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Belgrade Media Report 15 June 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 15 June 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: I’m afraid there is no solution for Kosovo (B92/Tanjug)
Vucic on Kosovo and Metohija: Serious competition between Washington DC and Brussels (TV Prva/B92)
Dacic: Lack of ideas for compromise regarding Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Pink/Tanjug/RTV)
Botsan-Kharchenko: Issue of Kosovo and Metohija one of key during Lavrov’s visit (RTS)
Jovanovic (Metla 2020): Voting for individuals instead of tickets will vanquish party state (Beta)
Sapic: Judicial independence only if people choose judges and prosecutors (Beta)
OSCE Mission Head: Independent media a challenge for everyone, not just Serbia (FoNet)
Another cases (B92)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

SDA nominates Selmo Cikotic as candidate for post of B&H Minister of Security (BHT1)
Dodik: Appointment of Selmo Cikotic as new Minister of Security of B&H could be accompanied by problems (O kanal)
HNS: Condemnation of Cikotic’s nomination (Dnevni avaz)
SDA: Migrant crisis will be used for special war against B&H, Bosniaks and SDA (Hayat)
Chinese President Jinping thanks Dodik for support (ATV)
‘Klub 100-Plus’ calls on High Representative to immediately and no later than 11 July impose law banning denial of genocide in B&H (O kanal)
FB&H Ministry of Health Crisis HQ gives permission to TC and SC to declare state of epidemic (Hayat)
SNSD Executive Committee discusses deterioration of epidemiological situation (ATV)
B&H’s coronavirus total surpasses 3,000, more than 2,100 recover (N1)
Croatia

Plenkovic says Croatia’s relations with B&H are very important to Croatian government (HRT1)
Appointment of three new members of B&H Central Election Commission causes new political crisis in B&H (HRT1)
Police arrest six in connection with crude anti-Serb banner (HRT)
Two newly infected people in Croatia in the last 24 hours, both from Zagreb (N1)
Montenegro

Andrija Mandic quits as MP (CDM)
Gojko Perovic claims: Limitation on public gatherings is a political decision (Dan)
Border with Serbia remains closed until further notice (CDM)
One person in Montenegro tests positive for coronavirus (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Pendarovski: Another state of emergency possible only if parties agree on election date (MIA)
Mickoski: First possible election date is mid-July (MIA)
Zaev: Election date is 5 July in line with Constitution, not a matter of personal wish (MIA)
Osmani urges for consensus on elections at onset of July (MIA)
In North Macedonia 103 new cases of Covid-19, 5 patients die, 13 recover (MIA)
Albania

Kim, Hajdari discuss work on EU conditions (ADN)
Covid-19 cases in Albania hit record high (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

EC non-papers note pressures on judiciary and media in Serbia and Montenegro (EWB)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: I’m afraid there is no solution for Kosovo (B92/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President and SNS leader Aleksandar Vucic said in TV B92’s Focus that he cannot tell anyone that we will resolve the Kosovo issue, because he himself doesn’t know how it would be resolved. He says that when he meets with Miroslav Lajcak they will discuss again the technical-methodological-formal proposals, as well as implementation of the already signed agreements, but not essential, some proposal, because there are no proposals. “Once we start talking, he will probably say: let us talk about agreements that have been signed and their implementation,” said Vucic. Asked who is a better mediator in resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, Vucic said that certainly both requests independence of Kosovo, as well as that Europe, US, Russia and China all have to be credible partners for us.

 

Will we have a referendum 

Asked whether politicians or citizens should take over responsibility at a referendum on big issues such as Kosovo, he points out that we will have to organize a referendum certainly if the constitutional status of Serbia is changed. Still, he doesn’t believe that a compromise solution for Kosovo would pass at a referendum at all: “It is difficult to reach that situation, because we are behaving irrationally, just as in 1999, when we didn’t manage to count how big of a force is attacking us and this is why we lost 3,000 people and 300 bridges,” said Vucic, adding this doesn’t mean he is not condemning NATO’s aggression. He says that he had 109 talks with the Albanians and that they are referring to two documents and this is the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict and Resolution 1244. “They are referring to the fact that the Serbian forces and the FRY were clearly condemned in the Resolution or causing incidents and expulsions, while there is no mention of the KLA, and in the preamble it is sated that Serbia accepts the operation of The Hague Tribunal. He underlined that Resolution 1244 is a tough document, because it also means conditional capitulation and that it speaks of the fact that a solution needs to be yet reached, as well as that it refers to decisions from Rambioullet. Some decrees were accepted because of the Russians, who requested a framework to protect themselves and part of international law. He also noted that the Albanians were sloppy and didn’t organize a referendum, but referred to Rugova’s referendum, and this formal procedure was what we could have done but didn’t use. He also said that the army and police cannot return to Kosovo with KFOR’s request and consent, as otherwise it would mean war with NATO, explaining this would be irresponsible behavior. “Sorry for telling the truth,” said Vucic.

 

Vucic on Kosovo and Metohija: Serious competition between Washington DC and Brussels (TV Prva/B92)

 

President Vucic, said in TV Prva’s Tema that he had not yet heard what the solution to the Kosovo issue would be. “I hadn’t received any proposal yet,” he said. When asked if we expect an ultimatum and if we have the strength to respond to the ultimatum, he answers: He says that the new platform of Kosovo officials for solving the problem of Kosovo is just a list of good wishes of irresponsible politicians. He also states that Lajcak will come to Serbia after the elections, and that he or Prime Minister Brnabic will travel to Washington by 26 June. “I guess, as I am not so stupid, what they would like. The agendas of Washington and Brussels are different, but they would like to reach a similar solution. There is a big fight between them who will lead the negotiations,” he states. The President stated that our platform is to fight for every man in Kosovo and Metohija, for every house, church and monastery in Kosovo and Metohija, for the presence of the Republic of Serbia in Kosovo. He added that we must also understand what situation we are in and that 93 percent of Albanians are there. “Everyone’s goal is for Serbia not to get anything in Kosovo and Metohija, so it is impossible to meet halfway. In our platform, Kosovo is part of Serbia, but in theirs, Kosovo is an independent state,” he said. He announced that he will have a bilateral meeting with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on 23 June, and that he will participate in the Parade in Moscow on 24 June. “I will have a bilateral meeting with Putin on 23 June, and I will attend the Victory Parade on 24 June, which is a big honor,” Vucic pointed out. “I have arranged tête-à-tête with him,” Vucic added. He said that it has nothing to do with the elections and possible support for him in the elections, because the meeting is planned for after the elections.

 

Dacic: Lack of ideas for compromise regarding Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Pink/Tanjug/RTV)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated that the dynamics and success of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will depend on how ready they are to compromise. “If they think that a compromise and a solution is for us to simply recognize Kosovo, they should know that it is unrealistic and that nobody can ask for such a thing,” Dacic told TV Pink, adding that the goal for Serbia is to preserve its national interests. Dacic pointed out that Serbia needs to continue with the state policy it is pursuing, stating that there is an election campaign ongoing and that every party should present its proposals but that there is no need for him or Vucic to present any ideas on how and what to do as they are already doing what they think should be done. “Dialogue must resume. We have done two things incorrectly, one was the address to the ICJ in The Hague for an opinion, which they are now using as an alibi that now everything is resolved, and the other is that Boris Tadic and Vuk Jeremic decided, in agreement with Catherine Ashton, to transfer the dialogue to Brussels,” noted Dacic. Brussels will continue to model the dialogue, adds Dacic, but whatever happens and is agreed, he underlines, the UN SC will have to verify. “There is obviously a desire to speed up negotiations, but it is also obvious there is a lack of ideas for what this compromise could be. For us it is a big thing that this issue was launched, while they thought the matter was resolved. We have managed to change the situation,” said Dacic, emphasizing that Belgrade had clearly said that it would continue the dialogue after the elections. He remidned that in this sense 18 countries had withdrawn recognition of Kosovo, as well as that self-declared Kosovo has not joined UNESCO and Interpol. Self-declared Kosovo today has only 92 votes in the UN out of 193, says Dacic, stressing that it is not certain for them any longer as they think. He says that the dynamics and the success of the dialogue will depend from the fact how much Albanians are ready to accept compromise. He notes that the ideas mentioned by Belgrade have not been examined, as well as that part of the international community finds these ideas unacceptable, as is for example delineation. “They are guided by the policy that there is no change of borders, while by recognizing independence Serbia’s borders can be changed,” Dacic noticed ironically. He says that the Albanians request that Belgrade stops with the campaign of withdrawal of recognitions, but they at the same time continue to advocate membership in international organizations.

 

Botsan-Kharchenko: Issue of Kosovo and Metohija one of key during Lavrov’s visit (RTS)

 

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko said on Friday that Serbia will always have Russia’s support when it comes to resolving the Kosovo issue, as well as that it would be one of the key topics during the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Belgrade on 18 June. “It will be the first visit after the pandemic, which is a very important symbol. The first stay abroad here in Serbia,” the Russian Ambassador said.

As the epidemic started to wane, we have returned to old issues, primarily to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. We know what occurred over the past days: the new government in Pristina, reciprocity measures have been abolished, we see some hurry by the EU and the US and to start the dialogue now. Since you are known as an expert for the Balkans, do you see a possibility for the dialogue to really start soon?

“Dialogue? There is a hurry, in my opinion there has never been something that helps the dialogue. We have concerns, everyone understands, we witness a lot of activities, but no one sees, I am talking about us, the contents of some proposals and readiness to finally establish a dialogue and to conduct it on the basis of the same approach towards Belgrade and Pristina. Along with necessary pressure on Pristina, taking into account also the respect of the interests of Serbia within the framework of international law and Resolution 1244 when we think about Kosovo.”

On the other side, the Serbian President has been saying these days that the Resolution is one complex document that has both its good and its bad sides.

“The President is right, I remember the days when we prepared it. It was difficult, but it is the kind of compromise that was possible. Of course, a compromise is not possible for everyone to be completely satisfied. But certainly the resolution, in our opinion, provides the most important – the territorial integrity of Serbia, sovereignty, and the basis for establishing dialogue, on a sound basis without haste, imposing solutions from outside, without creating a specific time frame, duration of dialogue. That is the most important thing. Tough things exist, I know, and I am convinced, that the situation would have been better, much better, if there were not serious omissions in the implementation of the Resolution.”

 

Jovanovic (Metla 2020): Voting for individuals instead of tickets will vanquish party state (Beta)

 

Milos Jovanovic, one of the leaders of the Metla (Broom) 2020 Movement, has said that changes to electoral law and elections in which individuals would be chosen rather than tickets would vanquish the party state and build an independent judiciary and media. Speaking on the subject of curbing corruption in an interview published by Beta on 14 June, Jovanovic said the first step should be to remove the possibility of passing minimal two-year prison sentences for corruption. “We should introduce the institution of the agent provocateur to investigate corruption-related offenses, too,” Jovanovic stressed, promising that Metla 2020 would adopt a true law on the origin of property which would apply to persons who have held public office since 1990. Metla 2020 stands for destroying the partocratic system, because, it says, “In today’s Serbia a party membership card — of the ruling party of course, is more important than an employment card or student card.” “This can be prevented by replacing the electoral system with the so-called majority system, which will permit citizens to vote for a particular person and not an anonymous ticket, which will kill the partisan armies and take power away from party leaders,” he said.

 

Sapic: Judicial independence only if people choose judges and prosecutors (Beta)

 

Serbian Patriotic Alliance leader Aleksandar Sapic believes that the judicial and prosecution systems may only be independent if judges and prosecutors were chosen in elections, since thus “the people would serve as the judicial system’s corrective and control factor.” In a pre-election interview for BETA on June 15, Sapic said that if someone is an expert on law, based on which he became a judge or a prosecutor, “that does not mean that he is an honest person and immune to corruption,” adding that honesty and probity are key factors in judiciary. Speaking about how his party would eliminate corruption from the public sector, Sapic said that, first of all, one has to have people ready for that. “Everywhere, corruption is eliminated by making penal policies harsher and by introducing zero tolerance for corruption.” When asked about how the Victory for Serbia group, whose ticket he is heading, would resolve the issue of party favoritism in employment, he responded that this problem will never be resolved “by talking about it from elections to elections,” after which everyone continues doing what they had been doing before.

Commenting on the decision of a part of the opposition to boycott the elections scheduled for 21 June, he said that the current election conditions are no worse than what they had been two and a half years ago, adding that regardless of that “many participated in these polls.”

 

OSCE Mission Head: Independent media a challenge for everyone, not just Serbia (FoNet)

 

Everyone needs independent and professional media and this represents a challenge for every country, not just Serbia, said the Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Andrea Orizio. He told FoNet that the media is the basis of every democratic society and that the importance of media for the citizens could especially be seen during the coronavirus pandemic. Orizio reminded that the OSCE joined the work on the Media Strategy on an invitation by the Serbian government.

“That strategy was adopted in January, and now we are working on the funds for the implementation of the Media Strategy,” Orizio said, stressing that the real challenge will be its implementation. Speaking about the elections in Serbia, Orizio stated that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has formed a special unit that will observe both the pre-election and election processes and will assess how it all went. “The ODIHR is unable to deploy long-term and short-term observers due to the current circumstances, but it will have a basic mission to observe all aspects of the campaign, the election process itself and will issue a statement after it all,” he explained.

 

Another cases (B92)

 

Until 3pm there have been another 57 cases, in total 12,367 infected. There has been one more death, in total 255 deaths. The number of active cases is 551. There are 15 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

SDA nominates Selmo Cikotic as candidate for post of B&H Minister of Security (BHT1)

 

The SDA Personnel Commission held a session in Sarajevo on Friday and decided that former B&H Minister of Defense Selmo Cikotic will be their candidate for the post of new B&H Minister of Security. Cikotic accepted the candidacy. The reporter said that if the coalition partners HDZ B&H and SNSD accept this, Cikotic is supposed to replace leader of SBB B&H Fahrudin Radoncic in this post. The proposal was delivered to Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija for further consideration, while the commission for preparation of the appointment of the CoM will give its opinion that is not binding after interviewing of the candidate. The State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and the B&H Central Election Commission will carry out the necessary checks before the proposal of this candidate gets to the agenda of a session of the B&H House of Representatives.

 

Dodik: Appointment of Selmo Cikotic as new Minister of Security of B&H could be accompanied by problems (O kanal)

 

Following Friday’s session of the SNSD Executive Committee, leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik stated that appointment of Selmo Cikotic as the new Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) could be accompanied by problems. Dodik believes that no one can be appointed to the position of Minister of Security of B&H until one resolves all appointments that went through the procedures, such as the appointments of Director of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of B&H, Director of the B&H Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK) and directors of other agencies. “Having in mind that Bosniak gave themselves the right to contest candidates that came from other peoples, as was the case with the minister who was nominated from the rank of Serb people for minister for refugees and displaced persons, we also believe that we have the right to assess both political and every other suitability of candidate for that post,” Dodik underlined. “He (Cikotic) has recently showed up with some kind of a new collection of papers, in which he is an author, which contains negative connotations of the Serb people as aggressors, so we will see what kind of attitude towards this issue we will have. Anyway, whoever it is, SNSD deems that nobody can be appointed to this post until all appointments that passed the procedure are resolved,” Dodik explained. The SNSD Executive Committee also suggested to the RS government to propose to the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) until Monday that the RS Government allocates its own funds for the local elections in the RS, since there is no consensus about this issue among the partners from the Federation of B&H at the level of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM).

 

HNS: Condemnation of Cikotic’s nomination (Dnevni avaz)

 

Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) Department for Veterans issued a press statement condemning nomination of SDA’s Selmo Cikotic for the post of a new Security Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They stated that this is HNS’ support to HVO veterans’ organizations in Bugojno.

 

SDA: Migrant crisis will be used for special war against B&H, Bosniaks and SDA (Hayat)

 

SDA issued a press release on Saturday which reads that some will try to use the migrant crisis for a special war against Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), Bosniaks and SDA, as the strongest pro-Bosnian and the pro-Bosniak party. According to SDA, the plan is obvious and that is to enable as much as possible migrants to enter B&H, prevent reaching of decisions or weaken institutions that are competent to solve the crisis and to place migrants exclusively on the territory where Bosniaks make the majority. SDA said that then, Bosniaks and their representatives will be accused of everything. SDA reminded that leader of SDA Milorad Dodik refused engagement of the B&H Armed Forces, not allowing to strengthen and equip the B&H Border Police and strengthen engagement of border police officers at the border with Serbia, from where migrants enter the B&H territory. The press release reads: ”Along with all this, we have now the announcement on blockade of appointment of (member of SDA) Selmo Cikotic to the position of a new B&H Minister of Security because he is capable of making the necessary plans and to protect B&H citizens from the terrors of some migrants and figure out institutional managing with the crisis”. SDA called on all pro-Bosnian sides to confront this special war against B&H.

 

Chinese President Jinping thanks Dodik for support (ATV)

 

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping has expressed his gratitude to Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik for supporting China and its leadership in the protection of the state sovereignty and security. Jinping’s letter of gratitude reads that he understands and supports the issues of vital interest, as well as that mutual political trust should be constantly strengthened.

 

‘Klub 100-Plus’ calls on High Representative to immediately and no later than 11 July impose law banning denial of genocide in B&H (O kanal)

 

Representative of ‘Klub 100-Plus’ Senada Softic-Telalovic on Friday submitted a petition with 8,372 signatures to the OHR. The petition calls on the High Representative (HR) to immediately and no later than 11 July impose a law banning the denial of genocide in B&H. Softic-Telalovic stressed that this petition is symbolic because it includes 8,372 signatures from 123 countries of the world where each name represents one innocent victim of genocide in Srebrenica. “Other parliaments of the world have adopted resolution on Srebrenica and genocide and they commemorate the tragedy that happened on our territory every year, and we in our country, in B&H, do not have such a resolution adopted. Furthermore, we have total denial of genocide,” Softic-Telalovic underlined. “Our petition is not just for support for Mister Inzko, our petition is a demand for him to use his powers and impose the law, without the right for an objection from the parliament of B&H. The thing that worries us in the world the most is the fact that other countries of the world, and other parliaments of the world have adopted the Resolution on Srebrenica and the genocide, and they show respect to the tragedy that happened on our soil, and we in our homeland, in B&H, do not have that Resolution adopted”, Softic-Telalovic told the reporters in Sarajevo.

 

FB&H Ministry of Health Crisis HQ gives permission to TC and SC to declare state of epidemic (Hayat)

 

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Ministry of Health Crisis HQ has given permission to the Tuzla Canton (TC) and Sarajevo Canton (SC) to declare state of epidemic due to the increase in number of cases of Covid-19. This decision will enable the cantons to make decisions on their own and to implement them freely. After an epidemic is declared, the inspection controls will be more frequent and measures that are still in place will have to be respected. The inspectors will issue fines for all those that do not abide by the rules and regulations. Three main rules are wearing of masks, maintaining physical distance from other people and frequent washing of hands. They need to be followed so that further spread of the coronavirus is prevented. FB&H Assistant Minister of Healthcare Goran Cerkez stated that there is also an initiative for declaring the Coronavirus epidemic in the entire FB&H. He noted that all measures that are currently in force will be extended for another 14 days, adding that inspection and police were urged to ensure that the measures are respected. The Una Sana Canton (USC) crisis HQ held a session on Friday and supported the initiative to declare the epidemic in the FB&H, adding that there is no room for panic and called on citizens to stick to epidemiological measures and to be responsible.

 

SNSD Executive Committee discusses deterioration of epidemiological situation (ATV)

 

The SNSD Executive Committee held a session in Banja Luka on Friday. On this occasion, SNSD leader Milorad Dodik warned that the situation with Covid-19 could become serious, so the SNSD Executive Committee suggested that the institutions should urgently analyze the situation and inform the public about results of the analysis. Dodik stressed that the RS government and the RS Crisis Headquarters should take additional measures necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19. “All of us in the region obviously took it for granted that the virus is gone, which is simply not true. We should see how some other destinations in the surrounding are threatening us now, since we can see that the situation is getting worse,” Dodik said. He welcomed all economic measures the RS government has introduced during the pandemic.

 

B&H’s coronavirus total surpasses 3,000, more than 2,100 recover (N1)

 

Another 38 coronavirus infections were recorded in B&H over the last 24 hours, 24 in the FB&H and 14 in the RS, the healthcare authorities of the two regions confirmed on Monday. According to official data, the country’s total now stands at 3,040; 2,161 patients have recovered and over 165 died due to the Covid-19. The FB&H has reported the total of 1,340 Covid-19 patients to date, with 980 of those who recovered and 42 fatalities. So far, 44,312 coronavirus tests have been performed in the region, 400 in the last 24 hours. In the RS, 1,680 patients tested positive to date, 14 in the last 24 hours; 1,165 have recovered and 119 died. The total of 77 Covid-19 patients is treated at hospitals. The Brcko District, a separate administrative unit in the north, has seen 20 confirmed Covid-19 patients, of which 16 recovered and four died. Competent authorities have once again urged the citizens to obey the measures to prevent the virus spread.

 

Plenkovic says Croatia’s relations with B&H are very important to Croatian government (HRT1)

 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic officially opened the Office of the Foundation of the Sarajevo Archdiocese in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar on Friday, saying that Croatia’s relations with B&H are very important to the Croatian Government and everything it did in the last four years. “We significantly increased funds which were invested in support to concrete projects, from education, healthcare, culture, economy,” Plenkovic said. Vrhbosna Archbishop, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, stated that Foundation of the Sarajevo Archdiocese will be dealing with humanitarian work and that it will help the poor, the ill, pupils and students, as well as be encouragement for the survival and future of Croats in B&H. “We opened a foundation here so that benefactors could easier invest funds that can be controlled,” Puljic said.

 

Appointment of three new members of B&H Central Election Commission causes new political crisis in B&H (HRT1)

 

Holding of the local elections in B&H has been called into question because of the crisis. HRT1 stressed that ruling nationalist parties in B&H are bickering over the appointment of three new members of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC). According to HRT1, three new members of the B&H CEC were appointed in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic and without announcing a vacancy and implementing the prescribed procedure. New members of the B&H CEC include Zeljko Bakalar, who until recently performed duties of advisor to Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic (DF). Delegate in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Barisa Colak (HDZ B&H) claims that one was deliberately trying to circumvent the law and appoint members of the B&H CEC that suit certain political parties. “In this case, Bosniak parties from the Federation of B&H and the opposition from Republika Srpska (RS)” Colak underlined. HRT1 recalled that parliamentary majority at the B&H level is composed of SDA led by Bakir Izetbegovic, SNSD led by Milorad Dodik and HDZ B&H led by Dragan Covic, adding that the three new members of the B&H CEC were appointed thanks to the votes of SDA MPs and opposition MPs. As a result, Covic stated that the ruling coalition at the B&H level no longer exists. “What is today the key to misunderstandings is relation of B&H towards the CEC and vice versa given that we have a lot of problems there. But just so you know, these days, we are negotiating with partners behind closed doors,” Covic stressed. HRT1 noted that HDZ B&H and its partners are conducting negotiations on changes to the B&H Election Law and thus the role of the B&H CEC that conducts and observes elections in B&H. HRT1 recalled that SNSD filed a motion before the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H for review of constitutionality of the appointments to the B&H CEC.

 

Police arrest six in connection with crude anti-Serb banner (HRT)

 

Police have arrested six people in connection with the display of a highly offensive banner by the Dinamo Zagreb football club fan organization, the Bad Blue Boys, in Kustosija, a Zagreb neighborhood. The suspects rounded up by police range in age from 19 to 22. Zagreb Police Chief Marko Rasic said the individuals would be charged with misdemeanor offences. A group of football fans were photographed with a banner displaying Ustasha symbols and the words, “We will f*** Serb women and children.” The incident has been widely condemned in the media and by the public. Independent Democratic Serb Party president Milorad Pupovac said on Saturday the participants in an incident who incited to violence against Serb women and children were “tragic extras” while the main players, writers and directors behind such messages were some individuals running in the election. “The main players, writers and directors behind such messages are the campaign leaders of some political parties and political leaders who wish to come to power on an anti-minority, notably an anti-Serb campaign, who, on the hate against Serbs, wish to gain power to exploit Croats and get rich off them,” he said at a press conference. Many of them have nothing against Serbs and to most of them Serbs are excellent business partners, but that does not prevent them from polluting Croatia with hate against Serbs, that is the only way they can get power, Pupovac said. New Croatian capitalists and tycoons, in association with people from the judiciary and some Church circles, who take no issue with Ustasha symbols, will not speak against the misuse of the cross as a Christian symbol for hate and violence against the weak and the innocent, he said. He called out “those legalising” the Ustasha salute “For the homeland ready” at concerts by claiming that it did not bother those in attendance. Pupovac said his party would consider whether to participate in government after the parliamentary election in any way. “If it’s a problem for this country’s politics that the largest minority participates in the election of the prime minister, the vote on the budget and the discharge of minimal forms of government, we won’t do it. Let them see if they will do better.”

Miroslav Skoro, the leader of the Homeland Movement, condemned hate speech in general, saying that it had no place in Croatian society. President Zoran Milanovic called for tougher laws dealing with hate speech. “As far as punishment is concerned, I have said before that some things should be more tightly regulated. What happened the other day was not a disturbance of the peace. It was hate speech. As long as the police treat this as a misdemeanor offense, it will continue to happen. The police are not at fault. They don’t have any other recourse. The courts are not at fault either. The law is weak and these kinds of things should be criminalized.” Prime Minister and HDZ president Andrej Plenkovic on Sunday once again condemned the shameful messages about Serbs which appeared in Zagreb in the past few days, saying modern Croatia had no reason for hate speech outbursts and that they should be condemned and punished in the strongest terms. “Those who are doing that, I don’t know who they are following and on whose behalf they are doing it,” he said in a public television talk show. There have already been such outbursts and it is up to the police to find out if the three recent ones have been orchestrated ahead of the election, he added. Plenkovic described as incorrect the Serb National Council’s claims that the rise in violence was due to a benevolent stand on the Nazi-styled WWII Independent State of Croatia and the legalization of the Ustasha salute “For the homeland ready”. “We have always clearly condemned such things, but it’s difficult for the government to control individuals and people who find sense in that. We have clearly condemned all forms of hate speech.”

 

Two newly infected people in Croatia in the last 24 hours, both from Zagreb (N1)

 

The number of new Covid-19 cases in the Republic of Croatia in the last 24h is 2, which means that the total number of patients with coronavirus is 2.254. Both newly infected people are from the City of Zagreb, the National Civil Protection Headquarters announced. So far, 70,254 people have been tested, 144 of them in the last 24 hours. There are 7 people in hospital. There are no (0) patients on the respirator. The total number of recovered is 2.140, which is 6 newly recovered in 24 hours. The total number of deaths is 107. Today, the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia made three decisions:

– Decision amending the Decision on temporary prohibition of crossing the border crossings of the Republic of Croatia.

– Decision on the manner of organization of public transport during the declared epidemic of Covid-19 disease.

– Decision on amending the Decision on working hours and organizing work in the segment of trade during the declared epidemic of Covid-19 disease.

These decisions extended the existing regime of crossing the border crossings of the Republic of Croatia until 30 June 2020, enabled establishing of rail and road international public transport in compliance with the recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health and abolishing the ban on trade on holidays and non-working days, which means that it is possible to establish working hours as before the declared epidemic of Covid-19, but still with the mandatory application of anti-epidemic measures and compliance with all recommendations and instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

 

Andrija Mandic quits as MP (CDM)

 

One of the leaders of Democratic Front (DF) in Montenegro Andrija Mandic has resigned as member of the parliament of Montenegro. “I resign. After the recovery, I go out on the field – because we must all do our best and achieve one goal – win,” Mandic said. Mandic had a gallbladder surgery in Belgrade last week. “First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has expressed concern and interest in my health and whished speedy recovery. Over the past several days, I noticed how many people are noble and caring,” Mandic said. He points out he won’t be able to take part in sessions of the parliament. “I don’t even have to say how important appointment of the Supreme State Prosecutor is for DF, as this party has been target of corrupt judicial and prosecutorial system for years. Therefore, I am resigning as MP” Mandic pointed out. He will be replaced by the president of the Municipal Board of New Serbian Democracy in Podgorica, Rados Zecevic, who holds licentiate degree in law. “What I had to say in the parliament, I have already said in the previous period and I was very clear and straightforward, never submitting to those who have been creating non-democratic ambiance and forcing obedience. I also spoke up about some unpopular things. I didn’t want to pull myself back, I never flattered mass media and their narratives. Winston Churchill said: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”. We have made that difference. There have been heated arguments, difficult sessions, chaos, riots, but nothing British, Japanese, Turkish, Italian, Ukrainian and other parliaments in the world don’t have, even in more radical form. The only thing you will never see in other parliaments of civilized countries is police intervention,” Mandic said. He says he will use his recovery to devote to major challenges that lie ahead his political union. “A very difficult campaign is ahead of us, a very difficult fight in which people must triumph if we want to get Montenegro out of the claws of criminal, anti-Serbian and anti-Orthodox regime,” Mandic says. The goal is, as he says, victory.

 

Gojko Perovic claims: Limitation on public gatherings is a political decision (Dan)

 

Limiting public gatherings to up to 200 people is unlawful, because you have either the epidemic or a state of emergency, which means that there are no mass public gatherings. If it’s not like that, gatherings are allowed – and there are no limitations, Gojko Perovic, the rector of the Cetinje school of theology, told in an interview for Dan daily. He assessed that such a measure had the political connotation and represented a game of the people in power who wished to prohibit church protests. Perovic sees the apprehension of a priest and Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, as well as other actions of the government towards the Church as the unprincipled measures that undermined authority of the govt itself, and showed them as sources of instability and problems. “Church protests will be organized in line with the prescribed measures. In other words – we’ll organize them just as all other public gatherings were organized over the past few days, e.g. peaceful civic protest ‘Ne mogu da disem’ (I can’t breathe); celebration of the Independence Day, free walks down the cities’ streets and squares, shopping malls and construction sites,” Perovic said. According to him, the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC, has been well aware that some of the govt’s measures were passed for political reasons.

 

Border with Serbia remains closed until further notice (CDM)

 

Border towards Serbia can’t be reopened year due to risk for health. Citizens from several countries are not allowed to enter Montenegro anymore as epidemic situation in these countries has got worse. Institute for Public Health says that rate of active cases in some countries is above 25 per 100.000 inhabitants. This week the following countries have been removed from the list: Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Israel and Suriname. “We took into account stable neighborly relations, numerous private, family and economic relations between Serbia and Montenegro. But, not very clear epidemic situation in Serbia had an impact on our decision not to put Serbia on the list of countries whose citizens can enter Montenegro. Special problem was total absence of response to timely and professional query, the aim of which was exchange of epidemic data and elimination of all doubts,” the Institute explained. Meanwhile Slovenia has put Montenegro on the list of safe countries. This means that, staring from Monday, citizens of Montenegro will be allowed to enter Slovenia without undergoing testing and quarantine.

 

One person in Montenegro tests positive for coronavirus (CDM)

 

Analysis of 128 samples has confirmed one new coronavirus case. “It’s an imported case, a person who was in B&H last week. The person is currently in self-isolation,” the Institute for Public Health stated. According to the initial data, number of contacts is minimal. The Institute for Public Health has said that all contacts of the national of B&H who is positive for Covid-19 tested negative for the virus. Contacts of this person will be in self-isolation for 14 days from the day they had contact with the infected person and then they will undergo testing again. Since 6 May, there haven’t been new coronavirus cases in Montenegro and end to the epidemic was officially declared on 2 June. There have been 325 coronavirus cases since the outbreak. There is now one active case.

 

Pendarovski: Another state of emergency possible only if parties agree on election date (MIA)

 

President Stevo Pendarovski’s Office said Sunday it’s possible to declare another state of emergency nationwide only if political parties reach an agreement on election date. The response from the President’s Office comes after VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski called on President Pendarovski earlier on Sunday to extend the state of emergency in the country.

“President Stevo Pendarovski’s position is known to the public. The President is prepared to declare another state of emergency nationwide, only if all political stakeholders reach an inter-party agreement on early parliamentary election date, creating a legal framework to organize and conduct elections,” the President’s Office told MIA.Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Mickoski called on President Pendarovski to extend the state of emergency, underlining that VMRO-DPMNE will participate in the elections under two conditions, the first of which requires protocols for the protection of people’s health, and the second is right conditions for fair, democratic and inclusive elections, with an OSCE/ODIHR monitoring mission. Mickoski, who said that the first possible election date is mid-July, noted that the election campaign could be launched a day after the OSCE/ODIHR mission arrives in the country and holds a press conference, adding that the election date can be set from that day. North Macedonia’s state of emergency expired at midnight on Saturday. After leaders of the country’s two largest political parties, the ruling SDSM and the opposition VMRO-DPMNE – Zoran Zaev and Hristijan Mickoski, respectively – failed to reach an agreement on election date at a meeting hosted by President Stevo Pendarovski on Friday, election-related activities resume for 5 July. The election campaign is to be launched on 16 June.

 

Mickoski: First possible election date is mid-July (MIA)

 

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said Sunday the party won’t run in the early parliamentary elections if they are to be held on 5 or 8 July as proposed, adding that the first possible election date is mid-July. He called on President Stevo Pendarovski to extend the state of emergency, underlining that VMRO-DPMNE will participate in the elections under two conditions, the first of which requires protocols for the protection of people’s health, and the second is right conditions for fair, democratic and inclusive elections. Mickoski noted that the election campaign could be launched a day after the OSCE/ODIHR mission arrives in the country. He gave a message to the SDSM leadership and Zoran Zaev not to pressure the State Election Commission (SEC) or the citizens. In response to a reporter’s question about what would happen if the election campaign began tomorrow, and the elections were held on 5 or 8 July without OSCE/ODIHR observers, Mickoski said that in such case he agreed with President Stevo Pendarovski’s position that despite a health and economic crisis, we’d also find ourselves in a deep political crisis. “VMRO-DPMNE won’t be part of elections on 5 or 8 July especially after today’s information from the OSCE/ODIHR. In such case there are other additional steps on which we’ll inform the public timely. But in such case, a process of self-organization is ahead of us and, unfortunately, an additional political crisis in the country,” Mickoski said, adding that in such case responsibility was on SDSM. North Macedonia’s state of emergency expired at midnight on Saturday. After leaders of the country’s two largest political parties, the ruling SDSM and the opposition VMRO-DPMNE – Zoran Zaev and Hristijan Mickoski, respectively – failed to reach an agreement on election date at a meeting hosted by President Stevo Pendarovski on Friday, election-related activities resume for 5 July. The election campaign is to be launched on 16 June.

 

Zaev: Election date is 5 July in line with Constitution, not a matter of personal wish (MIA)

 

SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said Sunday that urgent elections are necessary and extremely important to restore the institutions that must serve the people with full capacity and legitimacy. According to him, elections are also necessary to better respond to the health and economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The election date is not and it cannot be a matter of a political party’s wish or someone’s personal wish, but it is determined by the Constitution and the law, Zaev posted on Facebook. Mickoski and VMRO-DPMNE, Zaev said, don’t care at all about people’s health. These are just excuses, so that no elections are held. He pointed out that the fear of losing the elections cannot be a reason for any political party to boycott them or seek to postpone them and thus, put both the people and the country in danger. All legal and constitutional requirements for holding the elections have been met, Zaev underlined, adding that the State Election Commission (SEC) as an executive body has the obligation to conduct the elections that are taking place on 5 July in line with the Constitution and the law. “Non-compliance with the law is subject to liability. We will not allow Mickoski to push the country into an institutional crisis, without a parliament and a political government. We will not allow people’s security, safety and health be threatened. We do not want elections without the opposition, but if Mickoski decides for that, we will show what we can do in a mandate free of sabotage,” Zaev posted on Facebook.

 

Osmani urges for consensus on elections at onset of July (MIA)

 

We need the elections now more than we needed them in December last year, when we reached consensus on having early elections, said Bujar Osmani, Deputy PM for European Affairs and member of the Democratic Union of Integration (DUI). But at the same time, the elections only make sense if citizens really have a choice in electing those who will represent the voice of the people in the parliament, Osmani told a DUI press conference on Sunday. “Democracy doesn’t recognize a political competition in which you’re competing with yourselves only. Without the participation of the relevant political stakeholders, the elections in this situation would only represent a new political crisis which, as a rule in our country, is turning into and institutional crisis to then become a threat of a possible security crisis. It would be terribly irresponsible to allow it,” Osmani said. Osmani underlined that this day should be used, leaving party and political tactics aside, to reach consensus on elections at the beginning of July. “I believe differences between political parties are small and it is a question of days. We cannot allow our country to be pushed into a deep political crisis due to a matter of two or three days sooner or later,” Osmani said. He added that the end of the state of emergency doesn’t mean that the threat of the epidemic has ended and the need to deal with its effects more efficiently. On the contrary, he noted, a stable and responsible government is needed, and a political majority that would fully take on responsibility for all challenges ahead of us. “North Macedonia is not only faced with the challenge of coping with the pandemic, but also the challenge of the long-awaited start of negotiations somewhere by the year’s end. At the moment, this is the greatest and most important strategic priority for the country in terms of which we have already achieved consensus. There’s nothing clever about endangering the most important project for the people because of political immaturity, trickery and tactics, putting party interest before strategic ones,” Osmani said. “I’d like to warn about the consequences of this political frivolity because there’s still an opportunity and a way to prevent new political instability at a time when stability is precisely our greatest weapon. I expect all political stakeholders today to present their positions and proposals on how to end this situation,” he added. Osmani urged all political party leaders to hold off election tactics and give priority to the gravity of the situation we’re in.

 

In North Macedonia 103 new cases of Covid-19, 5 patients die, 13 recover (MIA)

 

The Ministry of Health said Monday that 103 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in North Macedonia over the past 24 hours, 5 patients have died, while 13 have recovered. Most of the new cases are registered in Skopje (46), then Kumanovo (6), Shtip (6), Prilep (2), Tetovo (17), Struga (9), Veles (3), Bitola (1), Ohrid (3), Kavadarci (1), Gostivar (1), Strumica (1), Sveti Nikole (1), and Resen (6). Of the recovered, 10 are from Skopje, two from Prilep and one from Tetovo. Two patients from Skopje, aged 73 and 45, passed away at the “8 September” hospital in Skopje and a 65-year-old man died at the hospital in Tetovo. There were 841 tests made in the past 24 hours. A total of 43,881 Covid-19 tests have been carried out so far in North Macedonia. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the country has registered 4,157 cases. 1,723 people recovered and the number of active cases is 2,241. Death toll has reached 193. The Ministry of Health said Monday that 103 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in North Macedonia over the past 24 hours, 5 patients have died, while 13 have recovered. Most of the new cases are registered in Skopje (46), then Kumanovo (6), Shtip (6), Prilep (2), Tetovo (17), Struga (9), Veles (3), Bitola (1), Ohrid (3), Kavadarci (1), Gostivar (1), Strumica (1), Sveti Nikole (1), and Resen (6). Of the recovered, 10 are from Skopje, two from Prilep and one from Tetovo. Two patients from Skopje, aged 73 and 45, passed away at the “8 September” hospital in Skopje and a 65-year-old man died at the hospital in Tetovo. There were 841 tests made in the past 24 hours. A total of 43,881 Covid-19 tests have been carried out so far in North Macedonia. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the country has registered 4,157 cases. 1,723 people recovered and the number of active cases is 2,241. Death toll has reached 193.

 

Kim, Hajdari discuss work on EU conditions (ADN)

 

US Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim held a meeting on Sunday with the parliamentary opposition MP Rudina Hajdari, to discuss the latter’s leadership of National Council for European Integration and her strategic decision to support 6/5 Electoral Reform agreement so that Albania can meet European Union preconditions. “I respect her principled fight for more while keeping big picture in mind,” Kim wrote on Twitter. For her part, Hajdari thanked the US Ambassador for supporting her cause for strengthening democracy in Albania “by undergoing substantial electoral changes that help our European path and respond to what the society demands and expects from us”.

Covid-19 cases in Albania hit record high (Tirana Times)

 

Covid-19 cases in Albania are increasing at an alarming rate every day, as authorities confirmed on Monday that 69 more patients tested positive in the last 24 hours. This marks the highest number of daily cases since the outbreak of the pandemic and brings the total number to 1.590.

Furthermore, the geographical distribution has widened across the country, with cases being identified in cities which had been previously declared ‘green areas’ – Tirana currently takes the lead. Healthcare authorities stated that 50 patients are currently being treated at the ‘Infectious Diseases’ Hospital, while seven are under intensive care and one is intubated. However, 11 more patients recovered in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 1055 recovered patients.

Tirana 249 cases – Shkodra 68 cases – Kruja 63 cases – Kamza 27 cases – Durrës 25 cases – Vlora 21 cases – Lushnja 13 cases – Puka 11 cases – Elbasan 6 cases – Fier 4 cases – Lezha 3 cases – Tropoja 2 cases – Mallakastra 2 cases Korça 1 case – Librazhd 1 case – Berat 1 case – Vajgurore Bridge – 1 case – Gjirokastra 1 case. The lifting of restrictive measures was not accompanied by an increase of monitoring towards the implementation of hygiene rules and protocols set by the authorities, until Friday. Since then, inspection groups and police have visited premises of several businesses to identify any misconduct regarding hygiene rules.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

EC non-papers note pressures on judiciary and media in Serbia and Montenegro (EWB, 15 June 2020)

 

BRUSSELS – In its latest six-month report on the state of the Chapters 23 and 24 , the so-called “non-paper”, the European Commission notes the continuation of threats, intimidation and violence against journalists in Serbia, adding that, during the first half of 2020, an “unbalanced representation by public service broadcasters of the plurality of political views”. In Montenegro, the Commission stressed the lack of progress in prosecuting the attacks against journalist and vulnerbility of the judicial system. The European Commission stated that the Government of Serbia adopted a media strategy in January 2020, and that the process of writing it was inclusive and transparent, as well as that an action plan based on the strategy is currently being worked on. However, intimidation and violence against journalists continue to worry, especially at the local level. It is noted that out of 57 charges in 2018, 34 were considered by the end of 2019, of which 10 were concluded. The non-paper also highlights the Serbian Government’s attempt to centralize information during the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrest, and then continued pressure and intimidation of journalist Ana Lalić.“Hate speech and smear campaigns against journalists continued in the period before the elections originally scheduled for April 2020”, the document reads, noting that the constant refusal of public institutions to publish information continues to hinder the work of journalists. In addition to stating that the presentation of political views on public services is unbalanced, the document also emphasizes that the political and economic influence on the media is worrying and ownership is non-transparent.

 

Judiciary: High pressure from the authorities continues

“Pressure on the judiciary still remains high. Government officials, some at the highest level, as well as members of parliament, continue to comment publicly on a regular basis on ongoing investigations or court proceedings, or on individual judges and prosecutors”, the non-paper states. It is noted that the process of amending the Constitution has stalled and that the completion of parliamentary elections is awaited for in order for the process to be continued. When it comes to the national program for reducing unresolved cases, the document assesses its impact as positive, but reduced. The number of resolved cases decreased in 2019 compared to 2018. The non-paper estimates that the situation in the sectors that are particularly susceptible to corruption remains largely unchanged. These include public procurement, infrastructure projects, health, education, spatial planning and public enterprises. Additionally, the number of convictions in organized crime cases has “slightly increased”, with 167 convicts in 2019 compared to 155 in 2018. It is stated that Serbia is no longer on the “gray list” of countries with a high risk of money laundering and financing terrorism of the FATF.

 

Problems with the judiciary and media freedom present in Montenegro as well

The European Commission is concerned about the controversial appointment of senior officials in the Montenegrin judiciary, and challenges remain with regard to the overall situation in the area of ​​freedom of expression and the media, according to the “non-paper” for Montenegro, Vijesti reports. “During the reporting period, Montenegro continued to implement action plans for Chapters 23 and 24 and other strategic documents in the area of ​​the rule of law, and adopted new ones,” the document states. However, it is reminded that the parliament could not provide the necessary two-thirds majority for important appointments in the judiciary and, therefore, key functions are filled by acting functionaries. “In addition, concerns are growing about the controversial appointments of senior judicial officials, which are not in line with GRECO’s recommendations on judicial independence. It remains important that Montenegro does not go back in judicial reform and continue to record results, especially in the fight against corruption, while ensuring the true independence of all institutions,” the EC said. They state that the legal framework that guarantees the independence of the judiciary exists, however, the judiciary and the prosecution are still perceived as vulnerable to political interference.

 

Fight against corruption in Montenegro still challenging

The EC states that despite strengthening the capacity of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (ASK) and the proactive work of the new Council, challenges remain regarding integrity, impartiality, transparency, independence, non-selective approach and uniform and full application of laws. It is reminded that ASK investigated 31 cases of unexplained enrichment in 2019, but they did not find any irregularities. It is added that the amendments to the Law on Financing of Political Parties, which were adopted by the parliament in December last year, only partially addressed the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations. This law permits the allocation of social assistance from the budget reserve in an election year. “Appropriate safeguards must be put in place to prevent the misuse of public funds for election campaign purposes,” the document said. It is added that the implementation of the current law on free access to information has not helped increase the accountability and transparency of public administration. “The overall impact of anti-corruption measures in particularly vulnerable areas (local self-government, spatial planning, public procurement, privatization, health and education) has yet to show tangible results,” the EC said.

 

No progress in old cases of attacks on journalists

In 2019, four attacks on journalists were registered. Charges have been filed in three cases.

“There have been no new developments regarding older serious cases of attacks on journalists, including the murder of the editor of Dan in 2004. In April 2020, however, police shed light on four cases of attacks on media property from 2011 and 2014, when five vehicles were damaged and destroyed. Two people – minors at the time of the attack – were arrested, but the organizers of the attack remain unknown,” the EC document said, Vijesti report. Also, a new law is being prepared in the field of personal data protection. “The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the challenges in this area in finding the right balance between health care and respect for the confidentiality of personal health data and the right to privacy of citizens. A list of all persons who were ordered a self-isolation measure was published, which was used afterwards by one person to make an application which allows users to track people in self-isolation. In April 2020, a list of more than 60 people infected with the virus, containing their names, birth data and ID number, was leaked. A criminal investigation is currently underway,” it was stated in the non-paper. The EC notes that the police need more senior investigators of organized crime and drug smuggling, experts in charge of special investigative measures and cybercrime, economic crime and forensics.

 

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