No compromise with the vandals; Involvement of foreign security services proven (B92/Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic condemned last night’s protests organized in front of the parliament, as “an act of political violence”. “Last night in Belgrade, we witnessed the most brutal political violence in recent years. In the past eight years, the Republic of Serbia has fully respected the freedom of gatherings and protests, as well as a different opinion,” he said.
“Last night it was not about the coronavirus, it was an unannounced political rally, against the law,” Vucic said, adding that “it happened that people of right-wing orientation attacked the parliament building and entered it, which means committing at least two criminal acts”.
He emphasized that the police reacted only when the gathered protesters started to vandalize the building of the parliament. “Faced with all this, the police took legal measures. It was enough for decent and peaceful people to see how those people treated each other and how they mistreated the police. Five police vehicles were set on fire, 43 police officers were injured, and one has a fractured skull”, Vucic said, and then showed photos of police officers, some of whom, according to him, were attacked with a knife. Vucic pointed out that great material damage was inflicted, as well as damage to Serbia’s reputation. “I understand the political frustrations, but we won’t allow anyone at home or from abroad to jeopardize the safety of our country,” Vucic said. He called on people not to go out to protest tonight, considering that today is the second worst day in terms of the number of infected. “I will travel to Paris in the morning instead of tonight. I won’t have enough time to rest preceding conversations with Macron, just to show that I am not afraid. I urge people not to go out so that further terrible infections do not occur. Today is our second worst day as 357 are newly infected, out of 8.600 tested. Eleven died. There are 118 patients on the respirator presently,” he said. He announced the tightening of measures. “We are opening new hospitals for COVID patients. Both Ana (Brnabic) and Loncar believe that there is another chance for the measures to be tightened, but that there will be no curfew. I want to tell the citizens of Serbia that I am against that and that I think the only solution is to ban movement,” he said. He said that “throwing stones and Molotov cocktails are not a cure for coronavirus.” “After everything that have taken place last night, it would be a shame for me to deviate from my words under the pressure of thugs and hooligans. The strength of our team is shown by the fact that I do not decide, but I have to respect the opinion of my friends and colleagues. We have no cure for the coronavirus, there is none. There is no vaccine. It is certain that the cure for this society is not knives, stones and Molotov cocktails. So I would just ask people to behave in a disciplined manner, especially in Belgrade. We have run out of the solutions,” he said. He emphasized that “there will be no compromise with the vandals”.
“All those who took part in the burning of cars and injuring police officers will be punished without mercy. There will be no compromise with hooligans. We are always ready for political compromises and talks, but if that makes sense,” he said. He also spoke about the involvement of foreign factors in the events in front of the parliament. “I have no doubt that those who worked on this last night had the goal of weakening Serbia’s position. We have evidence of the involvement of certain officials of some regional secret services, and we can talk about everything else later, when our services do the analysis,” he pointed out.
Brnabic: There will be no violent coup in Serbia (TV Pink/RTV)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told TV Pink on Wednesday evening that these have been the most violent protests so far, but that there would be no violent coup in Serbia and there will be no anarchy. “The Crisis HQs will convene tomorrow and we will continue to fight against corona and preserve healthcare workers, and the health of people and we will win,” she said. She conveyed she would preserve the democratic order in the country and stability, while she conveyed to President Vucic that he was going to tomorrow to fight for Kosovo and Metohija. She assessed that violent protests in Belgrade have undoubtedly inflicted enormous damage to the upcoming talks, but that Vucic would do everything and focus on Kosovo and Metohija, security of Serbia, the future of the entire region and compromise. “There are many of those whom this doesn’t suit, but most of citizens stand behind this and this is the strength of Aleksandar Vucic,” said Brnabic.
Stefanovic: An attempt to seize power by force (B92)
“It is clear that we have a situation that can be described as bare violence,” Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said. “These are attempts to take power without the will of the people, without participating in the elections,” Stefanovic said at an extraordinary press conference.
“You could see the completely calm and restrained behavior of the police, despite protesters throwing stones and bricks towards them. Despite all that, the members of the police were restrained, they reacted only when their lives were endangered. They were attacked by everyone, even with shovels, Molotov cocktails,” Stefanovic pointed out. He said that these were attempts to take over power by force and violence, without the will of the people, and that the protest was illegal and that no one reported it. As he stated, many were under the influence of alcohol. Stefanovic announced the arrests of everyone who dared to physically endanger any person or anyone’s property and asked the prosecutors’ office to react as soon as possible in line with the law. Stefanovic stated that 10 police officers were injured. “They have been calling for the destruction of law and order for days, and unfortunately they are committing violence,” Stefanovic emphasized. He added that the courts and the Prosecutor’s Office will do what is within their jurisdiction and that the public will be informed about that. “Everyone has the right to protest, but you need to report the protest. Go to the polls, run, show your ideas, and do not solve everything with violence,” Stefanovic said in his address to the media. “Patrols will be on duty in Belgrade, but also wherever necessary,” he said. He said that there were indications of foreign involvement in the events, but that he would comment on it when they provide enough credible evidence. “Be sure that no one will be privileged, all those who destroyed the city or threw stones will be sanctioned,” Stefanovic said, adding that all those who caused the incidents would be identified, and that some were already taken to custody for 48 hours.
Dacic: Important visit to Paris (TV Pink/RTV)
“We are facing a tide, i.e. various attempts by foreign partners to reanimate the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which has long been in the phase of ‘clinical death’,” Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told TV Pink, adding there is a problem of non-coordination of these partners and factors. He says that tide of organizing meetings can lead someone to think that we are close to a solution, however, as he emphasized, we are not even close to a solution, but close to the beginning of the continuation of the dialogue. “There will be a video summit of Angela Merkel, Emanuel Macron, Belgrade and Pristina, and on Saturday and Sunday the dialogue in Brussels will be re-launched in some way. That is why Vucic’s visit to Paris is of great importance for us both bilaterally and the state as a whole since we need to present ourselves as a constructive factor, which we have been,” said Dacic. “There is no dilemma that Vucic will advocate to the end our policy that we are for compromise, but we are not for ultimatums and imposing of solutions, i.e. that the issue whether Serbia will recognize independent Kosovo is not even a question for us and is not on our agenda,” he said.
He recalls that the US attempted to schedule the meeting for 27 June, but it was cancelled over the indictment against Hashim Thaci. He says this doesn’t mean the US had given up this meeting and reminds that France and Germany wanted to organize meetings last year, but they didn’t because Ramush Haradinaj didn’t want to abolish the taxes. “It is obvious that Europe is not thrilled that the US has primacy in that dialogue,” says Dacic, adding there have been a change in Europe and the appointment of Miroslav Lajcak who has the role of modelling the dialogue. He says the issue of a lasting solution has never been discussed in this dialogue, while it got stuck in the implementation of already existing agreements. “That is why we have a lot to say before we even continue talking about something else,” said Dacic.
US Embassy in Serbia: We are deeply concerned; Coordinated assaults on the police (Tanjug/RTS/RTV/B92)
The US Embassy in Belgrade announced today that they are closely following the events in the last two evenings in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia. The Embassy also states that they are deeply concerned about the violent aspect of the protests. “We condemn all forms of violence, including what appears to be coordinated attacks on police that appear to have provoked excessive reactions, as well as the apparent use of force by the police,” the US Embassy said in a statement. They add, however, that freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly are at the core of any democracy, and that America is a country that is currently facing challenges in terms of civil protests and unrest. Concerns and debates about the essence of these things in Serbia and elsewhere in the world – about how one country can save its people from the deadliest pandemic of our time – are a serious matter and must be part of a calm and reasonable debate at the national level. “In order to initiate such a dialogue in Serbia, a free media environment and reforms in the area of the rule of law are needed,” the US Embassy concluded.
Bilcik condemns violence at protest in Belgrade (Beta)
The European Parliament’s rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik condemned on 8 July the violence during the protest in Belgrade on the previous night, and called for caution because of the epidemiological situation. I have followed the recent events in Belgrade with great concern. I most strictly condemn all violence that occurred last night in front of the Serbian parliament. Violence before peaceful demonstrators and brutal tactics cannot be a response when the people exercise their right to assemble, Bilcik stated, adding that the right to peaceful expression of opinion had to be honored. Bilcik added that, at the same time, attacks against police officers and destruction of property are unacceptable forms of the public expression of frustration. The rapporteur said he was concerned over the increase of the number of people infected with the corona virus in Serbia, recollecting that the pandemic in Europe was far from being over and that everyone had to be cautious in the forthcoming weeks and months. In his words, the fight against the pandemic cannot be used as a political weapon.
New riot in Belgrade; speculations about who provokes clashes (N1)
Serbia’s Gendarmerie and special unit beat on Wednesday demonstrators who fell in a stampede after the police threw teargas in the crowd, while speculations arose about who provoked the unrest, with the opposition, analysts and some protesters blaming the authorities, N1 reported.
The anti-government protest continued on Wednesday night, after violence on Tuesday in which the police used teargas, horses and dogs to disperse the protesters who initially surprised them and briefly entered the parliament building. Some demonstrators told N1 they suspected authorities of organising hooligans to provoke incidents by provoking the police. Vuk Jeremic, an opposition leader, charged that the authorities sent hooligans to make unrest. They all say the riot suits the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its leader Vucic to portray people’s dissatisfaction with their handling the coronavirus epidemic like the opposition’s attempt to grab power without elections and that they have support from abroad. A political analyst Vuk Velebit, told N1 that “unlike last night, we have organized groups of hooligans who are provoking conflicts with the police.” During the protest, Bosko Obradovic, one of Serbia’s opposition leaders, was among those who received few blows by the police. Earlier, another opposition leader, Sergej Trifunovic, was attacked by a group of protesters, or those pretending to be a part of demonstrators, who called him a traitor for taking part in the 21 June general elections, despite saying he would not. He suffered several blows, one of which into his head. In the meantime, protesters rallied in the northern city of Novi sad and southern city of Nis, where several thousand people joined demonstrations and N1 reporters confirmed incidents there as well. As in Belgrade, the crowd chanted against Vucic, calling for his resignations as well as of Serbia’s police chiefs, and some local politicians form the President’s party. Later, demonstrations started in the central city of Kragujevac, where protesters broke windows on the local police station building and threw a torch inside. The police have immediately reacted. Like on Tuesday, the mostly young men, threw stones, bottles, firecrackers and torches on the riot police who responded with teargas in Belgrade. They set ablaze several garbage bins in the city’s center.
Unlike on Tuesday, much many police officers were dispersing demonstrators who were using side streets and changing positions, dragging police around the Belgrade center. N1 reporters witnessed Gendarms using buttons on people who fell on each other, fleeing a massive amount of teargas. Some people were lying on the ground either hurt or having problems with breathing due to teargas. On several points in the capital, the police were trying to control the angry crowd, while letting those with religious insignia pass them. On others, N1 reporters said the police did not react to the throwing stones but seemed ready to intervene. In the meantime, the police seemed to have encircled the most aggressive crowd and included the special anti-terrorist unit (SAJ) in the operation.
B&H House of Peoples adopts changes to B&H Election Law (O kanal)
At a session that was held in Sarajevo on Wednesday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Peoples (HoP) adopted the proposal of amendments to the Election Law of B&H that will make it possible to hold the local elections in Mostar after 12 years. Thirteen delegates voted in favor of the proposal and one delegate voted against it. The delegates agree that the solution is not perfect, but it is the only possible solution at this moment. The B&H HoP also adopted two conclusions at the proposal of the Serb Caucus. The first conclusion recommends to the Mostar City Council to include representatives of all constituent and other peoples in the process of drafting a new Statute of the City of Mostar. The second conclusion reads that the B&H HoP finds it necessary that the Assemblies of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC), Posavina Canton (PC) and West Herzegovina Canton (WHC) amend the Cantonal Constitutions to ensure the constituent status of peoples until the upcoming local elections. Delegate of the Croat Caucus in the B&H HoP Lidija Bradara (HDZ B&H) said that this is a result of compromise. “Any law could be better, but this is the only possible solution at this moment. The elections for the City of Mostar and the elections for other local self-government units in B&H will be held on the same day” Bradara said. B&H HoP speaker Nikola Spiric (SNSD) said that the Serb people have not been constituent in three cantons for so many years since the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) was signed. “Therefore, we adopted a conclusion that everything should be done to ensure the constituent status of the Serb people and other peoples who are not constituent in those cantons – until the local elections in Mostar” Spiric explained.
Leaders of SNSD, HDZ B&H and SDA announce possibility of yet another postponement of local elections because of Mostar (EuroBlic)
EuroBlic daily argued that SNSD and HDZ B&H, which strongly opposed the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H on postponement of the local elections, now changed their stance and, together with SDA, advocate another postponement because of Mostar elections. Namely, the daily reminded that leaders of SNSD Milorad Dodik, HDZ B&H Dragan Covic and SDA Bakir Izetbegovic met on Tuesday and agreed that the budget of B&H institutions will be adopted by 21 July but noted that the local elections should be perhaps postponed until December this year in order to allow enough time for preparation of local elections in Mostar. Spokesperson for B&H CEC Maksida Piric briefly told the daily that the possibility of yet another postponement has not been considered yet and added that she cannot comment on the statements of the three leaders. Spokesperson for SNSD Radovan Kovacevic stated that the leaders discussed possible postponement of local elections because changes to the Law on Elections of B&H concerning elections in Mostar must be adopted first but also because the budget of B&H institutions was not adopted in the House of Representatives (HoR) of B&H in an urgent but in a shortened procedure. Kovacevic added that B&H CEC is already running late with some of its obligations so even if the procedure of adoption of the budget is completed by 21 July as planned, B&H CEC will be running late even more with some of its deadlines. “Regardless of all of that, SNSD is not for postponement of elections. If it were up to us, elections would have been held in the first week of October as in line with the Law,” Kovacevic argued. Representative in B&H HoR Semsudin Mehmedovic (SDA) said that he is not sure whether there should be yet another postponement of elections and he reminded that both B&H HoR and B&H HoP adopted changes to the Law on Elections of B&H in an urgent procedure, which will enable holding of elections in Mostar as well. Mehmedovic added that there will be no reason to postpone holding of the local elections once again if the budget is adopted by 21 July. Representative in B&H HoR Branislav Borenovic (PDP) said that anything, including new postponement of the local elections, is possible and he argued that there is anarchy in B&H so everyone who wants to act in a responsible manner is unable to do anything. “B&H CEC will face serious problems in carrying out election activities if their deadlines were shortened and unless they get finances in time,” Borenovic claimed and speculated that the parliamentary majority at the level of B&H could have “adopted the budget and solve the issue of Mostar elections ten times already but they are obviously looking for a reason to postpone the elections once again”.
Quint Ambassadors meet with members of Collegiums of B&H HoR and B&H HoP (Nova BH)
A meeting between the leadership of the B&H parliament and Ambassadors of Quint countries was held in Sarajevo on Wednesday. Nova BH stressed that the meeting followed after several turbulent political days in B&H. Ambassadors of Quint countries warned that executive and legislative authorities in B&H have to work more actively on changing certain legislative solutions, warning that the budget of B&H has to be adopted by July 21 in order to acquire all prerequisites for holding local elections in B&H. Nova BH recalled that the meeting between the leadership of the B&H Parliament and Ambassadors of Quint countries was held ahead of Thursday’s session of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) at which MPs will discuss the budget of B&H for 2020. According to Nova BH, no one can say with certainty that the budget will be adopted. Following the meeting, US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson told the media that Ambassadors of Quint countries want to encourage parliamentary leaders to work urgently on the adoption of the budget by 21 July, as well as on the fight against Covid-19 which has both economic and health consequences. Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler told the media that meeting participants used this opportunity to discuss many initiatives and laws that are in parliamentary procedure. “It is our pleasure that we got reassurances from the leaders that these things can be implemented by the end of September and definitely before the holding of local elections in B&H. We are speaking of legislation that includes changes to the Law on the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), Law on Conflict of Interest, Law on Public Procurement, adoption of War Crimes Processing Strategy,” Ambassador Sattler said. Nova BH stressed that SNSD leader Milorad Dodik caused additional confusion surrounding the holding of local elections in B&H after his Tuesday’s meeting with the leaders of SDA and HDZ B&H in Istocno Sarajevo. Namely, Dodik stated that there is a possibility that local elections will be postponed for December. SDA leader and Deputy Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Bakir Izetbegovic, who attended the meeting with Ambassadors of Quint countries, expressed belief that budget will definitely be adopted by 21 July. “What I expect when it comes to 14 priorities is finally a more active approach and activities of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). The HoP is at the end of procedures, at the end of the procedural path. I expect the CoM, and the HoR of course, to work faster in order to overcome the delay that has been lasting for almost two years,” Izetbegovic underlined.
Workers of healthcare centers in Sarajevo Canton again begin general strike (Nova BH)
Despite the current epidemiological situation, workers of healthcare centers in Sarajevo Canton on Wednesday again entered general strike which they commenced back in September 2019. According to the healthcare workers, their strike will last until they reach an agreement with the Sarajevo Canton government on harmonization of salary coefficients with those that were in force in 2017. During the general strike, healthcare workers in Sarajevo Canton will not leave their jobs, but they will be providing medical assistance only to emergency patients. Healthcare workers in Sarajevo Canton said that they will fight until the end and that they will not give up on their demands which primarily include harmonization of salary coefficients. Instead of medical technicians and nurses, doctors will be doing triage in Sarajevo Canton alone.
Although they are in general strike, healthcare workers claim that patients will not and cannot suffer and that medical assistance will be provided to all emergency patients. Nova BH stressed that there is no doubt that general strike of healthcare workers in Sarajevo Canton that started Wednesday morning will have an impact on the already strained healthcare system. Although healthcare workers reiterated that they did not want to come to this especially now when the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is becoming additionally complicated, especially in Sarajevo Canton, they claim that they had to begin a strike in order to fight for their rights.
President of the Trade Union of Healthcare Workers of Sarajevo Canton Edo Selimic repeatedly said on Wednesday that this is minimum of minimum that healthcare workers will not give up on. “Medical technicians have been withdrawn from triage points. All members of this Trade Union are on strike,” Selimic said.
Plenkovic says most new ministers will be re-appointed following election win (Hina/Vecernji List)
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic whose Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) scored a convincing victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election, said in an interview with the Vecernji List daily on Thursday that a majority of the ministers in his current cabinet would be in the next government. “Let us conduct internal consultations for a few more days so as to complete the new architecture of the Croatian government. There will be fewer ministerial departments, which means fewer ministers. We are going to conduct some mergers, taking into account the functionality and closeness of the areas of responsibility of certain ministries,” said Plenkovic, who is to be the Prime Minister-designate after the elections. “We are looking for solutions that will help us to form a compact and easy-to-manage government,” Plenkovic said, adding that in the outgoing government there were 20 ministers plus prime minister, and this number of people made it more difficult to coordinate the cabinet. Considering the ambition of ethnic minorities’ parliamentary deputies to have their representative in the next government, Plenkovic said that this topic had not yet been discussed. As far as other partners of the next government are concerned, the HDZ policy is to talk with parties that have similar worldviews and with those who have programs congruent with the HDZ platform. “My aim as the prime minister and the HDZ leader is to reduce tensions and divisions in the Croatian society,” Plenkovic said adding that he could hold talks with all protagonists and that it was his duty to talk to everyone. “It will be good that some other people also widen their margin for talks and communication technologies. If tensions are defused and if one scraps concepts that are not normal, then we can hold talks,” Plenkovic said in reference to the possibility of the HDZ cooperation with the Homeland Movement party led by Miroslav Skoro and the Bridge party led by Bozo Petrov. Plenkovic said that cooperation could be possible provided that the two parties gave up their blackmailing rhetoric.
Croatian FM: We want order, peace, stability in Serbia (Hina)
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman on Wednesday commented on anti-government protests in Serbia and said Croatia wanted “order, peace and stability” and for the protests to be peaceful. “Protests are also always a sign of a democratic society, but in any case we want them… to be peaceful protests,” he told reporters. Speaking of the Serbian government’s announcement of a curfew due to the coronavirus epidemic, he said “the Serbian authorities will manage to communicate that to citizens” and that “it’s important to maintain citizens’ health.”
The protests were supported by the opposition Alliance for Serbia, which boycotted a recent parliamentary election, at which President Aleksandar Vucic‘s party scored a landslide victory, claiming the election was taking place in undemocratic conditions. “They definitely had an election. As we have seen, not one civil party leader has entered parliament. That’s the will of Serbia’s citizens and that’s all we can say,” said Grlic Radman.
Foreign Minister: We want an efficient government (Hina)
Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting of the inner cabinet, that all options were on the table as regards government downsizing and that the goal was to have an efficient government serving the interests of state policy and citizens.
“All options are open… We want to have a government that will be efficient and serves the interests of the state and citizens,” said the Minister. Asked if he would keep his post as Foreign Minister in the new government, Grlic Radman said that he “is serving his homeland” and that the prime minister-designate would be the one to decide. Asked if he thought he was doing his job well, Grlic Radman said that he did. Asked which department could go to ethnic minorities, he said that it would be negotiated. “Minorities have traditionally always supported the government. It is good when minorities in Croatia can participate in the government, which is an achievement of the parliamentary democracy in Croatia. Croatia can serve as an example to many countries in the EU and beyond in that regard,” he said. As for the closing of the border with Serbia, he said that the national civil protection authority would decide about that, noting that Croatia had demonstrated seriousness, organization and reliability and that protection of citizens’ health was a priority.
Opposition fails to reach agreement on forming a unique electoral list (CdM)
Representatives of parliamentary opposition parties failed to reach agreement on joint participation in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. After several-hour longs talks, Democratic Front left the meeting and accused URA of destroying the idea of a unique opposition list, CdM finds out.
Argument between Konatar and Radunovic
It was chaotic during the meeting. At one moment, member of DF, Slaven Radunovic and vice-president of URA civic movement, Milos Konatar, got into argument. URA didn’t want to comment on the proposal made by other opposition representatives regarding formation of a unique list. That sparked tensions. DF members said URA wasn’t willing for agreement.
Earlier in the day, URA proposed that none of politicians should be on the list but only independent intellectuals, the proposal which was rejected by all participants. DF proposed that none of the MPs should be on the list. Democrats stated it was the best solution.
Meanwhile, Aleksa Becic said he was ready not to be on the list, provided that other opposition leaders were willing to do the same. Nebojsa Medojevic, DF member, said that DF was ready to meet Becic’s condition. President of Socialist People’s Party Vladimir Jokovic also agreed with Becic’s proposal. He urged everyone not to appear in public with any other suggestions. The opposition has similar discussions earlier too and the epilogue is well known – they failed to reach agreement.
Political parties continue campaigning four days before elections (MIA)
The election campaign ahead of 15 July early parliamentary polls is coming to an end. Political parties resumed Wednesday evening campaign, promising non-selective and transparent justice, economic development, involvement of the young people in all social processes. They urge people to strictly adhere to health safety protocols and to go to the polls on 15 July. On Thursday, SDSM and the “We Can” coalition will visit Shuto Orizari and Delchevo, while VMRO-DPMNE and the “Renewal for Macedonia” coalition will visit Skopje municipalities of Chair, Aerodrom and Gazi Baba municipalities. “Never North – Only Macedonia” coalition is to visit Skopje municipalities of Gjorche Petrov, Gazi Baba, Butel, Karposh and Centar. Democratic Union and political party “Tvoja” will hold press conferences. Our country is now recognized by the whole world. Strategic goals are achieved, our identity and language are recognized throughout the world, the economy has gone up, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told citizens in Prilep on Wednesday. Thus, Zaev added, we’ve fulfilled the wishes of our ancestors who fought for our future. “We have our own territorial sovereignty and integrity. Today, we’re a NATO member whose security and stability are guaranteed,” Zaev underlined. “North Macedonia is the home of Macedonian people who speak the Macedonian language, officially recognized throughout the world. Our neighbors too speak of the Macedonian people and the Macedonian language, and recently our Blazhe Koneski has been translated in Greece,” he continued. “But political opponents keep denying this with fake patriotism.” “Our neighbors are now our friends and strategic partners. The EU adopted the negotiating framework for North Macedonia which says that the entire EU acquis needs to be translated in Macedonian,” Zaev underlined, adding that that was the first step to Macedonian becoming an official EU language.
In these elections, we decide the future of our Macedonia in a year from now. I’m convinced in the decisiveness and courage of each and every citizen to stand up against SDSM led by Zoran Zaev, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski told citizens of Bogdanci on Wednesday. “I won’t be talking about all that happened in the past three years, because each of you has felt it, each of you feels humiliated. SDSM hasn’t won parliamentary elections for 18 years, and the same will happen in these elections as well,” Mickoski said. According to him, if the SDSM/Besa coalition gets the opportunity to form a government, federalization and eventual destruction of Macedonia will follow. “Everyone who’ll go to the polls and vote for Zoran Zaev on 15 July, needs to know that this time they would be voting for the destruction of Macedonia. I’m sure it won’t happen, I can feel it, this time people are determined to go to the polls first thing in the morning on 15 July and vote number 14,” Mickoski said. DUI leader Ali Ahmeti said last night in Gostivar that the citizens will vote for DUI. He said he was committed to vetting process for officials and in social life. He assessed that as a party they have realized a large part of the program, adding that he never hesitated to be accountable on the achievements. Alliance for Albanians leader Ziadin Sela told the citizens of Kichevo that the citizens have decided for a political change. “My motivation is Albanians to stay in the country. You will vote on 15 July, and we will bring the changes,” Sela said.
Latest poll respondents perceive SDSM-Besa as winning coalition (MIA)
The SDSM-Besa coalition holds a lead over VMRO-DPMNE at early parliamentary election scheduled for 15 July, shows an opinion poll conducted by the STRATUM R&D agency.
Asked which party will win upcoming election, 31% of respondents expressed support for the “We Can” coalition, followed by VMRO-DPMNE – 27%, DUI – 6%, Alliance for Albanians-Alternativa coalition – 5%. Upcoming election is set to take place during complicated psycho-social and economic situation which reflects on citizens’ positions on all topics, the survey found. Regarding overall activities of political parties, 26% of respondents said that the next government should be formed by SDSM, 23% opted for VMRO-DPMNE and 7% for a SDSM-Besa-Alliance for Albanians coalition. DUI received support from 4% of respondents. 44% of the respondents said they would ‘definitely’ vote in the parliamentary election and 27% said they would ‘probably’ vote. Moreover, 12% of respondents said they would ‘probably not’ vote, 10% that they would ‘definitely not’ vote, 3% refused to respond, while 4% said they didn’t know whether they would vote. Asked which of the parties they would vote for at upcoming election, 25% opted for the SDSM-Besa coalition, 23% for the VMRO-DPMNE coalition, 7% for DUI, 5% for Alliance for Albanians-Alternativa coalition, 2% for Levica, 1% for DPA. Regarding DUI’s platform for Prime Minister based on national grounds, over 70% of respondents were against this criterion. Moreover, poll results show that 44% of respondents are in favor of easing coronavirus measures, placing great importance on economy, while 41% support implementation of stricter measures and favor health above all else. STRATUM R&D collected data via phone survey of a representative sample of 900 respondents (150 per electoral district), conducted 1-6 July.
Merkel says first chapters of EU talks with Skopje and Tirana to be opened by year’s end (MIA)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday presented the priorities of the German EU Council Presidency in the coming six months at the European Parliament, mentioning only the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albanian with respect to the enlargement issue, MIA reports from Brussels. Western Balkans, Africa, the fight against disinformation, migration, Russia and China were presented as being the main priorities of Germany as regards foreign policy by the end of the year. She told MEPs that accession conferences with North Macedonia and Albanian should take place this year before the first chapters were opened.
Merkel called the opening of EU talks with Skopje and Tirana an important signal as part of the bloc’s efforts to encourage the integration of Western Balkan countries. If the two countries maintain their current dynamic of reform implementation, the first chapters as part of the negotiations could be opened in November or December. The German Presidency plans on including this issue on the agenda of the Council of the EU in November. The European Commission is expected to release its progress reports for the countries in the region by then.
Last week, the European Commission submitted to the Council of the EU the draft negotiating frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania.
Nationals of Serbia, Montenegro, B&H, Kosovo must present PCR test upon entering country as of Thursday (MIA)
As of Thursday, all nationals of Serbia, Kosovo, B&H and Montenegro must present a valid negative PCR test from the past 72 hours when entering the country. The government has adopted at a session on Wednesday the proposal by the Commission for Infectious Diseases to allow nationals of Serbia, Kosovo, B&H and Montenegro entry in North Macedonia only with presentation of a valid PCR test, the Health Ministry’s PR service said in a press release. The Commission made this decision after reviewing the current epidemiological situation in the four countries and in line with information it received from their healthcare authorities. “This decision is based solely on the epidemiological data that have been collected in recent days, which showed the situation in these countries, which we consider to be much worse than ours at this time,” Health Minister Venko Filipche told reporters earlier on Wednesday. According to him, this measure is valid only for citizens of these countries. If transiting, they can cross the border without presenting a PCR test.
Albanian Ambassador and diplomatic staff to Greece ‘discharged’ (ADN/Top Channel)
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Genc Cakaj ‘discharged’ on Wednesday all the members of the Albanian Embassy, including the Ambassador Ardiana Hobdari, local media reported.
The radical action came for low performance according to ‘Top Channel‘, but the Greek media reports that the Ambassador, Ardiana Hobdari, was discharged after she was involved in the scandal of the robbery of 100 Albanian passports in Athens. Greek media says that in this robbery is also involved even the Albanian Consul in Ioannina, Pervin Gjikuria. “Hobdari and Gjikuria are involved in the robbery of 100 passports from a vehicle of the Embassy. The vehicle was property of Gjikuria, and he was responsible to transfer the passports at the Albanian Embassy to Athens. The robbery took place on 13 February,” says Greek media. The Albanian acting Minister has also found the name that will replace the dismissed ambassador Ardiana Hobdari. He proposed to President Ilir Meta this Wednesday the name of Luela Hajdaragaj as Albania’s ambassador to Athens. But he can propose the discharge or new diplomats because the final decision must be taken by the Albanian President.
EU Commissioner: Albania’s progress towards reforms is essential (Tirana Times/DW)
EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi stated that it is essential that the Albanian government continues the progress towards the reforms in the areas of rule of law, the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organized crime. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Varhelyi praised the agreement reached earlier in June between all political parties on the electoral reform as part of the 15 EU conditions, adding that this is a step which “shows commitment, and it proves that Albania is giving results even in the most difficult times.” Varhelyi also reiterated the four principles of the revised methodology which he introduced earlier this year in February, consisting of credibility, predictability, dynamism and stronger political steer. When asked about the reforms in regard to the principle of predictability, the EU Commissioner emphasized that it is essential that progress on all reforms continues in the areas of rule of law, the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organized crime, as part of the EU 15 conditions. Furthermore, he noted that the recent presentation of the draft of the negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia to the EU Council marks an important step in their path towards EU accession based on on the revised enlargement methodology. “I look forward to discussions with member states and holding as soon as possible the first Intergovernmental Conference with the two countries. Their future is clear in the European Union, and I am confident that they will continue to implement reforms on their path to the EU, as they have done so far,” he said. Last week, the European Commission submitted a draft negotiating framework for Albania and North Macedonia to the EU Council, defining guidelines and principles for their EU accession. The draft is a response to the request of member states made in March this year, when the General Affairs Council gave the green light to Albania and North Macedonia to open talks with both countries. The draft frameworks are divided into three parts; the first part states the principles governing the accession negotiations, the second states the substance of the negotiations, and the third states the negotiations procedure. According to the EC, the objective of the negotiations is that Albania and North Macedonia adopt the EU acquis in its entirety and ensure its full implementation and enforcement upon accession. The first Inter-Governmental Meeting will be led by Germany which took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July. Prior to the Meeting, Albania is expected to meet several of the EU 15 conditions, centering on the judiciary and electoral reform, fighting organized crime as well as rule of law. “During the Presidency of the Council, Germany will be on the side of Albania with words and deeds. I look forward to six intense months,” said German Ambassador to Albania Peter Zingraf earlier.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Analysts: Potential for Civil Unrest Rising in Europe (Voice of America, by Jamie Dettmer, 8 July 2020)
As infection rates start rising in some European countries, the potential for civil unrest and political aftershocks is growing as patience wears thin, say analysts. In the wake of violent clashes Tuesday in the Serbian capital — where thousands of protesters angry about the re-imposition of some lockdown measures fought running battles with baton-wielding riot police — governments across the continent are bracing for battles on their own streets. Serbia went from one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe to a near complete reopening of the country at the beginning of May, but a surge in confirmed cases has prompted the reintroduction of a weekend curfew. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called the virus situation in Belgrade “alarming” and “critical,” with the city’s hospitals nearing full capacity. The rioting in Belgrade saw both far-right and far-left protesters battling police. Even before the pandemic, Europe was in the grip of rising political anger, and mainstream parties were rocked by populist stirrings that have been reshaping the continent’s politics. But the pandemic is making many on the continent angrier still, fueling protests, further polarizing politics and exposing long-simmering political and social tensions. “In the early stages of the crisis, politics was suspended, and public opinion fell in behind the actions of national governments. Citizens were sent into internal exile in their own homes, many paralyzed with fear and uncertainty,” noted the European Council on Foreign Relations in a report last month. But with nerves on edge, unemployment set to rise and economic hardship mounting, the mood in some major cities has been turning sour. London, Paris, Brussels, and Stuttgart all have seen riots in recent weeks. Myriad causes have brought people out — from racial justice to anger at lockdown restrictions. Some have been sparked by general fury and frustration with no political demands expressed. In Stuttgart last month, hundreds of partygoers began rioting and plundered stores after police arrested a suspected drug-user. In London, police efforts to stop illegal block parties have led to clashes. And the mood is likely to turn uglier, some observers fear. Economic hardship in Europe is forecast to be worse than previously feared. The European Commission warned Tuesday that the 27-member Europe Union will fall into a deeper recession this year and will take longer to recover from the coronavirus crisis than previously expected. The EU27 economy is now forecast to contract by 8.3 percent in 2020. The updated forecast does not include a possible second wave of infections that would trigger renewed lockdown measures and prompt even greater economic turmoil. Longer term, economically motivated anti-government protests are probable across Europe, experts say, if economic recovery is slow and uneven. Last month, the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank that publishes an annual global peace index, warned that Europe likely would witness rising civil unrest because of the impact of the coronavirus. “Rising political instability is expected in Europe, with riots and general strikes set to increase,” the institute’s researchers noted. “It’s likely that the economic impact of COVID-19 will magnify tensions by increasing unemployment, widening inequality and worsening labor conditions — creating alienation from the political system and increasing civil unrest. We therefore find ourselves at a critical juncture,” said Steve Killelea, the institute’s founder. Other analysts have been warning of the likelihood of a deepening polarization because of the coronavirus. “The already established conflict between a more nationalist and protectionist right, and a more socialist and ‘progressive’ left seems likely to be exacerbated,” Martin Wolf, the Financial Times’ chief commentator, wrote recently. That all adds up to increasing political risk across the continent. “Companies, institutions and households are forced to operate in a political atmosphere that is becoming harder and harder to read,” according to researchers at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence outfit based in Texas.