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Belgrade Media Report 13 June

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LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: It there is no Paris meeting, the region will be in mud even more (Tanjug)
• Djuric: Vampire ball in Pristina (Beta/RTS/Tanjug/Novosti)
• Joksimovic: Chapter 35 is not a replacement for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS/Tanjug)
• Vukoslavljevic seeks UNESCO protection (FoNet)
• Palmer called opposition to take part in elections (Danas)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik and Vulin discuss migrant crisis and security situation in B&H (ATV)
• Wigemark sends letter to Zvizdic noting that proposed location for migrants does not meet criteria for EU assistance (FTV)
• Dodik says it is unacceptable to allow Croatia to ignore demands and rights of B&H citizens and simply lease their property; Dzaferovic and Komsic agree (Oslobodjenje)
Croatia
• Grabar-Kitarovic: I don’t regret having invited Vucic to Croatia (Hina)
• Plenkovic says EU Court has no jurisdiction over border dispute (HRT)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Pendarovski: The enlargement fatigue the EU has mentioned is also felt by North Macedonia (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Tusk: There can only be one decision – to launch negotiations, question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Mogherini: North Macedonia and Albania should get a date in June or July (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Reeker: North Macedonia did a great job, EU negotiations should start as soon as possible (Nezavisen vesnik)
Albania
• Prime Minister accuses President for trying to block judicial reform (ADN)
• German delegation: Who obstructs the integration process hampers those who believe in democratic values (Radio Tirana)
• 13 member countries of the EU express support in a common declaration for Albania’s negotiations opening (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Iran, Serbia Discuss Closer Ties on All Fronts (IFP)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: It there is no Paris meeting, the region will be in mud even more (Tanjug)

 

We will be in a difficult situation if the Paris meeting does take place, but we will be in an even more difficult one if it does not, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Thursday. “If it does not take place, we, as well as the whole region, will be stuck in the mud even more,” Vucic told reporters. That is why Belgrade is trying to do all it can through a constructive approach, without giving up on our starting point and the foundation for continuing the dialogue, Vucic noted.

“And I have said several times: it takes two to have dialogue, just like it takes two to tango. We will see whether the Paris meeting will take place and what the agenda will be,” he said. Vucic also announced he would in the next ten days try to speak with some of US President Donald Trump’s closest aides to point to the legacy of the Washington Democrats in Kosovo and Metohija and seek support for a compromise solution.

 

Djuric: Vampire ball in Pristina (Beta/RTS/Tanjug/Novosti)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said that the event in Pristina celebrating 20 years since NATO deployment to Kosovo was an ugly and cynical vampire ball.

Djuric branded as evildoers the then U.S. president Bill Clinton, the then US secretary of state

Madeleine Albright and then NATO commander Wesley Clark for the aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in 1999, without consent from the U.N. Security Council.

Speaking at a debate titled “20 years since the exodus of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija” in

Belgrade, Djuric said that terror, crimes, persecution, and the eradication of the entire nation had been going on for 20 years now. “Some in Pristina are celebrating, I guess because they have expelled 56 percent of the non-Albanian population from Kosovo and for having previously

cleansed more than 300 settlements,” Djuric said. He stressed that even two decades after the

aggression, there is no punishment for those who are most accountable for war crimes against Serbs and non-Serbs, who refused to obey the terror exercised by criminals from the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.

 

Joksimovic: Chapter 35 is not a replacement for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS/Tanjug)

 

At the session held on 12 June the members of the European Integration Committee were presented the European Commission 2019 Progress Report on Serbia. The Report was presented by Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic and the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi, and the sitting was also attended by the Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of the Republic of Serbia to the EU Tanja Miscevic.

Joksimovic said that there has been reform progress in all sector-related policies, adding that Serbia is the first country where the new EU methodology was applied i.e. opening and closing Chapters 23 and 24 first and having them be subject to deeper analysis because they bring vital social change and introduce new standards. Serbia received good marks for its regional cooperation and good-neighborly relations, as well as economy, migration and protection of minority rights. In the political criteria and Chapter 23 Serbia had limited progress, while in some areas it had none, though concrete examples of political will were noted in the area of media freedom and combating corruption, said Joksimovic. She said it would be best if the MPs discussed the part of the Report relating to the parliament’s work, adding that the speaker had already announced the concrete measures to be implemented which is an immediate response. Speaking of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Joksimovic said that the Report notes that Serbia was active and that the dialogue was curtailed due to the customs taxes, but had not condemned the move. She opined that that part is relatively objective and duly noted by the Report. Joksimovic said that she expects, based on this Report, that Serbia has to continue to open chapters until the end of the Romanian Presidency. She says that Chapter 35 is not a replacement for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but measures the degree of the implementation of the Brussels agreement. Responding to a question of SRS MP Aleksandar Seselj, Joksimovic says that the existence of the Brussels agreement is proof that Serbia is not forces to recognize Kosovo but to reach a comprehensive agreement on normalization. “If Serbia was forced to do something then the dialogue and the Brussels agreement would not exist because Serbia’s legitimate interests need to be respected,” she said. She says that Serbia had accepted for the EU to be the mediator in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, because the EU needs to be status neutral over the five member states that do not recognize independence of Kosovo. The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi presented the Report in more detail, speaking of the progress in each area and the recommendations on what needs to be done in the coming period. The session was chaired by Committee Chairman Nenad Canak, and attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Dusica Stojkovic, Dubravka Filipovski, Milorad Haji Stosic, Dragan Sormaz, Gordana Comic, Vesna Markovic, Dejan Radenkovic, Vera Jovanovic, Biljana Pantic Pilja, Muamer Basevac, Zarko Micin, Aleksandar Seselj, Miljan Damjanovic and Balint Pasztor, as well as MPs not members of the Committee Vladimir Orlic, chair of the Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee, Cedomir Jovanovic and Vladimir Djuric.

 

Vukoslavljevic seeks UNESCO protection (FoNet)

 

Serbian Minister of Culture and Information Vladan Vukosavljevic warned UNESCO on Wednesday about the state of the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, following the forgery of the historical facts about the Serb Orthodox St. Nikola’s church in Novo Brdo, FoNet reported. In a letter to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, Vukosavljevic listed permanent attacks on Serb monuments and the forgery of history, especially since the declaration of Kosovo’s independence in 2008. That, Vukosavljevic said, now escalated in capturing and usurpation of Serbs’ cultural and religious heritage there, last being the forgery of the historical facts about the Serb Orthodox St. Nikola’s church in Novo Brdo. “That is a flagrant violation of all international codes,” he wrote. He added the latest target, the archaeological remains of the medieval town of Novo Brdo and the monumental cathedral of the Serb Orthodox church St. Nikola from the 14th century, was under the reconstruction as the Roman Catholic cathedral. Vukosavljevic said that local media and Albanian politicians reported that Kosovo’s Archaeological Institute, supported by the German Embassy in Pristina, started the works.

“In spite of the serious damage that had already been done, I kindly ask you to look again into all the facts and to protect this important cultural heritage and react in line with principles and recommendations by the institution you lead. And especially having in mind the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which Serbia has signed,” Vukosavljevic wrote.

 

Palmer called opposition to take part in elections (Danas)

 

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer called the Serbian opposition to field candidates in the next parliamentary elections, Danas quoted unnamed diplomatic sources.

Palmer told the opposition leaders who he met with in Belgrade that Washington does not agree with a possible boycott of elections because that would violate democratic principles.  The opposition leaders are reported to have told Palmer that they won’t turn out for the elections unless their demands are met, including a reform of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) and more media space for the opposition.  Palmer met with Alliance for Serbia (SzS) founders Dragan Djilas, Bosko Obradovic, Zoran Lutovac and Vuk Jeremic and the leader of the Movement of Free Citizens Sergej Trifunovic.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Dodik and Vulin discuss migrant crisis and security situation in B&H (ATV)

 

Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik met with Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin in Banja Luka on Wednesday. Dodik and Vulin discussed the current political and security topics in Republika Srpska (RS), B&H and Serbia. Dodik used this opportunity to inform Vulin that he did not allow for the B&H Armed Forces (AF) to be deployed to the border with Serbia and Montenegro. (Dodik opposed proposal presented during Tuesday’s session of the B&H Presidency to engage B&H AF to provide assistance to the B&H Border Police in protection of B&H borders and prevention of migrants to illegally enter B&H)

“President Dodik was very clear that no army will stand between the RS and Serbia” Vulin said, adding that Serbia recognizes territorial integrity of B&H. “We are one of the countries that are guarantors of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), but the RS is always, it is and will be, our foreign policy priority and as long as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is leading the Republic of Serbia, the RS will be our priority, just like as long as Aleksandar Vucic is leading Serbia and as long as I am the Defense Minister, we will be military neutral and we will not become a member either of NATO or any other military alliance,” Vulin underlined. Meanwhile, Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated that it is “humiliating” that Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik reports to Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin, especially after he rejected the proposal for the AF to assist the B&H Border Police at the border with Serbia and Montenegro. Komsic stressed that it is unbelievable that Dodik reports to an “ordinary” Minister of Defense of another country. He added that Vulin is the one who should deal with preventing migrants from entering B&H illegally, rather than making comments on decisions of the B&H Presidency. Komsic said it is unbelievable that Dodik felt the need to “present a report to a defense minister of another country”, which then gave his support to Dodik’s decision on “blocking and rejecting the solution to the migrant crisis in B&H”. Komsic added that he dissociates himself from such “servile and unworthy act”.

 

Wigemark sends letter to Zvizdic noting that proposed location for migrants does not meet criteria for EU assistance (FTV)

 

The City of Bihac and the Una-Sana Canton (USC) government are preparing the location of Vucjak to set up a new reception center for migrants who are currently out in the streets. However, Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Lars-Gunnar Wigemark has sent a letter to Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Denis Zvizdic, warning that the location of Vucjak offered by the City of Bihac does not meet the criteria for assistance from the EU. Wigemark also recommended in his letter that reception centers should be set up in all parts of B&H, so that everyone bears the burden of the migrant crisis. The EU finds the location of Vucjak unacceptable primarily because it is near the border with Croatia, i.e. the EU. He warned that if B&H fails to resolve a series of disputable issues, it will not get EUR 13 million of funds promised as assistance for the migrant crisis. B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic said that migrants cannot be kept away from the border if they want to go. “I think it is an inappropriate explanation. I think the B&H authorities should stick to their stance that it should be Vucjak” Mektic said. USC Prime Minister Mustafa Ruznic also reminded that a coordination body of the B&H Ministry of Security unanimously supported the proposal for a temporary reception center to be set up at the location of Vucjak. “We will allocate a part of the funds to the City (of Bihac) so that this location can be prepared,” Ruznic said.

 

Dodik says it is unacceptable to allow Croatia to ignore demands and rights of B&H citizens and simply lease their property; Dzaferovic and Komsic agree (Oslobodjenje)

 

Member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic told the daily that it is important for B&H and Croatia to have good relationship, but it must be built on mutual respect. “Behavior of Croatian officials with regards to construction of the Peljesac Bridge, without an agreement or approval of B&H, the issue of nuclear waste disposal at Trgovska Gora, property of companies and citizens of B&H in Croatia… that is something that does not fit in this principle. Attempts and activities of the Security Intelligence Agency (SOA) towards B&H citizens in Croatia, blackmail of our citizens with working permits… We have the information and we presented it in our protest note,” said Dzaferovic. In a statement for Oslobodjenje. Chairman of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik said that B&H has never received any response from Croatia after sending protest note. “It is unacceptable to have Croatia act in such manner with the property of B&H companies from both entities” said Dodik commenting the decision of the Croatian companies to lease B&H properties on its territory. Member of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic told the daily recently that Croatia must stop all the activities related to the lease of property. Former Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic told the daily that she understands there are numerous open issues between the countries, adding that many agreements have not been ratified because of political reasons. She noted it is clear that Croatian HDZ is trying to resolve its internal issues over the backs of Croats in B&H. Asked about the SOA recruitment case, Pusic said it is a complete fabrication. “That is not true. I know those people and I know what this is about. I believe this is ‘saving Private Ryan’,” said Pusic. Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Croatian Parliament Josko Klisovic told the daily it is necessary to remove existing obstacles in order to deal with the open issues between B&H and Croatia. “Lack of understanding often becomes noticeable when Croatia says that B&H is foreign policy priority, which is understood in Croatia that B&H is an important country with which it must resolve bilateral issues in a best possible manner and in the interest of Croatia and B&H, while in B&H that is understood in a completely different manner, it is not accepted and it creates completely opposite direction,” said Klisovic and pointed out that one of the main obstacles is the fact that the ethnic leaders in B&H are doing everything to isolate their peoples, and they do not share joint vision of the future.

 

Grabar-Kitarovic: I don’t regret having invited Vucic to Croatia (Hina)

 

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Wednesday said that she in no way regretted that she had invited Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic to Croatia and that she would invite him again.

“Knowing even today that some people object to that and how many times have people complained and attacked me because of his visit, the easiest thing to do would have been to cancel the visit. If I had thought of myself and my rating then I would have certainly done that. But how could I embark on delivering on what I promised families throughout Croatia without taking the first step regardless of what the results and consequences might have been” Grabar-Kitarovic said. She recalled that the late president Franjo Tudjman spoke with Serbia’s strongman and the then president, Slobodan Milosevic in an effort to resolve the war and implement peaceful reintegration because “that was the only way.” She said that the issue of the missing will not be resolved by the EU but that we have to do that on our own and that requires the other side too. Referring to the information that Vucic brought to Zagreb during his visit which turned out to be data on persons that had already been identified, Grabar-Kitarovic claimed that he believed that that was credible information. She apologized to the families of the missing because no progress had been made and announced that the search for them would not end.

 

Plenkovic says EU Court has no jurisdiction over border dispute (HRT)

 

The Court of the European Union in Luxembourg has scheduled a hearing for July 8th to address a suit filed by Slovenia, regarding the border arbitration between Slovenia and Croatia. Slovenia claims that by not adhering to the arbitration court’s 2017 ruling, which heavily favored Ljubljana, Croatia is in violation of Articles 2 and 4 of the EU Fisheries Policy, regulating the transport of persons across borders and the directive on the establishment of a spatial planning framework at sea. Slovenia is unhappy with the demarcation of the border it shares with Croatia, especially the maritime border, claiming that it should have access to international waters. Interestingly, Slovenia did not make the claim until well after the border was internationally recognized, nor had the issue ever been raised when the two countries were members of the former Yugoslavia, which also observed the same borders. Croatia withdrew from the arbitration proceedings in 2015, after recordings were released clearing showing a Slovenian Foreign Ministry representative and the Slovenian member of the arbitral tribunal engaging in backroom deals in order to secure Ljubljana a favorable verdict. Concluding that the court had been tainted beyond repair, the decision to withdraw from the arbitration was unanimously upheld by Croatian parliament and has been maintained by every successive government and Croatian President. Since then Croatia has called for dialogue with Slovenia on this bilateral issue. However, Slovenia has shown little interest in bilateral talks. Commenting on the latest developments on Wednesday, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reminded that the EU Court has no jurisdiction in the bilateral dispute.

 

Pendarovski: The enlargement fatigue the EU has mentioned is also felt by North Macedonia (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

The enlargement fatigue the European Union has mentioned is also felt by North Macedonia, said North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski in Brussels. Taking part in a conference organized by the Friends of Europe think tank, President Pendarovski said North Macedonia was a record-holder in waiting for accession talks with the EU. “The enlargement fatigue is mutual,” Pendarovski said. “The EU has said that the eastern enlargement hasn’t given satisfactory results, but in our country, people are really tired of waiting.” “If we’re ranked by merit” Pendarovski continued, “we’ve done all we needed to, and we also did something no one else has done. We changed the name of our country.” Pendarovski added that the new name was agreed on for the sake of joining the EU. “I see no other sustainable alternative,” Pendarovski said. On the subject of Kosovo and Serbia, he said the idea for a territorial swap “is one of the worst ideas.” “That would immediately start a conflict, said Pendarovski, and added that border changes shouldn’t at all be considered within the region.

 

Tusk: There can only be one decision – to launch negotiations, question is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

I personally believe that there can only be one decision: to launch the negotiations in line with the European Commission’s recommendations, said European Council President Donald Tusk at a press conference with President Stevo Pendarovski on in Brussels. “To keep in line with my role as President of the European Council, I do not want to prejudge the EU’s decisions. You have done everything that was expected of you. But I want to be honest with you: not all member states are prepared to make the decision on opening negotiations in the coming days. The question today is, not if, but when. If I am a bit cautious, it is because I know that, sometimes, reaching consensus among 28 member states takes more time than I would like” said Tusk.

According to him, President Pendarovski’s first visit to Brussels was highly symbolic, and a source of hope for the country and the region. “First, your undisputed election victory shows the new trust among citizens and political forces in the democratic process, and creates a solid basis for institutional stability. Second, the elections confirmed your country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation. Third, your elections turned into a referendum over inter-ethnic reconciliation and mending of relations with neighbors. And you passed this test successfully. The agreements that your country reached with Bulgaria and Greece are nothing but historic, and are examples to be followed by your region and beyond,” said Tusk. President Pendarovski said North Macedonia does not want an undeserved reward, but a deserved chance to build a European country with a fair, humane and advanced society, adding that EU and NATO membership are strategic commitments of the vast majority of citizens. “Two weeks ago, we received the best and most positive EC report for our country. We not only received a clear recommendation for the start of accession negotiations but were highlighted as a shining example in the Western Balkans. We did this by solving decades-long issues. We made brave decisions on very sensitive issues for our citizens and removed the biggest obstacle in the EU and NATO accession process. The Bulgaria Friendship Treaty and the Prespa Agreement lifted a burden from the past. North Macedonia is the only country in the region without any open issues with neighbors. We also delivered reforms in many key areas and are aligning with EU policies. However, we are aware of the fact that more reforms are required, of the shortcomings and the work ahead. I will tell you one thing – we are most efficient when having a task to do and the accession negotiations are the best reform tool,” said Pendarovski. He recalled on the country’s role in the migrant crisis management back in 2016 in maintaining European security. “We have demonstrated our commitment as European partners. This June the EU has a historic opportunity to show leadership and vision for the future of the entire region, by giving a date for accession negotiations of North Macedonia,” said Pendarovski.

 

Mogherini: North Macedonia and Albania should get a date in June or July (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

North Macedonia and Albania should get a date in June or July to start talks, said High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini at Wednesday’s meeting with President Stevo Pendarovski in Brussels. Mogherini said she would recommend this to all EU member countries’ foreign ministers next week, once again acknowledging our country’s achievements. North Macedonia is the only country in the region to have solved all disputes with its neighbors, Pendarovski and Mogherini agreed at the meeting, while also noting the country’s commitment to reform processes. President Pendarovski said the citizens expect the country to get a date to start negotiations in response to the achieved progress. Starting talks would also support stability in the region, he added. He urged EU leaders to judge prospective member countries by clear and fair standards and on the basis of individual achievements.

 

Reeker: North Macedonia did a great job, EU negotiations should start as soon as possible (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

Official Washington believes North Macedonia is on the right track to joining the EU and that pre-accession talks with Brussels should start as soon as possible, said US Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs head Philip Reeker, who was also the US Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia between 2019 and 2011. According to Reeker, talks that the US administration has had with EU partners and allies support this belief. Asked if a delay in starting talks could destabilize the region, Reeker said he didn’t think it was likely. “North Macedonia did a great job,” said Reeker, adding he didn’t think the country would succumb to destabilization through “unnecessary political games. This is a process that needs to be seen through the end” Reeker added. According to him, the US is certain North Macedonia will become NATO’s 30th member and will soon start EU membership talks. “I expect the EU negotiations to start as soon as possible” Reeker said. The Acting Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs head attended a hearing held by the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations on “NATO Expansion: Examining the Accession of North Macedonia.” The hearing was presided by committee chairman Sen. James Risch and also attended by Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Department of Defense.

 

Prime Minister accuses President for trying to block judicial reform (ADN)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama accused on Wednesday President Ilir Meta for trying to block judicial reform in order to save himself and some other politicians. While Prime Minister, Edi Rama continues his electoral campaign without recognizing President’s decree for the cancellation of the local elections, the leaders of small political parties started consultative meeting with the Head of State, Ilir Meta in Presidency. After the consultative meeting with Meta, the leaders of small opposition parties said that the actual crisis should be overcome. “New elections date is not a desire but it must be come out of politic agreement. Political parties must find a way to come out the political crisis. It is not just a matter of time, but a dialogue” said Dashamir Shehi. The allies of the Democratic Party suggested elections postponement up to six months.

 

German delegation: Who obstructs the integration process hampers those who believe in democratic values (Radio Tirana)

 

The Bundestag delegation headed by Josip Juratovic, Member of the Bundestag and Parliamentary Group Chairman (SPD), Renata Alt, Member of the Bundestag and Deputy Speaker of the Parliamentary Group (FDP), and Hansjorg Muller, Member of The Bundestag and the member of the Parliamentary Group (AFD) held a press release after the meetings in Albania. “As parliamentarians of the Bundestag covering the Balkan countries that are not yet part of the EU, we have taken this tour in the region to get informed about the situation and reforms. We have had contacts with representatives of parliament, parliamentary commissions, Prime Minister Rama, Justice Minister and Interior Minister for a full overview of the country and reforms. For us it was important to learn the progress of reforms to know how prepared Albania is for negotiations. Albania and the whole region is the EU’s internal courtyard and should be part of this union. For me, democracy is a community of values. I understand that this country has a Constitution and the Constitution is the basis of a country. In Germany, the Constitution is the basis and therefore I am confident in what the Constitution provides. If the Constitution foresees that elections should take place at a certain moment, they should be held at the moment. Because this is the only way, just based on the Constitution … And I consider that representative democracy in the parliamentary format is the highest democratic body. Elections represent competition between political parties. Each party has the right to participate or not, it will be the voters what is good or bad. Voters in Albania and the society are well informed about what they want or not. The current situation will play a role in the decision-making of the Council and since in most of the EU countries, the parliaments decide. Not all EU citizens are enthusiastic about expanding the union. Who obstructs the integration process hampers those who believe in democratic values,” said Josip Juratovic.

 

13 member countries of the EU express support in a common declaration for Albania’s negotiations opening (Radio Tirana)

 

13 member countries of the European Union expressed their support yesterday in a mutual declaration, regarding the opening of accession negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia. The 13 countries that are pro opening of the negotiations are: Italy, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta, Estonia, Latonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The EU member countries’ statement below:

“We, the Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic reiterate our continued support for the Western Balkans on their European path. The EU enlargement process has a positive transformative power in the Western Balkans and is an investment in peace and stability in Europe. It is essential to ensure the overall progress of the region. The EU needs to fulfill its unambiguous commitment to the Western Balkans European integration. There is no “plan B”.

Given the importance of their decision for the future of all the States and peoples in Europe we call upon Members of the Council to take far-sighted, bold decisions in June, which would promote continuous reform progress in line with EU standards and values, as well as a strengthened regional cooperation, reconciliation, good-neighbourly relations and crucial support for the irreversible peace, stability and development of the region and our Continent.

Ahead of the General Affairs Council this June, we appeal to all EU stakeholders to maintain and consolidate the positive momentum by opening the accession negotiations with the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia. We are determined to live up to our responsibilities and react positively to the progress made by both countries.

Recalling our General Affairs Council Conclusions of June 2018 that set out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019 as well as the previous documents commonly agreed, we call upon the Members of the Council to:

implement the relevant recommendations of the European Commission;

live up to our commitments and ensure the credibility of the EU enlargement policy based on clear conditionality and the own merits principle;

strengthen the EU’s credibility in international and institutional dimension as well as safeguard the EU’s leverage in the region;

recognize the remarkable efforts and progress made by the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia in adopting and implementing necessary reforms and in the case of the Republic of North Macedonia also acknowledge the historic importance of the Agreements with the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Bulgaria, which set an example of addressing open issues for the region and beyond;

recognize the enlargement policy as the most successful tool for promoting EU standards and values and for fostering prosperity, democracy, and stability in the region;

continue supporting the clearly defined EU membership prospect which is the driving force for implementing demanding reforms and solving the outstanding bilateral issues in the Western Balkans; recognize the enlargement policy’s irreplaceable impact on the process of strengthening of Europe; and thus, support taking decisions on opening negotiations with the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia in June 2019.

The start of the negotiations process will enable these two countries to focus even more on necessary reforms while the EU will obtain a valuable tool for scrutinizing their individual progress. Furthermore, the launch of accession talks with the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia will serve as an important motivational factor for the whole region. It ensures a win-win situation.

Starting the negotiations in June 2019 will also contribute to strengthening countries’ resilience to external, detrimental interests of other players and ensure that the EU continues to be the leading player for a positive regional transformation,” writes the common statement of 13 member countries of EU.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Iran, Serbia Discuss Closer Ties on All Fronts (IFP, 13 June 2019)

 

Members of a Serbian parliamentary delegation have sat down for talks with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi in Tehran.

In the Wednesday meeting, Sarmadi discussed bilateral issues as well as regional and international developments with Žarko Obradović, the chairman of the Serbian National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as several other Serbian lawmakers accompanying him. Obradović, who is also head of the Iran-Serbia Parliamentary Friendship Group, underlined Iran’s key status in West Asia as well as the promotion of bilateral relations in recent years. He said Serbia is interested in boosting all-out ties with Iran on all political and parliamentary fronts. He also underscored the need to enhance mutual economic and trade cooperation. He welcomed Tehran-Belgrade cooperation in international circles and invited Iran to take part in an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting slated to be held in Serbia this autumn. He called on Iran to actively participate in the event. The Iranian official, in turn, touched upon age-old relations as well as the expansion of political and parliamentary consultations between the two sides in recent years. He underscored the necessity of upgrading mutual cooperation in economic and commercial domains while expressing Tehran’s readiness to remove trade barriers and boost trade ties. Elsewhere in his remarks, Sarmadi said the policy of unilateralism in international relations amounts to a serious threat on the international stage. He called on independent and freedom-seeking countries to further enhance their unity and solidarity to counter this dangerous policy, which has jeopardized international peace and security.

 

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