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Belgrade Media Report 19 August

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LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic: Recognition of Kosovo within existing borders is a red line Serbia will not cross (Tanjug/RTS)
• Jovanovic: Brnabic might find acceptable Kosovo secession with border adjustments (Beta)
• Dacic: My goal is for the number of Kosovo recognitions to fall below 97 (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)
• Djuric: We are finding ways to supply the people (Politika)
• Serbian opposition walks out of meeting with authorities (N1)
• Boycott unless new REM elected by 15 September (FoNet)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik: Komsic openly depraving the system on which B&H rests (Srna/Glas Srpske)
• Dodik says he will vote against B&H’s ANP at B&H Presidency’s special session on Tuesday (BHT1)
• OHR: RS’ attempts to undo previously agreed reforms are contrary to DPA (ATV)
• Dodik: Construction of the “Milos Veliki” Highway important for all Serbs (Srna)
Albania
• Basha: Rama is Balkan’s most corrupt PM (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Serbia’s new Chinese-built highway section opens to traffic (Xinhua)
• Serbia to get Russian-made Mi-35 and Mi-17 military transport helicopters in early 2020 (TASS)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: Recognition of Kosovo within existing borders is a red line Serbia will not cross (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Recognition of Kosovo within its current borders is a red line Serbia will not cross, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told Tanjug, adding that she does not see any solution to the Kosovo problem at this time. “Serbia will not allow Pristina to win everything while Belgrade loses everything. At this point, we need to see how much we can gain by losing the least and be rational and realistic about it. But for Serbia to lose everything and Pristina to win everything – that is not acceptable, nor is it a fair solution,” Brnabic said. But Kosovo is not here to be bought or sold, she adds, commenting on suggestions that may be heard lately that Serbia should be offered more than EU membership for recognition. “We should return to the field of international law and justice,” Brnabic said, emphasizing that EU integration should depend on standards other than a political decision that has to do with Kosovo. However, she points out that at this moment we are far from any solution, and that she sees no reason for optimism when it comes to the continuation of dialogue.

 

Jovanovic: Brnabic might find acceptable Kosovo secession with border adjustments (Beta

 

The lead of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Milos Jovanovic said in a written statement that Prime Minister Ana Brnabic saw Kosovo’s secession as acceptable with border adjustments. Jovanovic explained that what made him think so was Brnabic’s statement that the recognition of Kosovo within existing borders is a red line that Serbia will not cross. He says her words conflicted with the Serbian Constitution. He said that the Prime Minister had merely repeated what President Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic had said earlier.

“All of them, including the Prime Minister, should know that ‘anyone trying to carry out the secession of a part of the Serbian territory contrary to the Constitution, or attach it to another state’ would be responsible for the extremely serious crime of threatening the territorial integrity of Serbia,” Jovanovic said, quoting the Constitution.

 

Dacic: My goal is for the number of Kosovo recognitions to fall below 97 (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that he last week traveled to get a diplomatic note from the 15th country that wants to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo’s independence, but that on the day he wanted to announce it, the Quint issued a statement telling Serbia that it should cease its withdrawals campaign. He said he didn’t mention that it was about Togo, as reported by the media, and commented on the Quint’s statement with this message: “We have no intention of arguing with anyone.” He adds that it is simply Serbia’s policy to do so, and noted that when others were recognizing Kosovo, nobody cared if Serbia would be angry. “When it comes to bilateral relations, I can’t say to a country not to withdraw its recognition. I will soon officially announce and show this note, what’s interesting is that note was made on Vidovdan (June 28),” Dacic told TV Happy. He added that he has visited 105 countries and saw that many don’t know what this is about, that some other, previous administrations had made such a decision, but that they were ready to revise those decisions. On the other hand, he states that these countries want to have good relations with us and talk not only about Kosovo, but generally about our relations.

“Tanzania was angry because we closed their embassy after 5 October. I will now make a recapitulation of how many countries recognize and how many don’t recognize Kosovo. There are countries that have frozen that decision, like Peru and Egypt. My goal is for it to fall below 97, which is half of the total number of United Nations members,” he said. To the accusations that he is interfering in US’ internal affairs, Dacic replies that small countries cannot interfere in the domestic affairs of big ones. “I think sometimes we give too much importance to such statements, they come from clerks in foreign affairs ministries who are constantly trying to make some symmetry of guilt. Serbia doesn’t have to do anything about it, taxes are an indication that someone doesn’t want economic cooperation with you. No one is mentioning the Community of Serb Municipalities, the appropriation of Orthodox churches, the formation of a so-called army,” says Dacic, referring to the Quint statement. He stresses that this is not only about Albanian lobbyists, but also about interests of some politicians in the US. “When you talk about the Serb diaspora, one congressman said, ‘The Serbs are the best, they don’t ask for anything’ – which means you can do whatever you want. Never has the Serb Diaspora been organized in this way, Wilson was the US president who put the Serbian flag on the White House. It’s important that Trump and Democrats know who the Serbs will vote for and see what kind of policy they will direct towards that side,” Dacic said, and asked: “We’re not going to support Clinton, are we?” He also said that small countries cannot interfere in the domestic politics of large ones, but that we also need contacts with the US administration, above all with the White House. “President Vucic will meet with Pompeo, all that is a good introduction to us needing to seek some common interest with America,” concluded Dacic.

 

Djuric: We are finding ways to supply the people (Politika)

 

Speaking for Politika, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said that Belgrade was finding ways to supply the Serbs in the north of Kosovo despite pressures and increased police controls. He said it was so important that the Serbs showed solidarity and readiness to fight for their fundamental human rights in a peaceful way. “Without that, our efforts would be in vain,” he added. Pristina authorities have been trying in recent months, according to Djuric, to use intimidation and restrictions to break the will of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo and Metohija. “The north is Pristina’s obsession, a thorn in their side. But I am convinced they will not manage to enslave and subjugate the Serbs because they have endurance and they also have unquestionable support of Belgrade, the state of Serbia and, if you will, of all Serbs,” underlined Djuric. Djuric refused to specify how is Belgrade managing to help the Serbs despite the trade blockade, adding that those explanations would only serve as an excuse for new pressures and that what actually matters is that bread, milk, meat, flour and oil are available.

 

Serbian opposition walks out of meeting with authorities (N1)

 

Officials of the opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) walked out of Monday’s round table on the media, saying that officials of the ruling parties had trivialized the debate. This was the third round table discussion between the authorities and opposition at the Belgrade University Faculty of Political Science (FPN) which was organized by the Open Society Foundation. The only SzS officials who stayed in the meeting are Sabac Mayor Nebojsa Zelenovic and Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Lutovac because they were at the previous two meetings. Popular Party (NS) deputy leader Miroslav Aleksic told reporters outside the FPN building that the SzS decided to leave the meeting because ruling party officials had trivialized the talks. He said that he would propose that his party no longer take part in the talks on election conditions and boycott future elections. “Obviously, nothing has changed in terms of creating democratic and fair election conditions,” he said, adding that a boycott does not mean only a boycott of elections but serious changes in society, no legitimacy for the regime to form institutions and no obligation for the population to abide by their decisions. “That takes us into civic disobedience and unfortunately that will certainly led to some unrest,” he said. Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic echoed his words, saying that he would also call his party to boycott elections. “The SzS will take a stand at a meeting of its presidency today,” Obradovic said. According to him, the media are the main condition that the authorities have to meet. He said the opposition wants at least six months of free media and a transitional government to guarantee that freedom. “The protests will continue and we have to defend freedom of the media and democracy. We will have to use a boycott to fight for free and fair elections,” Obradovic said. Nova Stranka leader Zoran Zivkovic said his party delegation walked out a few minutes before the SzS because of the primitive way that SNS official and Deputy Belgrade Mayor Goran Vesic addressed the meeting. He said that his party would continue the fight for better election conditions. “Round tables are not the only way, there are ways to do this and ways to beat an authoritarian regime regardless of difficult conditions,” Zivkovic said. According to him, democratization of society suits the authorities the most because they are on their way out. “They will leave in the same way that they defend their position in power. If they defend it by force with no respect for the law and calling for blood that is how they will leave. If they accept a normalization of relations, with respect for laws and rules, free media and respect for election laws, that is how they will leave,” Zivkovic said.

 

Boycott unless new REM elected by 15 September (FoNet)

 

Alliance for Serbia (SzS) Chairman Nebojsa Zelenovic told reporters after Monday’s meeting with the authorities that the opposition block demanded the election of new members of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) in parliament by 15 September. Zelenovic and Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Lutovac were the only representatives of the SzS who did not walk out of the meeting at the Belgrade University Faculty of Political Science (FPN).

He said the SzS wants highly competent people to be elected to the REM by consensus. “If we don’t get that solution by 15 September we will opt for a boycott,” he said adding that now this is a question of political will and a condition to continue the talks. According to him, the format of the talks is not yielding results and it’s time to enter a new stage which will not happen unless the authorities meet the opposition’s demands on the media.  Zelenovic said the SzS came to the meeting with the intention of changing the situation but that the authorities had not changed their position at all and added that the SzS is actively working on a boycott strategy. Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) official Goran Vesic said after the meeting that he agreed to the election of new REM members but warned that this can only be done in line with the law. He said the opposition has finally realized that parliament is the place for debates but that they don’t understand the law which, according to him, does not allow parliament to discuss the REM or the state TV (RTS). We respect the law and things will be done according to the law,” he said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Dodik: Komsic openly depraving the system on which B&H rests (Srna/Glas Srpske)

 

The Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik told Srna that B&H is composed of two entities and three constituent peoples and that all attempts which derogate that constitutional principle are anti-constitutional and anti-Dayton. Commenting on the announcement by Croatian B&H Presidency member Zeljko Komsic that the abolition of the principle of constituency of peoples in BiH will be one of the topics to be discussed with European officials, Dodik has emphasized that it is nothing but an open undermining of the system on which B&H rests.

“Hiding behind the opinion of the European Commission, which is obviously misread and selectively interpreted, Komsic tries to launch his political ideas by attacking the Constitution on which B&H rests. Obviously, Komsic put himself to the head of the column of the Unitarians to whom he must repay debts for votes that brought him to the Presidency,” Dodik emphasized.

According to him, it is interesting for the OHR to remain silent, even though Annex 10 to the Dayton Agreement leaves OHR in B&H to monitor the implementation of the agreement, recalling that the Constitution of B&H is an integral part of that agreement. Dodik has stated that the OHR found it appropriate to advertise on issues which are not under its jurisdiction, acting as the elected political actor in B&H. “Can you imagine that I say that as a Serb member of the Presidency, in a meeting with European officials, I would advocate for independence of RS, what kind of hysteria would arise in Sarajevo and in international circles. Everyone would scream that it is anti-constitutional and anti-Dayton. Well, is it not anti-constitutional and anti-Dayton advocacy for the abolition of the constituent? So, this is the international community and the OHR and these are policies of double standards that have brought B&H to the blind road,” Dodik said.

 

Dodik says he will vote against B&H’s ANP at B&H Presidency’s special session on Tuesday (BHT1)

 

Dodik stated on Friday that he will attend a special session of B&H Presidency on the B&H’s Annual National Program (ANP) for the NATO accession, which was scheduled to take place on Tuesday. He added that he does not ask for this item to be removed from the agenda, but that he will vote against the ANP because this is an obligation in line with the RS parliament’s decision on this issue. Dodik noted that it is obvious that the appointment of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman-Designate will not happen at the session, concluding that after September 5 and expiry of the deadline for formation of B&H CoM – the RS will decide on its further policy with regards to B&H.

 

OHR: RS’ attempts to undo previously agreed reforms are contrary to DPA (ATV)

 

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) issued a press release on Friday, commenting the issue of the authority formation at the state level and related political disputes. The OHR claims that “the RS’s attempts to undo previously agreed reforms and weaken institutions at the joint level are contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement.” ATV stressed that although agreement on formation of the authorities says that B&H has no obligation to join NATO, the OHR seems to think otherwise. “Movement of B&H towards NATO clearly falls within the foreign policy issues that are the exclusive responsibility of the state. Decisions in this regard, which were made at the state level, should be respected,” the OHR stated in the press release. Komsic has said recently that a possible change in electoral legislation, on the recommendation of the European Commission, can only go in the direction of strengthening the civic, and by no means ethnically – constitutive principle. “I will do my best to implement the recommendations of the European Commission opinion in B&H as quickly as possible. No one of my meetings with EU officials and its representatives in B&H will take place without advocating for speeding up this process, which must inevitably lead to the rejection of constitutiveness and the introduction of equality and the equal value of the vote of all citizens. I am convinced that the EU will finally endorse to advocate a civic concept in B&H at the expense of the ethnic-constitutive,” said Komsic.

 

Dodik: Construction of the “Milos Veliki” Highway important for all Serbs (Srna)

 

Milorad Dodik has congratulated Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on a major attempt – the construction of the “Milos Veliki” highway, saying that it is a great event for Serbia and for all Serbs. “We are watching to Serbia and its successes and all that it does in order to be as strong as possible, because we know that it will be easier for us wherever we are,” Dodik told reporters during a tour of the “Milos Veliki” highway. Dodik has said that this highway, from the perspective of Republika Srpska, would enable easier communication between Trebinje and Visegrad with Serbia and this part of Europe. “This is a highway that will surely enable that many, not only investors, but all people, to come to this beautiful part of Serbia more easily, to learn about history, traditions, lifestyle and economic potentials. There will be a lot of talk about this highway,” Dodik said. He has reminded that Srpska is negotiating with the Chinese partners, who worked on the “Milos Veliki” highway, about the construction of the Banja Luka-Prijedor highway, about 40 kilometers long. He has expressed gratitude to Serbia for these projects, because without this rapprochement, the Serbs could not be preserved as a community. “RS expects big jobs in connection with the construction of the road that will connect Kuzmin, via Raca, Bijeljina, all the way to Doboj, where we have completed the Doboj-Banjaluka highway. On that way, we will make the connection that we so eagerly expect. We believe that we will finish this very soon with the help of Serbia, that we will start from Banja Luka and end in Belgrade,” Dodik said. He has pointed out the importance of good roads and added that Serbs went wherever there was no valid road communication. “Serbia will be marked, at this time, by the construction of highways under the leadership of President Vucic. Long live Serbia and RS and all Serbs wherever they are and ling live the friendship of Serbs, Serbia and China,” Dodik said.

 

Basha: Rama is Balkan’s most corrupt PM (ADN)

 

Chairman of Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha shared a video message announcing that all international reports point to Edi Rama as the most corrupt Prime Minister in the Balkans.

Basha accuses his rival of ‘stealing Albania with a bunch of predatory oligarchs and laundering drug and crime money’. According to the DP leader, all Western investment is leaving Albania.

“All international reports point to Edi Rama as the most corrupt Prime Minister in the Balkans. He robs Albania with a bunch of predatory oligarchs and launders drug and crime money.

To protect his gang, Edi Rama expelled foreign investors and replaced them with his clients. All Western investment is leaving Albania. No foreign investment has been brought by the Psychic Thief to Albania in 6 years. Albania and North Korea are the only countries on the planet with no new foreign investment in the last 6 years. Without foreign investment there is no economic development, no new jobs, no prosperity. Foreign investment is a must for any country. With Edi Rama there is no investment, no development, no employment, but only robbery, theft, poverty and unemployment. In order to develop the economy and make investments, we must remove the psychic thief and his gang,” writes Basha.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbia’s new Chinese-built highway section opens to traffic (Xinhua, 19 August 2019)

 

A new section of Serbia’s international E-763 highway named “Milos the Great” was opened to traffic on Sunday at a ceremony in Ljig municipality, which is 80 km southwest of Belgrade.

At the ceremony, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the 62.5-kilometer section highway, which was built by China’s Shandong Hi-speed Group, marks a “new quality of life” for the country, and will lure investors to cities and towns along the route. The president said that the country in past several years came a long way from the brink of bankruptcy to the status of the most attractive investment destination globally, and noted that “much of the success was achieved in cooperation with our Chinese friends”. He said that Chinese companies revived Serbian economy, namely HBIS that purchased Smederevo steelworks, Zijin that invested in the copper mining and smelting complex in the city of Bor, as well as Linglong that launched a big investment in the city of Zrenjanin. Vucic concluded by highlighting the importance of road connections for the future development of Serbia, and announced new infrastructure projects with Chinese companies in the future. The new section with a projected speed of 130 kilometers per hour is 28.4 meters wide and has 42 bridges and overpasses, according to a government press release. The new highway will further relieve traffic on the local road that was so far the only way for both cargo transport and passengers. Chinese ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, as well as officials from Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and representatives of the Shandong Hi-Speed Group attended the opening ceremony.

 

Serbia to get Russian-made Mi-35 and Mi-17 military transport helicopters in early 2020 (TASS, 19 August 2019)

 

According to the Serbian official, Russia and Serbia “have never had such a volume of cooperation” since World War II

BELGRADE, August 19. /TASS/. Four Russian-made Mi-35 and three Mi-17 military transport helicopters will arrive for the Serbian Air Force in the first quarter of 2020, Serbia’s Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said in an interview with RTS television channel on Monday, following his visit to Moscow. “The agreement on military and technical cooperation between the two supreme commanders-in-chief — [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and [Serbian] President [Aleksandar] Vucic is being implemented extremely successfully,” Serbia’s defense chief said. “We have entered the second out of three stipulated modernization, repair and armament delivery stages. We have provided for the unimpeded delivery of 10 BRDM-2 [combat reconnaissance and patrol] vehicles and we have talked with [Russian Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu on a new delivery. In compliance with the plan, tanks will also arrive. Also, in the first half of the first quarter of next year, we will take the delivery of four Mi-35 and three Mi-17 helicopters,” he stated. Cooperation between Serbia and Russia is well underway, the Serbian defense minister stressed. “We have never had such a volume of cooperation. Since World War II, we have not held such a number of joint activities, drills. We will continue interacting in the sphere of drills, exchange of military experience and military education. This is very fruitful cooperation in accordance with the policy of military neutrality,” he noted. In October 2018, the Serbian Air Force received six MiG-29 fighter jets handed over by Russia as part of military and technical assistance. Throughout the current year, Russia will deliver 10 helicopters to Serbia: seven Mi-35 and three Mi-17 rotorcraft. Serbia was also expected to get 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol vehicles from Russia for free. Serbia is also holding talks with Russia on Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 air defense missile systems and Tunguska anti-aircraft missile/gun weapons. Last week, the Serbian defense minister said during his visit to the Russian Helicopters Group’s enterprise in Rostov-on-Don that the Mi-35 helicopters were the world’s best in their class and would considerably strengthen the combat capability of the Balkan country’s armed forces.

 

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