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Belgrade Media Report 25 July 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 25 July 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: Pristina doesn’t want dialogue, but Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo (Beta/Politika)
• Dacic: Future of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue uncertain (TV Pink/Tanjug)
• Dacic informs Serbian ambassadors about situation in Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTV)
• Peace and cooperation in both Serbia and Albania’s interest (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• SNSD, HDZ B&H deem “self-nomination” of Sarovic for B&H CoM Chairman confirms the attempt of implementation of SDA’s secret plan (RTRS)
• Kovacevic: SDS and SDA – only ones to blame for institutional crisis in B&H (Srna)
Croatia
• One Croatian soldier killed, two wounded in Afghanistan (Hina)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev: Government will fight against disinformation and fake news (Nezavisen vesnik)
• Government dismisses and appoints new directors and board members (Nezavisen vesnik)
Albania
• President’s dismissal, parliament addresses 8 questions to Venice Commission (ADN)
• Political crisis, Rama meeting with ministers (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Hahn in Skopje: North Macedonia deserves a green light in October (European Western Balkans)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: Pristina doesn’t want dialogue, but Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo (Beta/Politika)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Pristina did not want a dialogue, but Belgrade’s

recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Vucic noted that he could not say whether the world had more sympathy for Serbia or Kosovo in the dialogue, but stressed that very few people actually

talked with Pristina representatives. He further said that Serbia had been investing large amounts of funds in Kosovo, much more than in the past few decades, adding that investments would only grow. “What we can do is to help the Kosovo Serbs. Those working by the Serbian system will get a pay raise. We expect the living standard to improve significantly,” Vucic told reporters in Smederevo. Vucic also said he was aware of how difficult the situation was for Kosovo Serbs, but that Serbia had to endure.

 

Dacic: Future of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue uncertain (TV Pink/Tanjug)

 

The future of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is very uncertain because it is unknown what the developments in Kosovo-Metohija will be, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told TV Pink, adding that new visits by international officials could be expected in Serbia at the end of August, as well as new initiatives and assessments of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. The US does not want to pressure Serbia because it knows the problem is not in Belgrade, but in Pristina, Dacic reiterated. “US national security adviser John Bolton said that to me at a meeting that was exceptional, and that is a major change in the US position,” Dacic said. Big countries do not change their strategic orientations easily, he said, noting that a so-called autopilot policy had been greatly detrimental to US interests in the region. As regards to Ramush Haradinaj’s departure to The Hague for a hearing by a special prosecutor’s office for war crimes, it was turned into a political farce since it was clear he would be gone for just a few hours and would not be held, Dacic said. Haradinaj need not have resigned as Kosovo Prime Minister since he has no intent of leaving politics, as shown by the fact a session of the caretaker government has already been called, Dacic said. No one knows how far the special court is from the first indictments because Serbia has no insight into preliminary and investigative proceedings, Dacic said. “It remains to be seen whether indictments will be raised against Haradinaj and other Pristina leaders. We are not optimistic about this – we have unpleasant experiences with other tribunals in The Hague, such as the ICTY,” Dacic noted, adding that Belgrade would cooperate with the new court and submit all evidence in its possession.

 

Dacic informs Serbian ambassadors about situation in Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met on Wednesday in the Ministry with the ambassadors of the Republic of Serbia in several countries. Dacic spoke with Serbian Ambassador to Portugal Oliver Antic, Ambassador to Austria Nebojsa Rodic, Ambassador to Albania Miroljub Zaric, Ambassador to Nigeria Djuro Likar and Ambassador of Serbia to the Council of Europe Aleksandar Djurovic. The Minister has informed our ambassadors in depth about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the unilateral acts of Pristina that have led to the interruption of dialogue and talks. In separate talks with ambassadors, he repeated the foreign policy priorities of Serbia and ordered their increased engagement in accordance with the national interests of our country, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 

Peace and cooperation in both Serbia and Albania’s interest (Tanjug)

 

The Serbian parliamentary Friendship Group with Albania, headed by Fatmir Hasani, met with the Albanian Ambassador to Serbia Ilir Boçka. Hasani praised the Ambassador’s idea to meet with the 25-strong parliamentary Friendship Group and discuss deepening cooperation in general, and education, trade, culture and tourism in particular. Hasani said that good-neighborly relations between the Balkan countries are the key to Serbia and Albania’s EU accession and the flow of people and goods is a good indicator that the two countries can cooperate. It is in both countries’ interest to further cooperation, he said, adding that dialogues could resolve many of the region’s outstanding issues. Parliamentary cooperation can also help ease the relations between Belgrade and Pristina as one of the most crucial European questions, said Hasani.

Boçka said that maintaining communication channels is vital in the diplomatic profession as they are the engine of cooperation. He praised the establishment of the parliamentary Friendship Group with Albania as that gives a new dimension and weight to the relationship between the two countries. Adding that the Albanian parliament already has a friendship group with Serbia, he opined that it is the parliaments’ and their friendship groups’ task to spread the message of peace and stability of the region.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

SNSD, HDZ B&H deem “self-nomination” of Sarovic for B&H CoM Chairman confirms the attempt of implementation of SDA’s secret plan (RTRS)

 

Representatives of SNSD and HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) deem that the “self-nomination” of SDS leader and outgoing B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic for the post of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman confirms that talks on formation of B&H authorities, without election winners, move forward and that an attempt of implementation of SDA’s secret plan is underway. They stressed that Sarovic’s recent announcement in media is irresponsible and frivolous, adding that SDS can only dream about becoming part of the authority. Asked if he is ready to be the B&H CoM Chairman, Sarovic said that there is no reason for him not to be ready if adequate parliamentary majority exists, adding that chances for creation of parliamentary majority in other block are realistic. RTRS comments that this might be reprise of 2014 and that nationally-responsible policy is no longer popular. Old experience from 2015 when SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic betrayed the will of Republika Srpska (RS) citizens and brought-in the election losers in the authority indicates the importance of gathering at least 10 MPs around the Serb block, who would not allow formation of B&H CoM in line with wishes of Sarajevo and part of the international community to happen, but after the October elections PDP and SDS leaders rejected the invitation of SNSD leader Milorad Dodik for joint participation in Sarajevo and much needed Serb unity , RTRS concludes.

SNSD reminded that PDP and SDS did not have any consequences in mind back then but they expected that SDA will invite them to join authorities as it was the case four years ago, which is what actually happened in strict confidentiality because outgoing B&H CoM Chairman Denis Zvizdic wants Sarovic as the best Serb associate to replace him. According to SNSD delegate in the House of Peoples (HoP) of B&H Lazar Prodanovic, Sarovic’s statement is maximalist, because two out of three peoples would be dissatisfied in that case. He assessed that SDS would be satisfied with one ministerial post at the B&H CoM, but both blocs have to agree to this.

Member of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) Presidency Mario Karamatic commented that Sarovic’s statement is not naive because he counts on support of political Sarajevo and certain foreign embassies, but he concluded that this initiative is destined to be a failure.

 

Kovacevic: SDS and SDA – only ones to blame for institutional crisis in B&H (Srna)

 

The only ones to blame for the institutional crisis in B&H and the failure to form a new Council of Ministers are the SDS and the SDA, Radovan Kovacevic, SNSD spokesman, told Srna. “They will try to do everything to prevent the SNSD and our coalition, as electoral winners from RS, from becoming an integral part of the new Council of Ministers, i.e. our man to be the chairman,” Kovacevic believes. He added the SDA saw the SDS as the only acceptable partner from RS, which, as he said, was forced into power at the B&H level in the past terms of office as an electoral loser. “Mirko Sarovic must finally understand that the authorities are elected by the citizens and that the citizens of RS have elected Milorad Dodik, the SNSD and our coalition, clearly telling him and the entire SDS they did not want them event close to the power, let alone to be holders of authorities,” Kovacevic said. Looking back at the vital entity interest Dodik used over him being outvoted in the Presidency of B&H, he said that it was obvious that SDS people could not understand the basic political principles. “Not being outvoted is RS’s vital interest and not to allow anyone to interfere with the internal affairs of sovereign countries, as we also do not allow anyone to interfere with the internal affairs of RS. We do not want to create enemies, who would later do everything to harm RS, over the issues which are not of RS’s concern,” Kovacevic believes. He added that the SDA and the SDS created such opportunity for Croatia by hindering the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, which could later take it out on Trgovska Gora and prevent the construction of the Sava Bridge in Gradiska. “The SNSD practices a serious and responsible policy over which the citizens have elected us. We will solve all outstanding issues via dialogue, and soon the construction of the bridge on the Sava River in Gradiska will begin, while the disposal of nuclear waste on Trgovska Gora will be disabled and the issue will be resolved in favor of RS,” said Kovacevic. He reminded that the Council of Ministers, where Dragan Mektic and Igor Crnadak still hold the seats, could have done a lot about Trgovska Gora in the past term of office, current caretaking capacity, but they did not do a thing, they were only sitting instead and waiting for this issue to be resolved by itself, while the institutions of RS did everything to prevent the disposal of nuclear waste. “The institutions of RS, now strengthened by Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, will solve this issue in favor of RS and its citizens,” Kovacevic said.

 

One Croatian soldier killed, two wounded in Afghanistan (Hina)

 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday condemned an attack by a suicide bomber in Kabul in Afghanistan in which three Croatian troops were injured (one died later), saying the government would work on having them return to Croatia as soon as possible. “On the government’s behalf, I regret the attack on the vehicle with HV (Croatian Army) members who are part of the Resolute Support mission, the NATO operation aimed at training, advising and supporting Afghan security forces,” Plenkovic said at a cabinet meeting. One soldier died from serious head injuries, one suffered a broken leg and the third a broken arm. “We condemn the attack… Our HV officers are in contact with the families of the Croatian soldiers, who are receiving medical assistance,” Plenkovic said, adding that “such an attack with such consequences” had never occurred during the HV’s 16 years in Afghanistan, first as part of the ISAF mission and now as part of Resolute Support. He recalled that 99 Croatian troops are currently in Afghanistan. Speaking at a press conference earlier, Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said this was an isolated attack and that the rest of the Croatian contingent were safe, adding that he had talked about the incident with the president and the prime minister, and that the most important thing was to care for the injured soldiers. “I’m sorry this happened… As defense minister, I’m ready to take political responsibility for this event. The Defense Ministry and the government will extend all the assistance possible. We are horrified by this event, we condemn this attack… The Croatian Army will continue to strongly fight for peace and stability in the world. All our soldiers in this operation participate as mentors and advisors,” Krsticevic said. Brigadier General Kresimir Tuskan said the injured soldiers were members of the UK-led Special Operation Advisory Group and that their job was to advise the management of the Afghan special police center. The three soldiers were driving in three vehicles from camp Hkaia to camp Lion. At 8.45 a.m. local time, 200 meters from camp Lion, a motorcycle driven by a suicide bomber, crashed into one of the Croatian vehicles which exploded and overturned, the Defense Ministry said. Afghan forces were the first on the scene, followed by protection forces from camp Hkaia. Afghan media said the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

Zaev: Government will fight against disinformation and fake news (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

North Macedonia’s government has prepared an action plan on combating disinformation as it has been increasingly disrupting democratic and elections processes and affecting public trust in the institutions and the media, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said. “Disinformation is one of the main challenges facing democracy in 2019 and a tool to manipulate the citizens. To misuse technology in order to create fake identities and to make up events that have never taken place has gravely disrupted democratic and elections processes, threatening to affect the citizens’ trust in the institutions and the media,” said Zaev. The country in the past two years, he added, has had to address large-scale spreading of disinformation on the social media and traditional media. Some disinformation was even shared outside the country. “To address these cyber threats and according to the commitment to openness, accountability and transparency, the government has been working on an action plan on combating disinformation. We want to enhance national security and the safety of the citizens of our country and to safeguard and advance democracy,” Zaev said. Zaev said that public debates would be held for the action plan and the views of all stakeholders in the society would be taken into consideration until the final version of the text was drafted. The action plan consists of two parts with the first one covering security measures and the second one proactive ones.

 

Government dismisses and appoints new directors and board members (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

The government adopted the draft law on the State Inspectorate for the use of languages, a new body within the Ministry of Justice. The draft law has been forwarded to the Parliament, the government said in a press release. The law aims to supervise the implementation of the Law on the Use of Languages in North Macedonia, guaranteeing the equality and impartiality of the inspection, and consistent application of the Law on the Use of Languages. The government also adopted the draft-Law on the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, which has also been sent to the parliament. The government also adopted the draft-Law on Mediation and forwarded it to the parliament. The law aims to bring the country closer to the European Union standards, promote mediation and its benefits. The government also adopted the report on the draft-agreement with the Republic of Serbia over the joint recognition of confidential services used in both countries. In addition, the government dismissed and appointed directors and board members in a number of agencies, inspectorates, public enterprises and institutions.

 

President’s dismissal, parliament addresses 8 questions to Venice Commission (ADN)

 

Parliament of Albania addressed eight questions on Wednesday to the Venice Commission regarding the role of President of the Republic, Ilir Meta in the electoral processes. The letter, signed by the parliament speaker Gramoz Ruci came after this institution established an Inquiry Committee to investigate if the head of state has violated the Albanian Constitution or not, by canceling his decree for the local elections on 30 June and decree a new date for municipal elections on 13 October.  Nevertheless, the above-mentioned formal letter included role of the President in electoral processes in relation to other powers and obligations imposed on the President in exercising the power to determine the date of the elections. In addition, questions on restrictions on the exercise of this power by the right of voters to vote, whether power of the President of the Republic to set an election date is a right or a duty for exercise of sovereignty of the people and whether alteration of election’s date is considered to be a violation of legal certainty were asked. Below the full questions addressed to the Venice Commission:

  • Which is the role of the President in electoral processes, in parliamentary regimes like Albania, in relation to other powers?
  • Does the constitution and the Conventions have any obligations imposed on the President in exercising the power to determine the date of the elections?
  • Are there restrictions on the exercise of this power by the right of voters to vote?
  • Is the power of the President of the Republic to set an election date, a right or a duty for exercise of sovereignty of the people?
  • Are the principles of the right to elect and constitutional security violated, by the cancellation of election date and the setting of another date by the President, the election administration bodies have started work?
  • Is there any interfering of President of the Republic in the electoral process, by violating the right of electoral subjects to compete equally and freely?
  • Does the decree for the annulment of 30 June 2019 respect the principle of periodicity of elections? Is the change of the date of election considered violation of legal security?
  • Is the violation of legal certainty associated with the subsequent consequences or suffices the violation of the constitutional provisions and the violation is considered to have been committed?

 

Political crisis, Rama meeting with ministers (ADN)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama called on Wednesday all the ministers of his cabinet, for the meeting behind the closed doors, to discuss new challenges after the local elections and the meeting of the National Assembly of the Socialist Party. The meeting was held in the premises of the Presidential Palace, popularly known as the Palace of Brigades, where Chairman of Socialist Party’s (SP) parliamentary group, Taulant Balla and speaker of the parliament, Gramoz Ruci were also present. Furthermore, main topic of SP’s cabinet meeting is the analysis of government’s work following the request of PM Rama for SP’s structures to serve the citizens.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Hahn in Skopje: North Macedonia deserves a green light in October (European Western Balkans, 25 July 2019)

 

SKOPJE – “The Republic of North Macedonia deserves a green light for start of the negotiations with EU in October on the ground of all its accomplishment in the reform process in the last few years, with the Prespa Agreement, but also with the Good Neighborly Relations Agreement with Bulgaria”, said the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, at today’s press conference after the meeting with the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. He added, however, that the Euro-Atlantic integration process does not end there, and that it is necessary to continue the reforms, especially in the area of securing the rule of law through the adoption of the Law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the uncompromising fight against corruption and crime. All political actors need to take into account the future and the interests of the citizens and the state, he stressed. “It is a national goal, and everybody in the country have to understand that they need to work for it. Of course, there are debates and discussions, but I think all of you need to be aware of the ultimate purpose and the destiny of the country. It is my hope that all will support the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to achieve what so many of us want to see, and that is a green light for the start of accession talks,” said Hahn. He regretted that the EU member states have still not decided to open the accession negotiations and that they didn’t do it in June, because, as he emphasized, the country has achieved success and delivered everything it was asked to accomplish. “North Macedonia worked hard and it is time for the EU to meet its commitments. Sometimes EU also has to deliver, and not only your country. However, it is necessary to continue with the further implementation of the reforms. The rule of law is indispensable for creating confidence in the institutions, but also for ensuring that the country will be stable, both politically and economically,” Hahn said. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev once again stressed his conviction that in October, finally, after 15 years, the country will receive the long-awaited date for the start of the negotiations. “In the meantime, we will continue working on the reforms, so as not to give the EU an alibi for a different kind of decision,” Zaev said. After meeting with Zaev, Hahn is expected to hold talks with President Stevo Pendarovski and opposition leaders, after which he will embark on a two-day visit to Belgrade.

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