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Belgrade Media Report 11 September 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 11 September 2019

LOCAL PRESS

• Dacic: USA can make influence to have taxes abolished (Blic)
• US Ambassador Kyle Scott: US is going to support any kind of agreement that is good for Belgrade and Pristina and would contribute to the stability of the region (RTS)
• Czech President Zeman”I love Serbia and the Serbian people, but not Kosovo” (Beta, B92)
• PM: If ustasha salute is acceptable to some, protest note can’t change that (Beta)
• Brnabic: Cooperation with OSCE not a concession to either the opposition nor international community (Beta)
• Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko dismisses US Envoy’s claim (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H HoR Collegium fails to convene session of B&H HoR (BHT1)
• Komsic, Kavazovic, Inzko attend commemoration for late HR Ashdown: He was great friend of B&H (N1)
• Komsic meets number of UK officials in London: UK is great friend of B&H, B&H wants to be part of NATO (N1)
• Dodik: Komsic is not visiting London on behalf of B&H Presidency (ATV)
• US’ Palmer: Komsic and Dzaferovic were clear in statements that they want B&H to move forward by submitting ANP (Dnevni list)
Croatia
• Pupovac: I am neither a Chetnik, nor secret collaborator of Serbian authorities (Hina)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Meeting of party leaders fails as Zaev refuses to allow placing his Government under investigative scrutiny (Republika)
• Palmer: North Macedonia soon to become NATO’s 30th member (Nezavisen vesnik)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Serbs ignore EU warning over plan to join Russian-led trade bloc (The Moscow Times)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Dacic: USA can make influence to have taxes abolished (Blic)

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dacic said that Serbia counts on assistance and wish of USA to act in a constructive way when it comes to dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina but he also said that USA will have to “push its pet so that it understands what is good for the entire region”. Dacic also reminded that Belgrade is willing to continue the dialogue but only if Pristina authorities revoke taxes on import of goods from Serbia and he noted that “USA can play a significant role if it wants”.

 

US Ambassador Kyle Scott: US is going to support any kind of agreement that is good for Belgrade and Pristina and would contribute to the stability of the region (RTS)

US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott was asked to comment on the appointment of Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer as the special representative for the Western Balkans and Palmer’s statement that one of his priorities will be the continuation of Belgrade-Pristina dialog and the reaching of the final agreement. Reporter also asked Scott, according to his opinion, are these goals “mission impossible” considering the pending Kosovo elections and the imposed taxes on Serbian goods and is US going to exert more pressure on Pristina so that the compromising solution can be found.

Answering the questions Scott said that as a diplomat he would not use the words like mission impossible or a pressure, and pointed out that he would rather say that the role of the US is to help both side to get back to the negotiating table and then expect the agreement to come out of that. That agreement must be the one between Serbia and Kosovo, we cannot say what that agreement should, or should not be. Scott also said that he thinks that in the period before the Kosovo elections probably there will be no progress in the negotiations. US Ambassador said that they will support any government which would be formed after the Kosovo elections in finding the way towards the returning to the negotiating table, and before anything else to abolish or suspend the imposed taxes, that is our first goal, said Scott.

Asked to comment on the statement of Senators Chris Murphy and Ron Johnson that the US will support any agreement between Belgrade and Pristina and in his opinion how likely is that the agreement might be reached by the end of the year or before the US elections scheduled for November 2020, Scott answered that he thinks that it is never smart to put some kind of artificial deadline, but that these processes should progress as much as they can and as fast as they can. US is going to support any kind of agreement that is good for the Belgrade and Pristina, but also for the stability of the region, agreement which is sustainable and would contribute to the stability of the region, said Ambassador Scott.

Czech President Zeman”I love Serbia and the Serbian people, but not Kosovo” (Beta, B92)

 

Czech President Milos Zeman on Sept. 10 arrived in Belgrade, where he met with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic and other officials to discuss economic cooperation and the issue of Kosovo. “Relations between Serbia and the Czech Republic are at the highest level today,” Vucic had written on his Instagram, also sharing a photo of welcoming Zeman at the Belgrade International Airport Nikola Tesla. On Sept. 10, Zeman and Vucic laid flowers at the Monument to the Defenders of Belgrade in World War I, at the New Cemetery. Zeman will start his official visit on Sept. 11 with a meeting with Vucic at the Palace Serbia, after which they will be joined by members of the two countries’ delegations. Zeman arrived together with some 50 businesspeople and four ministers. During the visit, several bilateral agreements will be signed and a business forum organized.

Czech President Milos Zeman said upon arrival in Belgrade that he loves Serbia and the Serbian people very much, but “not Kosovo”.

 

PM: If ustasha salute is acceptable to some, protest note can’t change that (Beta)

 

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that she did not wish to comment on the latest exchange of diplomatic notes between Belgrade and Zagreb or be entrapped in a vicious circle, noting that it was not a conflict between Belgrade and Zagreb or Serbia and Croatia, but between fascism and anti-fascism. “Election campaigns in Croatia are always such as this one and I would not like to be entangled in the diplomatic notes exchanged, as they are pushing us into a vicious circle, where we are losing a clear picture of what happened” Brnabic told reporters. Brnabic also said that if anyone in Croatia believed it was “acceptable to have the plaque with “For home (land) – ready!” which is the fascist, Nazi and Ustasha salute…placed in the Jasenovac concentration camp or in the vicinity, then no protest note can change their opinion.” Brnabic said that the threat posed by the tendency to relativize history had also been underlined in Luxembourg on Sept. 10. She reiterated that if some regime considered it acceptable to have such plaque and not allow others to pay their respects to the victims at an execution site, no protest note could draw their attention. Brnabic added that she would not discuss this matter with Croatia as her “position is clear and sincere” which she is proud of.

 

Brnabic: Cooperation with OSCE not a concession to either the opposition nor international community (Beta)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said that Serbia has been cooperating with the OSCE, i.e. its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to improve electoral conditions since 2017, and that that is neither a concession to the opposition nor the international community. Brnabic told reporters that the state was doing this in the public interest, a post on the Serbian government’s website says. She recalled that she met with an ODIHR mission at the start of August and that concrete arrangements were achieved at that time, among other things, for the government to send the organization a bill on a central population register, which has already been enacted. Brnabic explained that the creation of a working group had been arranged, which is being led by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, as well as that an agreement had been reached to continue training with the central electoral commission and to organize a conference on gender equality in the context of elections and electoral tickets.

 

Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko dismisses US Envoy’s claim (Tanjug)

 

The Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, on Tuesday, dismissed the claim of US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer that Russia wished for instability of the Western Balkans, estimating that it “was not in accordance with plain and simple logic” and “caused despondency”. “Perhaps the markings of the support to stability are military aggression against a sovereign country, the murder of people, the destruction of infrastructure, the sowing of harmful uranium, or the breaking up of countries, separating the people who used to live in the same community, or imposing against the will and in spite of the decision of legislators and the governments of elections to the benefit of membership in NATO, or the glorification of villains and the ‘overthrow’ of patriots and heroes, the forging of history” wrote Botsan-Kharchenko on Twitter.

“Russia has demonstrated that it wishes for instability in the region” Palmer told RTCG,

citing as an example what the Montenegrin authorities declared an alleged coup attempt at the time of the autumn 2016 parliamentary elections.

“Washington’s strategy for strengthening stability by way of anti-constitutional government coups and meddling in internal affairs is obvious and well-known” commented Botsan-Kharchenko.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

B&H HoR Collegium fails to convene session of B&H HoR (BHT1)

 

A Collegium of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Representatives (HoR) failed to reach a consensus in order for the second regular session of the body to be held. The reporter reminded that commissions of the B&H Parliament have not been formed yet and that the adoption of the B&H budget has not yet been carried out. Speaker of the B&H HoR Denis Zvizdic said that all Caucuses but SNSD have delivered their proposals for members of the commissions. Zvizdic assessed that SNSD is the party that is blocking appointment of commissions which is in return blocking the work of the B&H HoR.

Deputy Speaker of the B&H HoR Nebojsa Radmanovic said that B&H needs to reach an agreement where everyone is treated equally. He noted that SNSD and the Serb Caucus feel that the appointment of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman-designate needs to be carried out after which the commission for the appointment of the B&H CoM needs to be formed, and only then the work of the B&H Parliament can commence.

 

Komsic, Kavazovic, Inzko attend commemoration for late HR Ashdown: He was great friend of B&H (N1)

 

A mass and a commemoration were held in London on Tuesday in honor of late High Representative (HR) Paddy Ashdown. Numerous high-ranked officials attended the events, including Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Zeljko Komsic, Head of the Islamic Community in B&H Husein Kavazovic and HR Valentin Inzko. Among other things, attendees said that late Ashdown was a true friend of B&H. During the commemoration, many guests held speeches including former UK Prime Minister John Major who praised Ashdown and pointed out his work as a HR in B&H from 2002 until 2006. Kavazovic also addressed attendees of the event.

Kavazovic told N1 that Ashdown is a very important person for the entire state of B&H. Kavazovic said that B&H has the obligation to always remember Ashdown, to be thankful for what he did and to continue his road. Kavazovic: “He built B&H and our obligation is to follow this path”. Komsic sent pretty much similar messages. In a statement given for N1, Komsic said that today’s comments in B&H show that Ashdown’s role in B&H was controversial. Komsic said: “It depends on the point of view; for us in B&H, (his role) was positive, while for some others, it was negative”. According to Komsic, the fact that four former PMs of the UK attended the events on Tuesday, show that people appreciated what he did for the UK, regardless of the fact that they had different political affiliation.

In a statement given for N1, Inzko said that Ashdown always worked for interests of B&H. Inzko reminded that Ashdown wrote a joint letter about the situation in B&H along with the other two former HR, which in his opinion, proves that he was thinking about B&H and how to help B&H until the very end.

 

Komsic meets number of UK officials in London: UK is great friend of B&H, B&H wants to be part of NATO (N1)

 

During his Tuesday’s visit to London, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Zeljko Komsic held a number of meetings with UK officials. Komsic met the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State for the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon and Baroness Arminka Helic of Milibank who is originally from B&H. Komsic also met representatives of the British Council. Komsic said that the UK is a great friend of B&H which was proven several times, adding that peacekeeping forces brought many good to B&H. Komsic also pointed out the importance of the NATO path of B&H adding that the UK has a huge role in this process. Komsic underlined that B&H wants to be part of the NATO and that the country continues its road to the NATO, no matter what others say and that B&H wants to be part of countries that protect peace in the entire world.

 

Dodik: Komsic is not visiting London on behalf of B&H Presidency (ATV)

 

Serb member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik told ATV that the visit of B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic to the UK is not on behalf of B&H Presidency. He stressed that the fact that Komsic also attended a commemoration for late former High Representative (HR) Paddy Ashdown in London represents provocation of Serbs and it has nothing to do with an official visit. Dodik added that “Ashdown remained remembered here as an international wrongdoer, who violated all positive local and international legal acts during his term.” “Komsic thinks that Paddy Ashdown was an important person, and we think that his work was disastrous for B&H as a whole. Ashdown left the Dayton Agreement, on whose devastation he worked to the maximum, and while dealing with political corruption he gained significant material benefit from B&H”. Dodik also said that if B&H had an enemy in its post-war history, it was Paddy Ashdown. Thanks to Ashdown’s activities, which he characterized as actions of the worst occupiers, B&H is far from a normal community nowadays” Dodik said. “Paddy Ashdown abused the Dayton Agreement to detriment of Serbs. He did everything against us (Serbs) here (in B&H). We have no reasons to remember him by any good deed, but only by bad deeds.

 

Dodik assessed, noting that Komsic did not miss an opportunity to lobby for the NATO path of B&H presenting himself as B&H Presidency Chairman in his address.

 

Dodik stated that as far as SNSD is concerned, B&H will not become the NATO member state. He said that he will not agree to the NATO integration although Sarajevo-based politicians use this as a condition for formation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), adding that the fact that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic might therefore find partners in SDS and PDP and that these parties warmly welcome such statements is not surprising. Dodik underlined that Republika Srpska (RS) will certainly have its say regarding all the obstructions from Sarajevo, reminding that the RS National Assembly (RSNA) will put an end to many issues launched by both the Federation of B&H politicians and the international community – including the story about Bonn Powers. According to Dodik, some of these issues will be included in a political platform SNSD plans to present before the RSNA.

 

US’ Palmer: Komsic and Dzaferovic were clear in statements that they want B&H to move forward by submitting ANP (Dnevni list)

 

US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer said that as far as the fact new authorities have not been formed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) ten months after the elections, he believes an agreement can be reached soon. According to Palmer, members of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic were clear in their statements that they want B&H to move forward by submitting the Annual National Program (ANP) to NATO. He further noted that he hopes that leaders in B&H, members of the Presidency of B&H are in position to reach a compromise solution so everyone emerges as a winner.

 

Croatia

 

Pupovac: I am neither a Chetnik, nor secret collaborator of Serbian authorities (Hina)

 

President of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) addressed the public, after sharp reactions to his statements following the attack on Serbs in Croatia. Milorad Pupovac had read a statement in which he said that since August 23, when the last press conference was held with regards to the series of attacks on the Serbs, his concern for the rise of hatred towards the Serbs in Croatia annoyed lots of people.

“Some were particularly bothered by my fear that this can lead today’s Croatia to a state of hatred characteristic for the age of the quisling NDH (Independent State of Croatia). The reactions are still there, so I came here, in front of you, encouraged with those reactions, as my fears and concerns are today less intense than a fortnight ago, as there were never so many condemns and distancing of present-day Croatia from NDH” Pupovac said. I believe that many people think that today’s Croatia should have nothing to do with the ideology of hatred and violence, and if there are something like that elsewhere, it should be eradicated, he said, encouraging all people in Croatia to jointly eliminate all Ustasha letters from the traffic signs, as well as to punish the chanting of the rhyme “Ready for the battle”.  Still, when asked by the press whether he will apologize for the statements that he had given, that caused so strong reactions, he said that he was also called names, among others Chetnik and a killer, and that he had never asked for an apology, Pupovac concluded. He pointed out that this is a part of political struggle through which, as he said, he has to go.

President of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said that this party still hadn’t made decision on whether they will leave or remain in the ruling coalition, and that it will be discussed on today’s sessions of the party, as well as during the talks with the coalition partners in the forthcoming days.

 

Republic of North Macedonia

 

Meeting of party leaders fails as Zaev refuses to allow placing his Government under investigative scrutiny (Republika)

The meeting between Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski yesterday evening failed. The two were discussing the law on state prosecutors until deep into the night, but could not agree on the principles of the issue or on the personnel choices.

Zaev, who already appointed the OJO/PPO chief Public Prosecutor Ljubomir Joveski, demanded to have another loyalist Vilma Ruskoska as head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office. This would’ve ensured that his intense campaign of political persecution of the opposition can continue despite the major corruption scandal that brought down Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva.

The opposition side insisted that having Ruskoska at the helm of the SPO would mean direct Government interference in the judiciary and would shield Zaev for any responsibility for his crimes perpetrated in office. It would also pardon all those involved in Janeva’s racketeering scandal, VMRO-DPMNE sources say was their position during the meeting.

Pro-Government sources briefing the press acknowledged that the main sticking point was the fact that VMRO-DPMNE insisted on tasking the next Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption against officials of the ruling SDSM party and not only go after opposition officials, as Janeva did. The opposition also wanted to have the next Special Prosecutor be an actual heir to the SPO office and carry on working on the cases initiated by Janeva, while Zaev demanded that these cases are given to OJO and Joveski, which would allow him to continue persecuting VMRO-DPMNE officials with the highly partisan charges initiated by Janeva since 2015.

 

Palmer: North Macedonia soon to become NATO’s 30th member (Nezavisen vesnik)

 

Matthew Palmer, US special envoy to the Western Balkans, said he was confident that North Macedonia would soon become NATO’s 30th member. “There are several member states that should ratify the accession protocol, including the United States. It requires an internal procedure in the Senate and hopefully everything will be completed by December. If that doesn’t happen, then we will set another date in a few months,” Palmer said. According to Palmer, the US supports a stable Western Balkans integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions, unlike Russia, which wants a region based on disorder and distrust. “We see the Western Balkans as a member of the family of Western countries, integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as countries that cooperate on the basis of rules and norms. The Russians have shown they want a region based on disorder and distrust. I think we saw this most clearly in Montenegro when the Russians backed the coup in 2016 to prevent the country from joining NATO” Palmer said.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Serbs ignore EU warning over plan to join Russian-led trade bloc (The Moscow Times)

 

Serbia’s plan to join a Russian-led economic union is drawing fire from the European Union, which the Balkan nation says it wants to be part of. The EU’s executive commission has made clear that Serbia will have to cancel any bilateral trade agreements with other countries if and when it joins the EU, and leaders said they’d rather see Belgrade aligning its policies more with the bloc’s. Serbian officials have ignored the criticism and will sign a deal to join the Eurasian Economic Union on Oct. 25. The Russian-led bloc also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The plan is “not a hindrance to European integration” Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said by email last week. The European Commission’s warning isn’t going to “affect Serbia’s decision to enter into this agreement in Moscow” he said. The EU has no say over which groups Serbia joins while it’s not a member, but some of its representatives indicated they would like to see greater commitment to membership, especially after an EU progress report earlier this year showed that Serbia was only partially aligning its foreign and security policies with the EU’s.

 

Serb leaders have said that EU membership is a priority, a goal they hope to achieve around the middle of next decade. At the same time, Serbia has historic and religious ties with Russia, which is helping it prevent the further recognition of Kosovo in international bodies. Additionally, Russia has donated fighter jets and tanks to Serbia and Serb leaders, including President Alexandar Vucic, are frequent visitors to Moscow.

“You can’t be marching in several directions at the same time” Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, who spent years working in the Balkans, said last month in Helsinki. “If you’re serious about your European orientation then obviously you make political decisions that bring you closer to it. This is not one of them.”

The Eurasian Economic Union, established by Russian President Vladimir Putin to create a rival to the EU’s open market and help rebuild Moscow’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union, has four other members aside from Russia. Economists in Belgrade have also questioned the benefit of the trade membership for Serbia, whose main export markets are in western Europe, not in the east.

“Russia accounts for only one quarter of what we export to Germany and Italy,” said Ivan Nikolic, an economist and member of central bank’s advisory council. “We are accessing a new market but the question is what we can offer. We are exporting food products, and fruit and vegetables, but we are not price competitive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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