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Belgrade Media Report 12 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 12 July 2019

• Mali: Pristina denying reality with lies (Novosti/Tanjug)
• Joksimovic: Gratitude to Georgia for principled support of Serbia’s territorial integrity (RTS/Tanjug)
• Office for Kosovo and Metohija demands immediate release of arrested Serbs (RTS)
• Drecun: Well-coordinated campaign by Pristina and Tirana (RTS)
• Germany holds lecture to us about genocide?! (Novosti)
• Seselj: Genocide not committed in Srebrenica (Beta)
• Trifunovic: Genocide committed in Srebrenica (Beta)
• McAllister: EP regrets denial of genocide in Srebrenica by Serbian politicians (Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• It is time for the international community to wake up from this dream (FTV)
• MICT President Agius: It was established beyond any reasonable doubt that genocide was carefully planned and carried out in systematic and brutal way (BHT1)
• Mogherini and Hahn: Tragedy of Srebrenica haunts Europe (Hayat)
• HR Inzko: I will personally advocate adoption of law banning denial of genocide (TV1)
• US stands next to victims and those who respect international law (TV1)
• Turkish President Erdogan: History will never forget Srebrenica genocide (Hayat)
• Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: All innocent victims of tragic events in first half of 1990s should be respected (Glas Srpske)
• Dodik: Bosniaks are creating a myth about Srebrenica (Glas Srpske)
• Plenkovic extends his condolences for Srebrenica genocide (Hina)
• Putin and Trump congratulated Djukanovic the Statehood Day (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev: These pranks are a private arrangement not an act by the Russian Federation (Nezavisen vesnik)


• Can Western Balkans learn from V4 experience in the process of reconciliation? (European Western Balkans)

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Mali: Pristina denying reality with lies (Novosti/Tanjug)


Serbia will keep preventing representatives of the so-called state of Kosovo from usurping rights they are not entitled to, Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said Thursday in response to Pristina’s claims it had not lobbied for admission to the Intra-European Organization of Tax Administrations (IOTA). Mali was commenting on a statement by Pristina’s financial adviser Lulzim Rafuna, who has said the so-called Kosovo had not lobbied or even applied for membership in the organization and that its failure to join IOTA was no major loss as a result.

“Notorious lies by Kosovo officials are something we have unfortunately become accustomed to over the past years. Non-acceptance of reality is the way they act, and it is evident they found it hard to accept the fact they have not been admitted to IOTA,” Mali told Novosti. Despite their claims that they had not lobbied for membership, it is clear they had invested serious efforts to join this significant international organization, Mali said. An IOTA General Assembly meeting was held on July 1-5 and the decision not to admit the so-called Kosovo to the organization’s membership was made in a secret vote.


Joksimovic: Gratitude to Georgia for principled support of Serbia’s territorial integrity (RTS/Tanjug)


Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic spoke in Batumi with President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili, who stressed the importance of good political and economic relations between friendly nations of the two countries and called for their additional promotion.

Joksimovic said it is clear how much Georgia values Serbia’s sincere support for European aspirations. She expressed gratitude to Zourabichvili for the firm and principled support of Georgia to the territorial integrity of Serbia, stating that the country is consistent in stating that it does not recognize the independence of the so-called Kosovo.


Office for Kosovo and Metohija demands immediate release of arrested Serbs (RTS)


The Office for Kosovo and Metohija condemns the intimidation of the Kosovo Serbs by the arrest of the two Serbs, both schools’ headmasters, at the administrative Konculj crossing, and demanded their immediate release. The Office said the arrest was an attack on Serb people and the most flagrant example of legal violence which respectable Serbs are exposed to very often.

It requested that the international organizations prevent this brutal campaign. Two Serbs were arrested on Wednesday and suspected of “espionage”.


Drecun: Well-coordinated campaign by Pristina and Tirana (RTS)


The Chairman of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the arrest of two Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is no surprise. He says this is one of ways of pressuring the Serbs to leave Kosovo and Metohija, and those who had been expelled not to return. According to him, this arrest shows that such manner of unilateral action by Pristina is an integral part of a planned, well-coordinated campaign by Tirana and Pristina that has the support of some state that is going in two directions. “One is to exert pressure on Belgrade by hindering the survival of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija with unilateral moves, disabling the return of expelled in order to completely disable the resumption of any talks between Belgrade and Pristina, and the other direction is to create conditions with practical steps at Kosovo joining Albania that has the silent support of many western countries that recognized the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo,” said Drecun.


Germany holds lecture to us about genocide?! (Novosti)


In reaction to the statement made by German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb, Novosti writes that, up until now, Srebrenica crimes were often described as the largest ones committed since the World War II in Europe, but the German Ambassador to Serbia “stretched” this out on the entire 20th century. Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin reacted to this statement and told Novosti that “Serbia is an independent country free to make its own decisions” and he added that Serbia has no intention to write history in line with anyone’s orders. “Following the experience from the two world wars, it does not suit the German Ambassador to tell Serbs what they need to do or think and he should especially not tell us what genocide is. The Serb people survived genocide, it did not commit one, which is something much bigger people cannot say for themselves,” Vulin added. Serbian Minister without Portfolio in charge of innovations Nenad Popovic said that statements coming from European officials lately clearly indicate that Serbia will be requested to recognize Srebrenica genocide and proclaim itself as genocidal state for the sake of the admission to the European Union. Popovic argued that it will be necessary to reconsider future process of European integration because of such requests. Historians Vasilije Krestic and Predrag Markovic reminded that much greater crimes than in Srebrenica were committed in Rwanda, yet the international community failed to react. Krestic went on to say that crimes in Srebrenica were committed, but Serbia was acquitted of any responsibility for it, even by The Hague Tribunal.


Seselj: Genocide not committed in Srebrenica (Beta)


Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj claimed in Serbian parliament that genocide was not committed in Srebrenica 24 years ago and that the crime against Muslims was organized by foreigners. Seselj called on the Serbian cabinet to gather information on that and prove this to the global public. He called court findings confirming that genocide was committed in Srebrenica a “scam.” “Brnabic says that the crime was horrific. It is a horrific crime when 1,000 to 1,200 prisoners of war are executed, but even more horrific than that was when the Muslims killed between 4,000 and 5,000 civilians in Sarajevo,” Seselj said. Seselj went on to say that no one was asking these questions and that Serbia “has mostly forgotten about this.” Commenting on a statement by European Commissioner Johannes Hahn that there was no room in the EU for those who denied genocide in Srebrenica, Seselj called on the government to state that Serbia did not want to become a part of the EU.


Trifunovic: Genocide committed in Srebrenica (Beta)


Leader of the opposition Movement of Free Citizens (PSG) Sergej Trifunovic said that genocide was committed in Srebrenica 24 years ago. Trifunovic stressed that 11 July ought to be devoted to the victims and memory of a dark chapter in history which must never again be repeated. “This is why on this day I wish to once again show my respect for the victims of the genocide, because it was a genocide, as defined by the UN – an interethnic crime of intentional, complete or partial destruction of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group,” Trifunovic underlined.


McAllister: EP regrets denial of genocide in Srebrenica by Serbian politicians (Beta)


German lawmaker in the European Parliament (EP) David McAllister said on 11 July that the EP regretted the denial of genocide in Srebrenica by some political circles in Serbia. The European Parliament was clear about this. We regret that some politicians in Serbia are still denying that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide. This is the EP’s official stance, McAllister underlined. McAllister was appointed on 10 July as chairman of the foreign policy committee in the new EP. Before that, he served as rapporteur for Serbia.




It is time for the international community to wake up from this dream (FTV)


The 24th anniversary of the crimes committed in Srebrenica was marked in the Potocari Memorial Center on Thursday. Mortal remains of 33 identified victims were buried. Members of families of the victims, representatives of authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), representatives of the international community (IC), as well as nearly 6,000 participants attended the commemoration. The reporter noted that discussions on whether the crime committed in Srebrenica is genocide or not is unacceptable for families of the victims and Bosniak politicians. Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic attended the commemoration and told “Not only that they deny the genocide and glorify criminals, but they want to end the criminal project. We can hear stories on putting an end to division of B&H. Therefore, it is time for the IC to wake up from this dream”. Izetbegovic deems that it is necessary to preserve memory of the Srebrenica Genocide and try to improve the situation by finding “good people across the world and within all ethnic groups here in B&H, especially among Serbs”. Member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic also addressed attendees of the commemoration. On this occasion, he stated that without the knowledge on mass graves that still hide bodies of thousands of killed Bosniaks, it will be more and more difficult to organize the burial in the future. Dzaferovic said that this creates an additional obligation to improve the capacity of the Potocari Memorial Center to continue its mission that implies preservation of the truth on the genocide. Dzaferovic also said that Srebrenica will remain a dark spot on the conscience of everyone who could have stopped the genocide, but did not do anything. He added that the international community and the UN will return one part of their lost credibility if they stand against the ones who negate the genocide in Srebrenica. Dzaferovic stated that political and religious elites of the Serb people do not want to accept the facts or face the truth and openly take distance from ideology that caused genocide. Dzaferovic claims that these elites also refuse to take distance from the perpetrators and instead the perpetrators and convicted war criminals are celebrated. Chairman of Bi& Council of Ministers (CoM) Denis Zvizdic said that there is and there should be no room for any denial of the genocide in Srebrenica. Zvizdic stressed that the genocide should be simply accepted as a historically proven fact that was confirmed before international courts. Addressing media, he said: “While the entire civilized world, as we can see Australia, Canada, the EU, the US mark the genocide in Srebrenica, we have denial of the genocide in Srebrenica where the genocide was committed, as the last stage and glorification of war criminals and those who planned one of the biggest crime of genocide after the WWII at the territory of Europe”. Federation of B&H Prime Minister Fadil Novalic said that the message sent from Srebrenica has become international. He said that every year there are less victims but more visitors in Srebrenica. Novalic assessed this as a good sign for the truth about the events in Srebrenica, which is reaching the world.


MICT President Agius: It was established beyond any reasonable doubt that genocide was carefully planned and carried out in systematic and brutal way (BHT1)


President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Carmel Agius told Thursday’s commemoration in Potocari held on the occasion of 24th anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica that it was established beyond any reasonable doubt that genocide was carefully planned and carried out in a systematic and brutal way. “Those who deny genocide in Srebrenica are very likely those who want to benefit from the closure of the ICTY. They evidently forgot that the Residual Mechanism will remain by your side, side by side, instead of the ICTY. Residual Mechanism and I as its President have an obligation and duty to defend the verdicts and the truth which was established by the ICTY,” Agius underlined. Agius emphasized that only courts, and not politicians and individuals can decide on verdicts and the genocide. Agius stated: “Those who deny the legitimacy of findings of The Hague Tribunal and the MICT, must be reminded that only the (UN) Security Council gave the mandate to these institutions and no one else, to carry out investigations, to prosecute, adjudicate and sanction those who committed crimes”.


Mogherini and Hahn: Tragedy of Srebrenica haunts Europe (Hayat)


EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn signed a joint statement with regard to marking of the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica. The statement reads: “We are marking the genocide in Srebrenica today. This was 24 years ago, however this tragedy still haunts us. Our hearts and thoughts are with victims and all those whose lives are affected with these tragic events. It is our joint duty to remember Srebrenica forever, one of the darkest moments of mankind in the modern, European history. While we remember it, we have responsibility to strengthen peace and secure a stable future for all peoples, who live in B&H and wider region. We must put an end to non-sanctioning and overcome the legacy of the past. There is no room for inflammatory rhetoric, denial, revisionism or glorification of war crimes. The attempts of re-writing history in B&H or elsewhere are unacceptable. As B&H expressed a wish to become a member of the EU, it is propriety that all political leaders in the country actively work on promotion of the dialogue and respect. The EU remains dedicated to giving support to B&H in establishment of the society in which pluralism, justice and human dignity prevail.”


HR Inzko: I will personally advocate adoption of law banning denial of genocide (TV1)


High Representative Valentin Inzko stated in Potocari on Thursday that he will advocate for the B&H parliament to adopt a law banning the denial of genocide in the next year, i.e. by the 25th anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica. Inzko expressed hope and conviction that B&H will have such a law next year, adding that we are working on that. Representatives of B&H associations of victims of war said that the High Representative will do everything in his power for the law banning the denial of genocide to be adopted. Inzko also said on Thursday that he is frustrated with the fact that the law banning the denial of genocide exists in Canada, Belgium and other countries, but not in B&H. He said that it is a civilizational norm to recognize the genocide. Inzko said that he will personally advocate the adoption of such a law in B&H.


US stands next to victims and those who respect international law (TV1)


US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson said that the USA stand next to the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica and those who respect international law. Nelson participated in the last stage of the Peace March 2019 and said he prays for the peace of the victims. Nelson stressed that the US stands next to the ones who work on reconciliation and the future of B&H. He said that the US stands next to those who work that a crime like the one in Srebrenica is never repeated again.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement “This painful chapter in European history must never be denied nor forgotten. We stand with those who continue to seek justice. We reaffirm out sustained support for those working to honor the dignity of all of the victims, including those who still await their final resting places. The tragic events of the past remind us of the need to work in unity for a better future, one that is stable, prosperous and inclusive of all citizens of B&H. The United States remains a steadfast partner of the people of B&H. Today, as we remember the fallen, we reaffirm our commitment to building peace and prosperity throughout the region and to ensuring such a tragedy can never happen again.” Pompeo said in a statement.


Turkish President Erdogan: History will never forget Srebrenica genocide (Hayat)


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that history will never forget the 1995 Srebrenica genocide that massacred more than 8,000 innocent people. “Srebrenica genocide, which took place before the eyes of Europe and claimed lives of 8,372 innocent people, will never be forgotten throughout the history,” Erdogan said on Twitter. In his post, Erdogan also conveyed his condolences to Bosnia and Herzegovina people on the 24th anniversary of the massacre and wished God’s mercy to those martyred in the incident.


Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: All innocent victims of tragic events in first half of 1990s should be respected (Glas Srpske)


Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov was the only international official who attended marking of the anniversary of the suffering of Serbs in the region of Podrinje. Asked to comment on other countries representatives’ indifference towards Serb victims, Ivantsov replied by saying that one should respect all innocent victims of “tragic events” in the region in the first half of 1990s, “without any politicization of this issue, because it does not contribute to strengthening of mutual trust and reconciliation”.


Dodik: Bosniaks are creating a myth about Srebrenica (Glas Srpske)


Chairman of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, said that everybody is talking about the suffering of Bosniaks and genocide, while at the same time completely minimizing Serb victims, or failing to mention a single Serb victim in reports on crimes in Podrinje. “They have created a myth about Srebrenica on the basis of which the national identity of Bosniaks is being built. Just like Serbs have the myth about Kosovo, they are creating a myth about Srebrenica, because there can be no serious people without a myth. I can understand that. And now Europe is asking for the ban on denial of genocide. Why? Because they are certain about it. Why should one pass the law about that? Because they are not sure that they can support it with facts,” said Dodik. He noted that ‘genocide’ is now being imposed with courts’ decisions and political pressures. “Just like the British have tried to declare Serbs as genocidal people, and Serbs have lost half of their population in the previous century. Horrible crime was committed by some Serbs, but The Hague Tribunal has never been correct about the number of victims. And now they are telling us that we need to recognize something. Well, we are not going to do that,” concluded Dodik.


Plenkovic extends his condolences for Srebrenica genocide (Hina)


Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic opened Thursday’s cabinet meeting by expressing his condolences for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. “Today is the 24th anniversary of a great tragedy, one of the worst atrocities following World War II. In 1995 more than 8,000 men and youths were killed in Srebrenica,” said Plenkovic. He added that the government had sent an envoy to two commemorations of that tragedy, one to the Croatian parliament and the other to the Islamic center in Zagreb. “We want to express our condolences for the victims of that horrific crime” Plenkovic underscored and recalled that that “crime has been qualified as genocide by the international tribunal’s conviction.” On 26 February 2007, the ICJ, the highest judicial body of the United Nations, ruled that the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Bosniak Muslims in Srebrenica constituted genocide, but that Serbia was not responsible for the mass killings. However, the ICJ found Belgrade responsible for violating the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and defined the Bosnian Serb army and police as the perpetrators of the genocide.


Putin and Trump congratulated Djukanovic the Statehood Day (RTCG)


Presidents of two most powerful countries of the world, Russian Federation and United States of America, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, on the occasion of the Statehood Day, congratulated president of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic. President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, sent a greeting card to the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, for the celebration of 13 July – The Statehood Day of Montenegro. “Warm greetings for the celebration of the national holiday in your state – the Statehood day. I wish the people of Montenegro peace, happiness and well-being,” said Mr. Putin. US President Donald Trump congratulated President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic and citizens on the occasion of July 13th – Statehood Day of Montenegro “Dear Mr. President, on behalf of the citizens of the United States, I congratulate you and the citizens of Montenegro the state holiday 13 July. During 13 years of independence, Montenegro has made important progress in its integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. Your historic admission to NATO in 2017 has further strengthened a strong partnership between our two countries and I warmly welcome your continued contribution to regional and global security. The United States will continue to support Montenegro in its reform efforts and development goals. Our common values of security, peace, and freedom are the basis for an even deeper partnership in the coming period,” says the congratulation letter.


Zaev: These pranks are a private arrangement not an act by the Russian Federation (Nezavisen vesnik)


North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Thursday he has talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Bazdnikin and will meet him as part of their regular communication, not related to the recent phone conversation with the Russian pranksters who posed as former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“We are in regular communication with all ambassadors. This meeting was scheduled ten days ago. I believe these pranks are a private arrangement not an act by the Russian Federation, and these things should not get in the way of our friendly relations. Cooperation with the Russian Federation is one of our objectives, including its enhancement in all fields,” Zaev told the media. Prime Minister Zaev said he promotes friendship and enhancement of regional cooperation, which had been confirmed in the conversations with the Russian pranksters. “We are a small country, we want to be friends with everyone, even those against the NATO enlargement. Our intention is not hostility towards the Russian Federation by becoming a NATO member. On the contrary, I believe this will maintain peace in North Macedonia and the entire region,” said Zaev.

Zaev said that he had met with Bazdnikin at the government, and the two agreed that the case with the Russian pranksters wouldn’t affect bilateral relations and cooperation. “Friendship with Russia certainly continues. It’s our duty to strengthen and enhance it. We’re working on new economic projects. I believe trade with the Russian Federation will also grow. Modern technologies can sometimes cause unpleasant situations like this, but countries must promote friendship,” Zaev said. Asked if the Russian authorities would do something about the case, Zaev said that neither Macedonian nor Russian legislation has many provisions that could apply to such cases. “What we definitely need to do is strengthen security protocols,” he said.




Can Western Balkans learn from V4 experience in the process of reconciliation? (European Western Balkans, 11 July 2019)


PRAGUE – The European Union remains an important actor in ensuring the enhancement of regional cooperation and reconciliation in the region, giving countries’ membership perspective, assesses the policy brief “Reconciliation in the Western Balkans: Overcoming the past together”, published by Institute for European Policy – EUROPEUM. It is stated that two decades after the last armed conflict in the Western Balkans, the reconciliation process in the region is still its early phase. “Reconciliation is considered both a determinant for the democratization process of these countries and a precondition for them to join in the EU at a later stage. Moreover, a satisfactory degree of reconciliation is also seen as an essential step which would make European integration a long-term success,” it is noted in this policy brief. According to the policy brief, reconciliation has to be considered as a key part of the solution for the Western Balkans because all countries in the region are interdependent and seek a common future perspective in the wider European framework.


Visegrád experience

The policy brief states that the Visegrád experience seems to play the role of an important source of inspiration for the reconciliation process in the Western Balkans, both when it comes to the reconciliation between themselves and with the third countries. The Visegrád group was created to enhance cooperation between the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. The aim of the signatories was to overcome the problem from the past and concentrate on common challenges, one of which was the integration into European and trans-Atlantic structures.

“The ability of V4 to serve as a positive inspiration, however, might be endangered by some negative developments in the region, including the rise of Islamophobia, widespread anti-Roma sentiments, or maintenance of negative attitudes towards    ‘others’,” stress the authors of the policy brief, adding that these negative developments occurred primarily due to the fact that reconciliation was not entrenched in the society through education. The Western Balkan countries can learn a bitter lesson, the authors conclude.


United in diversity

According to the policy brief, reconciliation in the Western Balkans, a complex and multidimensional process involving a wide scope of actors, inter alia the EU and its member states, among them Visegrád Four, is concentrated according to the EU around “overcoming the legacy of the past”. The researchers note that the negative stereotypes are expressed in the public sphere including education, so, the stereotypes can be again manipulated by nationalists. From this point of view, good neighbourly and interethnic relations based on tolerance represent one of the key pillars of the reconciliation in the Western Balkans. “In the opinion of the EU, even more important is a promotion of tolerance through education which must be given a higher priority than before,” published in the policy brief.


Actors in the Western Balkans reconciliation process

The authors of the policy brief explain that reconciliation in the Western Balkans has both dimensions – internal, between the newly established states which emerged through wars. Thus, the reconciliation process is supposed to be more complex, long-lasting and demanding specific coalitions of actors and sets of activities. In this regard, the following recommendations are issued to all interested parties. Authors recommend that the Western Balkan countries should invest more in their younger generations as future the EU citizens and offer them a perspective for the future. They also point out that the reconciliation process should seek the direct involvement of the entire societal spectrum including also municipalities which are closer to the needs and realities of the citizens, as well as the private business community. “The Western Balkans countries should commit to the realization of concentrate initiatives that support reconciliation and good neighbourly relations which include a broad range of themes such as supporting transitional justice, solving cases of missing persons and increased cooperation in education, culture, youth and sport,” the paper concludes.


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