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Belgrade Media Report 08 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 8 July 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic: We don’t need Pristina to recognize us (Beta/Politika)
• Brnabic hopes May will reason with Haradinaj (Tanjug)
• Vucic: Had they left us alone, perhaps we would have also agreed with the Albanians (RTS)
• Dacic: Compromise, agreement have no alternative (RTS/Tanjug)
• Scott: Pristina to lift taxes, both sides to return to negotiations (FoNet)
• Zaev: Relations between North Macedonia and Serbia are traditionally good and improving (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Western Balkans Summit in Poznan comes to end (N1)
• B&H to host SEECP Summit in Sarajevo, Kosovo and Albania not to participate due to tensions between B&H, Serbia and Kosovo (N1)
• Izetbegovic: Process of formation of authorities to be completed in three to four months (Hayat)
• 27th anniversary of crimes committed against Serbs marked; Dodik: IC do not attend ceremonies marking of killings of Serbs except for Russians (RTRS)
Croatia
• Parliament commemorates Srebrenica genocide victims (Hina)
Montenegro
• DPS is preparing political platform, will urge opposition for dialogue (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Pendarovski signs the renaming of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (Nezavisen vesnik)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Bulgarian PM Borissov on Dačić spat: Serbia should come to an understanding with Kosovo (The Sofia Globe)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: We don’t need Pristina to recognize us (Beta/Politika)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said during the Western Balkans Summit in the Polish

city of Poznan that her Kosovo counterpart Ramush Haradinaj’s statement that Belgrade and Pristina should recognize each other within existing borders made it clear that Kosovo does not want dialogue. After the conference of the region’s prime ministers in Poland, Brnabic said to reporters on July 5 that it was unclear as to what Haradinaj meant when he suggested that Pristina should recognize Serbia, although he knew that Serbia was a member of the United Nations. “Serbia is a member of all international institutions, and we don’t need Pristina to recognize us. It’s not on the table, but this position suggests that they don’t want a dialogue. A dialogue is useless if you start it with a pre-defined solution,” Brnabic stated.

 

Brnabic hopes May will reason with Haradinaj (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Friday in Poznan, where the EU-Western Balkans Summit has ended, that she is very grateful to Poland, but also to other countries of the Visegrad Group on huge support to European integration of Serbia. Brnabic told reporters after the closing of the meeting that was held within the framework of the Berlin Process that this process is extremely important and that without it, Serbia and the countries of the region would have no chance to talk to EU states and European leaders at least once a year about European integration and regional cooperation and networking. Unfortunately, due to everything Pristina has done, we had to focus on some negative things instead on positive ones, she said, adding that since 2014, when the Berlin Process was launched, the regional trade has been bigger than ever. Brnabic said that she spoke with Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May about the tariffs that Pristina introduced on products from central Serbia and that May told her that she would urge Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj to abolish them. Brnabic told reporters that she hopes that May will manage to explain to Haradinaj that these tariffs harm first of all the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. She noted that since the introduction of taxes retail prices have increased by 5.3 percent and that the Kosovo trade deficit has increased by 6.4 percent. According to Brnabic, populism brought Haradinaj great popularity in the short term, but it is obvious that these measures lead Pristina to self-isolation.

 

Vucic: Had they left us alone, perhaps we would have also agreed with the Albanians (RTS)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that reaching agreement with the Albanians would be an important achievement for the future of citizens. He says that Kosovo and Metohija is an important territory, but that much important is the part of the territory where the Serbs live – we need to take care of them and to fight for survival. “Kosovo is a place for which all Serbs would give their lives, but a small number of them who don’t live in Kosovo and Metohija, or almost nobody, would not like to live there. This speaks of our paradoxes and the absurd situation. The situation is far more difficult then ten or 20 years ago and incomparably more difficult than 30 or 60 years ago,” said Vucic.  He says he wouldn’t see as personal failure if there wouldn’t be an agreement reached with the Albanians, but that this would be an important achievement for the future and good of citizens. Whether this is realistic is another question, says Vucic. He notes the Americans have always been involved in the negotiations and that without them, the Russians and other powers it is difficult to reach a solution. “But how does one reach a solution if someone says ‘you need to recognize us within these borders’? Before that they made borders at Serbia’s account,” said Vucic. He says this has always been an issue for the Albanians and Serbs. Had they left us alone, perhaps we would have agreed, says Vucic, adding that this is, like in the case of Yugoslavia, not only an issue of the people in this region. He says that we need to tackle ourselves the matter in the Balkans, to behave as a bloc, since then we would reach far better results and we would be stronger. Regarding the comment of the former CIA head for the Balkans Steven Meyer that the US offer on delineation will not be long on the table, Vucic says there is no offer. He says it is not the same whether there are talks with associates of US President Donald Trump or with State Department officials. “It is one thing when there are talks with Trump’s associates, they are more open for various solutions, they haven’t always supported an independent Kosovo, primarily Secretary John Bolton, but always have the State Department, the so-called deep state, they still adhere firmly to pressures – Serbia is always the culprit,” said Vucic.

 

Dacic: Compromise, agreement have no alternative (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic emphasized today in Sarajevo that Serbia will continue to advocate European integration as the best guarantee for lasting regional stability and prosperity.

At the meeting of foreign ministers of the South-East European Cooperation Process, Dacic reiterated that EU membership is among the main foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia, with the commitment to regional cooperation and its strengthening, resolving open and unresolved regional issues. Speaking about the biggest challenge of Serbia, the dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija, Dacic reminded that Pristina persistently refuses to fulfill its obligations, does not fulfill the provisions of the Brussels agreement, and that it violates the CEFTA regional agreement for more than seven months. The future of the region, however, is determined by cooperation. Integrating our economies into a single market, connecting people and sharing recognizable universally accepted values ​​by investing in human and intellectual capital in the common political, economic and security interests of the region, Dacic emphasized. He said that the purpose and the most important motive for the improvement of mutual cooperation and closer connection in the region, the overall development and modernization of our societies, i.e. economic growth and development for the benefit of all citizens. Serbia is ready to continue working with all interested parties in improving the political climate and dialogue, reconciliation, tolerance and openness towards cooperation, which is a key precondition for the stability and prosperity of the region of Southeast Europe and its citizens.

 

Scott: Pristina to lift taxes, both sides to return to negotiations (FoNet)

 

US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott told reporters on Monday that Kosovo should abolish the 100 percent import taxes it imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and called both Belgrade and Pristina to go back to the negotiating table, FoNet reported. Scott and Serbian Minister of European Integrations Jadranka Joksimovic signed an agreement on a US donation to Serbia. He said the Kosovo taxes were an obstacle to the resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on normalization of relations and added the US had already asked Pristina Government to revoke that decision. At a joint news conference with Scott, Joksimovic said that six years after the Brussels agreement was signed, there was no any progress in creating of the Community of Serb Municipalities, but that instead, Pristina introduced taxes last November, adding their annulment was the condition for the dialogue to continue.

 

Zaev: Relations between North Macedonia and Serbia are traditionally good and improving (Politika)

 

Relations between North Macedonia and Serbia are traditionally good and improving, as shown by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s extending his invitation to the Grdelica Valley highway opening ceremony, North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told Serbian newspaper Politika. “Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and I will soon start to cooperate on another project in the area of digital services and government websites,” Zaev said. According to Zaev, Serbia and North Macedonia share many goals, most importantly the achieving of European values, which he said would only intensify in the near future. PM Zaev also said the recent EC report highlighted North Macedonia’s Prespa Agreement as a shining example of solving regional disputes. According to Zaev, the international community is well aware of the need to keep the focus on Western Balkans countries on their path towards EU membership. “All EU member countries and aspiring members must join forces and support the integration of the entire region as it’s the only way of bringing and sustaining peace, stability, and better prospects for everyone,” said Zaev in an interview for Politika.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Western Balkans Summit in Poznan comes to end (N1)

 

The Western Balkans Summit in Poznan organized within the Berlin Process came to an end on Friday. Reporter commented that this was an opportunity to discuss the future of the EU path of the Balkans countries. Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) Denis Zvizdic who represented B&H at this summit said that B&H got a grant worth EUR 96 million for implementation of three projects concerning construction of the Corridor 5C. Also, some of main topics discussed at the Western Balkans Summit were relations between Pristina and Belgrade, and Kosovo’s customs tariffs to goods imported from Serbia and B&H. Reporter commented that neither the EU nor the Western Balkans officials managed to convince Kosovo delegation that it is necessary to abolish the 100-percent customs tariffs on goods imported from B&H and Serbia. Representatives of Kosovo reiterated that once B&H and Serbia recognize Kosovo, customs tariffs will be abolished. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that this is populist behavior and that in order to resume with dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, it is necessary to abolish the customs tariffs. Zvizdic stressed that Kosovo’s customs tariffs are detrimental for everyone. “Unilateral introduction of customs tariffs by Kosovo jeopardized CEFTA in some way,” explained Zvizdic. Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said that Kosovo authorities were not happy to introduce customs tariffs on goods imported from B&H. However, he explained, this was done because B&H introduced many barriers for Kosovo. Also, Brnabic announced that Serbia will fight against pressure from Pristina by strengthening cooperation with other countries of the region. The EU officials attended abovementioned summit and talked about enlargement of the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that in some way, she agrees with the statement of French President, underlining that it is necessary to settle issues within the EU and then focus fully to the Western Balkans. Other EU officials who attended the Summit said that there is no alternative to the EU for the Western Balkans countries. Also, several declarations were signed during the Summit in Poznan, including declaration on mutual recognition of academic qualifications among the Western Balkans countries. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the integration road is harmonized with the dynamics of reforms and the Northern Macedonia is a perfect example for this. He announced that next year, Croatia will make a real plan with the aim to make steps forward while countries will have to fulfill all necessary criteria. French President Emmanuel Macron previously said that the EU cannot expand until its managerial mechanisms become more efficient. Zvizdic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj and North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev signed a framework memorandum of cooperation in the process of founding the South East European International Institute for Sustainable Technologies.

 

B&H to host SEECP Summit in Sarajevo, Kosovo and Albania not to participate due to tensions between B&H, Serbia and Kosovo (N1)

 

B&H will host the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit in Sarajevo on July 8-9. However, the existing tensions between B&H, Serbia and Kosovo and the invitation of Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci resulted in the fact that representatives of Kosovo and Albania will not attend the summit. Thaci explained via social networks that the main reason as to why he will not attend the summit is “paradoxical behavior of B&H”. “Behavior of B&H is unacceptable and paradoxical as its representatives are applying the practices that are completely anti-European, which are not different than the ones in Serbia. With such a destructive approach, regional cooperation and good-neighborly relations among the countries of the Western Balkans remain an inevitable condition to the path towards membership in the EU,” Thaci was quoted as saying. Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj also stated via social networks that his country would cancel its participation in the summit as a sign of solidarity with Kosovo. Earlier, Dodik has reiterated on several occasions that Kosovo was invited “neutrally” and that Thaci was not invited in the capacity of the President of Kosovo. “I presented my opinion on Thaci when I said that Republika Srpska (RS) does not have any kind of ambition or territorial pretension in Kosovo, but he has to understand that Kosovo will be an integral part of Serbia until Pristina and Belgrade reach an agreement, i.e. Kosovo will remain an unrecognized country. If he agrees to come ‘with a footnote’, he can come,” Dodik told reporters on 24 June. Commenting on the cancellation of participation at the Summit by Kosovo and Albania, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak stated that this move represents implementation of the announced common policy of Pristina and Tirana. Crnadak stressed that this move is the second major blow to regional cooperation after Kosovo imposed custom duties on goods from B&H and Serbia. Crnadak added that this is also a blow to the EU, which needs to take a clear stance on these moves. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H for Multilateral Affairs Almir Sahovic said that B&H is very sorry about the fact that delegations of Kosovo and Albania will not be present at the ministerial meeting in Sarajevo. “I believe that this is not a very positive message for regional cooperation. We as hosts tried to do everything in our power for both the delegation of Kosovo and the delegation of Albania to take part in this meeting. We even received confirmation yesterday (Saturday) that the delegation of Kosovo will attend the meeting after all. For the purpose of enabling unhindered arrival of the Kosovo delegation, we opened our embassy in Skopje which issued visas to all members of the delegation of Kosovo within thirty minutes. After that, we received official notification that, unfortunately, the delegation of Kosovo will not be able to take part. And as you said, the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs tweeted today (Sunday) that the delegation of Albania will not take part in the ministerial meeting of SEECP,” Sahovic said.

 

Izetbegovic: Process of formation of authorities to be completed in three to four months (Hayat)

 

SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic paid a visit to SDA Cantonal Board in the Sarajevo Canton (SC) on Friday, in order to discuss the situation in B&H within the global frameworks and the standstill on the path towards the EU and NATO. On this occasion, Izetbegovic confirmed that new convocations of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), the Federation of B&H government and the Cantonal Governments will be formed as part of a single package and that the whole process should be completed in three or four months. He reiterated that respecting the B&H Constitution and the rule of law is a “red line” for SDA. “We cannot make a compromise that would be unconstitutional and unlawful. One should not accuse SDA of having a firm stance. There is no compromise when it comes to these things. This time, it is NATO. If we break that principle when it comes to the rule of law and the Constitution, the question is what will be next,” Izetbegovic stressed. He also assessed that SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic seems to be “fed up with the lack of results in this pilot project that the international community is holding here in the Sarajevo Canton (SC)”. “This ruling authority has been proven to be inefficient” Izetbegovic said. Earlier, Radoncic announced that SBB BiH might leave the ruling authority in the SC unless the disputable decision on allocation of BAM 200,000 of budget funds to the Institute for Culture and Art is annulled. Izetbegovic commented on the recent events in the processes of authority formation in the Tuzla Canton (TC) and other cantons. He does not oppose the newly agreed upon coalition in the TC. Izetbegovic sees the Government of the Sarajevo Canton (SC) as an unsuccessful pilot project of the international community. He said that the NATO path of B&H is the red line for SDA and said that SDS does not have enough votes in order to take the spot of SNSD at the B&H level in the process of formation of authorities. Izetbegovic announced that certain existing authorities on cantonal levels will not last much longer and this will change after the B&H authorities are formed. The daily also published an article arguing that SBB’s cooperation with SDA at Federation of B&H and state level might have an impact on cantonal level as well, especially in SC; ZDC and Una Sana Canton. Namely, the daily argues, SBB will want its “piece of cake”, i.e. it will demand positions at different levels. According to daily’s sources, SBB might get the post of Director of Federation of B&H Directorate for Military Industry, while DF might get the post of Federation of B&H Justice Minister.

 

27th anniversary of crimes committed against Serbs marked; Dodik: IC do not attend ceremonies marking of killings of Serbs except for Russians (RTRS)

 

The 27th anniversary of crimes committed against Serbs in the Podrinje area was marked in Bratunac on Saturday. Numerous Republika Srpska (RS) officials attended the event, including Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic. Attendees of the event underlined that sacrifice that Serbs from the area of Podrinje, i.e. Birac region and Bratunac region gave for creation of the RS should never be forgotten. According to announcements, a central memorial in the memory of 3,500 Serbs killed during the war, will be constructed in Bratunac in the upcoming period. Attendees of the event also underlined that criminals were not sanctioned yet. Viskovic said that the youngest victims were four-year-old and his 12-year-old brother, who were killed in an attempt to cross a bridge and find a shelter in Serbia. He stated that Serbs who defended their homes must not be forgotten which is why the central memorial will be constructed in Bratunac. Dodik said that international representatives do not attend ceremonies marking of killings of Serbs from Podrinje, except for representatives of Russia. According to Dodik, this shows how much justice in B&H is selective. Officials of the RS said that the wrong kind of perception about the war in B&H by spreading of propaganda outside of its borders and marking Serbs as the main culprits and everyone else as victims, was not corrected until today. Dodik stated: “The fact that the first Serbs in Bratunac were killed at the beginning of the war shows how much this image is false. Today, we know that only in 1992 at the beginning of the war, 1,000 Serbs were killed in this area by Muslim armed and military forces, whom the world presented as unarmed and miserable”.

 

Parliament commemorates Srebrenica genocide victims (Hina)

 

A commemoration on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, was held at the Croatian parliament and a message was sent out that a crime of that nature must never occur again. The commemoration, was organized by the Association of Bosniak Homeland War Veterans and the member of parliament who represents a group of minorities, including the Bosniaks, Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj. Deputy parliament speaker Zeljko Reiner said that commemorations for the Srebrenica victims reopened old wounds. “Twenty-four years after the atrocity, its dimensions are still being uncovered because in 1995 thousands of innocent people were killed in the most massive crime and genocide after World War II. They remain in our collective memory of the brutality of individuals who demonstrated their inhumanity. The truth is important for the sake of the victims and their families because any denial hides the seed of future wars and crimes,” said Reiner. Only the truth and admission of responsibility for crimes pave the way to a catharsis, Reiner said. Hamdija Malic of the Association of Bosniak Homeland War Veterans said that the Srebrenica tragedy occurred because of the aggressive and criminal policy of Slobodan Milosevic, who, he said, could have prevented it with a single phone call to criminal Ratko Mladic yet he did not do so. He said that it was tragic that the Serb Orthodox Church encouraged Great Serbian paramilitary forces that killed, raped and expelled non-Serbs and burned their homes.

 

DPS is preparing political platform, will urge opposition for dialogue (CDM)

 

The Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, is preparing a political platform and will offer it to the opposition. The platform suggests that the ruling coalition and majority of the opposition structures should work together on the reform of the electoral and other legislation. According to sources close to CDM, this time there won’t be any form of a technical (transitional) government as was the case back in 2016, as this kind of a political project doesn’t provide the desired results. Now there will be working bodies established, consisting of the ruling coalition and the opposition, and those bodies will work in many areas as well as on the reform of legislation. The project that the DPS has been preparing is in line with the requirements of the EU, that is, to have dialogue between the government and the opposition. The DPS MP, Milos Nikolic, told CDM he would rather not speak about this topic in detail given the fact that it’s an issue that all the party’s bodies have to declare for, but noted that the DPS was definitely ready for a dialogue with the opposition. Some opposition structures, on the other hand, these days mention the need for setting up the transitional government. Rasko Konjevic, SDP’s Deputy President and a member of the Montenegrin Parliament, said there would come to an election boycott in case they don’t set up the technical government, that is, the model acceptable for both sides.

But Montenegro’s President, Milo Djukanovic, recently made a point of being clear about this issue – there won’t be any transitional government, as the DPS has repeatedly urged the opposition for dialogue.

 

Pendarovski signs the renaming of the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, signed the ordinance on the insignia of the army uniforms, renaming them into Army of the Republic of North Macedonia (ARSM). “The name of the army is Army of the Republic of North Macedonia and this is now regulated in legislation,” said Pendarovski during Thursday’s visit to army troops on the southern border.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Bulgarian PM Borissov on Dačić spat: Serbia should come to an understanding with Kosovo (The Sofia Globe, 7 July 2019)

 

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has responded to the criticism of him by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić – over Borissov’s comments that EU foreign policy chief nominee Josep Borrell should defend the “EU position” on Kosovo – by saying Serbia should come up with a permanent resolution on the Kosovo issue. If Serbia did not come to an understanding with Kosovo, there would be no prospects for the whole region, Borissov said on July 7.

Earlier, Borissov, referring to the fact that Borrell’s Spain does not recognise Kosovo and that the issue would be a key part of the EU foreign policy chief’s job, was reported to have said that Borrell should defend the EU position, rather than that of Madrid. In an interview with Serbian television, Dačić hit back sharply at Borissov, with the Serbian Foreign Minister saying that the EU position was that Kosovo was not independent. Of the 28 member states of the EU, 23 – including Bulgaria – recognise Kosovo as independent. Five do not. Borissov expressed his understanding of the Serbian position, and added: “But we are still helping our brothers, the Serbs, and it is no coincidence that next October we will be ready for the highway with Belgrade.” He said of the Serbians: “I love them, it is difficult for them, but, no matter how painful, there must be a final decision”. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, who has ordered the Serbian ambassador summoned to the Foreign Ministry on July 8 to discuss the remarks by Dačić, described her Serbian counterpart’s remarks as “emotional and unmerited”.

Zaharieva said that Borissov’s remarks had been political and legally correct. “The EU does not recognise states, no organisation recognises states, states are recognised by states,” according to Zaharieva. She said that Belgrade had reciprocated to Bulgaria’s summoning of the Serbian ambassador by summoning the chargé d’affaires of the Bulgarian embassy. The Bulgarian ambassador is on leave. “They have made a statement that they hope to clarify things, and in the end Bulgarian is a sovereign state and has the right to recognise states. We have decided to recognise Kosovo many years ago, and this has in no way, reflected, at least until now, on the bilateral relations between Serbia and Bulgaria,” she said. Bulgaria recognised Kosovo soon after that country’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008. For some time, Serbia recalled its ambassador from Sofia. Zaharieva said that it would not be bad for Dačić to apologise, but this was his personal decision. Serbian media reported on July 7 that President Aleksander Vučić had the “sparks” between his country and Bulgaria would die down and relations would return to normal quickly. “I consider this a little misunderstanding,” Vučić said.

 

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