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Belgrade Media Report 15 August 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 15 August 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Kuburovic: North Macedonia decision on Morina politics, not law (Beta)
• Stefanovic: This tramples on the essence of international law (RTS/Tanjug)
• Djuric: Attempt at artificial equalization of Belgrade and Pristina (RTS)
• Russia prepared to assist the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Prva)
• SzS: Vucic buying time trying to split opposition (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• SDA: Only solution for overcoming current deadlocks in process of Euro-Atlantic integration and establishment of new convocation of B&H CoM is adoption of modified ANP (TV1)
• Dodik: SDA’a false claims about ANP (Srna)
• Komsic: Dodik has three options re ANP (TV1)
• Izetbegovic: International community conducting activities to bring closer stances on submission of ANP (Al Jazeera)
• Dzaferovic: It is necessary to find compromise re all issues (ATV)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev: For me and the government, all people are equal (MIA/Republika)
• VMRO DPMNE: The European perspective of the state is seriously endangered because of Zaev’s crimes and corruption (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Expert to ANSA, foreign fighters return challenge to Balkans (ANSA)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Kuburovic: North Macedonia decision on Morina politics, not law (Beta)

 

Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic said that a decision by North Macedonia’s Supreme Court to reject Serbia’s request for extraditing former Kosovo Liberation Army member Tomor Morina had shown that, yet again, politics are above the law and justice. “This is an utter disgrace for international law, but an even bigger blow and great sorrow for the families of

the victims, who have been waiting for decades for justice for their loved ones. Even though the North Macedonian authorities were given all of the necessary evidence, they ruled contrary to the truth and facts,” Kuburovic said in a written statement. Kuburovic also said that Serbia would not give up searching for the culprits of the most heinous crimes against humanity, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, as we owe this to the victims and their families.

 

Stefanovic: This tramples on the essence of international law (RTS/Tanjug)

 

In reaction to the decision of the Supreme Court of North Macedonia not to extradite Tomor Morina, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that the North Macedonia authorities with this decision trampled on the essence of international law, and, as he said, deeply hurt the memory of all innocent victims whom the suspect Morina made suffer. “There can be no excuse for someone who is suspected of war crimes against civilians to be released, instead of being held responsible for the deaths of many innocent people,” said Stefanovic. He also emphasized that it was unacceptable that in such cases any country should be guided by politics, which in this case, he says, is more than obvious. “And any interference of politics in law always brings new injustice and insult to the victims,” emphasized Stefanovic and added: “It is also regrettable that some Pristina media and officials said shortly after the arrest what the decision would be, which casts a shadow on the regularity of the whole process. The arrest warrant issued for Morina by the Republic of Serbia remains valid, of course, there is no statute of limitations for war crimes, which is why I expect him to, sooner or later, be held responsible for the serious crimes he committed in Kosovo and Metohija,” Stefanovic concluded in his statement.

 

Djuric: Attempt at artificial equalization of Belgrade and Pristina (RTS)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has told the morning program of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that it would have been a surprise had the Quint, nine months following the introduction of taxes, told Pristina it will use the CEFTA and SAA mechanisms in order to exert pressure. He says at issues is an attempt at artificial equalization because Pristina is violating international law, the CEFTA and SAA agreements, as well as all norms linked to the flow of goods, people and capital, while Belgrade is calling on stopping of defending Pristina to become a member of international organization that are reserved of sovereign and independent states. “It is up to us to point to that, not to be silent, there can be no artificial balancing and to resume talks,” said Djuric. The second matter he recognizes as problematic is the fact that it is clear from the statement how the Quint sees the goal of the future goal and this is recognition of Kosovo and Metohija on its entire territory. He notes the situation is serious and difficult and that the Serbian President was right when he said that seven or eight difficult months await us. “It was not us who submitted a request against Kosovo in any international organization, but they requested this contrary to any kind of agreement,” said Djuric. He notes that the issue of UNESCO membership is especially sensitive for the Serbs since at work are attempts of seizure of the cultural heritage that they are not even hiding any longer. Speaking about the meeting with the newly appointed Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko, Djuric says that Serbia and Russia have centuries-long brotherly and friendly relations. He points out that President Vucic received the highest Russian state award that proves that relations of the two countries are characterized by a high degree of trust. Russia is making effort to support the stands of Serbia regarding Kosovo and Metohija, notes Djuric, and I thanked the Russian Ambassador on this. “I tried to acquaint him with the situation on the ground, how the Serbs live, what are the challenges and what can be additionally done for the position of the Serbs to be eased,” said Djuric. He says that despite internal disagreements, there is consent in Pristina to continue with the pressure on the Serbs and they are competing who will assume a harsher stand on this issue. “It is up to us to preserve Serb unity in Kosovo and Metohija and to keep all positions in ten Serb majority municipalities through the Serb List. We should not allow divisions since it is clear there will be pressures on this issue as well,” said Djuric.

 

Russia prepared to assist the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Prva)

 

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Harchenko told TV Prva that Kosovo is an issue regarding which there needs to be additional activity of the international community. He says that Russia is prepared to assist the dialogue if Belgrade seeks its assistance, primarily in the UN Security Council, as well as in our relations with the EU and the US. “If Belgrade or some other factors wish Russia’s participation, we are also prepared for this, but we wish to be sure that the dialogue will be developing strictly within international law, i.e. UNSC Resolution 1244,” said Botsan-Harchenko. Asked whether Russia would accept an exchange of territories, i.e. delineation, as a Kosovo solution, the Russian Ambassador says that Russia has a general stand, this being that it is prepared to support anything that suits Belgrade and that it is, most of all, within international law. “If both sides agree on some option, then this option needs to be acceptable and supported by the Security Council,” said Botsan-Harchenko. He adds that there are still attempts at Kosovo entering international organizations, but that Russia thinks it is impossible for Kosovo to become a member of international institutions, primarily the UN, including other.

 

SzS: Vucic buying time trying to split opposition (Beta)

 

The choice of his representatives for the talks with the opposition showed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wanted to buy more time instead of securing conditions for a fair and free election, Beta quoted opposition leaders as saying on Thursday. Addressing the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) debate in the Belgrade Lazarevac municipality, the head of the Democratic Party (DS) Zoran Lutovac and the deputy leader of the People’s Party Nikola Jovanovic agreed that Vucic humiliated the opposition and experts, without being aware of the abyss he was pushing Serbia into. Jovanovic said that the boycott of the next spring elections would be the beginning of dismantling this criminal and corrupt system headed by Vucic. He messaged Vucic that the opposition would remain united because the head of the SNS is such a big pest for the opponents to deal with small differences among the parties. “Every statement by (SNS officials) Vladimir Orlic, Goran Vesic and Marko Djuric, makes the opposition more united and determined. This is not an opposition fight against authorities; this is people’s fight against an alienated, crooked and warmongering quasi elite embodied in the SNS Presidency,” Jovanovic said. He added that the spokespersons, financiers and regime’s media should not to leave Serbia because they would face a new, democratic and legal state proceedings. Lutovac recalled that it had been only seven months since Vucic said he would not cede to any opposition’s demand to his promise to meet everything, but that despite that people and opposition should not sacrifice their credibility which is crucial for the first free elections. He added that though there was strong support for the boycott, all other means should be explored before the final decision. Lutovac said it was important to widen the base of people who would support the boycott, because those who think whether it is the best way will accept it when they see it is the only way, adding it was encouraging that SzS had meetings with politicians outside the SzS. “The most important thing is for SzS and (other) opposition to remain united,” he said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

SDA: Only solution for overcoming current deadlocks in process of Euro-Atlantic integration and establishment of new convocation of B&H CoM is adoption of modified ANP (TV1)

 

SDA issued a press release on Wednesday regarding the Annual National Program (ANP) for the NATO. According to SDA, the only solution for overcoming the current deadlocks in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration and establishment of a new convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) is adoption of the modified ANP. “The ANP, whose content will satisfy all parties in B&H and whose implementation will be credible, should be adopted without delay. That is a legal obligation, but also part of the agreement signed by leaders of SDA, HDZ B&H and SNSD,” reads the press release issued by SDA. SDA added that rejection of dialogue and compromise will have negative consequences for the process of forming the B&H CoM and for the continuation of Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as for the overall situation in B&H.

 

Dodik: SDA’a false claims about ANP (Srna)

 

SNSD leader Milorad Dodik told Srna on Wednesday that the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) made false claims when it said that Dodik and the leaders of the HDZ and SDA Dragan Covic and Bakir Izetbegovic had signed an agreement mentioning the annual national plan for NATO membership in either the original or modified form. “I call on the SDA and all others to carefully read Point 3 of the agreement and see for themselves there is no such sentence in there. We are willing to execute the agreement we signed, but we are not willing to execute something that someone interprets we signed,” said Dodik.

 

Komsic: Dodik has three options re ANP (TV1)

 

B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic stated that Dodik has three options; to accept the Annual National Program (ANP), to completely reject it or to accept it and propose possible changes which would be justified in his opinion. Komsic added that if Dodik rejects everything, he will not support SNSD’s candidate for the post of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman-designate “who is not ready to implement earlier decisions of the B&H Presidency and to respect provisions of the Law on Defense.”

 

Izetbegovic: International community conducting activities to bring closer stances on submission of ANP (Al Jazeera)

 

Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic said on Wednesday that representatives of the international community have been working on bringing standpoints regarding submission of the reduced B&H’s Annual National Program (ANP) closer. Izetbegovic said that the reduced ANP, which is acceptable to the NATO HQs in Brussels, is the only real option, because it makes possible for all sides to achieve majority of their goals regarding the NATO integration process. “It is important for us to make a step which is in line with the Constitution, laws and decisions passed earlier by institutions of B&H – not to give up on the ANP. It is important for Serb side to harmonize with Serbia the movement of B&H and intensity of cooperation with the NATO. These two things can be adjusted only through modified, i.e. the reduced ANP”, explained the leader of SDA.

 

Dzaferovic: It is necessary to find compromise re all issues (ATV)

 

ATV commented that SDA decided to cause new complications related to the agreement on formation of new B&H authorities reached by leaders of SDA, HDZ B&H and SNSD. Namely, this party issued a statement reading that a solution for all problems, including formation of a new convocation of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) is the modified ANP for membership in the NATO. Reporter commented that it seems there is no an internal agreement within SDA on their official stance, because soon after SDA issued abovementioned statement, Bosniak member of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that it is necessary to find a compromise regarding all issues, adding that he hopes such compromise will be reached at Tuesday session of the Presidency. Dzaferovic hopes that a solution for submission of the ANP, as well as for appointment of a Chairman of B&H CoM can be reached. “Both are legal obligations and are part of rule of law. That is why, it is obligation of everyone to act in line with it. All this has to be completely respected. Partial access to resolving of abovementioned issues is not possible,” explained Dzaferovic.

 

Zaev: For me and the government, all people are equal (MIA/Republika)

 

I am sorry if I have been misunderstood or misinterpreted by anyone, but I maintain commitments that I spoke about earlier, as well as in my beliefs in the values I have always fought for. We will not allow our country’s enemies to succeed in their plan by using criminals, manipulators and fraudsters to hinder the country’s success, NATO membership and the start of negotiations with the EU, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a brief interview with MIA regarding the public reaction after his controversial statement on Tuesday. Asked whether the Prime Minister opened a front with all “criminals, faggots, vain people and idiots” and whether these controversial statements are not discrimination and a threat when they come from the Prime Minister, Zaev responded that both he and the Government firmly stand up for freedom of expression, freedom of the media and human rights of all individuals in our country. For me and the government, all people are equal. We make no distinction on religious, ethnic, social, political, sexual or any other grounds. Together with all citizens, we are committed to building and will continue to build the concept of a united and fair society for all. The government firmly maintains its commitment to non-discrimination and respect for the diversity of all communities in the country, including the LGBT community. In North Macedonia, there are no more attacks on LGBT people, a free and safe parade was held, and sexual orientation is included in the amendments to the new Anti-Discrimination Law, which the opposition voted against.

As regards the “Racket” case, I consider that every citizen, whether a politician or a journalist, has an obligation to the rule of law and the public interest to report any indications and information of abuses to the investigative authorities, as I did it first. The primary purpose of clearing up the “Racket” case must be the public, not personal interest. As I publicly, without prejudice, believe in and advocate for a just society, I also respect my right with terms and vocabulary used by every citizen to point out individuals or phenomena that are negative in society. I’m talking about people’s characters and their behavior. And as I respect and promote from the bottom of my soul the core values of the journalistic profession, which is complete freedom of speech, expression and criticism, so I have the full right to attribute whether someone vainly or with other intention creates an impression on the public.

 

VMRO DPMNE: The European perspective of the state is seriously endangered because of Zaev’s crimes and corruption (Republika)

 

The Republic of Macedonia is ruled by a criminal and totalitarian regime that prosecutes anyone who disagrees with despot Zoran Zaev. The judicial system is captured by the pardoned Zaev and his crime group and only serves to clash with his political opponents, VMRO-DPMNE says.

That Macedonia is a country subject to political persecution has been also confirmed by Sweden which has refused to extradite one of the defendants in the “April 27” case on the grounds that the case is politically motivated and is not being conducted in a fair, legally established procedure. Another confirmation that Zaev controls the judiciary has also come from a senior official in the ruling majority. Blerim Bexheti, the mayor of Saraj, said that Zoran Zaev personally pressured and influenced the change of judges, the party said in a statement.

In a situation when Europe demands independent judiciary from us, it turns out that Zaev interferes in the justice system and keeps the judges and prosecutors in the Republic of Macedonia under his control. That is why the investigation into the “Racket” case has not been expanded and is being delayed in order to gain time and destroy evidence implicating Zaev. There is no citizen of the Republic of Macedonia who believes that Zaev is not the head of this criminal octopus who extorted money from businessmen across the country. The entire public heard the La Verita recordings and was convinced that justice was being destroyed in Macedonia. Everyone has heard how Katica Janeva uses her position to extort millions, along with Boki Tredici, protected by Zoran Zaev! Whole Europe, the party emphasized, is commenting on the criminal reality that is taking place in the Republic of Macedonia, which is being orchestrated by the criminal Zoran Zaev. The European perspective of the state is seriously endangered only because of Zaev’s crimes and corruption and the cartel around him. There must be accountability for all this. Macedonia needs to be renewed. Therefore, it is necessary for Zoran Zaev and SDSM to leave immediately in order to restore justice and the rule of law in the Republic of Macedonia, emphasize VMRO-DPMNE.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Expert to ANSA, foreign fighters return challenge to Balkans (ANSA, by Stefano Giantin, 14 August 2019)

 

EU needs to boost financial and technical assistance

BELGRADE – The Western Balkans is the area in Europe with the highest concentration of returned foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq, where they fought for the Islamic state, and Europe should help the region to cope with this long-term challenge, Adrian Shtuni, CEO of Shtuni Consulting LLC and one of the main experts on terrorism and violent extremism in the Balkans told ANSA. Do you think the EU should do more to help the countries in the Balkans countries to cope with the returns of foreign fighters? One of the key findings of my research is that the Western Balkans currently is the region with the highest concentration of returnees from Syria and Iraq in Europe. The official number is about 460 individuals. The concentration is even higher if we zoom in at country level. Kosovo has 134 returnees per million. North Macedonia has 42 per million. To put these numbers in perspective, the UK has 6 returnees of “national security concern” per million, Germany and France about 4 per million. Italy has only 12 reported returnees (0.2 per million) in total. The numbers paint a clear picture of the size of the national security and social challenges facing the Western Balkans. This is a long-term challenge that becomes even more daunting when considering the insufficient financial resources, capacities, and specialized expertise available in the Western Balkans. The need for assistance is abundantly clear, especially considering that 500 other nationals of the Western Balkan countries are still in Syria and Iraq, mostly held in Kurdish prisons and camps, waiting to be repatriated. Their eventual return is bound to intensify the challenge. The EU and its specialized agencies would do well to consider any assistance rendered to the Western Balkans for the purpose of addressing this challenge less as “help to the Balkans” and more as a strategic investment in the EU’s own security. Do you think that returnees from Syria and Iraq pose a serious security risk for the Balkans and for Europe? That’s the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” response. Returnees from Syria and Iraq associated in one way or another, actively or passively, with a terrorist organization like the Islamic State represent a potential national security risk by default. Yet, it is important to make a distinction between general security “risk” (or danger) and security “threat.” While the potential national security risk by returnees is not debatable, whether or not they represent an actual threat, and what level of threat, will have to be determined through professional assessments of each individual. This assessment is a complex, time consuming, and costly process that requires continued monitoring and evaluation of returnees. Deradicalization is not an easily measurable process. The first goal would be to get returnees, and those coming out of prisons after serving time for terrorist activities, to disengage from violent extremism. Children, from the humanitarian point of view, are victims, because they did not decide to go or be born in Syria and Iraq. Nevertheless, from a security stand point, it is not possible to ignore the fact that some of these children have received military training in terrorist camps, have been heavily indoctrinated, have sometimes participated in armed combat and possibly in the execution of prisoners. There are numerous Islamic State propaganda films showing training camps for the children of the mujahideen, or the “cubs of the Caliphate.” Dealing with these children is going to be a long-term challenge. Likewise, the point of view that women have mostly been victims that have gone to Syria against their will, or were manipulated by their spouses, is a generalization that is not supported by evidence. You wrote about the dissemination of jihadi propaganda through social media in the Western Balkans. Is that still an ongoing phenomenon and how dangerous is that in a long term perspective? While recently there has been a drop in jihadi propaganda output in Western Balkan’s languages, “social media jihadis” consistently continue to target audiences in the Western Balkans, disseminate the ideology and propaganda of terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qa’ ida, and incite terrorist violence. In a way this should not come as a surprise as the foreign fighters are only the more visible manifestation of a larger jihadist problem in the Western Balkans that includes those who though committed to the cause, may have never traveled to Syria and Iraq to wage armed jihad. Much like elsewhere, they generally have become less defiant in their language compared to previous years and have largely migrated from the more popular social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to less conspicuous ones that provide more anonymity and end-to-end encryption. This makes the task of law enforcement agencies in charge of monitoring these clusters of “social media jihadis” harder. In sum online dissemination of jihadi propaganda is an ongoing phenomenon in the Western Balkans. The fact that the jihadist presence online is less visible relative to a few years ago is not necessarily an indicator of less commitment by local radicals to the cause. While the territorial defeat of the Caliphate may have dampened the enthusiasm of would-be jihadis to fight abroad the number of recently foiled terrorist attacks and terrorism-related arrests across the Balkans are indicative of ongoing terrorist activities in the region.

 

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