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Belgrade Media Report 17 June

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LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic calls on Trump to exert influence on Pristina to lift tariffs, return to dialog (Beta)
• Jeremic: Vucic must not be allowed to broker demarcation deal (Beta)
• Tadic: Vucic promised Kosovo to foreigners (Blic)
• Belgrade and Prishtina soon to receive the guidelines for KiM from the West (Vecernje novosti)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• RS President Cvijanovic denies she ever said RS can secede (Vecernji list)
• Palmer meets with RS officials, points to importance of cooperation with NATO (BN TV)
• HDZ B&H supports B&H’s path towards NATO, but that it is necessary to initiate process of appointment of B&H CoM (N1)
• Dodik reelected as SNSD leader; says RS is most stable part of B&H (RTRS)
• Meeting of PIC SB scheduled to address lack of formation of authorities in B&H (N1, ATV)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev: I expect EU accession talks by the end of the year (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Angry at the prospect of EU “decoupling” from Macedonia, some Albanians call for Greater Albania (Republika)
Albania
• OSCE has drafted an interim report on June 30th local elections (Radio Tirana)
• Tsereteli: Parties should sit down for talk (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Rama reacts to Northern Macedonia’s President declaration about “decoupling

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic calls on Trump to exert influence on Pristina to lift tariffs, return to dialog (Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on June 13 wished U.S. President Donald Trump a happy birthday and urged him to exert influence on Pristina to lift its 100-percent tariffs on Serbian goods and return to the dialogue. According to a press release issued by the Presidency, Vucic invited Trump to visit Serbia, “because no U.S. president has done so in almost four decades.” “I, like all Serbian citizens, know that the U.S. has a special place for Kosovo and Metohija and consider it an independent state, which it has always supported and helped especially during the Bill Clinton administration” Vucic told Trump. The Serbian president stressed that he was confident that Trump would have “a different policy” there. “That is why I want to ask you to exert influence on Pristina to lift the damaging tariffs on goods produced in Serbia proper so that the dialogue, geared toward finding a mutually acceptable compromise solution, can resume” Vucic stressed.

 

Jeremic: Vucic must not be allowed to broker demarcation deal (Beta)

 

Vuk Jeremic, leader of the opposition People’s Party, said on June 15 that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic must not be allowed to make a “demarcation” deal which would be tantamount to recognizing Kosovo as an independent state. According to a press release issued by the party, Jeremic made the statement while meeting with the residents of the village of Pasjane, outside Gnjilane, Kosovo. “Demarcation would mean irrevocably giving up one of the pillars of Serb national identity” Jeremic stressed, and the emergence of a Greater Albania in no more than a decade. “It is against the law, the Constitution and ethical and moral norms that our ancestors left us. No one has done that since there has been a Serbian state” Jeremic said. Jeremic said Kosovo could not get independence without Serbia signing off on it, and that the “Progressive regime with Vucic at the helm” was prepared to place a signature on that deal so it could continue to rule through theft of unimaginable proportions, violence, and collaboration with organized crime.

 

Tadic: Vucic promised Kosovo to foreigners (Blic)

 

Opposition Social Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic said on June 16 that “foreign actors are asking the opposition not to upset the public, because Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has promised Kosovo to them.” Boris Tadic said that he was an advocate of “creating two entities in Kosovo” and “finding a way out of the frozen conflict.” Toppling Vucic is “a big part of the solution to the Kosovo problem because without it there is no room for any solution that can truly protect the interests of Serbia and its citizens” Tadic said.

 

Belgrade and Prishtina soon to receive the guidelines for KiM from the West (Vecernje novosti)

 

Belgrade and Pristina should soon get directions for finding a final solution to the Kosovo issue from the Western countries, but they will leave room for possible “amendments” by both parties to the given framework, writes Vecernje novosti daily. Such a method, according to Western leaders, should speed up the closure of the Kosovo issue. The daily adds that at the Paris summit, if it happens, could reveal what is among the “recommendations”.

The daily reminds that in 2005, the Contact Group established three basic principles for negotiations on the status of Kosovo: no division of Kosovo, no return to the situation before 1999 and no union of Kosovo with any country or part of any neighboring country.

Former Serbian ambassador to Berlin and Vienna, Milovan Bozinovic, believes that the behavior of current key actors in the negotiating process may give the impression that a framework for dialogue on the final solution already exists and that both parties are under pressure to comply with these guidelines. Regarding the White House message that Belgrade and Pristina should leave aside the extremist rhetoric and work on an agreement that focuses on “mutual recognition”, Bozinovich says that if the taxes are abolished and the dialogue continues, Serbia should not allow some new story to start, before the Brussels Agreement is implemented and the Community of Serb Municipalities is formed. “It would be a mistake to make a compromise on what has already been signed. Executive autonomy for ZSO which Serbia is looking for, is not something big. If they gave up on it, it will only further increase the appetites of Albanians” Bozinovic said.

 

Diplomate Zoran Milivojevic believes that it would be difficult to continue the talks, under current circumstances, if the initial position of Belgrade is implementation of the Brussels agreement and the formation of the ZSO. He believes that the negotiations will continue on the basics and principles of a legally binding agreement and a final solution. “There could be modus that would not be the unconditional recognition of Kosovo or unconditional non-recognition, but some medium solution. The recognition of Kosovo cannot be the basis for a dialogue. The principle cannot be: recognition, and then everything else. It can be only: everything else, and at the end let’s see what are we going to do regarding the recognition” Milivojevic said. He adds that Serbia should also ask for the guarantees regarding the relations with the Western and the continuation of the European integrations. Milivojevic stressed that no negotiation principles could include central Serbia because this is not a topic.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

RS President Cvijanovic denies she ever said RS can secede (Vecernji list)

 

Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic, asked to comment claims that she and the Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and former RS President Milorad Dodik are like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who rotated and swapped their positions in past too, Cvijanovic said that “this sounds cute” but it is not quite like that. “I think we are a functional team and we have been working in this way for many years”, Cvijanovic said. The journalist noted that, when Dodik decided to run for a member of the Presidency of B&H, foreign diplomats and politicians “were glad he was leaving the position of the RS President” and they believed his successor would calm down tensions “but lately there were many attacks on you too having in mind you embraced his thesis and said that the RS could secede”. Cvijanovic replied by saying that she never said the RS can secede nor she promoted this as an idea “but I will say that B&H is constantly being mistreated by international means”. Cvijanovic went on to say that there are many foreign diplomats who are dealing with B&H yet they understand nothing about B&H and they “want to run B&H as if it is an experiment during which one is not allowed to say anything”. Cvijanovic argued that the main problem with B&H lies in the fact nobody wants to “establish the true diagnosis” and added that it would be logical to have everyone working together so that nobody feels anxiety. She went on to say that she hopes “we will finally start acting nice to one another eventually” but she reminded that her responsibility is related to functioning of the system of the RS, which is an integral part of B&H, and also to make sure nobody disputes that. Cvijanovic noted that the RS is the best organized part of B&H, having in mind it formed its authorities shortly after the October elections, while authorities at the levels of the Federation of B&H and B&H still have not been formed. “People can, but do not want to form the authorities”, Cvijanovic added and argued that this is because some are allowed to impose their ideas on others.

 

Asked to comment fierce reactions that were sparked by the RS’ announcement on possible formation of the reserve unit of police, Cvijanovic said that such fierce reactions were presented because “they need topics, fabricated topics”. Cvijanovic explained that the reserve police unit is much cheaper and would be dealing only with consequences of natural disasters, so that the regular police units would not have to do those tasks. However, Cvijanovic said that Bosniak politicians immediately oppose everything the RS does and foreign diplomats immediately support whatever Bosniak politicians say. “I never saw foreign diplomats jump on their feet and support something Croat or Serb politicians say”, Cvijanovic said and noted that the RS has no hidden agenda and it has the right to form the reserve police unit.

 

Cvijanovic also said that the RS absolutely supports the construction of the Peljesac Bridge and added that she was surprised to hear about blockades and negative stances coming from Bosniak political parties from Sarajevo. “This project was developed in line with international rules and there are no disturbances for B&H”, Cvijanovic said. Speaking about cooperation between SNSD and HDZ B&H, Cvijanovic said that this cooperation is excellent and explained that one must have both will and desire to respect everyone in order to achieve good cooperation with them. “Also, one must have strong persons, like our parties do with Milorad Dodik on one side and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic on the other side who are rational and who know that there can be no future without cooperation”, Cvijanovic added and argued that their cooperation never was and never will be against Bosniaks.

 

Commenting on ‘Komsic case’, Cvijanovic said that Croats are frustrated and HDZ B&H, as the strongest Croat party, advocates the stance that Croats should elect their representatives instead of having other people elect representatives of Croats. “Although Komsic was elected in a legal way, there was no legitimacy here because everyone knows Bosniaks voted for Komsic and they elected him” Cvijanovic explained.

 

Palmer meets with RS officials, points to importance of cooperation with NATO (BN TV)

 

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer met on Saturday with high-ranking Republika Srpska (RS) officials and Serb representatives in joint institutions at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) in separate meetings, within his visit to Banja Luka. Palmer met with RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, who told him that the RS remains committed to cooperation with everyone and that it is open for talks with interested investors. The RS Government’s press office stated after the meeting that Viskovic informed Palmer that 38 legislative solutions were sent in the parliamentary procedure recently and they refer to improvement of environment for investments, employment in real sector and economic incentives. Palmer and US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson have previously met with RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic. They discussed the current economic situation and the EU path of B&H. In statements for the media after the meetings, Palmer confirmed that the US sanctions against SNSD leader Milorad Dodik and SNSD Vice President Nikola Spiric remain in effect, adding that “if they want to be removed from the US blacklist they need to act in order to have a reason for that and they know what should they do”. Palmer also met with B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak. They discussed the process of formation of authorities in B&H, implementation of reforms and the country’s cooperation with NATO. Commenting on the meeting, Crnadak told BN TV that it is obvious that the US keeps its focus on B&H and assessed that it is very important that Palmer visited Banja Luka as this conveys a message for everyone in the RS that its institutions and its role within the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) have support. Palmer and Nelson also met with representatives of PDP, who expressed disappointment over the work of judiciary in B&H and the need to amend the Election Law of B&H. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic told reporters after the meeting that the visit of the US delegation to Banja Luka represents confirmation that the US administration is committed to the DPA and the RS’ position within B&H.

 

HDZ B&H supports B&H’s path towards NATO, but that it is necessary to initiate process of appointment of B&H CoM (N1)

 

Adoption and submission of the Annual National Program (ANP) for NATO continues to be a stumbling stone in negotiations on the formation of the authorities at the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) level. HDZ B&H officials stated that they believe that Bosniak bloc needs to give up on conditioning, i.e. give up conditioning formation of the authorities with the adoption of the ANP. HDZ B&H officials stressed that HDZ B&H supports B&H’s path towards NATO, but that it is necessary to initiate the process of appointment of the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H. N1 stressed that such messages came after the fiasco in functioning of legislative authorities and interruption of Friday’s urgent session of the House of Representatives (HoR) of B&H. HDZ B&H’s Nikola Lovrinovic stressed that if one of the colleagues, someone who is part of the authorities in B&H has doubts, i.e. reasons why he does not want adoption of the ANP, one cannot force those things. “We can solve those issues with an agreement and agreement among us is more important because then there will be peace within the country and we will function,” Lovrinovic underlined.

 

SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said that HDZ B&H is right, adding that he understands why Bosniaks and Croats want B&H to move towards NATO. “Simply put, both Turkey and Croatia are members. But, why they do not want to understand why we do not want that? Rather, they are trying to stop entire political and institutional life in B&H and they believe that they will get that. I am telling them that they will not” Dodik underlined. Representatives of SDA, on the other hand, said that SDA cannot accept for B&H to become someone’s vassal.

 

SDA representatives stressed that path towards NATO is a matter of B&H’s future. SDA’s Semsudin Mehmedovic stressed that SDA cannot accept division of B&H nor for B&H to become someone’s vassal. Mehmedovic further said that he does not know why Lovrinovic and SNSD’s Stasa Kosarac are speaking of giving up when B&H authorities unanimously adopted laws in B&H Parliament that imply B&H’s NATO path.

 

Dodik reelected as SNSD leader; says RS is most stable part of B&H (RTRS)

 

The 6th Congress of SNSD was held on Saturday. Milorad Dodik, who was reelected as SNSD leader at the Congress, stated that Republika Srpska (RS), headed by SNSD and its coalition partners, is the most stable part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). Dodik underlined that the RS is institutionally, financially and politically stable and that, headed by SNSD and its coalition partners, the RS will continue to work on its strengthening and development. Dodik further stated that policy pursued by SNSD is based on stabilization, strengthening and development of the RS and that main goal is preservation of peace.

 

Commenting statement by HDZ B&H’s Nikola Lovrinovic that Bosniaks insist that the NATO Annual National Plan (ANP) is a precondition for formation of the authorities at the B&H and that this is not a precondition as far as HDZ B&H is concerned, Dodik said that this story was fabricated because Bosniaks want to preserve the existing B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) which is not functioning. Dodik added that currently there are no legitimate representatives of the RS in Sarajevo.

 

Envoy of the leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Nebojsa Stefanovic, who attended SNSD’s Congress, stated that strong Serbia is important for the development of the RS. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that “Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) will never be a Muslim state.” “RS is the main interest of Serbia and the Serb people…B&H is not, and will never be a Muslim state, as Bosniacs want it to be” Dacic said. Dacic stressed that common interest of all in B&H should be equality of all three peoples and two entities, noting that protection and development of the RS are main national interests of Serbia. Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov wished SNSD to be successful in protection of rights of citizens of the RS in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). “Action of SNSD is an integral part of our bilateral relations because this party is partner to United Russia, the ruling party in my country” Ivantsov underlined.

 

Outgoing Chairman of the B&H CoM Denis Zvizdic harshly reacted to Dacic’s statement and said that instead of good neighborly relations, Dacic sent out “malicious messages of hatred and intolerance”. Zvizdic assessed it as a “chauvinist-militarist statement” intended to put the Bosniaks in a negative context.

 

SDP B&H leader Nermin Niksic said that he deeply believes that most of Bosniaks do not want B&H to be the country of Muslims only, the same as most of Serbs and Croats do not want B&H for themselves only. He stressed that B&H will never be the country of Muslims only, or the country of Serbs or Croats only, but it will be the country of everyone – Muslims, Serbs, Croats and all its citizens who declare themselves differently.

 

Commenting on Dacic’s statements, representatives of the Islamic Community in B&H stated that they find disputable that Islam and Islamic identity are often mentioned in negative context in the public in B&H and Serbia. They assessed that such statements do not contribute to normal society or to reconciliation and creation of trust in this region.

 

Meeting of PIC SB scheduled to address lack of formation of authorities in B&H (N1, ATV)

 

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) stated that Political Directors of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) will hold a session in Sarajevo on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), with special focus on the fact that authorities have not been formed yet. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer, who is visiting B&H, is expected to attend the PIC SB session. After he held several meetings with the RS officials in Banja Luka, Palmer will attend the meeting with heads of police and security agencies in B&H in Sarajevo on Monday. According to unofficial information, the meeting will be focused on coordination in the work on border security.

 

Speaker of the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly (RSNA) Nedeljko Cubrilovic, asked whether the Bosniak parties will be singled out during the next meeting of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), Cubrilovic stated that this will happen for sure. According to him, the Bosniak parties will not be the only ones that will be criticized, but the failure to form authorities will be one of the topics for sure. Cubrilovic said that there will be some harsh reactions to this, especially from certain countries.

 

Ujedinjena Srpska Vice President Kostadin Stanic said that the Main Board of the party decided to send a letter to the PIC in order to warn the PIC not to act to the detriment of the RS. Vasic stressed that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and a group of Serb political representatives led by SDS officials Mirko Sarovic and Dragan Mektic do not want to form the authorities and implement the election results and they have support of the PIC. Vasic added that a group of 10 Serb MPs refuses “to take part in such brutal robbing of the RS’ interests”.

 

Representatives of PDP warned on Sunday that SNSD, HDZ B&H and SDA are the ones responsible for the fact that new authorities at the level of B&H have not been formed yet. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic stressed that it is time for these three parties to complete this task and take over full responsibility for the next four years in B&H. “Representatives of the international community also expect them to do that,” Borenovic said. Representatives of PDP concluded that it is not surprising that the international community expects these issues to be solved, which is the biggest challenge for new authorities in B&H. Although it is good to cooperate with the world’s great powers when it comes to plans for development of the country, agreements and solutions should not undermine security in B&H, they concluded.

 

B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak was quoted as saying that aside from the process of formation of new authorities, the international community also expects B&H to take a stance about activation of the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), but there are no pressures coming from the international community with regard to this issue. Crnadak stressed that this convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) has a clear stance with regard to this issue. “We have made it clear that this convocation of the B&H CoM will not be making decisions on this issue. That is probably why we are not exposed to pressures,” Crnadak explained. He added that the only appropriate thing would be for a new convocation of the B&H CoM to decide either to adopt the Annual National Program (ANP) and carry on with the MAP or simply annul the MAP for B&H.

 

Republic of North Macedonia

 

Zaev: I expect EU accession talks by the end of the year (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told Sunday that he expects the upcoming European Council meeting to confirm what the EU verified in the European Commission’s progress report. “Our people and our country deserve this,” Zaev said, adding that he expects the country to get a date for negotiations in September or in October and to start EU accession negotiations by year-end. He added that we will wait the German Bundestag to decide on the start of the EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia, after which the country will finally get a date for negotiations. “I am pleased that we have a chance to join NATO by end of the year. Then we will start EU accession negotiations thus successfully finishing this year with respect to integration processes” Zaev said told reporters during today’s visit to Prespa.

 

Angry at the prospect of EU “decoupling” from Macedonia, some Albanians call for Greater Albania (Republika)

 

The possibility that Macedonia will be allowed to open EU accession talks while Albania will be held back sparked angry reactions in Albania. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote a testy tweet aimed at Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski, who openly endorsed the idea of “decoupling” the two countries, and reminded him of the help Albania provided to get him and Zoran Zaev elected. Some Albanian commentators are going a step further, announcing that if the country is blocked in its EU integration it’s best option will be to push for the unification of Albanians in the Balkans and the creation of Greater Albania. If Albania and Macedonia’s bid for EU is decoupled, Balkans will change. Albanians might try some different integration. Create internal market, demand federalization of Macedonia and Kosovo + Albania create a federal Union. What is left for Albania and Kosovo remains to be seen, is a typical such call, in this case issued by Albanian PhD candidate in Germany Abit Hoxha. Other Albanian commentators like Agon Maliqi say that the decoupling means that Albania will never be invited to open EU accession talks. And former British Europe Minister Dennis MacShane attributed the decoupling idea to European “anti-Muslim ethno nationalism”.

 

Albania

 

OSCE has drafted an interim report on June 30th local elections (Radio Tirana)

 

The OSCE has released today the preliminary report for the June 30th elections, analyzing the period from 24 May to 11 June 2019. The report gives a detailed account on the political situation, underscoring that the elections are in ta state of a deep political division and that some opposition parties do not participate in elections in 31 municipalities. “Upon the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Albania and based on the Recommendation of the Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) developed from 19 to 21 March, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) established the Election Observation Mission (EOM) on May 23. “The NAM, headed by Ambassador Audrey Glover, consists of a core team of 13-members based in Tirana and 18 long-term observers sent to the entire country on June 1. Mission members come from 22 OSCE participating States. ODIHR has urged OSCE participating States to send 250 short-term observers to observe Election Day procedures, “the report said. OSCE has noted the ongoing opposition protests and the fact that 27 opposition candidates are not running in the elections. ‘President Meta has repeatedly made an appeal for dialogue between the parties and at the end of May, he expressed the will to postpone the elections. On June 10, referring to his constitutional responsibility to protect pluralism and public safety concerns, he decreed the abrogation of the decree for setting the date of the elections. On 11 June, the SP initiated a debate in Parliament on the validity of the decree, on the abrogation of the decree for setting the election date and the possible dismissal of the President” is stated interalia in the report.

 

Tsereteli: Parties should sit down for talk (Radio Tirana)

 

In response to the ongoing political turmoil in Albania, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President George Tsereteli issued a statement calling for unprecedented dialogue and urging the parties to sit down for talks. The OSCE senior official says in his statement that the country’s legal framework must be respected by the political spectrum. “Despite previous OSCE recommendations, we are witnessing the rise of political turmoil in Albania, with recent developments that threaten political polemics to become a constitutional crisis. Gravity of the current situation requires that political parties in Albania engage in unprecedented inclusive dialogue and sit down in good faith. The dialogue should aim at avoiding a devastating escalation of the crisis by addressing also the legitimate concerns of the people.

As Albania prepares to chair the OSCE in 2020 and looks forward to a decision by the European Council to open accession negotiations with the EU, it is imperative that all interested parties respect their responsibilities, which are important for strategic purposes of Albania that are supported by most of the Albanian society” says Tsereteli. President Tsereteli added that the Albanian legal framework should be supported and respected by political leaders. “The parliamentary assembly remains convinced that with the necessary political will, the Albanian political actors possess all the necessary skills to move the country forward and to offer the best side of Albania in the OSCE,” he said. Tsereteli stressed that the Parliamentary Assembly appreciates the attention the Slovak Presidency gives to Albania. “The parliamentary assembly will continue to closely follow developments in Albania and with a sense of responsibility to the ambitions and desires of its people” he stressed.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Rama reacts to Northern Macedonia’s President declaration about “decoupling” from Albania (Top Channel)

 

One day after the President of Northern Macedonia, Penderovski, sent a letter to the European Council, asking them that the decision for Albania’s EU accession negotiations should be separate from that with Northern Macedonia, not both on the same time, received a comment from the Albanian Prime Minister. “President Pendarovski implicitly favors ‘decoupling from Albania’? Strange to hear this, especially when one considers the key contribution of Albania and Albanians in our friendly neighbor’s state democratic developments and European path. Doesn’t sound right nor practical frankly!”, Rama wrote.

According to Pendarovski, Albania is a troubled country right now, and Northern Macedonia’s EU path could be damaged if both countries are judged in group by the EU.

 

 

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