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Belgrade Media Report 14 October

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LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: The attempt to abolish the Serb List will cause catastrophic consequences (Tanjug/B92)
• Opening ceremony of 141st IPU Assembly (Tanjug)
• Chilean parliament speaker: Chile stands by its position and will not change it: Chile respects Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty (Tanjug)
• Gojkovic meets parliament speakers of Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt (Tanjug/RTS)
• Brnabic: Belgrade never severed economic ties with Kosovo (Beta)
• Vucic: No one offers us anything; no one will give us anything (Beta/Tanjug)
• Dodik: I do not know why are they still trying to preserve Bosnia (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Komsic: ANP is internal matter of B&H; Issue about ANP refers to respecting of laws and decisions of B&H institutions (Avaz)
• Komsic comments Dodik-Erdogan relationship (Face TV)
• Covic: HNS will initiate discussions on amending of B&H Election Law on Monday (BHT1)
• Dodik: SNSD completely understands and supports HNS’s stance on need for amendments to B&H Election Law (Srna)
• Kavazovic reelected Head of Islamic Community in B&H (TV1)
Montenegro
• Elections Code of Conduct requests acceptance of election results (Dan)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Zaev believes he will get the EU accession date, won’t allow early elections even if he doesn’t (Republika)
• Nikoloski expects no date to open EU accession talks, says only early elections can help us now (Alfa TV/Republika)
• Nikoloski asked that Macedonia is given a date to open accession talks during his meetings in Rome and the Vatican (Republika)
• French veto looms over Macedonia (Republika)
Albania
• How Venice’s Commission final report changed (ADN)
• Kurti wants Albania to see Serbia through eyes of Kosovo (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Macron Seeks to Slow EU Expansion in Blow to Balkan Aspirations (Bloomberg)
• Let’s move forward in the western Balkans (politico.eu)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: The attempt to abolish the Serb List will cause catastrophic consequences (Tanjug/B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has come forward after Pristina’s latest manipulations and threats of abolishing the Serb List. He warned on the very bad development and called on Western partners and the so-called Kosovo to come to their senses in order to avoid catastrophic consequences of such a move. “I am highly concerned due to the situation on Kosovo and Metohija, especially given the fact that Albanians will attempt to make decision on abolishing the Serb List,” Vucic said in a discussion he conducted with the Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko. He stressed that the Serb List is a party that had won 96 percent of the votes of Kosovo Serbs and that it had the support of Belgrade. The Serbian President said that it’s strange that none of the Serbs present in the Central Election Commission reported any symptoms of poisoning when the envelopes with votes cast in Serbia were opened.

Still, members of the Kosovo Central Election Commission reported alleged allergic reactions to envelopes with votes brought in from Serbia. Presently, Vucic reiterated, they are not sure whether they were poisoned, they do not know what else to think up, so they decided to abolish the Serb List. That will, according to Serbian President, cause catastrophic consequences in relations between Serbs and Albanians. “There will be no Serbs in the institutions and when there are no Serbs in institutions you know where they will be and how they will have to defend their freedom and homes,” Vucic said. He said that official Belgrade had asked its Western partners to act reasonably, denying Kosovo Albanians their support to achieve what he called their sick goals. Otherwise, I’m afraid that we will face a catastrophe. Vucic sad that everything the West and Pristina did, they did together with the goal of destroying the Serb List. “That is of great concern to us,” he said, adding: “I want to thank Russia. I’ve scheduled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in December and I look forward to the meeting. I expect Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit soon to jointly celebrate the liberation of Belgrade and Serbia. Thank you for your personal commitment to establishing the closest relations with Serbia. We hope you will visit us even more often in future,” he said. Vucic said that political and economic relations between Serbia and Russia are excellent and he once again thanked Valentina Matviyenko and Russian President for their support in preserving the territorial integrity of our country. “Economic relations are excellent, trade in goods is growing, and most importantly, we highly appreciate Russia’s firm and constant stance on preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia. I want to thank you personally and President Putin for your ongoing support. Our political relations are very good and I think your visit strengthens further both political and economic relations,” Vucic said to Matviyenko, addressing her in Russian.

 

Opening ceremony of 141st IPU Assembly (Tanjug)

 

The 141st Assembly of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) opened on 13 October at the Sava Centre in Belgrade will last until 17 October. The event will gather 2,000 participants from approximately 150 countries. The meeting was inaugurated by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and was attended by Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic, IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron and Geneva Office General Tatiana Valovaya. Vucic said that Serbia is a free and sovereign country that pursues its own policy and wants to cultivate friendship with everyone. Vucic also stressed that Serbia is the only country that can hold such a session in Europe today. “I want to express gratitude to IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron for reminding us that Belgrade, Serbia is the only place where this session can be organized. In all others, there are some hindrances, impediments for some countries. In Serbia, there are no obstacles for anyone from you, from all parts of the world. I am proud that you are all in Serbia. It seems that Serbia is the only country that can organize such a session in Europe today, because we are a free and independent country that wants to cherish friendship with everyone,” said Vucic, welcoming the participants. He assessed the gathering to be one of the most significant international events in modern history, with 2,000 members attending it, from 150 parliaments. “It’s not just a testament to the impact that the IPU has, but more importantly, how little it takes to make big dreams come true,” he added. Vucic noted that today, in a world often still based on political nightmares, parliamentarians are the part of the community that can and must dream different dreams. “It doesn’t matter how big the obstacles are, and how strong diverse interests are, it’s important that we don’t give up those dreams. A world of dialogue, compromise, peace is possible, just like Frédéric Passy and Randal Cremer, the founders of Inter-Parliamentary Union did, word for word, meeting after meeting, faith without giving up,” Serbian President emphasized. Perseverance and belief, genuine commitment, were and still are, he argues, the only way to ensure a world suitable for living, and parliament was created so that people can resolve their disputes and conflicts through conversation, to establish rules that will apply to everyone. As he said, the world of dialogue and compromise is possible, but the world is still far from that ideal, noting that the same rules do not apply to everyone. “We, small nations, are sometimes deprived of both justice and money and development. Sometimes it seems we are isolated, but today the libertarian part of the world is waking up, and people seem to feel again that independence, sovereignty and freedom to decide is something worth fighting for,” Vucic said. Vucic pointed out that a few days ago, at least three countries – Serbia, Northern Macedonia and Albania – succeeded in signing the agreement on enabling free flow of goods, people, services and capital in the market of 20 million people, so he encouraged and invited others to join. “It is the most significant step we have made since the wars, a path that leads to peace, understanding and mutual progress. It is the best call I can make to all of us together to find ways to end conflicts and to be able to participate in the benefits without fear of loss of identity and anything else,” he said. “Also today, as we have always been able to do, we tell everyone today that there is no greater value than our freedom. We will not allow anyone to compromise our independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, but also the right to decide on our future. We have restored our right to make our own decisions, not only to ask the great powers, but to bravely protect basic human rights, first and foremost, the right to choose our future, and we will not stop doing this. We will cherish that right,” Vucic said. He expressed hope that parliamentarians from around the world would have the opportunity to get to know Serbia and its people, who as he said, highly appreciate and love them. “We have learned to love people from Africa, Latin America, Asia, from all continents, because we were part of the Non-Aligned Movement, but also because we knew that we should never turn our backs on friends when it’s hard because we know that only few of them stood with us when in times of trouble for Serbia,” Vucic said, opening the 141st IPU session. The IPU President welcomed all present and emphasized that it is a great honor to address the opening of the 141st IPU Assembly. After 20 years, this is the first time that the IPU Assembly is outside Geneva. For the past 56 years, Belgrade has been through turbulent times since it first hosted the Assembly, she said. Gojkovic welcomed the guests and stated that delegations from 149 parliaments are present. The Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva stressed that the UN attaches great importance to cooperation with the Interparliamentary Union. The central theme of the IPU Assembly session is “The Role and Mechanisms of Parliament in Strengthening International Law and the Contribution of Regional Cooperation”. Participants will discuss gender equality, youth empowerment, the defense of MPs’ human rights and universal health care. Serbia became one of the first members of the IPU in 1891, shortly after the founding of that international organization in 1889. The IPU is a global organization of national parliaments, founded 130 years ago as the first multinational political organization in the world to foster cooperation and dialogue between countries.

 

Chilean parliament speaker: Chile stands by its position and will not change it: Chile respects Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty (Tanjug)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic met with the parliament speaker of Chile Iván Flores García who is taking part in the 141st IPU Assembly in Belgrade. Gojkovic thanked Chile for respecting Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, international law and UNSC Resolution 1244. Gojkovic also thanked Chile for its support in international organizations during Kosovo’s attempts to join, hoping that Chile would continue to support Serbia’s position during the Interpol General Assembly in Chile, because having Kosovo join Interpol goes against international law and the rules and objectives of Interpol itself. García stressed that Chile respects Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and considers respecting international law and the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty highly important. His country does not recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija and cannot endorse its Interpol bid. Chile stands by its position and will not change it. Gojkovic and García opined that the two countries enjoy friendly political relations without outstanding issues and are both interested in developing cooperation in a number of areas.

 

Gojkovic meets parliament speakers of Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic had meetings with the parliament speakers of the Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia and the Arab Republic of Egypt, whom she welcomed to Belgrade, thanking them for their participation in the annual assembly. In the meeting with the speaker of parliament of the Arab Republic of Egypt Ali Abdel Aal, Gojkovic emphasized the importance of promoting the two countries’ long-standing history of traditionally good and friendly relations crowned by the 110th anniversary last year. Gojkovic and Aal opined that the fruitful cooperation dating back to the Non-Aligned Movement is an excellent starting point to continue to develop a comprehensive cooperation in modern times and the two parliaments are ready to open a new chapter in the relationship between Serbia and Egypt. Gojkovic and Aal talked about the modern challenges the two countries face and the significance of mutual support on matters of importance for Serbia and Egypt. Aal thanked Serbia for the support it gives Egypt in all international forums, adding that the two countries’ joint committee headed by their respective foreign ministers is testament to their growing relations. Gojkovic informed the speaker of parliament of the Arab Republic of Egypt about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija and Pristina’s unilateral moves, stressing that it is crucial that Pristina recognize the importance of dialogue. Gojkovic and Aal opined that the two countries’ commitment to strengthening parliamentary ties and cooperation in general was confirmed both during the Serbian parliament speaker’s visit to Egypt, and the Egyptian parliament speaker’s participation in the IPU Assembly in Belgrade.

Gojkovic also met with the parliament speaker of the Seychelles Nicholas Prea whom she thanked for taking part in the IPU Assembly in Belgrade, opining that the high-level political representation and open dialogue on burning global issues provide a strong platform to face key global processes. Gojkovic thanked the parliament speaker for the Seychelles not recognizing the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija and showing that they respect international law, which is an important topic that will be discussed at the IPU Assembly.

Gojkovic said she stood ready to develop interparliamentary cooperation at all levels, stressing that it would be smart to utilize the growing importance of parliamentary diplomacy in the development of bilateral relations and that it is up to the parliament to encourage the governments to develop cooperation as well. The parliament speaker of the Seychelles said that, though geographically distant, Serbia and the Seychelles, both countries and peoples, know one another and share a friendship, adding that the Seychelles have a Serbian community.

Gojkovic also talked strengthening cooperation with the parliament speaker of South Africa Thandi Ruth Modise, with the two parliament speakers highlighting the good political relationship between the two countries, with no outstanding issues, opining that they should work on developing a comprehensive cooperation in the coming period. Gojkovic thanked South Africa for respecting Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and for its support during so-called “Kosovo’s” attempts to join international organizations. The two parliament speakers also stressed the importance of dialogue. Gojkovic said that Serbia is ready to strengthen parliamentary ties, mentioning that it is the only European country to have a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Pan-African Parliament, which testifies to its commitment to cooperation with traditional friends such as the African countries. Parliament Speaker Thandi Ruth Modise said it was an honour to visit Serbia, one of the founders of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, stressing that Serbia has a lot of friends in South Africa.

Gojkovic also met with the parliament speaker of Namibia Peter Katjavivi. The two heads of parliament opined that their respective countries’ traditionally good relations should continue to grow, and Gojkovic thanked Namibia for its support of Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and during so-called “Kosovo’s” attempts to join international organizations.

Katjavivi said it was a pleasure to visit Serbia, adding that Namibia hopes to strengthen the friendship between the two peoples and advance cooperation between the parliaments and the private sector, and praised Serbia’s cooperation with the Pan-African Parliament. Katjavivi said that he had come to Belgrade during Namibia’s fight for freedom and independence and he truly appreciates the Serbian people’s support and solidarity, strong ties from the past and cooperation in the Non-Aligned Movement.

 

Brnabic: Belgrade never severed economic ties with Kosovo (Beta)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Friday that Serbia never broke off economic links with Kosovo before Pristina imposed the 100 percent taxes on Serbian goods. “Not in 2004 after the pogrom of the Serbs, not in 2008 after Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, nor when the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric was arrested – companies from Serbia proper were at a business fair in Pristina a day later,” she told reporters at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. “Those ties were never broken as in November 2018 when Pristina imposed the 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,” she said.

Brnabic said that the US President’s envoy to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Ambassador Richard Grenell said the focus should be on the economy and added that she told him that trade never stopped. “We always said that the economy should lead the way when political ties are hard to achieve,” she said. Commenting Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s call for Kosovo’s leaders to lend support to the dialogue which he said should end in mutual recognition, Brnabic said that she hopes the dialogue will continue soon once the tariffs are revoked and the signed regional agreements implemented. “That is the minimum minimum,” she said, adding that Rama’s words were completely opposed to what she discussed with Grenell.

 

Vucic: No one offers us anything; no one will give us anything (Beta/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Friday, that regarding Kosovo, no one is offering us anything, there is no offer on demarcation, no one will give us anything; a 100 countries that have recognized Kosovo’s independence won’t change their mind and want to see Serbia without Kosovo, Beta reported. Vucic said Serbia’s difficult position should be understood, and the people should not be lied to that our position is easier than it was.

He recalled that everyone says I’m a traitor, and that he was brought to sign something regarding Kosovo. “Everyone says I have promised to sign something. What to sign – nothing,” Vucic said. He called on people to dethrone him if they thought it would be better to have someone else who would swear at every politician whose country had recognized Kosovo’s independence.

Vucic said that no one wanted a compromise he had offered, without ever mentioning what that compromise was, and that the winner of Kosovo elections Albin Kurti did not want it either.

Kurti, according to Vucic, advocates even stronger the same policy championed by former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and that was not a good message to the Serbs.

 

Dodik: I do not know why are they still trying to preserve Bosnia (Politika)

 

Politika carried a lengthy interview with member of B&H Presidency from the RS Milorad Dodik in which he stated that a country, such is B&H can successfully live only if principles of partnership and consensus are respected, but policies coming from Sarajevo are opposite to these principles and it is clear that Bosniaks prefer politics where they take “loyal subjects” for associates, because they do not need partners. “Such politics, which they are now trying to impose to Serbs- by presenting impossible conditions for forming of authorities in joint B&H bodies- after they liked it when they did it to Croats by electing Zeljko Komsic, is only a path for B&H to lose any sense and represents moving toward its dissolution”, said Dodik. He stated that adoption of Annual National Program in order to activate Membership Action Plan cannot be a condition for authority formation and stressed that this condition has been designed deliberately, so that “Sarajevo would not get partners from the RS”. Speaking about authority formation, Dodik stressed that election winners among the three peoples are well known, and SNSD is one of the winners and he added that the standstill occurred every time when election winners were not respected. He noted that the only condition that should be respected in authority formation process is the election result. Dodik goes on and accuses Sarajevo of having hidden intentions, being that they insist on NATO issue, for which they knew in advance that cannot pass. “Nobody from the RS will breach RS parliament Resolution on Military Neutrality. Persisting on this means pushing B&H into total blockade. A year without Council of Ministers proves that B&H, in fact, is not even necessary, because it is evident that it is possible to live without that. The RS formed its authority. I no longer have will and desire, nor my people insist to have the authority formed,” said Dodik. Asked about his announcement that the RS parliament will adopt an answer to SDA Program Declaration, Dodik said that RS parliamentA session will be scheduled for the end of October, underlining that this is the first time that they gathered such a professional team to prepare documents, which will present not only an answer to the Declaration. “SDA’s partisan document is only a tip of something that the High Representative was doing for years, which he encouraged and which is his end goal. There is no Bosnian identity and the only republic that can exist here is Republic of Srpska. Everything that the High Representative was doing here, cannot stay and be legal, because it was done contrary to the regulations and the Dayton Agreement. All that, starting from the SDA Declaration and things that the international community did, will be included into the RS parliament conclusions, which will be based on Constitution and the Dayton. The basic thing of our intentions is not to allow to forget that the so called Bonn Powers were a complete sham and a fraud, that they were not based on the law, but they were a base through interventions of the HR and through imposing of solutions, for changing the political system in B&H. We have to react to this fact and must not allow someone to think that this was a done deal. We will reject such practice and Bonn powers and ask for dialogue with the FBa7H about this,. i.e. about all issues that were imposed by the High Representative. This means the Army, indirect taxation and others,” said Dodik. Talking about the recent meeting in Belgrade with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Dodik first of all commended these two leaders, noting that it was irritating to hear Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic saying how everything is great in B&H, so he had to explain to Erdogan that B&H does not have authority for a year now. After Erdogan said that B&H should first form authority and then deal with other things, Komsic and Dzaferovic argued that it is first necessary to accept certain conditions. Dodik stressed that there will be no conditioning and that the RS is not making any conditions, even though it has every reason to: “However, one thing should finally be clear, we will not join NATO, nor we will allow moving toward that Alliance, but we can cooperate. They are trying to deceive us with some documents, which should not be accepting of the Alliance’s membership plan. But along with possibility for NATO to interpret it differently. Therefore, only a document where the first sentence will say that this document cannot be taken as MAP, is possible”.

 

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Komsic: ANP is internal matter of B&H; Issue about ANP refers to respecting of laws and decisions of B&H institutions (Avaz)

 

Dnevni avaz carried a lengthy interview with Croat member of B&H Presidency and DF leader Zeljko Komsic who first of all commented the recent visit to Serbia. He noted that he can say that this visit was better than the last one, when then member of B&H Presidency Dragan Covic offered B&H’s sovereignty on a silver platter and Bakir Izetbegovic was forced to undo the damage. He noted that after long time the minimal base for better relations in the future, have been established, adding that it would be really good if everyone would start working and stop bickering about elementary things, such is sovereignty of B&H. Komsic believes that relations between Serbia and B&H can be organized on principle of mutual respect. Commenting the trilateral meeting in Belgrade, Komsic explained that focus was on strengthening of trilateral cooperation and improving of relations through strengthening of economic cooperation.

Asked if trilateral meeting resulted in getting closer of stances among three members of B&H Presidency, concerning the Annual National Program (ANP) and forming of the Council of Ministers, Komsic said that it has not, but he did not expect that nor thinks that it is necessary. “ANP is internal matter of B&H. We cannot call on someone, in this case Serbia, not to interfere with B&H’s internal matters and expect them to get our stances closer regarding the reforms which concern NATO i.e. stances on submitting of ANP. Anyway, those are not stances, but positions, where one respects the law and the other does not. Those cannot be stances”, said Komsic. He also stated that forming of authorities in B&H was not matter of discussion in Belgrade: “B&H authority is formed in Sarajevo not Belgrade. I just stated there that Belgrade has to recognize Sarajevo as a capital of B&H. After such message it would be completely senseless and in fact contradictory to expect meeting in Belgrade to result in forming of new authorities”. Asked if he thinks that Serb member of B&H Presidency, Milorad Dodik will soften his stances, Komsic said this is a question for Dodik and noted that Dodik was nervous and tensed and it seems as if he is going to explode, but luckily he did not. “However, I still think that he needs to pull himself together. If he advocates EU accession, at least he says that he does, then he will have to find peace with a fact that you first enter the front yard then the house, i.e. that NATO is security lobby of the EU. This proves the experience of countries of the so called East Lager who joined the EU”, said Komsic.  He underlined that example of North Macedonia proves that getting closer to NATO results in increase of foreign investments and wonders what is Dodik thinking: “That people in the RS find his sale of apples and rakia- schnapps more important than the investments into economy which is on life-support? Dodik will soften when the financial system in the RS, which is on the verge, collapses and Russia provides the moral support. However, I do not want this to happen this way, because the RS citizens would suffer and I see them as mine as well”.   Asked about possible compromise for ANP, Komsic said that every solution which is based on respecting of laws and decisions of B&H institutions is acceptable to him. Asked to comment forming of FB&H authorities and fact that HDZ B&H insists on changes of the Election Law, Komsic said that proposals which are based on strengthening of ethnic discrimination and legalization of apartheid are not relevant. “European Commission’s Opinion run them over as train does a rat on the railway. It is completely contradictory to those, I feel free to say, failed ideas. Everyone is aware of this, including HDZ B&H which is doing nothing by mentioning these proposals, but putting make-up on a dead man”, said Komsic. He stressed that Election Law should be organized in line with European not outdated standards. He concluded that it would be better if HDZ B&H would declare if they support submission of ANP and if they are in favor of NATO or strengthening of Russian influence. “I claim they are in favor of increased Russian influence”, said Komsic, noting that one part of Zagreb sees this and the other part ignores it.

 

Komsic comments Dodik-Erdogan relationship (Face TV)

 

Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic confirmed that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did say he believes “it would be very good to conclude the process of formation of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM)” and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic asked Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to “ease up a little”. “Both (Bosniak member Sefik) Dzaferovic and I told Vucic and Erdogan that this process will not be concluded without (adoption of) the Annual National Program (ANP), i.e. continuation of BiH’s path towards the NATO,” Komsic said in an interview for Face TV. On Saturday) Komsic assessed that Dodik’s “glorification” of President Erdogan derives from the fact that Turkey recently bought the RS’ securities. “I notice the change in his behavior towards Turkey. Did it change due to relations between Serbia and Turkey?,” Komsic asked and continued: “He made a reckless statement during one interview, which most of the B&H media did not catch. He said that Turkey was acceptable for him from the moment it decided to buy the securities which the RS Government issued”. Komsic underlines that Dodik based all his relationships on money and personal interest, which is why Turkey is currently acceptable. “When that changes, he will continue to speak ill of Turkey,” he concluded.

 

Covic: HNS will initiate discussions on amending of B&H Election Law on Monday (BHT1)

 

The leader of HDZ B&H and the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) Dragan Covic announced that HNS will officially initiate holding of discussions on amending the Election Law of BH as early as on Monday. Asked if HDZ B&H still insists that the FB&H government cannot be formed without amending of the Election Law of B&H, Covic specified that this is not a condition but rather a clear stance towards the current situation in B&H. “We will start talks with SDA and other Bosniak partners, in order to be able to try and remove the doubts of whether the elections will be held in Mostar next year. However, we should do so through institutions of B&H. It is also necessary to welcome the general elections of 2020 in a more relaxed atmosphere in which legitimacy of representatives of peoples in authorities would be guaranteed,” said Covic. He underscored that the Election Law has to be amended as that is a precondition for normal functioning of the authorities, warning that the biggest responsibility to amend it lies on SDA and HDZ B&H as representatives of Bosniak and Croat peoples. The HDZ B&H leader dismissed a possibility for HDZ B&H to give up on its demand for amending of the Election Law. In his opinion, the current crisis is very deep, so it would be irresponsible to “create new experiments, without having eliminated issues with illegitimate representation of peoples”. He noted that, due to these issues, there are currently “two Bosniak members in the B&H Presidency”.

 

Dodik: SNSD completely understands and supports HNS’s stance on need for amendments to B&H Election Law (Srna)

 

SNSD leader Milorad Dodik told the Srna on Friday that SNSD completely understands and supports the stance of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) on the need for amendments to the B&H Election Law. In his opinion, many problems in B&H would not exist if Sarajevo did not misuse the electoral system by sidelining two or at least one constituent people. “Therefore, the HNS’ request is justified and good for B&H, if we are talking about B&H as a country of equal peoples and entities. If one people is more equal than the other two peoples, there is no balance and it affects the entire system,” Dodik was quoted as saying while commenting on the HNS’ initiative for amendments to the B&H Election Law. The fact that Zeljko Komsic was elected the Croat member of the B&H Presidency with the votes of Bosniaks – once again confirms that there are shortcomings in the system where someone is called a ‘Croat’ member despite being elected with the votes of Bosniaks, according to Dodik. “We should understand dissatisfaction of Croats as SNSD advocates equality of everyone in B&H,” Dodik stressed

 

Kavazovic reelected Head of Islamic Community in B&H (TV1)

 

Husein Kavazovic was reelected to the post of Head of Islamic Community in B&H for the next seven years, in Sarajevo on Saturday. He received 291 votes and his counter-candidate, the former Sandzak Mufti and current representative in the Serbian parliament Muamer Zukorlic, received 82 votes. Addressing the press conference after the election, Kavazovic stated that it is very important that the Islamic Community in B&H has unity and integrity. He stressed that the Islamic Community in B&H will continue with its further development in a faster pace, but it will keep its current course advocating the path of goodness as a corrective of society. President of the Assembly of the Islamic Community in B&H Safet Softic said that the Islamic Community in B&H has demonstrated high level of democracy in the elections.

 

Elections Code of Conduct requests acceptance of election results (Dan)

 

Draft Election Code of Ethics includes the provision stipulating that all political entities taking part in the elections have to accept the election results, writes Dan daily. Draft code has been prepared for the election purposes and it suggests that “a political entity is endorsing the Code by signing it.” The provision stipulating that every participant in the election has to accept the results of it is showed in Article 4 titled ‘Duties of Political Entities’. According to this document that Dan daily had the insight into, the Ethics Committee will be monitoring the implementation of the Code. “The Ethics Committee comprises the chair and six members of whom three are appointed upon the proposal of the MPs of a parliamentary majority, while the other three are appointed upon the proposal of the MPs of the opposition,” the Code says. The president of the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts (CANU) is the chair of the Ethics Committee.

 

Zaev believes he will get the EU accession date, won’t allow early elections even if he doesn’t (Republika)

 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he is certain that the European Union member states will approve the opening of the EU accession talks with Macedonia next week despite French reservations. He assured the skeptical states that Macedonia will not become a member immediately, but only wants to be allowed to begin the process. We expect to make the next step, to open the accession talks, the chapters and the accession funds so we can continue to transform our society toward a European society. I believe in President Macron. It is legitimate to open a debate about reforming the EU, the EU needs to change and to remain a world leader in the realm of democracy, competitiveness and values, but that must go hand in hand with enlargement, Zaev said. Zaev insisted that with the imposed name change, Macedonia did more than all the other candidate countries. When asked whether failure to open the accession talks would mean early general elections, Zaev demurred. We are not considering that because I don’t think we would get a negative decision. And even if the decision is negative, we should not go to early elections, because the time until the regular elections is precious and needs to be used for economic transformation, Zaev said.

 

Nikoloski expects no date to open EU accession talks, says only early elections can help us now (Alfa TV/Republika)

 

In an interview with Alfa TV, VMRO-DPMNE deputy president Aleksandar Nikoloski says that the expectations from the European Council are bleak and that it is unlikely that Macedonia will be decoupled from Albania. Keeping the two countries in a group would make it all but impossible for Macedonia to open EU accession talks next week. The best Macedonia can hope for is a lot of conditions, and once they are met, to open the actual accession talks in a year and half or two. The decision for the date is being pushed for mid next year, Nikoloski said, adding that it is not just France but other EU member states as well that oppose the accession talks.

Nikoloski blamed the Zaev regime for giving way too much material to the opponents of EU accession to ask for a postponement, citing the major racketeering scandal and the pervasive corruption. I was told that there will be no decoupling from Albania because even then we would see both countries vetoed. Major member states believe that Macedonia has not delivered on the reforms and is now sadly at the same level with Edi Rama’s Albania, Nikoloski added.

Nikoloski calls for early elections which, he adds, may help Macedonia decouple from Albania, open the accession talks in 2020, and begin to heal from the harmful effects of the treaties Zaev signed with Greece and Bulgaria.

 

Nikoloski asked that Macedonia is given a date to open accession talks during his meetings in Rome and the Vatican (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE deputy leader Aleksandar Nikoloski sent out a call to the European Union member states to approve the opening of accession talks with Macedonia next week. Nikoloski was in Rome, where he was meeting with Italian right wing and conservative parties, as well as with Vatican representatives. During the meetings, Nikoloski pointed to the numerous defects in the area of rule of law in Macedonia under the Zaev regime. At the same time we ask that the citizens of Macedonia are not made victims of Zaev’s policies, and sacrificed to his corruption and incompetence. It is important that the European Council reaches a positive decision this coming week, and that the government resigns shortly after so we can hold early general elections and have competent and responsible people implement the reforms through VMRO-DPMNE, Nikoloski said.

 

French veto looms over Macedonia (Republika)

 

As Radio Free Europe reported that Macedonia and Albania will be denied the date to open accession talks, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani says he remains optimistic, but with major reservations over France. Most of the countries said they will support the date, especially for the Republic of “North” Macedonia. This includes the Netherlands. But we still expect France to make its decision. We still don’t have its position, there are different opinions from France and there are issues raised about having a new methodology for accession talks. We don’t know when this methodology would be introduced, whether before or after the opening of the talks. So, I remain an optimist, but hold major reservations about the undefined French position, Osmani said. News outlets such as Reuters and DPA informed that France is opposed to the opening of accession talks with both countries next week, and wants the entire process reorganized before it can happen, postponing the date to next year. The latest such report came from Radio Free Europe, whose Brussels reporter says that accession talks will most likely be postponed for the summer of 2020.

 

How Venice’s Commission final report changed (ADN)

 

Nowhere in the Venice Commission’s final report is mentioned that President of Albania, Ilir Meta, has exceeded his competencies, in postponing local elections. The final report has refuted all allegations that unofficial documents revealed days ago, alleged of exceeding of competencies by President, Ilir Meta, regarding his decree to cancel June 30 elections.

Venice Commissions final report states that:

“In response to the political crisis in the country and an electoral boycott by several major political parties, the President first cancelled and then postponed local elections. Even if the Assembly were to find that the President overstepped his bounds, the Venice Commission questions whether this was of such a character as necessary to substantiate a “serious violation”.

Also the report mentiones the fact that “Council of Europe constitutional experts of the Venice Commission conclude that there are indications that his acts may not have been of a nature justifying impeachment.” Meanwhile, the Venice Commission has queried the push by Albania’s Socialist-led government to impeach President Ilir Meta, saying it doubted the move was justified. It also criticised a draft law on property right, saying it was not clear enough.

 

Kurti wants Albania to see Serbia through eyes of Kosovo (ADN)

 

The leader of the Vetevendosje Movement, Albin Kurti, has reacted to the “Small Schengen Agreement” that was initiated at the latest meeting in Novi Sad between Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Kurti said he did not oppose the initiative, but stated that Kosovo should not be excluded from such initiatives. “I want Albania to see Serbia through the eyes of Kosovo. This is very important,” he said, adding that he would talk to Rama about this agreement. As Kurti says, Kosovo is the only country in the region that does not have visa liberalization and needs their liberalization. “I mention his because they said they would form a mini Balkan Schengen when in fact these three countries already have visa liberalization. The point is for Kosovo to achieve this, not the ones that have already created the mini Balkan Schengen. I do not in principle oppose regional initiatives, but Kosovo must be respected there. To get there, I will raise this issue at the first meeting I have with the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama,” Kurti declared. The “Small Schengen” aims at easing the boundaries between the six Western Balkan countries, enabling freedom of movement for capital, goods, services and people.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Macron Seeks to Slow EU Expansion in Blow to Balkan Aspirations (Bloomberg, by Nikos Chrysoloras, 13 October 2019)

 

Balkan hopes of starting accession negotiations with the European Union hang in the balance, as France insists the bloc is not yet ready to discuss the possibility of accepting new members, documents exchanged between diplomatic missions in Brussels show. North Macedonia and Albania are keen for a green light this week to start formal talks to join the world’s largest trading club. While most member states back their request, France and the Netherlands want a complete overhaul of the enlargement process before negotiations with the two countries can begin. Paris wants any further talks to be “more gradual, more concrete in the benefits they bring to concerned countries and reversible according to the effective, tangible and sustainable implementation of reforms,” a draft communique of a ministerial meeting in Luxembourg showed. The memo was circulated on Oct. 10 by French diplomats to other EU governments. No date for formal negotiations should be given to Albania and North Macedonia before the EU completes this overhaul of its “methodology,” it said. Expansion proponents argue that the prospect of EU membership will help further anchor the troubled region to the West, while failure to set a date for the start of formal negotiations risks weakening reformist forces in Albania and North Macedonia. But western EU officials exasperated by the failure of eastern nations that joined in 2004 and 2007 to uphold the rule of law and fight corruption are wary of admitting new members.

 

At Loggerheads

Countries including Poland, Hungary and Romania — among the largest recipients of EU structural funds and agricultural aid — are at loggerheads with the European Commission over their democratic standards, and the bloc’s executive arm has so far failed to force them to fall in line. At France’s insistence, the EU said in its June communique on the topic of enlargement that admission of new members should take into account the bloc’s “capacity to integrate” them.

France and the Netherlands aren’t alone in their skepticism. Adding to the complications, countries such as Greece and Bulgaria cite bilateral issues that first need to be resolved, while others seek conditions attached to any positive nod, especially for Albania.EU ambassadors will make a last-ditch effort to broker a compromise on Monday before ministers meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday, where a decision is due to be taken. EU leaders must sign off when they meet in Brussels on Thursday. The latest draft of the decision, dated Oct. 11 and seen by Bloomberg, gives a green light for formal accession negotiations to start in the first half of next year, but “no one is happy” with the wording, according to one diplomat familiar with the deliberations.

 

Let’s move forward in the western Balkans (politico.eu, 14 October 2019)

 

Four EU foreign ministers call for accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

The decision by the European Union over whether to launch accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania comes at a time the bloc is facing numerous challenges. However, the issues before us (Brexit, migration, instability in the neighborhood, the start of the new European Commission) must not distract us from what the EU has been able to achieve in the western Balkans — and what we can still accomplish by sticking to the commitments we made in the region. Twenty years ago, the disastrous and bloody wars following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia finally came to an end. Significant parts of the region lay in ruins. The new countries of the western Balkans and their societies were devastated and needed a hand in getting out of the quagmire they had sunk into. The EU, itself a result of a peace project, understood that in order to stabilize this part of Europe it needed to motivate the governments of the western Balkan countries to rebuild, reform, and democratize their states and societies. The region also needed to unite around a common goal that would spur cooperation and facilitate reconciliation. That is why the wise decision to promise the prospect of EU membership to all the countries of the western Balkans was made at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 — just months after the accession treaties with 10 new EU member states had been signed in Athens. This historic commitment, repeated at the EU-western Balkans summit in Sofia in May 2018, reconfirmed the EU’s determination to spread stability, security, democracy and prosperity throughout the Continent and ensure a common European future. Incorporating the western Balkans into the Union is in the political, economic, and security interests of the EU. Today, 16 years after Thessaloniki, we are pleased to observe that enlargement has proved to be one of the most successful EU policies. The progress made by the western Balkan countries is impressive. They have transformed their economies, judiciary, public administration and security apparatus. We must not forget, however, that this progress would not have been possible without the clear prospect of EU membership. The goal of joining the EU serves as a powerful motivator for the governments and citizens of the western Balkan countries to undergo needed but often painful reforms. We cannot be oblivious to this reality and look for excuses not to move forward with the EU integration process. As the EU decides whether to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, it is important to note that both countries have met the criteria the EU set out for them, by putting in place complex domestic reforms. Moreover, North Macedonia has concluded the historic Prespa Agreement with Greece, resolving the long-standing dispute over the country’s name. In recognition of this impressive progress, the European Commission issued an unconditional recommendation in May 2019 to launch negotiations on EU membership with both countries. And yet, North Macedonia and Albania are still waiting for the green light from the EU’s national governments. The start of accession talks is an important step on the way to joining the EU, but it should not be confused with membership itself. EU integration is a finely balanced merit-based process that aims to help the western Balkan countries reform and prepare for EU membership while improving the quality of life of their citizens. It is also a joint strategic choice of the EU and its partners in the region. Incorporating the western Balkans into the Union is in the political, economic and security interests of the EU. Negotiations are a long-term process that will give the EU ample room for the scrutiny of the candidate countries’ reforms, including those in the crucial area of the rule of law. The years needed to complete accession talks will also provide the EU with sufficient time to thoroughly discuss and introduce changes needed for the smooth functioning of the EU before and after the admission of new members.

A positive decision will send a clear signal that the EU recognizes concrete results in meeting the conditions it sets out. North Macedonia and Albania are eagerly awaiting the beginning of a new stage of the EU integration process. The time is ripe to make a bold decision on the future of not just these two countries but the entire western Balkans and the EU as well. A positive decision will send a clear signal that the EU recognizes concrete results in meeting the conditions it sets out. It will provide the region with a fresh impetus for further reforms and transformation.

By enabling North Macedonia and Albania to take the next step in the integration process, the EU will reaffirm its commitment to the stability, security, democracy and prosperity of the region. And it will acknowledge the fact that only through the integration of the western Balkans can the EU be complete and its long-term interests properly safeguarded.

Tomáš Petříček is the Czech minister of foreign affairs. Péter Szijjártó is the Hungarian minister of foreign affairs. Jacek Czaputowicz is the Polish minister of foreign affairs. Miroslav Lajčák is the Slovak minister of foreign affairs.

 

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