Vucic: Recognition of Kosovo’s independence impossible under current conditions (VoA/Beta)
Under the current conditions, it is impossible for Serbia to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said in an interview with the Voice of America (VoA), adding it is necessary to resume the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to reach a compromise
solution. Asked whether he would be the politician who would recognize Kosovo’s independence, Vucic replied: “We can discuss any issue only in the light of a compromise. I will never sign a document that gives everything to the Albanians and nothing to Serbia. At the moment, I am the president of Serbia, and you may find another one who will settle for that with no compromise, only by accepting ultimatums.” In the interview given after his meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Matthew Palmer, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibility for the Western Balkans and the Aegean, and Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson, Vucic said that according to the U.S. officials, Washington had been against the tariffs on goods from Serbia since they had been imposed by Pristina. He added that Pristina could be subjected to greater pressure to start a comprehensive dialogue with Belgrade in December, after the formation of a new Pristina government. “I have said that Belgrade is ready to resume the dialogue the moment the tariffs are lifted because basic conditions must be in place and trust established between the international community and all of us in terms that we can discuss some issues and also reach an agreement. If you impose the tariffs in the way you did, then such trust absolutely does not exist,” Vucic noted.
The Serbian President added he expected Belgrade to be subjected to very strong pressure in relation to Kosovo. Vucic further said that the Americans were aware that he was a man who does not regard compromise as a defeat, who is rational and who makes the most out of everything for his country and people, and also a man who is more interested in Serbia than his own political future. “It is why they talk to me and why you can hear it from different sides, although earlier they would say ‘we cannot guarantee to Vucic EU membership in 2025’, now you can hear it from several sides. At the moment, our situation is difficult, but for certain things that we have been previously told that we cannot get, I am today sure that we can get them. Is it something close to our dreams or something we desire – no, it is trillions of kilometers away. But, is it more than what we were offered some seven, eight years ago – yes, it’s something more,” Vucic noted.
Dacic: 15th state that has de-recognised Kosovo to be named after Vucic’s return (Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Thursday he would announce the name of another courageous country that had revoked its decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s return from New York. Such decisions are very important for Serbia, Dacic said in a statement to Tanjug. “We underestimate those who make such decisions, but that takes great courage because big powers lobbying for Kosovo’s interests are backing Pristina,” he said. “It is true that a 15th country has revoked and suspended its recognition of Kosovo. The decision was not made yesterday, their note was dated on St Vitus’s Day (28 June), which carries a certain message. I still have not revealed what country it is, and I will not until the president returns,” Dacic responded when asked to name the country.
Togo has been mentioned as the latest country to de-recognize Kosovo while Dacic himself has said Somalia was to reconsider its decision to recognize Kosovo over the issue of Somaliland.
Dacic discussed situation in Kosovo and Metohija with Serbian Ambassadors (Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic informed on Thursday, in separate talks, the Serbian Ambassadors about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. He especially briefed the Ambassadors about Pristina’s unilateral acts that had led to the cessation of the dialogue and talks, but also to the blockade of the Brussels process and reaching of a compromise solution.
He stressed the importance of the visit of President Vucic to the US and the meetings he had in New York. He reiterated Serbia’s foreign policy priorities and ordered reinforced engagement of the Ambassadors in line with Serbia’s national interests. They also spoke about reinforced activities towards strengthening Serbia’s position on the multilateral plane, especially in the upcoming period when Pristina will be applying for membership in numerous international organizations. Dacic had separate talks with the Serbian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark Jasmina Mitrovic Maric, the Serbian Ambassador to Lebanon Elmir Elfic, the Serbian Ambassador to Kenya Dragana Zupanjevac, the Serbian Ambassador to Belorussia Veljko Kovacevic and the Serbian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Stanimir Vukicevic.
Joksimovic: Mogherini’s invitation to Kosovo is violation of EU principles and agreed format (Tanjug/Politika)
The invitation sent by the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini to Pristina for participation at the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers (GYMNICH) represents a tendentious political decision, Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said.
“This decision has been brought along with direct opposition of at least one EU member state, whereby it expresses disrespect of member states that do not recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija,” Joksimovic assessed for Tanjug when asked to comment the invitation sent by Mogherini to Pristina. “Mogherini’s decision has established an aimed precedent in relation to the ongoing practice to invite for Gymnich meetings only representatives of EU candidate countries and such practice has been implemented since the establishment of the EU to this day. This way, candidate countries are placed in an unequal position and it is consciously being departed from the rule that in the process of enlargement everyone should advance in accordance with individual merit,” Joksimovic said. According to her, instead of being sanctioned for its unconstructive behavior, Pristina is being given a privileged status in relation to others in the region, and especially countries that have been consistently fulfilled conditions for acquiring the candidate states for membership. “We expect the new EU High Representative Borrell not to accept such practice, and Serbia will adequately react once Borel assumes duty so the mentioned situation would be elaborated with the representatives of the new EU administration,” said Joksimovic.
Stefanovic: We should stop and prevent politicization of Interpol (TV Pink/Tanjug/RTV)
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told TV Pink today that the Serbian authorities are talking to every possible country, even those that recognize Kosovo, about Kosovo’s request to join Interpol, and the aim of those contacts was to prevent the politicization of the international police organization whose members voted not to grant membership to Kosovo in 2018. “Our job is to convince them that this would be bad both for international law and for Interpol’s reputation. Kosovo’s membership in Interpol would mean that a lot of information would be compromised in Interpol’s database,” said Stefanovic. “Pristina should not wait to join Interpol in order to fight crime,” he said, adding that the so-called Kosovo has direct access to Interpol through the UNMIK mission. Pristina doesn’t have access to Interpol’s databases, which is good, claims Stefanovic, since a large number of people from this territory had left to fight for ISIS.
DSS: US encouraging Vucic to recognize Kosovo’s secession, then encouraged President discourages Serbs to persevere in protecting integrity of their country (Beta/Politika)
The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) stated that the US was encouraging Serbian President
Aleksandar Vucic to recognize Kosovo’s secession. The party released a statement saying that, contrary to Vucic, it favored suspending the question of Kosovo’s final status. According to the party, the State Department’s official statement on talks between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, denied all of the Serbian authorities’ false claims that the US administration had changed its policy on Serbia and stance on solving the question of Kosovo’s status. “The US stance on the independence of the self-styled
Kosovo state has been known for a long time and hasn’t changed. Those who by means of an
aggression against Serbia set the foundations of the NATO-mob state on Serbian territory, do not care if the borders are corrected, if the ultimate result is Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo’s secession and thereby accepting Serbia’s disintegration and enabling NATO to reach the goal that it failed to reach by bombing and through war crimes,” the DSS said. “Just as the US administration is encouraging Aleksandar Vucic to recognize Kosovo’s secession, the
encouraged President of Serbia is trying to discourage the Serb people to persevere in protecting the integrity of their country, for which it has the open and quiet support of the majority of opposition parties. The DSS thinks that by suspending the question of Kosovo and Metohija’s
final status Serbia can protect its interests, while the citizens of Serbia will not agree to giving up a portion of their territory and their fellow countrymen who live there for empty promises of quick inclusion in the EU,” said the DSS statement.
Obradovic: Boycotting elections only solution (Beta)
Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic announced that boycotting elections was the only option after the government failed to meet the opposition’s demands for a fair election. “I will propose that Dveri pass a decision on boycotting elections, which are expected next spring, at a presidency session as early as next week,” Obradovic told a news conference in Cacak. He said that this government has no intention of changing anything as far as the media and elections go, which was revealed after round tables at the Faculty of Political Sciences. Obradovic said that this was a simple reason for boycotting elections because without free media fair elections were impossible. “There is no point in participating in any kind of election without at least six to nine months of press coverage and debates between the opposition and government,” Obradovic said.
Don’t Drown Belgrade (NDMBGD) Initiative to boycott elections (Beta)
The Don’t Drown Belgrade (NDMBGD) Initiative said on Thursday it would boycott the spring general and local elections in Serbia since, as it said, there was no progress in meeting requests for a free and fair vote, Beta reported. The Initiative said in a statement it would draft a ‘Declaration on an active election boycott’ which it would offer to citizens, academicians, experts, civil society organizations and political parties for approval. The NDMBGD recalled that all opposition players, many parliamentarian and non-parliamentarian opposition alliances, parties and movements signed last December a joint declaration agreeing there were no conditions for a free and fair vote. “The experts from the 1 in 5 million protest organization, together with the representatives of the civil society put forward recommendations for the improvement of the election rules. After a series of meetings, it is clear that there is no political will within the regime to meet the requests which would secure the conditions for fair and free elections,” the NDMBGD said in the statement.
Botsan-Kharchenko: Serbia may be link between West and Moscow; Resolution 1244 exists and needs to be foundation for any kind of negotiations (TV N1)
Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko told TV N1 on Thursday that Russia saw Serbia as a link between the West and Moscow, adding the free trade agreement between Serbia and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was expected to be signed on 25 October. He added that Serbia’s EU road should not distant the country from EAEU.
Botsan-Kharchenko also said that EU candidates should not face Brussels or Moscow choice.
“It’s a pity that the candidate countries are told to choose between the EU and Russia. That’s an unfair and unjust message,” the Ambassador said. “The EU integration now becomes an obstacle in cooperation between some countries and Russia. I believe that won’t be the case with Serbia,” the ambassador said, adding that in the past, there was successful and fruitful cooperation without any hindrance with the candidate countries which are now the member states.
Regarding the role of Serbia, Botsan-Kharchenko said that Belgrade could become a link in relations between the EU and Russia. “Serbia in a way has opted to be that link, developing balanced cooperation,” the ambassador said, adding that the whole Western Balkans cooperated with both the West and Russia and other countries like China which is increasingly present in the region. Speaking about Moscow’s view on the Kosovo issue, Botsan-Kharchenko said that outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s statement about Moscow advocating the division of Kosovo was ridiculous. “We have never launched a similar idea on territorial correction. There were such proposals on the margins, including the period of negotiations on the status, but they had never been officially on the negotiating table,” he said. He says there are currently many activities regarding Kosovo, which, in his opinion, is not bad at all, since the more activities, the more possibilities for stabilization of the situation. “And more possibilities to find some decisions, comprehensive and based on international law. I wish to stress most of all that Resolution 1244 exists and it needs to be the foundation for any kind of negotiations,” said Botsan-Kharchenko. According to him, Russia wants the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations to resume and in case that Belgrade asks, Moscow will support it within the international law framework. “Regular discussions (on Kosovo) need to continue, and this is one the issues within the scope of the UN Security Council. That is why it is impossible for Russia not to take part and not to be remain the factor of resolving and of some decisions,” he said. Russia wishes to help Serbia and the region to become a stable region of cooperation, integration and peace, and I am certain that a long-lasting, just and internationally legal decision, based on a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina is possible and should be confirmed and approved in the end by the UN Security Council, said the Ambassador.
Schieb: Both sides to abandon activities that have negative effect on dialogue, including Belgrade’s campaign on withdrawing recognitions of Kosovo (TV N1)
German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb told TV N1 on Thursday that everyone is trying to convince Pristina to revoke the 100 percent taxes. He recalled that the Quint ambassadors called both sides to abandon any activities which could have a negative effect on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, including Belgrade’s campaign to convince other countries to withdraw their recognition of Kosovo. He voiced optimism that Pristina would agree to revoke the taxes. “As long as the talks are not underway, a solution is hard to find. As long as there is no dialogue the situation could deteriorate,” he warned. He says that a boycott is not a good thing but that democracy requires a strong opposition in parliament. “The opposition has indicated that it will boycott the elections because it feels that the conditions for fair elections have not been met and now an effort has been made to get things moving within the dialogue,” Schieb said, adding that Berlin supports that dialogue in principle because it sees it as an important process.
B&H CEC: Tegeltija meets conditions to become B&H CoM Chairman (BHT1)
Acting upon the order of the B&H Presidency that is competent for appointment of the Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) established that nominated candidate Zoran Tegeltija meets all necessary conditions for appointment in line with the B&H Election Law, reads a statement issued by the B&H CEC. The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) confirmed that it received on 19 August the request for verification of the information that Tegeltija disclosed while filling out the statement form of the B&H CEC. SIPA spokesperson Luka Miladinovic stated: “On 19 August 2019, the SIPA received the request of the Chairman of the B&H Presidency for verification of the information that Mr. Zoran Tegeltija disclosed on the statement form of the B&H CEC. The SIPA police officers are currently working on verification of the information. Deadline for verification is eight days.” The presenter noted that the abovementioned request was forwarded to competent institutions, but the B&H Presidency failed to nominate Tegeltija as the BiH CoM Chairman-designate or to cast a vote on the Annual National Program (ANP) at the sessions that were supposed to be held on 20 August.
Mektic: ANP was technical issue that Dodik turned into ‘life of death’ issue (Oslobodjenje)
Minister of Security of B&H Dragan Mektic stated (not specified when or where) that the actions of the member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik are provoking an intervention of the international community in B&H, and such intervention cannot bring anything good to the RS. Commenting the failed negotiations of leaders of SDA, HDZ B&H and SNSD on authority formation at the level of B&H and disagreement on the issue of the Annual National Program (ANP), Mektic said that Dodik has turned a purely technical issue into a ‘life or death’ issue without any reason.
Representatives of HDZ B&H again call for formation of authorities in B&H (N1)
Representatives of HDZ B&H again called for formation of the authorities in B&H. However, according to N1, there is still no progress in terms of convergence of stances of SNSD, on one hand, and SDA and DF, on the other hand, on submission of the Annual National Program (ANP). B&H Minister of Finance and HDZ B&H member Vjekoslav Bevanda deemed the current political situation in B&H as a hopeless situation in which B&H cannot become part of anything. Bevanda noted that the issue of the ANP is extremely important, but that currently there is no common position of all factors, calling for an agreement on formation of the B&H CoM for the sake of the future of all B&H citizens. Bevanda assessed that the ANP was malevolently politicized and he added: “The NATO is our strategic interest and Croat policy strongly advocates the admission to the NATO”. Bevanda’s party colleague and B&H Minister of Defense Marina Pendes once again explained that the ANP does not mean membership in NATO, explaining that the ANP is only a document that raises the cooperation between B&H and NATO to another level. “It also implies taking over obligations by B&H when it comes to reforms which is necessary to implement so that B&H could at one point indeed become a member of NATO. Those reforms have to do, among other things, well not completely the same, but we can make a parallel with reforms we said we would do in order to become an EU member,” Pendes underlined. Pendes told TV N1 that the ANP is in fact a link with reforms ‘we’ have already said we will undertake in order to become an EU member, which led Pendes to say it is “unclear why all this hysteria is happening lately”. Pendes went on to say there was consensus about the ANP and that she sees no disputable points about it. “It can be subjected to changes, some articles can be erased, re-phrased (…),” added Pendes.
Zaev calls for appointment of acting special prosecutor (Republika)
Regarding the decision for the successor of Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, the Prime Minister and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev called for urgent action according to the laws on the acting Special Prosecutor. The Prime Minister also called on the Council of Public Prosecutors to appoint an acting special prosecutor and hopes they will do it in a few days. When Marko Zvrlevski was dismissed and before Ljubomir Jovevski was appointed, the Council of Public Prosecutors appointed an acting public prosecutor. There are no legal obstacles to do it in this case as well, Zaev added. He urged both VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM to align their positions on the law on public prosecution.
Galloway: “Racket” is an opportunity to prove non-selective justice (Republika)
Citizens should see that the state has an equal approach to the rule of law, British Ambassador Rachel Galloway said Thursday, commenting on the recent developments in the Racket case.
According to her, the affair is an opportunity to show non-selective law enforcement. The effectiveness and integrity of the entire legal system is a prerequisite for national stability and prosperity. The Racket case is an opportunity to demonstrate effective, timely and non-selective enforcement of laws locally. Citizens should see that there is an equal approach to the rule of law, Ambassador Galloway said.
Opposition to unveil platform against crisis in Albania (ADN)
The leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha said on Thursday that DP and the opposition will unveil a platform of measures for Albania like Europe, which is to end the crisis and bring criminals before justice. Having previously met with the newly-appointed German Ambassador to Albania Peter Zingraf Basha said that the aforementioned measures’ platform will come as a national plan not to waste more time and opportunity closing the European door for Albania again. According to Basha, this platform is to predict some measures and will go through wide debate with all stakeholders, including the media and academic world. “The DP and the opposition will unveil a platform of measures for Albania like Europe, as a national plan not to waste more time and opportunity closing the European door for Albania again, to end the crisis, to bring criminals out of government and to bring them to justice. The platform will predict some measures, and will be subjected to wide debate with all stakeholders, including the media and academic world,” stated Basha.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serbia officially joins AIIB (Xinhua, 23 August 2019)
Serbia officially became a non-regional member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the country’s ministry of finance confirmed on Thursday in a press release. Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali estimated that by joining this international organization, Serbia will “gain access to favorable credit funds for the implementation of priority projects”. The press release said that the country fulfilled all the necessary procedures and conditions for membership. Namely, Serbia adopted the Law on Confirmation of the Founding Act of the AIIB, deposited the instrument of accession and paid the first installment of its share in the bank’s capital. The China-initiated multilateral financial institution began operation in January 2016 with 57 founding members, with an agenda focused on supporting sustainable development through infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia and beyond.
With Neither Side Blinking, Bosnian Stalemate to Continue (BIRN, by Mladen Lakic, 23 August 2019)
Continued deadlock, a U-turn by one side or the other, or intervention by Bosnia’s international overseer: How might Bosnia’s political stalemate play out?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik will have sent a chill down the spines of many in Bosnia when he warned last week of a ‘Mostar scenario’ at the national level. The southwestern city, split between Bosniaks and Croats, has not held an election for a new municipal council since 2012 because of ethnic politicking over electoral reform, leaving the municipality in the hands of the mayor alone without a council to work with. Ten months after Bosnia’s last parliamentary election, the country has yet to form a new state-level government, hostage to a standoff between Dodik and the main Bosniak and Croat parties over NATO integration and which has no end in sight. After the failure of talks on August 20 between Dodik and his Bosniak and Croat colleagues in Bosnia’s tripartite presidency to break the deadlock, four possible scenarios are on the table: Continued stalemate, a la Mostar, with potentially crippling consequences for the Bosnian economy, the country’s integration with the West and fragile ethnic relations; Dodik drops his opposition to Bosnia taking the next step towards accession to NATO; the Bosniaks and Croats agree to a government without progress towards NATO; or Bosnia’s international overseer strong-arms political leaders into a deal with the threat of sanctions or a new election.
At the core of the dispute is Bosnia’s submission to NATO of an Annual National Programme, a condition of the Western alliance activating Bosnia’s Membership Action Plan, a stepping stone to eventual membership. Pro-Russian Dodik, who frequently advocates Bosnia’s dissolution as a state, is fiercely opposed. But the Bosniak and Croat parties that emerged victorious alongside Dodik’s SNSD in last October’s election say they will not enter government with him at the national level without the ANP being submitted. All sides had agreed a September 5 deadline to resolve the dispute and form a government, but there are few signs it will be met. Some have speculated they may simply run down the clock to new elections in three years’ time. “If one side in the presidency (Croat and Bosniak members) says that there is no Council of Ministers [government] without the ANP and the other says that there can be no ANP while he is in power, then compromise is impossible even for the next 300 years,” said Sarajevo-based political analyst Ivana Maric.
State budget gathering dust
Vehid Sehic, a political analyst and former president of Bosnia’s Central Election Commission, CEC, said Bosnia faced becoming “blocked” and cited Dodik’s threats to withdraw Bosnia’s mainly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, from a number of key state agreements and institutions.
“We already have Dodik’s threats, what could happen if they do not reach agreement,” Sehic told BIRN. “That could be devastating, as the focus will be completely on those announcements that the Republika Srpska entity will pull out of range of important agreements at the state level.”
The state budget for 2019 has yet to be adopted and is gathering dust more than six months into the year. The interim government and parliament rarely convene, while progress on EU accession has almost ground to a halt. Bosnia has been without a government before. After elections in 2010, it took until February 2012 to form a government. The CEC confirmed on Thursday that Dodik’s candidate for prime minister, current Republika Srpska MP Zoran Tegeltija, met all the necessary criteria to be given the mandate to form the government, known in Bosnia as the Council of Ministers. But he will not get the chance unless Dodik drops his opposition to Bosnia submitting the ANP, the Bosniak and Croat sides say. At stake, the Croat chairman of the presidency, Zeljko Komsic, said last week, is “whether Bosnia continues on the road to NATO or not, if it will give up on it, pause or take a step backwards.” But Maric, too, said Dodik was unlikely to back down given the votes his opposition to NATO had won him. Dodik, she noted, was the driving force behind a resolution adopted by the Republika Srpska parliament in 2017 declaring the entity’s ‘military neutrality’.
So far, Bosnia’s Western backers have resorted to hand-wringing and calls for politicians to put the interests of Bosnians first. “Local leaders set a 30-day deadline on 5 August. They need to honour their commitment to stay credible,” EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted on Wednesday. Lans Gunnar Wigmerak, the outgoing head of the EU delegation to Bosnia, told reporters on Wednesday: “It is necessary to think about the general interest of citizens.” There was no indication, however, that the international community might step in.
The Office of the High Representative, OHR, overseer of the peace accord that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, has the power to impose “interim measures” when local parties are “unable to reach agreement”. Theoretically, the OHR could call a new election, or use the threat of sanctions to force politicians into agreement. But in recent years the office has been reluctant to use such powers, most recently in 2018 when it declined to intervene in a dispute over Bosnia’s electoral law. “In theory, the OHR could impose sanctions on leaders, could try to put a moratorium on salaries where there are no new appointments,” Sehic said. The OHR had not replied to BIRN questions by the time this story was published.