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Belgrade Media Report 24 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 24 July 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic expects Haradinaj will return from The Hague soon (TV Pink/Beta)
• Vulin: International community needs to repeat investigations into massacre of Serbs in Kosovo (Beta)
• Djuric: International community sends message that crimes against Serbia in Kosovo are permitted (Beta)
• Drecun: New evidence against Haradinaj (RTS)
• Ljajic: Both citizens and business at loss over Pristina’s taxes (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H CoM unanimously adopts decision on temporary financing (N1)
• Izetbegovic and Covic agree formation of new authorities in Federation of B&H and B&H should be accelerated (Hayat)
• Sarovic: I am ready to become new B&H CoM Chair if I receive support of parliamentary majority (ATV)
Montenegro
• NATO Commander for transformation; Andrea Lanat in Montenegro (TMN)
• Countries of the region should follow Montenegro’s example (CDM)
• Opposition must show it’s ready to run the State (Dan)
Albania
• Leyla Moses Ones: USA will stand by your side while the judiciary reform gives a new shape to your future (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Who will be in charge – Western Balkan countries worried about the EU top jobs (European Western Balkans)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic expects Haradinaj will return from The Hague soon (TV Pink/Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that he expected Ramush Haradinaj to be allowed to return home from The Hague soon as an even bigger hero and that he would say that his resignation as premier prior to answering a summons of the Specialist Chambers was to protect Kosovo’s interests. “I have no illusions, I do not expect much. I expect a farce, a play and that he will say that the KLA were heroes protecting their country from the Serbian aggressor,” Vucic told TV Pink. He also said that he did not think that Haradinaj, who was summoned to a hearing before the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, is linked to the murder of Serbs in Staro Gracko which happened on this day 20 years ago. Vucic, however, said he believed that Haradinaj was connected to many other crimes.

 

Vulin: International community needs to repeat investigations into massacre of Serbs in Kosovo (Beta)

 

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin pleaded with representatives of the Hague-based Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, processing KLA crimes, to reopen an investigation into the massacre of 14 Serb harvesters in the village of Staro Gracko near Lipljan, as well as to open investigations into other unsolved crimes in Kosovo, in which over 1,000 Serbs have been killed since the arrival of international forces. On the 20th anniversary of the murder of 14 Serbs in the village of Staro Grcko, Vulin said that the crime is not the loss of a village or several families but an entire nation and all of human civilization. During a visit to the Kosovo Victims memorial room in Belgrade, he said that the Albanian terrorists, but also KFOR and the international community were to blame for the fact that the culprits of the crime in the village of Staro Gracko had not been punished to this day. “Had KFOR done its job, like the international community was not doing its job, we would not be here today speaking of this tragedy, but rejoicing in their lives and what they left behind. The entire blame lies, of course, with the Albanian terrorists, but more than them the international community which made the crime possible” and allowed the culprits to avoid being brought to justice, he said.

 

Djuric: International community sends message that crimes against Serbia in Kosovo are permitted (Beta)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has said that the unresolved

murder of 14 Serbian harvesters in the village of Staro Gracko in Kosovo 20 years ago is a blot on the conscience of the international community. “The international community, watching silently the massacre of innocent people, hasn’t done anything to identify the culprits and bring them to justice over the two decades since. The international community, which accepted responsibility to ensure safety in Kosovo, is now sending a message together with Pristina’s provisional institutions that crimes against the Serbs in Kosovo are permitted, and that there’s

no justice for Serbian victims,” Djuric said in a written statement.

 

Drecun: New evidence against Haradinaj (RTS)

 

The Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that some new elements have appeared – the murder of Albanians by Ramush Haradinaj and his terrorists. “Haradinaj has already been tried in The Hague for some events for which he was acquitted and he cannot be tried twice for the same events. However, new events are appearing, his concrete responsibility as the direct perpetrator for certain crimes can be established, especially as command responsibility. That is why it would be very important to establish where Ramush Haradinaj was in this command chain. He was the commander of the so-called Dukadjin operative zone where the biggest number of crimes occurred. We, as the operative group, have identified 980 events – beatings, murders, massacres, rape…” notes Drecun. Drecun showed original documents from the command headquarters of the Dukadjin operative zone and pointed out that this was a report on the people who were murdered and why they were murdered, while at issue are Albanians. “Here is the answer to the question where are many missing Albanians. This is a document seized by our security forces that was even written by hand. It contains the list of over 30 Albanians. They were members of the Serbian police and this is why they were liquidated by Ramush Haradinaj’s group. I don’t know why it wasn’t shown in court. This is undeniable new evidence,” notes Drecun. He adds that Belgrade also has in possession Haradinaj’s war diary and that Serbia had submitted new documentation to the Special Court Prosecution in order to point to the possibility of issuing an indictment based on new evidence. He announced that he would go public next week with new data on Ramush Haradinaj’s crimes that are unknown to the public.

 

Ljajic: Both citizens and business at loss over Pristina’s taxes (Tanjug)

 

In the eight months since the introduction of Pristina’s taxes, Serbia has sold 260 million Euros worth of goods less in Kosovo and Metohija compared to the same period last year, Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic told Tanjug. “In any case, the total damage will be much higher because once the taxes are lifted, it will take our companies a long time to return to that market because competition from the region positioned itself as soon as the opportunity arose,” Ljajic said. Greece – which boosted its exports to Kosovo and Metohija by nearly 3.5 times in May – Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia – whose exports to the territory more than doubled – and Macedonia – which saw an increase of about 50 percent – have made the biggest breakthroughs in that market, Ljajic said. Kosovo businesses are also losing money because 65 percent of their raw materials and equipment used to come from Serbia at lower prices, and the taxes are also detrimental to Kosovo citizens as retail prices have risen by around 5 percent on average, he said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H CoM unanimously adopts decision on temporary financing (N1)

 

The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) held a session in Sarajevo on Tuesday and adopted a decision on temporary financing for the period July-September 2019. The session was held only a couple of hours after the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) called on the CoM and the B&H Presidency to adopt the decision on temporary financing, i.e. the budget of institutions of B&H for 2019 and to form a new CoM. Chairman of B&H CoM Denis Zvizdic (SDA) stated that it took them only 20 seconds to adopt the aforementioned decision on Tuesday. According to Zvizdic, the decision was never disputable. Zvizdic said that leader of SNSD and member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik caused confusion when he said that there will be collapse in institutions because the Presidency does not want to approve the budget, authorities were not formed and they cannot give the green light. Zvizdic called on the B&H Presidency to adopt a document (draft of the budget for 2019) delivered in December last year. Addressing media, Zvizdic asked why everyone talk only about formation of the new convocation of the CoM, when the B&H Parliament – as a body that is already formed – is not working. Zvizdic underlined that over 30 laws, over 30 financial agreements wait to be adopted in the B&H parliament. B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ B&H) stated that he is not the one who blocked previous sessions of the CoM as a member of HDZ B&H as media presented, which is why he and his family were exposed to attacks. According to Bevanda, he failed to attend previous sessions of the CoM due to some private reasons which Zvizdic also confirmed. Bevanda called on the B&H Presidency to adopt a proposal of the budget for 2019 and to enable switching from temporary financing to regular financing.

 

Izetbegovic and Covic agree formation of new authorities in Federation of B&H and B&H should be accelerated (Hayat)

 

A delegation of HDZ B&H led by the party leader Dragan Covic and a delegation of SDA led by the party leader Bakir Izetbegovic held a meeting in Sarajevo on Tuesday. Representatives of the two parties discussed issues related to formation of authorities. Izetbegovic and Covic agreed that it is necessary to accelerate the process of the authority formation and they conveyed a message that the crisis should end and that mutual disagreements should be solved. Covic stressed that it is necessary to create the atmosphere of mutual trust and pave the way for investments rather than dealing with some kind of crisis all the time. “There is chemistry between HDZ B&H and SDA and there is chemistry between HDZ B&H and SNSD,” he said. Speaking about formation of the Federation of B&H Government, Covic noted that representatives of HDZ B&H and SDA – as potential partners in the ruling authority – will start preparing a program to define the future and the concept of work of the executive authority. “It would be a real agenda with very precise terms” Covic explained. Concrete results of cooperation between HDZ B&H and SDA will first be evident in The Croat People’s Assembly (HNS), where representatives of the two parties should unblock the process of formation of new authorities. As for relations between SDA and SNSD, submission of the Annual National Program of B&H to NATO is still a wedge issue. Izetbegovic reiterated that as far as SDA is concerned, this is the only condition and there will be nothing above or below that until the end of this term. He stressed that it is possible to appoint the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman-designate in a week from now, provided that SNSD is ready for that. Izetbegovic also dismissed the speculations about possible formation of a new parliamentary majority at the level of B&H. Meanwhile, the HNS called representatives of Serb and Bosniak people to urgently approach formation of the authorities at the level of B&H “in order to consolidate key segments of functioning of the authorities at the level of B&H”. HNS noted that these examples are a chance to demonstrate care for the country, its functioning and rule of law as well as a chance to show that B&H will not and must not be held hostage of anyone’s political blackmails.

 

Sarovic: I am ready to become new B&H CoM Chair if I receive support of parliamentary majority (ATV)

 

SDS leader Mirko Sarovic stated on Tuesday that he is ready to become the new Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) if he receives the support of the parliamentary majority. SNSD members immediately responded to this and said that everybody is aware of the fact that Sarovic wishes to stay in power “by any means necessary”. Sarovic’s party colleague and outgoing B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic told members of the press on Tuesday that the new B&H CoM Chairman needs support of 42 MPs in order to assume this post. ATV reporter stressed that Mektic’s information is inaccurate. “If there is adequate parliamentary majority, why not?”, said Sarovic when asked if he would agree on being the next B&H CoM Chairman. Sarovic emphasized that he does not want to negotiate with SNSD in any matters, blaming this party for the deadlock created in the process of forming the state authorities. Sarovic would like to negotiate with SDA, but SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic confirmed his party will stand by election winners. “I hope we will reach some kind of maturity and form the authorities soon. I do not believe any asymmetrical government would be good, and I do not believe this would be doable” said Izetbegovic when asked about cooperation with SDS. Sarovic also mentioned potential talks with DNS and SP RS, but leaders of these two parties said they will not attend any negotiations with SDS. “SDS lost the elections and they must come to terms with that fact. So, any talks with them would not yield any results and they should not be led” said SP RS leader Petar Djokic. Head of SNSD Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) Stasa Kosarac said that he was not surprised by Sarovic’s move, but underlined that the coalition gathered around SNSD is strong and no one will respond to Sarovic’s calls for negotiations. Sarovic announced that SDS will not stand aside and observe what others are doing, but rather plans to talk with other political options about formation of authorities in B&H. Sarovic underlined that it does not matter if he or someone else is appointed the CoM Chairman, but rather that the authorities are formed. Commenting on SNSD’s calls to the outgoing ministers in the CoM to resign in order to enable formation of the future CoM, outgoing B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic told media in Sarajevo on Tuesday that he cannot do that, since he is “in technical mandate”.

 

NATO Commander for transformation; Andrea Lanat in Montenegro (TMN)

 

President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic received the NATO Commander for Transformation Andrea Lanata, who is visiting Montenegro. President Djukanovic expressed satisfaction with the visit of Commander Lanata at a time when Montenegro is proudly marking the two-year membership in the Alliance. During that period, as well as during the accession process, Montenegro recognized numerous chances that membership in the club offers, understanding the responsibility of membership, and accepting that it is the only reliable prospect for stability in Southeast Europe. “In Montenegro, you have a reliable partner and a responsible member promoting the European and Euro-Atlantic value system in this part of the continent,” Djukanovic said in an announcement by the Cabinet of the President of Montenegro. He expressed satisfaction with the completion of Montenegro’s integration process in NATO and thanked the Alliance’s support for the implementation of activities for the accession and integration of the national system in NATO over the past two years. Montenegro remains actively committed to NATO’s priorities and directions, including open door policy and support for the integration of Northern Macedonia, and presence in Alliance missions. The Commander emphasized that he was honored at the occasion of his visit to Montenegro in such an important moment, which is the completion of Montenegro’s integration into NATO. He congratulated the Montenegrin Team and the President personally on everything that was done in the integration process and invested efforts, stressing that the success of the process is not merely the defense sector of all institutions. “I am impressed with everything that has been done in the past two years, it was a collective effort, comprehensive and efficient. With your integration process, you gave an example to others in the region,” Lanata said, with gratitude to Montenegro for the support it provides to Northern Macedonia on its full integration path. Lanata stressed that Montenegro will continue to have strong support from the Allied Command that will continue to work closely with Montenegro in further aspects of adaptation and transformation.

 

Countries of the region should follow Montenegro’s example (CDM)

 

Montenegro responsibly responded to the obligations of NATO membership and harmonization of the national defense legislation with NATO standards, and countries of the region should follow the Montenegrin example, General Andre Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, SACT (one of NATO’s two strategic commanders), told at the meeting with Montenegro’s Minister of Defense, Predrag Boskovic. It was noted that the support of the Norfolk-based Allied Command Transformation, ACT, was extremely significant for the process of Montenegro’s integration into NATO, especially through the activities of the Working Group for Accession and Integration. Boskovic stressed its importance for the overall security of the Euro-Atlantic community, adding that “the significance of this Command is even greater having in mind the security challenges that the Euro-Atlantic community has been dealing with,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. According to Minister Boskovic, Montenegro is responsibly monitoring and implementing NATO’s policies, at the same time promoting the idea of Euro-Atlantic future of the entire Western Balkans. General Lanata congratulated Boskovic on Montenegro’s membership to NATO.

 

Opposition must show it’s ready to run the State (Dan)

 

Fair elections are not possible without the technical government, claims the United Montenegro MP, Goran Danilovic. In an interview with Dan daily, he tells the opposition would manage to get the technical government if it agrees to be united. “The opposition must not have internal disagreements. I understand that some parties want to avoid the process of establishing the technical government, but here we must think about the interests of citizens and the State,” Danilovic said. As a politician who has been continuously urging the opposition parties to sit and talk as there’s not enough time, he knows very well that everything depends on willingness. “If we are willing to do something, we will find time to do it. The main question is: who is going to implement laws and rules? If it’s up to this government, there won’t be fair elections.” “The parliament must ensure equal status of the opposition, i.e. it should be enabled to govern boards, while we also have to put special focus on rights and obligations in handling registers in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Finally, the opposition must be included in the preparation of the budget for the next year and it should control key departments through the technical government,” Danilovic believes. He stresses that the opposition must show it’s up for the task and fit to run the state.

 

Leyla Moses Ones: USA will stand by your side while the judiciary reform gives a new shape to your future (Radio Tirana)

 

In a speech delivered on the occasion of the inauguration of the new justice system in the country, the Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy, expressed the need for an independent judiciary. Leyla Moses Ones, recalling the vote of three years ago, said that the achieved consensus proved “what can leaders do when working together for the common good”.

According to senior US official, “the vetting process has been the foundation for the rest of the reforms. A great number of judges, 15% were vetted, some have passed and many have failed. This includes senior and constitutional judges.” Ones also responded to critical voices, though without mentioning concrete names, saying that “some say it’s a problem, but that shows that reform is working. The old system was captured by corruption, by those who act in the shadow to keep Albania behind. Justice reform broke the illegal capturing of the system, taking it back to the people.” The Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy underscored that the USA has stood by the side of Albania and has encouraged these huge changes in the justice system especially when the reforms were approved unanimously three years ago. “The USA stood by Albania when the vetting process kicked off. We stood by Albania during the establishment of the Judiciary and the Prosecution. We are standing by Albania while the Special Prosecution against Corruption is being established. We will be staying by your side while the judiciary reform gives a new shape to your future,” Leyla Moses-Ones was quoted as saying.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Who will be in charge – Western Balkan countries worried about the EU top jobs (European Western Balkans, by Emina Muminović, 24 July 2019)

 

“The accession process offers a unique opportunity to promote and share our core values and interests,” stated Ursula von der Leyen in her Political Guidelines for the next EU Commission.

She reaffirmed the European perspective of the Western Balkans while explaining that she fully supports and stands behind the European Commission’s proposal to open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Now that the Former German Defence Minister has been elected as the first female President of the European Commission, the countries of the Western Balkans are closely monitoring the situation around the composition of the new Commission and who will be the next EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Last week von der Leyen, member of the German CDU and the European People’s Party, received 383 votes of the MEPs, which is only 7 more than the required absolute majority. The composition of von der Leyen’s Commission will be known by the autumn, and it will have to be confirmed as a block by the Parliament. While everyone waits to hear who are going to be the new faces of the Commission, whose work will begin on November 1, and what will be their position towards enlargement, there has been some speculations that Hungary and Slovenia share interest when it comes to enlargement. Also, the current European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn was nominated by Austria’s interim Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein to remain at the EU Commission for a third term, following discussions with all parties in the Austrian parliament. Hahn, who will work until October on this position, previously worked as the Regional Commissioner in the Commission under President José Manuel Barroso.

 

Spain and Kosovo – an opportunity for communication or a strong opponent?

On the other hand, current Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, has been nominated as the next EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Since Spain is one of the five countries of the EU that do not recognise Kosovo, the position of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy took the centre of attention in Pristina, due to the fact that the EU facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has been led by the EU External Action Services. Executive Director of the CiviKos Platform and a member of BiEPAG, Donika Emini, explains that the appointment of the 72-year-old Spanish Foreign Minister as the head of the EEAS sparked many debates in Kosovo. “Coming from one of the non-recognising countries, Spain did not only hesitate to establish bilateral communication with Kosovo, but it played a destructive role in the EU integration process for Kosovo,” she says, adding that one of the most important examples is the vocal protests of Spanish leaders against Kosovo during the EU – Western Balkans Summit in Sofia in 2018. Emini notes that having a Spaniard leading the EEAS and the EU facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia can be assessed from both positive and negative angles. As she points out that suspicion sparked in Kosovo is directly and rightly linked with the origin of Borrelli, Emini, however, explains that one thing should be clarified to the public – the EEAS operates in full coordination with the EU member states, and that any political action that is against the general spirit of the EU values or interests can lead to full discretization of the institution and the leading person. However, she says that the fear that Borrell might reflect the political positioning of Spain is the key concern in Kosovo, but she warns it could be very naïve to expect that Borrell will completely be detached from Spain and the political stance of his country towards Kosovo.

Emini also adds that Kosovo has been facing the ‘power asymmetry’ in the framework of the process due to the fact that for the EU, Serbia is a country, whereas Kosovo is not – this due to the five non-recognisers among which Borrell’s Spain is one of the key obstacles in the EU and NATO integration process of Kosovo. “Having a Spaniard as the lead of the dialogue might further increase the feeling of power asymmetry among Kosovars – and rightfully so. Spain has been promoted as the key Serbian ally against Kosovo, this position has been confirmed on regular basis by the Serbian leaders, but also by the Spanish leaders who did not hesitate to link the case of Kosovo with Catalonia,” Emini says. From a positive aspect, she says that having Borrell leading the EEAS will provide the sole avenue that Kosovo has to increase communication with Spanish politicians. “This would mark the first institutionalised communication between Spain and Kosovo since the independence in 2008, as we all are aware that the Spanish representatives not only refused to communicate with Kosovo representatives but their rejection to Kosovo was even manifested through vocal rejection and abandonment of meetings in which Kosovo has been participating,” she says adding that if this chance is rightly used by Kosovo, it will provide a unique opportunity to make Kosovo visible and acceptable by Spanish politicians in the EU circles. On another note, she explains that having a Spaniard leading the dialogue might have a positive impact in Serbia. “Being considered as allies, the outputs of the process led by an ally will be more likely to be acceptable by the Serbian leaders and the public opinion. Hence, making the process more credible and acceptable by the masses,” Emini says.

 

Will the new officials have an enthusiastic approach towards enlargement policy?

Although not yet elected, the new EU officials are giving hard times to the candidate and potential candidate countries. With many predictions, it seems that the new officials might not have an enthusiastic approach towards enlargement policy, and with the last elections, it is believed that the EU policy will remain under a strong influence of national politics in the Member States. With this agrees Srđan Majstorović, Chairman of the Governing Board of the European Policy Centre – CEP and a member of BiEPAG. He explains that the influence of the new EU officials is going to be defined by the nature of their election which deviated from the expected Spitzenkandidat model and was under the influence of the backroom agreements between the EU Member States. “The role France has played in proposing a candidate for the President of the new European Commission is also important for the future orientation of the EU’s executive body. In given circumstances it is realistic to expect the less enthusiastic and vocal approach to the EU enlargement policy in general,” says Majstorović. He expects that official narrative will be focused more on reforming or deepening of the EU itself, while topics concerning enlargement to the Western Balkan countries will be communicated “bellow the radar” from the unfavourable EU public expectations. “Composition of the new European Commission and division of specific portfolios is going to be one of the first signs of the EU’s intentions regarding enlargement policy. Comprehensive, credible and efficient EU enlargement policy requires administrative, institutional and financial support with name, face and telephone number,” points out Majstorović, adding that rumours about the future of current DG NEAR are rightfully causing unease among the candidates and potential candidate countries.

He believes it is of utmost importance that the Western Balkan countries put their differences aside and express their unity by sending a joint initiative to the new President to maintain the position of Commissioner in charge of the EU enlargement in her team regardless of its actual title. However, Majstorović explains that regardless of the composition and policy orientation of the newly appointed EU officials, democratic progress of the Western Balkan countries will primarily depend on their willingness to change and adapt to the EU legislative and institutional standards. While the Western Balkan countries are waiting for the appointments of the new EU officials, instead of looking towards Brussels, they should be paying their attention to respecting the rule of law and fulfilling the recommendations laid out in this year’s EC report.

As it is said, North Macedonia still needs further efforts in order to prevent politicisation of public administration, ensure independence of the media and decrease the levels of corruption, Albania as well, has to put an effort in fight against corruption and organised crime, as well as independence of institutions, while frontrunners, Serbia and Montenegro have to speed up the pace of their reforms. Still only potential candidate countries, both Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are assessed to be „at an early stage” in most of the key areas: justice reform, fight against corruption and organized crime and developing a functioning market economy.

After all, only the progress of the countries could demonstrate the willingness to join the EU.

 

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