Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continues with Vucic and Hoti meeting in Brussels (RTS)
The meeting between Vucic and Hoti should start at 4pm, the European Commission announced. The hosts are EU High Representative Josep Borrell and EU Special Representative for the dialogue and Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak. The agenda envisages that Borrell will send a statement before the meeting while Lajcak will give his statement following the meeting. The EU assess the meeting as the first important step in renewing the negotiations. Brussels’ plan is for the dialogue to be conducted on two tracks: one is devoted to the finalization and implementation of all signed agreements, and the other one is devoted to the agreement on comprehensive normalization of relations. The last time the two sides conducted the dialogue was in 2018, after which the talks ceased since Pristina introduced taxes in November that year.
Shieb: The goal is comprehensive legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina (RTV/Tanjug)
German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb expressed satisfaction with the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina after a year and a half, stating that he hoped for a constructive atmosphere in the spirit of reconciliation. Shib could not specify for the Newsmax Adria program whether the talks starting today in Brussels will be an “introduction into the finale”, saying that it is up to moderator Miroslav Lajcak to set the pace, but stressed that the result and goal of these talks should be a comprehensive legally binding agreement, which, as he says, would bring stability to the region. “I wish all the best to all the participants. It is up to the moderator to set the pace, I remind of his statement that the talks should not last for years but several months,” said the Ambassador. He added that the issue of Kosovo must be resolved before joining the EU. “We have an idea of how it can be solved. The solution must be applicable in practice, but we do not want to prescribe a model (to the two sides),” said Shieb.
Less: EU has nothing to offer to Serbia (Tanjug/B92)
Timothy Less, a researcher at the Cambridge University Geopolitical Forum and a former diplomat in the Balkans, doesn’t expect progress in resolving Kosovo knot. Ahead of today’s meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti under the auspices of the EU in Brussels, Less says that he expects the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue for a while, but emphasizes that he does not expect progress in resolving the Kosovo problem. The EU initiative, he says, will not bring progress because Europeans who want to solve the Kosovo problem at the same time reject the only realistic compromise solution – division in exchange for recognition. “The only alternative they offer is theoretical membership in the EU, which Aleksandar Vucic said, with some justification, that it is not enough. No matter what the European intentions are, taking over the dialogue from them will ensure only that, when there is no solution, at least when it comes to a solution that will be negotiated,” Less told Tanjug. He adds that there is not much that the EU can offer to Serbia, and that is a big part of the problem. If Germany and others reject the idea of adjusting the borders, the only alternative would be urgent membership in the EU, which could, he believes, change the entire political context of this problem, but he is skeptical that it will really happen. Because, as he says, France and other European countries do not want to let Serbia, Kosovo or any other part of the Balkans into the EU until they are sure that these countries are ready, in other words, until they meet thousands of strict conditions for entry and show that are stable and prosperous democracies. “In other words, the European initiative to solve the Kosovo problem is likely to get stuck right where it got stuck in the last decade, excluding any solution other than one in which Serbia recognizes Kosovo in exchange for a promise of eventual EU accession,” Less said. He sees Germany as the biggest obstacle to reaching an agreement, and when asked if it would be possible to change Brussels’ position on a compromise solution that would take into account Serbian interests, Less answered that it is theoretically possible, given that European politicians have different views on this question, but it’s hard to believe that it will happen. “In the past, both Emmanuel Macron and Sebastian Kurz, along with others, have stated that if Serbs and Albanians agree to solve the Kosovo problem by moving the borders, they will not stand in the way. Josep Borrell said the same thing recently,” Less recalls. He adds that it is strange when, over the years, European leaders demand a solution to the Kosovo problem, and when Serbia and Kosovo agreed with the outlines of the solution, Angela Merkel and some others blocked that solution because they do not like it. “In the long run, this is neither a credible nor a sustainable position. The precondition for resuming negotiations in continuity is probably Merkel’s departure and her replacement with a more pragmatic leader, which will not happen until next year at the earliest,” Less said, noting that this is not any guarantee either. Less reiterates that Germany believes that the partition of Kosovo would open the mythical Pandora’s box – in other words, the partition of Kosovo would be the trigger for the collapse of Bosnia, because Bosnian Serbs only lack a precedent that would serve as a justification for achieving their goal of partitioning Bosnia. it makes no sense, he says, for three reasons. He is the first to state that Bosnia, he says, is not sticking together because of the lack of precedent, but because as long as Serbs risk punishment for disbanding Bosnia, they will not do so, and the second is that the partition of Kosovo does not set any precedent. According to him, foreign powers have divided the Balkans for decades, and the last time was in 1999, when the United States, supported, among others, by Germany, agreed on the division of Serbia. “If developments in Kosovo serve as any kind of trigger for the disintegration of Bosnia, it will not be because of Kosovo’s division, but because of the officialization of Kosovo’s independence, which will anger the Serbian public who will demand compensation for it. Realistically, it can only be the Republika Srpska, a territory of similar size with the Serb population,” Less said. He adds that in other words, if Germany wants to freeze Bosnia in its current form, and then North Macedonia – the best thing it can do is insist on freezing the Serbian-Kosovo problem. Asked how he sees the role of the United States in resolving the Kosovo problem at the moment, whether a new move by Richard Grenell can be expected and whether he believes in a common EU approach about the final solution, Less said that Europeans really do not want Americans to get involved in these talks, at least as long as Donald Trump stays in the White House. “Richard Grenell’s recent comments suggest that the United States will now leave the leading role to the Europeans. I think Grenell was relieved that he handed over this task, with a feeling of disappointment because he failed to reach an agreement and the objection that the Europeans managed to oust the Americans.” However, he adds that this will not be the end of American involvement, if the Europeans fail, as he expects, to solve the Kosovo problem. “Events related to Kosovo follow a well-known practice from the post-Yugoslav period when Europeans claimed to have a solution to the problem, told Americans not to interfere, and ultimately failed to reach a solution as things on the ground worsened. We saw the 1990s when Europeans said they would end the wars, but they didn’t, and in 2000, when Europeans said they would stabilize the Balkans by integrating it into the EU, they didn’t”. In that context, he says, it is logical to be skeptical of European claims that they can solve the Kosovo problem, especially since they do not have any credible solution to offer. “I think there will now be a period of deadlock in which Europeans will try again to persuade Serbia to recognize Kosovo within the existing borders with the promise of eventual EU membership. In the meantime, the situation in the region, in Serbia and Kosovo, but also in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia, to become more unstable. The locals will work with the Russians, Chinese and Turks to help them with various problems. And the EU will dive deeper into its internal crisis,” he said. The consequences will be such that, when the United States eventually returns, it will have to resolve not only the burdensome issue of where the borders between Serbs and Albanians will be set in Kosovo, but a wider set of problems that will cover the entire Balkan region.
RIK allocates terms of office to MPs (Tanjug)
In line with the Report on the sum results of the elections for MPs, at the 15 July session, the Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) adopted the Decision on the allocation of MPs’ terms of office as follows:
- Electoral List ALEKSANDAR VUCIC – FOR OUR CHILDREN. – 188 terms of office
- Electoral List IVICA DACIC – “Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), United Serbia (JS) – Dragan Markovic Palma” – 32 terms of office
- Electoral List ALEKSANDAR SAPIC – VICTORY FOR SERBIA – 11 terms of office
- Electoral List Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians – István Pásztor – 9 terms of office
- Electoral List Academician Muamer Zukorlic – Straight Ahead – Justice and Reconciliation Party (SPP) – Democratic Party of Macedonians (DPM) – 4 terms of office
- Electoral List “ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE – UNITED VALLEY” – 3 terms of office and
- Electoral List SDA Sandzak – Dr Sulejman Ugljanin – 3 terms of office.
Protest in front of Appeals Court (N1)
A group of NGOs organized a gathering in front of the Misdemeanor Appeals Court in Belgrade to protest the arrests during the anti-government demonstrations in the Serbian capital. The protest was organized by the Academic Solidarity Network, Women in Black, Civic Resistance and the Democratic Party (DS) as a representative of the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) whose lawyers provided legal aid to the people arrested over the past few days. DS leader Zoran Lutovac called judges to stop being the service of the regime. “Many judges are behaving in that way because they are under pressure from the authorities,” he told reporters. Lutovac said the protest was organized in front of the court to encourage all the honorable people in the judiciary to stick to the law. Retired Supreme Court judge Zoran Ivosevic told the gathering that judges should no longer be appointed by parliament because that leave them open to political pressure.
B&H HoR adopts budget of B&H for 2020 (N1)
At a session that was held in Sarajevo on Wednesday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Representatives (HoR) adopted the budget for 2020 in the amount of BAM 1.8 billion, BAM 996 million of which refers to financing of the institutions of B&H and the remaining amount to financing of the international obligations of B&H. Representatives of HDZ B&H and SDP B&H voted against the budget. HDZ B&H found the B&H Presidency’s interventions in the budget disputable, but the reporter noted that the real reason refers to the process of appointments, especially to the post of Director of the B&H Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA), which it has not agreed with SDA yet. According to SDP B&H, the story about the Annual National Program (ANP) was just a deception because there is no money for the B&H Armed Forces. SDP B&H representative in the B&H HoR Zukan Helez stated: “The budget does not support the ANP. The whole story about NATO and the ANP will be in vain if there are no funds to renew and equip the B&H Armed Forces in accordance with the NATO standards. I repeat, B&H cannot join NATO with two defective helicopters.” At the same time, representatives of SDS and PDP abstained from voting for the budget. SDS representative in the B&H HoR Mirko Sarovic explained that they abstained from voting because it is unclear how BAM 30 million from the budget reserves will be spent. “This issue was partly discussed at the HoR. There were different kinds of claims that it would be used for the NATO path of B&H, while others claimed the opposite,” Sarovic explained. On the other hand, representatives of SNSD and SDA voted in favor of the budget, after the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) appointed the Directors of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), the Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK), the B&H Official Gazette and the B&H Agency for Education and Professional Training. SNSD representative in the B&H HoR Snjezana Novakovic Bursac stated: “The SNSD Caucus supported this proposal following the previous steps primarily made by the B&H CoM and then the B&H Presidency as well.” SDA representative in the B&H HoR Adil Osmanovic said that the agreement that was reached at the meeting in Istocno Sarajevo has been put aside in terms of the B&H ITA. “This has not been solved yet. It is questionable, it is yet to be agreed upon. What matters is that the budget was adopted and that the process of appointment of the B&H Minister of Security was unblocked, which we expect to happen next week,” Osmanovic explained.
Tegeltija delivers to B&H HoR decision on appointment of Cikotic as new B&H Minister of Security (FTV)
Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija delivered to the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) a decision on appointment of SDA’ Selmo Cikotic as a new B&H Minister of Security. FTV reminded that this move comes after appointment of members of SNSD as new Directors of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) and the Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK) on Tuesday. The reporter noted that B&H MPs may vote on appointment of Cikotic to this post already next week, reminding that SNSD was the party that disputed the most his appointment but their stances changed after appointments in the SIPA and the RAK. According to FTV, HDZ B&H still remains firm in its opposing stance about Cikotic’s appointment. Commenting on this issue, SDA MP Adil Osmanovic said that HDZ B&H failed to present any serious reason why Cikotic cannot be appointed to this post.
SNSD MP Snjezana Novakovic Bursac said that they respected proposals of their partners until now and they will be principled but she does not know how long will they be waiting for adoption of this decision. Representatives of the opposition see nothing disputable about appointment of Cikotic, arguing that “he is a concrete solution”. SDP B&H MP Zukan Helez said that he knows Cikotic as his wartime commander and as a fair, honorable and hard-working man and he has nothing against his appointment to this post. The appointment of Cikotic will be discussed at the next session of the B&H HoR next week.
Sarovic expresses dissatisfaction over appointments of heads of certain agencies carried out by B&H Council of Ministers (BN TV)
SDS leader Mirko Sarovic expressed on Wednesday dissatisfaction over the appointments of heads of certain agencies carried out by the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), primarily the appointment of the Director of the B&H Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK) (Drasko Milinovic) and the Director of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of B&H. Sarovic said that what the B&H CoM did is immoral. “In previous day and previous weeks, we, both as a caucus and as SDS, stressed that certain personnel solutions do not deserve to be proposed and appointed by the B&H CoM, such as the RAK Director. On several occasions, we stressed that it is immoral for him to be at the head of that institutions given that he was the general director of a media outlet that is record holder by the number of penalties for non-compliance with the code of conduct of media outlets, primarily the public service,” Sarovic underlined. As far as candidate for the post of SIPA Director (Darko Culum) is concerned, Sarovic recalled that this candidate is eligible for retirement.
Appointments of Serb staff in state institutions of B&H continue to spark reactions (N1)
At a session that was held in Sarajevo on Tuesday, the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) approved the appointments of the Serb staff at the state institutions that fall under the competences of the B&H CoM. Commenting on the appointment of Drasko Milinovic as Director of the B&H Communications Regulatory Agency (RAK), SDP B&H leader Nermin Niksic argued that it would have been better if nobody had been appointed to this post. He reminded that the RAK fined Milinovic and RTRS several times while he was at the helm of this public broadcasting service. He also reminded that RTRS was glorifying genocide and war criminals at the time. Commenting on the appointment of Darko Culum as Director of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA). PDP’s Igor Crnadak assessed that Culum does not have any credibility for this post. He argued that this is all about trade, which is not surprising at all. The reporter noted that SNSD leader Milorad Dodik is now in control of three or four most important posts in B&H – Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) (Zoran Tegeltija), Speaker of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) (Nebojsa Radmanovic), Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) (Nikola Spiric) and President of the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) (Milan Tegeltija). Commenting on this issue, journalist for InfoRadar Almedin Sisic said that this is the first time since B&H became independent that representatives of one people hold these four posts, which he thinks is a very dangerous situation. Sisic argued that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic seems to have sold the state in order to keep Osman Mehmedagic at the helm of the B&H Intelligence and Security Agency (OSA) despite the fact that his university diploma is disputable, as well as the fact that he is eligible for retirement.
Cvijanovic: SDS and SDA do not want elections, SNSD has nothing to fear (Nezavisne)
Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic, asked if the 2020 local elections will be held, said that nobody knows for sure, but elections should be held. According to Cvijanovic, the decision to postpone elections because state budget was not adopted was just a political game, and reminded that the 2012 elections were financed through decision on temporary financing because budget was not adopted in that year either. Cvijanovic further noted that some members of the Central Election Commission were appointed illegally, and they have close links to some political parties, yet the international community did not react. Cvijanovic emphasized that the elections should be held in October, as prescribed by law. According to Cvijanovic, SDA and SDS do not want the elections to take place. According to her, SNSD has nothing to fear because it has a well-developed infrastructure in all local communities and enjoys support of majority voters in almost all municipalities.
Resolution that condemns genocide in Srebrenica presented in US Congress (N1)
US Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson presented to the US House of Representatives on Wednesday a resolution which condemns “the genocide and other crimes against the Bosniak community perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in B&H in July 1995.” According to the Resolution, the House of Representatives “condemns the genocide perpetrated by Serb forces in B&H from 1992 to 1995” as well as “statements, actions, and policies that deny or question that the massacre at Srebrenica constituted a genocide and that dishonour the victims or disrespect their families,” while taking into account that “entire ethnic groups or communities are not responsible for the crimes committed by some members of their forces.” It urges the Peace Implementation Council, the international body overseeing Bosnia’s peace made up of foreign ambassadors and heads of international organizations, to restore “full funding” to the Office of the High Representative, the official monitoring the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. It also encourages the High Representative to “exercise his full executive powers to ensure that the General Framework Agreement for Peace is implemented fully” and to “call for an end to historical revisionism”, particularly regarding the Srebrenica genocide. The Resolution encourages the US to “maintain and reaffirm its policy” of supporting Bosnia’s sovereignty, legal continuity, unity, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and reaffirms strong support for the people in the country and their “aspirations for greater democracy, economic prosperity, and success in Euro-Atlantic and European Integration.” The Resolution also urges the people of B&H, their elected representatives, and the international community “to place renewed emphasis on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms held by the individual, which should not be compromised by any collective protections and privileges to a group, ethnically based or otherwise.” It encourages the US to promote peace and stability across southeast Europe and “the right of all people living in the region, regardless of national, racial, ethnic, or religious background, to return to their homes and enjoy the benefits of democratic institutions, the rule of law, and economic opportunity, as well as to know the fate of missing relatives and friends.” The Resolution also points out the work of the International Commission for Missing Persons in Bosnia and its efforts “in accounting for nearly 90 percent of those reported missing after the Srebrenica massacre and approximately 75 percent of those reported missing during the whole of the conflict.” It also welcomes the completion of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICMP), including its sentencing of former President of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) region, Radovan Karadzic, and former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, as well as 88 others who were found guilty of various crimes, “including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and related offenses,” describing is as a judicial process that “helped strengthen peace and encouraged reconciliation between the countries of the region and their citizens.” The Resolution, however, expresses concern that “ethnic tensions stoked by political leaders and extreme nationalist sentiment can deter recovery and reconciliation in B&H, and even encourage new violence with potentially deadly consequences” and urged Bosnia’s political leaders to “cease using divisive rhetoric to stoke ethnic divisions in order to achieve shortsighted political gains.” Political leaders should “demonstrate courage by championing tolerance, empathy, and mutual respect for the purpose of fostering lasting reconciliation, peace, and prosperity for the people of B&H,” it said. To conclude, the Resolution says that the House of Representatives “recognizes the 8,372 people killed or executed at Srebrenica in B&H in July 1995, along with all individuals who endured pain and suffering or who were killed in B&H from 1992 to 1995, as well as foreign nationals, including United States citizens, and those individuals in Serbia, Croatia, and B&H, and other countries of the region who risked or lost their lives because of their defense of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and ethnic identity without discrimination.”
EU Ombudsman: Concerns about Von der Leyen support to HDZ ‘well-founded’ (Hina)
European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has assessed that the concerns over European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen‘s statement in the run up to the Croatian elections “are well-founded,” the GONG election monitoring NGO informed on Wednesday. GONG sent a complaint to the European Commission and Ombudsman O’Reilly on 5 July after Von der Leyen, in her capacity as Commission President, participated in a video promoting the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in the parliamentary election, claiming that she had potentially breached the Code of Conduct for EC members. In its complaint GONG warned that Von der Leyen’s participation in the video of a particular political party could be considered as inappropriate intervention in a national election as it would suggest that the EC supports a particular party in relation to other parties. “Your concerns are well-founded,” O’Reilly said in regard to GONG’s complaint. In her reply to GONG, O’Reilly notes that she had signalled the concerns to the Commission and to the appropriate body with the European Parliament to take the necessary measures. “There can be confusion in the public mind about the respective roles and competences of the main EU institutions and I think that citizen trust can be strengthened through clarity in this regard,” O’Reilly said in reference to whether members of the Commission can or should be involved in political campaigns. Violation of the Commission’s Code of Conduct, which GONG inquired about, raises the question of how the Code is monitored as the Commission President is obliged to implement the Code, GONG noted. “It is unclear to whom the President would have to declare her intention to participate in a national election campaign. This suggests that there may be a need for a separate code of conduct for the President,” GONG cited. The complaint will also be forwarded to the European Parliament Budget Control Committee “given that the European Parliament was asked to give its opinion on the current version of the Code when it was drafted.” The Code of Conduct for the Members of the European Commission notes, “Members shall abstain from making public statements or interventions on behalf of any political party or organization of the social partners of which they are members, except when standing for election/participating in an election campaign.”
Plenkovic: I don’t see any problem with European Commission President participating in HDZ’s election campaign (Hina)
Prime Minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Andrej Plenkovic, asked about criticism from Brussels regarding the European Commission (EC) President’s participation in the HDZ’s election campaign, said that Ursula Von der Leyen did not become the EC’s president out of some vacuum and that she was supported by a political group. “She is backed by the CDU, the European People’s Party and if you want, thanks to Croatia too, she became EC president. There is a certain framework and rules which regulate what they can do once installed,” he said. He believes that Von der Leyen’s participation in the HDZ’s campaign did not have any impact on the election result. “I don’t see any problem,” he said.
Plenkovic forms new government (Jutarnji list)
The new government of Andrej Plenkovic should have 16 departments, and it will have four vice presidents in addition to the prime minister. The new government will also be much younger, with an average age of 46. Jutarnji list reports that the youngest ministers will be Ivan Malenica, who has not yet turned 35, and Josip Aladrovic (35), while the oldest is Gordan Grlic Radman, who is 62 years old. There will be at least four women in the government. Davor Bozinovic will continue being Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and Zdravko Maric Minister of Finance. The new vice president for national security will be Croatian Defense Minister Tomo Medved. From the national minorities, which with their eight deputies are the second strongest partner in the new ruling majority, SDSS’s Boris Milosevic is coming as Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs and Human Rights.
All the ministers who remain without positions in the government, namely Vesna Bedekovic, Marko Pavic, Gari Cappelli and Drazen Bosnjakovic, will be members of parliament. As Jutarnji list already unofficially announced, the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy could be divided between three departments. The Ministry of Health, which will continue to be headed by Vili Beros, could be joined by the Ministry of Social Policy, while the current Ministry of Labor and Pension System, headed by Josip Aladrovic, should be joined by a section covering family and demography. However, this is not yet the final decision because Aladrovic may eventually have the social welfare department. The ‘new’ Ministry of Tourism should be called the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sports, and it will be headed by Nikolina Brnjac. Brnjac was also mentioned as a possible candidate for the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, but in the end, it was decided that Natasa Tramisak, the current head of the Administrative Department for Investments, Development Projects and EU Funds in Osijek-Baranja County, should take over from Marko Pavic. She is also the only candidate of Slavonian HDZ members who had to get at least one ministry, considering their result in the elections in Slavonia. Either the Ministry of Regional Development or the Ministry of Agriculture is in the game, which will continue to be led by Marija Vuckovic. Mario Banozic will no longer be the Minister of State Property but will become the new Minister of Defense after Damir Krsticevic resigned, while the department of state property will be merged with the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning, headed by the current Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Darko Horvat. The Department of Economy will merge with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Tomislav Coric will be the head of this mega-ministry. The departments of justice and administration will also merge. The new Ministry of Justice and Administration will be headed by the current Minister of Administration, Ivan Malenica. Gordan Grlic Radman is the new-old Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Oleg Butkovic remains in the position of Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, while Nina Obuljen Korzinek will continue to head the Ministry of Culture. Only the question of the new Minister of Science and Education remains open. It was speculated that Radovan Fuchs would take over the ministry, then that it might be led by the current assistant Ivana Franic. HDZ/EPP MEP Tomislav Sokol was mentioned as a possible candidate, and the latest information is that it could be Mato Njavro, vice dean of the Zagreb School of Economics and Management. But all these speculations were unofficially denied by the government, and that remains the only open question. On Wednesday, Andrej Plenkovic and his HDZ associates held a working lunch at the well-known Zagreb restaurant Baltazar with the new ruling majority. All representatives of minorities were present at lunch – the president of HSLS Dario Hrebak, the president of HNS Predrag Stromar and the president of the Reformists Radimir Cacic. The last meeting in Baltazar in a similar composition was held in September last year when Milan Bandic threatened not to support the budget, and even then, the Prime Minister said that he would like to continue cooperation in the next term with those who enter parliament. At the working lunch, the Prime Minister spoke to the partners about the new architecture of the government, presented the further dynamics of events until the constitution of the parliament and the new government, and about the government’s program. Namely, separate agreements will not be signed with the coalition partners, but their ideas and demands will be heard and what is logical will be incorporated into the joint program of the government. “The conversation took place in an excellent atmosphere and we talked about the cooperation so far and everything we have achieved together in the first term. I also presented the dynamics of this and next week. After the official election results are announced on Thursday, I will have a meeting with the President of the Republic, and after I get the mandate to form the government, he and the speaker of parliament will agree on the first constituent session scheduled for next week,” said Plenkovic after lunch. He added that it is first a matter of voting on systemic laws on the new government, and then a vote of confidence in the government. The constituent session of the parliament is planned for 22 July in the parliament building, and the next day, Thursday, a vote of confidence in the government will be held. There will be no parliamentary sessions on Friday. “We have drafted the government’s program based on our “Safe Croatia” program, we will consult with partners to see what their programs are and we will incorporate all this into the joint program of the Government,” said Plenkovic. He also said that the partners would participate in the form of state secretaries in the government.
Markovic: Hahn is Montenegro’s friend and supporter (CDM)
Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic finished his official visit to EU institutions with the meeting with Johannes Hahn. “It was my pleasure to exchange views on the current topics with Hahn. He is friend and supporter of Montenegro and Western Balkans” Markovic said. PM also had meeting with Miroslav Lajcak. “His work is of crucial importance to addressing the remaining open questions in Western Balkan. He can always count on Montenegro’s support,” Markovic said.
SEC: SDSM wins 36.13%, VMRO-DPMNE 34.65%, DUI 11.57% (MIA)
With 93.96% of the polling stations counted, the SDSM-led coalition has taken the lead with 36.13% over the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition (34.65%), DUI (11.57%), Alliance for Albanians and Alternativa (8.79%), Levica (3.96%), DPA (1.48%) and Integra (1.33). GDU won 0.37% of the votes, followed by MORO 0.36%, Voice for Macedonia (0.3%), United Macedonia (0.29%), SDU (0.27), Tvoja Party (0.2), and Democrats (0.17%). Speaking at a news conference in the early hours of Thursday, State Election Commission spokesman Admir Shabani said the Commission cannot reveal how many seats the parties have won. It will be known how many seats have been secured after all data are processed, he said. Shabani stressed that the Commission’s website has been under an attack by hackers, adding that experts are working to reactivate it. The competent institutions, he noted, should investigate what has happened.
Electoral Commission preliminary projection shows SDSM lead by two seats in a hung parliament (Republika)
After hours of confusion caused by an apparent hacking attack, the Macedonian State Electoral Commission issued its preliminary projection of seats after the early general elections. According to the SEC, the SDSM – BESA lead coalition will have 46 seats, while the VMRO-DPMNE led coalition will have 44. Both parties are left without a clear shot at forming a government, which requires 61 seats. The two main parties that represent ethnic Albanians, DUI and the Alliance of Albanians, have 15 and 12 seats respectively. The far left Levica party won two seats and the minor Albanian party DPA has one. The remaining nine lists failed to win seats in the parliament. In the low turnout “corona elections”, SDSM and BESA have won 324,000 votes (36 percent), while VMRO-DPMNE won 312,000 (34.8 percent). DUI has 101,000 votes (11 percent) and the Alliance – 76,000 votes (8.5 percent). Levica won 37,000 votes and DPA – 13,500. Turnout was about 51 percent, or 923,000 voters, well below the 66 percent registered in the last elections in 2016. The SEC website continues to crash. The Commission said that it will reveal more official results later today.
Zaev: Coalition ‘We Can’ wins, we have three more MP seats, number could rise (MIA)
Coalition ‘We Can’ is the winning coalition at the parliamentary elections, with an advantage of three MP seats ahead of VMRO-DPMNE and possibly 1-2 more, said SDSM leader Zoran Zaev early on Thursday. “We can, of boy we really can. We did it by a convincing and stable margin of three MP seats ahead of VMRO-DPMNE and possibly 1-2 more. Our coalition ‘We Can’ is the winner of these parliamentary elections, the biggest, the most diverse, the most powerful coalition,” Zaev told a press conference in front of a crowd of jubilant supporters. He said the people’s will has won and citizens voted for a safe future. “Citizens came out and voted for a safe future, unity and solidarity, economic patriotism, order and justice, citizens opted for a better today and a better tomorrow. The road ahead has been sealed, we gave danger a resounding ‘No’,” noted Zaev. The SDSM leader said the elections befitted a NATO member, a country making leaps towards the EU, adding that the polls were free, democratic, safe and modern.
Janushev: VMRO-DPMNE in race to secure majority for new government (MIA)
VMRO-DPMNE has won in many cities and municipalities, including Aerodrom, Gazi Baba, Kisela Voda, Gjorche petrov, Butel, Kavadarci, Sveti Nikole, Makedonska Kamenica, etc, VMRO-DPMNE Secretary General Igor Janushev said. “It’s a fact that the people want change, the people demonstrated they do not want a government that is corrupt – the people want renewal. The opposition in these elections showed it has more votes than the ruling parties,” he told a news conference in front of VMRO-DPMNE’s headquarters in Skopje. VMRO-DPMNE, Janushev stressed, is in the race to secure majority in order to form a new government. “VMRO-DPMNE expresses gratitude to all the citizens that voted for change. Having this credibility, we enter a new race to muster majority for a new government,” he said.
Ahmeti: DUI wins 100,000 votes and 12 MP seats (MIA)
DUI leader Ali Ahmeti declared victory of his party in the Albanian bloc after winning over 100,000 votes and 12 MP seats. The eagle is back, he told a news conference outside DUI’s headquarters in Mala Rechica. “This victory of DUI is the victory of the Albanians. We’ve proven we are the most successful in all spheres. The Albanians will not be disappointed,” Ahmeti said. According to him, DUI has secured wins in the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th electoral districts.
Soreca: EU recognizes the role of parliament in the electoral reform (Radio Tirana)
The EU demands that the same spirit of the dialogue that led to the signing of the 5 June agreement be continued for the changes in the constitution for open lists and additional proposals for the Electoral Code that overturn, among other things, the pre-election coalitions, but also underlines that the European Union recognizes the role of parliament in the electoral reform. EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca reiterated that the EU welcomes the agreement on the election mediated by internationals and expects its approval as soon as possible in parliament. “We encourage the parties to continue the dialogue with the same spirit of cooperation that was shown in the June 5 agreement. We have seen some additional proposals for the Electoral Code, which are not part of the OSCE / ODIHR recommendation. We know the role of the parliament in relation to the electoral reform,” said Soreca. He again assessed the electoral reform as key for the negotiations for Albania’s membership in the European family. “Without this condition, Albania cannot start the first intergovernmental conference. “This condition will definitely be met, so it must be done,” he said.
Meta-Basha meeting/Meta: The opposition must adhere to 5 June agreement (Radio Tirana)
The extra-parliamentary opposition has confirmed its determination to stick to the June 5 agreement with the ruling socialist majority. That was the statement issued after the meeting between President Ilir Meta and the chairman of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha. The meeting was held after the parliamentary committee approved that the lists in the next elections will be open. Mr. Basha has expressed concern that an agreement “blessed” by the internationals is being broken, while Mr. Meta has asked him to remain faithful to the agreement signed with the representatives of the majority. Meanwhile President Meta warned the opposition to adhere to the 5 June agreement despite the efforts to violate the constitution adding that the Constitution and the European integration of Albania unite us today. He also stressed out that every attempt that undermine this process should be abandoned.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Italy imposes travel ban on Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo (ANSAmed, 16 July 2020)
Block on planes, trains, cars from COVID at-risk nations
ROME – Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Thursday issued a ban on air, road and rail travel from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo to Italy due to the COVID crisis. The three countries have been added to the list of those considered art risk due to the virus. This list already comprised 13 nations. The updated list is thus composed of 16 countries. They are: Armenia, Bahrein, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia Herzegovina, Chile, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Moldova, Oman, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. Italy has restricted travel form these countries because they still have high coronavirus transmission rates. Italy itself has been taken off most travel ban lists after an improvement in the COVID situation here.