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Belgrade Media Report 24 December 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 24 December 2019

• Vucic: Next year, Putin, Jinping, Merkel and Johnson are coming to Serbia(O2/B92/Beta)
• Vucic: Whatever we say we are interfering in internal politics (NSPM/Tanjug/O2)
• Portals close to Montenegrin authorities spin Vucic’s words (Novosti)
• Djuric: Perhaps there will be new elections in Kosovo and Metohija (TV Happy/Tanjug)
• Law on religious freedom adopted, SPC priests gathered (B92/Vijesti/Tanjug)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Incomplete new convocation of B&H CoM appointed (FTV)
• Brief biographies of new ministers in B&H CoM (Hayat)
• International community welcomes appointment of new convocation of B&H CoM (FTV/ATV/BHT1)
• B&H submits Program of Reforms to NATO HQ in Brussels (FTV)
• Presidential elections in Croatia to go into second round (HRT)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Citizens’ disappointment in the government growing, the judiciary and the Prime Minister rated very low, VMRO-DPMNE leads convincingly ahead of SDSM (Republika)
• Zaev: If Mickoski wins the elections, he will do everything to annul agreements with Greece and Bulgaria (Republika)
• Outgoing PM Zaev: There is great trust between SDSM and DUI (Republika)
• EC President Ursula von der Leyen fully supports opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (Radio Tirana)
• RCC Secretary General Bregu reveals beneficiaries from Balkan Schengen (Radio Tirana)

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Vucic: Next year, Putin, Jinping, Merkel and Johnson are coming to Serbia(O2/B92/Beta)


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic emphasized the need for establishing good relations with EU countries and announced visits of world leaders to Serbia for the next year. Still, Vucic emphasized that “we do not have such enthusiastic support within the European Union” when it comes to mini Schengen. “It is not easy for Europeans to criticize the four freedoms that are part of the EU itself: freedom of movement for people, goods, services and capital. But they do not like to see the Balkans determine its own destiny. They have been doing this since the establishment of the first forms of modern statehood of Serbia, from the very first hatt-i-sharifs and the Constitution, to the present day”, Vucic said. “We want to do all the reforms that are necessary, and they praise those economic reforms. But are you sure that if we do everything they want and reach an agreement with Pristina, that they will admit us to the Union? I am not sure”, President of Serbia said. Vucic also referred to the first round of presidential elections in Croatia. “Whoever wins, we’ll congratulate that candidate”, he noted. “The Belgrade-Zagreb relationship will have to be improved in the future, whoever wins”, said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on O2 TV. “I followed the elections in Croatia and predicted the results pretty good. I was sure that Milanovic would be the first in the first round. Although, I think that Skoro needed just three more days of the campaign, in order to become President of Croatia”, Vucic said. President of Serbia referred to his past visits to Croatia. “They never got anyone but me who would tell them something from a different angle without going beyond the bounds of decency”, he noted. This is also the President’s first guest appearance since his return from Tirana.


I’m confident Johnson will come to Serbia

Serbian President stressed the need to establish good relations with EU countries, primarily because of “Europe’s aspiration to be a power and a force for itself and due to Europe’s non-acceptance of the division into two major powers.” Vucic particularly emphasized the importance of establishing relations between Serbia and the UK in the future. “We need to continue our European path and build bilateral partnerships with the UK as soon as possible. Britain will be a key US ally, much more pronounced than it has been before, and it is important for us to try to work together in the future”, he said, adding that it is “realistic” for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to come to Serbia next year. “I cannot guarantee it, but I am almost convinced that I will be able to persuade Boris Johnson to come to Serbia”, Vucic said, emphasizing that Serbia today has more respect than it has had so far. “Next year, the Chinese and Russian presidents will come. I am convinced that Johnson will come by the end of next year. Macron came this summer, I guarantee Merkel will come to Belgrade next year. We brought the Japanese Prime Minister, President of Israel was also here, as well as representatives of some powerful African countries, who visited our Serbia after a long time”, he said.


Vucic confirmed going to China, but in Chinese

Vucic confirmed that he is travelling to China in April to meet with President Xi Jinping, confirming the news in Chinese. posted a video message in Chinese on his Buducnostsrbijeav account on Instagram. “This way, I would like to confirm my visit to China in April, as well as the pleasure and joy that President Xi will visit Serbia at the end of next year. I would like to thank President Xi for his leadership, as well as the Chinese people for their friendship and frequent visits to Serbia. China is one of our biggest partners and we will do our best to make you feel at home”, it is stated on Vucic’s Instagram profile.


I will bite as a pit bull, so that the Jovanjica affair is not forgotten

Vucic said that he will not let the affair of production of large quantities of marijuana on the Jovanjica farm be forgotten. He added that he expected the truth to be told about the case.

“I will not forget the lies about Jovanjica. As a pit bull, I will bite until the last day, so that people see that the lie does not pay off after all. It also does not occur to me to protect anyone in case there are real affairs”, Serbian President emphasized. “I don’t belong to those people who will stop and try to protect a criminal at any time”, Vucic told O2 television, urging prosecutors to do their job and to prosecute anyone, including people from the Serbian Progressive Party. “There are many other cases where I see both reluctance and arrogance”, Vucic said, announcing the changes for the next year within the SNS at the Party’s Main Board at the end of the year. “There have to be changes. There are people who do not deserve my trust or the trust of Serbian citizens”, Vucic added. Vucic said that elections will be held on 26 April or 3 May. “I thought of having elections on 22 March or even on 15 March, but Ana Brnabic asked me to prolong so that they will be postponed for some 40 days, so we will see whether they will be on 26 April or 3 May.


Vucic: Whatever we say we are interfering in internal politics (NSPM/Tanjug/O2)


Serbia is not happy with the Law on freedom of religion proposed by the Montenegrin government, but we are not the ones who are deciding on this, President Vucic told O2 TV.

He says that Serbia lost the right to decide in Montenegro a long time ago, formally at the end of 2006, when, thanks to the stubbornness of our then government, there was no agreement and Montenegro organized a referendum on independence, which it declared later on. He says that our relations with Montenegro are complex. “Our position is difficult, whatever we say it can be qualified as interference in internal affairs of a sovereign state,” said Vucic. He says he had launched the topic of the Law on freedom of religion with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. “I talked with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, heard from him certain arguments, I told him my stand on that. We will see what will happen,” said Vucic. In response to the reporter’s question, the President said that the Montenegrin autocephaly church, de facto and de jure, has existed even before the establishment of independence of Montenegro in 2006. According to him, this church was formed in Cetinje, in a legally valid manner. “Even if the Montenegrin authorities are right about everything, there is one thing from which you cannot run, you cannot say ‘we now have different rules’ after 100 years of the state and right to using property,” said Vucic.


Portals close to Montenegrin authorities spin Vucic’s words (Novosti)


Portals close to the authorities in Montenegro tried to abuse Vucic’s appearance on O2 TV by interpreting Vucic’s words so the public there would be under the impression that Vucic supports directly the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church, Novosti writes. Vucic’s stand on the disputable law on freedom of religion was taken out of context by certain media in Podgorica by quoting Vucic as having stated that the Montenegrin autocephaly church exists both de facto and de jure even before the independence was established in 2006. The Serbian Presidency told Novosti that the essence is that Vucic had clearly said at a recent meeting with Montenegrin colleague Milo Djukanovic: “Even if you were hundred percent right, and you are not, you cannot seize something that has been someone’s in pure statehood for 100 years.” Novosti was told by the Presidency that the President is firmly with the canonic recognized Serbian Orthodox Church and the spin of the essence of his message is assessed as a calculated attempt at media manipulation intended for Montenegrin domestic circumstances.


Djuric: Perhaps there will be new elections in Kosovo and Metohija (TV Happy/Tanjug)


Asked when we could expect the formation of the government in Pristina and the resumption of the dialogue, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said nobody knows whether and when the government in Pristina will be formed, and perhaps there might be new elections in Kosovo and Metohija. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are new elections. Still, the foreign factor in Pristina has a dominant role in that and in this case it will have a decisive role as to whether they will succeed to agree between themselves or not.” Djuric said that Serbian representatives managed to win at the Kosovo elections ten out of ten mandates in the Kosovo Assembly so this means they cannot form the government in Kosovo without the Serbs today and they are dictating conditions. This is why they wanted to take Rasic and Rada Trajkovic or some other Serbs who accept independence of Kosovo so the remaining eight or nine representatives out of the total of ten would be pushed aside regardless of the fact that they represent the will of the majority of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Asked how did the talks go with Albin Kurti at the recent gathering in Berlin, Djuric says this was a broad gathering and that at that moment a general hysteria and attack on Serbs and Ivan Todosijevic was underway. He says that Kurti behaved very politely and correctly in Berlin, and that there were about 70 more participants at the gathering. “My job is to talk with all leaders separatists,” said Djuric. Djuric points out that Serbia is trying to resolve the Kosovo issue with the representatives of the US, as well as of Russia, China and other countries, in order to use every possibility to present our arguments. He said that Hashim Thaci tried in Berlin to object to the Serbian side and Djuric responded strongly. To the comment that the opposition is objecting that he talked with Self-Determination representatives at the gathering in Tirana as well, Djuric says that he took part on behalf of the SNS at the gathering of political parties from the Balkans. He says that they didn’t discuss Belgrade-Pristina relations at this gathering.


Law on religious freedom adopted, SPC priests gathered (B92/Vijesti/Tanjug)


Priests and monks led by Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishops Joanikije and Metodije had gathered in front of the parliament of Montenegro, singing prayers. A legislative committee session is being held today in the building, on which the Government’s Law on freedom of religion is on the agenda. The Legislative Committee of the Montenegrin Parliament endorsed the majority vote by the government’s Law on religious freedom. Members of the ruling majority in the Montenegrin parliament supported the proposed act, while members of the opposition Democratic Front (DF), Veljko Vasiljevic and Milun Zogovic, voted against, Podgorica-based Vijesti reported. Bishop Metodije has read the proclamation of the Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Niksic that was held on Saturday, accusing the Montenegrin government of trying to “steal” the Church’s property through a new law on religious freedom that threatens to legalize the discrimination of church positions in the country. Protective fences were erected in front of the parliament building and police forces were present. The assembled priests sing prayers. Vijesti states that about 600 priests and monks are expected. Thereafter, a Holy Liturgy is held in the Temple of Christ’s Resurrection. “If the laws of modern times are not in harmony with the laws of contemporary world, then these laws are not the laws of true Montenegro, but they can turn into lawlessness. We ask MPs not to allow this shame and embarrassment. In particular, we appeal to the Muslims and Roman Catholics to prevent anyone from manipulating them on the basis of a previously signed contract, by claiming that this law does not apply to them”, Amfilohije said in a speech.




Incomplete new convocation of B&H CoM appointed (FTV)


After more than one year since the general elections, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) has got a new convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM). During the 5th urgent session of the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) on Monday, the lawmakers approved the appointment of new ministers and deputy ministers in the B&H CoM. Zoran Tegeltija (SNSD) is the new B&H CoM Chairman. As previously stated in media, new ministers in the B&H CoM are: Vojin Mitrovic (SNSD) as B&H Minister of Transport and Communications; Stasa Kosarac (SNSD), B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations; Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ B&H) remains at the post of B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury; Ankica Gudeljevic (HDZ B&H) was appointed new B&H Minister of Civil Affairs; Josip Grubesa (HDZ B&H) will once again be B&H Minister of Justice; Fahrudin Radoncic (SBB B&H) is new B&H Minister of Security; Bisera Turkovic (SDA) is B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Sifet Podzic (DF) will assume the post of B&H Minister of Defense. 29 B&H HoR representatives voted in favor of their appointment, eight were against, while one MP abstained from voting. “We held a joint meeting of the old and the new convocation of the B&H CoM and we showed that authority can be transferred in a democratic way in B&H, regardless of how long it takes,” Tegeltija told reporters after the session. The B&H HoR MPs told newly appointed ministers and deputy ministers that they will primarily be tasked with abiding and respecting the laws of this country, but also with protection of the interests of B&H citizens. A clear message was sent and it stated that those ministers and their deputies that do not follow these rules will be held accountable. Opposition MPs had several remarks in regard to the newly appointed convocation, emphasizing there are not enough women appointed and there are several ministers that are close to their retirement. ‘Our Party’ (NS) MP in the B&H HoR Mirjana Marinkovic-Lepic underlined that out of nine appointed ministers, only two of them are women, which is 22 percent. There is only one female deputy minister in the B&H CoM, which makes only 11 percent.


Brief biographies of new ministers in B&H CoM (Hayat)


Newly appointed Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) CoM Chairman Zoran Tegeltija (SNSD) served as a representative in the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly (RSNA) during the period 2000-2002, the Mayor of Mrkonjic Grad during the period 2004-2008 and the RS Minister of Finance since 2010. Also, Tegeltija got a suspended prison sentence of five months in prison for the lack of commitment in office. Newly appointed B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic (SDA) currently serves as the B&H Ambassador to Qatar. B&H Minister of Security Fahrudin Radoncic (SBB B&H) used to work as a journalist and, after he left Montenegro, he came to Sarajevo and founded ‘Dnevni avaz’. He has already served as the B&H Minister of Security. He was arrested in 2016 on suspicion of several criminal offenses, but he was acquitted of all charges. B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic (DF) was an officer in the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and in the former RBiH Army. He is a member of DF Main Board and DF Presidency. B&H Minister of Justice Josip Grubesa (HDZ B&H) works as a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Law of the University of Mostar. He is a member of HDZ B&H Presidency and he has served as the B&H Minister of Justice since 2015. B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda (HDZ B&H) was appointed to this post in 2015. He used to serve as the Federation of B&H Minister of Finance during the period 2007-2010, a representative in the Federation of B&H House of Representatives (HoR) during the period 2010-2011 and the B&H CoM Chairman during the period 2012-2015. B&H Minister of Civil Affairs Ankica Gudeljevic (HDZ B&H) used to serve as the B&H Ambassador to Germany. B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Stasa Kosarac (SNSD) served as a representative in the RSNA during the period 2004-2006, the Head of Serb Caucus in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) during the period 2010-2014 and the B&H HoP Speaker in 2014. B&H Minister of Communications and Transport Vojin Mitrovic (SNSD) is one of the richest politicians in B&H, he was a member of SNSD during the period 2005-2012, a member of NDP until 2014 and a member of SNSD since 2014.


International community welcomes appointment of new convocation of B&H CoM (FTV/ATV/BHT1)


At an urgent session that took place in Sarajevo on Monday, the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) confirmed the appointment of a new convocation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) proposed by B&H CoM Chairman Zoran Tegeltija. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) called on ministers to immediately move forward and make up for the wasted period of 15 months. They are now expected to improve the economy, human rights and fight against corruption, as well as to accelerate the reform path. The OHR also stressed that this will require a sufficient budget that should be adopted next year, in order to be able to complete all these processes. The EU Delegation to B&H welcomed the final formation of the Council of Ministers of B&H on Monday on Twitter, underlining that the country and its citizens need to see concrete results of the authorities as soon as possible. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi welcomed the formation of the Council of Ministers of B&H. In a joint press statement, the two officials said: “We welcome formation of the Council of Ministers of B&H. After a year of political deadlock, this move opens the road to renewal and determination of political parties to ensure country’s progress towards the EU.” They underlined that B&H CoM needs to define and implement new set of social and economic reforms that are going to benefit all the citizens, adding that this process is going to demand full dedication of legislative and executive authorities at all levels, and the EU is more than willing to assist them in this process. MEP Tanja Fajon who welcomed the formation of the Council of Ministers of B&H. “There is no more time for stagnation. Formation of authorities at the state level is important for the stability of B&H itself, but also for the stability of the whole region. Also, it is important to have formed and stable authority in order to resume the European road as soon as possible and to have the whole country dedicated to resolving key issues and reforms,” said Fajon and noted that for the past 14 months B&H looked like a country unable to deal with crucial issues ahead of it and fully focus on the European integration process. On the other hand, the EU is fully focused on the whole region of the Western Balkans, including B&H. “The EU sees the Western Balkans as one of its more important partners with whom it needs to cooperate and be open with. However, not everything depends on the EU,” said Fajon. She criticized the stances of French President Emmanuel Macron, and his statements regarding NATO and B&H as a “ticking time bomb”, and she said that such description of B&H is completely inappropriate and unnecessary, as such words cannot bring anything good and can only worsen the situation. “I see B&H as a potential candidate for the EU membership, equal to all other European countries, and in the future I see it as a full member of the family of the European countries,” said Fajon and noted that the refusal to launch negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia is one of the greatest mistakes of the EU, expressing hope the stances will change for the better soon. The US Embassy to B&H welcomed the appointment of the new convocation of the B&H CoM and the fact that the Program of Reforms of B&H was sent to NATO, since it implies continuation of the partnership and cooperation between B&H and NATO and initiation of the necessary reforms in the field of defense. NATO member states are now expected to make an assessment on the Program of Reforms and to accept it, which would be the first step in the process of activation of the Membership Action Plan (MAP). UK Ambassador to B&H Matthew Field welcomed the formation of the CoM of B&H, and he underlined that he hopes the formation of the state authority is going to contribute to the more extensive implementation of reforms to the benefit of all the citizens of B&H. “I am happy to hear the news that the Program of Reforms has been delivered to Brussels, as it is going to allow continuation of cooperation with NATO,” said Field.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey welcomed the formation of the CoM of B&H with message that Turkey is going to continue to support efforts for development and prosperity of the country. First Deputy Iranian President Eshaq Jahangiri also welcomed the formation of B&H CoM and expressed hope that the political, economic and cultural relationship between the countries is going to further develop in the upcoming period.


B&H submits Program of Reforms to NATO HQ in Brussels (FTV)


B&H Mission to NATO officially submitted the Program of Reforms of B&H to the NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Monday. This process was concluded one hour after the new B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) was approved by representatives in the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR). A source from the Cabinet of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik told Srna news agency that B&H has not sent a Program of Reforms of B&H to Brussels yet, because the B&H Presidency had agreed that this document would be sent 24 hours after formation of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). Namely, the B&H CoM was formed at a session of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) on Monday so the document was supposed to be sent to Brussels on Tuesday. Certain media reported that the Program of Reforms is on its way to NATO in Brussels. However, the source from Dodik’s cabinet explained that “Head of the Cabinet of Chairman of the B&H Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, took this document to Brussels at his own initiative, estimating that this cannot be done tomorrow or the day after tomorrow due to Christmas holidays”.


Presidential elections in Croatia to go into second round (HRT)


Croatian citizens went to the polls to choose a president. Following a first round of voting Zoran Milanovic and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic took the most votes and will be running in a second round. The difference between them was less than 3 percent. According to first results from the State Election Commission after votes were counted from all polling stations, Zoran Milanovic took 29.55% of the vote, while Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic took 26.65%. Independent candidate Miroslav Skoro, who took 24.45% of the vote did not succeed in making it to the second round that will be held in two weeks on 5 January. Milanovic took northwestern Croatia, Primorje, Istra and the bigger cities of Zagreb, Split and Rijeka while Grabar-Kitarovic took the Dalmatian counties and central Croatia. Miroslav Skoro won in eastern Croatia – in almost all Slavonian counties and in Osijek and Vukovar. A little more than 1.9 million voters turned out which is 51.2 percent. With his 29.55 percent of the vote Milanovic was the relative winner of the first round of elections. “Thanks to those that voted for me and those that didn’t vote for me, we’re going into the second round, but we’re not going to war, wars are over. I have said this from the beginning, we are going into a civilized citizens competition in which may the better person win. I believe I am the better person” said Milanovic. He called on voters to vote for him in the second round. He sees Croatia, with him as the president, as a country of equals, in which no one will feel like a second-class citizen. The Social Democratic Party’s candidate said he will only be loyal to the constitution. “I will be the ombudsman of the constitution and religiously advocate the constitution and that is all. That is my state, but I am not the state, that is a belief I will not deviate from. For a policy full of content and sense, as a noble and higher calling, for a happy and successful Croatia, long live Croatia,” said Milanovic. Current president and Croatian Democratic Union candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who took 26.65% of the vote, will be facing Milanovic in the second round. She called on all to rally before her win, including those who she said voted for opposing candidates due to dissatisfaction. “Your message to me is completely clear, I heard it and understand it. But now is not the time for us to be divided again. Us or them, must not be Croatian policy again. It took 15 years to return the policy of unity back into Croatia, we must not allow it to be devastated,” said Grabar-Kitarovic. Even though 24.45% percent of the vote was not enough to propel Miroslav Skoro into the second round, he believes they achieved a miracle. “Dear friends, changes are necessary and we demonstrated tonight that they have people who are aware that we need to make these changes. We will continue to return Croatia to the people, and I have to tell you that I assure you, and listen carefully to what I tell you from here, at parliamentary elections we will return even more,” said Skoro. Mislav Kolakusic took 5.87% of the vote, Dario Jurican took 4.61% while Dalija Oreskovic took 2.89%. “That is the percentage of solid and rational people who demand responsibility from politics as well as a serious content, people that will deal with concrete problems in this society and have the knowledge to resolve these problems,” said Oreskovic. Ivan Pernar took 2.31% of the vote, while the candidate from the Workers Front Katarina Peovic took 1.12% of the vote. “Naturally we will run in parliamentary elections and we hope that we will have at least one representative in parliament and I can immediately announce that we will create confusion in parliament. But this doesn’t mean we will create a show, it rather means that we will lead a politically articulated fight,” said Peovic. In two weeks, on January fifth citizens will decide who will win in the second round of elections and who will be the Croatian president for the next five years.


Citizens’ disappointment in the government growing, the judiciary and the Prime Minister rated very low, VMRO-DPMNE leads convincingly ahead of SDSM (Republika)


Macedonia is headed in the wrong direction, the judiciary has been rated very low in term of trust among citizens for years, fears of political expression, opposition VMRO-DPMNE is ahead of SDSM, and crime and corruption are at the top of the challenges the new government will have to face. These are part of the results of a MKD.mk telephone survey of 1,200 citizens conducted by “Market Vision” in the period 12-20 December. The survey shows that in terms of ratings for state institutions (mayor, president, prime minister, government, judiciary) no one scored higher than 2.61 (the president of the state). From 1 to 5, the judiciary got the lowest score (1.79), and the Prime Minister is clearly downward – from 2.61 in November 2018 to 2.40 in December. There is also great dissatisfaction over whether Macedonia is going in the right or the wrong direction. As many as 61 percent of the respondents in this survey answered that Macedonia is moving in the wrong direction (in November 2018 this percentage was 54.9 percent). The number of citizens who responded that Macedonia is moving in the wrong direction (32.6%) in November 2018 has declined, in December this year that percentage is 27.9%. Regarding the political orientation of voters if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, VMRO-DPMNE is (14.17%) ahead of SDSM (11.58%) of 1,200 respondents.

If we calculate these numbers only in relation to those who are decided (929), then the difference is – 18.3% for VMRO-DPMNE, 15% for SDSM. There is a high percentage of those who said they would boycott the elections (22.5%) and those who say they are still undecided (21.67%).

Also in the Albanian political bloc, the united opposition parties (Alliance for Albanians, Besa and Alternative for Albanians) could win more MPs than DUI. Among Macedonian voters, the difference between VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM is higher – 12.6%: 7.2%. The percentage of Albanian voters who would vote for SDSM is also high – 2.1%. The survey was conducted on a representative sample at the level of Macedonia by: region, sex and age in terms of population estimates by the State Statistical Office for 2017. The Albanian population in the sample is represented by 20.7%.


Zaev: If Mickoski wins the elections, he will do everything to annul agreements with Greece and Bulgaria (Republika)


Outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says he has no doubt that if VMRO-DPMNE wins the elections, the agreements with Bulgaria and Greece will be annulled. Answering a journalist’s question on Monday, he said it was an honorable for VMRO-DPMNE to explain to citizens the consequences of the annulment of agreements. “It will bring us out of the EU and NATO. Not to mention that it will drive a wedge between us and our neighbors. What kind of reflection will it have on the economy, on the whole region, and that has to be told. If Mr. (VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan) Mickoski comes to power, he will annul the Agreement with Greece, or the Prespa Agreement and annul the Agreement with Bulgaria. But that is why he will not come to power. It is not possible,” said outgoing Prime Minister. Mickoski confirmed in an interview that if his party secures a three-thirds majority in Parliament, it would proceed to changing the Constitution in order to return the name Republic of Macedonia. His position was also confirmed by party secretary-general Igor Jansev.


Outgoing PM Zaev: There is great trust between SDSM and DUI (Republika)


Outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Monday that SDSM Executive and Central Board sessions will discuss all political issues on Friday, recapitulate the year, discuss relations with everyone in the coalition, stressing that it has made major decisions for the state. Before mid-February next year, he said, no agreements will be made to run jointly in the early parliamentary elections scheduled for 12 April next year. Asked if the party was open to the topic of a coalition with the DUI, the outgoing prime minister said they would review the relations with everyone and said they were publicly commenting on such relations when, as he said some unpleasant feelings were happening. “I will reiterate that this government coalition has made major decisions for the state, the trust is high and I believe that all this that SDSM and the coalition led by SDSM makes it a certain winning party that will respect the votes of all citizens and in the scope of the few and the numerous political parties, the circles of the Macedonian community, but also of the minor ethnic communities in the country,” outgoing Prime Minister Zaev said.


EC President Ursula von der Leyen fully supports opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (Radio Tirana)


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen disclosed the union’s 5 key priorities until 2024. Speaking about a stronger Europe in the world, Ursula von der Leyen cites Albania and North Macedonia, reconfirming support for opening negotiations. “I want to reconfirm the European perspective of the Western Balkans. I see an important role in the ongoing reform process across the region. We share the same continent, the same history, the same culture and the same challenges. We will build the same future together. I fully support the Commission’s proposal to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania” said the President of the European Commission. She further adds that the accession process offers a unique opportunity to promote and exchange our core values ​​and interests.


RCC Secretary General Bregu reveals beneficiaries from Balkan Schengen (Radio Tirana)


The Regional Cooperation Council supports initiatives that contribute towards an agenda for the creation of a common market for our region. That is the statement issued by RCC Secretary General, Majlinda Bregu, who added that these initiatives must be developed at an all-inclusive level, because she says it is impossible to survive the challenges, when the Balkans today are distinguished for an unsustainable economic growth. “We have no other task but to promote and support ideas that help move ahead regional cooperation. This is our mission. Any cooperation and promotion of good relations, improvement of the level of regional trade or other regional projects should be done on a comprehensive level. It is impossible to survive the challenges at a time when the Balkans today are indistinguishable for a sustainable economic level to meet global challenges,” Bregu said. According to Majlinda Bregu, this regional co-operation, the so-called Balkan Mini-Schengen, will be translated into economic growth for these countries, and specifically predicts a 7% GDP growth. She added that Europe was not born into the DNA of citizens living in Europe today, but it came from the need to work together, to be stronger, to have a common market and to meet global challenges. This meeting of Western Balkan leaders was the third after that in Novi Sad of Serbia and Ohrid of North Macedonia.



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