Vucic, Wolters: Serbian Army-KFOR communication key to stability (Tanjug/RTS/RTV/B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met today with US European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod Wolters. Vucic had expressed satisfaction with successful cooperation with NATO, that is being developed, fully respecting Serbia’s military neutral status. Vucic pointed out that the international peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and Metohija led by NATO guarantee security of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, and therefore demanded that the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces can at any moment get in touch with the KFOR Commander. At the same time, he accepted that the top officials of our army would be available for communication with KFOR. “Good communication between the Serbian Army and KFOR is important to prevent any crisis situation in Kosovo and Metohija, without any hesitation. It guarantees security of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija,” Vucic said. General Wolters consented that at any moment, without any delay, there is direct channel of mutual communication as it is important for maintaining stability in the region as the foundation of global stability. He confirmed that KFOR would continue to fulfill its responsibilities in Kosovo and Metohija and praised President Vucic for responsible, wise and nerveless reactions in crisis situations in Kosovo. General Wolters supported the efforts that Serbia invests in preserving stability and expanding co-operation in the region. Vucic said that the cooperation of the Serbian Army with NATO, within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, is in the common interest and expressed hope that it would be improved with the goal of building capacities for contributing to world peace. In this regard, Vucic emphasized that the new cycle of the Individual Partnership Action Plan has been harmonized, stated the press release of the Serbian Presidency.
Vucic congratulates Ursula von der Leyen on election (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated the European Commission’s newly-elected president Ursula von der Leyen on her election and wished her success, voicing the hope that she would support Serbia while working to make united Europe a better place for living, a statement from the Presidency said. Vucic voiced the hope that she would support Serbia, which wanted to become a part of the EU, while working to make a united Europe a better place for life. He said that Serbia had demonstrated that it wanted to become a part of the EU by looking for a compromise solution for the issue of Kosovo, by realistically and courageously approaching the EU mediated dialogue with Pristina. “Membership in the EU is Serbia’s strategic goal and, as a candidate state, it will always be a reliable partner in achieving common goals. Although we know how long and difficult the road to membership is, the existence of a European outlook poses an incentive to our efforts to make Serbia an orderly and successful country,” Vucic wrote.
MPs with Spanish Ambassador: Excellent relations between two countries (Tanjug)
The Head and members of the parliamentary Friendship Group (PFG) with Spain met in the Serbian parliament with the newly-appointed Spanish Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Raul Bartolome Molina. The Head of the PFG with Spain Balint Pasztor said that the excellent overall relations between the two countries are evidenced in the 54 strong PFG with Spain which testifies to the close relationship between the two peoples. There are no outstanding issues between Serbia and Spain he said and thanked the Spanish Ambassador for his country’s consistent and principled stance, grounded in international law, on the self-declared independence of Kosovo. Pastor hopes that the coming 141st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Belgrade, 13-17 October, will be attended by a high-tier Spanish delegation which will present an excellent opportunity to further advance the two countries’ parliamentary relations. Ambassador Molina said that Serbia is key to the stability of the region and an important and reliable partner to the EU, underlining Spain’s continued support of Serbia’s progress to the EU. He thanked Serbia for its support of Spain’s territorial integrity, adding that his country would remain consistent in its stance on international law and maintenance of territorial integrity.
Nathalie Loiseau: Balkans not ready to join EU (Beta)
Nathalie Loiseau, a member of the European Parliament and the former French European affairs minister, has said that the Balkan countries “are not at all ready” for membership in the European Union (EU), noting that the EU is not ready either to welcome these new members,” French public radio channel France Inter has reported. “Europe needs to do much more for the Balkan
countries…It does not mean that the Balkan states can join the EU the very next day. Those countries are not ready at all, neither are we ready to welcome them,” she noted. Loiseau further said she did not advocate actual EU integration, but rather building “a strong partnership at economic, infrastructure and political levels in order to avoid tensions.”
Regular session of B&H Presidency held; Dzaferovic, Komsic voted to file lawsuit against Croatia to stop construction &f Peljesac bridge; Dodik invoked Serb vital ethnic interest (BHT1/N1)
A regular session of the B&H Presidency was held in Sarajevo on Tuesday. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) and Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic (DF) voted to file a lawsuit against Croatia and stop the construction of the Peljesac Bridge. This vote was overruled by the Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik (SNSD), who invoked Serb vital ethnic interest. Dodik said that he will forward his decision to the RS parliament. The reporter clarified that if 2/3 of the RS parliament assess that this decision is of vital ethnic interest the request will be annulled. Dzeferovic stated however, that Komsic and himself will not give up on their decision underlining that B&H is not seeking anything that is not normal and noted that he does not see what sort of vital ethnic interest the RS could have when it comes to the issue with Croatia in the Neum bay. He assessed that it should also be in the RS’s best interest for B&H to have access to open waters. After the session, Dodik told reporters that there was a proposal to put an end to the works of construction of the Peljesac Bridge, adding that he did not support that. “In formal terms, the decision is considered to be adopted but, having in mind that each member is entitled to invoke the entity interest, vital interest, I raised the issue of vital interest for the RS as a Serb member of the B&H Presidency on behalf of the RS,” Dodik explained. “On the day when we signed the contract on construction of the bridge over Sava River after 10 years, we got a decision that could undermine this kind of story. I will request from the RS parliament to annul this decision with regard to the Peljesac Bridge,” Dodik said. He also noted that he proposed preparation of an agreement on the border with Croatia. On the other hand, Dzaferovic explained that B&H is not asking for anything that is not normal. The Presidency during their session adopted the conclusion on the migrant crisis. They stated that B&H will not be a basis where migrants will be accommodated. The reporter noted that the situation regarding the migrant crisis is further complicated by the fact that the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) has not yet delivered a detailed plan of concrete measures for resolving of the migrant crisis.
Croatia, B&H sign contract on construction of bridge across Sava River (ATV)
Representatives of the authorities of B&H and Croatia signed in Zagreb on Tuesday the agreement with contractors that have been selected to build the bridge over Sava River near Gradiska, on the border between B&H and Croatia. Namely, contractors include a consortium of company ‘Integral Inzenjering’ from Laktasi, as well as Croatian companies ‘Djuro Djakovic Montaza’ and ‘Zagreb Montaza’. The works on the bridge are worth EUR 19.5 million and they are supposed to be completed within a 30-month period. The story pertaining to construction of the bridge over Sava River started in 2004. The construction works are expected to start in late August or early September of this year. B&H Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Sasa Dalipagic stated that work on this project has been taking place for a long time and he expressed content with its completion. Dalipagic stressed that this was done in cooperation with Croatia and that the bridge is expected to lift the burden off the border in Gradiska. Croatian Minister of Maritime, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic said that the Croatian authorities have done a lot to enable the transport connecting of B&H and Croatia. “As a minister, I am proud of that,” Butkovic underlined.
FB&H HoR adopts law on rights of demobilized veterans and budget rebalance (N1)
The FB&H House of Representatives (HoR) held a session in Sarajevo on Tuesday, at which representatives were expected to cast a vote on the law on the rights of demobilized veterans in the FB&H. The law mostly solves the issues of veterans older than 57, around 20,000 of them, who are expected to become eligible for retirement. However, the law does not solve the issues of veterans under the age of 57. FB&H Minister for the Issues of Veterans and Disabled Veterans of the Defensive-Liberation War Salko Bukvarevic stressed that the cantons should get engaged to help the FB&H Government that already allocates BAM 600 million to veterans, which will be increased by BAM 50 million after the adoption of this law. He explained that the cantons should adopt criteria and approve the funds for veterans under the age of 57 who need financial support. However, certain associations of veterans, primarily the ones coming from Herzegovina, assessed that such law should not be adopted as they were not taken into account while it was being prepared. Earlier during the session, representatives elected a part of the leadership of the FB&H HoR. Mirsad Zaimovic was elected a new Speaker of the FB&H HoR, Mladen Boskovic was elected the deputy speaker, while deputy speaker from the ranks of Serbs was not elected as there was no candidate nominated for this post.
Grabar-Kitarovic: No illicit activity is being carried out at borders (BHT1)
The Human Rights Watch reacts to Croatia’s return of migrants to B&H by sending a letter to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. The letter read that the return of migrants by an EU member state to a non-EU member state without first considering protection needs and with the use of force violates multiple EU laws and the UN Refugee Convention. The Croatian Ministry of Interior (MoI) did not respond to the letter, however the Office of the Croatian President issued a press release for Croatian media which reads that the border police are acting professionally and in line with the law noting that force is being used in the least possible amount which is necessary for protection of security of officers and the execution of their tasks.
Head of the UNHCR office in Belgrade Hans Friedrich Schoder said that the lack of solidarity of states in the region regarding migrants is what fuels crime and human smuggling, which is why B&H, Croatia and Serbia have UNHCR’s support to address these challenges in line with the rule of law. The reporter noted that the Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic confirmed illicit activity on the border. Fazlic said that the Croatian police is returning migrants illegally and not in line with international procedures, noting that this is something that is endangering the security of Bihac.
Walters and Pendes discuss security situation in B&H and region (Hayat)
The Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Joint Forces in Europe General Todd Walters met on Tuesday in Sarajevo with B&H Minister of Defense Marina Pendes and other senior officials of B&H Ministry of Defense and the Joint Staff of B&H Armed Forces (AF). Pendes underlined that participants of this meeting discussed important security issues in B&H and the region, as well as cooperation between B&H Ministry of Defense and NATO. Participants discussed strengthening of abovementioned cooperation with goal to achieve level of higher security in this part of the South-East Europe. “We discussed all legal obligations of the Ministry concerning participation in peacebuilding missions, including participation of B&H AF in NATO-led operations in mission in Afghanistan,” explained Pendes. Walters stated that they talked about participation of B&H AF members in peace operations. He commended B&H’s contribution to these missions. Walter also expressed content with numerous joint activities implemented in 2019, adding that he looks forward to improving of military cooperation with B&H.
VMRO-DPMNE accuses Zoran Zaev of being at the top of the criminal enterprise (Republika)
The opposition party VMRO-DPMNE accused Prime Minister and SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev of being at the top of the criminal enterprise which is being uncovered these past few days, with the arrest of Bojan Jovanovski – Boki 13, and his alleged ties with Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva. “We expect that the investigation will determine to what extent was Zoran Zaev involved in the targeting, racketeering and the cover up of the extortions of the businessmen. Also, what was his cut of the racketeering? Is he the reason why the identities of the officials are kept hidden and they are not subjected to the same investigation? What do these two know about the crimes involving Zoran Zaev himself, which prompts him to cover up for them? If we have rule of law in this state, we will uncover the involvement of the SDSM party leadership in the scandal which shook the Republic of Macedonia,” VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release.
Katica Janeva called a former diplomat and threatened to release wiretaps to avoid arrest (MKD)
The MKD.mk news site reports that the police had a warrant for the arrest of Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva on Monday evening, but that she was able to call in supporters from abroad to stave off the arrest by threatening to release incriminating wiretaps. According to the news site, the police was looking for Janeva in the Special Prosecutor’s Office with an arrest warrant. But, the outgoing prosecutor “managed to call a former diplomat who was involved in the Przino talks, and with a high level official of the Macedonian government,” MKD.mk reports. Those present say that Janeva threatened them saying that some of the wiretaps she holds are deposited abroad. After this, the arrest warrant was “forgotten”, but Janeva’s official phone was seized, MKD.mk writes.
EU Ambassador to Macedonia comes out in support of the criminal investigation which led to the resignation of Katica Janeva (Republika)
European Ambassador to Macedonia Samuel Zbogar expressed support for the state prosecutors Ljubomir Joveski and Vilma Ruskoska, who initiated an organized crime case that led to the resignation of Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva. In his remarks, Zbogar said that the move by the two prosecutors was “decisive” and that the EU supports their activities. Despite the scandal that alleges abuse of office and extortion using the wiretaps stored in the Special Prosecutor’s Office, Zbogar also said that it is important that this service continues to operate in the future. Most of the SPO prosecutors distanced themselves from Janeva, insisting that the major corruption case is a “one-off”.
Von der Leyen makes no mention of Macedonia, or EU enlargement, in her speech before the European Parliament (Republika)
Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated to be the next President of the European Commission, made no mention of Macedonia or EU enlargement in her remarks before the European Parliament on Tuesday. It was widely reported that the PES social-democratic group in the Parliament demands commitment from Von der Leyen that she will work to open accession talks with Macedonia and Albania, as a condition to support her nomination. Both Albania and Macedonia are led by PES aligned parties and the social-democratic wing has pushed to get the EU to reward the leaders of the two countries. Zaev is also hoping that the Commission will continue to acknowledge the name change he imposed on Macedonia.
Why Albania does not have a functional Constitutional Court? (ADN)
President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta explained this Tuesday reason why Republic of Albania lacks a functional Constitutional Court. According to him, no judge and no prosecutor challenged the content of the lists of candidates included in the lot casting lists, submitted and announced by the Constitutional Court, the High Court, the General Prosecutor and the High Council of Justice, also no judge or prosecutor objected the results of the lot cast for the election of Council of Judicial Nominations (KED). Meanwhile, President of the Republic proclaimed that 4 days after the lot casting, Rama came out openly and publicly to say that he did not like the names of the members of the KED, also that on 31 January 2017, Rama directly threatening all members of the KED, blackmailing them by vetting dismissal. Furthermore, Head of State announced that Rama showed openly that he had the power of not only blocking the Council but also dismissing more than half of them. “No judge and no prosecutor challenged the content of the lists of candidates included in the lot casting lists, submitted by the Constitutional Court, the High Court, the General Prosecutor and the High Council of Justice and announced by them. No judge or prosecutor objected the results of the lot cast for the election of KED. The fact is that this Council was never convened and its mandate ended on 31.12.2017, without conducting any single meeting. If anyone does not know why this condition is, we are clarifying it. Prime Minister Rama, 4 (four) days after the lot casting, came out openly and publicly to say that he did not like the names of the members of the KED. On 31 January 2017, Prime Minister Rama bursts by directly threatening all members of the KED, blackmailing them by dismissing them with vetting. The prime minister showed openly that he had the power of not only blocking the Council but also dismissing more than half of them,” declared the President of Albania.
Rama’s order for newly elected mayors (ADN)
Prime Minister Edi Rama met this Tuesday with representatives of Socialist Party (SP) in Northern Albania. Albaniandailynews.com has learned that during this meeting, Rama has declared that in the municipalities, which have been so far under the leadership of the opposition, nobody is to be removed from work, only political positions are to be dealt with. “Nobody is to be removed from work in municipalities that were under the leadership of the right wing. Look only at political positions. No woman and girl is to be touched. Every decision is to be made based on merit,” has stated Rama, as reported.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Ambassador Lähdevirta: Finland is committed to a credible enlargement perspective (European Western Balkans, 17 July 2019)
BELGRADE – Finland is an enlargement-friendly country, stated in an interview for EWB Kimmo Lähdevirta, Ambassador to Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, on the occasion of Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
“Enlargement policy plays a significant role in advancing peace, prosperity and security in our continent, and therefore, Finland is committed to taking forward work on a credible enlargement perspective also in the Western Balkans, as stated in our Presidency Programme”, emphasised Lähdevirta.
One of the most important questions related to enlargement during both Romanian and Finnish Presidency was the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. While he recognizes the crucial importance of the issue for the region as a whole, and welcomes Prespa Agreement as a tangible achievement worth recognition, Ambassador Lähdevirta reminds that the decision requires unanimous support of all EU member states.
“As the Presidency, Finland is committed to act as an honest broker, and we are expecting an answer to this question in October at the latest”, he emphasised.
Another candidate country in the region, Serbia, opened only one additional negotiating chapter in June, some describing it as disappointment. According to Lähdevirta, Finland is more focused on the substance and quality of the reforms needed for EU membership than the number of chapters.
“Thus, the candidate countries can speed up their accession processes by implementing the reforms faster and more efficiently. In fact, the question about the speed of EU accession is therefore best answered by the governments of the candidate countries”, he stated.
Another issue of concern in the region is the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which the Ambassador sees as lacking serious progress lately, especially since the introduction of import tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian goods.
“We sincerely hope that a solution can be found, and willingness to compromise is expected from both sides. Status quo is not an option, as lack of normalization of the relations comes at a cost for both parties”, concluded Lähdevirta.