Dacic: Withdrawals of Kosovo recognitions hurts the Quint (TV Pink/FoNet)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told TV Pink that his country would continue with its policy of lobbying for the withdrawals of the recognitions of Kosovo’s independence because it protected its interests and not because it wanted to annoy Pristina or the international community. Dacic, who understood the Quint joint statement as a call on Belgrade to stop campaigning for those withdrawals, said that the lobbying was successful and that “it hurts,” adding they were saying the withdrawals were not true and now want us to stop the campaign.
“The conditions for Pristina to abolish taxes and for Belgrade to stop its campaign appeared out of the blue,” Dacic said. He added that it’s their wish for Kosovo to become a member of international organizations and that more countries recognize its independence, while Serbia shouldn’t play any role and should welcome it. Dacic said that the joint statement did not mention that those five countries would stop lobbying for Kosovo’s independence. However, he added, the Quint statement should not be taken as too important, since that was nothing new.
“They are trying to artificially balance the responsibility, and call on both sides to make a compromise,” Dacic said, asking what else Serbia should do to enable an agreement. Speaking about forthcoming Serbia’s general elections, Dacic said the international community doesn’t recognize boycott as a (democratic) category. He said the opposition estimated it wouldn’t do good in the elections and thus mentioned the boycott as an option.
Dacic briefs Serbian Ambassadors on situation in Kosovo (Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic informed Serbia’s ambassadors in Belgrade on Aug. 13 about the situation in Kosovo as well as Pristina’s unilateral actions that had resulted in suspending the dialogue and talks, but also the blocking of the Brussels process and attempts to reach a compromise. In separate meetings with Serbian Ambassador to UNESCO Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili, Ambassador to the Czech Republic Vera Mavric and Ambassador to Iran Dragan Todorovic, Dacic reiterated the country’s foreign policy priorities and ordered them to increase their engagements in accordance with Serbia’s national interests, a statement from the Foreign Ministry said. The Ambassadors informed Dacic of their increased activities toward strengthening Serbia’s position on the multilateral plane. Dacic conveyed the content of his discussions with the highest officials of other countries in the past period, the statement said.
Dacic, Botsan-Harchenko discuss topics of particular importance (Beta/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko. The officials discussed topics of particular importance, such as the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, cooperation in international organizations and prospects for further comprehensive cooperation. They expressed satisfaction with the dynamics of high-level and top-level meetings between the two countries’ officials as well as successful cooperation in international organizations, the Ministry said in a statement.
Botsan-Harchenko warns conditions being created to blame Serbia (FoNet)
Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko said on Tuesday that conditions are being created to blame Serbia for the failure of the dialogue on Kosovo. Commenting the Quint ambassador’s statement on his Twitter account, Botsan-Harchenko said that he did not see anything new in it and wondered why it spoke of Euro-Atlantic integration. “The Quint is ignoring Serbia’s military-political neutrality. The reality is that Belgrade is only negotiating on accession with the EU and this statement could fall in the category of those which allow them to say: we did everything to renew the dialogue,” he wrote. He added that the dialogue can be renewed only through pressure on Pristina to revoke the taxes. He asked what the establishing of the dialogue has to do with the withdrawal of the recognition of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence, adding that this is an issue for states which realize that Kosovo’s false statehood is against international law.
What’s behind Quint’s strong message to Belgrade and Pristina, and who will be under more pressure (Telegraf)
The Quint countries called on Pristina and Belgrade to resume their dialogue as soon as possible, and stressed that Pristina must abolish taxes while Belgrade must suspend its campaign for withdrawals of the independence of the co-called Kosovo. Although the most powerful Western states have urged Pristina to abolish taxes so that the dialogue can continue, a clear demand has now been delivered to Belgrade, too. Quint countries have been pushing for a continuation of the dialogue for a long time, Dragan Djukanovic, president of the Center for Foreign Policy and professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, told Telegraf, commenting on the statement.
“They have made it clear before that Pristina should abolish the taxes, and emphasized on several occasions that Serbia should stop lobbying for the withdrawal of recognitions of Kosovo’s independence. It is obvious that as we go towards further stages of the dialogue, that pressure, which is now predominantly directed towards Pristina, will gradually change and move over to the other side, that is, towards Belgrade,” said Djukanovic. Career diplomat Zoran Milivojevic sees two things in the Quint statement. “What we are reading in this joint statement is the interest to restart the dialogue, which is the first thing. And, the other is equalizing both sides. Unfortunately, western power centers are staying on the course of double standards. Serbia in this case bears no blame for the deadlock in the negotiations,” Milivojevic told Telegraf. He believes that Belgrade has in no way contributed to the deadlock occurring. “The fact that Serbia seeks to challenge the self-proclaimed statehood (of Kosovo) is a part of its policy, because Serbia does not recognize the self-proclaimed independence, and has acted in that sense so far. Behind this – in addition to the Serbian arguments and the Serbian political stance – are also international legal arguments. According to international law and (UN) Resolution 1244, Kosovo and Metohija is under the United Nations mandate, and is still at that level being treated as an integral part of Serbia,” said the diplomat. He believes the Quint’s obvious course is to equalize both sides once again. “This, in addition to the interest to continue the dialogue, is part of the pressure on Serbia to give up its policy of contesting, that is, an indirect message for Serbia to change its attitude and recognize the independence,” Milivojevic told us, adding: “They have already had a mechanism to influence Pristina and the policy Haradinaj is pursuing there, because he is certainly not alone in that. This also confirms an earlier assessment that, in fact, this hardline policy represented by the political leadership in Pristina has the tacit support of the West, and that it’s one method of exerting pressure on Serbia to recognize the self-proclaimed independence. This stance unambiguously confirms it.”
Belgrade commemorates Serb victims of crimes in Gorazdevac 16 years ago (Beta)
Belgrade commemorated the 16th anniversary of an attack by unknown shooters in the Kosovo
village of Gorazdevac, killing two and injuring four Serb children while swimming in the Bistrica River. An assistant to the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Petar Petkovic, said that there was no statute of limitation for such crimes, describing the attack as a burden on the conscience of the international community. Having recalled that the investigation was suspended, Petkovic said that “there are no secrets in Kosovo, it just takes political will, especially that of the international community,” the Serbian government official said. Serbian Labor Minister Zoran Djordjevic said that it was the duty of government representatives not only to foster the memory of the slain children, but to seek justice, too. The Belgrade ceremony was attended by Minister of Education Mladen Sarcevic, the families of the victims, and representatives of Serbia’s religious communities, including Belgrade Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar, who spoke to the attendants.
Court in Skopje: Conditions not fulfilled for extradition of Morina to Serbia (Tanjug/RTS)
The Supreme Court in Skopje confirmed today the ruling of the Basic Criminal Court in Skopje that the conditions for extradition of Tomor Morina to the Republic of Serbia have not been met.
The explanation states that Tomor Morina is a citizen of the so-called Kosovo and of the United Kingdom, not Serbia, and that the alleged crime was committed in the territory of the so-called Republic of Kosovo – which is, under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, a UN-administered territory. The explanation also states that Kosovo has been independent since 2008, and that the Republic of North Macedonia recognizes it. “The Court agrees with the Criminal Panel of the Basic Criminal Court in Skopje that the legal preconditions for extradition of Tomor Morina envisaged in the European Convention on Extradition, the Agreement between Serbia and Macedonia on extradition, and Article 52 of the Law on International Cooperation in Criminal Justice have not been met, because Morina is not a citizen of Serbia, that is, of the state requesting his extradition, but of the Republic of Kosovo, as well as the fact that the crime he is charged with was committed in the territory of Kosovo in 1999,” states the ruling of the Supreme Court of North Macedonia. The Supreme Court’s ruling will be sent to the Ministry of Justice, which will make the final decision. The Supreme Court ruling did not state whether Morina remains in custody pending a decision by the justice minister.
Komsic: If ANP is not adopted, I will not vote for new B&H CoM Chair (RTRS/ radiosarajevo.ba)
At a request of Serb member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, Chairman of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic convened a special session of the B&H Presidency for 20 August, in order to discuss appointment of a new Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). Before this session, Komsic also convened a regular session of the Presidency at which members of this institutions should discuss 28 items on the agenda. According to Dodik’s cabinet, at least five items on the agenda are unacceptable like the one on sending of the Annual National Program (ANP). In a statement given for the web portal radiosarajevo.ba on Tuesday, Komsic stated that the ANP and a new B&H CoM Chairman go together. Komsic said that he represents only one-third of the Presidency and that without the ANP, there should be no the new B&H CoM Chairman. Komsic confirmed that the other member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that he will vote just like him.
Dodik claims that ANP will not be sent to Brussels (Tanjug/RTRS)
Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik confirmed for Tanjug that there is no B&H path to the NATO and that the Annual National Program (ANP), which is a step towards B&H integration to the NATO, will not be submitted to Brussels because the RS opposes B&H’s accession to the NATO and does not want the level of cooperation, which would be higher than the one that Serbia currently has. Dodik said: “There is no path to the NATO. We are connected to Serbia in this matter. If Serbia joins the NATO in hundred years, so will we. If Serbia does not join the NATO in 300 years, neither will we, as long as I and my political option are in charge of that. If (leader of SDS Mirko) Sarovic comes to the scene, BiH will join it the same year, while Serbia will be left hanging. I do not leave Serbia hanging”. Dodik underlined that the principles for formation of authorities do not mention the ANP, which according to Dodik, leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic know. Asked about the announcement of Chairman of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic that he will convene a session of B&H Presidency only after the ANP is accepted and sent to the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Dodik stated that obstructions are possible, adding that the agreement is not obligatory for someone who is not a signatory. Dodik also stated that he is not sure whether the B&H Council of Ministers will be formed within 30-day-deadline. Dodik stated: “I am not sure and in a way it does not matter. I deem that it was necessary to get to this agreement and show that those who dispute it are the ones who will assume the political responsibility. Croats are also discontent if this does not happen. Croats also want formation of authorities. They are in favor of the NATO, but they do not insist because there is no consensus”. He emphasized that if the B&H CoM is not formed, the RS parliament will adopt an act that will reject all decisions that are not explicitly in accordance with B&H Constitution. He explained that this means that the RS will back down from the agreement on (B&H) Armed Forces, indirect taxation, it will reject work of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court of B&H, as well as the SIPA on its territory and call into question all competencies transferred to the B&H level. Dodik stressed that the RS will respect the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) in the future, but B&H has the obligation to respect the Resolution on Military Neutrality adopted by the RS parliament. “I understand the message sent by 80 percent of Serbs in the RS that says they do not wish to join the NATO. I live and work for those people and not for the international community,” he underlined. When asked to comment on a statement by the B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic that he would call a session of the Presidency only when the ANP was accepted and then sent to the NATO HQ in Brussels, Dodik said that obstructions were possible and that the agreement was not binding for someone who did not sign it. “We will see, obstructions may occur. This agreement is not binding for someone who didn’t sign it, the signatories here are the three political parties that won elections among their peoples (SNSD, SDA and HDZ B&H),” elaborated Dodik. He said he was not certain whether the Council of Ministers would be formed within the set period of 30 days, despite the agreement. “I am not certain, but I feel kind of indifferent to it. In my opinion, it was necessary to reach this agreement and show that those who challenge it will be the ones to bear political responsibility. Croats will be unhappy too if that occurs. Croats too want the authorities to be formed. They are in favor of NATO, but they don’t insist on it because there is no consensus. NATO is a talk made up by the Bosniaks,” underlined Dodik. When asked to comment on a statement by Daniel Serwer, who said that Dodik was not as much against the path to NATO as much as he wanted to please his Moscow financiers, the Serb member of the Presidency replied that Serwer “is just an as….e receiving money from Muslims.” Dodik pointed out that he had the same relations with Russia like he did with the United States, but that it wasn’t Russia that interfered in the relations and events in B&H, rather the West.
Gegaj: Great Albania isn’t supported by every Albanian politician (Dan)
Official of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Nikola Gegaj said in the interview for Dan that his party was preparing for the next elections, that they had rejuvenated the staff and added that opposition members weren’t their opponents but rather competitors. He says that Montenegro isn’t threatened with some grate projects such as “Great Albania”.
Elections within the party have been held. After staff restructuring, is DPS ready for next parliamentary elections?
Mr Gegaj: DPS is a very stable political subject. Apart from organization, who performs functions at central and local level is very important for us. In that con text, elections within the party are crucial. Members of DPS are ordinary people, who are facing real life every day, and working on the improvement of general living conditions.
Therefore, I’m happy to say that our committees have been refreshed. Parliamentary elections are very important for the political parties, citizens and country and our approach to elections is, therefore, comprehensive. We are following actions of the opposition, we appreciate good things they advocate for and we are always ready to cooperate. Finally, we have much better political offer for citizens of Montenegro and international community.
Does that project, “Great Albania” really exist? Does that whole story have an impact on the relations between Serbs and Albanians in Montenegro?
Mr Gegaj: I don’t know to what degree that impact is, but we all know that it’s a negative one and that it doesn’t help Montenegro. I will say once again that “Great Albania” is a very vague project of distant past which is present now in traces in order to incite hatred and create discord in Montenegro. Only marginal politicians talk about it. DPS is committed to preservation of peace and multi-ethnic harmony in Montenegro.
Specific opposition politicians claim that all Albanian politicians in Montenegro endorse the project of “Great Albania”?
Mr Gegaj: That’s a downright lie. Such statements are so frivolous and tendentious that they don’t even deserve any comment. Montenegro isn’t threatened with some great state projects. Albanian people in Montenegro have always been loyal and made contribution to its development.
After many years, DPS became opposition in Tuzi. What does it look like from your perspective?
Mr Gegaj: We didn’t see that as debacle. Voters decide the government. Individually, we are the strongest political subject in the municipality of Tuzi, we have most mandates. However, we didn’t have enough votes for the government. The post-election situation is a great and valuable experience. For serious politicians, being opposition is not a shame. Democratic system in the world is formed on the basis of the government and opposition.
What do you think about the achievements of the government in Tuzi so far?
Mr Gegaj: I think it’s too early to comment although I still don’t see any significant progress. There’s still time for them to show what they can do.
Zaev says he is not considering a resignation or holding early elections (Republika)
Sidelined by the shocking homophobic and threatening statement Zoran Zaev made on Tuesday afternoon were his political announcements. The Prime Minister said that he is not considering a resignation or early general elections, despite the major corruption scandal that is rocking his government. “Absolutely the government, that is led by the man who reported this case (Zaev talking about himself), I put all that in water, I put it aside, I have no intention to consider either resigning or having early general elections. I said that the elections don’t have to be in December because the December date was forced in 2016. They can be in October. But after the major political decisions, after all the reforms we pushed through together, after our expectations for full NATO membership and for opening EU accession talks, at a time when the economic data is excellent and continues to be excellent, we need to give a chance to the country to push out a maximum out of this unrepeatable, precious period because the citizens need to economically benefit,” Zaev said, in his typical style. All opposition parties are calling on Zaev to step down and allow early elections in spring, while diplomats are demanding that he allows a full and thorough investigation into the major corruption allegations that have broken in the past months.
Alliance of Albanians calls for early elections to be held as soon as possible (Republika)
The Alliance of Albanians urged that early general elections are held as soon as possible, in order to restore hope in the country after the spectacular collapse of the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO). The SPO was the last hope that we will finally remove politics from the judiciary and we’ll create a professional institution that acts in accordance with the laws and the Constitution. Unfortunately, the latest scandal shows us that the judiciary and politics remain intertwined and this is eroding the reputation of the country in front of the international community, said Elmi Aziri from the opposition ethnic Albanian party. Aziri named a series of corruption scandal which include officials from the ruling SDSM and DUI parties, such as the Deutsche Telekom bribes, and asked why is there no judicial action with regard to these allegations. We need to have a meeting of the top political leaders of the ruling parties and the opposition, like the Przino meetings, and to discuss the most sensitive issues. These include the voter rolls, the law on state prosecutors, the coming census, the creation of a technical Government and holding early elections, Aziri said. The main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party has called for early elections ever since the major racketeering scandal broke, but the Zaev government is attempting to postpone them despite the daily flow of new allegations of involvement of top officials from his SDSM party in the scandal.
Zaev and Hahn discussed what to do next regarding the fast growing corruption scandal (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev spoke on the phone with European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn to discuss the latest blows delivered by the major corruption scandal he is facing. Zaev’s office issued a press release saying that the “Prime Minister informed the Commissioner about the efforts and the measures his government is actively and intensely undertaking to fight corruption and organized crime, including in the case code-named Racketeering. Zaev underlined the firm determination of his government to fully and non-selectively clear up all cases of high corruption, and assured Commissioner Hahn that all conditions are in place to have the institutions of the judiciary to actively fight crime and corruption without any obstructions, the government’s press office added. The investigation into the racketeering scandal has stalled for a month after the initial arrests of two middlemen connected with Zaev’s SDSM party and with the Special Prosecutor’s Office. This prompted a number of diplomats to urge Zaev to begin taking the officials involved in the scandal to account. Hahn, who is normally uncritically supportive of Zaev, issued a statement urging that something is done with regard to the scandal, although one several degrees weaker than those issued by US and French diplomats. In the press release, it is declared that Zaev and Hahn urged all political parties to work to adopt a new law on state prosecutors in order to ensure a positive EU recommendation so that Macedonia would be able to open EU accession talks in October. The date is seen as slipping from reach because of the fast developing scandal which has exposed the much celebrated Special Prosecutor’s Office, which was instrumental in bringing Zaev to power, as rotten to the core.
Accusations, Rama excludes Pjetri from SP (ADN)
Prime Minister Edi Rama, at the same time Chairman of Socialist Party (SP) excluded this Tuesday new Mayor of Shkodra Municipality from SP, saying that until legal truth about him comes to light, they have completely separate paths. Following publication by Democratic Party (DP) of the document proving that Pjetri was sentenced in Italy on drug trafficking charges, Rama underlined that he does intend to tolerate no one. Rama declared that everybody is responsible for their own actions and how they respond to unworthy individual actions, adding that he would never think Pjetri would hide the truth in relation to law. Rama said his own rapport to law and loyalty to people is indisputable. “Not Valdrin, but be it my brother, they have no chance of casting any doubt on the SP and on me, in rapport to the law and the loyalty to people! Responsibility for each individual unworthy act is individual. Our responsibility is how we respond to an unworthy individual act! I have never thought that Valdrin can hide the truth in rapport to the law, but until the legal truth comes out, Valdrin Pjetri and the Socialist Party have completely separate paths. I do not intend to tolerate anyone,” stated Rama.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Could delays to Balkan enlargement undermine the EU? (Euronews, by Cristina Abellan Matamoros, 13 August 2019)
Dreams of entering the European Union may be fading for Albania after countries such as France and the Netherlands go cold on expanding the EU into the Western Balkans despite the European Commission’s call for the accession process to begin. Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama expressed disappointment at the situation, telling Euronews last week: “We have to face it that more and more the decision-making of the Council is not based on what we do, on what countries like us do but on the internal situation or internal political dynamics in different member states.” Both Albania and North Macedonia have had rule-of-law issues that have slowed their path toward membership. In July, EU’s commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said that North Macedonia needed to reform its judiciary to ensure it could handle high-level crime and corruption cases before the EU could set a date to start accession talks.
Accession talks for the two countries are expected to be held in October.
Why are France and The Netherlands blocking accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia?
Political scientist Florian Bieber said that, in France’s case, there is general scepticism among elites about enlargement. “I think there’s a sense among elites that the previous enlargement was a mistake and that it undermines French leverage in the EU,” he said. “In that sense, there’s general scepticism towards enlargement.” As for The Netherlands, he believes there’s more of a worry about letting in more countries with rule of law problems since some member states like Hungary and Poland don’t have a good record dealing with such issues. Bieber added that stereotypes liking Albanians with organised crime didn’t help their cause. In the end, “a lot of it has to do with the domestic politics [of these countries] and not so much with the situation on the ground,” Bieber said.
Does this reluctance make a mockery of EU enlargement policy?
Bieber said that frostiness towards letting new members in could “undermine the credibility of the EU.” “Observers in the region see France and The Netherlands’ policy as not being fair and motivated by domestic politics and stereotypes,” Bieber said. “This undermines the EU as being a fair player and having clear criteria, especially since the commission has given the green light for negotiation.” Bieber stressed that this kind of attitude will likely send a negative signal to North Macedonia and Albania’s governments who might think it’s not worth making difficult compromises if they won’t be accepted in the bloc. “Especially for North Macedonia who worked so hard to resolve the name dispute,” said the political scientist. This attitude is also sending a message to Serbia and Kosovo who have the biggest open issue in the region, said Bieber, adding: “Why should either country make a difficult deal when the EU isn’t able to give anything in return?”
Could these opinions change?
France is the biggest question, noted Bieber. “It might be willing to accept North Macedonia but I think that means that Albania will not move forward, at least for the time being.” “Albania’s domestic disputes and confrontations between the ruling party and the opposition undermines Albania’s ability to make the case for their membership,” said Bieber. For Bieber, the best way these countries can convince France that they have changed is to try extra hard at tackling their rule of law and corruption issues in hope to persuade the French government of the changes or create leverage in the EU, “so that other member states put pressure on France.”
How long can the waiting game go on for?
“Albanians are probably some of the most pro-Europeans in the Western Balkans,” said Bieber. “There’s no political party that has rejected EU enlargement so in that sense there isn’t a plan B in Albania.” “But, certainly, the longer there is a wait and the longer there is a sense that this is unfair it will undermine the EU in the Western Balkans, in Serbia, and countries that are less committed to the EU accession process.” Bieber added that this lack of engagement could raise questions about the EU being able to do anything at all. “There’s a question of credibility of the EU more in general,” he said. But the political scientist was also worried about who would be the next commissioner for enlargement. “For the EU to be effective, it requires an enlargement commissioner who has the ability to put the policy on the agenda and be a credible actor for it.”
Uncertainty about the next enlargement commissioner has raised fears about the enlargement policy be further downgraded in the EU agenda.