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Belgrade Media Report 02 August 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 2 August 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Djuric on change of authority in Pristina: Serbs have nothing special to hope for (RTS)
• China continues to support Serbia’s sovereignty (RTS)
• Dacic discusses Kosovo with Serbian Ambassadors in US, Sweden, Argentina and Algeria (RTS/Tanjug)
• Botsan-Harchenko: We will support solution for Kosovo that we can defend in Security Council (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik comments possibility of authority formation at B&H level without SNSD: We will return to original Dayton (RTRS)
• US Embassy: Secession is not part of DPA or Constitution, any attempt represents violation of these documents; OHR: Secession represents violation of DPA (Oslobodjenje/N1)
• Mektic: Croatian police officers are forcibly returning illegal migrants to B&H’s territory; Komsic: Croatia needs to withdraw police from B&H (N1)
Croatia
• Grabar-Kitarovic: Operation ‘Oluja’ saved B&H (HRT1)
• Slovenia: EU should not pamper Croatia regarding border arbitration ruling (Hina)
Montenegro
• There won’t be technical government (CDM)
Albania
• Head of State willing to meet with Premier anywhere (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Russia wants to have military base in the RS, exchange of territories that would lead to division of B& H is still possible (Die Welt)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Djuric on change of authority in Pristina: Serbs have nothing special to hope for (RTS)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that it is necessary for Pristina to abolish the taxes in order to restore the dialogue and start on the part of any kind of normalization of relations. “The taxes have been in force since 21 November. Nearly an entire year has passed, yet nobody from the international community has undertaken anything. It is time to stop with the silence that international law is being trampled on,” said Djuric. When it comes to the change of authority in Pristina, Djuric says: “Whoever is in power, it will be someone from the representatives of the separatists. It is very probable that some know person will represent them, someone who is competing to assume a firmer position towards the Serbs. Our job is to work for the Serbs, and we are doing this through 149 projects of support,” said Djuric.

 

China continues to support Serbia’s sovereignty (RTS)

 

The State Secretary in the Serbian Interior Ministry Biljana Popovic Ivkovic discussed on Thursday with Chinese Ambassador Chen Bo concrete forms of cooperation of the two countries in the sphere of interior affairs and renewed request of Kosovo for membership in Interpol. Speaking about this repeated request by Pristina, Popovic Ivkovic pointed out that Serbia highly appreciates the principled stand of the People’s Republic of China on respecting international law, therefore Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as well. She reiterated that only United Nations member states and observers in the United Nations can be members of Interpol, as well as that eventual admission of so-called Kosovo into this police organization would pose a violation of international law, primarily UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Chen Bo pointed out that China would continue to offer support to Serbia in defending sovereignty and international law.

 

Dacic discusses Kosovo with Serbian Ambassadors in US, Sweden, Argentina and Algeria (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with ambassadors of the Republic of Serbia at the Ministry. Dacic spoke with Serbian Ambassador to the US Djerdj Matkovic, Serbian Ambassador to Sweden Dragan Momcilovic, Serbian Ambassador to Argentina Jela Bacevic and Serbian Ambassador to Algeria Aleksandar Jovanovic. The Minister 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The ambassadors informed Dacic about enhanced activities aimed at strengthening the Republic of Serbia’s position on a multilateral plan, especially in the coming period, when Pristina is applying for membership in numerous international organizations, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

 

Botsan-Harchenko: We will support solution for Kosovo that we can defend in Security Council (Tanjug)

 

In an exclusive interview to Tanjug – his first to a Serbian media outlet since taking office as Russia’s new Ambassador to Serbia – Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko said that, alongside Serbia, he would try to fight for international law to be restored in the region once and for all, in particular with regards to Kosovo. He said Russia would support a compromise and creative solution agreed by Belgrade and Pristina that could be defended by Russia in the UN Security Council. When asked if delineation would be the compromise everyone – including him – was talking about, the ambassador responded: “For us, an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is what matters because UN SC support is possible in that case, but on what grounds – that is a matter of negotiations. It is hard to tell because we do not want to impose a solution or set the direction of negotiations. But when compromise is sought, a creative approach is a must.”

When asked about the possibility of a change of format or even the potential framework of the dialogue, he said this was an interesting question but that the preconditions for renewed dialogue were not in place right now. He said Russia had a principled position on this: “In case Serbia requests that Russia join a group of states, we can do that, why not, but with our stance, which must be taken into account – with respect of (UN SC) Resolution 1244. We do not want to do this any other way and we think Serbia does not either. Currently, we are prepared to contribute towards renewing the dialogue,” he said. When asked if Russia viewed Serbia as its last remaining stronghold in the region from the perspective of NATO aspirations, Botsan-Harchenko said he was no supporter of using the term ‘stronghold’. “The word ‘stronghold’ does not correspond to the Russian principle and its concept of security in Europe. Our vision is based on the term or the principle of common security and a single security area without any strongholds of either NATO or Russia, and without divisions. That is our concept, our goal,” he said. He said Serbia’s military and political orientation was its own choice and a matter of fully independent decision-making. Considering some past events, such as the NATO aggression, everyone must understand why Serbia is opting for military and political neutrality, he added.

“My personal opinion is that, in a certain sense, military neutrality is a tradition of countries in the region. Historically, military and political neutrality has been the better choice for the countries that exist here. It is important that Russia – I know this exactly and I want to stress this in a very responsible way – has not requested Serbia to take a stance and make a choice that would suit Russia,” he explained. Responding to claims that a frozen conflict in Kosovo and Metohija suits Russia because of the status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and that Russia’s stance was conditional on the Crimea case, he said such comments did exist, and reiterated that a lack of a decision or a lack of compromise on Kosovo were by no means in Russia’s interest. “As far as Abkhazia and South Ossetia are concerned… There is no connection whatsoever with Kosovo. The same applies to the Crimea, that is a completely different story – the Crimea has returned to Russia based on a referendum, and we know very well there was no referendum whatsoever in Kosovo,” he said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Dodik comments possibility of authority formation at B&H level without SNSD: We will return to original Dayton (RTRS)

 

RTRS carries that statement made by Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik in an interview for RTRS according to which entry of political minority from Republika Srpska (RS) into the authorities at the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) level and appointment of SDS leader Mirko Sarovic as Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) will cause blockade of the entire B&H has provoked a number of reactions. Dodik stressed that if B&H authorities are formed without election winners in the RS, the RS parliament will establish the original Dayton system and organization of B&H, as well as abolish all decisions of High Representatives and institutions at the B&H level which were illegally established. According to Dodik, this, among other things, means preventing judicial and police institutions from B&H level to work on the territory of the RS. “You want to play games? I suggest to you to choose Sarovic,” Dodik said in the interview. Dodik further stated that increasingly frequent speculations that Sarovic could become the next B&H CoM Chairman and that SDS could occupy the position of Serb representative at the B&H level instead of SNSD represents disregard of the result of democratically conducted elections.

Sarovic did not want to give a statement to the media, but he sent them a text in which he wonders whether everyone should be hostages to Dodik and his failure to form executive authorities in B&H. “That is his and problem of his party and coalition. I do not know what is with such nervousness and panic. I am not negotiating with SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, but someone else. There is the question of legitimacy; whether someone has legitimacy or not?! Is it legitimate for SDS to form the authorities with two MPs or SNSD with five MPs. It depends.”

Spokesperson for SNSD Radovan Kovacevic responded to Sarovic by saying that legitimacy is won in elections, recalling that SDS lost the elections the last eight times. Kovacevic stressed that if one is observing things from the aspect of mathematics, authorities at the B&H level can be formed, but this would not be reflection of the will of voters nor reflection of the number of won mandates. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak (PDP) stressed that Dodik will not implement anything he is threatening with because, according to him, he did not implement the referendum on the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H. PDP Honorary President Mladen Ivanic said that no one is banning Dodik to form the authorities at the B&H level. “Dodik’s statement shows that he does not care about the position of the RS, but exclusively position of SNSD.” Leader of ‘United Srpska’ Nenad Stevandic said that Sarovic, Ivanic and Crnadak do not have legitimacy to deal with combinations as to how they could again become part of the authorities at the B&H level, without an election result which would enable them to do so. Stevandic stressed that number of won mandates in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP), the B&H House of Representatives (HoR), the RS parliament, the B&H Presidency, but also winning of the post of the RS President gives Dodik and the authorities in the RS legitimacy to negotiate formation of the authorities at the B&H level. NDP leader Dragan Cavic said that Dayton B&H is something everyone is obliged to respect, adding that Bosniak politicians are constantly trying to prevent this with various post-election combinations. HDZ B&H Vice-President Vjekoslav Bevanda reacted to possible combinations in which SDS would again become part of the authorities at the B&H level instead of SNSD, stressing that it is not normal for election winners not to form the authorities because, according to him, this would lead B&H into an even deeper crisis.

 

US Embassy: Secession is not part of DPA or Constitution, any attempt represents violation of these documents; OHR: Secession represents violation of DPA (Oslobodjenje/N1)

 

The US Embassy to B&H commented claims of SNSD leader Milorad Dodik who announced possibility of secession of RS, and stated on Thursday that their stance on the issue is well-known and remains unchanged. “Territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H are guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement. Neither the DPA nor the Constitution of B&H give an option of secession to any of the entities. Any actions taken with goal to ensure dissolution of B&H would represent violation of the DPA. Existence of any of the two entities is absolutely dependent on the existence of B&H. Status of B&H as a country is not a matter of opinion, but a fact established by the international law,” stated the Embassy. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) told N1 that according to the DPA, the entities do not have a right to secession and they must respect the decisions passed by the institutions of B&H, adding that the DPA has determined that the entities must assist B&H.

 

Mektic: Croatian police officers are forcibly returning illegal migrants to B&H’s territory; Komsic: Croatia needs to withdraw police from B&H (N1)

 

B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic again accused Croatian police officers of forcibly returning illegal migrants to B&H’s territory, adding that he has evidence to corroborate this. Croat member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic‘s Office stated that by doing that, Croatia is violating territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H. According to N1, several official sources from B&H claim that members of the Croatian police are entering B&H’s territory armed and that they are returning to B&H illegal migrants who they found not only in the border area with B&H, but also those who they caught on the border with Slovenia or even Italy. Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic told N1 that this is not in accordance with international standards on extradition. Fazlic noted that he himself saw Croatian police officers with long guns on B&H’s territory and that they are returning migrants to B&H in a very difficult physical and psychological state. Fazlic stressed that he informed all relevant institutions about this. “What worries me is that the Croatian police are returning migrants deep from its territory and even from Slovenia and border between Croatia and Italy and they are coming to B&H. They are not returning them to a border crossing, but through the woods,” Fazlic underlined. Meanwhile, migrants told N1 that Croatian police beat them on several occasions, taking mobile phones and even money away from them.

 

Grabar-Kitarovic: Operation ‘Oluja’ saved B&H (HRT1)

 

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic held a speech during a solemn academy that marked the upcoming Victory Day and anniversary of the military operation ‘Oluja’. She reminded that ‘Oluja’ was the final push towards the freedom of Croatia. Grabar-Kitarovic added that military operations in B&H followed. “Croatian forces broke the Serb aggression with many sacrifices and stopped new Srebrenicas from happening in Bihac and other cities. ‘Oluja’ saved B&H and I would love for our neighbors to never forget who reached out to them in the hardest of times,” said Grabar-Kitarovic.

 

Slovenia: EU should not pamper Croatia regarding border arbitration ruling (Hina)

 

Slovenian President Borut Pahor reiterated his view on the border dispute with Croatia on Wednesday, accusing the European Union of pampering Croatia like a spoilt child instead of insisting on the mutual implementation of the arbitration ruling. “The border has been determined by the arbitration tribunal and sooner or later it will be applied,” Pahor said, recalling that on this day in 2009 in Sweden, in his capacity as prime minister, he and the then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor signed an arbitration agreement and that the arbitration ruling was based on that agreement. Pahor accused some European leaders of siding with Croatia. He said that Croatia was not honoring the arbitration ruling but was offering new bilateral talks claiming that Slovenia had irreparably compromised the arbitration process by trying to influence the arbitration judges. “Some European leaders tell us that we are right and that the decision on the border should be respected, while at the same time suggesting that we come to that in such a way that Croatia can also save face. I tell them that the only right and fair thing to do is to treat Croatia like any other responsible country in a responsible relationship and that it is required to meet the assumed commitments, rather than treat it like a spoilt child that does only what suits it,” Pahor said, as quoted by Slovenian media. Pahor is currently holidaying in the Croatian part of Istria.

 

There won’t be technical government (CDM)

 

Montenegrin MPs adopted the Proposal of the Decision on the amendments to the Decision on the Establishment of the Committee on the Reform of Electoral and Other Legislation. Meanwhile, Legislative Committee rejected the amendment proposed by Democratic Front (DF) concerning technical government and its competences in the implementation of laws. The Committee didn’t discuss on the amendments of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).

Members of DPS find the requests of Democratic Montenegro acceptable. Representatives of DPS asked to propose amendments by means of which the deadline for the reform of electoral legislation is extended to 15 November. Democrats endorsed the amendment proposed by DF, which stipulates that electoral process should be supervised by technical government. Technical government – impossible. Member of DPS, Andrija Nikolic, said loud and clear that technical government was constitutionally unfounded and politically illegitimate request. He said that they wanted establishment of technical government composed of three groups. “The first group is opposition, the second group is composed of some out-of-party persons who never took part in the elections and the third group are representatives of the governing coalition which won the elections and is now supposed to become minority. Should I remind you? No authority shall be either established or recognized if it does not result from the freely expressed will of the citizens. As you know, the elections were recognized by all the relevant international organizations and they were never disputed,” said Nikolic. Nikola Rakocevic says the electoral environment has to be better and that they are ready to improve electoral laws. “We aren’t going to change our coalition partners. We need dialogue between the opposition and the government. We want everybody to work with us,” said Rakocevic. Milutin Djukanovic (DF) said that the spirit of Darko Pajovic was felt in the Parliament and was manifested through Aleksa Becic. He maintains all this is a scam of DPS. He said that Democrats had breached the agreement with the opposition. LP won’t support the amendments. President of the Liberal party, Andrija Popovic thinks that dialogue has no alternative. “I just had a glimpse of the amendments proposed by Democrats and I saw that three of them were in contravention to the Constitution. I think It’s not right that we allow people who boycott the Parliament to make requests,” said Popovic. Tense discussion was further fueled by Goran Danilovic who said that “all this is too frivolous”.

“A man who used to rob premises in Kotor is proposing amendments. Unbelievable. We request technical government,” said Danilovic. Representative of DF explained why they thought it was important that elections be supervised by technical government. “DPS wins elections because electoral roll has more voters than the residents in Montenegro” said Veljko Vasiljevic. Danijel Zivkovic (DPS) addressed the opposition: “There’s no such political experiment of laboratory that will enable you to win,” said Zivkovic, and then he added: “We’ll defeat you in the next elections. Marina Jocic (DF) reacted sharply and accused Democrats and DPS of having a deal. She congratulated DPS on being able to always find “some Darko Pajovic”. She said that Head of the EU Delegation, Aivo Orav, told her that there were “some bad guys in Democrats”, “some bad guys who had deceived me”. Nedjeljko Rudovic says that everybody with least conscience would be ashamed of this government. SDP won’t take part in the Committee. Aleksandar Damjanovic said that amendments proposed by Democrats were a step back and pointed out that “bad agreements” were being discussed in the Parliament. He added that his counterparts had told him that they wouldn’t take part in the Committee. Branko Radulovic (DF) said that Democrats were cowards who “are afraid to express their views”. “They are traitors, and that Abazovic is too. Without transitional government there can’t be free Montenegro. You can only have a cursed Montenegro,” said Radulovic. Milan Knezevic (DF) said that we were witnessing a marriage ceremony between Milo Djukanovic and Aleksa Becic. Ivan Brajovic is the registrar and Aivo Orav is the best man. He said this was a shameful treason. After the voting process, Brajovic said that Zeljk Aprcovic submitted resignation as from his MP function. President of the Democrats caucus, Boris Bogdanovic, submitted seven amendments to the Proposal for Decision on the Amendments to the Decision on the Establishment of the Committee on the Reform of Electoral and Other Legislation. Adoption of these amendments would finally mean the adoption of the “Brussels plan”.

 

Head of State willing to meet with Premier anywhere (ADN)

 

President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta expressed this Thursday willingness to receive and meet Prime Minister Edi Rama anywhere. During the press conference, President of the Republic said that they will keep working even during the summer to solve the political crisis in Albania and that he hopes very much for Rama’s reflection. Furthermore, President of Albania underlined that he believes the continuation of this situation is not in PM Rama’s interest, considering that few people benefit from it, who benefited when he was in opposition and prepare to benefit when he will not be. Meta insisted on avoiding escalation of ongoing political crisis in Albania and said that this crisis proves no state elections were held on 30 June. President of the Republic stated that there is only one date on his mind, 18 October. President Meta invited willing political forces to participate in elections of October 13. “Legitimate elections are on 13 October. I invite all political forces to participate in the elections, those that want, not those who do not want and never will,” stated President of the Republic.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Russia wants to have military base in the RS, exchange of territories that would lead to division of B& H is still possible (Die Welt, 1 August 2019)

 

NATO counts primarily on Albania, Kosovo and Croatia, and Russia concentrates on Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS); Russia wants to have a military base in the RS, and the option of exchanging territories – which would lead to division of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) – still exists, German Die Welt reported. Author of the article, Die Welt’s correspondent from Budapest Boris Kalnoky, reminded that Serbia has purchased armored vehicles and modernized T-72 tanks from Russia, after which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia’s “combat readiness” has been strengthened. Author noted that this is “potentially explosive – because Serbia relies on Russia, a country that has shown a determination in Ukraine to expand its area of influence through armed violence”. Furthermore, Kalnoky reminded that “under the then dictator Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia waged wars against Croatia and Kosovo, and assisted local Serbs in the B&H war”. “Knowing that, Government of Serbia’s announcement that it will attack Kosovo if necessary, and if this country creates its own army, sounds even more threatening”, ‘Die Welt’ reported. Author reminded that the parliament in Pristina decided in December to create an army of Kosovo “because, among other things, Serbia is arming itself”. “This is a part of the overall arming in the Eastern and Central Europe. New EU Member States, such as Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, are rapidly modernizing their hopelessly outdated arsenals from the Soviet times”, wrote Kalnoky. The article also reads that new arms race is “mixed with political confrontations”. “Albania and Kosovo have agreed a customs union and are merging economically. This is interpreted in Serbia as an attempt to create a ‘Greater Albania’ – a term often used by Albanian government to provoke”, Die Welt reported. Author noted that the idea presented by Vucic and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci about the exchange of territories is still alive. “This could have a domino effect – for example, to divide B&H with the merger of its Serb and Croat parts with Serbia and Croatia. Or it might even lead to disintegration of Macedonia, where many ethnic Albanians also live”, Die Welt explained. Author noted that the EU is trying to take such ideas, which are “full of conflict potential”, off the table. “But the United States seems open to exchange of territories if it would bring stability in the long run. So, this issue has not been taken off the agenda yet” Kalnoki wrote, concluding that “the more actors arm themselves, the more dangerous political conflicts in the region become”.

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