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Belgrade Media Report 18 June 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 18 June 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Assessments we received from Russia disturbed us (RTS)
Lavrov: We will support a decision that suits Serbia (RTV/Tanjug)
Vucic, Lajcak, Moscow, Washington … (B92/Tanjug)
Vucic We are not going to Washington with a white flag (Novosti)
Vucic: Parliament to give confirmation of a solution to the Kosovo problem (RTS)
Russia-Serbia partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels – article (TASS/Rossiisakaya Gazeta/Kurir/RTV)
Stoltenberg on Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: Washington meeting first step in the right direction (Tanjug)
Djuric: Hoti is burying dialogue (RTS)
Pre-election silence in Serbia starts at midnight, lasts through Sunday evening (FoNet)
Another 94 cases (B92)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

SDA and HDZ B&H reach agreement on local elections in Mostar after 12 years (Hayat)
US Ambassador Nelson comments on SDA-HDZ B&H talks on elections in Mostar (BHT1)
OSCE B&H about Mostar agreement: Use momentum for overall election reform (Dnevni avaz)
UK Ambassador Field about Mostar agreement: We hope this will serve as basis for solving other issues in election process (Dnevni avaz)
Commissioners Borrell and Varhelyi welcome agreement on Mostar (Dnevni avaz)
Niksic: SDP has no obligation to respect any kind of agreement signed by SDA and HDZ B&H, if that agreement is not in interest of citizens of Mostar and B&H (FTV)
SDP’s Zalihic: SDA fulfilled all wishes of Covic (O kanal)
Komsic about Mostar agreement: SDA and HDZ agreed to try to trick one another (Oslobodjenje)
SBB B&H welcomes agreement on Mostar; Final stance after legal experts analyze it (Dnevni avaz)
Dodik comments Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: Vucic will protect country’s and national interests in the best way possible (ATV)
Migrants open fire at members of RS MoI in Banja Luka’s Klasnice (FTV)
B&H’s coronavirus tally increasing, death toll unchanged (N1)
Croatia

President hosts diplomats accredited in Croatia (HRT)
In Croatia 11 new coronavirus cases identified (Hina)
Montenegro

Epilogue of the drama in Budva: Attack on a police officer, broken glass, 23 arrested persons (CDM)
Reinke: All parties to take part in dialogue and avoid violence (CDM)
Coronavirus returns to Montenegro as seven persons test positive (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Hospitals reorganizing capacities to handle surge in Covid-19 patients (MIA)
Albania

Electoral Reform, the commission expects concrete proposals from the opposition (Radio Tirana)
Kosovo-Albania flights restart after long time (ADN)
In Albania 66 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Moscow to Firmly Counter Attempts to Review Dayton Accords for Peace in BiH, Lavrov Says (Sputnik)
Fajon and Bilčík: Credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Serbia are crucial on the European integration path (EWB)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: Assessments we received from Russia disturbed us (RTS)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has stated after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Aleksandar Vucic has the key topic was the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic said that he had received information from Lavrov that have disturbed his additionally. “A difficult period awaits us where we will have to face big pressures in order for some plans to be realize that we haven’t received officially and non-officially, but based on some assessments of our Russian friends, it seems we will have to be extremely cautious in monitoring every idea that will be presented to us,” Vucic told a joint press conference with Lavrov. He thanked Russia for protecting international organizations and institutions from illegality of those who had already recognized Kosovo’s independence. Vucic says that for the resolution of the Kosovo problem we will need the consent of the Russian Federation. “This is why we don’t want for all others to be consulted, but nobody to ask the opinion of the Russian Federation,” said Vucic.

 

Lavrov: We will support a decision that suits Serbia (RTV/Tanjug)

 

“Russia’s stand on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is not changing and it will support the decision that suits Serbia. Today we confirmed once again that we will support all steps and initiatives that will really help Belgrade and Pristina to reach a mutually acceptable solution based on UNSCR 1244,” said Lavrov. “We will not allow any deadlines regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija,” said Lavrov. He added that Russia’s starting point was that the EU, which has the mandate to be the mediator in the dialogue, must not “isolate itself” from its obligations, and that it needs to fight for the realization of the reached agreements, which are sabotaged by the Kosovo Albanians. He says that the solution needs to be confirmed in the UN Security Council. “The solution needs to be in accordance with international law and to be approved by the UN SC. We are of the opinion that it must not be forced and fit into artificial deadlines. We will agree with the decision that suits Serbia. We will defend the stands of Serbia that is playing a big role in maintaining peace and stability in the region,” said Lavrov. Journalists asked Lavrov what attitude Russia would have if Serbia accepted an EU offer, for example to give the green light to Kosovo to go further, in exchange for significant financial assistance and EU integration, Lavrov said the question should be posed to Serbia, not him.

“We are aware of the position of Serbia and the Serbian leadership, as well as that Belgrade will be guided by the national interests of its state and its people,” Lavrov answered briefly, followed by Vucic’s answer. “In a polite way, he answered you politely that this is a question for us, not for our Russian friends. If I need to be clear and unambiguous, when it comes to the question of whether we will say that we agree to recognize Kosovo in exchange for the EU membership, our answer is no. It will not be an easy situation for us,” Vucic added, and reminded of the active diplomatic campaign regarding the issue of resolving the status of Kosovo in the coming days. “On every Vivodvdan, things become clear,” he concluded.

 

Vucic, Lajcak, Moscow, Washington … (B92/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with the Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Milorad Dodik. The meeting in the building of the General Secretariat of the President of the Republic was also attended by the Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic, and RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic. “From Monday, we expect Lajcak in Belgrade, then Moscow, followed by Washington… It is clear to you what that means in a technical, but also in an essential sense,” Vucic said after the conversation with Dodik. He conveyed that he informed the RS delegation about the facts regarding talks on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, and talked about the difficult schedule in the coming days. “I introduced our guests to everything I knew, or everything I believe we can face, he said what the principles of Serbia are, how much we want peace and stability, but also what our interests are,” Vucic said. “We are expecting Lajcak as early as on Monday, 22 June, then we are going to Moscow, Washington. Then there are other things I cannot talk about. The technical part is much less important than the essential part, which will be more difficult,” Vucic said. He introduced the guests, he says, with everything he knew, or with everything he believes we can face. “I said what the principles of Serbia are, that it wants peace and stability, but also that we have our interests that we must preserve and protect,” he said. Dodik was also asked about Kosovo, that is, about solving that problem from the point of view of the RS, to which Vucic joked that he would “be destroyed by Mile’s answer”. “Serbia will never do anything that would not be in the interest of RS, or that anyone in RS would welcome as bad attitude of Serbia. We have always helped, are helping and will help, to be a right hand on which RS can rely, and that is all I have to say”, Vucic said and added that” we do not need any nonsense and scandals on that issue”. Then Dodik’s answer to the journalist’s question followed, and he first said that he wanted to emphasize that talking about Kosovo ten years ago and now is not the same, because the position of Serbia is not the same. He reiterated that Vucic stated that Serbia respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but that the RS has a different opinion, i.e. that it believes that it “accidentally found” itself in the Federation. “We support Serbia in every respect. I am convinced that Serbia’s position today is better in every way and that Serbia does not need to hurry in that regard and should do it best. The RS sees itself integrated with Serbia and no one can prevent that”, Dodik concluded. However, Vucic then took to the microphone again and repeated: “What Mile wanted to say is that Serbia supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H.”

Vucic We are not going to Washington with a white flag (Novosti)

 

The EU idea is that we do not oppose Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations, but they still don’t know what to offer us. There are also “barons” within our ranks, there will be fierce changes around 15 July, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview for Novosti.

Asked whether he was travelling to Washington D.C. with a white flag, he said this was senseless. “I am not one of those who wish to boast and utter serious words, hero slogans, but that anyone from Serbia who will be part of the delegation will be carrying a white flag, this is senseless. We have our red-blue-white flag and we are carrying it in the heart, we will have it in front of us. There had been white flags in the past on behalf of Serbia on numerous occasions…Things are measures according to deeds, and not by words you utter. That is the important thing for us, you cannot refuse the invitation by the White House, but…,” said Vucic.

He says that he cannot hint what is the US proposal, but he can hint what could be the EU proposal. “I think their idea is to tell us not to oppose Kosovo’s UN membership, but they don’t know what to offer us. Thus, we don’t need to formally recognize Kosovo, but should not oppose their seat in the UN,” said Vucic. “I expect Europe to say that we will gain EU membership within several years and then we are not in an easy situation, but this is not enough,” he said. “Serbia needs to be offered much more.” He says “it will be difficult and we will be exposed to biggest pressures”. “Regardless of whether this will be happening in Brussels or the White House,” said Vucic.

 

Vucic: Parliament to give confirmation of a solution to the Kosovo problem (RTS)

 

President Vucic told RTS on Wednesday evening that it is implied that he will seek support of the Serbian parliament for the resolution of the Kosovo problem. “The parliament will certainly have to have the main say on this, I have no problem with this,” he said.

 

Russia-Serbia partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels – article (TASS/Rossiisakaya Gazeta/Kurir/RTV)

 

Lavrov and Dacic emphasized that it is up to the parties to the conflict to word and adopt a final solution that would be approved by the United Nations Security Council. Russian-Serbian partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Serbia, Sergey Lavrov and Ivica Dacic, said in a joint article published by Russia’s Rossiisakaya Gazeta and Serbia’s Kurir dailies on Thursday. “Moscow and Belgrade are strategic partners. We are geared towards closer mutually beneficial cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas. This approach does not depend on Serbia’s plans to negotiate accession to the European Union: it will continue to develop ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union,” the ministers noted. Touching on the Kosovo settlement, the two top diplomats said the two countries would continue close cooperation on that matter on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. “At the same time, we note that some continue to use Serbia’s plans to join the European Union as a tool to exert pressure on Belgrade to make it recognize Kosovo’s ‘independence.’ So, it means that an applicant state is to cede part of its territory,” they noted. The ministers slammed such requirements as absurd. “Russia and Serbia continue to insist that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 be observed. A compromise is to be reached in the course of negotiations and this is the exclusive prerogative of Belgrade and Pristina,” the stressed. Lavrov and Dacic emphasized that it is up to the parties to the conflict to word and adopt a final solution that would be approved by the United Nations Security Council. “Moscow will accept only such a variant of settlement that will be acceptable for Belgrade. As for external mediation, it should be an unbiased monitoring of the observance of international laws during the dialogue, without imposing ready-to-use designs,” they added.

 

No support to Kosovo sovereignty concept anywhere in world

The concept of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence has failed as it enjoys unanimous support neither in Europe nor anywhere in the world, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Serbia, Sergey Lavrov and Ivica Dacic, said in a joint article. “The concept of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed sovereignty has failed. It enjoys unanimous support neither in the Balkans nor in Europe nor elsewhere in the world,” the ministers stressed. “About half of the United Nations member states do not recognize Kosovo’s notorious ‘statehood,’ and the number of such countries is growing.”

According to the two top diplomats, more and more countries begin to understand the perniciousness of Kosovo’s precedent of coercive intervention into domestic affairs of an independent state under far-fetched pretexts. “In the recent months, the European Union and the United States have been calling, quite enthusiastically, for the resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Naturally, we support political methods of settlement but we think that talks are to rest on the principle of honest implementation of what has been agreed,” Lavrov and Dacic emphasized. “The core agreement in this context is the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, which will have due competences.” According to the two ministers, the European Union’s responsibility as a mediator in the negotiating process is to push the Kosovo authorities towards implementing its commitments. “So far, no progress has been made towards the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities,” they pointed out. “Let us hope that EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak will act as honest brokers.”.

 

US, EU seeking to take settlement of Kosovo problem in their hands

The United States and the European Union are seeking to take the settlement of the Kosovo problems in their hands, not reckoning with the opinion of other parties concerned, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Serbia said. “Public discussions about possible solutions to the Kosovo problem have heated up in the recent time,” the article reads. “The United States and the European Union have been demonstrating increased activities, seeking to take the settlement of this issue in their hands and claiming to have the leading role in this process. But, as it was before, they tend not to reckon with the opinion of all parties concerned, thus calling to question the very possibility of a fair solution.” The ministers noted that in order to avoid new mistakes it is worth looking back and analyzing the sad experience of external interference in to the regional affairs. “We also think it important to share our common views on the current situation and principled approaches to the problems of the Kosovo settlement,” they said. “For more than twenty years, the unsettled Kosovo problem has been hampering comprehensive stabilization in the Western Balkans and triggering new escalations of tensions.” According to the two top diplomats, the ‘time bomb’ was planted when the Western countries, which had bombed former Yugoslavia back in 1999, made it their crusade to ensure Kosovo’s independence in bypassing of international law. “It was done under a cynical disguise of ‘multivariance’: either with Belgrade’s consent or without it,” they noted. “In other words, Serbia’s opinion was not taken into account from the very beginning. Such detrimental approach, which flagrantly violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, is meant solely to satisfy Kosovars’ separatist aspirations.” Later on, in 2008, when Pristina declared its independence, Moscow and Belgrade were told that the negotiating potential had allegedly been exhausted and their calls for further talks were ignored. “Since then, the international community has seen for itself more than once that only effort to find a solution based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and reckoning with the interests of all parties can give chances to elaborate a viable settlement option,” Lavrov and Dacic emphasized.

 

Kosovo has turned into nest of criminals and terrorism accomplices

Kosovo has become a nest of criminals, including those linked with terrorist groups, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Serbia said in a joint article. “Rampant crime in Kosovo, with criminal elements linked with terrorist groups in the Middle East, first of all in Syria, and with criminal communities in the Balkans and other parts of Europe, is an evidence that the province, with its rich historic and cultural heritage, has become a nest for terrorists of all sorts,” the ministers noted. This situation, characterized by political chaos, proves that Kosovo has failed as an independent state. “Local parties are bogged down in dirty power scramble, scheming and clan wars amid economic decline and orgy of crime. In such conditions, the so-called statecraft local politicians and their foreign sponsors are so fond of speaking about has turned to be a bogus thing,” they pointed out. No efforts are being taken in Kosovo to fight against international criminals, former chief of the Kosovo Liberation Army, with the Kosovo Special Court, tasked to investigate their crimes, including murders and kidnappings for the purpose of trading in human organs, taking no action. “We still expect this body of justice to begin to work and bring charges against the criminals,” the ministers stressed. Lavrov and Dacic also drew attention to the fact that the presence of international forces does not promote normalization of the situation in the province. Thus, in their words, the NATO-led international Kosovo Force, which is mandated to ensure Serbs’ security “has been passive for years.” “On this background, the fact that the Bondsteel facility, which was initially meant as a peacekeeping one, has been turned into a closed zone and a training ground for Kosovo’s ‘armed forces’ arouses serious concern,” they said, adding that United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is demonstrating poor efficiency. “The question about NATO’s responsibility for the use of depleted uranium munitions in Serbia, especially in Kosovo, during the bombardments in 1999 is still open,” the two foreign ministers noted, adding that not only local residents but also peacekeepers are still suffering from the consequences of radioactive contamination. The ministers also warned that the Greater Albania rhetoric coming from Pristina and Tirana may “bury the system of regional security that has been built for decades.” Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally proclaimed independence in February 2008, which was recognized by the United Nations Court of Justice in 2010. However more than 60 countries, including Russia, China, India, Israel, Greece, India and Spain, are categorically against recognizing Kosovo’s independence. Nevertheless, Kosovo has been seeking to join international organizations, including UNESCO and Interpol. Serbia’s diplomats have been urging developing countries to revise their decisions to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Thus, over the past year, eighteen countries, including Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Burundi, Guinea Bissau, Surinam, Liberia, Lesotho, and Madagascar, sided with Belgrade.

 

Stoltenberg on Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: Washington meeting first step in the right direction (Tanjug)

 

“I welcome the fact that Belgrade and Pristina are talking, because the only way to resolve challenges in the region and disagreements around Kosovo is in talks on a political solution,” said NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg following two-day talks of the NATO defense ministers. “I don’t think this is easy, but it is important for them to meet. It is important that the dialogue has resumed following a long period without a real meeting and this is the first step in the right direction,” said Stoltenberg. He assesses that Belgrade and Pristina realized that tensions need to be reduced and a path for progress needs to be found. He underlines that the Alliance continues to be present in Kosovo with three to four thousand members who are ensuring a safe environment for all.

 

Djuric: Hoti is burying dialogue (RTS)

 

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has stated that Avdulah Hoti is burying the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue before the dialogue even started, adding that Belgrade has no intention whatsoever to accept either the dictate or imposing or independence concept in the manner he is imposing it. He says that Hoti continues to do what all of his predecessors had been doing with “maximalist, separatist goals and programs that are contrary to Resolution 1244 and the goals of the international community” and undermine this dialogue. “The claim that the only possible solution is based on the so-called only valid constitution of Kosovo, that the only possible solution is based on so-called territorial integrity of Kosovo and Metohija, by claiming they wish to selectively implement the existing agreements, I only wish to convey that Serbia has its own constitution and that it is, within the borders that include Kosovo and Metohija, recognized as the UN member,” said Djuric.

 

Pre-election silence in Serbia starts at midnight, lasts through Sunday evening (FoNet)

 

The pre-election silence in Serbia starts at midnight ahead of the general elections due on 21 June and will last till Sunday at 8 pm, when the polling stations close, FoNet reports. In that period, any campaign, public gatherings and publishing estimated results are banned. Also, it is banned to show political parties’ insignia and other propaganda material 50 meters away for the polling stations. In case of violation, an electoral board will be dismissed, and the voting will be repeated. There are 6,739,441 registered voters in Serbia. They will have a choice among 21 electoral lists, and the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) is obliged to publish the official results on 25 June at 8 pm at the latest.

 

Another 94 cases (B92)

 

Until 3pm there have another 94 cases, in total 12,616 infected. There has been one more death, in total 258 deaths. The number of active cases is 589. There are 17 patients on respirators.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

SDA and HDZ B&H reach agreement on local elections in Mostar after 12 years (Hayat)

 

At a meeting held in Mostar on Wednesday, attended by High Representative Valentin Inzko, US Ambassador Eric Nelson, UK Ambassador Matthew Field, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and EU Special Representative in B&H Johann Sattler and Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H, Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec, leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic and leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic signed the agreement on holding of the local elections in Mostar. Covic and Izetbegovic agreed on the implementation of the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) decision and amending the Statute of the City of Mostar that should be adopted at the post-election constituting session of the newly-elected Mostar City Council and that all issues regarding the disputable B&H Election Law should be resolved by the end of 2021. At a press conference held after the meeting Izetbegovic stated: “It is an agreement to try again to balance ethnic and civil principle, i.e. the balance of those two principles that are foundation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, to eliminate all forms of discrimination related to the peoples but citizens as well, i.e. B&H CC decision on Mr. (Bozo) Ljubic’s appeal, B&H CC decision on Mr. (Zeljko) Komsic’s appeal, decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, that in principle affirm the civil principle, Sejdic-FinciPilavZornic, etc. It, of course will not be easy, but I believe it will not be impossible.” Covic stated that two agreements: on Mostar Election Law and the Statute of the City of Mostar, and amending the B&H Election Law represent good framework for a draft law regarding the elections in Mostar so that elections can be held together with local elections. “We want to ensure legitimate election and legitimate representation of the constitutional peoples, including the B&H Presidency and the B&H House of Representatives,” said Covic. Sattler addressed media saying that the EU welcomes the agreement on local elections in Mostar and he thanked SDA and HDZ B&H leaders and Mostar local authorities for making big compromises. “The most important is that in this way we return the processes to the B&H parliament, because finally, it is the B&H parliament that will decide on the proposal,” said Sattler. Documents signed in Mostar will be referred to the parliamentary procedure at the state level and the deadline for adoption by the B&H parliament is 31 July. All international representatives expressed their satisfaction for something like this happened not only in Mostar, but in B&H, and that changes are possible when coalition partners agree on joint interests. In accordance with the agreement signed between SDA and HDZ B&H, out of 35 councilors of the Mostar City Council, thirteen will be elected from the urban areas with majority Croat population, nine will be elected from areas with majority Bosniak population, while the remaining thirteen councilors will be elected from the single city list. The agreement signed by Covic and Izetbegovic also includes agreed changes to the Statute of the City of Mostar. SDA representatives stressed that the Statute of the City of Mostar includes a number of mechanisms of protection, noting that these mechanisms of protection, among other things, mean strengthening of urban areas. Furthermore, agreed changes to the Statute of the City of Mostar also entail that two signatures will be necessary on all important documents in Mostar. Covic and Izetbegovic also signed a political agreement on principles of changes to the B&H Election Law. Representatives of SDA an HDZ B&H stressed that the international community will serve as a guarantor of the agreement that was signed. Covic said that two documents that were signed in Mostar on Wednesday represent good framework for SDA and HDZ B&H to submit together a proposal of changes to the B&H Election Law in regard to the City of Mostar as early as next week. “So that elections in Mostar could be held together with this year’s local elections,” Covic said.

 

US Ambassador Nelson comments on SDA-HDZ B&H talks on elections in Mostar (BHT1)

 

US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson commented talks on local elections in Mostar. Among other things, Ambassador Nelson said that US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer was in B&H in December 2019 when they jointly called on leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic to talk about local elections in Mostar in 2020. Nelson added that Izetbegovic and Covic were called on to talk about organization of elections in Mostar “not because a court can pass decision to hold these elections, but because the Parliament should adopt legislation that will enable elections to be held.” Nelson added that this was the beginning of serious talks and discussions representing continuation of important job undergoing for years between all parties in Mostar and concerning future of this city. US Ambassador underlined that in 2018 SDA and HDZ B&H failed to reach the final agreement to amend necessary legislation that would be discussed by the parliament of B&H.

 

OSCE B&H about Mostar agreement: Use momentum for overall election reform (Dnevni avaz)

 

Commenting the agreement on Mostar, OSCE Mission to B&H stated they welcome the significant progress that SDA and HDZ B&H have reached, stating that this is an important step towards finding of legislative solution for elections in Mostar. “This is also a proof that with right dedication of political leaders, long term issues can be solved”, reads the OSCE statement. The Mission added that they hope that B&H Parliament will discuss legislative changes as soon as possible: “The key issue remains to be securing of the final solution, which guarantees that citizens of Mostar can exercise their right to vote in the upcoming local elections. We hope that political leaders will use this momentum to also start dealing with overall election reform in line with the OSCE recommendations”. OSCE called on competent state level authorities to, without hesitation, secure funds for upcoming local elections. “Obstruction of financing of elections violates democracy and constitutional order,” ends OSCE.

 

UK Ambassador Field about Mostar agreement: We hope this will serve as basis for solving other issues in election process (Dnevni avaz)

 

Commenting the agreement on Mostar, UK Ambassador to B&H Matthew Field stated that this is a welcome step and necessary for determining the right direction for the election process. “We hope this agreement and its examples of compromise, will serve as a basis for solving of other open issues in the election process in B&H” said Field. He added that this includes rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but also rulings of local courts.

 

Commissioners Borrell and Varhelyi welcome agreement on Mostar (Dnevni avaz)

 

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Police Josep Borrell and European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi issued a joint statement welcoming the agreement on Mostar. “We welcome today’s political agreement on the electoral law for Mostar between political leaders which would finally pave the way for the residents of Mostar to exercise their right to vote in the municipal elections after 12 years”, reads the statement. Borrell and Varhelyi also reminded that holding local elections in Mostar is one of the 14 key priorities of the European Commission’s Opinion on the EU membership application of B&H. They further reminded of the need to fully address the Opinion key priorities for B&H to progress on its EU path. According to Borrell and Varhelyi, it is necessary to address all election-related issues in line with European standards while also taking into account the country-specific context. “No legislative or political steps should be taken which would make the implementation of the European Court for Human Rights Sejdic-Finci ruling and related rulings more challenging. B&H also needs to implement OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in order to improve the democratic quality of its electoral processes,” they concluded.

 

Niksic: SDP has no obligation to respect any kind of agreement signed by SDA and HDZ B&H, if that agreement is not in interest of citizens of Mostar and B&H (FTV)

 

The SDP leader Nermin Niksic said that “this is yet another example showing that representatives of the international community treat B&H as a colony.” He stressed that SDP has no obligation to respect any kind of the agreement signed by SDA and HDZ B&H, if that agreement is not in the interest of citizens of Mostar and B&H. He added that it is yet to be seen how parties that are part of the parliamentary majority that are in coalition with SDA will vote on the amendments to the Election Law of B&H concerning the City of Mostar. Niksic also said that by signing the abovementioned agreement, Izetbegovic fulfilled wishes of the leader of HDZ B&H. He emphasized that the agreed model represents the worst model for SDP. Niksic stated that in one moment all political parties were discussing the issue of elections in Mostar, only for this issue to be reduced to SDA and HDZ B&H in the end. “Whoever deems that SDP, as opposition party is obliged by the things agreed by Izetbegovic and Covic, is very much mistaken, including Sattler and anyone from the international community.  We are obliged by solutions and obligations towards the citizens and not parties. I have heard that they chose the worst possible model. Mathematics is an exact science, they should apply the last election results and it will be clear that SDA and Izetbegovic handed over Mostar to HDZ,” said Niksic.

 

SDP’s Zalihic: SDA fulfilled all wishes of Covic (O kanal)

 

President of the SDP City Board in Mostar Arman Zalihic, asked about Wednesday’s meeting and the results of the meeting on the issue of Mostar, said that he disagrees with the statement of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic because SDP actively worked on the solution for Mostar through negotiations between nine political parties that took place two years ago in Mostar. He added that they agreed on two models which were discussed and all nine parties were supposed to decide on one of these two models. Zalihic said that, according to information he has, the two parties chose the second model which is not a good solution for Mostar. Asked which of the two parties profited more from the negotiations, Zalihic said that SDA fulfilled all the wishes of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic. He reminded that SDA said they will not solve the issue of Mostar in a package but they ultimately did and there was an agreement on other changes to the Election Law which was adopted as well.

 

Komsic about Mostar agreement: SDA and HDZ agreed to try to trick one another (Oslobodjenje)

 

Commenting the agreement on Mostar reached on Wednesday by SDA and HDZ B&H leaders Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic respectively, under the auspices of the international community, member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic told the daily: “As much as I can see, SDA and HDZ agreed to try to trick one another”.

 

SBB B&H welcomes agreement on Mostar; Final stance after legal experts analyze it (Dnevni avaz)

 

Secretary General of SBB B&H Sanela Prasovic- Gadzo stated that this party is thanking the Ambassadors who participated in the negotiations and who assisted in reaching of the agreement on City of Mostar. She stressed that SBB B&H is extremely glad that the agreement has been reached after 12 years, during which the “two leaders did not manage to reach the agreement”. Prasovic-Gadzo underlined importance of organizing of elections in Mostar and stressed that the party will take a final stance about the agreement as soon as their legal experts analyze the agreement.

 

Dodik comments Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: Vucic will protect country’s and national interests in the best way possible (ATV)

 

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that diplomatic activities which await Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, regardless if they connect to announced talks in Washington or with EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, will not be easy and one cannot expect quickly-adopted solutions. “If it could have been easy and quick, a quick solution would most certainly not be waited until today” Dodik emphasized. He said he knows one thing for sure, and that is that Vucic will protect the country’s and national interests in the best way possible. “I do not doubt that”, Dodik added. Normalization of relations within the region is one of top priorities of Serbia and, I would say, the Serb population, Dodik stated and added upcoming Belgrade-Pristina talks should be led with a goal of calming the tensions in the entire region. Dodik also said that double standards should not be used during negotiations. He concluded that stabilization of the Western Balkans can be achieved through respect of the international agreements and resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UN SC). He said this would be certain path towards sustainable solutions for all open issues that exist between countries of the region. Dodik said it was time for the Serb national and state issue to be reviewed in a unified way. “I am certain that our right is to express a unified request for national and state assembling,” concluded Dodik.

 

Migrants open fire at members of RS MoI in Banja Luka’s Klasnice (FTV)

 

FTV learns that members of the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) found six migrants who are suspected of being part of a group that caused an incident in the Banja Luka-based District of Klasnice on Wednesday evening. According to the RS MoI, migrants opened fire at the RS police and then escaped the scene and the police operation is still underway. Police previously received a report according to which a group of migrants was seen in a house in Klasnice. Police acted upon the report and found the house with the migrants, but they succeed to escape as one of the migrants opened fire at police officers. RTRS reports that a migrant shot at a policewoman in the area of Klasnice on Wednesday. The policewoman responded and returned fire. According to unofficial information, no one was injured in the exchange of fire between the police and migrants in Klasnice.  Head of Department for public relations of the RS MoI Mirna Miljanovic stated that members of the Banja Luka PA and members of the Gendarmerie, special anti-terrorist unit of the RS MoI are searching for this group.

 

B&H’s coronavirus tally increasing, death toll unchanged (N1)

 

The number of new coronavirus infections in B&H has continued increasing with another 58 patients recorded over the last 24 hours, 33 in the FB&H and 25 in the RS, the healthcare authorities confirmed on Thursday. For the second straight day, the country recorded no deaths caused by the virus. According to official statistics, the country’s coronavirus tally stands at 3,199, while the death toll remains unchanged with 168 confirmed fatalities. The total of 2,219 patients has recovered. The FB&H healthcare authorities have performed 778 lab tests in the last 24 hours, 46,235 since the epidemic outbreak. To date, the region has confirmed 1,430 Covid-19 patients; 991 patients have recovered to date and 45 died. There are 394 active cases in the region at the moment. The RS healthcare authorities have so far tested 32,997 persons, and confirmed 1,749 Covid-19 patients; 1,212 of them have recovered to date and 119 died. Among 25 new patients reported in the last 24 hours, 12 are men and 13 women. 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.

 

President hosts diplomats accredited in Croatia (HRT)

 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that the EU has no alternative and that the Union is Croatia’s destiny, but he opposed the expansion of the European Union’s powers so that member states would not find themselves under too much pressure. Addressing the heads of diplomatic missions in Croatia, President Zoran Milanovic said that he did not see the European Union as a project, which is a technical term, but as a destiny for Croatia and the only smart way. He said he was aware of the shortcomings of certain European institutions, but stressed that it was not a systemic critique because EU membership had no alternative. As a limitation of the European Union, he stressed the need of the European Commission to flourish and grow in influence like any bureaucracy. “But these are all disturbances, challenges with which one normally lives,” added Milanovic. In 2015, as the Croatian Prime Minister, Milanovic also supported the plan to reduce the powers of the EC proposed by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron. “I have never been a supporter of a growing Union that is getting closer and closer. That means more bureaucracy in the EC,” he said then after a meeting with Cameron, whom he mentioned on Wednesday. “Cameron” Milanovic said, would “get a fit of nervousness” when he heard the term ever-closer Union. “At one point, it should be said where the boundaries of integration are, because too big a hug can lead to constriction,” said Milanovic, comparing it to the grip of a boa constrictor snake. Milanovic pointed out that a lot of people in Europe believe that the EU is entering their intimate space. “Underestimating such thinking has led to Brexit,” said Milanovic, adding that some smart conclusions need to be drawn from Brexit. Milanovic said he had never voted for Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tudjman, but had enough understanding for many of his moves. In this context, he highlighted Tudjman’s book “Great Ideas and Small Nations”. “When small nations start dreaming about big ideas, they very quickly become even smaller because they come into conflict with other even bigger ideas,” said Milanovic, reproducing Tudjman’s idea. In his 1981 books “Great Ideas and Small Nations” and “The National Question in Contemporary Europe”, Tudjman wrote that the great powers used great ideologies to subject smaller nations to their domination. The Croatian President stated that some citizens did not vote for him, which he can accept, but stressed that there is no abandonment of basic principles. “The rule of law, open society, free and independent media are the foundation of society and there are no deviations from them,” Milanovic pointed out. “What I said is my program, that’s how I will behave,” said the President. Milanovic commented on the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and pointed out that the allegedly Confucian curse had come true: “May you live in interesting times.” He said the economic damage was extreme. “As bad as it is, it’s not bad as it’s happening to everyone,” he said. “That is both good and bad, we cannot accuse anyone of being guilty. No one is to blame for that,” he added. Milanovic expressed regret that the Croatian presidency of the EU in the first half of this year went “unnoticed” on the wave of the corona crisis, because he is sure, as he said, that the Croatian administration was well prepared for the presidency. Milanovic also briefly referred to his term as Prime Minister, which, he believes, took place in more difficult times than today due to the recession. “Beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the beholder,” said Milanovic, referring to the assessments of his term as Prime Minister. He stressed that he would give a mandate to the option that proves that he has the support of the majority of MPs and that he will be an impartial president. He will not interfere in the work of the government where it can cause chaos. “I was on that side of the fence myself and I know what that means,” he added.

 

In Croatia 11 new coronavirus cases identified (Hina)

 

Eleven new cases of infection with the novel Covid-19 coronavirus have been detected in Croatia in the last 24 hours, the government said on Thursday. Most of the new cases are imports, but there are also cases of local transmission, Tomislav Dulibic, state secretary at the Ministry of Health, said at the government session, adding that all the cases had been promptly processed, their close contacts identified and that the situation was under control. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that the latest report was “a warning that the virus is still here and that the recommendations by the Public Health Institution need to be observed.” “It is important that our citizens do not travel abroad, especially not to countries in our neighborhood, unless necessary, and that on returning they behave responsibly. Such behavior is a precondition for the favorable epidemiological situation in Croatia to be kept under control, which in turn is a precondition for the normal functioning of the economy,” Bozinovic added. He announced that two ships were expected from China on 19 and 26 June bringing 407.3 tons of purchased and donated medical and protective equipment.

 

Epilogue of the drama in Budva: Attack on a police officer, broken glass, 23 arrested persons (CDM)

 

Broken glass of the municipal building, injured police officer, and 23 arrested persons – that’s the epilogue of the events that took place in Budva yesterday. Officers of the Rescue and Protection service and municipal police officers tried to resist the police. President of the Municipality of Budva, Marko Carevic, president of the Municipal Assembly, Krsto Radovic, manager of the Municipality, Milo Bozovic, secretary of the Secretariat for investments, Mladen Mikijelj, head of the Cabinet of the president of the Municipality, Nikola Jovanovic, DF councilor, Djordjije Vujovic, head of the Municipal police and inspection, Aleksandar Mijatovic as well as Carevic’s son were all arrested. 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. Dismissed functionaries didn’t allow that. Therefore, police officers, acted upon the law today following the orders of the competent authority for providing assistance. New management of the Municipality of Budva didn’t manage to register the decision on the dismissal of the heads of this town, because no official seals could be found in the Municipal building, said Dragan Krapovic, member of Democrats. “Police found several councilors in front of the building of the Municipal Assembly. They were blocking the entrance to the building. After police issued warning and ordered the crowd to disperse and enable police officers to perform their duties, the gathered people defied the orders and actively resisted, pushing police officers and not allowing them to enter Municipal building,” police said.

The mass shattered glasses at the entrance door of the building. “Police Department harshly condemns actions of the members of the Rescue and Protection service and Municipal Police”, police said. A total of 23 persons were arrested due to obstructing police officers in performing their duties. “Police Department is investigation actions of the members of the Rescue and Protection service and Municipal Police,” official statement said. The person who attacked police officer has been identified, Prosecutor’s Office in Kotor said. Duty prosecutor has ordered that all statements be collected and medical documentation of the injured police officer be provided. “After the analysis of all information, decision on further actions will be rendered,” Prosecutor’s Office said.

 

Reinke: All parties to take part in dialogue and avoid violence (CDM)

 

US Ambassador to Montenegro Judy Rising Reinke said that she was very worried about the situation in Budva. She called on all parties to start dialogue to avoid escalation of tensions, violence or use of force. “Respecting democratic processes and providing conditions for free and fair elections are foundations of democracy,” Reinke staid. The EU has called on all institutions in charge of the implementation of laws to refrain from violence, relieve tensions and find sustainable solution for the current situation in Budva. It has been pointed out that a sustainable solution can only be found through dialogue.

 

Coronavirus returns to Montenegro as seven persons test positive (CDM)

 

Analysis carried out by the Institute for Public Health has confirmed seven coronavirus cases.

Four persons are contacts of the previously known case. Institute is examining the source of infection for the other three cases. New cases are from Podgorica (4), Cetinje (1), Rozaje (1) and Berane (1). “There are currently nine active cases in Montenegro,” the Institute said.

 

Hospitals reorganizing capacities to handle surge in Covid-19 patients (MIA)

 

In the past couple of days, we’ve been working intensively on organizing and planning hospital capacities in a bid to respond to the increase in the number of patients. At the moment, there are 330 Covid-19 patients treated in public health institutions in our country, Venko Filipche said Wednesday. “Infectious diseases wards and clinics have been overwhelmed. Some health workers are exhausted after fighting against the coronavirus for four months” the Health Minister told a news conference. The country, Filipche said, needs to reorganize and to prepare in this stage of the epidemic to cushion the surge in patients by mobilizing and organizing all disposable resources. “We must and we can protect the health system to reduce as much as we can the pressure on health workers and to provide all patients with adequate treatment,” the Minister stated. On Tuesday, 54 doctors and nurses arrived in Skopje to assist their colleagues at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and the General Hospital. “A plan has been already made for other rotations from all public health institutions in the country, including clinics and hospitals. Currently, most clinics and infectious diseases wards can still admit patients, they are not fully occupied, however they still need additional support,” Filipche said, adding private hospitals had also offered support to deploy staff.

 

Electoral Reform, the commission expects concrete proposals from the opposition (Radio Tirana)

 

Socialist MP Damian Gjiknuri, co-chair of the Electoral Reform Commission, addresses a letter to opposition parties outside parliament explaining the SP’s position on the CEC election. According to Gjiknuri, the proposal of the Democratic Party and SMI  is out of the agreement reached on 5 June and goes beyond the agreement and the parliamentary tradition for the role of the Assembly in the election of the CEC. On this issue, Gjiknuri says in the letter, “we will discuss after you bring us another proposal that respects the fact that the Assembly is sovereign in the election of the CEC body by providing consultations and agreements regarding the names that meet the criteria and have approval. of the opposition”. “So, I emphasize only if you bring a new proposal based on these principles, this discussion can continue”, concludes his letter to the socialist MP Gjiknuri. The work of the Political Council remains suspended and the new impasse is the composition and election of CEC members.

Kosovo-Albania flights restart after long time (ADN)

 

For the first time since the war, the air corridor between Kosovo and Albania will restart due to an agreement that was reached on Wednesday between the Air Navigation Services Agency of Kosovo (ANSA) and Albcontrol. The agreement was signed in the framework of the NATO-led “Balkan Air Normalization Meeting” (BANM) project. “This is an important step for the normalization of Kosovo’s airspace, as the new air corridor will shorten flights to Pristina’s ‘Adem Jashari’ International Airport by about 15 minutes and, as a result, it will increase passengers’ benefits, reduce operational costs of airlines and carbon emissions towards a greener aviation. Albania, as a country of the region and a member of NATO has given its continuous contribution within the NATO BANM project in the normalization of the airspace of the Balkans, with special emphasis – the airspace of Kosovo. The signing of the Agreement between Albcontrol and ASNA will be followed by the opening of the air corridor between Albania and Kosovo. This Agreement has been negotiated by our expert groups in close coordination with NATO and with the unreserved support of the Albanian government,” declared Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy.

 

In Albania 66 new Covid-19 cases (Tirana Times)

 

Sixty-six new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected patients to 1788 in Albania. Furthermore, a 67-year-old man from Shkodra passed away on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 39 victims. The victim suffered from several underlying health conditions. So far, tests have been conducted on more than 21,000 people. A total of 55 patients are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, eight of whom are in intensive care and two are intubated. However, a total of 1086 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in Albania have recovered. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that violators of restrictive measures and social distancing, especially as regards businesses, may face fines or prison time, depending on the degree of violation. He emphasized that gatherings and protests are strictly forbidden as long as the coronavirus is still at large.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Moscow to Firmly Counter Attempts to Review Dayton Accords for Peace in BiH, Lavrov Says (Sputnik, 18 June 2020)

 

BELGRADE (Sputnik) – Moscow will stand up against attempts to review the Dayton Accords — a peace agreement that put an end to the war that broke out after Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to separate from Yugoslavia — in every possible way, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday after talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. “We have exchanged opinions on the situation in the Balkans, including in the context of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Dayton Accords and a range of other events. We and our Serbian friends share the same stand, in this situation we will do everything possible to curb the attempts to review these decisions. This could be in line with some of our regional colleagues’ attempts aimed at rewriting history. We will shut out attempts to rewrite the history of World War II and events that unfolded in the Balkans 25 years ago”, Lavrov said. In February, Chairman of the House of Peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Covic has expressed hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina will develop fruitful cooperation with Russia in spite of divisions between the Bosnian society and authorities. The parliamentary speaker added that the country was currently operating within the framework of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, a peace agreement that put an end to the longstanding conflict in the country, which broke out after Bosnia and Herzegovina announced its separation from Yugoslavia in 1992. Under the agreement, two autonomous entities within the country, Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina were created. Despite the agreement, internal political divisions still exist.

 

Fajon and Bilčík: Credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Serbia are crucial on the European integration path (EWB, 17 June 2020)

 

BRUSSELS – MEPs Tanja Fajon (S&D) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue on improving election conditions in Serbia, released a joint statement in which they reminded that they held a final round of inclusive consultations with all key players ahead of the elections scheduled for 21 June 2020 and underlined their call for credible, transparent and peaceful elections. “On Sunday 21 June 2020, Serbia will be one of the first countries in Europe to hold Parliamentary and municipal elections under restricted conditions due to COVID-19. In addition to ensuring credible, transparent and peaceful elections, we also urge all participants to respect the health and safety measures put in place for election day,” reads the statement.

It is added that the integrity of the election process depends on the full respect of fundamental democratic principles where citizens are free to express their will through the ballot box in a peaceful environment without any form of pressure or intimidation. “We hope that the results reflect accurately a democratic competition where all participants could enjoy a level playing field. In that regard, we call on the competent institutions and the media to provide objective, transparent and impartial service in accordance with the laws and regulations”, wrote Fajon and Bilčík. They added that they also call on all bodies responsible for the elections to be proactive and ensure the full implementation of the commitments undertaken during the European Parliament facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament on electoral conditions. “However, we regret that despite our efforts, the conditions were not sufficient for one part of the opposition who have decided to boycott the elections. Trying to find common ground between all parties should remain our effort”, Fajon and Bilčík stated. It is written that although COVID-19 has prevented the European Parliament from sending election observers, “we continue to monitor developments closely and our thoughts are with the people of Serbia as they pursue their democratic aspirations in the polling stations”. Fajon and Bilčík highlighted that they welcome the deployment of a Special Election Assessment Mission by ODIHR in these difficult circumstances, who, alongside Serbia election observers, have an extremely important role to play in monitoring and reporting before, during and after election day. “The European Union is the number one partner to Serbia and the majority of the Serbian citizens are in favour of European integration of their country. As such, we hope that citizens have had the opportunity to hear from all political parties, including those newly proposing pro-European political programmes and agendas that will take the country closer to achieving EU membership. We also hope that these pro-European political agendas will find their place in the new Parliament and will be influential in accelerating the necessary ongoing reforms in Serbia”, reads the press release. It is added that the European Parliament is ready to work with all political parties that are committed to delivering the democratic and pro-EU future, consistently desired by the people of Serbia. “To this end, we remain committed to working with the new composition of the Serbian Parliament and to the Second phase of EP facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue”, Fajon and Bilčík conclude.

 

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