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Belgrade Media Report 17 June

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic doesn’t expect spectacular, but rational talks in Washington (Beta/RTV)
Dacic: Still uncertain what the topic would be at the White House meeting (B92)
Stano: Brussels dialogue is the main platform for Serbia and Kosovo (FoNet)
O’Brien: Pleased to host Belgrade and Pristina leaders (RTS)
Dimitrijevic: We are awaiting information for conducting elections in Kosovo and Metohija (Beta/Tanjug)
Varhelyi: ODIHR’s report on elections to be basis for EC annual progress report for Serbia (Beta)
Kesic: Grenell would have not organized a meeting in the White House if he was not confident that some form of agreement could be reached (Sputnik/B92)
Another 96 cases (B92)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

RS officials: RS CoP should be abolished ASAP (RTRS)
SDA: Dodik’s calls for reducing of RS CoP competencies can lead to disturbance of relations established by DPA (Dnevni avaz)
Komsic: No discussion about abolition of RS CoP without abolition of FB&H HoP (Dnevni avaz)
Dodik: Some representatives of IC say that illegal appointment of members of B&H CEC is good solution, this is evidence they support Muslims and SDA (ATV)
Cikotic: I accepted SDA’s nomination for patriotic reasons (Dnevni list)
Tegeltija: B&H urgently needs new Security Minister (Nezavisne)
Komsic says NATO path of B&H was unblocked (EuroBlic)
Ambassador Sattler: Without adopted revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy there will be no financial assistance of EU through IPA funds (BHT1)
B&H sees another spike in new coronavirus infections, no new deaths reported (N1)
Croatia

Tourism Minister Cappelli: Not likely that borders for B&H citizens will be open, without any restrictions, before 1 July (Hina)
Croatia registers 3 more Covid-19 cases (N1)
Montenegro

Djukanovic: SPC is manipulating people and wants to oust government (CDM)
Tensions in Budva: Carevic and Radovic under arrest (RTV Budva)
Montenegro Airlines: We don’t know when we will be allowed to fly to Belgrade again (CDM)
Montenegro is deploying 30 soldiers to NATO (CDM)
Montenegro deserves to be the next EU member state (CDM)
A person from Budva tests positive for coronavirus (CDM)
Police will not safeguard gatherings with more than 200 participants (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia

SEC adopts revised timetable for 15 July elections (MIA)
Spasovski: 15 July a day for decisions and country’s rescue from crisis (MIA)
Mickoski urges for higher turnout (MIA)
We will not form a coalition on the basis of ultimatums, Mickoski tells Ahmeti (Republika)
Polls show VMRO ahead of SDSM-BESA by about 70.000 votes (Republika)
Border crossings to open, measures still in place (MIA)
Today, 193 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in North Macedonia, 46 patients have recovered – 9 people have died (Libertas)
Albania

Meta receives outgoing Serbian Ambassador (ADN)
Electoral Reform, parties disagree on CEC (ADN)
Government reinforces three strict rules after infection’s escalation (ADN)
In Albania 50 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Trump envoy brokers White House meeting for Kosovo and Serbia presidents (The Guardian)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic doesn’t expect spectacular, but rational talks in Washington (Beta/RTV)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today he still did not know what would be at the Washington meeting between the Belgrade and Pristina delegations, but added his country would know how to preserve its state and national interests, Beta reported. “I don’t expect any spectacular things. I expect rational talks. Serbia is small to dictate anything to the White House, but is big enough to say what its interests are and that it has to protect them,” Vucic told reporters while touring preparations for road construction. Commenting on Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti statement that Pristina demands the recognition of independence, Vucic says that if Kosovo delegation comes with that platform, “it’s better for them not to come.”

“There is some hysteria among Albanians, I am proud that we are peaceful. There are five conditions that Avdulah Hoti spoke about today and all five are unacceptable to us. If that’s all that either he or Thaci would talk about, they better not go anywhere. If they think that they can harm Serbia with these blackmails and threats, they are very much mistaken,” said Vucic.

 

Dacic: Still uncertain what the topic would be at the White House meeting (B92)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has told TV B92 that it is still uncertain what will be the topic and what could be the result of the Belgrade-Pristina meeting at the White House. He says that one can notice “a big tide of desire of certain international factors to organize various gatherings”. He says that a series of meetings are upcoming: with EU Envoy Miroslav Lajcak, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Russian President Putin, and also the earlier initiatives of Germany and France on the meeting of Serbian and Kosovo representatives, but, as he said, Grenell had overtaken them now. According to him, if somebody thinks that a compromise is for us to only recognize independent Kosovo and that this is the goal of all pressures, I think this is a waste of time. “Vucic and I said this clearly, I think they understood this,” said Dacic. He says that the Albanian side probably has more trust in the Democrat’s presidential candidate Biden and expect his authority, and now it is a question whether they are ready for any kind of compromise or is this only buying time. “I don’t trust Pristina at all,” said Dacic, noting that Pristina is using every place to lobby for recognition of independence of Kosovo.

 

Stano: Brussels dialogue is the main platform for Serbia and Kosovo (FoNet)

 

European External Action Service spokesperson Peter Stano told FoNet he did not want to speculate on what would happen in Washington during the announced Belgrade-Pristina meeting, but stressed that the Brussels dialogue is the main platform for Serbia and Kosovo and that the goal was to move closer to a final agreement and progress on the European path.

Asked whether two parallel negotiation processes are taking place in Brussels and Washington, he said that interpretations are free, but that the EU mediates in the dialogue between the two sides from the beginning and that they see positively everything that will move things forward.

According to him, the EU and the United States have common interests in the Western Balkans. “We want to help stabilize the region. The future of these countries is European,” said Stano.

Speaking about a possible agreement between the two sides, which would be reached in Washington, and which would be destabilizing for the region and disrupt the process led by the EU, Stano stressed that these were speculations and that the two sides know well what the possibilities are. “Both sides are very aware that their future is the European future and that they want to join the EU. I do not believe that they will agree on anything that will prevent them from achieving this strategic goal, which is also the wish of their citizens,” says Stano.He added that the EU does not focus on announcements, but on concrete results that the EU has already shown in the region, including the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. He stressed that EU special representative Miroslav Lajcak has the full support of all EU member states to continue and finalize the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support for Lajcak’s work yesterday in a conversation with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

 

O’Brien: Pleased to host Belgrade and Pristina leaders (RTS)

 

“I am pleased to host the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo with US special envoy Richard Grenell at the White House. The United States is looking forward to these important discussions,” US President’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien wrote on Twitter.

 

Dimitrijevic: We are awaiting information for conducting elections in Kosovo and Metohija (Beta/Tanjug)

 

The Chairperson of the Republic Election Commission (RIK) Vladimir Dimitrijevic has stated that they are awaiting the information in accordance with the instructions for conducting elections in Kosovo and Metohija. “We are awaiting information in accordance with the instructions, in order to pass corresponding instructions is need be,” said Dimitrijevic at a RIK session.  RIK Vice Chairperson Zeljka Radeta says there are 90 polling stations in Kosovo and Metohija, but that there still no decisions passed on working bodies, permanent or expanded composition and schedule of coordinators. Dimitrijevic said that the coordinators for Kosovo and Meothija had been determined and that these are Marko Jankovic and Marko Pusic in the basic decision.

 

Varhelyi: ODIHR’s report on elections to be basis for EC annual progress report for Serbia (Beta)

 

EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi has replied to a letter sent by MEPs from the socialist and democratic parties, in which they had expressed the concern over the state of democracy and political situation in Serbia, saying that a report of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on the upcoming election would the basis for European Commission Annual Progress Report for Serbia. Varhelyi said that the EU had been carefully monitoring the developments in Serbia. “Serbia is a crucial partner for the EU and has made a strategic choice to join the EU. The credibility of this commitment depends on clear public communication of the Serbian government and implementation of the necessary reforms,” it is said in the reply which portal European Western Balkans (EWB) saw on 16 June. As regards the parliamentary, provincial and local elections scheduled for 21 June, Varhelyi wrote that it was important that all political stakeholders had every confidence in the election process. He also said that the elections should be held in accordance with ODIHR’s recommendations and hailed the deployment of a special ODIHR election observation mission, particularly in the difficult times due to Covid-19. Varhelyi added that particularly under current conditions, “when certain activities are still restricted, the role of free media, a level playing field for all political stakeholders and a proactive role of media watchdogs are important.”

 

Kesic: Grenell would have not organized a meeting in the White House if he was not confident that some form of agreement could be reached (Sputnik/B92)

 

The news that the leaders of Serbia and Pristina institutions will meet on 27 June at the White House in Washington surprised everyone. Richard Grenell, the Special Envoy of the US President, obviously has a feeling that there is a possibility to reach at least an agreement on economic cooperation, Sputnik reports. The director of the Republika Srpska representation in Washington DC and analyst Obrad Kesic, on the occasion of Grenell’s meeting announced for 27 June , on the eve of Vidovdan, says for that portal: “If we look at what Grenell has already made public, I think it’s realistic to start with that – that an agreement is expected to be reached on opening economic co-operation between Belgrade and Pristina, so that would create some momentum before key stages of negotiations in the fall. At least, that’s how it’s estimated here”, Kesic said. At the State Department, those who worked on the Kosovo issue were surprised by the speed with which Grenell started to mediate between Belgrade and Pristina, Kesic added. Any success in foreign policy negotiations can be overemphasized, but given the current state of affairs in the United States, foreign policy, according to Kesic’s assessment, will not play a significant role in the presidential election campaign. The combination of the coronavirus epidemic, the economic crisis associated with it and the riots caused by the murder of George Floyd made foreign policy not so appealing in the election campaign. In addition, Kesic emphasizes, the mainstream media, which are oriented against Donald Trump, will not emphasize any of his success in the foreign policy field. He recalls the promise made by Trump a few days ago, when he said that he would not send the army to solve the problems of other states, as well as that America would no longer engage in experiments to create new states that are not capable of surviving on their own. In that context, I am not sure that there are more places in the campaign to place some foreign policy success, Kesic points out. Grenell’s statement that, if the parties are not satisfied with the talks on June 27, things will return to the status quo, Kesic interprets the increasingly loose support that Kosovo Albanians have in Washington. This statement grew out of the growing frustration of the White House, the State Department, and even Grenell himself, with the unstable political situation in Pristina.

“I think Albanians in the United States are losing ground; the only place where they still have some support remains in Congress, especially in the House of Commons, where one of their key allies, Eliot Engel, chairs the Foreign Policy Committee. He tried to impose views of the previous administrations through testimonies, writing letters and public appearances, criticizing the Trump administration’s policy regarding negotiations,” Kesic said. However, the erosion of support for Pristina in Washington is evident, and if there is no progress in the negotiations or the agreement is not implemented, the still existing trust in Hashim Thaci and the entire political elite in Pristina will be doomed to destruction. However, Kesic, as he says, does not believe that Grenell would have organized a meeting in the White House if he was not confident to a large extent that some form of agreement could be reached.

 

Another 96 cases (B92)

 

Until 3pm there have another 96 cases, in total 12,522 infected. There has been one more death, in total 257 deaths. The number of active cases is 568. There are 17 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

RS officials: RS CoP should be abolished ASAP (RTRS)

 

Officials of Republika Srpska (RS) said on Tuesday that instead of protecting the Vital National Interest (VNI), the RS Council of Peoples (CoP) has become the institution of political blockades that should be abolished as soon as possible. RTRS reported that this is a reaction to Monday’ session of the Joint Commission of the RS parliament and the CoP which failed to reach an agreement on any issue. Commenting on the fact that the Bosniak Caucus launched the procedure for protection of the VNI to rebalance of the RS Budget drafted due to the Coronavirus epidemic, officials of the RS assessed that the goal is to impose or put the CoP above the RS parliament which is absolutely unacceptable. Officials of the RS underlined that High Representatives (HRs) made up the CoP in order to inhibit the RS and that everything should be done in order to abolish it. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic (SNSD) said that all this is a political game. She said: “The intention to be above can be seen in the fact that the CoP – although the RS parliament had the possibility in line with the (RS) Constitution to only confirm decree-laws that the RS President adopts during the emergency situation – went further by proposing some amendments and if you deprive them of such a thing, they would appeal to a Constitutional Court (CC), probably the B&H CC claiming that they are exempted from a certain decision-making process or something like that. This is all a political game”. Serb member of the B&H Presidency and leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik argued that SDA is managing with Bosniak delegates, adding that at the B&H level, SDS and PDP support this behavior. Dodik stressed that changing of the RS Constitution is one of the solutions. Dodik stated that changes to the RS Constitution are currently being prepared and added that those changes should either eliminate the RS CoP from the parliamentary life or at least dramatically reduce the possibility to prevent work of the highest authority bodies in this way. Officials of the RS reminded that the Dayton defined that the RS CoP is not the second parliamentary house, as in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) or at the level of the B&H, but an institution that was subsequently introduced in order to protect the VNI of the constituent peoples. The officials believe that the system is not efficient due to Bosniak delegates who are conducting the policy by orders coming from Sarajevo. Speaking about the B&H CC, Dodik said: “This is not an institution. This is not a CC. This is only misfortunately called the CC. This is a place of criminalization of entire relations in B&H, majorization of two peoples in B&H and affirmation of one people and one political illusion that tries to impose B&H as a unitary state organization”. Dodik added that even at the level of B&H, SDA is trying to lecture the RS with the help of leaders of SDS and PDP and to impose stances in an unfair way like changing of the rules of procedure and adoption of the resolution on respect for the victims of the fascist regime and the movement, adding that this is never going to happen. In his opinion, it is important that a strong, Serb representation composed of four representatives exists, adding that they are just people who defend interests of the RS and not some unreasonable people. Dodik accused the international community of being responsible for the entire situation. “That is a fabrication of Wolfgang Petritsch who imposed that on the RS parliament. The Council of Peoples does not exist in the Dayton Agreement and the Constitution of B&H. There is only the parliament,” Dodik underlined.

 

SDA: Dodik’s calls for reducing of RS CoP competencies can lead to disturbance of relations established by DPA (Dnevni avaz)

 

SDA deems that calls of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, for reducing of competencies of the RS Council of Peoples, presents political adventurism, which can lead to disturbance of relations established by the Dayton Peace Accords. SDA statement reads that the current RS CoP is not in line with the Constitution of B&H, because it has weaker position than Federation of B&H House of Peoples.

 

Komsic: No discussion about abolition of RS CoP without abolition of FB&H HoP (Dnevni avaz)

 

No discussion about abolition of the RS Council of Peoples without abolition of FB&H House of Peoples’ not signed- In statement to daily, member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic commented the calls for abolition of the RS Council of Peoples. “It is clear that this is not possible. However, if we are to be led by the logics about change of character of second entity home, then there is no reason not to abolish the FB&H House of Peoples. Existing FB&H House of Peoples has disproportionally bigger competencies than RS Council of Peoples,” said Komsic.

 

Dodik: Some representatives of IC say that illegal appointment of members of B&H CEC is good solution, this is evidence they support Muslims and SDA (ATV)

 

Member of the B&H Presidency from the rank of Serb people Milorad Dodik said on Tuesday that although some representatives of international community talk a lot about the rule of law, they still define illegal appointment of new members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) as a good solution. According to Dodik, this is clear evidence they politically support one side – Muslims and SDA. He emphasized that this is perfectly clear to everyone but to SDS and PDP who have been supporting such activities. Also, the member of the B&H Presidency stressed that some foreign ambassadors have been interfering in issues that do not concern them, adding that one of these ambassadors is the OSCE Ambassador (Kathleen Kavalec) to B&H, who has been attempting to impose her stances on how things should be done in B&H. Dodik stated that when they explain the current situation concerning the appointment of new members of B&H CEC to representatives of the OSCE countries, they agree that such appointment is not legal. “However, she was the first one to say it is ok. It is not ok. No one is asking for her opinion about anything anymore. She cannot tell us what is right and what is not. That is why B&H is unsuccessful country. Some accidental ambassador is more important for them than to keep legal continuity,” said Dodik. He added that if the disordered method of deciding in B&H is suitable for anyone, it is the RS. Chair of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija also deems that failure of the international community (IC) to react to illegal appointment of members of B&H CEC is evidence that there are some motive and agreements. Tegeltija underlined that there are three problems in regards to appointment of members of B&H CEC, first one being that members of B&H CEC cannot be replaced in the election period. He added that the second problem is the issue of procedure. “All procedures that could have been violated in the process of appointment of members of B&H CEC were violated. The third problem is the issue of legitimacy of some of appointed members of B&H CEC,” emphasized the Chair of the B&H CoM. Tegeltija claims that many have been working hard on protection of SDS and PDP personnel in joint institutions of B&H in order to prevent SNSD and its partners to take over functions that belong to them.

Also, Dodik said that leaders of SDS and PDP, as well as two more MPs in B&H House of Representatives (HoR) from the RS are part of “Adil’s group” (Referring to Adil Osmanovic (SDA), MP from the RS) in B&H HoR. Dodik added that this is why it is important for Serb representation to show capability to manage the situation and prevent anything that is not in interest of the RS. Dodik said that SDS leader Mirko Sarovic and PDP leader Branislav Borenovic proved on several occasions they are traitors of the RS.

 

Cikotic: I accepted SDA’s nomination for patriotic reasons (Dnevni list)

 

SDA’s candidate for the post of B&H Security Minister Selmo Cikotic stated that he accepted the nomination primarily for patriotic reasons. “I accepted the nomination because I believe that, as someone with a lot of practical and theoretical experience in fields of security and defense, I can make a contribution. I never spared myself in moments when it was necessary to fight for the state – for the state of all its citizens and all its peoples, and not by any means for one people only but for the wellbeing of all,” said Cikotic.

 

Tegeltija: B&H urgently needs new Security Minister (Nezavisne)

 

B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) Chairman Zoran Tegeltija, speaking about the appointment of the new Security Minister, stated that if SDA’s candidate Selmo Cikotic successfully passes the vetting by B&H Central Election Commission (B&H CEC) and State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), he is going to nominate him. However, he reminded, the final decision on appointment will have to be made by B&H House of Representatives. Asked to comment the claims of the Croat People’s Assembly linking Cikotic with war crimes committed against Croats, Tegeltija said that when considering someone for a ministerial office, he can only take into account the information that he receives officially from relevant institutions in charge of the vetting procedure. Asked to comment the fact that Bosniak members of B&H CoM have repeatedly removed from the agenda the issue of appointments of Directors in several state agencies, Tegeltija said that he is of the opinion that candidates who have passed the entire legally prescribed procedure should be appointed. However, Bosniak Ministers believe that distribution of all offices should be discussed. Tegeltija expressed hope that a compromise will be reached and the problem solved soon. Asked if Cikotic’s appointment could be blocked by SNSD and HDZ B&H MPs in B&H HoR, Tegeltija said that B&H urgently needs a Security Minister. “I am against the system of mutual blackmailing and condoning. I believe that everything that comes up on the agenda should be dealt with, and not use one thing as condition for something else,” said Tegeltija. He emphasized that B&H CoM needs to be complete again. Meanwhile, spokesperson of SNSD Radovan Kovacevic said that they will analyze everything about the candidate, as well as those who proposed the appointment. According to Kovacevic, they will discuss this proposal and see what representatives of the Croats think about this. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) argued that Cikotic must be appointed, adding that this position belongs to Bosniaks, i.e. SDA while other parties will have to accept this fact.

 

Komsic says NATO path of B&H was unblocked (EuroBlic)

 

In a written interview to the daily, Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic commented on the NATO path of B&H by saying that registration of military property is one of the top items of the Annual National Program (ANP) and he added: “We had a chance to see that the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H rendered an adequate ruling in this context so this process is underway. Nobody has any reason to be afraid of this and nobody will be deprived of anything, we all can only benefit from this”. Komsic reminded that the Program of Reforms was delivered to Brussels after ten years of delays on the NATO path of B&H and he added that this Program was positively accepted by which the NATO path was unblocked. Asked to comment on the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H to postpone the local elections, Komsic stated that “15 days sooner or later means nothing” and he added that the most important thing is to hold elections. Komsic argued that the decision to postpone elections will cause no damage to those who believe in what they represent. With regard to elections in Mostar, Komsic said that he hopes a solution will be found to respect the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Komsic assessed that it is good that talks were launched on this matter but he added: “However, as far as I can see, the offered proposals are still not a part of possible solution”. Commenting on the resignation of Fahrudin Radoncic from the post of the Minister of Security of B&H as well as his decision to terminate the coalition with SDA, Komsic stated that DF intends to run in upcoming elections in scope of a wide left-oriented civic coalition, which should include Social-democrats of B&H (SD), Movement of Social Justice and Democracy (SPD) and possibly even Civic Alliance (GS). Komsic added that he did not expect Radoncic to resign at this crucial moment “but he probably has his own reasons for this and I do not want to analyze those reasons right now”. Komsic went on to say that the migrant crisis represents a great challenge for the state but “apart from the Minister, there are also state institutions which need to function independently from any individual”. Commenting on the statement of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, who said that the arrests made in ‘Respirators’ affair represent an attack on Bosniaks, Komsic stated that it is necessary to have a judiciary that is free from any kind of political influence in order to establish someone’s guilt or innocence. “Without that, we will remain stuck in the sphere of speculations”, Komsic claimed and added that the judiciary can be freed of influence by applying European principles and legal standards, which is an integral part of 14 priorities from the Opinion of the European Commission. “Unfortunately, a part of the political scene in B&H, primarily HDZ B&H and SNSD, do not even want to hear about that”, Komsic claimed. Speaking about the fact that some Croats in B&H still do not see him as a political representative of Croats, Komsic said that all three members of the Presidency of B&H were elected and have the obligation to work for the best interest of all citizens of B&H. “The primary political interest of Croats in B&H is membership in the EU and NATO. Those are also my political interests unlike some others like HDZ B&H which is getting closer to Russia,” Komsic said and added that everyone is entitled to see him in any way they want. Asked to explain why the official Sarajevo has failed to react to Radoncic’s claims that B&H Embassies to Pakistan and Iraq are issuing false visas, Komsic said that the state institutions cannot react upon statements but only upon concrete evidence. “State institutions must first establish whether those claims are true, before undertaking any steps. I believe those claims must be thoroughly investigated and act in line with the outcome,” Komsic said.

 

Ambassador Sattler: Without adopted revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy there will be no financial assistance of EU through IPA funds (BHT1)

 

Head of the EU Delegation to B&H, Ambassador Johann Sattler said that without adopted revised National War Crimes Processing Strategy there will be no financial assistance of the EU through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds. With the goal of finding a solution, a video conference was held, which was attended by Ambassador Sattler, B&H Minister of Justice Josip Grubesa, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic, Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H Gordana Tadic and B&H Deputy Minister of Justice Nezir Pivic. Grubesa said he has been emphasizing the importance of this Strategy for a long time, which has not been adopted in the past two years. Turkovic informed the participants about the reasons for voting against the revised Strategy at the last session of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) and presented views that brought her closer to finding a solution for this situation.

 

B&H sees another spike in new coronavirus infections, no new deaths reported (N1)

 

B&H has recorded 56 new coronavirus infections, 24 in the FB&H and 32 in the RS, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Wednesday in their daily updates. No new fatalities caused by Covid-19 have been reported in the country over the last 24 hours. According to the Civil Affairs Ministry, the country’s coronavirus tally stands at 3,141 and the death toll remains unchanged with 168 confirmed fatalities. The total of 2,197 patients has recovered. With 24 new cases reported in Tuzla Canton, Zenica-Doboj Canton, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and Sarajevo Canton, the FB&H’s total is now at 1,397 Covid-19 patients. To date, 981 have recovered and 45 died in the region as a result of the coronavirus infection. The FB&H healthcare authorities have performed 471 coronavirus tests in the last 24 hours and 45,457 since the epidemic outbreak. As for the RS, the region has so far recorded 1,724 Covid-19 patients, 32 since the last update. 1,200 patients have recovered and 119 died due to Covid-19. Since the epidemic outbreak, the RS healthcare authorities have performed 32,703 coronavirus tests, 322 in the last 24 hours. The Brcko District 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.

 

Tourism Minister Cappelli: Not likely that borders for B&H citizens will be open, without any restrictions, before 1 July (Hina)

 

Croatian Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli said that opening of Croatian border for B&H citizens depends of the EU stance. Cappelli stated that it is necessary to assess the epidemiological situation and announced that the EU will hold a meeting this week about opening of borders for “third countries” i.e. those outside the EU. Minister noted that the principled stance has been adopted and each of the EU members will bilaterally agree how to proceed and whether borders towards other country can be opened or not. Cappelli stated that decision will depend of epidemiological situation. Asked about framework date, Cappelli noted that it would not be fair to promise anything, but added that it is not likely that borders for B&H citizens will be open, without any restrictions, before July 1st. He underlined that there are certain Covid-19 hotspots in B&H and Croatia is now waiting for EU’s decision.

 

Croatia registers 3 more Covid-19 cases (N1)

 

In the last 24 hours, Croatia registers 3 more Covid-19 cases, which increased the total number of cases to 2,258. One newly infected person is from the Split-Dalmatia County, and two from the City of Zagreb. So far, 70,712 people have been tested, of which 186 in the last 24 hours, and five people are in hospital. There are no patients on the respirator. The total number of recovered is 2,141, which is one newly recovered in 24 hours, while the total number of deceased is 107.

“Adherence to all the measures and instructions adopted so far is crucial, because by responsible behavior we can reduce the spread of coronavirus infection. Everyone must be aware of the responsibility for their own health, the health of their families and fellow citizens,” stated the Directorate of Civil Protection.

 

Djukanovic: SPC is manipulating people and wants to oust government (CDM)

 

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, following the consultations with the representatives of parliamentary parties and coalitions said that parliamentary elections would take place at the end of August or at the beginning of September. He touched on the activities of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in Montenegro and told its representatives – you are so wrong if you think that religious processions can endanger fundamental values of Montenegrin society. He pointed out that SPC “wants to exert pressure on the government, oust it at the forthcoming elections and then make some of its wishes come true. SPC has decided to take off gloves and talk from the position of political subject, directing its adherents and talking them into who to vote for.

The President emphasized that Montenegro had shown high level of responsibility in the previous period. “A specific number of parliamentary subjects have accepted the invitation for consultations. We discussed the term. A specific part ignored the call. It is up to me to demonstrate democratic resolve to listen to party leaders and it is up to them to decide if they will accept that or not. Attitude of opposition leaders comes as no surprise. They are irresponsible when it comes to national interests. Their intention is to start establishing alibi for the expected outcome,” Djukanovic said. Djukanovic pointed out that Montenegro was emphasizing separation of two aspects of state-church relations. “One aspect is Law on Freedom of Religion and the other is long-term definition of state-church relations. We have been trying to discuss long-term solution. And while searching for solutions we maintained contact with SPC,” the President pointed out. He reminded that SPC said it wanted to continue with pressure on the streets. Djukanovic said that Democratic Party of Socialists “has clear task – winning elections. “They are so wrong if they think that religious processions can endanger fundamental values of our society. We are faced with much more serious risks. We are going to take care of Montenegro and its reputation,” Djukanovic said. He stressed that they were looking for the optimal date of the election, which will probably be end of August or beginning of September.

According to Djukanovic, Montenegro doesn’t forbid anyone to express their views on any issue. “There are no privileged ones. Nobody will be out of the reach of Montenegrin justice system,” President said. He reminded that part of the political stage hadn’t recognized results of any elections so far. “That much about their principles. Opposition is personified by leaders who have proven that they don’t want to adhere to the democracy rules that apply everywhere in the world,” Djukanovic said. Djukanovic thinks that opposition’s manipulation is very transparent and aimed at establishing the alibi for the defeat. “Let’s not boil the perception of the problem down to what opposition says or what I say. Read all the reports of international representatives. Every report has stated that the ambiance was good. We have implemented many recommendations. We have improved election conditions compared with 2016,” Djukanovic states. Djukanovic points out that there’s very deep division inside orthodox population in Montenegro. “Would it be responsible to ignore it? No! History proves that Montenegrin Orthodox Church existed in Montenegro. When Montenegro disappeared, Montenegrin Orthodox Church disappeared immediately afterwards. And what are we going to do now with the fact that Montenegro restored its statehood? There are still those who say that Montenegro disappeared,” he stressed. Djukanovic concluded by saying that it would be rational if local elections took place on the same day of the parliamentary elections.

 

Tensions in Budva: Carevic and Radovic under arrest (RTV Budva)

 

Dismissed president of the Municipality of Budva, Mako Carevic, and dismissed president of the Municipal Assembly of Budva, Krsto Radovic, were arrested this morning in front of the Municipal building. Police also arrested several other people due to obstructing officers in performing their duties. Police previously tried to take inspector of the Administration inspection into the municipal building where they were welcomed by Carevic and Radovic. Some distressing scenes took place, forcing police to use chemical means. The Administration inspection rendered decision ordering secretary of the Municipal Assembly of Budva and secretary of the Secretariat for local self-government to enable Snezana Kuc and Vladimir Bulatovic access to the offices and to make available to them official seal and smooth functioning of local self-government. Acting president of the municipality and Municipal Assembly, Kuc and Bulatovic, have asked Ministry of Public Administration to be provided with technical and other necessary conditions for performing working tasks. Krsto Radovic has recently torn down decisions on his dismissal.

 

Montenegro Airlines: We don’t know when we will be allowed to fly to Belgrade again (CDM)

 

We have no information on when national airline will be allowed to fly to Belgrade, Montenegro Airlines (MA) representatives told CDM. The ban was imposed by aviation authorities of Serbia. On 26 May, Civil Aviation Directorate of the Republic of Serbia banned Montenegro Airlines aircraft from landing at “Nikola Tesla” Airport in Belgrade. MA says competent authorities are communicating to deal with this situation as soon as possible. They also say this is a very important line for MA. “But it’s also important for Air Serbia. We are in a bad situation together and as we are entering the period of the greater amount of traffic, the damage is getting even more serious,” MA representatives say. And waiting for the situation with Belgrade to resolve, MA is restoring lines towards many European destinations.

 

Montenegro is deploying 30 soldiers to NATO (CDM)

 

In order to continue good cooperation with NATO, Montenegro will deploy 30 soldiers to the NATO Response Force, NRF, the government announced. Beside its operative role, the NRF can be used for greater cooperation in the area of education, training, military exercises and technology. “By deploying soldiers to NATO, Montenegro will actively contribute to the system of collective security, development of the Alliance’s capabilities and capacities, and direct improvement of the security, prosperity and stability of the state,” the government tweeted.

 

Montenegro deserves to be the next EU member state (CDM)

 

Montenegro is the best prepared country of the Western Balkans (WB) for EU accession and as such it deserves to be the next EU Member State, it was said at the meeting between president of the Committee on International Relations and Expatriates Andrija Nikolic, and ambassadors of the Visegrad Group states. Nikolic said that Visegrad Group states understood very well all the weaknesses of the region and recognized that the EU “is not complete without WB”. Ambassadors of the V4 agreed that Visegrad Group “strongly supports the enlargement idea and advocates for the Montenegro’s accession”. “Ambassadors also pointed out that Montenegro could count on political, expert and technical support of the Visegrad Group”.

 

A person from Budva tests positive for coronavirus (CDM)

 

The Institute for Public Health has reported one new coronavirus case in Budva. “The person was in Bosnia and Herzegovina several days before the symptoms started,” the Institute said. Epidemic research and identification of contacts is underway. Total number of coronavirus cases in Montenegro is 326. There are currently two active cases.

 

Police will not safeguard gatherings with more than 200 participants (RTCG)

 

The police will not safeguard public gatherings if the measure of the National Coordination Body (NKT) that a maximum of 200 people may attend the gatherings, is not respected, said the director of the Police Administration Veselin Veljovic. “In case of violation of the measure, the police will undertake activities within their competence to prosecute all responsible persons,” Veljovic added.

 

SEC adopts revised timetable for 15 July elections (MIA)

 

The State Election Commission (SEC) adopted Tuesday the revised timetable for the July 15 parliamentary elections. SEC members have provided assurance that citizens and members of the electoral bodies would be protected from the coronavirus spread, discussing the issue of drafting specific protocols with health authorities. They also urge citizens to use caution when it comes to their health. According to the timetable, the election silence begins at midnight on 12 July, Covid-19 patients, people in isolation and self-isolation will vote on 13 July, while the homebound, infirm and aged on14 July. July 15 is Election Day, starting at 7 am and ending at 9 pm. SEC President Oliver Derkoski said the coming month would bring political tussles but the main challenge is health protection during the process. “This goes for electoral boards, municipal electoral commissions, voters. The SEC and health authorities will jointly draft specific rules and protocols that will ensure maximum protection. SEC will invest efforts into protecting the 35,000-strong electoral administration. We will provide access to polling stations in a slightly different way,” said Derkoski. He urged citizens to follow the recommendations by health authorities in the coming period, because of the importance of the elections for the country. “This is important so that observers say the country has properly administered elections in such extraordinary circumstances, which would be another step forward in our Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” added Derkoski. Public insight in the Voters’ List has been completed and citizens can check their status on the list at the SEC website. “The state of emergency expires on 22 June, whereas the official election campaign begins on 24 June and ends on 12 July,” said SEC members Boris Kondarko. On the 13 July voting of Covid-19 patients, people in isolation and self-isolation, specific health electoral boards will be established, composed of three health workers and three representatives of political parties. People need to apply for voting seven days ahead of Election Day.

 

Spasovski: 15 July a day for decisions and country’s rescue from crisis (MIA)

 

The elections are here to rescue the country. We need an active parliament, we need a fully functional political government, says Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski. Spasovski says that 15 July is a day for decisions and the country’s rescue from the crisis. “July 15 is the day when citizens will confirm that the country continues on the right path, the path to development and progress, economic growth and integration. SDSM’s policies will win on 15 July,” says Spasovski.

 

Mickoski urges for higher turnout (MIA)

 

We discussed current developments and preparations for the coming elections. I received unanimous support for the 15 July elections, which VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition ‘For Macedonia’s Renewal’ will win convincingly, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski told a press conference after a meeting with coalition partners on Tuesday. Mickoski briefed partners that the ruling authorities have accepted their conditions of having health protocols in place and presence of an OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission. “For us it was very important to determine strict rules for the people’s protection, in order to enable all vulnerable categories, chronically ill, those in isolation to apply for voting and be visited by the State Election Commission (SEC) if they decide to vote from home. I encourage those belonging to these categories in risk to apply and vote,” said Mickoski. He urged for higher turnout so that citizens choose between fraud and progress, i.e. between SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE. Regarding post-election coalitions, the VMRO-DPMNE leader said all parties that believe their programs are similar to the one of coalition “For Macedonia’s Renewal” are welcome to join. “Those political parties issuing ultimatums and giving statements resembling XX-century policies will not be able to harmonize their positions with the program of the winning coalition ‘For Macedonia’s Renewal’. The program of the winning coalition will represent the foundation for any talks,” said Mickoski.

 

We will not form a coalition on the basis of ultimatums, Mickoski tells Ahmeti (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE will form a coalition based on electoral programs, and not on ultimatums, opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski said in response to the demands from the DUI party that demands an ethnic Albanian to be named the next Prime Minister. “All parties that believe their programs to be close to the program of VMRO-DPMNE are welcome in coalition talks, but not those who place ultimatums and make statements that belong to the previous century. The program of our winning coalition will be the basis for any coalition talks,” Mickoski said.

The DUI statement was aimed primarily at SDSM. The two parties are currently fighting for the votes of the ethnic Albanians, as SDSM continues to lose its base of support among ethnic Macedonians. But the demand also gave a rare opportunity to Zaev to play the nationalist card, as he insisted that he rejects the proposal.

 

Polls show VMRO ahead of SDSM-BESA by about 70.000 votes (Republika)

 

Latest poll published by the Habeaus Corpus Institute and MKD.mk/Market Vision give VMRO-DPMNE a 70.000 votes advantage over the SDSM-BESA coalition. The polls show VMRO leading with 22,5 percent of the vote ahead of SDSM-BESA with 20 percent (Habeas Corpus) or with 14,6 percent against 13 percent (MKD.mk). Projected onto voters, depending on the turnout, this should result in a lead of about 70.000 votes and would make VMRO a certain winner of the elections. SDSM is hoping that the coalition with BESA will help the party make up its losing margin among ethnic Macedonian voters by adding ethnic Albanian voters who would otherwise go for BESA.

 

Border crossings to open, measures still in place (MIA)

 

The government decided Tuesday to open all border crossings but the measures of presenting a valid negative PCR test when entering the country and a 14-day mandatory self-isolation are still in place. A novelty is the fact that foreigners transiting the country for a period of maximum 5 hours can use all border crossings instead of only Tabanovce and Bogorodica. All border crossings open as of 17 June, with a presentation of a valid negative PCR test made in the past 72 hours upon entering the country. The measure of signing a statement for mandatory 14-day self-isolation is also in place, the government said in a press release. Nationals or foreigners with regulated stay in the country who will not present a valid PCR test or present an invalid PCR test will be sent to a 14-day state quarantine. Citizens in state quarantine who want to make a PCR test can do so and if the test is negative, they sign a statement on a 14-day mandatory self-isolation, including the days in state quarantine, reads the press release. The government has also supplemented the protocol on transit of foreign nationals. As of today, the protocol ensures entry at all border crossings for the purpose of transiting the territory of North Macedonia. The transit can be realized for a maximum of 5 hours, which is confirmed by the statement that the foreign nationals fill out upon entry, which is then given to the border officer upon exiting the country in order to control the transit period, reads the press release.

 

Today, 193 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in North Macedonia, 46 patients have recovered – 9 people have died (Libertas)

 

The Ministry of Health of North Macedonia informs that in the last 24 hours 1.391 tests were performed, and 193 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in: Skopje-140, Kumanovo-2, Debar-1, Stip-6, Tetovo-19, Struga-5, Veles-2, Ohrid-11, Gostivar-4, Sveti Nikole-1, Resen-2. Today, the Institute of Public Health registers 46 recovering patients. Nine people died, five from Skopje, two patients from Kumanovo, one patient from Tetovo and one patient from Ohrid.

The total number of cases diagnosed in our country since the beginning of the epidemic is 4.482, the number of recovered patients is 1.803, the number of deaths is 210, and currently the number of active cases in the country is 2.469. So far, a total of 46,445 Covid-19 tests have been performed in the country.

 

Meta receives outgoing Serbian Ambassador (ADN)

 

The President of the Republic Ilir Meta received on Tuesday in a farewell meeting the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Albania, the Ambassador of Serbia Miroljub Zaric. Meta praised the Ambassador’s “long professional activity as a diplomatic representative in Tirana, as well as his active efforts in advancing the bilateral relations”. The President said he was satisfied with the level of relations between the two countries. According to him, bilateral ties have been enriched with new developments, “thanks to the commitment to serve not only the bilateral and regional cooperation, but also as an obligation to a common European future”. Referring to the increasing indicators of economic and trade cooperation, the Head of State also stressed the remaining unexploited potential for cooperation between the two countries. President Meta noted that, while facing unprecedented challenges for public health and the economy, regional cooperation has proved useful in treating Covid-19 pandemic and that the countries must continue in this direction.

 

Electoral Reform, parties disagree on CEC (ADN)

 

Political representatives on electoral reform headed for another stalemate after failing to find consensus on the election of members of the Central Election Commission. After Political Council’s meeting on Tuesday, the Democratic Party representative Oerd Bylykbashi told reporters that the ruling Socialist Party rejected the DP’s proposal for the election of CEC members. He accused the majority of seeking to capture the governing bodies of CEC.

“The SP seeks to capture the CEC for a long time, alienating the guarantees that are currently in the Code for the opposition,” the DP said. The DP’s proposal foresees a three-stage process: evaluation of formal criteria by an independent constitutional institution, such as the People’s Advocate; selection of candidates by a special commission, with a balanced composition (3 from majority and 2 from opposition) and voting of the list en bloc by the Assembly. For his part, the Socialist representative Damian Gjiknuri said the politics has already become tripolar, assessing that a solution must be found for the situation. “We have tried to keep a balanced, professional CEC, with much longer mandates than today. The DP again demands a 4-year mandate for the CEC,” Gjiknuri noted. Parliamentary opposition MP Rudina Hajdari earlier boycotted the Political Council table because of the discussion on “biometric identification tender,” as she referred to. Hajdari considered the topic excessive and disregarding the demand for electoral system change. Meanwhile, through a request sent to the parliament speaker Gramoz Ruci, the three opposition parliamentary groups have demanded the replacement of the co-chair of Electoral Reform Committee, Rudina Hajdari, with the chair of the Democrat group, Myslim Murrizi.

 

Government reinforces three strict rules after infection’s escalation (ADN)

 

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated Tuesday that gatherings, businesses which don’t follow safety protocols and citizens caught violating social distancing will not be tolerated. Everybody must respect these regulations, highlighted the Head of Government while 82 more people have resulted positive with coronavirus, taking the infections’ figure to 1672.

However, freedom of movement and speech will not be obstructed, the Premier said. He also warned punishment by fines and even imprisonment to those failing to comply with the rules and protocols. In the meantime, 30 new ventilators have arrived in Albania as a courtesy of Switzerland, Norway and UNDP. The medical devices will be used to fortify the country’s intensive therapy service at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, as Minister of Health and Social Protection Ogerta Manastirliu informed. “After talking to the experts and the Minister of Health: We will not in any way allow any kind of gathering, even political. Who participates in gatherings or groupings larger than the allowed number will be directly penalized individually. Businesses that will not respect the protocols will not be tolerated anymore. Citizens will be penalized if caught in violation of simple but very annoying rules of social distancing in common spaces,” underlined the Prime Minister.

In Albania 50 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

 

Fifty new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 1722 in Albania. Furthermore, an 82-year-old woman from Tirana passed away on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 38 victims. The victim suffered from several underlying health conditions. So far, tests have been conducted on more than 21,000 people. A total of 53 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, nine of whom are in intensive care and three are intubated. However, a total of 1077 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have recovered. 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 of last week. Since then, inspection groups and police have visited premises of several businesses to identify any misconduct regarding hygiene rules.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Trump envoy brokers White House meeting for Kosovo and Serbia presidents (The Guardian, by Shaun Walker Central and eastern Europe correspondent and Julian Borger in Washington, 17 June 2020)

 

Fears of hasty deal to bolster US president’s re-election prospects as EU sidelined

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia will meet at the White House later this month, as Donald Trump aims to make a breakthrough in the long-running dispute between the two nations.

The meeting, announced this week by Trump’s controversial Balkan envoy, Richard Grenell, came as a surprise to European capitals and raised concerns in some quarters that a hasty deal between Belgrade and Pristina could involve a land-swap that could have unpredictable knock-on effects. “If, and it’s a big if, this initiative succeeds, it will be something of a slap in the face for the EU and its many years of efforts trying to normalise relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” said Corina Stratulat, of the European Policy Centre in Brussels. Serbia still considers Kosovo part of its territory. The republic broke away after a 1999 Nato bombing campaign against Serbia, and declared independence in 2008. A potential deal could pave the way for trade, mutual recognition and eventual EU accession for both countries. The Kosovo president, Hashim Thaçi, on Tuesday confirmed he would attend the talks and said: “Kosovo has no time to waste, no time to stagnate or to hesitate, we need to move as fast as possible towards the perspective to become part of the organisation of the United Nations, Nato and the EU.”

Grenell, in announcing the White House meeting, played down the idea of an overarching deal. “As we have consistently said, we must first make progress on growing the economies. This is the focus,” he wrote on Twitter. Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, also said on Tuesday that the talks would be primarily economic in nature, and added that Serbia wanted to engage with both the US and with EU efforts to find a solution. “We’re not going to fight with Germany or America,” Vučić said. “It’s important that in the battle of the elephants we remain unhurt.”

The role of Grenell, a Trump loyalist, has been controversial. In April, Kosovo’s ousted prime minister Albin Kurti accused the US envoy of mounting a coup to depose him because of his scepticism about a potential deal. Kurti said Grenell was not interested in the substance of a deal but only “the signature on the bottom of the paper”, which could be presented as a success for Trump in an election year. “My government was not overthrown for anything else but simply because ambassador Grenell was in a hurry to sign an agreement with Serbia,” Kurti said in April. Molly Montgomery, a White House adviser to Joe Biden when he was vice president, said it was difficult “to take 100% at face value” Grenell’s insistence that the White House talks would be purely about economics. “In the context of Kosovo and Serbia, economic issues are often tied with political issues as we’ve seen in the past,” she said. She also noted that the EU had been “boxed out completely” from the talks. After announcing the talks, Grenell lashed out at critics on Twitter, including Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister and chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations, who had criticised the decision to sideline the EU. Bildt was suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, Grennel wrote. On Tuesday, the EU’s newly appointed envoy for peace talks, the former Slovak foreign minister Miroslav Lajčák, flew to Belgrade and Pristina, in what looked like the EU playing catchup. Ian Bancroft, who worked for the EU in North Kosovo and wrote a recent book about the area, said the EU-led dialogue had achieved a lot of incremental successes, but had made little progress on consolidating Kosovo’s statehood, making Pristina amenable to a US-brokered deal. “Kosovo has been denied even visa liberalisation, hence all talk of a European perspective rings hollow,” he said. He noted, however, that both sides would be aware that the rushed timeframe, combined with Trump’s uncertain election prospects, made the prospects for a comprehensive, workable deal minimal. “A possible Biden administration would have a very different stance on the matter,” Bancroft said. In another sign of the delicate geopolitical considerations linked to any deal, within hours of Grenell’s announcement on Monday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, called Vučić to remind him that any deal should be approved by the UN security council. Vučić has played a delicate balancing act in recent years, courting the EU while maintaining good relations with Russia. Moscow is wary of a deal that could mean Serbia, one of its few allies in Europe, opens the door to increased US or Nato influence. Vučić will travel to Moscow to meet Putin just days before going to the White House.

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