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Belgrade Media Report 09 August 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 9 August 2019

• Vucic: Arrival of new ambassadors proves they expect important things (TV Prva)
• Authorities and opposition hold new meeting on election conditions (RTS)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Komsic and Dzaferovic will not support candidate without decision on sending of ANP (BHT1)
• Izetbegovic: RS’ opposition parties made plan re NATO path of B&H; Sarovic denies Izetbegovic’s claims (BNTV/TV1)
• Cvijanovic: Agreement on authority formation does not contain anything that is damaging for RS (ATV)
• NATO is not insisting on MAP (Nezavisne)
• Council of EU appoints Sattler new EUSR in B&H (N1)


• Rama Shifts Blame to EU for Not Opening Negotiations (Euronews)

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Vucic: Arrival of new ambassadors proves they expect important things (TV Prva)


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic assessed for TV Prva that the change of ambassadors representing world powers in Belgrade is taking place because these countries are surely expecting important things. Speaking about the fact that all five permanent members of the UN Security Council are sending new ambassadors to Belgrade – when asked whether it means they want to speed up the resolution of the Kosovo issue – Vucic joked that they certainly did not come to check the climate in Serbia, but because they expect important things. He especially praised the outgoing French ambassador Frederic Mondoloni, saying that he was the best French ambassador to Serbia. “At times I would have strongly-worded and difficult conversations with these people. I never give in to ambassadors, but when they do good things, I say so,” stressed Vucic. In this regard, he pointed out that US Ambassador Kyle Scott was an unpopular figure for many in Serbia, but underlined that he would never forget Scott’s engagement around the arrival of NCR, which recruits and trains our IT experts, and the fact that when everyone was against the Belgrade Waterfront project, he had the courage to say that he supported it. Today, Vucic added, it’s easy to support it – because 70 percent of Belgrade’s citizens support Belgrade Waterfront, but at the time of a fierce anti-campaign, few people did. He also pointed out that Russia has sent to Belgrade one of its most powerful ambassadors, an exceptional diplomat. Vucic said that if one looks at the situation and relations in the world, there are many centripetal forces. He cited the problem of India and Pakistan, where many big powers are involved, but also pointed to relations between Turkey and other regional powers. “The situation reminds me very much of a breakdown in the balance of power and the establishment of a big concept. I think the situation is such that it will be increasingly difficult for us to safeguard peace.”


Authorities and opposition hold new meeting on election conditions (RTS)


A new meeting between representatives of Serbia’s authorities and opposition, focused on election conditions, was held on Friday at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.

Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation Milan Antonijevic told RTS that everyone except Dragan Djilas, who announced earlier that he would not attend, had confirmed their presence. “The SNS, the SPS and parties of the ruling coalition, as well as the opposition parties, except the SzS, have confirmed their arrival,” said Antonijevic.




Komsic and Dzaferovic will not support candidate without decision on sending of ANP (BHT1)


Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated on Thursday that a session of the B&H Presidency during which a candidate for a Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) should be appointed, will be convened as soon as all procedures are met. Komsic said that he will not vote for a candidate for the Chairman of the CoM without a decision on sending the Annual National Program (ANP) for the Membership Action Plan (MAP). Member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic confirmed for BHT1 that he supports the stance of Komsic, adding that he will also not vote for a candidate for the Chairman of the CoM without a decision on sending of the ANP. Komsic also challenged the announced amendments to the Law on Elections of B&H and said that is never going to happen, because attempt of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic to introduce the ‘legitimate representation of peoples’ is preposterous. “Upon receiving the feedback, the Presidency of B&H will convene an extraordinary session with a single item on the agenda – voting on appointment of the Chairman of the CoM,” said Komsic. Dzaferovic said that under no circumstances will he and Komsic vote differently about the appointment of the B&H CoM Chairman, and he also underlined that consensus in the Presidency of B&H will be needed to adopt this decision.


Izetbegovic: RS’ opposition parties made plan re NATO path of B&H; Sarovic denies Izetbegovic’s claims (BNTV/TV1)


Speaking about the agreement on authority formation in Sarajevo on Thursday, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic confirmed that the Annual National Program (ANP) will be adopted and sent to Brussels, after which the Membership Action Plan (MAP) will be activated. Commenting the criticism that came from the RS opposition parties, Izetbegovic said that these parties were the ones that made the plan regarding the NATO path of B&H. He added that SNSD leader Milorad Dodik can accept that plan or the reduced version. “It is pointless for the opposition to call Dodik a traitor,” Izetbegovic stressed. Izetbegovic said that there was no winner after the agreement was signed and they found middle ground. He added that they will have to work on compromises and plans that will be acceptable for all sides, primarily the B&H Presidency and NATO. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic emphasized that these statements clearly show that Dodik accepted continuation of B&H’s NATO path, which is why Sarovic sees no reason why Izetbegovic would try and justify Dodik’s actions. “Opposition from the RS has never created the Annual National Program (ANP) for the NATO and Ministers from the ranks of SDS and PDP never allowed this matter to be discussed by the B&H Council of Ministers. On the contrary, we removed this point from the daily agenda nine times and we did not allow the ANP to be adopted in any form, not even the ‘reduced’ form,” Sarovic stated.


Cvijanovic: Agreement on authority formation does not contain anything that is damaging for RS (ATV)


RS President and SNSD Vice President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that it is hypocritical for election losers to comment anything, adding that the agreement, which was signed by the leaders of SNSD, HDZ B&H and SDA, does not contain anything that is damaging for the RS. Cvijanovic stressed that she believes that it is logical for election winners to form the authorities, adding that it is clear who the winners are and who should form the authorities. The RS President underlined that the agreement consists of a set of principles future B&H authorities will be led by. “It is the set of different reforms and measures of economic-social and financial character aimed to provide progress,” explained Cvijanovic.


NATO is not insisting on MAP (Nezavisne)


Representatives of the Public Relations Office of NATO in Brussels confirmed to daily that the Alliance will not force B&H to submit the first Annual National Program (ANP) within the Membership Action Plan (MAP). However, they reminded that B&H submitted request back in 2009 to enter this program, and that MAP for B&H was approved in Tallinn in 2010, while the first ANP was approved in 2018. “ANP is a program developed by the country itself and the country creates it in line with its own needs. ANP provides NATO with deeper and more substantive support in reforms which refer to defensive capacities, regional security, preparedness to act in case of natural disasters and readiness and interoperability of the armed forces,” representatives of NATO told daily.


Council of EU appoints Sattler new EUSR in B&H (N1)


The Council of the EU formally confirmed Austrian diplomat Johann Sattler as a new Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H and the EU Special Representative to B&H. Sattler should take over this duty on 1 September. The new Head of the EUD to B&H is an experienced Austrian diplomat with more than 25 years of experience in Vienna, Brussels and Washington. N1 carries briefly biography of Sattler. In period 2013-2016 Sattler was a Head of the Western Balkans Department of Austrian Foreign Affairs Ministry. Currently, he is serving as an Austrian Ambassador to Albania.




Rama Shifts Blame to EU for Not Opening Negotiations (Euronews, by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, 9 August 2019)


Despite the immense problems with organized crime, corruption, and the rule of law, Prime Minister Edi Rama has once again tried to shift the blame to the EU for not opening the accession negotiations with Albania. In an interview with journalist Jack Parrock of Euronews, Prime Minister Rama trotted out several last-resort arguments, asking rhetorically whether “you need a conflict to be rewarded” by being admitted to the EU. He also stated that not opening accession negotiations with Albania would be “harmful” to the region, and create a “grey zone” in the Western Balkans where “other agendas can prevail out of disarray, out of disenchantment, out of disillusion.” These arguments are nothing new. In July 2015, Rama stated that “if the EU is not able to show up in the way that is expected, there will be a huge space for radical Islam.” In 2016, the Russians were added to the mix: If we want to have a secure and stable European Union and with it a secure Europe, it’s not good if there are holes. In addition, we shouldn’t forget that there are also other, third, actors, who are playing their game and who could profit if the EU leaves a vacuum there. I’m talking about Russia, but I’m also talking about radical Islam. Prime Minister Rama is pandering here to rightwing populist discourse in the EU, hoping they will rise to his cause. When those same right-wing forces started to argue against opening accession negotiations with Albania, he shifted the blame for his lack of success precisely to the “internal problem” of rightwing populism in the EU. This position is inherently contradictory: if you count on the EU’s fear for Russia, Islamophobia, and racism, you cannot at the same time accuse the EU of anti-Albanian racism. All of these threats and warnings were made, however, under the assumption that the EU would admit the Western Balkans, in particular, North Macedonia and Albania “en bloc,” that is, at the same time. However, over the last few months, the EU’s resolve to do so has weakened, as North Macedonia has provided the necessary “tangible results” through the name-change agreement with Greece and the implementation of the Prespa Agreement. Meanwhile, Albania has lagged behind with the justice reform, which has devolved into a sad caricature of ad hoc, sui generis legislative fixes, while the country has been thrown into a deep Constitutional crisis involving illegal local elections, a parliamentary boycott, a fully collapsed justice system, and an attempt by the government to fire the President. At the same time, organized crime and cannabis production are still on the rise, leading to serious concerns in several EU countries, including the Netherlands. As a result, there seems to be a growing consensus among EU countries that North Macedonia has made more progress and stands a better chance to have accession negotiations opened in October during the European Council summit. This threatens the foundations of Rama’s propaganda, which seeks all causes for Albania’s stymied integration path outside his own government. He is also clearly aware of this. In June, North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski tweeted that “The biggest problem now [for opening EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia] is the decoupling with Albania,” to which Rama immediately responded: President [Stevo Pendarovski] implicitly favours “decoupling from Albania”? Strange to hear this, especially when one considers the key contribution of Albania and Albanians in our friendly neighbour’s state democratic developments and European path. Doesn’t sound right nor practical frankly! The problem for Prime Minister Rama is that at the moment the EU will decide to open negotiations with North Macedonia and not with Albania, he will no longer have the possibility of blaming the “internal” problems or supposed “anti-Albanianism” of the EU. North Macedonia has a large Albanian minority, and recent constitutional changes made Albanian an official language next to Macedonian. Once Albanian is decoupled from North Macedonia (the chances of which are not at all that clear), Rama will be faced with the reality of the mafia state he has created, deprived of any geostrategic of “EU-internal” excuse. He will then also have to face the fact that whereas his predecessors (and political enemies) accomplished NATO membership, EU candidacy, and integration into the Schengen Zone, he has nothing to show for. This does not mean that the EU is making the right decision by not opening the negotiations. As I have argued elsewhere, the EU faces no good options, mainly due to its own failed enlargement policies of the Juncker Commission, while a coherent geostrategic outlook is sorely lacking. Perhaps the new European Commission will prove wiser in its approach, but until then the isolation of Albania within the enlargement process will only increase, and at some point, Rama will run out of excuses.


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