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Belgrade Media Report 09 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 9 July 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic: SEECP does not recognize Kosovo (Tanjug/B92/RTV)
• Dacic: Returning to basic principles of OSCE (Tanjug/RTS)
• Mali: Tax administration of so-called Kosovo not admitted to IOTA (Tanjug/RTV)
• Opposition files criminal charges against Serbia’s minister for forging diploma (N1)
• Macron’s visit to Belgrade officially confirmed (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• SEECP Summit begins in Sarajevo (RTRS)
• Turkish President Erdogan pays visit to B&H (Hayat)
• Wigemark and Eichhorst express confidence that B&H authorities will be formed soon (RTRS)
Croatia
• Kuscevic resigns as minister and HDZ political secretary (HRT)
Montenegro
• Djukanovic and Gricaj: Relations between Montenegro and Russia aren’t as good as they used to be (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev congratulates Greece’s new PM Mitsotakis on his victory (Nezavisen vesnik)
Albania
• United opposition held its 10th national protest (Radio Tirana)
• President expresses gratitude to residents that didn’t participate in fake elections (ADN)
• Soros Foundation: President Meta’s comments on plot against Albania are strange (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Kosovo – focal point of instability in the region (la Repubblica)
• Statement on 20th Anniversary of the Murder of the Bytyqi Brothers (US Embassy in Serbia)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: SEECP does not recognize Kosovo (Tanjug/B92/RTV)

 

Albanian President Ilir Meta, who spoke at the plenary session of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) on Mt. Jahorina right before Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, called on Bosnia-Herzegovina to recognize the fact that Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state. He said that Kosovo representatives, that should take over chairmanship of this process, were thus forced not to attend this summit. “How can we pretend to have established successful regional cooperation while some of the SEECP members made all efforts in order to exclude other countries from the possibility of benefiting from regional initiatives?,” Meta said in a critical tone. Brnabic reacted to this by saying that SEECP framework does not recognize so-called Republic of Kosovo, along with the host country Bosnia-Herzegovina, so it would be decent to respect this in diplomatic relations. Brnabic added that apart from the host country, there are other countries SEECP members that does not recognize Kosovo, such as Romania, Greece, Moldavia. “I suggest that we act in line with the framework established within the South-East European Cooperation Process, with the aim of securing regional stability and cooperation, showing respect towards each other, without using provocations such as Meta tried to use,” Brnabic called on member states. As she said, she also regrets the fact that Pristina’s representative are not attending the summit, but that this shows Pristina’s current perspective of regional cooperation. “This is one of the final steps in a row taken by Pristina since November 2018, clearly showing its willingness to regional cooperation process,” Brnabic concluded.

 

Dacic: Returning to basic principles of OSCE (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said today that Serbia is committed to strengthening the OSCE’s capacity to effectively respond to all phases of the conflict cycle, from early warning to post-conflict rehabilitation and reconciliation. At an informal gathering of foreign ministers, Dacic stressed that the OSCE has been facing serious and accumulated problems for years and that it must urgently return to the basic principles, such as dialogue, compromise, peaceful resolution of disputes, construction trust, solidarity, responsibility and cooperation. In keeping with its own experiences from the past, Serbia strongly supports the peaceful resolution of all disputes in the OSCE area, while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each participating state, as one of the basic principles deriving from the Helsinki Final Act, Dacic said. Regarding the situation in the Western Balkans region, he stressed that despite the commitment of the Serbian government to the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, this process was blocked by irresponsible moves by Pristina politicians who directly threatened the civilian population in the province and blocked the dialogue aimed at finding a long-term and sustainable solution based on a compromise.

 

Mali: Tax administration of so-called Kosovo not admitted to IOTA (Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali said today that the Tax Administration of Serbia successfully defended the receipt of the tax administration of the so-called Kosovo into the Intra-European Organization of Tax Administrations (IOTA). Mali pointed out that this is a great news for our country and another confirmation that we have succeeded in confirming the illegitimacy of the so-called Kosovo institutions in this way. He noted that Serbia’s permanent policy is finding a compromise and durable solution for the issue of Kosovo, but also that it is necessary to respect international law. According to the current Charter of the IOTA, members of this organization can be only countries recognized by the United Nations, the Minister explained, adding that in the future, Serbia will fight with all forces to preserve the institutional legitimacy of its state organs. An IOTA General Assembly meeting was held on 1-5 July and the decision not to admit Kosovo to the organization’s membership was made in a secret vote.

 

Opposition files criminal charges against Serbia’s minister for forging diploma (N1)

 

The opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said on Monday it filed criminal charges against Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic for allegedly forging documents about his university education, N1 reported. The Alliance added the charges were also filed against the Megatrend private faculty, and that they reported both to the Educational Inspection. Bosko Obradovic, an SzS leader, told a news conference that neither the respective institutions nor Stefanovic reacted because, as he said, they took time “to fix the documents” to prove the validity of a “non-existing” diploma. SzS said that Stefanovic committed a crime when requested the Megatrend faculty to validate his diploma he said he got in Great Britain from a school which, according to SzS, did not exist. “Fifteen years ago, Stefanovic asked Megatrend school to validate his diploma which he received within the UK education system from the ‘Megatrend International Expert Consortium Ltd’. The company in England has never been registered for education,” Dragan Djilas, also an SzS leader, told reporters. He added that “by doing that, Stefanovic committed the crime of forging documents.” If he graduated from that school, Djilas said, “let him show a student visa or prove in some other way he was passing exams, who his professors were etc.” Five years ago, Stefanovic’s doctorate at the Megatrend faculty was suspected of being plagiarism, but an independent commission found that despite some minor errors, there was no reason to strip him of his PhD title. Stefanovic dismissed the SzS charges describing them as “flagrant lies” and fabrications used to divert the public attention from severe corruption cases, Djilas, according to Stefanovic, was involved. Stefanovic added he did not attend the school in London but in Serbia.

 

Macron’s visit to Belgrade officially confirmed (Tanjug)

 

French President Emmanuel Macron will be on a visit to Serbia on 15, 16 July, the Presidency of Serbia officially confirmed Monday. Earlier, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced he would discuss with Macron the economic and political cooperation and Serbia’s EU path, as well as Kosovo, and that around 20 agreements would be signed during the visit. “My team, in collaboration with his team, is already exchanging information, we are looking at what, and how, we can solve in the future,” Vucic said. After Jacques Chirac – who stayed in the country for only a day – Macron will be the first French president to visit Serbia in 18 years.

“The president of France is coming to Serbia for a two-day visit, he will not be going to other countries in the region and that is a great honor for Serbia,” Vucic said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

SEECP Summit begins in Sarajevo (RTRS)

 

The two-day Summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) began in Sarajevo on Monday. The foreign ministers of the SEECP member countries met on Monday morning to discuss regional cooperation and connections, as well as EU path of the countries. A solemn dinner hosted by the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency for the leaders of SEECP member countries was hosted on Monday evening in the building of the B&H Presidency. The central meeting between leaders of SEECP member countries will take place on Mt. Jahorina on Tuesday morning.  Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated on Monday that B&H did not recognize Kosovo and it was defined in the earlier SEECP agreements that Kosovo will be listed as Pristina only. He said that President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci agreed to the current format of the summit and Dodik cannot take care of his feelings, since he is not competent for social politics on the international scene. Dodik added that Thaci keeps mentioning Republika Srpska (RS) in a negative context and he cannot expect a positive relation from them. Commenting on the upcoming meetings at the summit, Dodik said that the focus needs to be on the stabilization and strengthening of peace. He stressed the importance of economic cooperation and development of infrastructure. Dodik reminded that the B&H authorities were not formed yet. He stressed that many regional projects are on hold because of this. Dodik explained that the B&H Presidency adopted a framework agreement on cooperation with Serbia, where the connection of the highway Sarajevo – Belgrade will be defined. One of the main topics of Monday’s meetings was the cancellation of attendance of delegations from Albania and Kosovo. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic repeated that Pristina and Tirana are working on the creation of Greater Albania after they signed the agreement on joint foreign policies. He explained that Kosovo was treated the same way at previous summits of the SEECP. Dacic stressed that Albania treated Kosovo the same in 2015, while hosting the SEECP summit and Kosovo officials did not complain. He concluded that this is the violation of another agreement Pristina signed. Dacic said that if the RS and Serbia signed an agreement on joint policies, reactions would be completely different. Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic reacted to Dacic’s statement. Komsic stressed that the foreign policy of B&H is the responsibility of the B&H Presidency exclusively. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak stated that it is a weird concept to try and establish regional cooperation by boycotting meetings and imposing sanctions. Crnadak also said that the cancellation of Kosovo and Albania’s presence at the Summit cannot be ignored. He added that it is unclear why the delegations from Albania and Kosovo did not attend the summit. Crnadak said that, if the situation in the region remains like this, the B&H delegation should not attend the next meeting, which is set to take place in Pristina. Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) stated that B&H supports Serbia and Kosovo in their efforts to find a sustainable solution but it is the issue of Serbia and Kosovo and attempts to get B&H involved in it will be futile. He claims that he is sad to see Kosovo boycotting the Summit but B&H did not contribute to such decision because they organized the Summit as any other member state would. He stressed that Kosovo made a mistake and it did not understand the situation regarding B&H because B&H cannot change official rules of the SEECP and B&H cannot recognize independent Kosovo without internal consensus. Dzaferovic noted that the Summit was an opportunity to improve cooperation in terms of freedom of movement and trade.

It was confirmed that President of Albania Ilir Meta arrived in Sarajevo and will attend the meeting of Prime Ministers and Presidents of the SEECP member countries on Tuesday.

President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic will not attend the meeting and they sent their delegations. Moldavia and Greece will also send their delegations instead of senior officials to Tuesday’s meeting. President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Sarajevo on Monday and will attend Tuesday’s meeting. Slovenian president Borut Pahor and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic will also attend Tuesday’s meeting.

 

Turkish President Erdogan pays visit to B&H (Hayat)

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began his two-day visit to B&H on Monday. Erdogan met with B&H Presidency members, Milorad Dodik, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic on Monday afternoon. Erdogan and members of the B&H Presidency discussed development of cooperation in the Balkans, primarily in the area of economy, trade, transport, infrastructure and investments. Erdogan stressed that peace and stability of the Balkans are very important for Turkey. Before meeting with the B&H Presidency members, Erdogan visited cemetery where he laid flowers at the grave of first President of B&H Presidency Alija Izetbegovic. Erdogan was accompanied by Dzaferovic and speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Bakir Izetbegovic. The Turkish President had Srebrenica Flower on his jacket in memory of the victims of Srebrenica genocide. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Dodik addressed journalists after the meeting with Erdogan and said that they continued the discussions with Erdogan which started earlier this year. Dodik thanked Erdogan for keeping his promise and answering the invitation of the B&H Presidency to come to B&H. Dodik explained that the B&H Presidency members discussed economic and political issues with Erdogan. They informed Erdogan about the failure to form B&H authorities for seven months and he assessed that this harm both B&H and the entire cooperation in the region. An incident took place at the Sarajevo Airport between the security service of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the B&H Border Police. Members of Erdogan’s security refused to undergo regular police control and entered a verbal conflict with members of the B&H Border Police which ended on the verge of physical conflict. Director of the B&H Border Police Zoran Galic said that the members of Erdogan’s security behaved rudely and arrogantly towards the B&H Border Police officers. He added that they started pushing around the police officers. Galic said that the B&H Border Police explained that the security team of Erdogan cannot behave like that. Media reported that the security team of Erdogan took their weapons from the airplane they arrived with and armed themselves. Galic stated that B&H citizens would be arrested in Turkey for similar actions.

 

Wigemark and Eichhorst express confidence that B&H authorities will be formed soon (RTRS)

 

Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik talked to the Head of EU Delegation to B&H Lars-Gunnar Wigemark and Director Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey at the European External Action Service (EEAS) Angelina Eichhorst in Sarajevo on Monday evening. They discussed the current political situation in B&H. Wigemark and Eichhorst expressed confidence that the B&H authorities will be formed soon and highlighted that it is necessary for the progress of B&H. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic also met with Eichhorst. The officials agreed that everyone in B&H need to dedicate to work towards the implementation of all recommendations from the European Commission’s Opinion and they assessed that this can be accomplished in the gradual process. It was said during the meeting that B&H can expect the decision of the EU Council regarding the possible awarding of EU candidate status only after the process of authority formation is completed. According to the statement released by the SDA, the officials underlined the necessity to overcome the blockade and continue the reform path through the policy of mutual understanding and dialogue and within the framework of respecting of the Constitution and rule of the law. SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic met with Eichhorst too. The two officials discussed the current political situation in B&H and the region. Eichhorst underlined the importance of implementation of the election results and authority formation in B&H, as well as the need for the country to use the opportunities is has been presented with. They pointed out the importance of implementation of the Reform Agenda and dedication to positive processes in the country in order to get closer to the EU and NATO. Wigemark stated that failure to form the authorities in B&H after the general elections has slowed down the EU integration process of the country. He pointed out it is important to continue with the activities and processes in this period until the new authorities are formed. “The most important thing is that there is no stopping and that the process has continued. The candidate status for EU membership or the opening of negotiations are not as important as the transformation of society that comes with the process of the European integration, which brings progress in fight against corruption, improvement of infrastructure, education, judiciary,” said Wigemark and pointed out that a country cannot move forward with others deciding in its stead.

 

Kuscevic resigns as minister and HDZ political secretary (HRT)

 

Administration Minister Lovro Kuscevic resigned on Monday evening, in the wake of a real estate scandal that has been brewing in the media for weeks. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed reporters on Monday evening and said that Lovro Kuscevic has offered his resignation and that he has accepted it. “With everything that’s been happening in recent weeks, we concluded that it was taking a toll on him personally, on the government and on the HDZ. Now it is up to Minister Kuscevic to shed light on all the unanswered questions on this matter so that he can continue with his political career,” Plenkovic told a news conference. This comes after weeks of allegations in the media that Kuscevic used his powers as a local official on the island of Brac to push through a land zoning change brought him significant profits. Kuscevic is stepping down as both minister and the HDZ’s political secretary. He will be returning to parliament as an MP. “As the Prime Minister stated, I offered my resignation and Plenkvovic accepted it. I am a responsible politician. I’ve been in politics for a long time. I served three terms as the head of a municipality, two terms as a county assemblyman, and was named minister three times. The baseless negative media coverage I’ve received is a huge burden on the party and the government. I don’t want to be a burden that will hold back the good work this government is doing,” Kuscevic said. The HDZ’s coalition partners, the People’s Party, had demanded Kuscevic step down. The partners were scheduled to meet, however, the key issue on the agenda appears to have been resolved. The People’s Party issue a statement late Monday, saying they welcomed the decision and that the believed in “high moral character” when it comes to politics.

 

Djukanovic and Gricaj: Relations between Montenegro and Russia aren’t as good as they used to be (CDM)

 

President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic welcomed Sergej N. Gricaj, the outgoing extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of the Russian Federation to Montenegro.

They analyzed the situation and perspective of Russian-Montenegrin relations and agreed that their character was not in accordance with the spirit of friendly ties that two states had been cherishing for centuries. They stressed the importance of the need for expending joint efforts to improve the situation and develop bilateral relation which is going to be beneficial for both states.

 

Zaev congratulates Greece’s new PM Mitsotakis on his victory (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has congratulated Kyriakos Mitsotakis for winning the elections, and the two of them have jointly voiced hope for continuing cooperation between North Macedonia and Greece. Zaev said that he has congratulated New Democracy’s President and also new Prime Minister of Greece, wishing prosperity for the country and its people. “We jointly voiced hope for continuing the cooperation between North Macedonia and Greece, looking forward to our first meeting as prime ministers. I reaffirmed that Greece is our strategic partner with whom we’re developing cooperation and building a lasting friendship, and extended gratitude for our neighbor’s support to us joining NATO and starting EU accession talks. In our conversation, I congratulated Mitsotakis on the successful democratic elections, noting that Greece has once again showed it is a leading country in the region as the strongest democracy, a long-standing EU and NATO member, contributing to stability and growth in the region. I would also like to extend gratitude to the outgoing Prime Minister of Greece and also President of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, for the cooperation that enabled us to lay the foundations of a lasting friendship between our countries and Balkans that radiate with peace, as well as the courage we invested in jointly resolving the dispute that had been hindering bilateral relations for 27 years,” said Zaev.

 

United opposition held its 10th national protest (Radio Tirana)

 

The united opposition held this Monday the 10th national protest. The symbolism of this protest was related to the 30 June elections, which the opposition considered farce. The protesters gathered at the Boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit”, where they improvised a voting process, where the papers with the call “Rama Ik” were thrown into the box. In order to preserve the protest, 1300 police forces were engaged in the preservation of the Prime Minister’s Office and the parliament. The United Opposition emphasizes that Albanians rejected the unilateral election process of Prime Minister Rama. According to the opposition, only 15% of voters went to the polls because they were forced to. The opposition insists on its request for the establishment of a transitory government that will prepare free, fair, and unchallenged early parliamentary elections. Lulzim Basha addressed a speech to the supporters about the opposition’s intentions to resolve the political crisis and build a European Albania. Speaker Basha stressed that “a constitutional, political, electoral and political party reform is needed”. But according to Basha, these challenges will only be realized after toppling down Rama government.

 

President expresses gratitude to residents that didn’t participate in fake elections (ADN)

 

The President of the Republic Ilir Meta reacted a few minutes before the start of the opposition protest and an hour after the parliament approved the establishment of the inquiry committee for his dismissal. Meta expresses gratitude to the citizens who did not participate in the farce, referring to 30 June, while appealing to the citizens to protest only peacefully. “Dear citizens, as the leaders of the United Opposition have invited you to a national protest against the 30 June Socialist Voting process, I want to greet more than 85% of the citizens who boycotted a ‘fake’ process, the worst that could have happened on our civilized continent, after 3 decades since our country was divided by the most oppressive regime of human rights that the entire communist-era Europe recognized. Gratitude to all Albanians who boycotted the most embarrassing farce that the country could do at these moments when the political class was to show European responsibility and vision.”

 

Soros Foundation: President Meta’s comments on plot against Albania are strange (ADN)

 

The Open Society Foundation or otherwise known as the “Soros” Foundation reacted after the accusations to its founder, the billionaire George Soros, by Albania’s President Ilir Meta, accusing him of interfering in the domestic developments in Albania, mainly in the justice reform. In a public comment a few days ago, Mr. Meta accused Mr. Soros that was behind an “a conspiracy in order to fuel the civil clash in Albania on June 30 elections, as well as to influence the justice reform.” Meta’s comments followed the June 30th local elections, which he considers unlawful. But in response, the head of the communications at the Soros Foundation Laura Silber said that the “The Open Society Foundation is proud of its role, alongside the United States and the European Union, to support the reform of the judicial system in Albania, which is a necessary requirement for opening negotiations with the European Union.” Silber further stated that “the characterization that President Meta has made is very strange. We expect to meet in the near future with President Meta, based on the invitation he has sent to us,” she adds.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Kosovo – focal point of instability in the region (la Repubblica, 8 July 2019)

 

Minister Ivica Dacic stated for Italian daily “la Repubblica” that “Kosovo presents focal point of instability in the Balkan region”. Dacic claims that Belgrade “put up great efforts into the dialogue while Prishtina constantly undermines it”, pointing out that “Pristina’s authorities do not want compromise”. When asked how dangerous is the current situation pertaining to the decision of banning all Serb’s officials from entering Kosovo, even in the places with Serbian minority, that afterwards Kosovo’s PM Ramush Haradinaj proclaimed as fake news, Dacic stated that this is “a senseless decision that annuls all the efforts for dialogue resumption that would lead to reaching political agreement”. Dacic said that Prishtina’s move on establishing Kosovo armed forces breached all international agreements, but this was “only a small part of their destructive activities”. “What about 100% import tariffs imposed on Serbian and Bosnian goods? This is trade ban, eradicated in civilized world for centuries. International community had condemned this measure, demanding its abolishing, but the taxes remain in force for the last seven months. Prishtina hadn’t fulfilled any obligation within the dialogue under EU auspices, among others, this is establishing Community of Serbian municipalities on Kosovo and Metohija… We are afraid that their next move might be exerting violence on the Serbs on KiM and on their properties”, Dacic claims. The journalist expressed concern as to how dangerous such tensions might be for the fragile peace on the Balkans and in Europe, and Dacic responded that “Kosovo presents focal point of instability in the Balkan region”. “After the wars waged in the nineties, region faced with reconciliation process and all the states are going in the same direction, towards EU accession. The only black hole in the region is Kosovo and Metohija, where local Albanians political elites do not show desire for reaching compromise. Serbia is not their partner in such destructive attitude, on the contrary. We hope for the solution, we refrain from reacting to Pristina’s moves, although we have many reasons for that”, Dacic concluded. He added that “Serbia shows great maturity and cis highly committed to dialogue and a search for compromise, which is Serbia’s strength, not weakness,”. When asked whether Serbia demands involvement on the part of USA, Russia, EU and China in order to prevent escalation of conflicts, and whether this poses a risk to the members of KFOR, headed by Italians, Dacic responded that “it is absolute priority to demand from Pristina to revoke its destructive decisions, to turn to dialogue and be ready to compromise”. “EU and USA are specially in the position to make a difference, it all depends on their willingness. On the other hand, every single day without dialogue increases the risk of the new one-sided adventures by Pristina, that would be dangerous if not stopped in time. Based on the past experience, it is known that Kosovo Albanians resort to violence when they want to achieve goals at all costs, and this is a huge risk for international missions such as KFOR, not only for the local Serbian community”, Serbian Chief of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic concluded.

 

Statement on 20th Anniversary of the Murder of the Bytyqi Brothers (US Embassy in Serbia, 8 July 2019)

 

Today we mark a grim anniversary. Twenty years ago, Ylli, Agron, and Mehmet Bytyqi were taken from a police station and released into the custody of Serbian special police units. Two years later, the bodies of these three American citizens were found in Petrovo Selo in eastern Serbia on a base controlled by a unit under the command of Guri Radosavljevic. The hands of the victims had been tied behind their backs, and each man had been shot in the head. Though twenty years have passed, their murders still have not yet been properly and fully investigated. Their deaths are something we cannot and will not forget. Obtaining justice for the Bytyqi brothers remains a priority in our bilateral relationship with Serbia. The United States government again calls on Serbian authorities, who have promised to assist in this case over the years, for a resolution to this case.

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