Vucic: Donated Russian armored vehicles important for preserving our territorial integrity (Tanjug/RTS)
Thanking Russia and its President Vladimir Putin for a donation of ten BRDM 2 combat reconnaissance/patrol vehicles to the Serbian Army, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Monday said they were not old vehicles but a newer model upgraded by Russia. “These vehicles are important for preserving our territorial integrity and have a preemptive impact. We have no plans for any conquests,” Vucic said at a presentation of the vehicles in Nis. He was accompanied by the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Army, General Milan Mojsilovic, Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko. He said Serbia had managed to get the vehicles transported from Russia in keeping with international law. The vehicles significantly increase the combat readiness of our military, he said. When asked by reporters how Serbia had broken through a barrier after Romania and Bulgaria banned the transport from going through their territories on orders from NATO, Vucic responded: “How and along what route they came is our business.”
Botsan-Harchenko: We will keep assisting Serbia (Tanjug)
Russia is prepared to keep assisting Serbia when it comes to strengthening its defense capabilities, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko said on Monday in Nis. “Russia is ready and, like Serbia, it has an interest in developing this sphere of our relations,” the Ambassador said. “The cooperation has a military, technical, as well as a political dimension. We Russians understand that modernizing, strengthening and equipping the armed forces is an inalienable part of protecting the sovereignty of every country – Serbia, in this case. Russia is prepared to help,” he told reporters. He noted there were plans for further development of cooperation concerning military technology. Russia is assisting the strengthening of Serbia’s defense capabilities as well as of regional security, he added.
Dacic: Central African Republic does not recognize independence of Kosovo (RTS)
Appearing on Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) on Saturday, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic showed the official note he received from the Central African Republic, which he visited last year and where he talked with the president. He pointed out that Pristina claims that the Central African Republic has recognized Kosovo, explaining that during his visit to that country last year, its president expressed astonishment over this. After our request, as he said, they have made a small investigation whether there is a decision about it or not, finding that there is no position that the Central African Republic recognizes Kosovo’s independence. The Central African Republic is the 14th country that has thus declared itself. Kosovo claims that it has 116 countries that recognize its independence, and now that number has fallen below 100. Our goal is to keep it under a half of the members of the United Nations, said Dacic. He specified that the Republic of Palau, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Lesotho, Suriname, Granada, Union of the Comoros, Burundi, Dominica, Sao Tome and Principe, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Papua New Guinea have so far done so.
Gratitude for Chile’s primary support for preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity (Tanjug/Novosti)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received on a farewell visit Chilean Ambassador to Serbia, headquartered in Athens, Maria Pia Busta Diaz. Dacic expressed his gratitude to Chile’s Ambassador for her commitment to further improving the overall bilateral relations of the two countries, wishing her success in further professional work. The officials confirmed mutual readiness for further strengthen the political dialogue, as well as a comprehensive cooperation, primarily in the field of economy. Busta Dias reaffirmed Chile’s primary support for the preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity, for which Dacic expressed gratitude.
Nicaragua not to change position on Kosovo (Tanjug)
In talks with Foreign Minister of Nicaragua Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic expressed gratitude on the principled stance of not recognizing the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, adding that this is a matter of national interest for Serbia. Colindres confirmed that his country will not change its position on Kosovo and Metohija, and will continue to provide support in protecting Serbia’s national and national interests. The officials emphasized that the traditional friendship of the two countries and the multi-level good relations should be further developed and strengthened through the strengthening of economic cooperation, and that the modalities of cooperation between Serbia and Nicaragua are expected to be defined in the following period.
SzS: Deadline to meet our demands is September (Beta)
The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said on Saturday that the correction of voter registration lists the President has announced is a special kind of fraud by Aleksandar Vucic aimed at reducing the effectiveness of a potential election boycott. The SzS dismissed the false guarantees by Vucic that the election will not be stolen and voiced doubts about the truthfulness of his announcement that international organizations will be allowed to monitor the election process in Serbia six months before the vote. “Without meeting these recommendations, the SzS will boycott the elections,” their statement said. The last deadline for meeting the demands is September, it said, adding that it is pointless to take part in elections if media are not free for at least six months so people can hear different opinions and see a real debate between government and opposition.
Covic: State-level authorities will not be formed before SDA’s Congress on 14 September (TV1)
State-level authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) will not be formed before 14 September, in other words before the SDA Congress, HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic said on Friday in Mostar. Following the session of the HDZ B&H Presidency, Covic said that all preparations for formation of the Federation of B&H authorities have been completed, and he added that amendments to the Election Law of B&H remain HDZ B&H’s only condition for formation of authorities. Covic told reporters that after SDA’s Congress, he expects this party to start openly talking about formation of authorities and start working on completing this procedure. “I hope this would lead us to swift formation of the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H, as we have fulfilled all preconditions for formation of the CoM five months ago,” underlined Covic. Asked if he would consider cooperating with SDS on the level of B&H, Covic clearly said that there is no possibility for SDS to participate in negotiations on formation of state-level authorities. Covic reminded of his recent meeting with SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, when they tasked Federation of B&H Prime Minister (PM) Fadil Novalic and Deputy PM Jelka Milicevic with creating a plan of the activities of the future Federation of B&H Government, with the Election Law being the first activity. “They will not deal with the Election Law, that is not their job,” said Covic. Furthermore, Covic said that it does not mean that Novalic and Milicevic will remain in their offices. “If we are to talk about personnel, then we first have to resolve who the President of the Federation of B&H is, and only then talk about Prime Minister and ministers. Novalic and Milicevic have worked together for four years and it is only logical to have them creating the best program for the next four years. This was not about personnel policy,” explained Covic. Commenting on Covic’s claims that the authorities in B&H are unlikely to be formed before the Congress of SDA, which is scheduled for September, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said: “I think that Mr. Covic should not say such things or calculate in such manner because it means that SDA is to blame for the crisis we have and for failure to form the authorities. As far as SDA is concerned, (SNSD’s) Zoran Tegeltija or rather the Chairman-designate of the Council of Ministers of B&H can be given green light today if unconstitutional and unattainable conditions are abandoned. When it comes to SNSD, it comes up with unconstitutional conditions”.
Covic: I hope our partners in Sarajevo will realize they cannot conduct autistic policy and continue buying time under the guise of alleged concern for the state (Dnevni avaz)
HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic assessed delays in the process of formation of state-level authorities in B&H as unnecessary and detrimental, saying that the problem lies in the fact there is no agreement about B&H as a country of equal peoples, or about how the country should look like in the future. “We (HDZ B&H) have partnership relations with SNSD, but we are also trying to make progress in dialogue with SDA and other Bosniak parties,” said Covic. HDZ believes, according to Covic, that authorities at all levels should have been formed a long time ago, and already working in full capacity. “I hope that our partners in Sarajevo will realize that they cannot conduct autistic policy and continue buying time under the guise of alleged concern for the state, and with the goal of avoiding to respect the election will of citizens and peoples,” said Covic. “The fact that Croat People’s Assembly (HNS), as political representative of the majority of Croats, does not see B&H the same way as political Sarajevo, does not mean that it is against B&H. On the contrary, we are convinced that B&H as we advocate it can be much more stable and prosperous than the one which is being imposed since Dayton by certain Bosniak politicians” the HDZ leader explained. “I do not see how the reform of electoral legislation, which would guarantee respecting of Croats’ election will, could be aimed against Bosniaks, Serbs or anyone else,” said Covic. Asked to say if and how much he can contribute to finding compromise solution with regards to the Annual National Program (ANP), which SNSD continues to reject, Covic said that insisting on this issue provoked expected reaction from the RS and resulted in an otherwise technical obligation being turned into difficult political challenge. He concluded that an agreement on NATO integration is possible in B&H, but the issue needs to be depoliticized, Bosniak side should stop making it harder for RS to soften their position, and readiness to make compromise is necessary on all sides. Commenting on speculations that state-level authorities might be established with SDS replacing SNSD as the new partner of SDA and HDZ B&H, Covic briefly said that those are “cheap spins” and “political amateurism”, as the authority needs to be composed of election winners among all three constituent peoples. “Any other approach would be unconstitutional, detrimental and irresponsible,” said Covic, adding that the price will always be paid by the citizens of B&H. HDZ B&H leader said that delays and artificial crises in B&H have resulted in the country losing at least two years on its path towards the EU; he noted that if it was not for those delays and crises, B&H would have already have the status of the EU Candidate Country, and it would have already opened several negotiation chapters with the EU.
Izetbegovic: SNSD and HDZ B&H should stop setting unconstitutional, illegal and unattainable conditions for formation of authorities at the level of B&H (Dnevni avaz)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said that the process of formation of authorities at the level of B&H and the Federation of B&H can be unblocked ‘today’, adding that SDA has only one condition – that SNSD and HDZ B&H refrain from “setting impossible conditions”. Izetbegovic explained that SNSD should not be setting “unconstitutional and illegal conditions” while HDZ B&H should not be setting “unattainable conditions”. “And that is exactly what they are doing right now. Condition set by SNSD can be resolved with compromise consisted of several sentences, if they exhibit even a little bit of will to resolve it. As for the condition set by HDZ with regards to the Election Law, we have not been able to resolve it in 14 years, so that is not going to happen in 14 days either. That is why I consider this condition to be unattainable,” said Izetbegovic. Asked to explain what might be the compromise with regards to the adoption of the Annual National Program (ANP), which SNSD continues to reject, Izetbegovic briefly said that SDA wants to see things moving within the legal framework. “ANP does not have to be ambitious, in can have reduced contents, we will accept even if it says that there will be no membership in NATO until full consensus is reached in B&H and until new decisions are made, in which – of course – RS representatives will participate as well. We cannot go below this,” said Izetbegovic. He added that if they accept to act in line with the wishes of entities – even in cases in which the jurisdiction falls with the state – then “we would accept undermining of constitution and the rule of law”. “Basically, we would accept lawlessness,” said Izetbegovic, adding that it would “open Pandora’s Box with unforeseeable consequences”, as there would be no stopping of additional unconstitutional and illegal requests and blackmails. SDA leader said that failure to establish state-level authorities would cause all sorts of problems, as there would be no budget, no new laws at the level of B&H, no new projects supported with international financial institutions’ loans, no progress on the European path of B&H, and construction of transport and energy infrastructure will slow down as well. Author asked Izetbegovic to say if it would be possible to establish state-level authorities with SDS instead of SNSD, to which Izetbegovic briefly responded by saying that they do not intend to participate in such adventures. “Of course, if SNSD’s irrational policy continues, and for a longer period of time as well, then we might be forced to try and save what can be saved, with alternative parties from the RS,” said Izetbegovic, adding that it would be the last option, and that he does not believe it will come to that. “Reason will prevail,” concluded Izetbegovic.
Cvijanovic: Activation of Membership Action Plan or any other issue should not be used as condition for formation of authorities (TV1)
RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that claims about SDS forming the new parliamentary majority and securing support for the formation of the B&H Council of Ministers can be interpreted as indicator of SDS agreeing with SDA to submit the Annual National Program to NATO and activate the Membership Action Plan (MAP). Cvijanovic believes that the activation of the MAP or any other issue should not be used as a condition for the formation of the authorities, but that political Sarajevo has turned the activation of MAP into an essential issue because this will lead to delays in the process of formation of the authorities.
Croatia given initial green light for Schengen membership (Vecernji List)
Croatia has received as yet unofficial information from the European Commission that it has met all technical requirements for accession to the Schengen area, Vecernji List newspaper said on Saturday, citing diplomatic sources. Zagreb has received signals from the European Commission that the evaluation of the last of the eight chapters of the Schengen acquis will pass well, the newspaper said. An official confirmation of Croatia’s readiness is expected most likely in the second half of September, after the Commission’s summer recess. In order for Croatia to actually join the passport-free travel area, the decision needs to be approved by the Council of the EU, that is all the member states. Membership of the Schengen area is one of Croatia’s foreign policy priorities. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has set his government a target for Croatia to join the area by 2020, when the country assumes the rotating six-month presidency of the EU.
Vecernji List noted that the path to Schengen membership may not be easy despite the green light from the Commission, as shown by the cases of Romania and Bulgaria which have met the criteria but are still kept out for political reasons. Croatia could face obstacles from Slovenia, which has hinted on several occasions that it may make its consent conditional on Croatia’s acceptance and implementation of the border arbitration ruling.
Political crisis in Montenegro might be solved soon (Dan)
The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) reportedly agreed on 5-to-4 decisions in the parliament’s Election Reform Committee, instead of voting by a two-thirds majority, as was the case until now, writes Dan, a daily. The DPS finally accepted this after the international representatives interfered in the matter. In return, the representatives of the Democratic Montenegro and the Civic Movement – United Reform Action, URA, who also talked to the diplomatic representatives, agreed to delegate two members in the Election Reform Committee. This all is supposed to diminish the political crisis in Montenegro and contribute to the reform of election legislation (the final deadline for amendments is 31 December 2019, as it’s prohibited to amend election legislation in the election year – regular parliamentary elections are supposed to be held in mid-October 2020). During a range of meetings held in the past 10 days, the main topic was the plan that the leaders of the Democrats and URA –Aleksa Becic and Dritan Abazovic – already presented in Brussels to Johannes Hahn, EU-Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations. “I wouldn’t comment on the information you have. The election legislation must be amended by the end of the year,” Becic clarified for Dan.
Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, according to Dan, is supposed to tell more about the details of the agreement that has been reached thanks to the international representatives. The decision should be made public in the next few days so that the Parliament of Montenegro can elect new members of the Election Reform Committee by the end of its summer session.
Reeker: The country is on the right track, the opposition to engage in the processes (Nezavisen vesnik)
Through the Prespa Agreement, North Macedonia showed an example of courageous solutions to the problems and the ability to move towards a positive and bright future. The US express admiration for what you and your country have achieved. The country should continue in that spirit, while the opposition to engage in the processes. The country should support the rule of law and to show that no one is above the law, US Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker said after the meeting with PM Zoran Zaev. He expected the country to be welcomed soon as 30th NATO member state at the London Summit and to receive a date to launch EU accession negotiations in the autumn. The US, as he said, although not part of the EU, continuously supports North Macedonia on that road, but also encourages the state to get the long-awaited negotiation date in the bilateral meetings with the member states. “You have achieved a lot and you have to meet the given criteria,” he added. “At the meeting with Prime Minister Zaev we underlined the importance of approval of the law on public prosecution. We have a good basis in the proposal and I am looking forward to its approving. I hope this process will end quickly together with the opposition. I hope that the opposition, not only here but also in other countries, will be vital for their future. This is a great moment for everyone to join together and complete the process,” Reeker said. At the same time, he added, you need to ensure that the investigations are transparent, because the citizens respect that. It should show the citizens that the rule of law is crucial and nobody is above the law, Reeker added. Zaev voiced satisfaction that North Macedonia is soon to become 30th NATO member state, which as he said, is one of country’s strategic commitments. He said that so far, 21 countries have ratified the NATO accession protocol, and the United States said they have begun this process in their Senate and expects that this procedure will be successfully completed in September or October. Zaev believes that the country will soon receive the long-awaited date for the start of the negotiations, highlighting the exceptional US support to our EU integration bid. “Indications show that long-awaited decision to start the negotiations will happen in October. No one wants new disappointments and betrayed promises, either in the EU, at home or in the region. No one wants chance for increased influence on the ill-intentioned sides in the country and the region to open. Everyone expects the acknowledgment of fulfilled democratic reforms on the best possible solution, the issue of the neighbors and the commitment of our country to be part of the western democratic world,” Zaev said. The government is fully committed to the EU’s reform agenda, delivering a concrete result in four areas as requested by the EU Council conclusions in 2018 in cooperation with the opposition, he said, expressing readiness to adopt the public prosecution law together with the opposition. “We are open and we are constantly repeating this, as to the last joint step forward with the opposition in the adoption of the draft law on public prosecution office to show the international community that we are united when it comes to our strategic interests,” Zaev noted. Earlier in the day, the US Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker also met with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. “Your visit happens at a very important time for the country and only one day after the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee ratified North Macedonia’s NATO Accession Protocol. The US support to North Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration was and remains crucial in achieving long-term stability, further democratization and prosperity of the country and the region,” Dimitrov said.
Reeker pointed out that the Republic of North Macedonia and the US “are launching a new stage in their relations and cooperation as allies in the Alliance,” stressing that North Macedonia is on the right track. He underlined the need of continuing reforms aimed at strengthening the country’s overall capacity, including the sphere of judiciary and fight against corruption. Reeker reaffirmed the strong US support in achieving North Macedonia’s strategic goals – EU and NATO membership and the support of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is another confirmation for that, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release. Dimitrov and Reeker also discussed about the bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and elaborated the issues related to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Republic of North Macedonia. They exchanged views on the current political situation in the country and in the region. They assessed bilateral relations as extremely strong and friendly, based on strategic partnership and cooperation in many important areas. They expressed mutual interest for a permanent political dialogue and further improvement of the overall cooperation.
Reeker-Mickoski: Hope for a positive movement when it comes to the Law on the SPO and PPO (Nezavisen vesnik)
VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski elaborated on his party’s proposed law for the Public Prosecution during his meeting with Philip T. Reeker. Mickoski, according to VMRO-DPMNE’s press release, “also highlighted the importance of an uncompromising fight against any kind of corruption and crime.” Latest political developments and reform processes were discussed at the meeting, the release reads. Mickoski reaffirmed VMRO-DPMNE’s commitment to cooperation and development of Macedonian-American relations, the release adds. Following the meeting, Reeker told the press he had reiterated some points he had made earlier in the day at a news conference. “I hope we see a positive movement when it comes to the Law on the SPO and PPO because that’s very important for North Macedonia’s EU perspective,” Reeker said. “The United States has continued to strenuously support North Macedonia in the opening of negotiations for membership in the EU, and we will continue to support Macedonia in that regard. “But it’s up to the forces in this country to do the right thing, not play games, move forward constructively together for the future of the country.”
Montero: Spain always supports the European perspective of Albania and its journey to the EU (Radio Tirana)
Spanish Ambassador Vicente Canelles Montero commented on the political situation in Albania. He considers it extremely difficult and that this crisis jeopardizes Albania’s EU path. But for resolving this crisis, he offers similar situations that his country has passed in the past. “In Spain, when we encountered such difficult moments, they have been resolved through dialogue among all the political parties that gave up some of their initial perspectives and found a common point of agreement between them,” Ambassador Montero said. He also states that ambassadors are not about to intervene in Albania’s internal situation but to observe it. He further adds that Spain always support the European perspective of Albania and its journey to the EU. “In my opinion, foreigners are here just to observe the situation and to hope for the best and I do not believe that ambassadors should intervene in the domestic affairs of the country. These are the hardships you have to pass. It is a difficulty and we hope it will be resolved quickly. A solution needs to be found. Spain has always been positive in terms of Albania’s EU prospects and we continue to be in this position but Albania must first solve its problems because such a difficult situation complicates the road to the EU but we hope that when the right moment comes the solution will be appropriate,” said the Spanish Ambassador.
Vasak: Albania, like any other country in the region, has its place in the EU (Radio Tirana)
French Ambassador Christine Vasak issued a statement about the political situation in the country. Vasak stated that a solution to the crisis needs to be found. “We never say never for the Albanian politics. I cannot hide it, we all know that Albania is plunged into a political crisis. I have no doubt that there are reasonable people at all sides and levels, who are seeking a solution. You know well that it is not a foreign diplomat to give a solution to this situation, but the people of this country deserve a reasonable solution,” said the Ambassador. Vasak also talked about the integration of Albania into the European Union underscoring that the Albanian people must have it clear whether they are ready for the EU or not. “There is nothing closed because there is still time until October and many things can happen until October. You know, Albania, like any other country in the region, have their place in the EU,” Vasak said.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
After Hague Appearance, Haradinaj Tells US, EU to Stop Pressuring Kosovo (VoA, by Leonat Shehu, 26 July 2019)
PRISTINA, KOSOVO — Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj is calling on the international community, the United States and the European Union to stop pressuring his country to remove tariffs against Serbia as a precondition for negotiations between the countries.
Haradinaj offered his resignation last week before being questioned as a suspect by a special court investigating alleged war crimes by the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
Appearing before prosecutors in The Hague on Wednesday, Haradinaj refused to answer questions. As he left, he said his response was made “at the advice of my lawyer.” In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Albanian service, his first since returning from the Netherlands, Haradinaj insisted tariffs should remain in place until Serbia recognizes Kosovo. Haradinaj gained popular support after introducing a 100 percent tax on goods produced in Serbia last November, immediately prompting Belgrade to pull out of talks with Pristina. Many saw the move as a way to block Kosovar President Hashim Thaci and Serbian President Alexandar Vucic from discussing a change of borders as a formula for normalizing relations between the two countries. Asked if he saw any connection between his insistence on keeping tariffs and the summons from the special court in The Hague, Haradinaj said that “he was surprised to be summoned.” “I have fulfilled the legal obligation to appear as a suspect after being called for questioning,” he said, adding that “there is a lot of suspicion in Kosovo that it can be a conspiracy, but what I can confirm is that I strongly believe in what I have openly and in the most sincere way told the international partners: that Kosovo’s borders are not controversial, and there should be no discussion of territory or borders changes. “The agreement with Serbia should include mutual recognition within the existing borders, and at the same time free trade must be linked with the recognition,” he told VOA. The United States and European Union have repeatedly urged Haradinaj to end the tariffs. “I call upon the international community, our allies, to stop unjust pressure on Kosovo for tariffs as well as other topics, because it is not right to accept Serbia’s conditions for dialogue,” he said.
Haradinaj, who has twice been exonerated by prior trials before the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, then accused the international community of bias. “I was called for the second time to testify before an international court; I resigned twice because of that, while, on the other hand, Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, who was part of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime — [which] has committed crimes in the Balkans, not only in Kosovo but also in other countries — he has no such concerns. “This proves an imbalance of international community pressure logic that needs to be corrected as soon as possible.” Haradinaj first resigned as prime minister in 2005 upon being indicted by the U.N. tribunal, which exonerated him. The same court then tried and acquitted him again in 2012. His resignation is expected to prompt snap elections. Thaci is expected to start consultations with political parties to find a way out of the new political situation. On Friday, Philip Kosnett, the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, tweeted that the United States was “watching closely as Kosovo deals, for the first time, with a PM resignation. How it is handled will indicate the strength of Kosovo’s institutions and officials’ willingness to adhere to the Constitution and laws.” The Kosovo special court was created on 2015 to investigate alleged war crimes between January 1998 and December 2000. Over a dozen former KLA leaders have been called for questioning in various capacities. So far, no indictments have been issued.