Vucic: U.S. wants main role in Belgrade Pristina mediation (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on June 22, commenting on a postponement of a meeting in Paris on Kosovo, that the U.S. wanted the main role in mediating between Belgrade and Pristina. Vucic told reporters during an official visit to Minsk that Kosovo Premier Ramush Haradinaj had signaled to the Americans that he wanted the U.S. to call the shots, not the French or Germans. “They can bring as many Americans as they want, it won’t be any good. I hope that we’ll avoid tensions in the meantime” Vucic said. He believes that the postponement of the meeting, which is being organized by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is not a defeat of France and Germany, but that it is a difficult situation for everyone.
Vucic said it was unacceptable to Serbia to only have those who recognize Kosovo running the show. Belgrade hence has the right to “a sealed move.” In a statement to reporters in Belgrade on June 23, Vucic said Serbia had not closed the door on introducing countermeasures against Pristina over a recently introduced 100-percent tariff on Serbian goods. The president of Serbia said the countermeasures would be levied if there is no headway in talks with Pristina. “We will speak with all our international partners, but if we are forced to, if there is no headway, we’ll have to do it” Vucic said.
Dacic: U.S. sees Paris meeting delay as proof that it’s indispensable (Pink TV)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on June 23 that neither Brussels nor Washington were heartbroken that the Paris meeting was delayed. “That says that the U.S. sees this as proof that nothing can be done without it. Now those who tried to organize the meeting see that it’s not easy” Dacic told Pink TV. Dacic said the postponement of the Paris meeting was “someone’s defeat,” but least of all Serbia’s. At this time, it is very early to say when the Belgrade – Pristina dialog will continue and how events may unfold, the Serbian minister said.
Dacic: not realistic to expect only US to join in dialogue (RTS, Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that it’s not realistic to expect Washington alone to join in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “There has been no indication of a change in format and no plans to include other countries in the dialogue. The US can’t really join in alone without someone else, that is not realistic” Dacic said. According to him, if an agreement is reached between Belgrade and Pristina, it will have to be verified in the UN, where both China and the US and Russia will be asked. He said an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina cannot include Serbia recognizing Kosovo on its entire territory. He said that a compromise solution to the Kosovo issue is the crucial thing for Belgrade. “Serbia is not an obstacle to continuing the dialogue we just want to remove the existing obstacles so that it can continue” Dacic said.
Djuric: Representatives of Pristina acted arrogantly towards the host in Berlin (RTS)
Pristina representatives acted irresponsibly and arrogantly towards the host at a preparatory meeting for the Paris summit, in Berlin, which is one of the reasons why the summit was cancelled, Marko Djuric, director of the Office for Kosovo, told RTS, adding that someone in Pristina is very nervous and fears Serbia. Djuric said nothing constructive could be heard at a preparatory meeting in Berlin, which was supposed to deal with the creation of pre-conditions for the summit in Paris. He added that he informed the President about this, and that Aleksandar Vucic has therefore informed the public that there is no indication that the summit in Paris will be held. “Representatives of Pristina acted arrogantly towards the host, and the Serbian side acted responsibly towards itself and its citizens” Djuric said. He noted that Pristina representatives do not want to continue the dialogue, which is evident from the statements of the Ramush Haradinaj, who speaks of independence as the final outcome. Asked of the Berlin events are proof of Europe’s weakness in mediating in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Djuric said it, unfortunately, shows the weakness to facilitate the implementation of what was agreed upon a long time ago.
Jeremic: Move to cancel meeting in Paris is a circus show directed by Belgrade and Pristina (Danas)
Opposition People’s Party leader Vuk Jeremic has suggested that Belgrade and Pristina’s leaders are behind a decision to cancel a Paris conference on Kosovo together. Announcing and canceling the meeting in Paris are part of “yet another circus show directed by the leaders of Belgrade and Pristina, for international actors more inclined to redrawing borders to take over the regional game” Jeremic said. The former foreign minister warned that there was nothing good for Serbia in that scenario. Jeremic also said that the People’s Party would never accept any coalition with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party. “Whoever is ready to accept an unprincipled coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party cannot be a partner to the People’s Party, even if we are left on our own and the smallest” Jeremic said.
Vucic: Medvedev told me Russia would protect Serbia’s territorial integrity (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on June 21 that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had told him Russia would continue to play “a very important role in protecting the territorial integrity of Serbia.” “We spoke about Kosovo. Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would support Serbia, be with us, and that he believes that international order cannot be changed
and torn down in the way it has been” Vucic told reporters after meeting with Medvedev in Minsk. Vucic said he had informed Medvedev that Serbia was in a difficult position, under pressure to “recognize Kosovo’s independence as many wish while getting nothing in return.”
Russian Ambassador: Russia has not and will not trade with Kosovo issue (Politika)
There never was nor will there ever be any trade with the Kosovo issue when Russia is concerned, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin said adding that the UN’s Resolution 1244 remains the only basis for a political solution to the Kosovo issue.
“The Resolution takes into account the national interests of Serbia and provides the opportunity for their defence. The politics here is determined by Belgrade, and Russia will always support your legitimate demands and choices,” Chepurin said for Politika daily. He said Russia was ready to help Serbia in everything that it asked for. Chepurin pointed out that there were “full-fledged” military and military-technical relations between Russia and Serbia that substantially strengthened Serbia’s defensive capability. “The more powerful this potential will be, the more cautious those who might want to harm Serbia will behave. We are ready to help in the extent to which the Serbian leadership wants us to” Chepurin concluded.
State Department: Belgrade and Pristina must remove obstacles and return to negotiations (Beta)
Belgrade and Pristina must remove obstacles, avoid provocations and return to negotiations, the State Department announced on the occasion of the cancellation of the summit in Paris. The United States said in its communique that they continue to support the European Union’s (EU) dialogue mediation and the normalization of relations between the two capitals. “We are ready to listen to both sides and help both them and the EU as an intermediary to find a solution suited for everyone” the State Department said.
The Director of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said that he would like the State Department to tell him “where and when has Serbia provoked someone or introduced barriers to anyone”.
Djuric said this in response to the State Department’s allegations that the US authorities continue to support the dialogue mediated by the EU and the normalization of the Serbia-Kosovo relations, but that “Belgrade and Pristina must remove obstacles, avoid provocations and return to negotiations.” “We know that the United States supports Kosovo’s independence, but that’s no excuse for the equalization of Serbia with Pristina, which introduced the anti-civilizational fees, blocked the dialogue, keeps blocking the Community of Serb Municipalities for 2,252 days now, and destabilizing the situation on the ground with their frequent violent actions” Djuric said in the written statement.
US Ambassador: The US will not lead the Belgrade-Pristina process (FoNet)
The US Government will not lead the normalization process between the official Belgrade and Pristina, that is the European Union’s (EU) job, but we will be there to help as much as possible,” US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott said in an interview with FoNet. “But what the normalization will be like and what an agreement will look like, we don’t know yet,” Scott said, pointing out that the US supports the EU in this process. According to him, “any permanent solution should come from negotiators, meaning from Belgrade and Pristina.” “The international community can’t just say one thing or the other for everyone to apply, but the suggestion must come from you and Kosovo. It must be something that is permanent, and that can be implemented – not an impossible idea” Scot explained. The solution must bring stability to the region, not make it more unstable, the Ambassador said adding that the US does not have a “red line” nor will they accept “just anything that comes from Belgrade and Pristina.” “But we’re open for a solution and we want to see what the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina will be, and we know there will be no agreement if there are no negotiations” Scott noted.
Canak would solve Kosovo issue by recognizing Kosovo (Blic)
League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina leader Nenad Canak has said that he would solve the Kosovo issue by recognizing its independence. “Kosovo isn’t Serbia, it’s a territory inhabited by people who have an entire state whole” Canak told Blic daily. Canak stressed that, before recognizing Kosovo, there would have to be international guarantees in place about protecting the cultural and economic interests of Serbia, which would have to be listed and defined.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Covic says there are no more obstacles to formation of state-level authority; Dodik says he is not optimistic; Izetbegovic: It is necessary to find compromise (BHT1)
HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) leader Dragan Covic stated on Friday that there are no more setting of conditions or obstacles regarding the formation of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), stressing that talks with SDA have started already. He noted that the Election Law of B&H has to be amended this year, reminding that SDA and HDZ B&H have already reached agreement on all the things that need to be done. “There is no obstacle to create a work plan for future B&H CoM Chairman that has to be sent to B&H Presidency, which will then pass a decision based on this plan”, Covic assessed.
According to B&H Presidency Chairman and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, he is not optimist regarding soon formation of B&H CoM as he sees no progress with regards to this process. He stressed that Izetbegovic does not respect principles he himself set. Dodik said that any sort of conditioning is counterproductive. He explained that the CoM had to be formed at the start and the ongoing issues dealt with later on. He added that their approach is simple and they want to do this as soon as possible. Dodik said that if the Bosniaks do not care about the BiH authorities, neither do the Serbs. Dodik did not give a concrete answer to Izetbegovic’s proposal regarding the ANPs and referendum. Dodik stressed that he is ready to continue negotiations regarding the CoM on well-known stances from the RS. Spokesman of SNSD Radovan Kovacevic said that the CoM can be formed immediately. He repeated that they are supporting cooperation with NATO, but are rejecting membership in the alliance.
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic reacted to Covic’s statement and said that things are simple as far as formation of new authorities is concerned. Izetbegovic stressed that it is necessary to find a compromise when it comes to B&H’s NATO path. Izetbegovic believes that solution is submission of annual plans, the way it was defined by law and by strategies. “No one gave up; everyone is standing pat and it is necessary to find a middle solution. Middle solution is of course submission of annual plans, the way it was defined by law and by strategies, and to satisfy the Serb side with – that there will be no membership in NATO without new decisions of the Presidency and potentially a referendum in B&H” Izetbegovic underlined. Izetbegovic said that SDA and HDZ B&H officials held a meeting recently and somewhat harmonize their stances on the issue of appointment of the Federation of B&H Police Administration Director.
Komsic: Contesting of ANP by political representatives from RS is absolutely unnecessary (Fena)
Croat member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Zeljko Komsic stated that contesting of the Annual National Program (ANP) by political representatives from Republika Srpska (RS) is absolutely unnecessary. Komsic believes that there is not enough understanding of the significance of the ANP. “ANP is a document that is regularly submitted and it does not necessitate political decision. It has already been adopted in 2010” said Komsic. Given that this issue is being tied to the appointment of new Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija, Komsic explained that policy that wants that mandate is announcing that it will not implement the law. Komsic said that psychologically speaking, NATO is necessary in B&H because it will take away fear of conflict in B&H, wondering how anyone could be against the accession to NATO.
Commander of NATO Bissel welcomes B&H’s aspirations to become member of EU and NATO, says delivery of ANP could help strengthen cooperation with NATO (Oslobodjenje)
Commander of the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo Marti Bissel was asked to state whether the example of North Macedonia is the best illustration that the European integration cannot be separated from the NATO integration no matter what local politicians say about that, to which Bissel replied by saying that each country is different and has its own challenges and interests so it is not always useful to compare countries to each other. “The EU and NATO are two separate organizations which share common values and interests. As a result, reform efforts in either EU or NATO context often bring mutual benefits” Bissel noted and added that EU and NATO often cooperate in a number of issues, starting with fight against cyber and hybrid threats and improvement of regional security and strengthening of abilities of partners in the region. Bissel emphasized that both EU and NATO strongly believe in sovereignty of each individual country and decisions of countries to join either EU or NATO depend on ambitions of each given sovereign state.
“We welcome the fact that B&H aspires to become a member of both organizations”, Bissel added. Bissel said that the cooperation between the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo and B&H is constantly expanding and improving and it reflects in cooperation with and support to the Ministry of Defense of B&H, Armed Forces of B&H and other institutions. Bissel explained that NATO advisors provide assistance to B&H on a regular basis when it comes to modernization, procurement, management with life cycle of ammunition and management with human resources. “We continue to support the Armed Forces of B&H in their aspirations to improve the support to civil bodies of authorities in case of natural disasters. All those reforms are aimed at strengthening of key pillars of each democratic society, including B&H”, Bissel said.
Speaking of benefits B&H citizens would feel thanks to accession to NATO, Bissel reminded that the NATO has turned into the strongest alliance in history over past 70 years and it is working on prevention of conflicts and preservation of peace. Bissel added that the attack on one member of the alliance represents an attack on all members, which guarantees prosperity and safety for members. “Countries which joined the Alliance had a chance to strengthen democracy and security and make lives of their citizens safer”, Bissel said and added that the membership in NATO brings the most efficient defense in an affordable manner and only members of NATO enjoy benefits of collective defense. “B&H is a beautiful country with many potentials. However, those potentials will not be fulfilled until B&H finds a way to focus on future and create possibility for their citizens to stay in the country” Bissel added.
The journalist reminded that obstructions related to delivery of the first Annual National Program (ANP) are still underway in B&H and asked Bissel to state how far away from the membership in NATO is B&H. Bissel replied by saying that it is hard to assess this and reminded that the journey to the membership depends on many factors and is different for each country. Bissel also said that the delivery of the ANP could help B&H strengthen its cooperation with NATO.
Miroslav Skoro announces presidential run (HRT)
Croatian pop singer, and former MP, Miroslav Skoro announced on Sunday that he was running for President. Miroslav Skoro, a popular singer/songwriter and composer, said he wanted the president to have stronger constitutional powers since it is the only office that represents the entire nation and which is directly elected by the people.
“The only person in our political system that represents the entire nation, and the only one which is still directly elected by the people, is the President of the Republic” said Škoro in his recorded message. “While I was deciding about running in these presidential elections, that particular constitutional provision was stuck in my mind. Power comes from the people and belongs to the people. Today, Croatia is controlled by a party system whereby the government is exchanged between the two largest parties and their partners; and where there’s always the chance of a major coalition government. In parliamentary elections, voters can only elect a single candidate, while everyone else in parliament is appointed at the behest of the party leadership” he said.
The first reactions to Skoro’s candidacy for president followed shortly after his announcement. Analysts from Croatia’s two major dailies were among the first to discuss Skoro’s candidacy.
Davor Ivankovic from Vecernji list said Skoro counted himself among the people in society who were angry with the scandals and misdeeds that have plagued the Croatian political system over the past two decades: “He’s angry with the HDZ and he’s angry with the SDP. He’s simply angry with all the corruption.”
Jutarnji List columnist Ivanka Toma, on the other hand, believes the singer is launching his campaign because he wants to be a powerful leader like the ones Croatia had in the past. “At the same time,” she continued, “that particular message is still being analyzed.” Toma cited the initial reaction from constitutional experts was that Skoro has a “misunderstanding of the constitution and the position to which he is running.”
Slovenian President: Border arbitration ruling will be implemented (Hina)
Slovenian President Borut Pahor said on Sunday that Slovenia wanted to have good relations with all its neighbors, including Croatia with which it is in dispute over the validity of the border arbitration process. “The border has been defined. We need some patience and statesmanlike wisdom so that we wouldn’t make any mistakes because the arbitration ruling will be implemented sooner or later,” Pahor said. He was speaking in an interview with Slovenian television ahead of Statehood Day, observed on June 25, focusing mostly on internal and European affairs. Pahor said that he considered Croatia’s decision to leave the arbitration process in 2015 unacceptable, but that soon afterwards he decided to continue contacts and cooperation with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, which has proved good. Pahor said he would soon meet with Prime Minister Marjan Sarec to discuss the problem of the increasing number of illegal border crossings by migrants. He said that border security should be stepped up for the sake of people living in the border areas. He said that the common migration policy, along with Brexit, should be among the priorities of the next European Commission in its first year in office.
Ambassador Reinke: Montenegro has the right to its own choices (Dan)
The United States supports sovereignty and integrity of Montenegro. Being the sovereign state, Montenegro has the right to its own choice of association without toxic foreign influence. The United States will keep supporting its friend, partner and ally Montenegro in strengthening its capacities for preventing and reacting to mean actions, the U.S. Ambassador to Montenegro, Ms. Judy Rising Reinke told in an interview with Dan. On pronounced verdicts in the election-day coup trial, she said: “Allow me to briefly explain: the United States sees the verdict of the High Court as a major step forward for the rule of law in Montenegro. The Montenegrin justice system showed professionalism in such a serious and complex case. The case revealed the attempt of Russia to destabilize the independent European country right before it joined NATO.”
According to Ambassador Reinke, any attempt of subverting democracy and distracting election in sovereign countries is completely unacceptable.
“The Montenegrin justice system now has to keep developing based on this experience in order to strengthen its rule of law, and the United States will keep providing expertise in this process.”
She also stressed, among other things, that the National Police of Montenegro continues to improve the cooperation with the U.S. and other international colleagues in order to boost its capacities for solving crime issues and strengthening the rule of law. Ambassador Reinke was adamant: “We have gone into partnership with the Government of Montenegro and Montenegro’s citizens and not with any political party in the country.”
Chepurin: Djukanovic will end up as Poroshenko (N1)
On the Religious Freedom Law in Montenegro, Russian Ambassador to Serbia who is to leave his post soon, H.E. Aleksandar Chepurin, told the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, he is going to share the same destiny as the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.
“History, according to Hegel and Marx, repeats itself twice. First as tragedy, second as farce.”
President Djukanovic will share the same destiny as Poroshenko. “And we can see how Poroshenko ended up” Chepurin noted.
PM Markovic: Venice Commission confirmed our freedom and independence (CDM)
Montenegrin Prime Minister and deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, Dusko Markovic, commented on the positive opinion of the Venice Commission concerning the Draft Law on Freedom of Religion, and emphasized that Montenegro has got the confirmation of its freedom, independence and democratic potential.
“The Venice Commission confirmed our freedom, independence and democratic potential. The Constitution guarantees the State the right to determine all social issues – not with the intention to cause damage to anyone, but in the interest of every citizen and his/her rights and freedoms. The same will happen with this Law! We won’t determine who will go to churches and monasteries and when to do that, but those churches and monasteries belong to the people of Montenegro, that is, the State, and no one can deny it” PM Markovic said.
Brajovic: Montenegro will be first new EU member state (CDM)
Montenegrin Parliament Speaker, Ivan Brajovic, told Montenegro – as a NATO member state and the first new European Union member state, having in mind the level of development it has achieved so far – understands the significance of developing partnership and better cross-country connectivity in all areas for better economic and social development, i.e. more secure future for its citizens. Brajovic was a speaker at the meeting held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), where he met many high-ranking officials. He had a speech on the topic ‘Better connectivity for better life – How to incorporate genuine changes in the regional cooperation?”
“Montenegro endorses the goals of the Regional Cooperation Council referring to connectivity. Signing the agreement which brings us one step closer to free roaming zone best proves the visible benefits of the regional cooperation,” emphasized Brajovic, adding that Montenegro is to take over chairing the Central European Initiative and it will strive to reinforce the mechanisms of regional coordination.
During his stay in B&H, Montenegro’s Parliament Speaker had talks with the member of the Presidency of B&H, Sefik Dzaferovic, as well as the member of the Collegium in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, Denis Zvizdic, who’s also the President of the Council of Ministers of B&H. They shared information on economic indicators, current in-country political and social events, as well as opinions on the European perspective of the Western Balkans. Stressing the importance of NATO membership, Brajovic reiterated readiness of Montenegro to assist all countries that wish to join the Alliance.
Republic of North Macedonia
Tevdovski out, Zaev names himself Finance Minister (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced the details of his purge of the Government, and the most notable change is that he himself will be assuming the position of Finance Minister, removing Dragan Tevdovski from this post. Other ministers who will be getting replaced include mostly less important departments, such as the Environment Ministry, where Sadula Duraku will make way for Naser Nuredini and the Municipal Administration ministry where Suhejl Fazliu will be replaced with Goran Milevski.
Duraku – better known as “Commander Ventili” – the UCK commander who closed the valves distributing water to the city of Kumanovo during the 2001 Albanian insurgency, will not leave the Government – he will head the newly formed Ministry for Political System and Inter-Ethnic Relations. This position he will assume from another UCK/NLA commander Hazbi Lika, who led the Government department for implementation of the 2001 Ohrid peace treaty, which is being elevated into a full ministry.
Two vacant seats in the Government are also being filled. Trajan Dimkovski will be the new Agriculture Minister – after his predecessor Ljupco Nikolovski was appointed Secretary General of the SDSM party. Husni Ismaili, a rheumatology expert, will be named the next Culture Minister, after Asaf Ademi resigned due to outcry over his reallocation of funding away from Macedonian cultural projects and toward Albanian ones.
Finally, Zoran Sapurik is being removed as a minister in charge of economic investments. Sapurik is from the Liberal-Democratic Party and his removal appears to be part of a deal to get party leader Goran Milevski appointed as Municipal Administration Minister.
Zaev promised a “purge” after the poor results of the presidential elections. He removed about 100 party officials, starting with Secretary General Aleksandar Kiracovski and his powerful adviser Mile Zecevik. The changes in the Government, though, were protracted and apparently sparked infighting between the various wings of the SDSM party. The one major casualty, Finance Minister Tevdovski, was rumored to be a target of the Skopje wing of the SDSM party, and at one point Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska, who is seen as the leader of this wing, denied that she is working to have him removed. The ministers in charge of economic departments were frequently criticized because of their overall failure to spur the economy, and Zaev said that his decision to expand his direct control over the Finance Ministry reflects his interest to focus on the economy. It is expected that the proposals for this reconstruction will be sent before Parliament early next week.
United opposition held its 9th national protest (Radio Tirana)
The united opposition held its 9th national protest. Unlike previous protests, the opposition protest has been the most peaceful in four months. In his speech in front of the Prime Minister’s Office the DP leader Lulzim Basha said that their battle will continue not only with the departure of Prime Minister Edi Rama but until they are guaranteed all rights as a European country. He also demanded the punishment of all vote buyers. Despite the harsh tone, the ninth protesters did not have any acts of violence or hurling of projectiles or firecrackers. He did not give any signal of dialogue during the speech while saying that nothing would stop the opposition’s retaliation. “No negotiations, no agreement, no elections on June 30, protests will be held every day,” said Lulzim Basha in his speech before the Prime Minister’s Office and at the DP headquarters at the end of the protest. The protest took about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Zaharieva: Historical mistake if accession negotiations won’t kick off with Albania and North Macedonia (Radio Tirana)
Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva issued a statement underscoring that within October there will be a decision to kick off accession negotiations of Albania and Northern Macedonia with the European Union. “The good news is that there will be no separation between the two states, as some European Union countries wanted. The decision is no later than October and the European Council will review this issue and recommend the start of the negotiations” Zaharieva said. “Bulgaria backs up both countries. It would be a historical mistake if negotiations with the two countries would not kick off” the Bulgarian diplomacy chief said. The minister stressed out that Sofia will strongly support the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkan countries.