Serbian, Kosovo representatives hold meeting in Berlin (Beta)
Serbian and Kosovo government officials attended a meeting in Berlin which was mediated by Germany in an attempt to unblock dialog. According to this source, the meeting was held on June 19. The Kosovo delegation was led by Kosovo premier’s chief of staff Selim Selimi, while the Serbian side was represented by Office for Kosovo director Marko Djuric. Avni Arifi, former chief of the Kosovo delegation in technical talks with Serbia confirmed that he took part in the meeting. The meeting was devoted to returning the technical dialog where it had stopped, ergo, how to move on. We were not authorized to discuss politics nor tariffs, Arifi said.
“The debate was about the dialogue being blocked on March 15, 2018, seven months before the tariffs were introduced. Despite our insisting with the European Union in May it was not continued because EU High Representative Federica Mogherini’s office has been turned into Serbia’s office” Arifi said. Arifi said that the Kosovo side had asked the Serbian delegation and the German mediators not to put any conditions on the resumption of the dialog and to have the talks resume at a meeting in Paris, slated tentatively for July 1.
Djuric says hazardous chemicals stored in Kosovo Serb village (Beta)
The Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo chief Marko Djuric on Thursday called KFOR and the international community to react to the possible storage of hazardous chemical waste in the Serb village of Gorazdevac. A statement said that plans have been made to transport and destroy 80 barrels of hazardous chemical waste in that Serb village in the Metohija region near the town of Pec. “This is the latest in a series of activities by the temporary institutions in Pristina (a phrase used by Serbian officials for the Kosovo government), this time by failing to react, which endangers the physical survival of the Serbs in Kosovo and which shows that the political representatives of the Kosovo Albanians do not care about building trust and life together in Kosovo” the statement said. It said that some 20 barrels of hazardous chemicals had been transported to what was once a leather and footwear production plant which was privatized by an Albanian since May 24. Gorazdevac villagers staged several peaceful protests demanding the removal of the hazardous materials from the village.
Kosovo justice minister visits Bujanovac in southern Serbia (Beta)
Kosovo Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri on June 20 visited the municipality of Bujanovac in southern Serbia, which is majority Albanian. Tahiri met with Bujanovac municipal head Shaip Kamberi, Serbian MP Fatmir Hasani and Albanian National Council head Ragmi Mustafa. After the meeting, Hasani told the Beta that the reason for Tahiri’s visit on June 20 was a Kosovo government donation of EUR40,000 for the renovation of the Elementary School’s section in the village of Samoljica. “This is the first donation to have come from Kosovo to the Bujanovac municipality, and we hope that there will be more in the future. We have created projects and are constantly seeking more support from Kosovo, like all countries with majority peoples that take care of their minorities” Hasani said.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Slovakian FM and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Lajcak pays official visit to B&H (FTV)
Slovakian Foreign Minister, OSCE Chairperson- in- Office and former High Representative (HR) to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Miroslav Lajcak visited Sarajevo on Thursday and met the highest B&H officials. Namely, Lajcak met members of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Bakir Izetbegovic and Deputy Speaker of the B&H HoR Dragan Covic, as well as the President of the B&H Central Election Commission. Unlike the meeting with members of the Presidency, the meeting with Covic was closed for public and the officials did not give any statements afterwards.
Addressing media, Lajcak said that during the meeting with Covic, he discussed the EU and the NATO integration, as well as the importance to change the Election Law and reasons why authorities were not formed yet in B&H. Commenting on Lajcak’s visit, Dzaferovic told media that Lajcak visited B&H as the OSCE Chairperson- in- Office. Dzaferovic added: “We discussed a set of issues”.
Chairman of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik did not attend the meeting in the building of the B&H Presidency, but he met Lajcak earlier, at the International Airport Sarajevo. Addressing media, Lajcak said that he discussed the current problems with Dodik and that they sought a solution that will not make any party a loser or a winner. Lajcak stated: “They assured me that authorities will be formed and that B&H will continue steps towards the EU”.
In addition, Lajcak commented on the fact that B&H still has not adopted its Annual National Program (ANP) for NATO, clarifying that the ANP does not imply membership. Lajcak said: “I think it is in interest of this country to improve quality of its Armed Forces (AF), and the quality of its cooperation with NATO.” The Slovakian Minister expressed an opinion that the IC is present in B&H to assist the country instead of forcing the B&H politicians to do their job. According to the Minister, the country is not alone, but it needs to take its future into its own hands.
According to FTV, Lajcak witnessed the same situation in B&H as it was 10 years ago and said that he does not expect from the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to use the Bonn Powers.
Lajcak: Other regional countries are in focus of EU more than B&H, Brussels feels B&H can wait (Dnevni avaz)
Dnevni avaz carried an interview with Slovakian Minister of Foreign Affairs Miroslav Lajcak who said that he came to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) in the capacity of the OSCE Chairman, but it was impossible to only deal with the OSCE-related issues during his visit. “I held individual meetings with all three members of the Presidency, as well as with Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic. My goal was to get full image on who to unblock the process of authority formation. Relationship towards NATO and the Law on Elections are two crucial issues here. What I see as a change is the fact that domestic politicians know it is their responsibility. They are not hiding behind the international community,” said Lajcak and noted that they still need some input from the outside.
“B&H is a European country and its issues should be resolved in Europe. Of course, there is place for Americans there and they should be involved. We have always been successful when we worked together, Europeans and Americans.” Lajcak went on to say that the Americans are still present in B&H and the region, while the EU is absent because it is dealing with its internal issues. The EU feels it is necessary to reward North Macedonia for its efforts first, and then to deal with the Albanian issue, followed by the negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, said Lajcak and explained that B&H has been left last. “Primarily because it is the most complex issue. Secondly and luckily, it does not represent a security issue. Political crisis or stagnation of B&H is not being translated into social unrests or, god forbid, a security threat. The feeling in Brussels is that B&H can wait.”
Asked if he fears possible dissolution of B&H, Lajcak said: “No! Simply put, that is impossible and it is not going to happen.” He went on to say that he absolutely opposes redrawing of borders in the region, because it represents a Pandora’s Box. “Everything is a precedence today, and this would be a very dangerous one. It would mean that Europe has given up on the project of European Balkan.”
“As a former High Representative, I will never say that the OHR is an obstacle on the European road of B&H. However, I have been asking myself how is it possible to have such massive presence of the international community in B&H, and still be dealing with the dilemma of basic functioning of the state. I wonder what we are doing here. Does presence of the international community suits influence and the needs of this country?” said Lajcak and noted that the international community does not know the expectations from the OHR.
Covic claims new convocation of B&H CoM could be appointed within next seven days (TV1)
Leader of HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Dragan Covic said that a new convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) could be appointed within next seven days. Covic added that there is no conditioning for formation of the new B&H CoM anymore and that everything was agreed upon by leaders of political parties that will make backbone of state authorities. He also said there are not obstacles preventing submitting of a summary of a work plan of the future B&H CoM Chairman that will enable the Presidency of B&H to appoint the B&H CoM Chairman-designate. He concluded that the Election Law of B&H must be amended in 2019.
Dodik and Roumas discuss improvement of cooperation between B&H and Belarus (ATV)
Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik arrived in Belarus on Thursday for a three-day official visit. Dodik met President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who said he was happy he can welcome Dodik in Minsk. Lukashenko reminded that he met Dodik 19 years ago. Lukashenko said that it is shame Dodik and he meet rarely. He stressed that it is good they met at the right moment. Lukashenko explained that they are closely following development of B&H. He said that Belarus had good relations with the former Yugoslavia and has good relations with Serbia. Lukashenko added that Belarus and B&H have relations, but that is not enough and they can do much more. He assessed that Dodik’s visit to Belarus is very important. Dodik also met with Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Roumas on Thursday. The two leaders concluded that the conditions for better relations between B&H and Belarus are met. The focus of this meeting was the economic, cultural and touristic cooperation. The meeting was also attended by advisors to the other two members of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic. Dodik said that he is honored to be in Belarus and he is impressed by its capital.
Dodik noted that his meeting with Lukashenko was dedicated to possible cooperation between Belarus and B&H and Republika Srpska (RS). “We also discussed the past. He is well-informed about details with regard to dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. He thinks and we exchanged the views that it is necessary to maintain stability, peace, good cooperation and economic development,” Dodik said. “We also discussed how to develop our cooperation in the field of new technologies and we agreed to appoint a joint delegation or a mixed commission at different levels in order to analyze possibilities for development in different sectors such as IT and cooperation in production of agricultural machinery,” Dodik explained, adding that they also discussed how to establish cooperation in the fields of tourism, education and culture.
Asked to comment on how much the excellent relations between the RS and Russia could contribute to future cooperation with Belarus, Dodik said: “I think the RS is the one that determines the relations with Belarus in the first place. The most of economic cooperation refers to relations between Belarus and the RS. A delegation of their Chamber of Commerce was in Banja Luka about a year ago, when we discussed possible cooperation in different sectors, including the energy sector in which they have a lot of experience, as well as the fields I was talking about. In this context, it is interesting that not only Russia but also Serbia is developing very successful cooperation with Belarus. The RS – and I suggest B&H too – should find some kind of connection here and something that would be interesting to everyone, so we can try to build good mutual relations.”
Prime minister and president tipped as candidates for top EU positions (HRT)
With all the top jobs at the European Union soon to be vacant – including that of the President of the European Commission – EU leaders are jockeying for power and influence. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic represented the European People’s Party – the largest bloc in parliament – at intensive negotiations. Meanwhile, Jurek Kuczkiewicz, a reporter for the Belgian daily Le Soir, reported that among the candidates being mentioned for Commission President are Croatia’s two highest officials – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. “It is hard to tell but the Croatian President and PM both click some important boxes: they are from Central or Eastern Europe and the president is a woman” said Kuczkiewicz. For his part, Prime Minister Plenkovic said the speculation should be taken with a grain of salt: “I can confirm that a lot of what is being said is very far from what we discussed at the negotiation table.” At the same time, he conceded that he knew much more than the public and some EU leaders. Plenkovic said that he doubted a consensus would be reached during the summit and added that the negotiations were very strenuous.
Serious accusations against president are groundless and unacceptable (CDM)
Ambassador of Serbia, Zoran Bingulac, was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro due to negative statements made by Serbian state and other officials in relation to internal questions of our country that culminated in the statement made by the member of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Minister of Innovation and Technological Development, Nenad Popovic. Following insulting and scandalous statements in relation to Montenegro and its decision to adopt the Law on Freedom of Religion, another offensive message was delivered by Popovic. He said that the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, was the greatest criminal in Europe.
Secretary of State, Zoran Jankovic, said the statements made by the Minister in the Serbian Government were worrying and inappropriate. “Such terrible statements made in relation to Milo Djukanovic are unacceptable, they do not contribute to the overall cooperation between the two countries” said Mr Jankovic. He also stated that the intense and negative campaign regarding the Draft Law on Freedom of Religion that is being conducted in Serbia was inappropriate and not supported by arguments.
Republic of North Macedonia
Zaev and Rama warn of bad things to come in the Balkans if they are not given a date to open EU accession talks (Republika)
Speaking with the Financial Times, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama warned that nationalists will gain strength in the Balkans if Macedonia and Albania are not allowed to open EU accession talks. Both countries were rejected at the meeting of the EU foreign ministers, when they asked to open accession talks during the summer.
“We don’t need some new radicalism, nationalism and populism in our country. It is not very important if we have a decision from European Council in June or October, but if it is October, let it finally be October because there was a lot of postponing” Zaev told the FT, while Rama warned that an infection in the Balkans could affect the entire Europe.
Albanian commentators have warned the EU that Albanian nationalism will rise if they are not allowed to open accession talks. Zaev, on the other hand, threatened to resign and allow the return of conservatives to power in Macedonia which can end the Prespa treaty with Greece.
“We don’t need new bad things to happen to realize that every setback in this process fuels nationalism, fuels fantasies, fuels harmful dreams” Rama said.
The paper confirms that countries like France and the Netherlands are the main opponents of enlargement toward the Balkans.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Borisov says Macedonia will have to mature before it gets the EU accession date (Republika)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced from Brussels that Bulgaria may object to the opening of EU accession talks with Macedonia. Bulgaria signed the call from 12 EU member states to open accession talks this summer, but now Borisov says that Macedonia needs to “mature” more on the issue of the national origin of legendary VMRO leader Goce Delcev.
“Don’t get me wrong, but so long as it is being disputed whether Goce Delcev was Bulgarian or a Macedonian, this sale of heroes who in reality fought for Bulgaria and for Macedonia, for their homeland, our most beautiful songs are sang for them… Until we are discussing this, my opposition keeps asking me what is the historic commission doing. Let them mature. I can’t allow that. Bulgaria did everything it could and they soared to the heavens, but now they have to make compromises in the commission and with regard to anti-Bulgarian rhetoric” Borisov told the press in Brussels where European leaders are meeting to discuss the draft conclusions which postpone a decision for the opening of accession talks for October.
Bulgarian historians in the joint committee set up under the Borisov – Zaev treaty of 2017 are asking their Macedonian colleagues to acknowledge the Bulgarian origin of Goce Delcev and to set up a date when he will be jointly celebrated. Macedonian historians proposed the date in 1946, when Bulgaria returned Delcev’s body to be interred in Skopje, as the capital of Macedonia, but this is now seen as an insult by Bulgarians.
Koumoutsakos says Macedonia and Albania will be evaluated separately (Republika)
According to Greek shadow Foreign Minister Georgios Koumoutsakos, the EU accession of Macedonia and Albania will be evaluated separately, and not as a group. Each case will be judged on its own. There are no couples in enlargement. The two cases are not the same, they just coincide in time, Koumoutsakos said during a press briefing in Athens, the MIA news agency reported. The issue of whether to “decouple” Macedonia and Albania has become important as the two countries ask that they are allowed to finally open accession talks, and Macedonia is given better chances alone than in a group with Albania.
Koumoutsakos is widely expected to become the next Greek Foreign Minister after the July elections. He insisted that Greece is a supporter of EU enlargement in the Balkans, despite the fact that Greece blocked Macedonia from opening accession talks since 2009. Greek objections are supposed to be lifted with the signing of the Prespa treaty, but the New Democracy party, which Koumoutsakos belongs to, said that it will preserve the right to use the veto.