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Belgrade Media Report 27 August 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 27 August 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Continued support of Slovenia to Serbia’s EU path (Tanjug/RTS)
• Cooperation agreements with North Macedonia signed (Tanjug)
• ISAC: Serbia fails to comply with 40 percent of EU foreign policy declarations (N1)
• Djilas: McAllister refuses to call things by their true name (Beta)
• Dveri to boycott elections (FoNet/RTS/RTV)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H Presidency decides on Dayton B&H on Tuesday (RTRS)
• Covic expresses expectations that Presidency of B&H will appoint B&H CoM chairman on Tuesday (FTV)
• Dodik: B&H is dying slow death that is accelerated by Komsic and Dzaferovic (Srna, by Tatjana Paradjina)
Republic of North Macedonia
• The most serious tool is the truth: Zaev and Brnabic join forces to fight fake news (Meta)
• Pendarovski: “Racket” case is not a benchmark (MIA)
• Zbogar: “Racket” became a reality show (Republika)
• No progress in negotiations on public prosecution law (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Merkel-Macron EU Leadership Contest: What do the Western Balkans Have to do With it? (Sputnik)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Continued support of Slovenia to Serbia’s EU path (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic assessed today that Serbia and Slovenia have good political and economic relations, and expressed her gratitude to this country for its continued support to the European integration of Serbia. Brnabic underlined that Serbia and Slovenia do not have many open issues and added that she discussed today with Prime Minister of Slovenia Marjan Sarec the date for the fifth joint session of the governments of the two countries. The two officials also examined the possibility of holding a joint economic forum, as the economic cooperation between the two countries records a continuous growth. The Slovenian economy is, as she pointed out, one of Serbia’s most important economic partners and one of the largest investors with more than 1 billion Euros in investments, noting that 1,600 Slovenian companies operate successfully in Serbia. Brnabic stated that Slovenia has a very strong and developed sector of small, micro and medium-sized enterprises, so that the experience of that country in this area would be very significant for Serbia. She also recalled that the Serbian Chamber of Commerce opened a representative office in Ljubljana earlier this year, which is the first and only office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce in the region of the former Yugoslavia.

Sarec said that Serbia deserves to become part of the family of European countries, adding that although the climate in the EU is not fully prone to enlargement, Ljubljana wants to talk about it.

The EU accession will not happen overnight, just as ours did not happen overnight, but reforms need an incentive, he said, pointing out that Slovenia is a good connoisseur of the situation in the region and that it knows the causes of the problems, as well as what to insist on. The EU path depends on many factors and the enlargement process needs to be launched as an incentive, and if this is recognized as an interest of the EU, then it is a question of the future, Sarec concluded.

 

Cooperation agreements with North Macedonia signed (Tanjug)

 

Representatives of the governments of Serbia and North Macedonia signed several cooperation agreements in Skopje on Monday during the official visit of Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic to that country. The Agreement on Mutual Recognition of the Authorization of Authorized Business Entities for Safety and Security was signed, as well as the Agreement on Phytosanitary Cooperation. Also, the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Qualified Trusted Services Provided in the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of North Macedonia was signed.

Brnabic said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev that these agreements will ensure that the two countries’ trade in goods, as well as the exchange of electronic services, be increased in a most concrete way. She voiced her expectation that cooperation with North Macedonia in the field of digitization and the IT sector will represent the best opportunity to increase competitiveness, secure higher salaries and retain young people in the region. The agreements directly contribute to the quality of life and the better living standard of citizens of both countries, she stressed, adding that the two governments will continue to work to improve cooperation in many areas. Already today, we will approve the mutual recognition of the veterinary laboratories, thus further reducing waiting times at border crossings, Brnabic said. According to her, Serbia, as a country on the road to the EU, provides continuous and strong support to the European integrations of North Macedonia and will advocate the opening of EU accession talks with Skopje as soon as possible. Brnabic underlined that the position of the Serb community in North Macedonia is something that is very important for Serbia, as is the National Council of the Macedonian National Minority in Serbia. She recalled that North Macedonia has recognized Kosovo’s independence, and that “our countries do not agree on this matter, but it”s important to maintain communication and talk about everything”. Brnabic said that inter-ethnic borders cannot be drawn in this region, adding that one must look to the future and work towards reconciliation, in this case between Serbs and Albanians. “Serbia did not impose the border issue, some other people did, and not so long ago. At the time, no one thought, ‘if we change borders, we will cause instability’. I don’t understand how this was acceptable to those people at the time, but not today? Look at what’s been happening in Europe since, thanks to this (Kosovo) precedent,” said Brnabic, emphasizing that if a chance for reconciliation is missed now, it will not come again in decades. “Unfortunately, the tax imposed by Pristina isn’t contributing to anyone,” she said, when asked by a reporter whether North Macedonia benefits from this situation. Zaev said that the visit of the Serbian government delegation led by Ana Brnabic is another contribution to fostering the tradition of good neighborly relations. We have no open issues and we are working together to accelerate European integration of the entire region based on the results of each country individually, he underlined. The Serbian delegation, led by Brnabic, included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Branislav Nedimovic and President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Marko Cadez, as well as Deputy Director of the Customs Administration Veselin Milosevic.

 

ISAC: Serbia fails to comply with 40 percent of EU foreign policy declarations (N1)

 

Serbia has complied with 60 percent of the foreign policy declarations that the European Union has published between January 1 and June 39, 2019 but did not align with the remaining 40 percent because of relations with countries that support its view on the Kosovo issue such as Russia and Belarus, the ISAC Fund said in its latest report. In the vast majority of cases, Serbia did not comply with declarations aimed at the entities and/or citizens of countries that did not recognize Kosovo, the report said. It specified that the EU published a total of 48 foreign policy declarations with which partner countries were requested to comply with Serbia complying with 29 of them, adding that Serbia aligned with 52 percent of EU declarations in 2018 and 44 percent in first half of that year. “Of the declarations that Serbia did not align with, seven relate to Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, four are devoted to the situation in Venezuela, two concern Myanmar/Burma, and one each is related to Iran, Belarus, Guatemala, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Syria, and sanctions against persons suspected of using chemical weapons,” the report said. It specified that two of the declarations on Myanmar, one of Syria and one on the use of chemical weapons indirectly relate to Russia. “The most likely explanation for Serbia’s non-compliance with these declarations is the support provided by Russia, China and other countries to the regime at the end of 2017,” the ISAC report said. Serbia did comply with two declarations on Syria which extend existing restrictive measures towards that country. Other instances of Serbia’s failure to comply with EU foreign policy declarations could be related to the Kosovo issue, the report said adding that Guatemala and Iran do not recognize the independence of Kosovo. Serbia failed to align with a declaration on Iran and another on Guatemala but it did join a declaration condemning Guatemala’s unilateral withdrawal from the UN International Compact of 2006, which established the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), it said. Serbia did not align with a declaration extending restrictive measures towards Belarus that were first introduced in 2012, with which it initially agreed probably because Belarus does not recognize Kosovo and has military cooperation with Serbia.

 

Djilas: McAllister refuses to call things by their true name (Beta)

 

The leader of the Freedom and Justice Party Dragan Djilas stated that the Chair of the

European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister knew what was going on in Serbia but that he refuses to call things by their true name, for reasons known to him. “Had Mr. McAllister really wanted to learn about the situation in Serbia, he would have invited to a

meeting the members of the Expert Team of the One out of the Five Million protests, the representatives of all political parties, or the citizens who have been protesting for eight months now,” Djilas said in a statement for the public. He stated that it would be useful if McAllister

remembered, while declaring that the parliament is the place for democratic debate, that the opposition was boycotting the work of the parliament on the basis of the Covenant with the People, which has been signed by more than 200,000 people. “The reasons for the parliamentary boycott are defined best in the Report of the European Commission, which raised concerns over the work of the Serbian parliament, freedom of expression and the fight against organized crime,” Djilas stated.

 

Dveri to boycott elections (FoNet/RTS/RTV)

 

The Presidency of the Dveri movement decided on Monday evening for this movement to boycott regular elections that are supposed to be held next spring, FoNet learns.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H Presidency decides on Dayton B&H on Tuesday (RTRS)

 

The B&H Presidency convenes in Sarajevo on Tuesday to discuss the appointment of Zoran Tegeltija as a Chairman of the Council of Ministers (CoM). This will be the only item on the agenda of the extraordinary session. Spokesman for SNSD Radovan Kovacevic said that the B&H Presidency votes whether they accept Dayton B&H with its constitutional structure on Tuesday. The outcome of the session remains unclear, given the lack of consensus among the Presidency members. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that he rejects any sort of blackmail presented in the form the Annual National Program (ANP). At the same time, Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic pose the issue of NATO integration of B&H as the most important one.  Reporter reminded that Komsic ordered the competent institutions to complete the vetting procedures of Tegeltija, but repeated several times that Tegeltija will not be appointed without submitting of the ANP to Brussels. “If we do not end this story on Tuesday, this will not be a saga anymore, but a farce,” said Dodik. Reporter noted that, in case Tegeltija is not appointed as the new Chairman of the B&H CoM, SNSD will have to propose a new candidate. Recently, Dodik said that he does not care about the opinion of foreign embassies regarding NATO, but only the will of the people and the people do not want to join NATO. Asked about respecting the will of the Serb people regarding the NATO integration, Dazferovic recently said that it is not right to ask such questions. “Everyone is obliged to respect the Constitution of this country, its laws and decisions,” said Dzaferovic. He added that the rule of law cannot be treated as a menu and one cannot choose which part to implement and which not. Reporter concluded that it is clear Komsic and President of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic are buying time to form authorities without SNSD. President of SDS Mirko Sarovic said on Monday that it is not unimaginable to form authorities without SNSD and it less likely for Tegeltija to be appointed now than it was six months ago.

 

Covic expresses expectations that Presidency of B&H will appoint B&H CoM chairman on Tuesday (FTV)

 

HDZ B&H Presidency and the Presidency of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) held separate sessions in Mostar on Monday. Following the sessions, President of HDZ B&H and the HNS Dragan Covic held a press conference and expressed expectations that SNSD’s Zoran Tegeltija will be appointed as the chairman-designate of the B&H CoM at the upcoming on Tuesday. According to the reporter, Covic spoke of certain maneuvers aiming to undermine the process of the appointment and formation of the authorities in further stages but Covic refused to speak about details. Covic said that the appointment of the CoM chairman-designate may be the first step and the process could soon be moved to some other possibly legislative institution. Covic claims that too much emphasis was put on the Presidency of B&H and the House of Representatives of B&H should be allowed to discuss the chairman-designate’s exposé for work of the B&H CoM. Covic stressed that failure to form executive authorities is unacceptable when the leaders of the ruling parties agreed on all details, including distribution of ministerial posts, but cannot put the agreement in effect.

 

Dodik: B&H is dying slow death that is accelerated by Komsic and Dzaferovic (Srna, by Tatjana Paradjina)

 

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said in an interview with Srna that the most important decision the Presidency could make, if B&H is a normal country at least a little bit, is to appoint Zoran Tegeltija, and if he is not appointed, this will be a clear confirmation that there is nothing normal in B&H, that everything that should not bother a normal mind is being destroyed in it, and that those who are doing this will have to assume responsibility for everything that will follow. When asked what he expects from a meeting of the B&H Presidency, namely, whether the chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers will be appointed or B&H will continue to exist as a caricature of a country which is dying a slow death, Dodik has explained that he asked for a meeting of the B&H Presidency in order to appoint Zoran Tegeltija the chairman of the Council of Ministers. “It is general knowledge, even in some impartial international circles, that B&H is dying a slow death which is right now being accelerated by Komsic and Dzaferovic, who are allegedly the most vocal proponents of B&H, which is absurd, and who are trying to avoid something that is impossible in civilized states and societies – after almost a year (after the elections) they do not demonstrate the ability to implement election results, namely, to form the authorities,” Dodik said. Everyone who is normal at least a little bit, says Dodik, will say that the art of destruction by Bosniak politicians in power has been dominant for years, and accordingly, every attempt at creative energy has been thwarted. “The destruction of everything, including B&H, by ruling Bosniak political elite, has become their way of behavior and thinking, judged by the way they are behaving and working now. Such behavior would destroy even the US, let alone B&H. This is why B&H is an impossible state which is falling apart, and this is not because Milorad Dodik and the Serbian people are destroying it,” Dodik said. He has said that everyone is clear that no one in RS has nothing against B&H the way it was established by the Dayton Agreement, but such behavior of Bosniak politicians in power is a direct attack on the Dayton Agreement, and, unfortunately, a proof that such a B&H is not capable of becoming a candidate for membership in the EU. Commenting on the fact that (people) in informal talks and certain media outlets speculate that in some variant even Mirko Sarovic could be a candidate for the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Dodik said that inability to see and take into account the reality leads to hallucinatory distortions, even to Sarovic. “Komsic and Dzaferovic will not decide on who will represent RS, let alone the Sarajevo media outlets. The people in RS have already decided this by giving an overwhelming majority of votes to the SNSD and its candidates, including Zoran Tegeltija,” Dodik said.

When asked what will happen after 5 September, when the deadline for the agreement on the formation of authorities, which he signed with the presidents of the HDZ B&H and SDA, Dragan Covic and Bakir Izetbegovic, respectively, expires, if the agreement is not implemented, Dodik has said that there are a number of variants, and that he will see by then. “Every move we make will be for the purpose of defense of RS, its autonomy and integrity, and we will not agree to any blackmail, outvoting of the Serbian people and destruction of the genuine Dayton Agreement,” Dodik said. Regarding snap parliamentary elections in Kosovo that should be called soon, the fact that according to public opinion polls the parties of Aljbin Kurti and Isa Mustafa, which advocate a Greater Albania, are in the lead, and regarding the fact that no one from the international community is reacting to their programs, Dodik has said that RS stands by Serbia and maintains its decision that B&H will not recognize self-declared Kosovo, and maintains its position that a solution to the dispute between Belgrade and Pristina is the internal matter of Serbia. “We stand by Serbia and follow Serbia. It is helping us and we will never give up on it. We will see what will happen in the coming period. But the most important thing is to preserve peace and stability,” Dodik said.

 

The most serious tool is the truth: Zaev and Brnabic join forces to fight fake news (Meta)

 

The repeating of the truth several times in order for the readers and the viewers can differentiate what is fake news and what is not, at the moment is the only way by which the politicians can fight against fake news, said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev during the press conference at the government with the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. Among the many topics discussed special attention was given to the fight against fake news. “Fake news can destroy the integrity, the honor, and the dignity of one person, of a whole family even to make enemies of countries that are friends,” said Zaev. He stressed that the world has problems with fake news and an institutional solution to fight them has to be found. “Critical journalism has to exist, since it is very healthy for a democracy, unlike the fake news that destroys it. In our country, the journalist associations began working on the registry of portals but so far the most serious tool in the fight against fake news is the truth,” said Zaev. The Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stressed that fake news is a phenomenon and an issue in these modern times, the modern media and the social networks that the whole world fights against. “Fake news waste a lot of time and energy. There is always a dilemma whether to deal with fake news and to explain what it’s all about or to do something that is in the benefit of citizens which in the end is also your work. The citizens have chosen you and they are paying you. I think it is better to do something beneficial like the opening of ‘One stop shop’ at Tabanove – Preshevo that can improve people’s lives and that to trust that citizens will be able to conclude what is real and what is fake news,” said Brnabic. She also said that while there is still a large number of initiatives, joint projects, and good ideas, direct communication, visits from both sides, that will give a clearer picture about the inter-relations between both countries than fake news.In the past period since the case Racket broke out, a lot of disinformation appeared in the Serbian media related to this case.

 

Pendarovski: “Racket” case is not a benchmark (MIA)

 

The “Racket” case isn’t a benchmark for getting a date to launch EU accession negotiations at the moment, nor will it become one if authorities continue to handle the case properly, President Stevo Pendarovski said when asked by a MIA reporter. At the moment, it is my estimation, it is our estimation, that it will not be a benchmark until the end of the year, because what the competent state authorities have done so far is a proper reaction. However, the case is obviously complex, let’s leave the authorities to continue to work on it. If they do not keep up with this pace, with this breadth and depth they have begun so far, it can become. But now it is not and will not be until October, said President Pendarovski, who addressed Monday a meeting of the Council of Ambassadors to discuss the European perspective of the Republic of Macedonia.

 

Zbogar: “Racket” became a reality show (Republika)

 

The judiciary probably is becoming aware that it may have the last chance to regain the trust of the citizens by ensuring an independent, full and quick investigation into the “Racket” case, as well as all other SPO cases. The judiciary should find the strength to resist the pressure, no matter where it comes from, and it has our full support for that, EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar said Monday. Zbogar, speaking at a forum at the Chamber of Commerce, said the “Racket” case had been transformed into a reality show, and fake news and questioning of everything, had become modus operandi in the country. The Ambassador also emphasized that the harsh rhetoric that politicians use between themselves, but also in relation to the judiciary, not only erodes the trust of the citizens but also poisons the society that desperately needs, as he said, reconciliation. The court process we are witnessing these days has been transformed by politics and some domestic and foreign media into a reality show. They tried to take over the role of the judiciary, to play the role of the “big brother”, dictating the players inside the house, or the judiciary. Fake news and questioning everything have become modus operandi in the country. Everyone has become a criminal, which means that criminals have become anonymous, everyone is equal, everyone is the same, Zbogar said in his address at the forum. Only if it shows that it can handle all cases of crime and corruption, the judiciary, EU Ambassador said, can restore citizens’ trust in it and in politics. I think the judiciary is probably becoming aware that it may have the last chance to regain the trust of the citizens with an independent, full and quick investigation into the “Racket” case, as well as all other SPO cases. The judiciary should find the strength to resist the pressure, no matter where it comes from, and it has our full support for that, Zbogar said.

 

No progress in negotiations on public prosecution law (Republika)

 

No progress was made Monday at a working meeting of the government and the opposition over the new law on the public prosecution, which will be debated by MPs at a session on Tuesday, Justice Minister Renata Deskoska stated Monday. After today’s meeting of the working groups in the parliament, Desksoka said the key difference remains, which is the status of the SPO cases. The authorities, as she said, say the SPO should merge with the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime and Corruption, and the ongoing cases by special prosecutors should continue to be processed.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Merkel-Macron EU Leadership Contest: What do the Western Balkans Have to do With it? (Sputnik, by Mira Kankaras-Trklja, 27 August 2019)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement on EU enlargement saying that European unity won’t be complete without the Western Balkans nations joining the bloc was first and foremost a message to French President Emanuel Macron, not the Western Balkans. And the message was that even if Merkel herself is leaving politics this does not mean that Germany is giving up its leadership role and its vision of the EU to France. On 19 August, speaking at the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic in Hungary, Merkel said: “If you look at things geostrategically and also look at the map then there will only be a truly united Europe with the states of the Western Balkans”. Even though Merkel’s remark is an optimistic sign for Serbs and revives their almost dying hopes of EU membership, her rhetoric indicates the depth of the crisis that Brussels is going through. Political analyst Sasa Adamovic believes that the German chancellor’s statement has only highlighted the deep divisions in the bloc over the future of the EU itself. He also noted that after Britain leaves the European Union, key roles in Brussels will be split between Germany and France, whose leaders have contradicting views on EU Balkan enlargement. “From their statements it is clear that they have very different positions when it comes to the future of the EU, given that Germany continues to insist on enlargement, primarily to include the Western Balkan states, while Macron suggests waiting to accept new members until the bloc handles its own issues, that is, until the direction in which the EU is heading is determined”, Adamovic said. The political analyst emphasised that at the same time Belgrade should not misinterpret Merkel’s statement in their favour since Berlin’s position on Serbia’s accession to the EU is known and hasn’t changed recently. It implies that Serbia should recognise Kosovo and as a highly desirable condition suggests a unified and centralised government in BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to the point of abolishing Republika Srpska*. According to the expert, in both cases, Serbian national interests would be irreparably damaged and Serbia would lose rather than win from joining the EU under such conditions. In the meantime, Adamovic noted that Belgrade should closely watch the situation within the EU: “At the moment, perhaps, we could do some kind of EU monitoring to observe in which direction it is heading. Taking into account that in the last five years the Brussels elite has plunged the EU into a deep crisis, and the fact that there have been no significant changes in the EU leadership, it can be assumed that in the next five years the situation in the bloc will only get worse”, the Serbian expert warned. To the question of whose vision of the EU’s future will prevail in this fight for leadership – Macron or Merkel’s, Adamovic said that this is rather difficult to determine because there is also a third view. According to him, the idea of a centralised, united Europe, requiring member states to sacrifice their national sovereignty in favour of Brussels is opposed by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who insists on returning national sovereignty to EU member states and protecting EU borders. “In any case, there is an interesting and rather intense struggle within the EU itself between three different concepts for its future, and if I had to choose one of them, I would prefer sovereignty, because it is in line with our idea of ​​protecting state and national interests. First of all, this concerns Kosovo and Metohija and Republika Srpska”, Adamovic concluded.

*Republika Srpska – Serb Republic, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two autonomous regions or “entities”, established under the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik has repeatedly said that Serbs’ long-term goal is secession from the rest of Bosnia.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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