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Belgrade Media Report 07 June

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LOCAL PRESS

• Stefanovic: How will Pristina respect Interpol when it beats up UN representatives (RTS/Beta)
• Antic: Gas pipeline through Serbia to be completed as planned (Tanjug)
• Kosovo Assembly delegation visits southern Serbian municipalities (Beta/Novosti)
• Joksimovic with ambassadors of EU Member States, Head of Delegation on EC Report (Beta/RTS)
• Keefe: Serbia and UK have complex relations, but share values (Beta/RTV)
• Dacic: Serbia will always fight against a fake state (FoNet/Sputnik)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Hahn: B&H should not waste any more time on EU road, politicians must agree on authority formation soon (Dnevni avaz)
• Wigemark: Failure to form authorities hinders progress on European road (Srna)
• SNSD spokesperson Kovacevic accuses SDA and SDS of preparing conspiracy so that SDS’ Sarovic would replace SDA’s Zvizdic at post of B&H CoM Chairman (ATV)
• Economic arrangements of Russia, RS and B&H discussed with Lavrov (Srna)
Montenegro
• DF is coming back to the parliamentary committees (Dnevne novine)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Netherlands sees Macedonia as “not there yet” regarding the EU accession talks; German parliament deeply divided (Republika)
• Austrian MEPs demand opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania (Nezavisen vesnik)
• VMRO-DPMNE demands Zaev’s resignation, a technical government and early elections (Republika)
• Zaev says early elections are possible if EU won’t allow opening of accession talks (Republika)
• Austrian paper suggests creating a Balkan union instead of bringing Balkan countries into the EU (Republika/Die Presse)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Federica Mogherini met with Gent Cakaj, Acting Foreign Minister of Albania (EEAS)
• Germany: Maas recruits for the extension of the Bundeswehr mission in Kosovo (AFP)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Stefanovic: How will Pristina respect Interpol when it beats up UN representatives (RTS/Beta)

 

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic stated that Pristina’s most recent

application for admission into Interpol was in opposition with the basic rules of Interpol.

“How can it be expected from the Pristina institutions to respect international law and Interpol rules when their security forces are beating up UN representatives,” wondered Stefanovic.

According to a press release issued by the Interior Ministry, Stefanovic said this during a meeting with the vice president of Interpol Aleksandr Prokopchuk in Belgrade. “In keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo and Metohija is the territory of Serbia

and cannot apply for membership in Interpol. That application is in contradiction with the resolution, which was adopted by the General Assembly of Interpol, at a session in Beijing in 2017, which clearly states that only U.N. member or observer states can become members of Interpol, which so-called Kosovo certainly is not,” Stefanovic stressed. He reminded Prokopchuk of the outcome of the voting at the Interpol General Assembly in Dubai, when the request for admitting so-called Kosovo was clearly rejected. According to him, the only big change in relation to the voting in Dubai is the fact that more states have in the meantime withdrawn recognition of independence of Kosovo. Prokopchuk pointed to the good police cooperation between Serbia and the Russian Federation, especially in the sphere of the fight against organized crime, drug-trafficking and terrorism, reads the Serbian Interior Ministry statement.

 

Antic: Gas pipeline through Serbia to be completed as planned (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic on Thursday met with Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). In a statement to Tanjug, Antic said they had discussed overall cooperation and that Miller had said Serbia could absolutely expect Gazprom to secure the necessary gas supplies. They also talked about a gas pipeline that will run through Serbia – a joint project developed by Gastrans – and agreed the project was proceeding as planned and that all conditions were in place for the Serbian stretch of the trunk pipeline to be completed by mid-December. “It is an important and significant project for Serbia. It changes Serbia’s position on the gas map and secures gas supplies to Serbia for the long term, enabling its additional gasification and further reindustrialization, which also means new projects,” he said.

 

Kosovo Assembly delegation visits southern Serbian municipalities (Beta/Novosti

 

A delegation consisting of eight Kosovo MPs is visiting the Medvedja, Bujanovac and Presevo municipalities in southern Serbia. The Kosovo MPs met with Bujanovac municipal president Shaip Kamberi, the head of the National Council of Albanians Ragmi Mustafa, and president of the opposition Democratic Party, Nagip Arifi. “We support the will of (Albanian) citizens of the Presevo Valley from 1992 and the referendum that expresses the wish for unification of the Valley with Kosovo,” said Hasani from the Democratic Party of Kosovo.

 

Joksimovic with ambassadors of EU Member States, Head of Delegation on EC Report (Beta/RTS)

 

Serbian Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic talked with ambassadors of EU member states and Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sam Fabrizi on the latest European Commission Report and expectations of continuing the negotiation process. Joksimovic reiterated the EC progress report shows progress in the accession process, although we believe that we have done more than what the Report shows. She particularly emphasized that progress has been noted in most of the chapters. The Minister pointed out that it is very important that we heard the views of the ambassador of the EU countries. The meeting was organized in the format – the Head of the EU Delegation and diplomatic representatives of the members, which is a clear signal that Serbia is absolutely ready for a constructive debate and exchange of opinions, which confirms the seriousness of our country as a candidate. The Minister concluded that we definitely expect that by the end of Romania’s presidency, the EU Council will open some of the chapters for which we are ready.

 

Keefe: Serbia and UK have complex relations, but share values (Beta/RTV)

 

The outgoing UK Ambassador to Serbia Denis Keefe told RTV on Thursday that his country and Serbia had a complex relationship, but that the two countries shared common values. He said the British suggestion of the resolution on Srebrenica in the UN Security Council three years ago was not against Serbia, adding that the reconciliation in the region requested honesty and open discussion, not the relativization. “We ought to talk about tough issues, and we can do that since we share common values,” Keefe said. He described as a conspiracy, and nonsense media claims that British advisors were behind the Kosovo special police unit operation in ‘Kosovo’s north.

“Our policy regarding Kosovo is to support the resumption of the (Belgrade – Pristina) dialogue facilitated by the European Union. We are a friend of the Balkans, Kosovo is a state for us, but we say you should talk and reach a solution in the dialogue,” Keefe said.

 

Dacic: Serbia will always fight against a fake state (FoNet/Sputnik)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Sputnik he did not destroy the 100 dollars banknote by writing “Kosovo is Serbia” on it, nor did he insult Benjamin Franklin, an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the US, but followed Franklin’s essential idea, FoNet reported. The US embassy condemned Dacic’s “Internet challenge” with the message written in Cyrillic over the dollar banknote. “Instead of destroying the banknote with the image of a great American scientist and statesman Benjamin Franklin, Minister Dacic would better think about his (Franklin’s) statement: “Be at war with your vices and peace with your neighbors,” the Embassy said in a statement. In comment to the statement, Dacic said Serbia would always fight against “an evildoing and fake state” and would always strive for peace with its neighbors. “What Serbia will never do is to treat itself as a neighboring country, what neither America will do. And as Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t do. What I did was in respect of the universal principle of all recognized states, including the US and Serbia,” Dacic said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Hahn: B&H should not waste any more time on EU road, politicians must agree on authority formation soon (Dnevni avaz)

 

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said that Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is losing precious time to the detriment of its citizens by failing to form the authority and move forward in the process of EU integration. “Country without a government is not in a position to re-launch reforms necessary for the EU integration. B&H is losing precious time to the detriment of its citizens. I told all the political leaders during my last visit to Sarajevo that formation of the governments should not be conditioned. I also recommended to the Council of Ministers (of B&H) to talk about the Opinion (of the European Commission) and its monitoring only after B&H gets new government. I do not think that B&H citizens have a lot of time to wait. And the EU needs collocutors with whom it would talk about the plans to address the priorities identified in the Opinion,” said Hahn. Asked to comment the fact that many in B&H were surprised by the positive opinion B&H received, he said that the Opinion has given numerous reforms the country needs to implement in order to move forward. “Legislative and executive authorities now have to move from words to actions,” said Hahn. The author noted that B&H has been given 14 tasks to fulfill, but those obligations are something B&H politicians have been unable to agree on for years. Hahn concluded that B&H will have to launch reform implementation process in order to receive a positive opinion on the EU membership in the future.

 

Wigemark: Failure to form authorities hinders progress on European road (Srna)

 

Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Lars-Gunnar Wigemark believes that the key reason for slow progress of B&H towards the EU is the failure to form authorities at B&H level, the Federation of B&H and some cantons. “It is very difficult to move from opinions to actual work without the authorities being formed.” Wigemark told the press. Wigemark said that the European Commission’s opinion on B&H’s application for EU membership stipulates no other way but the dialogue in addressing these issues. He recalled that the opinion on application confirmed that B&H could become a member, but that many more things were left to be done.

Wigemark voiced belief that B&H citizens were interested in topics concerning life issues, not political ones. “We believe that citizens in B&H are interested in hearing more about economic opportunities, jobs, education, health, security, and generally speaking more about a better future, not about topics dominated by political discourse.” stressed the EU special representative.

 

SNSD spokesperson Kovacevic accuses SDA and SDS of preparing conspiracy so that SDS’ Sarovic would replace SDA’s Zvizdic at post of B&H CoM Chairman (ATV)

 

SNSD spokesperson Radovan Kovacevic accused SDA and SDS of preparing a conspiracy according to which current Deputy Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Mirko Sarovic (SDS) would replace Denis Zvizdic (SDA) at the post of the B&H CoM Chairman. Kovacevic underlined that SDA and SDS are jointly calling for formation of all commissions in the B&H parliament and that only those two parties accuse SNSD of being responsible for the blockade and inactivity of the B&H institutions. According to Kovacevic, SDA and SDS are accusing SNSD of blocking the institutions because they are preparing a fraud that will be reflected in the fact that Zvizdic will be unable to lead the B&H CoM once he takes over the post of the Speaker of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR). The SNSD Spokesperson went on to say that Sarovic would then take over the chairmanship over the B&H CoM, in line with the Article 32 of the Law on the B&H CoM. “That scenario must not happen, as it would be complete deception of voters and citizens in Republika Srpska,” he added.

 

Economic arrangements of Russia, RS and B&H discussed with Lavrov (Srna)

 

The Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated Thursday he had spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the political affairs and a series of economic and other arrangements with Russia. “Lavrov was in Banja Luka last spring and here we’ve had a chance to see what we have done since. Our topics were economy and political affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, and Lavrov spoke about the global relations, which may be a good reference point for us,” Dodik told the press in Saint Petersburg. Dodik emphasized they had discussed the possibility of ministerial meetings including Russia, Turkey, Serbia and B&H, which are supposed to improve the cooperation between those countries. According to him, there was also talk of the possibilities of boosting the oil industry capacities in Republika Srpska (RS), which are owned by Russia’s Zarubezhneft. “I am confident we will manage to maintain and build those capacities further through a reconstruction of one part of the oil industry. We touched upon the certification of Orao enterprise from Bijeljina for the repair and modernization of Russia-made helicopters, and the progress of the construction of the Russian-Serbian orthodox center in Banja Luka,” noted Dodik. He voiced pleasure that President of RS Zeljka Cvijanovic and Acting Governor of Saint Petersburg Alexander Beglov on Thursday signed a roadmap of activities for the realization of priority courses of cooperation between the Government of St Petersburg and RS for the period 2019-2021. “That is part of our previous cooperation and refers to the next three years. Saint Petersburg is the place of our focus and where we want to realize the things that our President had agreed. We are regular participants of this forum and it is very important for us,” stressed Dodik.  According to him, a novelty in the cooperation with Saint Petersburg is a working group that will engage in the development of new technologies. “We have told our hosts that within our new government we have formed a special ministry dealing with those issues. I believe the working group will produce results until the governor arrives in Banja Luka in the autumn,” said Dodik.

 

DF is coming back to the parliamentary committees (Dnevne novine)

 

Democratic Front is soon coming back to the Committee on Further Reform of Electoral and Other Legislation and other parliamentary committees. According to Dnevne novine, members of DF will attend the meetings they find to be important for their union. DF has been supporting the formation of the Committee on the Reform of Electoral and Other Legislation but they started boycotting after one of their leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic had been arrested. This Committee was formed following the initiative launched by the DPS aimed at the improvement of legislative framework for the elections and building up trust of the public. Chief of the EU Delegation, Aivo Orav, has made sharp criticism centered on the parties that were boycotting the Parliament and this Committee. “The EU cannot support the boycott as it might bring into question the reform which is supposed to be implemented by next elections,” said Orav recently.

 

Netherlands sees Macedonia as “not there yet” regarding the EU accession talks; German parliament deeply divided (Republika)

 

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that Macedonia is not there yet regarding its requested opening of EU accession talks. During a meeting of the European affairs committee of the Dutch parliament, Blok said that Macedonia made some positive steps, but it’s not ready yet. He also completely dismissed the request to allow Albania to open accession talks. The Bundestag approved the accession of Macedonia to NATO, but emerged sharply divided over the main prize which the PM Zoran Zaev regime is expecting – the opening of EU accession talks. Green MP Jurgen Trittin said that the Merkel government is itself divided and that Merkel herself and her ruling conservatives are opposed to EU accession talks for Macedonia. The Chancellor is against opening accession talks, but the Foreign Ministry is in favor of it. The coalition can’t reach agreement on the issue, Trittin said. The Foreign Ministry in Germany is historically led by the social-democratic party SPD, and due its close ties to Zaev’s SDSM party, it has favored his ascent to power and the opening of accession talks with the EU, which would solidify his regime.

I suspect that the Chancellor’s office and the CDU wants to postpone the debate on this issue until New Democracy wins power in Greece and blocks North Macedonia from joining the EU, the Green member of the Bundestag added. Zaev faced opposition from France, the Netherlands and Denmark, but increasingly it comes from Germany, and he acknowledged that the Bundestag will likely not approve the opening of accession talks in time. Zaev claims that Germany would rather not give a date for accession talks to Macedonia but leave Albania behind, because that would renew the push for the creation of a Greater Albania by Prime Minister Edi Rama. For this, it’s likely that Germany would support delaying Macedonia and Albania, rather than rewarding Zaev for the name change he is trying to impose on Macedonia.

 

Austrian MEPs demand opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

After the EU Commission issued a recommendation for the opening of accession talks with the two Western Balkan states North Macedonia and Albania, the European parliamentarians of the Austrian People’s Party (OVP) Othmar Karas and Lukas Mandl demand that the “promises” be kept. The decision to open accession talks will be taken by the Member States later in June.

“The EU must honor its commitments to the countries of the Western Balkans. It is therefore an important and correct step to start accession negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania. After careful examination, the European Commission has established that these two countries meet the conditions for accession,” says Othmar Karas, MEP, commenting on the recommendation of the European Commission to open accession talks with the two Western Balkan states. “It is clear that the countries of the Western Balkans must consistently implement far-reaching reforms – especially in the areas of justice, fundamental rights, the protection of minorities, the fight against corruption and organized crime. And they must improve and normalize their neighborly relations. The settlement of the name dispute between Northern Macedonia and Greece was a shining example of this,” says Karas. “But if they do, the European Union must breathe life into the accession prospects of these states. Only in this way can we permanently anchor European values and mutual friendship in the Western Balkans. If we fail to do so, the influence of Russia, China and elsewhere in our immediate neighborhood threatens to gain a stronger foothold.” “We must export stability so that we do not import instability. This motto of EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn must continue to be the clear objective of the EU’s policy towards South Eastern Europe,” says Lukas Mandl, member of the European Parliament’s Kosovo delegation. “For the citizens of Kosovo, freedom to travel is an important step in this direction. Europe can thus show that we see the youngest state in Europe at eye level and reward active reforms. The strengthening of the European identity and the perspective of integration are important prerequisites for a good future in South Eastern Europe, for the entire Union and especially for Austria”. The preservation of peace in the region was a prerequisite for further dialogue and constitutional reforms. “Only if there is peace can the necessary reconciliation continue. In this sense, I hope that worrying developments such as the current ones around Mitrovica will soon be a thing of the past,” concluded Mandl.

 

VMRO-DPMNE demands Zaev’s resignation, a technical government and early elections (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE demands the creation of a technical government, along the lines of the Przino agreement, and holding early general elections. The request comes as the date to open EU accession talks slips further away from the PM Zoran Zaev regime. The EU finally saw the true face of Zoran Zaev. He attempts to hide his incompetence by blaming the international partners of the Republic of Macedonia. Zaev only operates through threats and blackmail, but his lies no longer fly in Macedonia, or outside. It is time that Zaev goes and pays the price for all his manipulations and all the damage he caused to the Republic of Macedonia. His place should be taken by a technical government which will prepare the early general elections, VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release. Zaev himself indicated he will resign if the European Council refuses to allow Macedonia to open accession talks in June, which was one of his core promises. But, he left other options open, such as recomposing his Government, or asking his ally President Stevo Pendarovski to give him a renewed mandate. The opposition party blames Zaev for selective application of the laws and selective justice, and perpetrating political persecution on the opposition with his control of the judiciary. Zoran Zaev will lose the next general elections, whenever they come, and his criminal, irresponsible government will be replaced by VMRO-DPMNE and a government which will implement the necessary reforms and will lift up the economy, VMRO-DPMNE adds.

 

Zaev says early elections are possible if EU won’t allow opening of accession talks (Republika)

 

PM Zoran Zaev told the press that he remains optimist Macedonia will be given a date to open accession talks in June or July, but if that doesn’t happen, he announced he is prepared to return his mandate or call early elections. “If the date is delayed, all options are on the table. One step would be to form a new government, another – to hold elections, and the third would be to assume responsibility, although I don’t see any fault in us. We did everything we had to,” Zaev said. Now that the President is from his SDSM party, Zaev opened to possibility of simply returning the mandate and asking for it back, forming a new Government. He announced that he will purge his Government in June anyway. But, given the brutal blow to his prestige with the ever more likely refusal of the EU member states to allow “North Macedonia” to open accession talks, even after the imposed name change, makes it possible that Zaev’s government won’t survive for long. Especially given the open fight between his main coalition partner DUI and the Albanian wing in SDSM led by Muhamed Zekiri, over the publication of wiretaps that involve DUI officials in criminal allegations.

 

Austrian paper suggests creating a Balkan union instead of bringing Balkan countries into the EU (Republika/Die Presse)

 

According to the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, the integration of the Balkan countries not yet in the EU should be stopped and a new model should be put in place for the countries. According to correspondent Oliver Grimm, the solution would be to focus on building up a Balkan union, instead of bringing Balkan countries into the EU. In a matter of ten years the task would be to build a Western Balkan Union modeled on the EU – abolish the borders, joint market based on the four liberties, a common energy policy, joint telecommunications policy, infrastructure, altogether with civic rights, Die Presse suggests. The author uses a common Balkan expression – we pretend to welcome you, and you pretend you want to come – to express the position the EU is taking toward the Balkans. In place of the difficult process of bringing the poor countries with high unemployment levels into the EU, Grimm suggests keeping Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro, which he refers to as failed states, in a union of their own. An excuse to put such a plan in motion, which the author agrees would be a radical departure, could be the European elections and the fact that European citizens are clearly not interested in future expansion.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Federica Mogherini met with Gent Cakaj, Acting Foreign Minister of Albania (EEAS, 7 June 2019)

 

Bruxelles, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, met today in Brussels with Gent Cakaj, Acting Foreign Minister of Albania. The High Representative congratulated Minister Cakaj for the renewed recommendation of the Commission to the Council to open accession negotiations with Albania, stressing that this is an acknowledgement of the tangible results of the comprehensive and thorough justice reform and of Albania’s achievements in the fight against corruption and organised crime. She reaffirmed her strong conviction that Albania is ready to move forward on its EU integration path and open accession negotiations.

 

Germany: Maas recruits for the extension of the Bundeswehr mission in Kosovo (AFP, 6 June 2019)

 

Berlin – Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has campaigned in the Bundestag for the extension of the KFOR deployment of the Bundeswehr in Kosovo. The NATO-led mission “is and will remain a stabilizing force” and also enjoys the support of both Kosovo and Serbia, Maas said on Thursday in Berlin. This is “worth the gold when it comes to de-escalation and mediation, given the tense relationship between the two countries.”

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