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Belgrade Media Report 19 December

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• Dacic: Albanians frustrated due to upcoming indictments (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)
• Mojsilovic: KFOR only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo (Beta/Politika)
• Jeremic: Montenegro’s draft law on religious non-freedom should be withdrawn immediately (Beta)
• Fajon: We might return to Serbia before elections (Danas)
• What scenario for Kosovo and Metohija is most acceptable to Serbian citizens (RTS)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H CEC completes vetting procedure of nine candidates for posts of ministers and deputy ministers in B&H CoM (ATV)
• Tegeltija holds consultations with SBB B&H leader Radoncic (ATV)
• SDA wants HDZ B&H nominates candidate for Federation of B&H President and that Mostar is separated from other issues, HDZ B&H’s Kristo says Law on Elections is priority (Dnevni list)
• Dodik sends RS parliament request for holding of special session on Program of Reforms for NATO; Inzko says RS parliament can only confirm program of reforms but it cannot decide on it (BN TV)
• Request of Bosniak caucus unacceptable (RTRS)
• Dodik shows support to US President Trump (ATV)
• Meeting of prosecutors from region held in Sarajevo within regional war crimes project (FTV)
• Markovic: Ostrog can’t belong to the Serbian patriarchate (CDM)
• Russia meddles into the adoption of the law on freedom of religion (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Grubi: DUI to run in the elections alone, Albanian opposition to unite so that Albanians don’t lose (Republika)


• Provocative statements by former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark on Russia’s role in the Balkans (Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova)
• EC non-paper on Serbia: Pressures on media and judiciary still very much present (European Western Balkans)

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Dacic: Albanians frustrated due to upcoming indictments (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that everything that is happening in Pristina these days is the consequence of the Albanians’ frustration over the indictments that are being prepared by the special prosecution for the crimes committed by the so-called KLA. Some of these indictments will be announced before the holidays, while others afterwards, says Dacic and stresses that whenever it happens it’s clear that this is no longer an empty story. Dacic told TV Happy that the Albanians therefore need a balance at this point so they are launching various stories about Serbs having committed major crimes, and the like. Therefore, he is not surprised that Jetlir Ziberai, an adviser to outgoing Kosovo Foreign Minister Bexhet Pacoli, produced some notes from a Socialist Party of Serbia Executive Committee meeting held many years ago. “I don’t understand what in that document is so epochal to the Albanians, because there were various topics at that party session, a report on negotiations with the Albanians in Rambouillet was submitted for example, and it was stated that the SPS is in favor of a peaceful solution, but that otherwise we would defend our land and our territory,” he said. When it comes to the overall situation in Pristina, Dacic says they are as bad as each other, there’s such accumulation of various internal and external factors in one place and no positive messages. The only thing that’s positive, he said, is that there can be talks with a clear desire to come to a solution. However, he added, we now see that these negotiations about a post-election coalition agreement are difficult, and hence the question is when Pristina will be ready to hold any talks at all. Bearing in mind the political situation in general at the international level, Dacic pointed out that it is changing drastically and that therefore Serbia should take a different approach to all topics of interest.

Speaking about a lawsuit filed against him by Pristina’s diplomatic representative in Washington, Vlora Chitaku, because of his statement that she has Serbian citizenship, Dacic announced that he would next time bring a list of Serbian citizens from Kosovo who work for the UN. The fact is, he pointed out, that they have Serbian citizenship and are working against Serbia, which he says is important, because this is a status issue after all. “Albanians are not aware of the current situation,” Dacic believes, adding that they are very much mistaken if they think they will get something. The situation, he added, is so complicated and will take time, which, he assessed, is good for Serbia, because it is better for things to take a long time than to make the wrong decision.


Mojsilovic: KFOR only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo (Beta/Politika)


Chief of Staff of the Army of Serbia, General Milan Mojsilovic, told KFOR Commander, Major General Michele Risi, that the NATO-led force holds the greatest responsibility for the safety of the population in Kosovo, the Serbian Defense Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

According to Mojsilovic, KFOR is the only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo which means that it is “the most responsible for the security of the population all over Kosovo”. The press release said that the two generals discussed the security situation, activities on the ground and maintaining peace and security in Kosovo.  This was the first meeting between the Serbian Chief of Staff and the new KFOR commander since Risi took command in November.


Jeremic: Montenegro’s draft law on religious non-freedom should be withdrawn immediately (Beta)


People’s Party leader Vuk Jeremic issued a statement on Dec. 19 in which he said that the draft law on religious freedom in Montenegro should immediately be withdrawn, as it, according to him, tramples over human rights, negates the identity of the Serbs living in Montenegro, and allows for the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church to be seized. In his written statement Jeremic expressed his belief that Montenegrin authorities are getting ready to pass something which is neither a law on freedom nor a law on religion. “To make this [law] a reality is the intention of Milo Djukanovic’s regime, which is very closely tied with that of Aleksandar Vucic, with whom he [Djukanovic] shares advisors, business partners, and financial interests. While Vucic, from his comfortable Belgrade office promises bright future for all Serbs, he hasn’t got a word of reproach for what is being done in Montenegro by his partner,” wrote Jeremic. To Jeremic it is obvious that the two of them share the same disregard and disrespect for human rights, property that does not belong to them, and identity that is not to their liking. “Vucic, like Djukanovic, finds it normal to pass laws without asking those that are to be affected by them for opinion and stand,” Jeremic added. Jeremic concluded by saying that the law on freedom of religion certainly concerns the largest religious community in Montenegro – the Serbian Orthodox Church.


Fajon: We might return to Serbia before elections (Danas)


Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Serbia Tanja Fajon told Danas that, after three rounds of inter-party dialogue on election conditions, another round of talks could be held before the election. “We may return in late January or early February to assess the pace of implementation of the Conclusions and the 17 commitments agreed during the three rounds of dialogue,” said Fajon, adding that a final assessment of the progress made in improving the election conditions remains with the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission and other international observers. Fajon also spoke about the plans to resume dialogue in the Serbian parliament after the elections. “The second phase of the dialogue would focus on enhancing political dialogue and parliamentary culture in the parliament, which is an essential condition for Serbia’s progress towards EU membership,” explained Fajon. “The task of the European Parliament (EP) in Serbia is to improve electoral conditions and political environment, and holding accountable those who do not respect the standards of political conduct,” said Fajon. Asked by Danas about whether elections could be considered “fair and regular” if the largest opposition bloc does not take part in them, Fajon stressed that the boycott was “the last refuge in democracy” and a “risky political tactic that could result in a high toll”. “Boycotts rarely end in true gains, and there is a risk that all parties seeking democratic elections and further reforms will be at a loss to bring Serbia closer to the EU,” stated Fajon.


What scenario for Kosovo and Metohija is most acceptable to Serbian citizens (RTS)


NGO research on the state-of-affairs in Kosovo and Metohija and the future solutions show that an agreement, whereby Serbia would recognize independence of Kosovo and Metohija, would be supported by around twelve percent of citizens. Three times more of citizens of Serbia proper find acceptable recognition if the Community of Serb Municipalities in the south, four municipalities in the north is formed and Serbian monasteries receive exterritoriality. More than fifty five percent of respondents do not see themselves in Kosovo and Metohija in the next five years. If they get a chance, they would pack their suitcases, while two-thirds among them have a college education, these are the results of the research of the NGO Aktiv. “We have one, I would say, alarming trend, primarily the migration of young people and, generally, of people from Kosovo, this trend is in fact on the rise,” says Aktiv executive director Miodrag Milicevic.

A warning data is that more than seventy five percent do not feel free to express political stands, while sixty percent state there is no politician in Kosovo and Metohija whom they trust. Still, the Serbian government received a better grade – 2.82 percent, while the provisional institutions in Pristina received 1.98 percent. Researchers state that the specific atmosphere in the southern province influenced the research. Nikola Jovic from the Center for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiatives says that Kosovo causes very emotional reactions with citizens. “Wherever there is some of the words in connection with independence, these scenarios are negatively assessed, which is important when we speak about a potential referendum,” says Jovic. The questions about the state-of-affairs in the province and the path with which the Kosovo and Metohija issue should be resolved were posed to residents of Serbia proper, as well as to Serbs north and south of the Ibar River.




B&H CEC completes vetting procedure of nine candidates for posts of ministers and deputy ministers in B&H CoM (ATV)


The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) completed the vetting procedure of nine candidates for posts in the new B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) convocation. The B&H CEC concluded that proposed candidates for ministerial posts in the Council, Mladjen Bozovic (DNS), Sifet Podzic (DF), Fahrudin Radoncic (SBB B&H) and Bisera Turkovic (SDA), have met all the preconditions for their appointment in the B&H CoM, in line with the Election Law of B&H. It was also confirmed that proposed candidates for the posts of deputy ministers, Dzevad Mahmutovic (SDA), Nedzad Brankovic (SDA), Nezir Pivic (SDA), Hazim Rancic (SDA) and Vladimir Mijatovic (SP RS), have met the same preconditions. The B&H CEC made this decision in accordance with the laws and based on the request of B&H CoM Chairman-designate Zoran Tegeltija. RTRS reported that the SIPA has completed the vetting procedure for 10 out of 11 candidates for the posts of ministers and deputy ministers in the B&H CoM, who come from political parties in Republika Srpska (RS) and from HDZ B&H. Tegeltija stated on Wednesday that there is a realistic chance for the new convocation of the B&H CoM to be appointed at the session of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) on 23 December, if SIPA completes the vetting procedure for all candidates until then. Tegeltija confirmed the proposal of names of candidates for ministers and deputy ministers from the rank of Bosniaks and Others in the B&H CoM, including DNS’s candidate for the post of B&H Minister of Human Rights and Refugees Mladjen Bozovic from the rank of Others, however, Bozovic does not enjoy support of all DNS members. Bozovic’s name was proposed by DNS’ representative in B&H HoR and DNS Vice President Nenad Nesic. This decision has additionally deepened the divisions within DNS, given that those close to DNS leader Marko Pavic insisted on their candidate Drasko Acimovic. Tegeltija said that they rendered this decision because they cannot allow themselves to lose support of MPs, since Nesic explicitly said that he will not vote for Acimovic.


Tegeltija holds consultations with SBB B&H leader Radoncic (ATV)


Newly appointed B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) Chairman-designate Zoran Tegeltija continued consultations with parties that will take part in the work of the new convocation of the B&H CoM and he met with SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic. Tegeltija and Radoncic, who is also a candidate for the post of the B&H Minister of Security, spoke about their future cooperation in the B&H CoM. They both agreed that ‘Less talk more work’ policy is the best one going forward. “I believe our stances are quite compatible, especially in connection to B&H’s accelerated development, greater care for the citizens, more infrastructural works, more unity within the B&H CoM; less politics and more work,” Radoncic told reporters after the meeting.

Tegeltija informed Radoncic about his point of view on the organization of the state-level authorities. The two officials also discussed the work of the B&H Ministry of Security. Tegeltija said: “I am sure that, together, we will improve the work of that ministry, especially when it comes to the issue of migrations.” Tegeltija and Radoncic stated after the meeting that they have identical stances regarding the functioning of the new B&H CoM.  Tegeltija told reporters that the B&H CoM should not be the place for political conflicts but for agreements and success. Radoncic said that they both agreed that more unity, less politicizing and more work are necessary at the B&H CoM. “I am very surprised with Radoncic’s knowledge about all the problems within the security sector and the work of the Ministry (of Security). He worked in that Ministry for a long time, and I am certain that together we are going to improve the work, especially with regards to migrations,” said Tegeltija. He also noted that he does not have his official Cabinet at the moment, because it is still occupied by outgoing Chairman Denis Zvizdic.


SDA wants HDZ B&H nominates candidate for Federation of B&H President and that Mostar is separated from other issues, HDZ B&H’s Kristo says Law on Elections is priority (Dnevni list)


After session of SDA Presidency held on Wednesday, SDA called on HDZ B&H to nominate its candidate for new Federation of B&H President. Namely, SDA Vice President Adil Osmanovic stated that SDA is expecting from HDZ B&H to make that move, arguing it would not be good to create big time difference between formation of a new Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H and a new Federation of B&H government. “When it comes to the Law on Elections of B&H, I think one should be realistic. What HDZ B&H is proposing, we are far away from reaching final solution. SDA is advocating implementation of rulings, both of the European Court of Human Rights and the local courts. But we will not make a step backward, set up some new ethnic constituencies etc.,” said Osmanovic. Regarding the issue of local elections in Mostar, Osmanovic said that expert groups and lawyers in SDA are working on offering a good solution for the city. “They sat down with experts from HDZ B&H. We are of opinion that the Law on Elections of B&H and the issue of City of Mostar should be separated. It is obvious that HDZ B&H, for now, wants to discuss them together. It is very difficult to expect that a solution will be found knowing HDZ B&H’s too big demands when it comes to changes to the Law on Elections,” said Osmanovic. HDZ B&H Deputy President Borjana Kristo commented on the formation of new Federation of B&H authorities and said that, according to her information, there are no pre-requisites for an agreement to be reached at this moment. Asked if (changes to) the Law on Elections will be one of conditions (for formation of new Federation of B&H authorities), Kristo said that HDZ B&H never made any conditions. “The Law on Elections is not a condition, those are issues that are in interest of B&H. At this moment, when it comes to the Parliament of B&H, the Law on Elections must be the priority, decisions of the Constitutional Court must be implemented, including those related to the Presidency and the House of Peoples and the City of Mostar,” said Kristo, adding that when it comes to the Law on Elections, there are no issues that should be separated. “There is no reason that we should not finds solutions for the City of Mostar and for the House of Peoples,” Kristo added.


Dodik sends RS parliament request for holding of special session on Program of Reforms for NATO; Inzko says RS parliament can only confirm program of reforms but it cannot decide on it (BN TV)


Member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik sent the Republika Srpska parliament on Wednesday a request for holding of a special session on the Program of Reforms for NATO, which was adopted by B&H Presidency on 19 November. According to Head of the SNSD Caucus in the RSNA Igor Zunic, it is uncertain if the session will be held on December 23 or later. A session of the RS parliament Collegium at which the date of this special session is supposed to be defined will be held on Friday. High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko told the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that the Program of Reforms was already adopted and the RSNA can only confirm it, but it cannot decide on this document. He reminded that this is a matter of the foreign policy and falls under the state-level jurisdiction where entities cannot decide instead of the state, noting that B&H Presidency as the highest state-level body has already adopted the Program od Reforms. “Apart from this, there is the state-level law on defense and its article 84 which clearly says that B&H’s future is in NATO. Maybe Dodik wants for the RS parliament to give its approval, but the RSNA cannot pass any decision on this any longer,” Inzko stressed.


Request of Bosniak caucus unacceptable (RTRS)


The Council for Protection of Vital National Interest with the Repubika Srpska (RS) Constitutional Court (CC) assessed as unacceptable the motion of Bosniak delegates in the RS Council of Peoples (CoP) for establishing the vital national interest of Bosniaks with regard to the adopted conclusions on the “information on unconstitutional transformation of the Dayton structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the influence on the position and rights of the RS”. The Council made such decision because “this document does not contain general norms” but refers to the political stance of the RS parliament with regard to the abovementioned information, reads a statement issued by the RS Constitutional Court.


Dodik shows support to US President Trump (ATV)


Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik voiced his support to US President Donald Trump, emphasizing that those who attack Trump and try to replace him jeopardize the basic human values for which the US president fights. Trump on Tuesday accused the Democrats of “declaring an open war on American democracy” in a furious six-page letter published ahead of his expected impeachment in a historic vote on Wednesday. The US President accused Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker pushing the impeachment drive, and her party colleagues of “violating” their oath of office and “breaking” their allegiance to the US Constitution. The impeachment vote was held on Wednesday. Given the Democrats hold the majority in the House of Representatives, Trump became the third US president in history to be impeached. The Senate will hold a trial in January about whether to remove Trump from office. That looks unlikely to happen given the Republicans hold the majority there. Dodik pointed out that the United States as the greatest world power steers global processes and that it is very important for the whole world that the US is led by someone focusing on sovereignty and patriotism, like the current US President Trump. “That is why I voice my full support to President Trump because supporting him means supporting patriotic and sovereignty values which we care about and which we have been fighting for decades. We are certain that only on such basis can one build a more democratic and more humane world order,” reads Dodik’s letter to Trump.


Meeting of prosecutors from region held in Sarajevo within regional war crimes project (FTV)


A Two-day regional meeting of prosecutors aimed to improve regional cooperation in processing of war crimes cases commenced in Sarajevo. This meeting was organized within regional war crimes project implemented by the UNDP in B&H, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia. Chargé d’Affaires of the UK Embassy to B&H Ruth Wiseman reminded that war crimes in this region were committed some 25 years ago. She added that victims deserve justice and the society deserves to see justice in action. Among other things, participants of the abovementioned meeting stated that importance of unconditional regional cooperation in processing of war crimes cases is necessary. B&H Chief Prosecutor Gordana Tadic stated that crimes scene and evidence can be on territory of one country, while witnesses, victims or indictees can reside in territory of other country in the region. It was also emphasized that regional cooperation in this area has not been regulated by legal framework. Consequently, there are bans in some countries to extradite their citizens and some countries have been preventing prosecutions from other countries to have insight into evidence. Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stressed that in reality there are still more problems than solutions. He added that their semi-annual report reads that small progress was achieved in the context of regional cooperation in previous years. Also, some participants of the abovementioned meeting underlined that processing of war crimes cannot be only legal, but also moral obligation. Brammertz stated that prosecutors at all levels must work on war crime cases because the problem requires work at several levels. He reminded that an agreement on takeover of cases from B&H in Serbia and Croatia was reached at a conference in Belgrade. Brammertz stressed that the ‘Liaison Prosecutor’ project is very important because more than 300,000 pages of documents were transferred from the ICTY central database to prosecutor’s offices in B&H, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia.


Markovic: Ostrog can’t belong to the Serbian patriarchate (CDM)


Ostrog monastery cannot be ownership of the Serbian patriarchate, said Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dusko Markovic, during the Prime Minister’s hour which was marked by fierce verbal discussion between DF MP, Nebojsa Medojevic and Markovic who said that Medojevic was political coward. “Why should Ostrog be in the ownership of Serbian patriarchate,” Srdjan Milic asked the PM if the government had considered the Report on the state property management from 28 March until today and if the state had the balance of national richness. “Does the manner in which you, Milo Djukanovic, Igor Luksic and then Djukanovic and then you again as prime ministers, managed and protected state property give you right to seize somebody’s property,” asked Milic. Markovic reiterated that they weren’t trying to seize or attack the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church and that only the Government could scrap the law, if conditions for that existed. “I had three meetings with Amfilohije this year, Pazin had numerous meetings with him too. Speaking of property, why isn’t it a problem that the temple of Saint Sava is in Serbian ownership? Why should then Ostrog be in the ownership of Serbian patriarchate?! What are you talking about, Milic? No! We must know the order,” said PM. The state, he stresses, helped churches in Montenegro. “It has donated over €1 million for the works on the temple in Podgorica. We have donated personally from this political structure more than everybody together,” points out Markovic. PM says that the church provokes chaos by building structures without permission. He said to Milic that he had no right to make remarks regarding church. “I had my family celebration in the church. So, your remarks are based on political interests,” said Markovic. He says that property assessment hasn’t been completed yet. Medojevic wanted to know if the government was ready to fulfill international duties stipulated in the Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe concerning totalitarian communist regimes. He called on Markovic to prevent adoption of the Law on Religion. “Montenegro is on the brink of serious problems. This law will provoke bloodshed,” said Medojevic. He invited Markovic to open files of the secret police and return property of the Serbian Orthodox Church. “If we fail to condemn the crimes, evil in Montenegro will never end,” said Medojevic. Markovic said that Montenegro supported fundamental human rights and condemned totalitarianism crimes. Totalitarianism has never been part of the literature of YU socialism. Tito’s Yugoslavia was considered authoritarian, not totalitarian system,” points out PM. Markovic asked Medojevic not to open painful issues from the past he knew little of. “You are not competent enough to discuss. Do not touch wounds. You are mentioning it because you are a political coward,” accused Markovic. Medojevic reacted angrily. “What you just said to me is shameful and offensive,” said Medojevic. “You have targeted me as a bearer of persecution,” answered PM. Then Markovic apologized for exaggerating. “I am sorry if I exaggerated, but you sounded rude and disrespectful of the great number of people who fought for anti-fascist and free Montenegro. You seem to be neglecting historical facts, that’s why I said you couldn’t discuss,” said Markovic. He sees no problem in pushing through the Law on Freedom of Religion. “DF hasn’t said a word about it for four years, no proposal has been put forward. Now, you were ordered to manipulate and incite conflicts,” said PM. Milan Knezevic, DF member interfered and said that Markovic had accused his party of obeying the order received by the church. President of the Parliament, Ivan Brajovic, reacted. “Prime Minister hasn’t mentioned church at all, and you said that president and vice-president of the government had been negotiating on this law. That’s a new fact,” said Brajovic.


Russia meddles into the adoption of the law on freedom of religion (CDM)


After several negative comments on the Montenegrin proposal law on freedom of religion made by official Serbia, official Russia now did the same. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Marija Zaharova, said that official Moscow hoped that Montenegro wouldn’t jeopardize rights of the Orthodox Church. She pointed out it was a question of a state and its nations and that Russia was against any foreign intervention, although it remained unclear what she meant by “foreign intervention”. “We understand that interests of the Metropolitanate and Serbian Orthodox could be seriously damaged,” stressed Zaharova. Taking that into account, the issue goes beyond national boundaries and touches on the unity of the entire Orthodox world.


Grubi: DUI to run in the elections alone, Albanian opposition to unite so that Albanians don’t lose (Republika)


Following a session of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) central presidency, Artan Grubi conveyed the party’s stance that they would run independently in the April 12 elections, and urged the opposition in the Albanian political bloc to unite. “DUI is the largest Albanian political party and will run independently without coalitions with either the Macedonian or Albanian parties. On the contrary, we urge the Albanian opposition parties to unite, so that Albanians do not lose the votes and potential of MPs in our country. We hope that they will be able to unite so that the Albanians do not lose. In any case, here’s DUI that will win the elections and I think we will represent Albanians as we have represented them for the past 17 years, in the most dignified way,” Grubi said. Asked by a journalist about public information that there would be no DUI ministers in the interim government, Grubi replied that his party was crucial to Macedonia’s political processes, regardless of their functions.




Provocative statements by former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark on Russia’s role in the Balkans (Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, 18 December 2019)


We have noted what former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark said in an interview with US media. This is a person who the Balkan countries know very well. He believes Russia is using the Balkans and trying to maintain its positions practically by bribing local politicians. Is this serious? Who said this? Don’t blame us for what you do. Wesley Clark would be better off telling us how he was rewarded by Kosovars for separating them from Serbia. This would be interesting. In particular, the retired American military officer is a senior executive at Envidity, a Canadian energy company that received the right from Pristina to develop minerals on almost a third of Kosovo territory (above all the enormous amounts of lignite). He is also connected with Geominerali, a firm that removes scrap metal from the region. I think the topic of bonuses, wages and income is for you. It is an interesting story to investigate. Speaking of connections and shaping public opinion by people who have direct financial and economic interests in the region. Isn’t this why orders were given to bomb the region, to receive lucrative contracts later? This is a good question. I think it is important to at least try to answer it. This is why when there is talk about some self-serving interests, we must look at those I mentioned above. Later, reasons are found to justify the aggressive interference in sovereign Yugoslavia’s internal affairs, to accuse anyone of playing dirty or breaking laws. Here is an example. This is a fact.


EC non-paper on Serbia: Pressures on media and judiciary still very much present (European Western Balkans, 18 December 2019)


An informal document of the European Commission on the situation in Chapters 23 and 24 in negotiations with Serbia, the so-called “non-paper”, has been published on the website of the Serbian Ministry of European Integration. It represents a six-month report that informs the EU Member States on the situation in areas of key importance for the European integration process.

The report found that there were serious delays in a number of reforms concerning the rule of law, as well as coordination of anti-corruption policies. Threats, intimidation and violence against journalists, as well as political and economic influence on the media, are particularly emphasised. Chapter 24 noted positive steps in border control and migration and in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Chapters 23: Justice and Fundamental Rights and 24: Justice, Freedom, and Security are paramount to progress on the European integration path because they can slow this process if reforms in these areas are delayed. The European Commission therefore closely monitors the progress of the candidate countries and produces regular informal reports for Serbia and Montenegro. This year, Serbia has opened only two new negotiation chapters,  which has not happened since 2015, when the first two were opened in December. In the non-paper, the EC points out that, with regard to freedom of expression and the media, cases of threats, intimidation, and violence against journalists remain a serious cause for concern, especially at the local level. In addition, the report adds, concerns continue to cause political and economic influence on the media. The process of constitutional reform to strengthen the independence and accountability of the judiciary is currently stalled, the report estimates. The European Commission (EC) stresses the importance of continuing this process “as soon as possible, in a transparent and inclusive manner, with the preparation of the necessary accompanying laws (“package of judiciary laws”). Although Serbia has, by adopting a Chapter 23 Action Plan, committed itself to amend its Constitution in line with European standards on the independence and accountability of the judiciary, and to complete this process by the end of 2017, the process of constitutional reform has remained in its first phase. In addition, Serbia must accelerate reforms in the areas of independence and accountability of the judiciary, freedom of expression, prevention of corruption and the fight against organized crime, the EC estimates.

“Government officials, sometimes at the highest level, continue to comment publicly on ongoing investigations and trials, as well as individual judges and prosecutors. Tabloid campaigns target members of the judiciary known for critical views on judicial reform”, the report said. In the fight against corruption, Serbia is seriously late in ensuring effective coordination of its anti-corruption policies, the report estimates. “In particular, the roles of the cabinet of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Justice, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Anti-Corruption Council should be better defined and clear timelines should be established”, the document highlights, adding that the public awareness and engagement campaigns are still not enforced. Part of the Chapter 24 report states that there are positive steps in border management and migration, including the implementation of European standard-compliant asylum procedures, the fight against cyber crime, trafficking in human beings, and money laundering. “All of the above should result in better performance in the fight against organized crime, a more proactive approach to financial investigations and the seizure of illegally acquired funds,” the Commission estimated.


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