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Belgrade Media Report 25 November

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• Vucic: We did not export weapons to Ukraine, Russian notified of possible re-exports (Beta/Politika)
• Ukrainian Embassy: Reports of Serbia’s arms sale to Ukraine are staged provocations (Beta)
• Dacic: We are forcing Pristina to compromise with campaign of withdrawals of recognitions (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)
• Youth key driver of social change in region (Tanjug)
• Godfrey: Both sides must reach solution for Kosovo on their own (RTS/Beta)
• Fabrizi: Mini Schengen not an obstacle but stimulus to EU membership (N1)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• SNSD Executive Board accepts information provided by Serb member of B&H Presidency Dodik on Program of Reforms of B&H (ATV)
• Chairman Komsic says that B&H has been in MAP since December 2018 (Fena)
• NATO is looking forward to cooperation with B&H based on Program of Reforms, still has not received this document (TV1)
• Interview with Chief of Joint Staff of B&H Armed Forces (Oslobodjenje)
• Border dispute with Slovenia should be settled bilaterally (Hina)
• Sheikh Mohammed Al Nahyan: I’ll do everything to build bridges that will permanently connect us (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Sassoli: Blocking North Macedonia and Albania’s accession talks as an example why EU rules need to change (Nezavisen vesnik)


• ‘I Would Probably Be Hanged in Brussels’ (Der Spiegel)
• Dodik: I will continue to prevent adoption of ANP and B&H’s NATO membership in the future (RT)

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Vucic: We did not export weapons to Ukraine, Russian notified of possible re-exports (Beta/Politika)


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic  reiterated that Serbia did not export grenades to Ukraine, and that Poland’s Natan company was the end user, but that the Security and Information Agency had notified the “friendly” Russian intelligence service that there was reasonable suspicion that the grenades were reexported to Ukraine. Commenting on fresh accusations by opposition leaders, Dragan Djilas and Marinika Tepic, that Serbian arms exported to Ukraine were allegedly used in clashes with pro-Russian forces in Donetsk and Luhansk, President Vucic said in Novi Sad that the representatives of the Party of Freedom and Justice merely wanted to put an additional strain on Serbia’s relationship with Russia. According to the Serbian president, the arms export to Poland was as clean as a whistle, because the state wasn’t involved in any conflict. “Serbia did everything by the law, in the best possible way, and there were no exports to Ukraine at all,” Vucic was adamant. “Regardless of the fact that Poland was the end user, and that the deal was “clean,” the Serbian Security and Information Agency informed Russian intelligence, as a friendly service, that there was reason to believe that the arms were re-exported to Ukraine,” Vucic explained.


Ukrainian Embassy: Reports of Serbia’s arms sale to Ukraine are staged provocations (Beta)


The Ukrainian Embassy in Serbia said that the media reports of Serbia’s selling weapons to Ukraine were a staged provocation and a clumsy attempt at discrediting the authorities of Serbia and Ukraine. The Embassy said that it viewed with sad irony the reports that Serbia had allegedly sold Ukrainians ammunition for killing Russians in eastern Ukraine, pointing out that according to the Kremlin’s reports there is no Russian army in Ukrainian territory. The Embassy also highlighted the words of Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic that even if Serbia sold weapons to Ukraine, that would not be illegal because there was no international ban on that. “Ukraine highly values the political support and concrete military and technical cooperation with our friends from numerous countries, who help us to defend our country from the Russian aggressor,” reads the statement.


Dacic: We are forcing Pristina to compromise with campaign of withdrawals of recognitions (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that Serbia, with its campaign to get countries to withdraw their recognition, isn’t working against so-called Kosovo – but wants to force Pristina to some kind of compromise. “They don’t want compromise, they say, ‘116 countries have recognized us’. Now let’s see how many have done it? Pacolli’s complained to me that I ruined his career and asked me why I was doing all this around the recognitions. We are not working against Kosovo, but to force them to make some compromise,” Dacic told TV Happy. He stated that he recently visited the Pacific region and that with most states there Serbia had no diplomatic relations. Diplomatic relations have been established with the state of Nauru in September, but still don’t exist with states such as Samoa and Vanuatu. “I can’t help but wonder what those guys before us were doing. If you don’t have diplomatic relations, it means that you have no contacts with that country, that you don’t exist for that country. They recognize Kosovo, and don’t recognize us. We allowed it. And this is not the situation in the Pacific alone,” Dacic emphasized, adding work is also being done with UNESCO and Interpol members – which are not states but represent territories, and which voted in favor of Kosovo joining those organizations – to now switch to the ‘Serb side’. Asked if the Maldives would withdraw recognition, Dacic recalled that an affair had been broken out in their parliament, around allegations that Kosovo paid two million dollars to the country’s foreign minister in exchange for recognition. “If somebody thinks we’re going to pay two million for a withdrawal of the recognition, that’s not how we talk. The one who recognized Kosovo is preparing to run against the current president of the Maldives, and that is where our interests overlap,” he concluded.


Youth key driver of social change in region (Tanjug)


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced to the youth of the Western Balkans that this generation of politicians in important positions is ready to change things, but that if they do not see it, they will miss the chance for joint change because politicians cannot do it alone.

Addressing the final panel of the 4th Regional Conference of Young Leaders in Novi Sad, Brnabic said that more critical thinking is needed to look at and understand how much the countries of the region have changed in the last five to six years. In that regard, Brnabic recalled the invitation of then Prime Minister, now President Aleksandar Vucic, to Albanian counterpart Edi Rama to come to Belgrade, which was the first time the Prime Minister of Albania to visit Serbia. Both politicians have made great strides and made tectonic changes that seem natural to us today. We need to understand what changes have happened in the last five years and continue to change our countries, Brnabic said. Also, as she pointed out, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev also made changes by accepting the changes of the country’s name, thus opening some new doors. According to Brnabic, in the Western Balkans countries too much attention is paid to what is happening within the EU, that is, much more than what is happening in their own countries and what is needed to change in order for young people to stay, and some returned. Regional stability is the only answer to make the region stronger, more attractive for young people to stay, said the Prime Minister, stressing that she does not believe that without young people we can decide for ourselves what we need to change in order to stay. She expressed her belief that all the Western Balkan countries would one day be EU members, she suggested that at present the Union has its problems, and until the whole region is integrated it is necessary to deal with itself and implement reforms.


Godfrey: Both sides must reach solution for Kosovo on their own (RTS/Beta)


US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey said that his country was striving to encourage dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, adding that any solution to the Kosovo problem that might be imposed from the outside would never stand the test of time. “As for Kosovo, any solution that can be durable will be a solution that the two parties reach on their own, the one they can live with and the one leading to regional stability,” Ambassador Godfrey said during a visit to RTS. According to the diplomat, any solution that is unfair, unbalanced or imposed from the outside will not be durable. “Our goal is to encourage the dialogue, offer an incentive and explain the benefits of a solution for the people living in the region,” he said.


Fabrizi: Mini Schengen not an obstacle but stimulus to EU membership (N1)


The EU views the so-called “Mini Schengen” as an element that will facilitate the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the Union, not as a hindrance or obstacle to the integration process, head of EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi told N1 at the Young Leaders Forum in Novi Sad. He said that it is important for them that this initiative be open to all, that is, to the complete Balkan Six, which in addition to Serbia, Albania and Northern Macedonia, includes Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo. “I think the initiative is in line with what countries are already doing in the Euro-integration process. The only new element is the identity card travel. This is the only additional item. Clearly, the political framework is there, and as long as it is in line with enlargement rules, we support that,” says Fabrizi.




SNSD Executive Board accepts information provided by Serb member of B&H Presidency Dodik on Program of Reforms of B&H (ATV)


The SNSD Executive Board accepted on Sunday the information provided by Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik on the Program of Reforms of B&H and the Board considers it very important that this document confirms that B&H is not going to the NATO and that any further decisions on this matter would have to be made again. At a press conference in Banja Luka, Dodik said that a new convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) should be formed by the end of the year and that, after that, the Program of Reforms would be activated, emphasizing that this document is not against the Republika Srpska (RS) decision on military neutrality. Dodik also confirmed that a session of the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) should be held as early as 4 or 5 December, at which Zoran Tegeltija’s candidacy for the Chairman of the B&H CoM would be confirmed. He said that ruling coalition in the RS would present its official review of the Program of Reforms of B&H as soon as this document is revealed to the public. By then, he would not further comment the adopted document, but underlines that it is important that this Program does not envisage B&H’s membership in the NATO. “There is strong proof that this document does not include something like that”, he told the reporters. Commenting on the opposition’s request to convene a special session of the RS parliament where the MPs would discuss this document, Dodik reminded that the Rules of Procedure are clear and that the session should be held if sufficient signatures are provided. “SNSD will prepare, with coalition partners, comprehensive information that will relate to the defense system and the Program of Reforms of B&H, that we will inform the RS parliament about. This document will be available after the appointment of the new convocation of the Council of Ministers and only then we can talk,” Dodik said. He reminded that the opposition did not vote for the RS’ Resolution on Military Neutrality. He noted that the fact that the Membership Action Plan (MAP) on the 150 pages had been drawn up earlier was decisive for discussions on the Program of Reforms of B&H. “The reform of police was also envisaged there (MAP) and much more that does not exist in this document (the Program of Reforms of B&H). I am also grateful to partners from the Bosniak political elite who have indicated that, if there is no will of the Serbs and the RS, there will be no NATO membership. This is somehow embedded in this story, which means there is no prejudge and a new decision is needed,” Dodik said.


Chairman Komsic says that B&H has been in MAP since December 2018 (Fena)


Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic gave a statement to Fena during his working visit to the US saying that B&H has been in the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) since December 2018. Namely, Komsic commented on Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik’s statement that the document that the B&H Presidency recently adopted does not mean activation of the MAP. In this regard, Komsic noted that Dodik should publish the document he agreed to sign, if he wants the public to believe in what he is saying. Komsic said: “B&H has been in the MAP since December of the last year. Everyone can be sure of this by consulting the official NATO website. The document that we have agreed, which we will submit to NATO according to the decision we have made, is exactly as it should be and as it is required.”


NATO is looking forward to cooperation with B&H based on Program of Reforms, still has not received this document (TV1)


NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu stated on Saturday that “we are looking forward to cooperation with B&H based on the Program of Reforms, but we still have not received this program so we cannot talk about details”. Lungescu stressed that it will pave the way for the necessary reforms – and NATO supports such reforms and helps build capacities that would bring benefits to the people of B&H.


Interview with Chief of Joint Staff of B&H Armed Forces (Oslobodjenje)


Chief of Joint Staff of B&H Armed Forces, Major General Senad Masic asked to comment NATO integration of B&H and whether he is an optimist concerning continuation of B&H path to the NATO, said that in his opinion the NATO membership contributes to long-term peace and security, economic prosperity, increase of foreign investments, as well as overall perspective of the state and its citizens. He noted that the NATO membership would give B&H an opportunity to sit at the table with NATO members as an equal and contributes to reaching of decisions, adding that the NATO and EU memberships are connected processes and while the NATO membership is not a condition for the EU accession, it facilitates pre-accession talks, being that both organizations are based on the same values. Masic elaborates that both associations are based on democracy, rule of law and security and the NATO is a synonym for safe, stable and economically prosperous country, which is based on democratic principles, which in his opinion means that significance of the NATO accession is huge for state of B&H and overall society. Asked about registering of military property, Masic said that he deems that registering of military property represents significant process in fulfilling of further tasks and obligations, underlining that defense system is an important pillar of every state. He said that he believes that this process will be completed successfully, but added that completing of this process will require much more time than it was expected, because registering of certain locations will have to go through judicial institutions.


Border dispute with Slovenia should be settled bilaterally (Hina)


President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Saturday that it was completely clear that the Slovenian state apparatus had been used to influence the outcome of international arbitration proceedings in the Croatian-Slovenian border dispute and that the dispute could be settled only bilaterally. Grabar-Kitarovic made the statement in a comment on a report by a Slovenian commission which shows that Slovenian state institutions had covered up unlawful communication between an arbitration agent and an arbitral judge. “Slovenia has finally admitted its involvement in the scandalous activities that resulted in the failure of the arbitration proceedings. It is now entirely clear that the Slovenian state apparatus was used to influence the outcome of the arbitration proceedings. Arbitration is long dead, and the dispute can be resolved only bilaterally,” Grabar-Kitarovic said. Vecernji list said that the report in question showed that by using intelligence services, the Slovenian state had participated in the covering up of communication between Slovenian arbitration agent Simona Drenik and arbitral judge Jernej Sekolec, with the Slovenian intelligence agency SOVA starting to prepare for arbitration in early 2009 while the arbitration agreement was signed in the autumn that year. The daily says that the report by the Slovenian parliamentary commission for the oversight of intelligence services proves beyond doubt that the Slovenian side had used the state apparatus and its secret services for the purpose of arbitration fraud. Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman believes that this paves the way to settling the border dispute bilaterally. “The Slovenian side has really admitted its own mistake and responsibility. I believe that that is a good way to return to the negotiating table and start negotiations because this is a bilateral issue,” Grlic Radman told reporters in Zagreb on Saturday. “As regards Croatia, good will has always existed. I believe that together with our Slovenian neighbors and friends we will find an appropriate solution,” the minister said. The Croatian parliament in late July 2015 adopted a unanimous decision to withdraw from the border arbitration agreement the two countries had signed in 2009 after Slovenia irreparably compromised the proceedings, and it proposed launching talks on an alternative way to settle the dispute.


Sheikh Mohammed Al Nahyan: I’ll do everything to build bridges that will permanently connect us (CDM)


President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic met with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of UAE Military Forces, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as part of his official visit to the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Mohammed Al Nahyan said he would do everything for the relations with Montenegro to grow, develop and build bridges that will permanently connect the two countries. “Emirates continue to encourage the private sector, to invest in Montenegro, and see Montenegro’s participation at Expo 2020 as an added value that will double the cooperation of the two countries in certain areas,” he added. President Djukanovic assessed that his formally first official visit represents the best confirmation of the trust, respect, solidarity and cooperation that the two countries cherish. “Montenegro and Emirates have developed very exemplary friendship relationships in ten years, and regular political meetings help better understanding and representation of the interests of Montenegro’s foreign policy in the countries of the Middle East and the Gulf.” He emphasized that Montenegro, being the NATO member state, extremely appreciates the role of Emirates in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, and the contribution they make in cooperation with the Alliance within the Global Coalition. Djukanovic expressed his satisfaction with the experience with investors from this country and confirmed his interest in their further participation in the economic development of Montenegro. He also thanked for the financial support of the UAE for representing Montenegro at Expo 2020, the implemented activities in the field of education with possible further operationalization of the agreed programs.


Sassoli: Blocking North Macedonia and Albania’s accession talks as an example why EU rules need to change (Nezavisen vesnik)


European Parliament President David Sassoli pointed out in an answer to a reporter’s question, blocking of the start of North Macedonia and Albania’s accession talks as an example why EU rules need to change. The European Parliament is considering implementing reforms in several aspects of EU’s decision-making process, such as the right to veto, Parliament’s legislative initiative, and discussions with national parliaments, in order to create a more functional European Union. “You saw what happened at the latest Council meeting, when the Parliament, the Commission, the Presidency, and 25 of the 28 member states said ‘yes’ for starting talks with North Macedonia and Albania, but the decision was blocked by three countries, so it’s good to revise the rules,” Sassoli said.




‘I Would Probably Be Hanged in Brussels’ (Der Spiegel, by Walter Mayr, 22 November 2019)


In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic discusses new tensions in the Balkans, his country’s efforts to improve relations with Russia and his anger at the European Union.

As president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, 49, advocates rapprochement between his country and the European Union, but at the same time, he is flirting with Moscow and Beijing. Considered a nationalist hardliner in the era of Slobodan Milosevic, who appointed him information minister, Vucic ignores his many critics and charts his own course. A lawyer by training, Vucic sees it as his role to provide a stronger voice for the Western Balkans, which have been neglected by the EU.

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. President, your next visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow was planned for Dec. 4. Are you thinking of cancelling the visit after yesterday’s revelations about the degree to which Russian intelligence agents were spying on the Serbian military?

Vucic: No, we’re not considering it. We want to further deepen our excellent and friendly relations. But of course, Serbia wants to show that it is an independent country that knows how to protect its military neutrality. We are taking a serious and responsible approach to the current situation.

DER SPIEGEL: How do you intend to restore trust with your traditional ally?

Vucic: Our nations have been friends since time immemorial. Serbia is prepared for good relations and hope that Russia is as well. What just happened, of course, isn’t easy for us. But what alternative did we have aside from taking it public? We have to protect our country.

DER SPIEGEL: Serbia’s recent foreign policy moves make it seem as though you are testing out a kind of tightrope act, with your country oscillating between the West and the East.

Vucic: Serbia continues to be on the path toward EU membership. That’s our strategic goal. At the same time, however, we have good relations with China and Russia. We have to keep an eye on survival and on Serbia’s interests, after all.

DER SPIEGEL: Was it necessary, despite massive warnings from Brussels, to sign a treaty with the Eurasian Economic Union, which unites autocratically governed countries like Belarus and Kazakhstan under Russian leadership?

Vucic: We have not become members of this union. We have only signed economic and trade agreements so that we can sell cheese, yogurt, cigarettes and cognac to Russia. As soon as we join the EU, that is, if we join at all, these agreements will become meaningless.

DER SPIEGEL: Russia can nonetheless sell this deal as a strategic victory. What did Putin promise you in return?

Vucic: He knows that these are temporary agreements. I, on the other hand, have to think of Serbia. In contrast to Romania, for example, which has received 60 billion euros from the EU to date, we have no access to EU structural funds. Nevertheless, Serbia has one of the highest economic growth rates in Europe and is running a budget surplus for the fourth consecutive year. We attract more than half of all foreign direct investment in the Western Balkans.

DER SPIEGEL: Your economic rapprochement with Russia will be billed in Moscow as Serbia distancing itself from Europe. Doesn’t that worry you?

Vucic: We have clear and fair relations with Russia. They know what I represent. That’s not the case with many EU politicians, particularly the populists. They forget where they come from just as soon as they arrive in Moscow. When I’m in Moscow, I make it clear: We are friends, but Serbia still wants to be part of the EU.

DER SPIEGEL: What interest, then, would Moscow have in drawing Serbia into its economic realm? What interest would it have in supplying Serbia with modern weapons, which recently prompted Matthew Palmer, the U.S. special representative for the Western Balkans, to threaten your country with sanctions?

Vucic: The Russians have their interests and we have ours. The Russians don’t make us any gifts, but they have given us a good price.

DER SPIEGEL: A large Russian military shipment was intercepted by Romania in July, but it nonetheless made it to Serbia by air at a later date. For what is Serbia arming itself?

Vucic: For nothing. But we are deeply grateful to the Russians, and the recent spying scandal doesn’t change that. Remember, we were the only country that didn’t impose sanctions on Russia.

DER SPIEGEL: When Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was in Belgrade in October, you laid a wreath with him at the “Death to Fascism – Freedom to the Peoples” memorial at a time when Russian soldiers are occupying parts of Georgia and Ukraine. Isn’t that just a fabricated anti-fascist tale?

Vucic: There can never be too much anti-fascism. Serbs and Russians suffered considerably under the Nazis during World War II, in part due, thanks to the Nazis, to an allegedly independent Croatian state that killed hundreds of thousands of Serbians at the time. We actually need more remembrance of those who died merely because they didn’t come from countries that the Croats or other Nazi satellite states liked.

DER SPIEGEL: When you meet with Putin or Medvedev, do you also talk about the occupation of Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine?

Vucic: Of course not. I come from a very small country and take care of our own vested interests. You Germans can talk about that with him. When I am with Angela (Merkel), we talk about how you should be buying our apples and pears.

DER SPIEGEL: That’s all?

Vucic: Of course, we also talk about the so-called “Peace Highway.” That’s the project for which I have been accused by some compatriots of being Serbia’s greatest traitor: A 77-kilometer stretch of highway to Pristina in Kosovo. For me, it’s about bridgebuilding, not about helping out with the establishment of Greater Albania, as some have accused me of doing. Merkel provided support in the form of a 20-percent loan. I ask her how she might be able to help us. I don’t care about the world stage. I care about Serbia and the Balkans. Period.

DER SPIEGEL: Yet China appears to be playing an increasingly large role for your country. You speak of a “friendship as hard as steel.” Was that because the Chinese purchased the steel mill in Smederevo?

Vucic: Yes, among other things. It is a stable friendship that I am proud of. When the Americans pulled out of the steel mill, there was talk of bankruptcy and 5,000 people were threatened with unemployment. I begged Xi Jinping to “come and save us.” He came and he delivered what he had promised. On the other hand, we didn’t get the new Volkswagen factory, despite the fact that we invested a lot and had all our hopes set on it. They decided in favor of Turkey.

DER SPIEGEL: Do you feel neglected by the EU?

Vucic: It is their decision. One thing is clear, though: I no longer want to be lectured about our China contacts by EU politicians who have been to China three times as often as I have. The Chinese bought the high-tech company Kuka in Germany, which is worth 10 times more than anything they have acquired in Serbia.

DER SPIEGEL: Whose hypocrisy are you complaining about specifically?

Vucic: I am thinking of almost every leading politician in the EU and in the West. I am not the only one who is present at the annual China-Middle and Eastern Europe summit. EU member states like Poland and Greece are also there. But everyone picks on Serbia, which is typical of the double standards we encounter over and over again.

DER SPIEGEL: Do you think more patience is shown to your neighboring country of Croatia, an EU member state?

Vucic: Do you think Serbia would be given nearly 400 million euros in EU funds so that this money could be used for a bridge to be built with the help of Chinese workers, as is taking place currently on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia? I would probably be hanged in Brussels.

DER SPIEGEL: The original plan was for Serbia to join the EU in 2025, but that’s no longer on the table. Who’s responsible? French President Emmanuel Macron, who also recently blocked accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia?

Vucic: It would be too easy to complain about Macron. The real question is this: What does the future look like for us here in the Balkans? Are you counting on us, or do you just want to buy time? Be fair to us and stop talking about performance-related admission criteria if, in the end, as the German philosopher Leibniz said, “sufficient reasons” can always be found to reject a country. What we are demanding is clarity and foresight — nothing else.

DER SPIEGEL: Is the Serbian population losing their patience?

Vucic: Surveys show that 42 percent of Serbs favor EU membership and 42 percent are against it. The rest are undecided. Those who do not want to extend a hand to Albania and North Macedonia must also expect increasing rejection in Serbia.

DER SPIEGEL: That would send a disastrous message, especially given that you have been acting for some time as a kind of spokesman for the Western Balkans.

Vucic: I was with the prime ministers of Albania and North Macedonia at the Ohrid summit and we agreed on almost every point, including that I would talk to Macron on behalf of everyone, as I did last week.

DER SPIEGEL: Apparently without much success. Is that why you’re planning your own “mini-Schengen” in the Balkans?

Vucic: We in the Balkans no longer want to be belittled or played off against each other by large EU countries. My idea of a mini-Schengen zone in the Balkans — i.e., the free movement of goods and people — is a contribution to that. We’re strengthening our economic cooperation. We’re putting an end to a situation in which our trucks are forced to stand at each border for 90 hours. The World Bank estimates it will lead to 3.5 billion euros in savings in the region.

DER SPIEGEL: Can this step help to heal the wounds created by the war in Yugoslavia?

Vucic: The “mini-Schengen” project is one of the best things that has happened in this region in 30 years. No more war, no more slaughter, instead a kind of Scandinavia for the poor. We could become a growth engine for all of Europe.

DER SPIEGEL: Is Kosovo, which still belongs to Serbia under international law, to be part of the mini-Schengen project?

Vucic: The Kosovars don’t know what they want. Albin Kurti, who is likely to be their next leader, sounds as if he wants to become the leader of Greater Albania. Kosovo views itself as a state, but we do not see it that way. We could still do great business together though.

DER SPIEGEL: Kurti has announced he plans to adopt a tougher stance on Serbia. Have you met him yet?

Vucic: He once insulted my underage daughter and told her to find an Albanian to marry. I told him: “Get some better manners, you idiot.” What I’m wondering is this: Why did the West open a Pandora’s box in 2008 by recognizing Kosovo?

DER SPIEGEL: Not long ago, you said it was “highly unlikely” that Serbia would recognize Kosovo within the existing borders. That sounds, as is quite often the case with you, rather vague.

Vucic: It’s correct that my position isn’t defined very tightly. If it were crystal clear, we would slam the door on all further negotiations, just as the Kosovars do all the time. I want to keep open the possibility of compromise. And for that, I am disparaged by compatriots like former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic as the greatest traitor of all time.

DER SPIEGEL: You once stood together with Peter Handke at the grave of the war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. Now, you have announced that you wanted to celebrate Handke and his Nobel Prize for literature in Belgrade. What point are you trying to make?

Vucic: Handke is a fantastic guy, he defended himself together with us in a very difficult phase for this country. We are grateful to him from the bottom of our hearts. He has done a lot for Serbia.


Dodik: I will continue to prevent adoption of ANP and B&H’s NATO membership in the future (RT, 24 November 2019)


Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik gave an interview to Russia Today. Dodik stressed that he stopped and will stop the NATO path of B&H. Dodik said that B&H is a political experiment of leading western policies of their time and the majority of Serbs do not believe it is their country. He stressed that Republika Srpska (RS) remains dedicated to its autonomy and good relations to Serbia. “We do not want to harm Bosniaks, but they need to know that B&H is not theirs, but belongs to all of us living there. The RS is exclusively ours,” said Dodik. He added that Serbs can cooperate with Bosniaks only after they learn this lesson. “We are not conducting any actions which lead to the independence of the RS, but the RS does not exclude such a possibility. For example, if you organize a referendum in the RS and ask the citizens whether they want the RS to become an independent state, according our and international researches, more than 82% would vote for independence,” said Dodik.

Commenting on the Dayton peace Accords (DPA), Dodik said that Russia is the only one dedicated to the international law. He added that the US administration continued to undermine the DPA in accordance with earlier promises given to Bosniaks that they will calm the Serbs and create a country for Muslims. “They are doing this non-stop for 24 years now,” said Dodik.

Asked about the US sanctions imposed against him, Dodik said that Americans are trying to break him and that is their work principle. “They locate one man and direct everything at him to break him. Now they are doing this to me,” said Dodik. He said that there will be no new wars on B&H territory, but that former fighters of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), who will return to B&H, pose a threat. Dodik said that B&H needs to answer these challenges. Dodik said he would continue to prevent the adoption of the Annual National Program (ANP) and the country’s path towards the NATO membership in the future. “There is no minimal consensus for the NATO membership here”, he said, adding that all people in the RS agree with this statement and that their reasons are “very clear”. He reiterated that the NATO bombarded the RS and Serbia with depleted uranium and that many innocent people lost their lives during that dark time. He thanked the Russian Federation for staying true to its principle of respecting the original Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and the international laws. “Unlike Russia, the US administration continued to ‘collapse’ the DPA after its adoption, all in line with previously made promises to the Bosniaks in B&H on forming a country for them”, Dodik stated. He underlines that the “Americans have been doing this for the past 24 years” but notes that despite of that they have been unsuccessful in their attempt to abolish the RS. Dodik concluded that B&H is an “unsuccessful experiment of the western powers”.


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