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Belgrade Media Report 19 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 19 July 2019

• Argentina to continue to support Serbia on Kosovo and Metohija issue (RTS/Tanjug)
• Joint statement of Vucic and Macron: Serbia’s membership in reformed EU a strategic goal (Beta/Politika)
• Dacic: Abolishment of taxes necessary for continuation of dialogue with Pristina (Tanjug)
• Dacic: US knows Belgrade is not a problem but Pristina (RTS)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• RS parliament adopts Dodik’s request to invoke mechanism for protection of vital interest of RS re Peljesac Bridge (ATV)
• Issue of Peljesac Bridge sparks series of reactions in B&H (N1)
• Mektic: EU funds for migrant crisis to be allocated directly to B&H institutions if two conditions are met (BNTV/RTRS)
• Grabar-Kitarovic criticizes Swiss TV for interpreting her statement on Croatian police’s treatment of migrants (Hayat)
• Plenkovic nominates new ministers for government reshuffle (Hina)
• Albanian parties and Democrats form unnatural coalition (Pobjeda)
• Relations between the US and Montenegro are friendly and stable (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Meeting of top party leaders canceled after Zaev refuses to discuss holding early elections (Republika/DW)
• Meta invites Rama to dialogue, criticizes international community (ADN)

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Argentina to continue to support Serbia on Kosovo and Metohija issue (RTS/Tanjug)


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic underlined during today’s talks with Ambassador of Argentina to Serbia Estanislao Zawels that a long friendship and mutual understanding are a firm basis for Serbia and Argentina to intensify political dialogue and strengthen their economic cooperation. Brnabic expressed her gratitude to the Ambassador on the principled position of Argentina to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia, as well as on its active support to Serbia in international organizations. Zawels confirmed that Serbia can count on the further support of Argentina in international organizations and in accordance with international law.


Joint statement of Vucic and Macron: Serbia’s membership in reformed EU a strategic goal (Beta/Politika)


Serbian and French presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Emmanuel Macron agreed during a recent visit by Macron to Belgrade that “Serbia’s accession to a deeply reformed EU poses a joint strategic goal.” In a joint statement released by Vucic’s office on July 18 the two presidents agreed that, to achieve this goal, “in addition to the requisite economic reforms in which Serbia has shown substantial progress, stronger efforts are needed in the areas of rule of law, fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions and reforming public administration.”

“France will continue supporting Serbia on its road to joining the European Union,” the statement said.  “France is also ready to offer technical expertise in the area of reforming public administration, economic management, the environment, agriculture and transportation as well as any other area that Serbia shows an interest in.” Vucic and Macron voiced in the joint statement “a wish for the fast maturing of conditions for renewing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina towards achieving a mutually acceptable solution mediated by the EU.”

The two statesmen agreed to continue fully conducting an Agreement on Strategic Partnership

and Cooperation signed by Serbia and France in 2011.


Dacic: Abolishment of taxes necessary for continuation of dialogue with Pristina (Tanjug)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that he used his visit to Washington to have talks with senior US officials about the situation in the region and noted that the position of Serbia regarding the dialogue with Pristina is judged favorably. After the meetings in Washington, Dacic said that the talks were very good and that he had spoken with US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker and Senator Ron Johnson. It is clearly indicated who is guilty of ending the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and it is clearly indicated what the next steps are, which means that the taxes must be abolished in order for the dialogue to continue, Dacic underlined. In that sense all the talks were very useful, Dacic said and added that he had presented once again the position of Serbia – that we are ready to continue the dialogue, but that we do not accept the unilateral acts of Pristina that show that they do not want any compromise. Dacic also added that National Security Adviser John Bolton pointed out that the US administration places finding a peaceful and durable solution to the Kosovo problem high on the list of US foreign policy priorities.

Dacic said he expects more US involvement in the coming period in order to exert additional pressure on Pristina to abolish tariffs and create conditions for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He added that another reason for his visit to Washington was to attend a ministerial conference on the promotion of religious freedoms, which the United States is organizing for the second time. I have taken the opportunity to point to the difficult position of the Serbian Orthodox Church, of Serbian believers in Kosovo and Metohija, and to remind everyone of all the crimes that have occurred in Kosovo and Metohija against Christian believers and the facilities of the Serbian Orthodox Church, he said.


Dacic: US knows Belgrade is not a problem but Pristina (RTS)


The US no longer follows its foreign policy “auto-pilot” and is now building a “creative approach” as they now thing an accord acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina must be found, which is also Serbia’s position, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS). After meeting with US national security adviser John Bolton in Washington, he said that he received very positive assessment at that meeting for what Serbia is doing regarding Kosovo. Dacic explained that the discussion with Bolton proved that the Kosovo issue is high on the agenda of foreign policy priorities of US President Donald Trump. Not wanting to unveil details of the meeting with Bolton, Dacic described the meeting as exceptionally useful. “We exchange opinions about the existing problem and the blockade of the dialogue. It was clearly stated that they know that Kosovo rather than Belgrade is the problem and that they will try to do all they can to unlock the dialogue,” Dacic said.




RS parliament adopts Dodik’s request to invoke mechanism for protection of vital interest of RS re Peljesac Bridge (ATV)


A special session of the RS parliament was held in Banja Luka on Thursday. This was an opportunity for representatives in the RS parliament to discuss the proposal of the decision on confirming the statement by B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik according to which the conclusion on accepting the official position of B&H regarding the continuation of construction of the Peljesac Bridge, adopted without consensus at the B&H Presidency’s session, is very harmful to the vital interests of the RS. Dodik said that the special session of the RS parliament represents affirmation of interests and rights of the RS, especially when it comes to outvoting. Dodik noted that the RS parliament is a place of our protection and not institutions of B&H. Dodik underlined that this is the first time that he is using the right to protect the vital interest of the RS and that he will use it whenever the vital interest of the RS is jeopardized. Addressing the RS parliament, Dodik said that adoption of the conclusion of the B&H Presidency which contested the construction of the Peljesac Bridge with votes of Bosniak and Croat member of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic respectively, on the day when the agreement on construction of the bridge over Sava River near Gradiska was signed indicates that damage that one wants to produce is not only directed against Croatia, but that one indirectly wants to jeopardize the abovementioned project of construction of the bridge over Sava River which, according to Dodik, is of vital interest for the RS. Dodik underlined that this is yet another proof that final and official decisions are ultimately being adopted in the RS and not at the B&H level. Dodik stressed that he will never allow for the RS to be outvoted in anything.


Issue of Peljesac Bridge sparks series of reactions in B&H (N1)


The issue of the Peljesac Bridge sparked a series of reactions in B&H. SDA official Aljosa Campara stated that, through international arbitration, international institutions should provide an answer to whether B&H or Croatia is right when it comes to the matter of the Peljesac Bridge. Campara pointed out that this is a matter of B&H’s right to have access to international waters, which the Peljesac Bridge would hinder. “I think it is entirely normal for every state official to protect the interests of their state, including the Peljesac Bridge. I think there is no reason to invoke the motion for protection of the vital entity interest,” Campara assessed. Our Party (NS) expressed support to the B&H Presidency’s conclusions pertaining to the Peljesac Bridge, and Komsic thanked them for the support. On the other hand, HDZ B&H official Zdenka Dzambas perceived Dodik’s reaction as justified, and she noted that relations with neighboring countries should not be undermined, especially in a situation in which nothing can be changed. Specifically, Dzambas reminded that construction of the Peljesac Bridge has already started. According to Dzambas, undermining relations with Croatia through a legal dispute might suit someone “for some purpose” that is currently unknown. Speaking for N1, SDS leader Mirko Sarovic reminded that SDS previously submitted an initiative into the parliamentary procedure seeking adoption of a declaration that would be related to the Peljesac Bridge, the border with Croatia, and access of B&H to international waters. Sarovic noted that SNSD was not interested in supporting SDS’ initiative. “If there is already a need to take care of the vital entity interest, the B&H Presidency should invoke it for the issue of Trgovska Gora and the nuclear waste disposal site. That is a strategic and vital interest of the RS,” Sarovic noted.


Mektic: EU funds for migrant crisis to be allocated directly to B&H institutions if two conditions are met (BNTV/RTRS)


Addressing a press conference in Sarajevo on Thursday, B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic spoke about his meeting with EC Director-General for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Christian Danielsson, which took place in Brussels on Wednesday. The meeting was dedicated to the migrant crisis in B&H. Mektic noted that EU funds will be allocated directly to the bank account of B&H institutions – if the country meets the EU’s conditions – to ensure locations for construction of migrant centers and improve the work of the Operational Headquarters for the Issue of Migrations. He stressed that migrant centers will not be set up in the RS, adding that locations were not discussed at the meeting in Brussels. “Nobody mentioned any kind of reception center. Like those people in Brussels know where Maglaj or Doboj is. They are not interested in where reception centers will be. Nobody talked about setting up 20 migrant centers here. (…) We are a transit route. We only talked about unburdening the Una-Sana Canton and I have already started some kind of story with NGO ‘Emmaus’ in Doboj Istok municipality in the FB&H – to set up a reception center there. This was not discussed yesterday,” Mektic explained. Speaking about the second condition, Mektic said: “We should strengthen the role of the Operational Headquarters because they want to have this coordination body clearly positioned.” Reacting to Mektic’s claims, RS Minister of Interior Dragan Lukac pointed out that the RS will not provide consent to authorize the Operational HQ to pass decisions and to grow into a new agency at the B&H level. Lukac finds that a reform of the Operational HQ cannot solve the issues of the migrant crisis. “We do not have information that the delegation of the EU requested such a thing. As for new agencies – operational, security and police – at the level of B&H, the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) considers that there is no need for something like that,” Lukac concluded.


Grabar-Kitarovic criticizes Swiss TV for interpreting her statement on Croatian police’s treatment of migrants (Hayat)


Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic paid a visit to the Island of Krk on Thursday. On this occasion, Grabar-Kitarovic touched upon the issue of migrants and the fact that she admitted that Croatia is pushing migrants back from its border in a “violent” way. When asked about the criticism coming from European media outlets after she admitted to the Swiss TV that Croatia uses such method, Grabar-Kitarovic said: “What they did is similar to the worst tabloids in the world. What the Swiss TV did will not change the fact that the Croatian police work professionally and with a highly human attitude towards all those people. They understand them and their use of adequate force – and not violence as they interpreted, which is not the same – (…) does not exceed the limits stipulated by the Croatian and European legislations, but it is sometimes necessary. When 50 people start running into you, you have to defend yourself.”


Plenkovic nominates new ministers for government reshuffle (Hina)


Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has decided to perform a broad government reshuffle,

with the appointment of as many as six new ministers. “I have assessed that a significant turn is necessary at this moment,” Plenkovic said after consultations with the helm of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union and coalition partners. Plenkovic dismissed the deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, Tomislav Tolusic, the minister of regional development and EU funds, Gabrijela Zalac, and the minister of demography, Nada Murganic. The ministers of administration, Lovro Kuscevic, and state-owned property, Goran Maric, resigned recently

because of scandals around real estate and land. The minister of foreign and European affairs, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, who will take the post of general secretary of the Council of Europe in September, will also be leaving the government. The new minister in charge of foreign and European affairs should be the ambassador to Germany, Gordan Grlic-Radman. For the post of minister of demography, Plenkovic nominated MP Vesna Bedekovic, and Mario Banozic for the post of minister of state-owned property. Marko Pavic will be the minister of regional development and EU funds. The prime minister nominated Marija Vuckovic as new minister of agriculture. The nominee for the post of minister of administration is Ivan Malenica. The ministers of police and finance, Davor Bozinovic and Zdravko Maric, will be the new deputy prime ministers.


Albanian parties and Democrats form unnatural coalition (Pobjeda)


Member of the Main Board of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), Nikola Gegaj, said that the current President of DPS, Mr Milo Djukanovic, should continue leading the party after the Congress, regardless of whether he had an opponent or not. “Contribution Djukanovic has made, his quality and experience as undisputed leader in Montenegro and beyond, make him the best DPS leader in the forthcoming period as well. In my opinion, the majority of members would give him a vote, even he had competition,” said Gegaj. Gegaj says that DPS is a very stable political subject. “Along with the organization, it’s very important for us to know who are the people performing specific functions at the central and local level and how they do their job. In that context, inter-party elections are very important and we take them seriously. Members of DPS are people who are facing real life in their families and communities and are constantly working on improving living conditions in their country. I’m proud to say that all boards have been refreshed. Parliamentary elections are very important and our approach is, therefore, comprehensive. We don’t see opposition parties as opponents and we are always willing to cooperate or the sake of Montenegro’s prosperity,” said Gegaj. DPS has lost local elections Tuzi. Gegaj says they didn’t see that as defeat. “Individually, we are still the strongest political subject in Tuzi, with most mandates and votes. Although, it was not enough for us to exercise power in the municipality. Albanian parties were given a chance to prove themselves as promoters of progress. We see the post-election situation as great and valuable experience. Democratic system in the world is formed on the basis of position and opposition. We are now doing our best to support the activities of the municipality so that we can be a strong coordinating connection between central and local authorities. However, I don’t see any significant progress and effect of local Albanian parties,” said Gegaj. The fact that Albanian parties have partnered up with Democrats while constituting the Government is a mathematical solution, says Gegaj. “I’m sure we would be their reliable coalition partner, as usual. Albanian forum has made a coalition with Democrats even though they are just a political offspring of the party which stormed Tuzi, a product of the party which had formed the 7th battalion. They are those who voted against independent municipality of Tuzi. That’s why I find that coalition unnatural,” says Gegaj.

Gegaj thinks that the Serbian Orthodox Church and statements concerning the “great Albania” have a negative influence and don’t contribute to the establishment of stable relations between Albanians and Serbs. “I will say this again: “great Albania is a vague project of the distant past which is being used now in order to incite hatred and disharmony. I have never heard any important politician supporting such an idea. Only marginals can come up with something like that. Finally, I’d like to point out that I belong to DPS, a party which is committed to the preservation of peace, multi-ethnic harmony and tolerance in Montenegro,” concluded Gegaj.


Relations between the US and Montenegro are friendly and stable (CDM)


Relations between Montenegro and the US are formed on a friendly basis and strategic partnership within NATO, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic, who is in his official state visit to Washington. Darmanovic is taking part at the Ministerial Conference on the Improvement of Religious Freedoms which is being held on the initiative of the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. During conversation with the congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Head of Montenegrin diplomacy said that continuous support provided by the US and US Congress to our NATO membership was a proof of durable friendship and alliance. Darmanovic met with the Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the Homeland Security Committee on Internal Security and Subcommittee on Europe within the US Senate. “Relations between Montenegro and the USA are formed on friendly basis, with continuous development at bilateral level,” pointed out Darmanovic. Minister Darmanovic met with Heather Conley, Senior Director for Europe at CSIS and emphasized the importance Montenegro attached to regional cooperation and good neighborly relations. Darmanovic and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó signed a framework agreement in the area of infrastructure projects.


Meeting of top party leaders canceled after Zaev refuses to discuss holding early elections (Republika/DW)


The proposed meeting of top party leaders, that Zoran Zaev wanted to hold today, has been canceled, reports Deutsche Welle, citing sources in Zaev’s SDSM party. Opposition VMRO-DPMNE party leader Hristijan Mickoski said that he will only attend a meeting held to discuss holding early general elections, which Zaev refuses given the growing corruption scandals that plague his Government. Zaev initially insisted that he will hold a meeting with the two other leaders he invited – Ali Ahmeti from the DUI party and Ziadin Sela from the Alliance of Albanians, but that seems unlikely now.


Meta invites Rama to dialogue, criticizes international community (ADN)


Albanian President Ilir Meta declared this Thursday that he is ready to change the date of 13 October 2019 elections. The President stated that the only date he can’t change is 17-18 October 2019, the date when the decision for opening or not of Albania’s accession negotiations with EU will be given. Meta stated that he is a flexible person, so if the Premier doesn’t like 13 October, then the President is ready to change the date, but the new date can’t be before 17-18 October.

“It is necessary to be responsible before Albanians, starting from me as a President, but also to Mr. Rama as the chairman of the current government and ruling majority, and Basha as the leader of the opposition, because if we do not organize comprehensive elections, or if we do not find a solution for current crisis, then we will fail in the ‘fall exam’. I look forward to meet Mr. Rama, in order to provide a solution for this crisis,” declared Meta. Meta stated that international officials shouldn’t say imaginary things to Albanians. Meta was referring to latest crisis that has engulfed the country, declaring that the crisis isn’t solved through imaginary suggestions.

“Every Albanian or international official who says ‘donkeys do fly’, I can say to them this happens only in dreams, paintings, but here in Albania ‘donkeys do not fly’. All these are against the standards. We should take advantage by the positive moments Republic of North Macedonia achieved,” stated Meta. Meta has given a statement to the media wherein he declared that he praises the pro-European leadership of North Macedonian PM, Zoran Zaev and its President, Stevo Pendarovski. “We must benefit from the very positive moment that North Macedonia has achieved with the Prespa Agreement. Not only because of the very important neighborhood we have. Not only because of the excellent leadership Prime Minister Zaev and President Pendarovski have shown, but also for the Albanians in Northern Macedonia, who have been an extraordinary factor for the European integration of that country, as well as for its NATO membership who are expecting a positive message even for northern Macedonia. They want to have a future as Europeans in their country and with their families,” said Meta.



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