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Belgrade Media Report 19 June

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LOCAL PRESS

• EU foreign ministers call for Pristina to immediately lift 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods (Beta)
• Han: It’s hard to motivate Belgrade and Pristina to return to negotiations (Tanjug)
• Brnabic: EU and regional stability are Serbia’s priorities (Tanjug)
• Brnabic in Paris on relations with France and the upcoming Belgrade and Pristina meeting (Tanjug)
• Djuric: Taxes have destroyed the possibility for negotiations (RTS)
• Serbia protests over Kosovo without a footnote in Brussels (RTS)
• Western Balkans still threat to United States, Donald Trump says (Beta)
• The European Union’s General Affairs Council conclusions on Serbia (Tanjug, VIP)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Political Directors criticize the fact that executive authorities at levels of B&H and Federation of B&H still have not been formed (BN TV)
• Reactions of B&H politicians to conclusions adopted by the PIC SB (FTV)
• Dodik meets Orban in Budapest; EU path of B&H and cooperation with RS discussed (ATV)
Croatia
• Zoran Milanovic launches his presidential campaign (Hina)
• Grabar-Kitarovic comments on Milanovic’s candidacy for president (Hina)
• HDZ Expects Grabar-Kitarovic to run for second term (Hina)
Republic of North Macedonia
• EU ministers begin discussion on membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Zaev: The conclusion will turn into complete success in October (Nezavisen vesnik)
Albania
• President Meta calls on institutions to take necessary measures regarding the visa-free regime (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

EU foreign ministers call for Pristina to immediately lift 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods (Beta)

 

At a session in Luxembourg on June 18 the EU’s foreign ministers called on the authorities in Pristina “to immediately lift” tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian imports, stressing that they were violating CEFTA, undermining regional cooperation and the obligations and spirit of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo. The ministers stressed that within the EU-mediated dialogue with Belgrade Pristina needed to refrain from any act that could be interpreted as a provocation. They called the current situation “unsustainable” and added that dialogue needed to be renewed as soon as possible. All open issues must be solved through a comprehensive legally binding agreement which would be in accordance with international law and the acquis and contribute to regional stability, the conclusions adopted at the session said. The conclusion of the agreement without further delay and with the mediation of the EU High Representative, the participants in the session said, is of essential importance so that Kosovo and Serbia can progress in their corresponding frameworks on the path to Europe.

 

Han: It’s hard to motivate Belgrade and Pristina to return to negotiations (Tanjug)

 

EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said that he postponed his efforts to unblock the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue for early July. Johannes Hahn assessed that it is difficult to motivate the leaders of the two sides to return to the negotiating table. “It’s not an easy task and it takes a lot of political courage to work on a compromise” he said, responding to Tanjug‘s question on the continuation of the dialogue. “We need to know what the positive effects are, and the positive consequences can be a European perspective.” Hahn explained that, because he was focused on the situation in Moldova, he postponed his efforts to unblock the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue for the beginning of July. “But I’m sure I will not give up on that issue” said the European Commissioner. Pointing to the importance of the Prespa agreement between Athens and Skopje, Hahn estimated that this achievement had shown that frozen conflicts could be resolved if there is a European perspective.

 

Brnabic: EU and regional stability are Serbia’s priorities (Tanjug)

 

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic pointed out in London that Serbia is on the European path, that it is not concerned with the timing, when will it be admitted to the EU, because there are still many domestic tasks that need to be done, but that it is concerned with regional stability, where the prime ministers of the region they must have all their focus on. At the end of her visit to London, Ana Brnabic spoke at the prestigious Royal Institute for International Affairs on “Serbia, the Balkans and the European Union”. Prime Minister that Serbia has two foreign policy priorities – accession to the European Union and regional stability, links and predictability.

Brnabic said the EU is primarily a peace project which, according to her, many people in Europe have forgotten. People take peace for granted and focus more on the economic side of the EU, she said adding that, for her, Europe will always be a successful project because it preserved peace.   The EU project is not complete without the Balkans and the greatest qualities which expansion will bring to the region are sorely needed peace and stability, she said. “I believe that Serbia shares EU values and its natural place is in the family of European nations” Brnabic said.

Serbia belongs in the EU economically and that is our strategic goal no matter who is in power, she said.

 

Asked about the opposition, Brnabic pointed out that citizens support the current government, because they see that it has opened a large number of jobs, improved the economy, life. She said that earlier “democratic authorities” did nothing to normalize relations with Pristina, although this is key to our full stability and progress. “I see that people know and feel that the president and the ruling coalition are ready to deal with both the issue of Kosovo and the strengthening of the economy” the prime minister added. According to her, the entire region is bound by the CEFTA agreement which was honored by all at the most difficult times, and that the violation of the CEFTA agreement by Pristina shows us that Pristina wants to go back in time before 2006 when it was signed. “By introducing the taxes, they interrupted all communication, which led to a constant deterioration of the situation” the prime minister explained. She announced that she would try to see what can be done to restore the communication and send a clear signal that economic cooperation should not be interrupted.

Prishtina must understand, and I do not see that this is the case, that without a compromise with Serbia, the other countries will not let them into the EU, they will not be recognized by five EU members that have not done so” Brnabic said.

 

Brnabic in Paris on relations with France and the upcoming Belgrade and Pristina meeting (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic is on a two-day visit to Paris, during which she will speak with French Prime Minister Eduard Philip on the relations between the two countries and the upcoming meeting in the French capital on the Western Balkans. On the eve of her visit to Paris Brnabic said that she would also discuss Pristina’s taxes on Serbian goods, because, as she said, it is completely clear that they have to be abolished. “I’m sorry that at this moment Paris Summit is under question, because I think that dialogue does not have an alternative. Unfortunately, it seems to me that Pristina does not understand this, but with the support of all international partners, I hope that we will come to that” said Brnabic. She said that it is good that Serbia has closer relations with France. She adds that she hopes that her visit, and also the visit of French President Emanuel Macron to Belgrade in mid-July, is an announcement of much closer relations between Serbia and France, which were traditionally very close. “We have had fraternal relationships that have deteriorated over the past decades, but it seems to me that we are now on the right path to reinstate that closeness. It is in our interest and we will strive to achieve this” stressed Brnabic.

 

Djuric: Taxes have destroyed the possibility for negotiations (RTS)

 

Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric pointed out that Pristina has closed the door to dialogue with the introduction of non-civilization taxes on Serbian products and a number of other unilateral moves in the past and has destroyed every opportunity for negotiations. As the press service of the office said, Djuric said this during the meeting with the Deputy General Director for Political Affairs of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diego Brasioli, and the Italian ambassador to Belgrade, Carlo Lo Cascio. During the meeting Djuric also spoke about the difficult position of the Serbian people in Kosovo.

“The irresponsible behavior of Pristina is a constant source of instability in the region, and attacks on Serbs and their property are happening almost on a daily basis. There is lack of reactions and protests to these incidents either by the temporary institutions in Pristina or the international institutions in Kosovo” Djuric said. He emphasized that the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is in the interest of both Serbs and Albanians, and that it is necessary to restore the efforts in order to normalize the situation on the ground and create conditions for the improvement of inter-ethnic relations. “The abolition of unlawful and anti-civilization taxes on goods from central Serbia is a minimum requirement for the continuation of the talks” the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija concluded.

 

Serbia protests over Kosovo without a footnote in Brussels (RTS)

 

Deputy Mayor of Belgrade, Goran Vesic, said in Brussels, where he attended the meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee of the Committee of the European Union and Serbia, that during the meeting, the delegation of Serbia protested because the participants were given a document in which Kosovo was presented without a footnote. Goran Vesic said that on behalf of Serbia, Ivan Bosnjak, State Secretary in the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government, has filed a protest. He reminded that an agreement was signed in 2012 on how the Pristina administration is to be represented in the EU, and that based on that agreement, the footnote should be standing by the name of Kosovo.” Bosnjak asked representatives of the EU to respect their rules” said Vesic.

 

Western Balkans still threat to United States, Donald Trump says (Beta)

 

US President Donald Trump extended a warning from 2001 about the Western Balkans as a threat to his state and notified the Congress that it had not changed, the Beta news agency reported. President George W. Bush first sent the message of the National Emergency with Respect to the Western Balkans on June 26, 18 years ago, which was renewed in 2003 due to problems in the then Macedonia.

The latest White House’s statement signed by Trump said that “extremist violence and obstructions stated in the executive order from 2001 as hostile to the American interests still present an unusual and big threat to the US national security and foreign policy.”

“The threat constituted by the actions of persons engaged in, or assisting, sponsoring, or supporting extremist violence in the former Republic of Macedonia (what is now the Republic of North Macedonia) and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region, or acts obstructing implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia or United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, in Kosovo, has not been resolved” the statement said. “For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans” Trump said.

 

The European Union’s General Affairs Council conclusions on Serbia (Tanjug, VIP)

 

“The Council welcomes the overall progress made in the accession negotiations with 16 out of 35 negotiating chapters opened and two chapters provisionally closed so far. Noting that EU integration remains Serbia’s strategic goal, the Council encourages Serbian authorities to firmly commit to and promote European values and to deliver concrete and tangible results in fundamental areas, with a particular focus on the rule of law. A special focus still needs to be put on independence and overall efficiency of the judiciary, including through the ongoing constitutional reform, and on effective reform implementation in this area. Serbia needs to achieve tangible results and a sustainable track record with effective investigations, prosecutions and final convictions, notably as regards the fight against corruption, organized crime and money laundering.

 

“The lack of progress in the area of freedom of expression continues to raise serious concern. The Council calls on Serbia to guarantee a safe climate conducive to the unhindered exercise of freedom of expression and the independence of the media as a matter of urgency, including by stepping up efforts to investigate cases of attacks against journalists. While the Council takes note of the progress achieved in preparing the media strategy, it calls on Serbia to adopt and effectively implement it in a transparent and inclusive manner as a matter of priority.

 

Serbia needs to continue to pay particular attention to the full respect of fundamental rights, including protection of the most vulnerable groups, as well as the non-discriminatory treatment of national minorities throughout Serbia, especially in the areas of education, use of minority languages, access to media and religious services in minority languages.

 

Moreover, transparency, quality of law-making, inclusiveness and genuine cross-party debate need to be enhanced, including by promoting an enabling environment for civil society. Further progress on the proper functioning of independent bodies and of democratic institutions, including parliamentary oversight, remains urgently needed. “The Council underlines that the previous recommendations of international election observers need to be addressed as a matter of priority, and sufficiently ahead of the next elections.

 

The Council continues to underscore the importance of domestic handling of war crimes and full cooperation with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, including by fully accepting and implementing its rulings and decisions. Any glorification of war criminals should be prevented.

 

On economic reforms, the Council positively notes the continuous progress made. In line with the Joint Conclusions of the Economic and Financial dialogue, the Council encourages Serbia to continue efforts to boost competitiveness and long-term and inclusive growth through structural reforms, in particular in the energy sector, the labor market as well as by improving transparency and predictability in the regulatory environment. Furthermore, the Council stresses the need for Serbia to align its trade and energy policy with the EU acquis, in particular with regard to the gas market and the Gastrans project.

 

The Council reiterates the need for Serbia to fulfil its commitment and progressively align with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, in line with the Negotiating Framework, and to reverse the negative trend as a matter of priority. “The Council welcomes Serbia’s continued active participation in missions and operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy. “The Council also repeats its call on Serbia to progressively align with the EU common visa policy and to refrain from further diverging from it.

 

On the EU-facilitated Dialogue with Pristina, Belgrade needs to make further substantial efforts and contribute to the establishment of a conducive environment, as well as refrain from any act that can be perceived as provocation. The Council stresses that the current status quo is not sustainable. It is essential that the Dialogue restarts as soon as possible. A comprehensive legally binding agreement needs to address all outstanding issues in accordance with international law and EU acquis and contribute to regional stability. The conclusion without further delay of such an agreement, under the facilitation of the High Representative, is crucial so that Serbia and Kosovo can advance on their respective European paths. The Council reiterates that all past agreements concluded under the EU-facilitated Dialogue need to be implemented. The Council welcomes, in this respect, the further consolidation of the Justice agreement and the full implementation of the telecoms agreement.

 

The Council however regrets that no progress has been made in the long-standing commitment to implement past Dialogue agreements, including preparing the draft statute of the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo, full implementation of the IBM agreement as well as decisively implementing the Energy agreement. The Council also regrets that the Mitrovica Bridge has not yet been opened to all traffic, in spite of the completion of the renovation works. “The Council welcomes Serbia’s continued engagement in a number of regional cooperation initiatives and encourages Serbia to continue sustained efforts to strengthen good neighbourly relations.”

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Political Directors criticize the fact that executive authorities at levels of B&H and Federation of B&H still have not been formed (BN TV)

 

A two-day session of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) took place in Sarajevo on Monday and Tuesday. At the end of the meeting, Political Directors of the PIC SB adopted a Communiqué in which they, among other things, criticized the fact that the executive authorities at the levels of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and the Federation of B&H still have not been formed.

Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov entirely disagreed with this Communiqué and refused to join it. The Russian Federation disagrees with the Communiqué because they find it “biased and not reflecting the true state of things in B&H”, the Russian Embassy said on Tuesday, noting that formation of the B&H CoM should be priority task. “We believe that latest attacks on B&H judicial bodies are inacceptable. These institutions should be ensured conditions for independent, professional and efficient work so that they can meet their obligations without foreign influence and pressures, including the international community’s”, the Russian Embassy concluded. The Russian Embassy also stated that the Communiqué does not cover the current issues and does not contribute to strengthening of reconciliation and constructive dialogue. The Russian Embassy expressed regret over the lack of unity in the international community regarding B&H issues. They stressed that the international community is losing its unbiased and constructive approach.

The Political Directors also expressed discontent with the work of judiciary and rhetoric that causes divisions. They expressed particular concern with the fact that the B&H Parliament has not been functioning. They asked the authorities in B&H to implement reforms that will speed up the path of this country towards the EU and NATO. They also assessed that it is necessary to put an end to the initiative for formation of the reserve police units and instead to work on better equipping of existing police forces along with improving coordination.

Addressing a press conference after the session, High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko stressed that the Republika Srpska (RS) authorities have so far provided several answers to the question why the RS has decided to form the reserve police unit. “First they said that it was because of terrorism. Then they said it was because of migrations. Now they are saying it is due to natural disasters” said Inzko, adding that the international community (IC) finds that the existing police forces both in the RS and the Federation of B&H are capable of responding to all of these challenges. He noted that now is not the time to form new units.

According to Inzko, time and energy should be directed towards implementation of the judiciary reform. According to the HR, “citizens are frustrated, they are not satisfied” but they still have not expressed their discontent. The HR added that citizens have not been organizing protests due to their discontent, including their discontent with corruption. In his opinion, departure of citizens is the only way discontent is being expressed in B&H, and injustice is the primary reason that is causing the departure.

In addition, Inzko assessed that revision of the Law on the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of B&H is necessary and members of the HJPC should be best, most experienced and moral persons. Commenting on the fact that the B&H Parliament has not been functioning, Principal Deputy High Representative (PDHR) Michael Scanlan stated that “every person in B&H who has job and who receives a salary is expected to work”. Scanlan noted that, according to the PIC SB, all authority levels need to strengthen cooperation and dialogue among all peoples in B&H. The PDHR stressed that it is necessary to avoid nationalist rhetoric and rhetoric that leads to divisions.

 

Reactions of B&H politicians to conclusions adopted by the PIC SB (FTV)

 

FTV carries reactions of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) politicians to conclusions adopted by the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) Political Directors at their two-day session. Reactions of B&H politicians to PIC’s conclusions are different. B&H politicians, interviewed, believe that one of the most positive things is the fact that PIC SB Political Directors are discussing amendments to the Law on the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC). Representatives of SDP B&H stated that they believe PIC’s report did not bring anything new, adding that when it comes to the issue of formation of authorities, PIC sent similar messages in the past. SDP BiH Political Director Damir Masic said that it is now clear to everyone that in general, B&H has an inefficient system when it comes to the judiciary. “Apparently, we are the only country in the world in which one knows who is parliamentary majority and which political subjects expressed the wish to form the authorities together. They have majority in both Houses of the B&H Parliament and in both Houses of the Federation of B&H Parliament, but they are still not forming the authorities” Masic said. Secretary General of DF Zlatko Miletic believes that the last two sessions of PIC were much more successful and that PIC SB Political Directors were much more direct than before. “We have at least two new things and those are that for the first time, they discussed amendments to the Law on the HJPC and the second conclusion, that they did not mention so far, is related to the Annual National Program (ANP) when it comes to our accession to the NATO” Miletic underlined. SDA representatives agreed with the conclusion of PIC that there is no justified reason for formation of reserve police unit of Republika Srpska (RS). Member of SDA Presidency Aljosa Campara stressed that this is similar to what SDA was saying. “But, this is up to PIC. PIC is the one; they have Bonn powers, i.e. the High Representative, to stop this if the RS continues with these activities” Campara said. Campara further stressed that citizens of B&H are increasingly losing confidence in the work of judicial institutions in B&H, adding that the B&H HJPC definitely needs a new law.

 

Dodik meets Orban in Budapest; EU path of B&H and cooperation with RS discussed (ATV)

 

Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Milorad Dodik met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Tuesday, within his three-day visit to Hungary. On this occasion, Orban said that he respects B&H but he wants to have the official cooperation with Republika Srpska (RS). Dodik informed Orban about the situation in B&H and the fact that authorities in B&H after the general elections in October 2018 have not been formed yet, reminding that this is not the case in the RS. He stressed that B&H and Hungary do not have open issues or problems in their relations, which is a good basis for future cooperation. The two officials concluded that Budapest and Banja Luka could develop much better relations than it was the case before. They also discussed the NATO path of B&H. Addressing the joint press conference after the meeting, Dodik said that the RS looked for methods to have the best possible relations with Hungary. He thanked Orban for investing efforts to have relations between Serbia and Hungary at a historical maximum, which creates a chance for development of both communities. “Serbs in B&H are very proud of the fact that these relations take a good course and reach maximum level, as well as that there is room for improvement of these relations”, Dodik stated. He reminded that he informed Orban about stances and differences in B&H regarding NATO membership, assessing that Hungary is a link between NATO and B&H having in mind the current situation. Orban stated that Hungary will support efforts to preserve unity of B&H and its aspiration for the EU accession, noting that the RS is very much respected in Hungary but mutual relations should be intensified because there is room for that. He added that along with improvement of relations between Budapest and Sarajevo, there is also intention to improve relations between Budapest and Banja Luka and therefore a long-term cooperation between Hungary and the RS will be planned. “I think that there are wide opportunities for this cooperation, and that friendship between Hungarians and Serbs offers a good and safe basis for realization of this cooperation” Orban underlined. Milojevic reports that the meeting opened a number of aspects of cooperation between the RS and Hungary in the field of culture, education, industry and economy.

 

Croatia

 

Zoran Milanovic launches his presidential campaign (Hina)

 

Zoran Milanovic, the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) candidate for president of the republic, said that he wanted to be the president of a modern, progressive, inquisitive and open Croatia, adding that Croatia was in a “condition that can definitely be fixed” and that, if he succeeded in being a president with character, Croatia would be a country with a position. He thanked his “friends in the SDP who nominated me, but that’s not enough.” “Without the desire in me, that wouldn’t be possible,” he said, adding that “this desire exists.” “I want to be president of a modern, progressive, inquisitive and open Croatia. This is a time of change and Croatia is in a condition that definitely can be fixed” Milanovic said. He said he was entering the presidential race as a dark horse. “For the first time, I’m entering a race in which I’m not the approval ratings favorite,” he said, adding that “I’m aware that everything depends on me.”

Milanovic would not comment on the term of incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, but said that if he succeeded in being a president with character, Croatia would be a country with a position. “Not an opinion but a position, which hasn’t been the case in recent years,” he said, adding that if he became president, “they will treat us with more respect, not because those who are running Croatia don’t want that, but because they don’t know that.” He went on to say that “my associates will be some people I trust” and that he was proud of the SDP’s support.

 

Grabar-Kitarovic comments on Milanovic’s candidacy for president (Hina)

 

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic briefly commented on Tuesday on former prime minister Zoran Milanovic‘s announcement that he would run for the presidency and said that everyone who satisfies the conditions in the Constitution has the right to be a candidate. “As I have said before, anyone in Croatia who meets the conditions in the Croatian Constitution has the right to be a candidate,” she briefly told Croatian reporters, who were asked earlier by her entourage not to ask her when she intends to announce her candidacy.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic would not comment on former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanovic’s presidency bid on Tuesday. “This is a democratic country, anyone can stand as a candidate, and formal candidacies are still a few months away” Plenkovic told a press conference in Zagreb. Asked if Milanovic’s bid was unexpected, the prime minister said he had not thought about it. Plenkovic recalled that he had defeated Milanovic in the parliamentary election three years ago and added: “He may lose again.”

 

HDZ Expects Grabar-Kitarovic to run for second term (Hina)

 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that he expected President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to run for a second term in office, adding that it was up to her to decide on the timing of her formal announcement for the race and that his HDZ party was waiting for her “with open arms”.

“As the HDZ leader I expect President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to run for a second term and I’m sure we will all support her together. It’s up to her to find the right time for announcing her candidacy and I can see that the HDZ is waiting for her with open arms” Plenkovic said to loud applause at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary since the foundation of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The chairman of the HDZ parliamentary group, Branko Bacic, told the press after the ceremony that Grabar-Kitarović would announce her presidency bid shortly. “She will announce her candidacy very soon, let’s wait for a little while longer” he said. Bacic denied the existence of documents or material that might compromise the president. Vladimir Seks, one of the ‘oldest’ members of the HDZ, said on Sunday that there were “some stories going around about something that might compromise her.” “There are no documents or material that might compromise Grabar-Kitarovic. I don’t know about them and we in the party don’t know about them. The person who said that should explain what this material is about. She certainly has no documents that would in any way compromise her joining the presidential race and her victory,” Bacic said. He said that Grabar-Kitarovic’s presidential term was excellent and that no statements made “on the eve of the campaign” could foil her victory.

Asked if Zoran Milanovic, the presidential candidate of the strongest opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), could threaten her victory, Bacic said that the HDZ had defeated Milanovic in the last six electoral cycles and he was confident that Grabar-Kitarovic would defeat him in the seventh one as well. “An unsuccessful prime minister cannot be a successful president. Had he been a successful prime minister, he wouldn’t have lost to the HDZ in the 2015 election and in the 2016 extraordinary election” he said. Bacic confirmed that Plenkovic and HDZ secretary-general Gordan Jandrokovic were in close contact with Grabar-Kitarovic and were discussing her candidacy.

 

Republic of North Macedonia

 

EU ministers begin discussion on membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

EU ministers chairing the General Affairs Council have started discussion on the 2019 enlargement package and on opening formal membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.  According to the draft communique released from Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council, the EU ministers from the bloc’s 28 states will re-examine the issue in October.

The Council takes stock of the EC recommendation to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia in view of the positive evaluation of the progress made, the draft conclusion reads.

Some of the member states are of the opinion that conclusions should clearly reference the Prespa Agreement and contain stronger wording to support start of accession negotiations, perhaps stronger than that for Albania. However, another group of countries insists on enlargement package.  Council sources revealed that discussions are expected to last longer, seeing that member states who support the enlargement believe that the EU’s credibility is at stake. Commissioner Hahn also urged EU member states on Monday to start negotiations with North Macedonia as soon as possible.

 

Zaev: The conclusion will turn into complete success in October (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

The conclusions of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg strongly and undeniably acknowledged North Macedonia’s achievements over the past year, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a Facebook post. The prime minister also pointed out the agreements with Greece and Bulgaria received high praise, and the ongoing reforms in the country were also clearly recognized. “This tells us that our joint efforts were not in vain,” Zaev wrote, adding that the date will be set no later than October. “Meanwhile, we’ll carry on with our work and reforms,” Zaev wrote. “Our results are sustainable and unstoppable. We’ll carry on with our intense preparations ahead of the formal start of negotiations by the end of this year. “We’re glad about today’s conclusion, but it will turn into complete success in October, when it will be crowned with a final decision for beginning negotiations and their actual start before the end of the year.”

 

Albania

 

President Meta calls on institutions to take necessary measures regarding the visa-free regime (Radio Tirana)

 

The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta expressed his concern regarding the declaration of the Commissioner of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Mr. Dimitris Avramopulos, who warned Albania regarding the return of the visa regime in the Schengen Area, in case the number of the asylum seekers will increase.

In a press statement, President Meta declared that ‘’ I am following closely all the stances and discussion that are being held regarding the process of EU integration of Albania. While the attention is concentrated towards a possible decision for opening of the negotiations of Albania with EU, the President is concerned regarding the turn of the visa regime with Albania. President Meta called all the institutions to follow with priority the matter that has a high sensitivity for all the Albanian citizens. “The visa free regime was one of the biggest achievements with a direct impact for all Albanians, as a people that suffered the highest isolation in the region. We all remember the lines before the doors of the embassies, with people in search of a better opportunity for the children and relatives. I call to take the necessary precautions for not neglecting and avoiding any responsibility that would harm and step back this freedom of Albanians’’ said Meta.

 

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