Dacic: Borisov’s words misinterpreted (Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said after a 9 July meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart, Ekaterina Zakharieva, that a misunderstanding over Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov‘s statement on Kosovo had been sorted out, explaining that the prime minister’s words “had been misinterpreted,” the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported. “We have found out… that Borisov’s words were clearly misinterpreted. From what local media had published, it appeared that Bulgaria was warning the newly elected EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, that he had to honor the EU position that Kosovo was independent. In the eyes of Serbia, it’s an extremely controversial statement. The Union hasn’t decided that Kosovo is independent, and it’s not a unified EU position. The EU continues to mark Kosovo with an asterisk and a footnote in its documents, thus expressing the neutrality of its status,” Dacic said after a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Slovakia. As he put it, Borisov was answering a question about Borell’s bias, since Spain hadn’t recognized Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence, saying that the
Spanish diplomat would also take into account the position of states that had recognized it.
The Serbian foreign minister said “it makes a considerable difference compared to what the media reported,” and that he felt the situation was now clear, which was very important for the Serbian-Bulgarian relationship.
Brnabic: I will not go to Potocari as I was not invited (FoNet/Beta)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on 9 July she would not go to Potocari on 11 July for the burial of the remains of 33 victims of Srebrenica genocide in 1995, because “I am not invited”, FoNet. “This time as well I’ll send my deepest condolences to the families of all victims of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and surely in Srebrenica. I’m not invited and won’t go,” Brnabic told reporters at the sidelines of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit. She recalled an incident in 2015 when the then Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was attacked in Potocari while attending the commemoration of “that horrible crime”, and added that no one was held responsible. That, she said, “did not send a good message for the regional cooperation”. Brnabic added she was always available “for everything that could make the region a better place to live in”.
Brnabic invited to light candle for Srebrenica victims at Andricev Venac on 11 July (Beta)
The Youth Initiative for Human Rights called on 9 July on Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, as well as on other representatives of the executive government, to honor the victims of the
Srebrenica genocide by lighting a candle in the park next to the Serbian Presidency at 7 p.m. on 11 July. A statement said that the organization had invited the prime minister to light a candle in front of the Presidency after her statement on 9 July that she would not go to Potocari.
Vulin and military healthcare delegation banned entrance into Kosovo and Metohija (RTS)
Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and the delegation of the Serbian Defense and military healthcare have not been allowed to visit the clinical-hospital center in Kosovska Mitrovica, Vulin’s cabinet announced. This occurred despite the fact that Ramush Haradinaj told last week the Serbian Prime Minister that it was fake news that Pristina had denied all Serbian officials permission to visit so-called Kosovo. Pristina’s response notes only that they are unable to positively respond to their request. “It turned out once again that Ramush Haradinaj is lying,” the statement reads. It states that Pristina has once again violated the Brussels agreement, while this time, along with Minister Vulin, our doctors are also on the list of officials who cannot enter Kosovo and Metohija.
Moscow condemns provocative acts by Tirana, Pristina (Beta)
Moscow has condemned last week’s agreement between Albania and Kosovo to coordinate their foreign policies, the move including joint diplomatic offices in third countries, and described it as a “provocative step.” “Provocative acts by Tirana and Pristina, corresponding to the concept of Greater Albania, have caused serious concern. It is in this context, too, that we see a July 2 agreement between Albania and Kosovo to merge their diplomatic offices in third countries,” the Russian foreign ministry was explicit in a press release. The ministry went on to say that the United States and the European Union “prefer not to react to such destructive measures,” thus “effectively covering for destructive phenomena under the project of Greater Albania, harming the region at large.”
SEECP Summit ends, joint declaration adopted (BHT1)
A Summit of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) on Tuesday and marked the end of the one-year-long B&H’s Chairmanship-in-Office of the SEECP. Participants of this Summit adopted a joint declaration reading that its signatories are committed to further inclusive and regional cooperation and to joint activities. It also reads that participants of this summit are committed to work jointly in order to efficiently face all security threats in the region. Participants stated that the declaration represents all-encompassing approach towards the EU integration, security, economic development, digitalization and migrations. Special focus of the abovementioned Summit was on migrations, attitude of the EU towards migrations and the migrant crisis that B&H has been facing.
Chairman of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that if the problem of smuggling of migrants was solved successfully, it would achieve better results than other measures, including engagement of an army in protection of borders. Dodik expressed regret over the absence of the Kosovo delegation, but he stressed that he could not accept Kosovo’s conditions. He reminded that he supports the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and the approach in which B&H follows Belgrade’s attitude towards Pristina when it comes to recognition of Kosovo. Dodik added that a number of open issues between B&H and its neighbors can be resolved rapidly. Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated that development of regional cooperation and good-neighborly relations would convey a clear message that the South East Europe or the Western Balkans can be part of integration processes. Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic stressed that improvement of relations among countries in this region is necessary in order to improve joint acting regarding the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, the fight against organized crime and illicit weapons trade. President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope that the EU officials will support the idea of integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU. Erdogan emphasized that success of the SEECP is not only important for SEECP countries, but also for peace and prosperity of entire Europe. He went on to say that Turkey will resume to provide support to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans. Erdogan stated that negative courses of division and discrimination that were spread across Europe lately pose threat not only to internal peace in Europe, but also a threat to the future and capacity of the region to become hope for many countries. During the plenary session of Prime Ministers and Presidents of the SEECP member countries, Albanian President Ilir Meta said that this is the right time to recognize the reality that “Republic of Kosovo is an independent state” and that it should be respected as such. “This is the right time for B&H to move forward in terms of recognizing the reality of things. Republic of Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and it should be treated with respect, especially by its neighbors” Meta told the SEECP Summit.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic characterized Meta’s words as political provocation. “The South-East European Cooperation Process does not recognize the so-called Republic of Kosovo, and neither do our hosts. I believe that in terms of diplomacy it is polite to respect this because, besides the hosts and format of this very process and besides me as the representative of Serbia, there are representatives of different states at this table who do not recognize the so-called Republic of Kosovo – Romania, Moldova, Greece and so on,” Brnabic underlined. Commenting on Brnabic’s reaction to his statement, Meta told that he wanted to make clear that B&H leaders should pay more efforts to ensure Kosovo’s participation in the summit, adding that there are no misunderstandings between Brnabic and him. Asked to comment on the announcement that Albania and Kosovo will have a joint foreign cooperation, i.e. if this will mean changes with regards to B&H in the future given the taxes imposed by Kosovo authorities on goods imported from Serbia and B&H, Meta said that Albania does not advocate the policy of promoting obstacles between the countries but it advocates removal of these obstacles. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that he thinks that the issue of realistic possibility of the EU enlargement and if the Western Balkan countries and the EU are still privileged partners or they just return to a position of neighbors who share joint concern about European perspective will be addressed very soon. Participants also discussed the issue of illegal migration in the region. Djukanovic expressed concern over the standstill in the process of integrating the Balkans and also with the “discouraging messages from important European addresses.” A day after Bulgaria and Serbia summoned each other’s ambassadors over the controversy involving Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who made some remarks about Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s comments on Kosovo and the EU foreign policy, Borissov held talks on the issue with Serbian PM Brnabic. Brnabic and Borissov told members of the press that they are “done with creating unnecessary tensions”, adding their relations are very good and the two countries plan on cooperating in various projects in the future. Borissov said that the intention is to leave the process of EU enlargement “alive”, because that is of extreme importance for the countries which are still not part of the EU. He noted that things in the Western Balkans have to move forward and he addressed the issue of Kosovo, noting that recognition of this country is an internal matter of each individual country, but representatives of Serbia and Kosovo need to sit down and discuss open issues. As for the issue of custom tariffs, Borissov said that it would be good for this region to have zero tax rate, so everyone would be equal. He also stressed that there are positive things in the region, but they are not mentioned enough: “If we are unable to reach an agreement in Sarajevo, a City which is consider to be my own, we can exchange words and have an open discussion so that the result is some kind of an agreement”.
Erdogan asked for extradition of persons who can be brought in connection with attempted coup in Turkey in 2016 (N1)
Members of the B&H Presidency, Milorad Dodik and Sefik Dzaferovic, confirmed that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked for extradition of persons who can be brought in connection with the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016. Dodik stressed that this is not the first time that this topic is on the agenda, noting that extradition of Turkish nationals was also discussed during the B&H Presidency members’ visit to Ankara. “The Turkish institutions established that there are certain people and institutions here in B&H and I want to say that most of them are located in the area of the Federation of B&H and that this is a matter of the Federation of B&H bodies and procedure and I believe that this is very clear to President Erdogan,” Dodik underlined. Dzaferovic, on the other hand, could not give a precise answer as to whether Erdogan received a promise that wanted individuals will be extradited. “What I can say is that B&H, and I said that already at the meeting on Monday, in regard to all issues, including that one, will act in the spirit of good friendly relations with the Republic of Turkey and that it will solve all issues, including that one, by respecting the laws of both the Republic of Turkey and B&H,” Dzaferovic underlined.
Djukanovic: Western Balkans need to become part of EU (BN TV)
Guest of BN TV was President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic. He discussed the political situation in the Western Balkans, the EU path and NATO integration of Montenegro and relations with Serbia. Djukanovic said that the interest of South East Europe countries is to become EU members and to compete with other global powers as part of the EU. He stressed that one is witnessing a change to global political and security factions and the region needs to remain interested in Europe. Djukanovic reiterated the strong support of Montenegro to the EU and NATO path of B&H. He stressed that there is no alternative to the EU and NATO path of the region and Montenegro realized that on time. Djukanovic assessed that the countries of the Western Balkans wasted a lot of time on irrational things and now many other global powers are showing interest in this region. He explained that those are Russia and China and they have legitimate interests in this region. Djukanovic stressed that the Western Balkan needs to be a civilizational, cultural and economic part of Europe. He assessed the path of the EU and NATO integration of Montenegro as more progressive than the other countries in the region. Djukanovic highlighted that wrong and backward thesis are being renewed in the region. He explained that those are the ambitions of certain countries to meddle in the rights of their people in other countries in the region. Djukanovic concluded that these were the reasons that led to the war in former Yugoslavia.
Ruling coalition survives Kuscevic’s dismissal (Hina)
The Croatian People’s Party (HNS) whip, Milorad Batinic on Tuesday said that the HNS was more than a fair coalition partner to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) despite the ultimatum it set with regard to replacing Administration Minister Lovro Kuscevic, who stepped down on Monday evening, assessing Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic‘s move as “correct and statesmanlike.” Asked whether HNS expects Plenkovic’s retaliation seeing that with its publicly announced ultimatum they put him in an awkward position, Batinic said that more information about that would be provided after a meeting between coalition partners. “That’s a matter for coalition partners, coalition talks and we will discuss everything at the coalition meeting” he added. He dismissed interpretations that HNS acted unfairly because it sent its message that Kuscevic has to go through the media and now they are saying they will discuss it in the meeting of the coalition. “You have totally distorted your arguments. Coalition talks have been continuing over the past four weeks. No one can deny anyone their right to their opinion regardless of the dispute in question,” he told reporters. He underscored that the HNS caucus was united. He added that he believes the prime minister will not oust the HNS from the government and that Plenkovic made a “correct and statesmanlike move.” Considering that the HNS in its press release mentioned Kuscevic ‘s criminal responsibility, Batinic said that they expect the relevant institutions to do their job. “We pointed out the political responsibility and that was the main thing and now it is up to state institutions to assess whether there were any criminal wrongdoings and to handle that,” he added. Asked whether the HNS was perhaps aiming for a broader government reshuffle, Batinic said that there is certainly room for improvement and that in the last year of term in government, those ministers who perhaps have not kept up with HNS ministers, will pick up and we can catch up to what we advocated when we entered into the coalition.” Asked whether ministers Grabrijela Zalac and Goran Maric should remain in government, Batinic reiterated, “that will be discussed at coalition meetings in addition to other matters that are discussed.”
Demarcation of Montenegro and Kosovo to be reconsidered soon (RTCG)
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announced that commissions of Kosovo and Montenegro will soon meet in order to reconsider the demarcation. “The Intergovernmental Commissions will meet soon for re-consideration of the demarcation in the direction of Kula and Cakor! On the issue of re-consideration of the agreement on the demarcation of the border with Montenegro, in many cases, with full confidence, I spoke to my Montenegrin counterpart Dusko Markovic. Kosovo and Montenegro are ready to form commissions for considering demarcation in the direction of Kula and Cakor,” stated Haradinaj. Haradinaj stated that also during the Summit of the Western Balkans countries in Poznan, where he met with the Prime Minister of Montenegro, the willingness was confirmed for the commissions to start the work within an optimal period, and the border crossing on Cakor and Kula to be opened soon. “I thank my colleague Dusko Markovic for his constructive contribution and the expressed will for strengthening friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” said Haradinaj.
Zaev: I was the victim of a prank by a well-organized structure (Nezavisen vesnik)
Anti-NATO structures stand behind the phone conversations, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev commented on the audio posted on YouTube by Russian pranksters Vladimir Kuzencov and Alexei Stolarov, adding that they want to threaten the country’s strategic goal to join the Alliance. Some of the audio has been edited and taken out of context, Zaev said, and some of it merely confirms the government’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration. “I was the victim of a prank by a well-organized structure,” Zaev said, “which benefits from new tactics, forms, and tools in an attempt to publicly discredit people and countries with Euro-Atlantic aspirations. This is one of those attempts to directly harm our strategic interests to complete our NATO membership.” According to Zaev, this was evident by what outlets were quick to publish this information: media channels spreading lies and anti-NATO propaganda. “Part of the phone conversations were seriously intervened with,” Zaev said, “and put into a context that’s not authentic, leading to incorrect conclusions. “Such is the released excerpt on the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which is a part that’s been intervened with.” The rest of the audio, Zaev said, only confirms his and the government’s efforts in line with the country’s strategic goals. And in this case, the victim is me and my openness and availability to everyone,” Zaev said, pointing out that French President Emmanuel Macron, UK’s former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have also been victims of the Russian pranksters. Zaev said stronger protocols for secure communication will be established, and the government will collaborate with NATO in developing a plan against disinformation and media manipulation. The press conference followed the release of a YouTube audio in which the Russian pranksters pose as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. In the telephone conversation with the Russian comedian who pretended to be Poroshenko, Zaev has spoken about foreign policy, Prespes Agreement, relations between Serbia and Kosovo, Ukraine and its relations with Russia, EU and NATO. In another hoax call, the other Russian comedian has pretended to be NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. Some media outlets claim that during these conversations, Zaev has also revealed state secrets.
Erdogan: Turkish parliament will soon ratify North Macedonia’s NATO Accession Protocol (Nezavisen vesnik)
North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski met with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) summit in Sarajevo. At the meeting, they praised the strong partnership between the two countries and positive trend in development of political and economic relations. Pendarovski and Erdogan exchanged views on developments in the two countries and the region. Pendarovski expressed expectations that Turkish Parliament will soon ratify North Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol after being approved by the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Erdogan said that Turkey strongly supports our country for EU and NATO membership, adding that Turkish Parliament will soon ratify the North Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol. Erdogan accepted the invitation from Pendarovski to pay official visit to North Macedonia and congratulated him on assuming of office, wishing him success in his work.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Diplomatic Tension between Sofia and Belgrade Settled (novinite.com, 9 July 2019)
There has been a positive outcome of the diplomatic controversy between Sofia and Belgrade. The news come from Sarajevo after a meeting between the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic during the South-East European Cooperation Process forum on July 9, reports BNT. Speaking before the participants in the forum and then to media, the Bulgarian PM said that on the Balkans it is difficult for us to get together, and instead of getting together we look at what divides us. But this is not the case for the EU, because they want results from us, Borissov added. As an example he pointed out to the controversy between Bulgaria and Serbia in the recent days over Borissov’s comments on Kosovo and EU foreign policy, and the reaction by the Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić to them. The tension escalated after the reaction by Ivica Dacic to Boyko Borissov’s words that the new EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is Spanish, would not be upholding the national policy of Madrid on Kosovo, but the European policy instead. Speaking to media later, Borissov said he wanted a formal apology from Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic because he did not say anything wrong. He repeated his words that when a country’s representative holds a high post in the European Union, he should consult with the whole Union, regardless of the position of his country, as in this case Spain does not recognize Kosovo, and Josep Borell was elected as High Representative for Foreign Affairs. Then he told Serbian national television that he expected Dacic to apologise to him because he made a diplomatic row on his back.
Short-sighted policies stall Balkans’ integration into EU: Erdogan (Reuters, by Daria Sito-Sucic, 9 July 2019)
MOUNT JAHORINA, Bosnia – Short-sighted anti-immigrant populism in some European Union member states has blocked the integration of Western Balkan countries into the EU, weakening the region’s stability, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday. He was speaking at a 12-nation Balkans summit where leaders voiced deep disappointment with the EU’s lack of follow-through on promises to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania, opposed by northern EU countries. In June, EU governments unexpectedly put off a decision to start the talks with the two and cast doubt on the bloc’s existing strategy to counter a growing Russian and Chinese presence in the Balkans. Erdogan and other speakers at the Balkans gathering held near the Bosnian capital Sarajevo criticized the EU over its reluctance to pursue further enlargement of the bloc. “Recently we have seen that some short-sighted populist circles have blocked EU enlargement policy. Negative trends toward division and discrimination have spread across the continent and endanger not only internal peace within the EU but…hope and potential of the (Balkans) region.” The EU’s appetite for further enlargement has been eroded by anti-immigration sentiment among voters and by increased criticism of the 28-nation bloc’s already complex and lumbering decision-making processes. France and the Netherlands, with support from Denmark, also may seek further conditions such as more reform to tackle corruption and organized crime in Albania and Macedonia. Turkey’s own bid for EU membership, launched back in 2004, has been stalled for years, with EU officials citing Ankara’s disregard for human rights and civil liberties under Erdogan. Some EU leaders want the talks to be scrapped. Erdogan has blamed alleged prejudice against Muslims for the impasse. Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic called on other Western Balkan leaders to come up with a clear, common approach regarding expectations for relations with the EU. “We are concerned about enlargement policy being slowed down and being made vague,” Djukanovic said, adding that other countries of the region had also received discouraging signals regarding the EU accession process. He said the EU had failed to abolish visa requirements for Kosovo citizens or approve the opening of the last chapter in Montenegro’s accession process, while postponing the approval of Bosnia’s candidate status for later this year. “I believe the issue of a real enlargement perspective will have to be opened very soon – whether we, the countries of the Western Balkans and the EU, are privileged partners or we are going back to the position of neighbors who (merely) share concern about the future of our common continent,” he said. Western Balkans states that comprised the former Yugoslavia were wracked by ethnic war in the 1990s, and tensions linger. Erdogan also paid respect to victims of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, laying flowers on trucks bearing the coffins of 33 among the 8,000 Muslim men and boys massacred by Bosnian Serb forces. The remains, which were exhumed from mass graves, will be reburied in a ceremony on July 11, the massacre anniversary.
(Additional reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)