pray and this is the US, and they don’t care about everything they say or do against Russia and the Serbs. It is important for them for the US Mission with the OSCE to praise them for the anti-corruption operation, says Vucic, pointing out that this is as much an anti-corruption operation as much are Haradinaj and Thaci oriented against corruption. “For me, it is far more important and more indicative that the Germans, English and French, as well as Brussels, are silent. Thaci and Dacic signed this document in Brussels in the presence of Cathy Ashton. It was not St. Peter who was there, but Cathy Ashton as the EU High Representative. If the EU is not capable of guaranteeing the agreement that it drafted itself, they should tell us, so we know that these agreements have no legal power any longer,” said Vucic. “This will introduce additional insecurity and many problems to all sides, but it is important that the EU informs us about this instead of informing us about various stupidities that some political tycoons are drafting for them. It would be nice of them to inform us about things on which we spent a lot of time and energy in order to appease matters,” said Vucic. “Therefore, I hope we will wait to see the EU reaction on this matter, and if there is not one, good again, then we will know what we need to do,” concluded Vucic.

 

Vucic: Trust in western part of international community destroyed (TV Prva)

 

Commenting the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told TV Prva in his cabinet that the Kosovo special police unit ROSU raid in the north crossed the line that Serbia can tolerate. “The problem is not in the consequences of one incident, the problem is in lives and the maltreatment of 28 people. A much bigger problem is in destroying any kind of trust and in any kind of partnership with the western part of the international public,” said Vucic.

Commenting on KFOR’s statement that official Belgrade knew about the operation, Vucic said it was true, but that they did not inform him. “They said we knew everything. True. We knew and informed the public. But when I asked them who did they inform, they said it was enough to read the newspapers,” Vucic said. “That morning there were problems in communication with them. Only when the operation was almost finished, they responded to our call. As you can see, they confirmed in the end everything that I had stated,” Vucic said. Vucic also explained how he did not get the European Commission 2019 Report on Serbia’s progress toward the EU on Wednesday: “They wanted to bring it to me, but I had other things to do.” In comment that Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was disappointed with the Report, Vucic says he absolutely understands. “I absolutely understand Ana, she tried hard regarding the media strategy. Curuvija’s murderers were indicted, and this is mentioned, but there is no progress. Seven journalists were murdered in the EU states, one was wounded in Montenegro, but it this had happened here…The say it is worse here than over there. You need to get accustomed to that. Small country, they decided to exert pressure and this is always happening when it comes to Kosovo. If there had been progress regarding Kosovo, we would have been declared the most democratic country in the world. As things stand, that would not happen soon.

Serbian citizens will see progress, we will preserve peace, while citizens will see bigger wages and pensions, this is important,” concluded Vucic.

 

Vucic visits Russian UN staffer injured in Pristina’s raid (B92)

 

Aleksandar Vucic has visited a Russian member of the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, injured on Tuesday during a Kosovo police raid in the North. The president wanted to know about Mikhail Krasnoshchekov‘s health. The Russian citizen is currently receiving medical treatment in Belgrade’s military clinic VMA. Krasnoshchekov, who received serious injuries, was transported to Belgrade from Northern Kosovska Mitrovica, where he was treated in the intensive care unit. Vucic was accompanied by Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin, Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin, and Serbian Army chief Gen. Milan Mojsilovic.

 

Brnabic: Pacolli’s statmenet in accordance with policy of preventing flow of goods (Beta

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that a statement by Kosovo Foreign Minister Bexhet Pacolli that she would not be allowed to enter Kosovo was in accordance with Pristina’s policy. “The kind of people who are ready to stop the flow of goods are ready to prevent freedom of movement,” Brnabic said after meeting with Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. Brnabic said that this was also contrary to the interests of Albanians and contrary to all civilization achievements and added that she had not expected that kind of a statement from Pacolli. “When I said that ‘we are dealing with people who came out of the forest’ I meant people who are terrorists, who are accused of the most heinous crimes and were freed only because all the witnesses in the proceedings were killed,” Brnabic explained. She, however, said that she had not been referring to Pacolli.

 

Slovak Prime Minister: EU should have reacted more firmly to Kosovo police action (Beta/Tanjug/RTS)

 

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said in Belgrade on May 30 that Pristina’s measures, like

a police raid on May 28, did not help stabilize the region. Pellegrini said the EU should have reacted to the operation “more firmly and intensively, so as to send a clear message.” “We look upon the activities of the ROSU special police with unease. We hope that provocations of this

kind will not be repeated,” Pellegrini told a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. He pointed out that he understood Serbia’s frustration in solving the Kosovo issue. He agreed with Belgrade’s stance that the introduction of tariffs on Serbian goods was a violation of CEFTA. “Slovakia has no intention of recognizing Kosovo, but it supports the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The other side must meet its obligations too,” Pellegrini said.

 

Vucic, Chepurin: Police operation in northern Kosovo an obvious provocation (Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin said that the police operation in northern Kosovo was an obvious provocation. According to a statement from Vucic’s office, Ambassador Chepurin said that Russia decisively condemns the obvious provocation of Pristina which was a reflection of arrogance of the Pristina authorities.

Moscow is calling for a full investigation and punishment for the perpetrators, Chepurin said.

He added Russia informed both the UN Secretary-General and the UN Mission in Kosovo about its stand. Vucic told Chepurin that the last two days were extremely difficult for the Serbs in Kosovo, and that all moves Pristina made showed that nothing will be easier in the future, the statement reads.

 

Stefanovic: Serbia demonstrated strength and firmness (RTS)

 

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that all special units of the Serbian Interior are ready to be used in the shortest possible time for optimal execution of all tasks. Regarding the allegations that the operation in northern Kosovo and Metohija was carried out by the police, Stefanovic wondered where do the police knock outs women and children, smashes cars and shoots above citizens, throws shock bombs on unarmed people who are not resisting. “This doesn’t exist anywhere, for the police to shoot above people’s heads from automatic weapons.” He adds that Serbia had demonstrated strength and firmness, and if this wasn’t the case, he is afraid that the situation could have gone towards a serios pogrom. Stefanovic says the people in Kosovo and Metohija are uneasy and this is why he finds cynical the statements that this was a routine operation that Serbia should support. He says that everything was happening in a manner that cannot be placed under police operation. Asked when the full combat readiness state could be lifted, he says that they are doing daily estimates and that it will be lifted or abolished when conditions are created. Speaking about KFOR’s allegations that Belgrade was informed about the operation, he says that this is an attempt to make a spin and that this is absolutely not true. He says that Belgrade had the information, but not from KFOR, but through its own channels and that President Vucic had warned what were the intentions of the operation. He opines that KFOR didn’t behave properly and didn’t protect all citizens on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.

 

Fabrizi: Serbia has not progressed enough in rule of law (RTS/Beta)

 

Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi said that a European Commission report showed that Serbia had made progress, especially in the area of economic reforms, but that there was a series of reforms that needed to be continued. Fabrizi told RTS that more needed to be done for the rule of law to be achieved and that there was not enough progress in the area.

The message to Serbia is that it must move forward, be faster, more devoted and focused, he told the TV station. As for 2025 being the year when Serbia is expected to join the EU, Fabrizi said that by definition the accession process had no deadline.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Dodik: Nobody can humiliate RS; RS parliament will decide about status of RS because this is unbearable (ATV)

 

Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that nobody can humiliate Republika Srpska (RS) and despite the pressures he will continue to defend interests of Serb people in B&H. Dodik noted that pressures on the RS, but on him as well, last for years. “Today this reflects in series of pressures, which are at the level of anger of some people from the West, who are angry because of some rhetoric and in fact they are angry because of their failure. Their intention was for the RS to collapse, but the RS survived”, said Dodik. He further underlined that the RS is the only one that functions, but it is faced with serious issues, created by B&H, because it does not allow its economic, political and every other affirmation. “B&H is imposed on us as burden and weight and we cannot accomplish anything via B&H,” said Dodik. He stated that there are certain blackmails to give support to B&H’s accession to NATO, but to these pressures he says that the RS is neutral and does not want the border between Serbs on Drina River. “If Serbia decided to be NATO member, so will we, but not until then. All their attempts are futile”, said Dodik. Commenting the statement of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic who said that Dodik will sign the document on the NATO accession, Dodik said that Izetbegovic imagined to himself that he can hold lectures to the RS: “Who is Bakir Izetbegovic to say what will be our decision? He imagined that he can hold lectures. The decision of the RS parliament will be even more rigorous. National Assembly will decide about the status of the RS because this is unbearable”.

 

Dodik and Izetbegovic fail to reach agreement on formation of B&H CoM and activation of MAP on Wednesday (N1)

 

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn warned on Wednesday that the process of formation of new authorities in B&H should be completed as soon as possible. However, Chairman of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic had another unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement about this issue at their meeting in Sarajevo on Wednesday. While one side insists that the Annual National Program (ANP) for activation of the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) should be adopted first, the other side insists on appointment of the B&H CoM Chairman-designate. After the meeting, Dodik reiterated that RS will remain militarily neutral and it will not accept the membership in NATO. “A plan for cooperation with NATO is acceptable, but there can be no plan for membership in NATO. That is the difference. Not a single plan we adopt can be a basis for membership. It can be a basis for cooperation, though,” Dodik explained. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) argued that this is not about making decisions if B&H should have the MAP or not. “The decision about it was made a long time ago, eight or nine years ago. We should submit the ANP, which is a technical issue, and we should immediately appoint the B&H CoM Chairman,” Dzaferovic explained to N1. At the same time, HDZ B&H’s Nikola Lovrinovic stated: “The only way to form the B&H CoM is for the Bosniak bloc to withdraw the MAP-related condition and for this issue to be solved after the process of formation of the B&H CoM.”

 

Niksic: When it comes to formation of authorities in B&H, I am not optimistic at all (FTV)

 

SDP B&H Nermin Niksic, asked to comment on the fact that authorities are still not formed in B&H, stated that it is difficult to say what could be the compromise as positions are highly polarized. He said that in this situation, compromise is impossible and the only option is that someone gives up. However, Niksic does not see who would be willing to make this move. Niksic stated: “When it comes to formation of authorities in B&H, I am not optimistic at all. I do not expect this and this is something to which we pointed out the whole time”. Speaking about the issue of changing the B&H Election Law, Niksic underlined that SDP B&H does not accept requests of HDZ B&H in this direction as this represents introduction of new discrimination in B&H. Asked why the BH Bloc did not have enough strength to join the authorities, he responded by saying: “To be part of which authorities? The BH Bloc could have reached this decision and what would happen? They would wait for (leader of HDZ B&H) Dragan Covic and (leader of SNSD) Milorad Dodik to approve formation of the authorities. Therefore, there are no authorities; it is illusory that someone calls you to join the authorities, while at the same time, it secured SNSD and HDZ B&H – the way SDA did it with votes in the RS parliament and here in the Cantons – the majority in the House of Peoples of B&H and the crucial role for HDZ, in formation of authorities in the Federation of B&H Parliament. Now, they call you to fight against them and they enabled them this. Therefore, we did not want to be part of this story”.

 

Komsic: HNS’ policy has experienced complete defeat (Hayat)

 

Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated on Thursday that by publishing of the European Commission’s (EC) Opinion on B&H’s candidate status, the policy of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS), which was convincing and deluding the public that the so-called legitimate political representation of people should be allegedly secured, has experienced complete defeat. Komsic recalled that the Venice Commission stated that the issue from the ‘Bozo Ljubic’ ruling should be solved by the Federation of B&H which, according to him, was respected through the Proposal of the Law on Constituencies and Distribution of Mandates. Komsic stressed that the so-called promoters of European values removed this proposal of the law from the agenda of the House of Peoples in the procedure of protection of vital national interest, adding that they actually annulled the candidate status and postponed further European path of B&H.

 

Szijjarto says INA-MOL dispute is burdening bilateral relations (HRT)

 

The Hungarian Foreign Minister visited Zagreb, where he met with the Croatian Prime Minister and Foreign and European Affairs Minister. Speaking to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto noted that the obvious strong ties between the two countries are being burdened by the INA-MOL dispute. “We have to recognize that the issue between MOL and INA, or MOL and the Croatian state, is a burden on our relationship. We would love to get rid of that burden, but it’s up to the companies, up to the companies and the Croatian state to agree. For us the improvement of the relationship will be crucial, because energy security in this region in central Europe, is a critical issue,” Minister Szijjarto said. He added that Budapest is very interested in Croatia’s planned LNG terminal on the northern Adriatic, especially given blockages in the Ukrainian-Russian transit cooperation deal and inactivity in terms of exploitation of Romanian oil fields. “So, when it comes to diversification of sources of gas for this region, then the LNG port in Croatia is basically one of the viable solutions or hopeful solutions and we understand as such that the energy cooperation cannot be independent from the MOL INA issue,” he concluded. Croatia is in the process of hiring a consulting firm to aid in reacquiring the Hungarian company’s stake in the INA oil and gas company. According to a Croatian court decision, MOL acquired a controlling interest in INA by bribing former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

 

Head of European Union Delegation in Montenegro (TMN)

 

President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic received the Head of the European Union delegation in Podgorica, Aivo Orav, who handed to him the European Commission Annual Progress Report on Montenegro in the negotiation process. President Djukanovic expressed his satisfaction with the occasion of the meeting, stating that after the delivery of the Report, he will be able to find out more about its contents in more detail. He stressed that, as before, we would be very responsible in accordance with the assessments and recommendations of the Report, starting from the fact that the Report is the view of the partner on the situation in our house and the view of those in whose community we want to enter. “We will very seriously study the recommendations, in order to further improve the pace and quality of the negotiation process,” Djukanovic said. The President expressed satisfaction with the confirmation that Montenegro is in a state capable of facing and overcoming the challenges, especially, as he said, in relation to two key Balkan challenges: internal security and political stability and economic development.

“With the impression that we are on the right track, aware of the remaining work, we will intensify our efforts to continue the process optimally in cooperation with the European Union Office in Podgorica. We believe that we can do more than before and we will do it,” Djukanovic said. Ambassador Orav expressed high marks for the achievements of Montenegro in the field of foreign policy and regional cooperation. He also pointed to the assessments in the Report that some areas require more visible progress, and that a new Report for Montenegro is being written from now on. The interlocutors agreed that for the future of the Region, one of the most important issues is defining the European Union perspective of Albania and North Macedonia, and that the decision of European Union member states to start the negotiations would be its strong confirmation, and of great importance for the entire region.

 

Optimism in North Macedonia following progress report (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

After the publication of the progress report by the European Commission, state leaders in North Macedonia expressed their optimism that the country will be given a date for the launch of accession talks with the EU. The President of the country, Stevo Pendarovski said that the report reflects the real situation in the country, while he expects the EU Council to validate the efforts that the country has made by setting a date for the launch of accession talks. Pendarovski said that any delays with the date would discourage society. Parliamentary speaker Talat Xhaferi said that the country has delivered all expectations and that he expects negotiations talks to start in June. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that the positive recommendation is the tenth in a row, however, according to him, this recommendation is the most positive one that the country has received. “Today, we’re proud about this success that our country has seen. We have completed our negotiation team and we’re ready to start the talks. It’s now Europe’s turn to start about the launch of negotiations,” Zaev said. While the government is pleased with the progress report released by the European Commission on Wednesday, the largest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE has come out with a strong reaction. “Government is lying. Accession talks will not start this year. The talks will not be launched because there have been no reforms,” VMRO-DPMNE said. According to the opposition, it is impossible to join the EU with a politicized administration and with a ruined health and education system. The opposition has also declared that the talks will not be launched for as long as Zaev serves as Prime Minister. Meanwhile, political analysts say that the EU must not delay the process any further. “It would be bad if the date is delayed any further. The EU will lose credibility if it doesn’t deliver on its promises. Any further delays will be reflected on internal politics,” said Malinka Ristevska Jordanova of the Institute for European Policies.

 

German Officials: Albania not ready for EU (ADN)

 

Germany is still undecided to vote or not for the opening of the accession negotiations for Albania. While the content of the last progress report of the European Commission (EC) that recommends the opening of the accession negotiations is the main topic of discussions in Albania, from Germany critics continue.The chair of the Committee on European Union Affairs of the German Bundestag since 2007, Gunther Krichbaum (CDU) said that his party will decide on October on this issue. Same declaration was made by the MP, Makus Flober, which is at the same time a member of European Parliament. “For the moment, neither European Union nor any of the Western Balkans Countries are prepared to be part of the EU, ” said Flober.

 

US Embassy supports Albania’s integration to EU (ADN)

 

The US Embassy in Tirana has expressed its support to Albania and its readiness to work with Albanian and EU partners to ensure EU integration for the country. In a response following the positive recommendation by the European Commission for opening of accession negotiations, the US Embassy noted that Albania continues to make forwards by implementing reforms.

“We welcome the European Commission’s recommendation for opening accession talks with Albania and its recognition that Albania continues to make progress in implementing crucial and irreversible reforms. The United States remains committed to working with our Albanian and EU partners to ensure Albania’s successful EU integration, including our full support for the ongoing implementation of the legitimate and constitutional judicial reforms,” reads the statement by the Embassy.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Lavrov urges UN to respond to Kosovo’s attempts to strip Russian diplomat of immunity (TASS, 31 May 2019)

 

TOKYO, The United Nations needs to respond to Pristina’s attempts to revoke immunity of Russian diplomat Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, who is a member of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters during his visit to Japan on Friday. “The absolutely unacceptable behavior of [the unrecognized Kosovo’s authorities] towards a Russian member of the UN mission in Kosovo cannot be justified in any way. And their attempts to strip our member of his powers and status, which the UN mission’s employees have, is a very serious issue, and the UN representatives should respond to it,” Lavrov said.” They [the Kosovo authorities] have clearly got out of hand of those who pretended to control them. Actually, they did not listen to anyone. The European Union and the United States tried to guide them,” Lavrov said. “And the outcome is sad. As a result of this West’s patronage, the Kosovo authorities have the feeling of impunity and lawlessness.” Pristina’s steps show that it is dangerous to turn a blind eye to consistent and numerous violations of international law, Lavrov said. “We will strive to ensure that everyone respects the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244, which outlined the conditions for the Kosovo settlement.” In the morning of May 28, special forces of the unrecognized republic of Kosovo launched a raid of the northern municipalities, and the subsequent gunfire resulted in two Serbs sustaining minor wounds. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told MPs that the Kosovo police special forces had put 28 people into custody, including Russian national Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, an employee of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Russian diplomat was released on the same day and was hospitalized with serious head and facial injuries. More than 100 people were beaten during the police raid, Serbia’s Vecherne Novosti newspaper reported. Leaders of the unrecognized Kosovo claimed that the Russian diplomat had hindered a police special operation. On Wednesday, Kosovo’s police announced plans to demand lifting Krasnoshchekov’s immunity and launch a criminal investigation against him.

 

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