Odalovic: Most important that dialogue resumed (RTS)
The General Secretary in the Serbian Foreign Ministry Veljko Odalovic has told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) on Saturday that the most important thing is that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue has resumed and that the obstacles set by Pristina 20 months ago have been overcome. He says that Serbia has never determined who will be the Kosovo Albanian representative and that it will be so in the future as well. “So that any change in their negotiating team – who will lead, what format will be their autonomous right and it is probable that some change will be felt since when someone is conducting the dialogue so long and pulling all the strings on behalf of Pristina as was Hashim Thaci, the change of the negotiating team, i.e. their new head of the team, will probably bring some, I hope, new qualities,” said Odalovic.
Issue of missing – priority topic
The topic that is present on both sides and that has enormously burdened relations is the issue of missing that has received priority, because we have entered a phase in which we have a stalemate, says Odalovic. “We don’t have new information primarily on potential places of burial and we hope, by precisely displacing the dialogue, i.e. that this mechanism has been elevated to a higher level, that we will receive higher quality and more information from international representatives who were present in the region of Kosovo and Metohija, but that we will also have the ability and strength to exert pressure for one topic – that has so far been a taboo topic for Pristina – to open archives of this so-called KLA so we could acquire information, with insight into these archives and research of them, on what happened with the murdered and missing persons,” said Odalovic. Belgrade has requested in Brussels the opening of these archives of the so-called KLA, and in return Pristina has requested the opening of military and police archives. “These are the topics that we will be discussing at this conditionally technical level. We don’t have a problem conducting an additional search of all the archives we have and see if there is any information in the archives that can help get an answer to the question of where the Kosovo Albanians may have died, because Pristina is predominantly interested in this,” said Odalovic. He points out that our side is looking for 1,644 persons that went missing in the region of Kosovo and Metohija and that all information that can help in shedding light on any case will be shared and will be something about which we are ready to talk. “We expect the same from Pristina. We expect to discuss all topics, this is one fragile issue and one should not make a difference among victims and we expect to have the same treatment of this problem – to understand it in the same way, to make a joint approach that will resolve the fate without differences, that we will exchange all information, proceed accordingly, conduct certain search and investigations, where necessary exhumations and identification,” explained Odalovic.
Borell: Belgrade-Pristina meeting important to EU (N1)
The top-level meeting of the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue in 20 months was an important moment for the EU, High Representative Josep Borell said on Friday. “It was an important moment for me and the EU. The Dialogue, which the EU started to facilitate in 2011, is at the core of what we want to do in the Western Balkans,” the EU’s top diplomat wrote on his blog. “We spent the whole of yesterday’s afternoon and early evening in intense discussions with the two partners. These were not easy discussions. The subjects – missing persons, displaced persons – are highly emotional issues and they are essential parts of reconciliation. We also discussed economic cooperation, which for me is about the future relationship of Kosovo and Serbia. They belong to the same region and they are traveling to the same destination – Europe,” he wrote. He added that people, capital, and goods should move freely and that Belgrade and Pristina should work together to develop their economy and their infrastructure. “This is to the mutual benefit of both and the EU has put a lot of effort into creating the framework for such cooperation,” he said. Borell said that Vucic and Hoti presented their positions honestly and constructively despite disagreements. “I was impressed by the fact that they were ready and eager to continue the work. We have asked them to send their team already next week, so we don’t waste time,” he said. The High Representative said that he would meet with Vucic and Hoti again in September.
US happy with restoration of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta/VoA)
The US Department of State has voiced its satisfaction with the restoration of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue under the auspices of the EU, noting that the dialog has its support, the Voice of America reported on 19 July. “We’re happy that the EU organized the encounters between Serbia and Kosovo and offer our full support,” read the written response of an unnamed spokesperson for the State Department to a question by VoA about the resumption of dialogue. “Our goal is an agreement that the two sides will reach on the comprehensive normalization of relations. Normalization is essential to securing stability, progress and security in the Western Balkans,” the reply read.
Vucic continues consultations on new government with Dacic (N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic continued consultations to form a new government, meeting with the leaders of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and United Serbia (JS), Ivica Dacic and Dragan Markovic Palma. Vucic met earlier with Aleksandar Sapic whose SPAS party won seats in parliament. Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), SPAS and the SPS-JS coalition won seats at the 21 June parliamentary elections. Some national minority parties will also hold the seats reserved for them under Serbian election law. There has been speculation that Vucic might not include Dacic in the new government since his SNS has enough seats to form a government on its own. Vucic is scheduled to meet with SNS officials on Tuesday.
EC says monitoring rule of law in Serbia (Beta)
The European Commission regularly monitors the state of rule of law in Serbia, including freedom of the press, EC spokeswoman Ana Pisonero said on July 17, urging Belgrade to conduct an actual dialog with all political factors in the country in the interest of continuing important reforms. Commenting on a demand by several opposition parties in Serbia that the European Union create two groups of experts to help resolve the political crisis in the country, Pisonero told Beta that Serbia’s acceptance of the new methodology in membership talks with the EU “should provide a new impetus to make headway in fundamental areas like the rule of
law.” “As a country negotiating EU membership, Serbia is subject to a special process and methodology of monitoring and reports on the rule of law, including the freedom of the press,” Pisonero said, adding that, in that sense, the EC “regularly monitors the situation in Serbia and broaches the issues with the authorities” there. The parties in the opposition Alliance for Serbia and two smaller political organizations have sent a letter to EU officials inviting them to create two expert groups to compile reports on the state of democracy, the rule of law and media in Serbia. The letter was endorsed by the representatives of three groups in the European Parliament: the Socialists and Democrats, the Greens and the liberal Renew Europe.
Dodik: Entire Serbia should back Vucic as negotiator (Politika, by Mladen Kremenovic)
In an interview to the daily, Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said that life and reality in B&H were “reduced down to an obsession to hide and conceal problems” and he added that there is no other country which has nothing to be proud of or at least say that it has done anything valuable. Dodik argued that such circumstances are not favorable for any of the three peoples who live in B&H and added that “only foreign officials, who are creating an illusion maintaining what is completely unsuccessful country as successful, are gaining some petty benefits from it”. “Those facts cannot be masked with a story on distant and uncertain European integration. A state is integrated by people and people here are much disintegrated. The coronavirus epidemic showed that B&H is completely unnecessary, as the entity authorities were the main factor,” Dodik stated. As an example of “dislocated logic typical for circumstances in B&H”. Dodik mentioned the explanation of the US Ambassador to B&H for imposing of sanctions against him: “The American diplomat said that the sanctions were imposed against me because I was implementing the original Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) in the way it was written, which is against a functional B&H, which is anti-Dayton”. Commenting on the fact the authorities at the level of B&H were finally formed several days ago, Dodik said that this only illustrates the failure of B&H. Dodik claimed that “two out of the three peoples who live in it do not want to have this kind of B&H. Muslims do not want it either. They dream about some kind of their B&H” and he added that Bosniaks’ main trait is the wish to dominate: “Such Bosnia cannot function, just like the ‘civic’ one, which is being promoted by Sarajevo and which is actually a Grand-Bosniak idea”. Asked if he thinks that the Dayton B&H represents a realistic option, Dodik replied by saying: “This is a hoax for Serbs and Croats. Of course, it is not possible, some realities have been set up here, regardless of the fact they ignore it. The fact is that Republika Srpska (RS) exists and it cannot be disputed by those see-through claims that the RS cannot exist without B&H. The RS can very much exist without B&H, but the same does not apply vice versa. All these years we had nothing from B&H except for enormous interventionism of the international factor, which imposed solutions in order to bring B&H as closer to the concept demanded by Bosniaks as possible. However, this caused even more animosities”. Dodik went on to say that it is impossible to reach an agreement on anything and noted that an agreement on something as trivial as Mostar elections was presented “as a great success, where the European administration seemingly solved something, although nothing has been solved”. “The West wants to have peace here and it wants to implement some kind of its own concept, while dealing with those who are not their followers and supporting those who are. Then they warp it up in a story about the EU and send us 14 demands which are impossible to implement,” Dodik said. Asked to explain what, in his opinion, is disputable about the EU’s recommendations, Dodik replied by saying that one of the European Commission’s recommendations was to authorize B&H level to adopt mandatory decisions on European matters in case the entities are unable to agree on it and he noted that, in this case, “the outcome of such European integration is well known in advance”. Dodik went on to say that the territory in which Serbs used to live was significantly reduced “as there are almost no Serbs in Croatia”, while Krajina region “exists as pan-ethnic Serb area”, while the RS enabled itself to run its capacities but Sarajevo is constantly trying to dispute it. “Then the EU comes and says they want to have a single opinion from B&H. We must remember how, when they were about to break the state of Serbia and Montenegro, they spoke about the single path and two rails. What would happen if we mentioned it here? And I am convinced that the RS would be making much faster progress when it comes to European integration,” Dodik said. Commenting on the NATO path, Dodik stated that “if there is anything that is not ambiguous, then it is the stance of the RS on NATO. Neither the ruling nor opposition parties want it (…) We do not want to go any further from the Partnership for Peace, in which both Serbia and Russia are. I know perfectly well what I am talking about when I say that there is no decision that could bring us in a position in which we become a member. And I know very well that I irritate certain structures within NATO or proponents of this idea. Even if we would count on what they call benefits of the membership, we cannot get over what they have done to us and what they are still doing to us. They were beating us up with no reason and sided with our enemies. And now someone wants us to join this alliance with our enemies and even punish us to the extent in which our identity is disputed”. Dodik added that he asked one General why the RS has never been offered anything in exchange for the membership and said: “Why haven’t they offered us independence in exchange for the membership in NATO? Perhaps we would have taken that bait. Here, offer us independence, maybe we Serbs are wise enough to conclude that it would be good for us, we will get our independence and NATO will fall apart eventually anyway”. Dodik was also asked to comment on frequent statements from Sarajevo in which Kosovo is named as an independent state, to which he replied by saying that “this is a pathologic situation” and explained that “Zeljko Komsic is a member of the Presidency of B&H of disputable democratic legitimacy as he represents himself as a Croat but fights against Croats and Croatia and he is, in fact, a typical representative of Bosnian lilies, of decorations which were awarded for murdering Serbs during the civil war. The fact he said that Kosovo is a state for him, in terms in which the Presidency of B&H has not adopted any decision on this issue and when it is clear that B&H does not recognize Kosovo, only proves that he does not recognize his own country either whose stance he should favor”. Dodik went on to say that both Sarajevo and international factor fiercely react whenever he (Dodik) says that the RS will be a state eventually. Asked to comment on Komsic’s claims that supporters of the right-wing who are connected with the East are causing incidents in Belgrade and also asked to comment on claims of Dragan Mektic (SDS) who tried to bring Dodik in connection with those incidents through ‘Srbska cast’ (Serb honor) Association, Dodik replied by saying that ‘Serb honor’ is a very nice term but he denied having anything to do with those who act in a destructive way. “The fact I took a photo in a street couple of years ago, and then someone created an ideology out of it which spread throughout the world to the extent that some claim we have paramilitary formations here – that is a pure fabrication by SDS,” Dodik said and added that Serbian authorities and police acted in too fair manner during the protests in Belgrade. “Each attack on a police officer should have been followed by an even fiercer response,” Dodik said and added that some even think they can bring him in connection with the protests in an attempt to cause quarrel between him and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Asked what the policy on Kosovo should be and whether there is any chance for reaching an agreement on Kosovo in talks between Belgrade and Pristina, Dodik replied by saying that B&H’s approach to this matter should appreciate the fact that B&H has not recognized Kosovo’s independence and that it has no relations with that country. As far as the talks of Belgrade and Pristina are concerned, Dodik said that it is “not polite for other countries to interfere, especially those that have not recognized Kosovo”. “This is all about pathologic hate towards Serbia and Serb leaders which occasionally comes to light in this way. They would be the happiest if there were no Serbs or Serbia,” Dodik said and noted that he is convinced that there is no better defender of Serb interests than Vucic. “I had a chance to realize in talks on the status of the RS that there were always some Serbs who attacked our position, which was breaking us. Then, when our opponents are confronted with our stance, they have the opportunity to say – there are Serbs who think otherwise. Vucic must have an absolute support,” Dodik emphasized. He also said that Kosovo is very much connected with the RS, despite of the fact some refuse to accept it. Dodik explained that Belgrade has a consistent stance on respecting of integrity and sovereignty “because this matter cannot be partial for Serbia and B&H. In this strange way, Serbia calmed us down, but the idea on our status will never be lost, if not in this generation of politicians then in the one that will follow”. Finally, Dodik was asked to comment on the latest development of events in Montenegro and he stated that the RS and Serbia should be more interested in position of Serbs in Montenegro as “the regime of (Montenegrin President Milo) Djukanovic is anti-Serb and it does everything to secure some new identity, which can be possible only if they deprive Serbs of their identity and turn them into some new nation. This is exactly what they intend to do, but the Serb Orthodox Church stands in their way. Hence the attack on our church”.
B&H CEC verifies applications of 87 political parties for participation in local elections in November 2020 (Hayat)
At an urgent session that was held in Sarajevo on Saturday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) verified the applications of 87 political parties for participation in the local elections on 15 November 2020, after the expiration of the deadline for elimination of shortcomings in the applications. These include five political parties that submitted new names that they will use for election purposes, as well as one political party that submitted a final decision on its registration. The B&H CEC also verified the applications of 81 independent candidates and four independent candidates – members of ethnic minorities. The applications of 16 candidates were rejected because they failed to fulfill the legally stipulated requirements.
Tegeltija: It is time to appoint Serb director of ITA, blockades are never a solution; Local elections can and must be held (Glas Srpske)
Glas Srpske carries an interview with B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) Chairman Zoran Tegeltija. Speaking about the recent appointments of directors in several state institutions, Tegeltija stated that the appointments are very important for those institutions. He reminded that the vacancy and hiring procedures for these posts had been completed months ago, and added that it was important to show that an agreement on appointments can be reached. Asked to comment the continuation of the process of appointments, especially the appointment of a new Director of Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA), since both Bosniaks and Croats want this post for their representatives, Tegeltija stated that ITA is an important institution and interest in the post of ITA Director is understandable. However, he added, this post has never been occupied by a Serb. He reminded that the post was held by a Bosniak for two tenures, and then by a Croat for two tenures, and added that it is now time for a Serb in this post. “This was agreed when ITA was being established, that the Directors would rotate based on ethnicity. From the point of view of Republika Srpska (RS), the time has come to appoint a Director from the ranks of Serbs to the ITA. Talks and negotiations will probably last longer than for other posts”, said Tegeltija. Asked if B&H can afford another blockade which could be caused by negotiations on ITA Director, Tegeltija said that nobody should want a blockade, but there are many people who unfortunately believe that blocking processes is important for their vital national interests. Tegeltija emphasized that the current situation in the world caused by the coronavirus crisis means that B&H needs internal consensus and improvement of cooperation, and not new blockades. “Blockades are never the solution”, he underlined. Asked if B&H House of Peoples will adopt the 2020 Budget of B&H Institutions and if local elections can be held without it, Tegeltija said that even without the budget, elections can be financed. “Unfortunately, many people in B&H do not want the elections to be held, but they are important for citizens and local communities because they give them the opportunity to vote, i.e. to confirm that the authorities have done a good job or to elect someone better for the job. It is also important to show that B&H is a mature democratic society which holds elections within prescribed deadlines defined by law”, Tegeltija concluded. Asked to comment the coronavirus crisis in B&H, Tegeltija said that like other countries in the world, B&H is facing an unprecedented crisis which is turning from a healthcare to an economic problem. Noting that B&H is facing loss of jobs and market, Tegeltija emphasized that it is necessary to reach internal consensus of all levels of authority on mitigating measures which must be implemented.
Softic: HDZ B&H cannot block adoption of budget (Dnevni avaz)
SDA Vice President and MP Safet Softic stated that HDZ B&H cannot block adoption of the state budget. He added that the only thing that might cause some sort of dispute is the amendment which was adopted in the B&H House of Representatives and which refers to the migrant crisis. He added that they have enough votes of SNSD and SDA to vote in favor of the budget in the B&H House of Peoples and HDZ B&H will not be able to do anything important with regard to this. Asked if HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic stated that the Indirect Taxation Administration (ITA) of B&H is the position that belongs to Croats exclusively, Softic said that Covic gave hasty statement. Softic added: “SDA has the policy to move things forward. We have made some concessions in the B&H Council of Ministers because of the budget and elections. We want to make progress but these concessions damage SDA now…We shall insist on the position of ITA and there is no reason for us to give up on this.”
FB&H Ministry of Health declares state of epidemic (FTV)
Due to an increasing number of infections and at the request of Sarajevo Canton (SC), Tuzla Canton (TC) and Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDC), the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Ministry of Health declared the state of epidemic in the FB&H on Friday. This will not significantly impact citizens rather ease process of using financial funds from FB&H in case of need as well as secure better communication between competent institutions. Assistant Minister of Health of FB&H Goran Cerkez confirmed this information and said that there is a possibly of introduction of monitoring of sanitary inspectors at border crossings in the coming period. TC Minister of Health Dajana Colic said that once the borders were reopened an increasing number of infections were registered and that this was to be expected. Member of the Crisis HQ of the ZDC Senad Huseinagic said that everyone needs to be aware that there will not be any more isolations such as those in March and April. Specialist of Infectious Diseases Bakir Nakas warned that experts must be available to the media and citizens and that lack of valid information will lead to citizens panicking.
Brussels will include Balkan in package for healthcare (Nezavisne)
Balkan countries will be also included in the package of healthcare measures that that the European Commission adopted on Wednesday in order to strengthen healthcare capacities of EU member countries. Spokeswoman for the EC Ana Pisonero Hernandez stated for the daily that whenever it was necessary the EC will join the Western Balkan and neighboring countries to the actions stated in this package. She added: “In the press release that we issued we have clearly stated that the experience has shown us that coordinated actions with neighbors at the EU level are of vital importance and that prevention and managing of each following epidemic will demand continuing cooperation and support to our immediate neighborhood.” The EU Delegation to B&H told the daily that, so far, the EU has delivered the equipment worth EUR 7 million for urgent medical needs in B&H and they stressed that the assistance was sent to about thirty cities all over B&H. It was also stressed that the delivery of the equipment will continue in the upcoming period in accordance with the needs in the field.
Brussels summit on EU budget and recovery plans resumes, end not in sight (Hina)
The summit meeting of the European Union member-states leaders, who convened in Brussels on Friday for the first time since the outbreak of COVID to discuss European Council President Charles Michel‘s proposal for the MFF and the recovery package, resumed at noon on Sunday.
The first two days of the summit mainly passed in the form of meetings of smaller groups of leaders or in the form of bilateral talks, after Michel’s initial plan for the Multiannual Financial Framework of €1 074 billion to fulfil the long-term objectives of the EU and the size of the recovery fund up to €750 billion. The EC President, who is chairing the summit, on Saturday outlined a new proposal considering the share of loans and grants in the economic rescue plan for the hardest-hit countries. The latest proposal envisages the disbursement of €450 billion in grants while the loans scheme from this fund would be in the amount of €300 billion. The previous share of grants and loans was €500 billion to €250 billion. The recovery package is aimed at managing the biggest economic shock the EU bloc has ever had to confront in its history. The latest proposal is an attempt of Michel to persuade the fiscally conservative countries, the so-called Frugal Four — Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden — to give their consent to the expenses under the recovery fund. Michel has also increased the proposed allocation of non-repayable aid from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) from the previous €310 billion to €325 billion. The size of the RFF, a key element of the Next Generation EU, was previously set at €560 billion, and the money from that fund is supposed to go to the countries and sectors most affected by the corona crisis. The latest changes envisage the size of RFF of €625 billion. However, this increase would lead to slashing some other funds in the EU programmes, including a lowered budget for Horizon 2020, the EU Research and Innovation programme.
Merkel hints at the possibility of longer negotiations
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that it was possible that EU leaders will not reach agreement on their third day of talks on plans to boost the bloc’s economies, which have been ravaged by the coronavirus, Reuters reported. “There is a lot of goodwill but also many positions. I will make every effort but it is possible that there is no result,” she said in Brussels. The outcome of these marathon negotiations in Brussels seems still uncertain.
Plenkovic: Idea of recovery package should not be watered down
It would not be good to water down the idea of a strong and quick response to the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters before the continuation of the EU summit in Brussels on Saturday. EU leaders were meeting on Saturday in renewed efforts to reach an agreement on the next seven-year budget and the coronavirus recovery plan after negotiations hit a deadlock on Friday because the Netherlands insisted that payouts from the recovery fund should be decided unanimously. Plenkovic said that the Dutch position was bad. “The whole meaning of the idea of €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans was to provide a strong and quick response immediately in order to accelerate the economic recovery. If for some reason this is watered down, then it’s not it anymore,” the Croatian PM said. He said he expected a new proposal from the European Council president and a new start to negotiations. “I believe a majority of member states will make an effort to reach an agreement. I cannot say with certainty whether some countries will stay firm in their positions,” Plenkovic said.
Markovic called on the Serbian Orthodox Church to continue negotiations (Vijesti)
The team of the Government of Montenegro for negotiations on the Law on Freedom of Religion is ready to continue talks with the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church in order to find an acceptable solution, said Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. “I invite the Metropolitanate of Montenegro-Primorje and other dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, let’s continue the started negotiations at the expert level – Markovic wrote on Twitter, Vijesti reports.
Konjevic: We don’t want to negotiate with those who deny Montenegro’s independence
The Social Democratic Party, SDP, does not want to take part in negotiations with those who deny Montenegro’s independence, its aspirations towards Western values and the EU accession, Rasko Konjevic, deputy leader of the SDP and a member of the Montenegrin parliament, told in an interview for Pobjeda daily. When asked to comment on the fact that the opposition groups failed to invite the SDP for talks about the eventual joint run in the election, he said that they [SDP] “have been disappointed with actions of certain opposition parties who were known to be civic-oriented but then turned to be closer to the policy of the Democratic Front, DF, than the one of the SDP.” On the SDP’s current position, having in mind that the opposition didn’t call them for talks, Konjevic said: “The SDP wants a strong and stable Montenegro after these elections. Strong Montenegro, which will ensure an average salary of 700 euro by 2024. That will be our key message and promise in the campaign. We want a strong Montenegro where people live better. Montenegro needs changes because in such a policy with tycoons, tax debtors and privileged individuals, ordinary and normal citizens are at a loss, and they represent a convincing majority. The current situation has been approved only by a privileged minority. Is it normal that the director of Plantaze company earns 250 Euro a day, more than 7.000 Euro a month, and almost 100.000 euro a year, while the company has been continuously making poor results. We think it is not and that is why changes are needed.” As for the pre-election campaign in the time of the coronavirus and whether it’s possible to collect signatures and hold elections under such circumstances, he noted: “That’s the question we have been continuously asking the competent bodies. In our opinion, the health of citizens is most important and is more important that any political campaign or elections. However, health experts should decide on this matter. First of all, the State Election Commission and competent health institutions in line with the laws of Montenegro, law on election of councilors and MPs and law on infectious diseases.”
We expect to get 5-8% support in the elections
As the SPD announced independent run in the elections, here’s what they expect from the elections in terms of results: “Our message will be clear – Strong Montenegro. We know the citizens will appreciate our policy that we presented in the parliament. We’ll run in the elections independently just as we did back in 2016. We expect to get 5-8%. In the 2016 election, we received 5.2% and 8.3% in the 2018 presidential elections. Researches carried out over the past two months say that our goal is realistic and achievable.
SEC dismisses all complaints over early parliamentary polls (MIA)
The State Election Commission (SEC) at a session on Sunday dismissed all 2,142 complaints filed by political parties over the early parliamentary polls. Of a total of 1,982 complaints filed by Levica, SEC members dismissed 1,478 complaints because they didn’t have a signature by an authorized person and no stamp by a person in charge of submitting the lists of candidates running for a seat in Parliament. As regards the remaining 504 complaints filed by Levica, SEC members dismissed them noting that they weren’t backed by evidence and the text contained in the explanation was the same for all complaints. SEC also dismissed all complaints lodged by the Alliance for Albanians, saying they weren’t backed by evidence, as well as those filed by Democrats, SDU, Integra, Workers’ Party – MORO, and VMRO-DPMNE. Some of the parties whose complaints were dismissed had requested inspection into the election material, as well as into the invalid ballots, but again not backed by evidence. SEC’s decisions can be appealed to the Administrative Court.
Socialist majority withdraws attempt to impeach President Meta (Tirana Times)
The Socialist majority has withdrawn its intentions to impeach Albania’s President Ilir Meta.
According to the Socialist Party’s investigative report presented during the meeting of the Commission of Inquiry on 17 July, President Meta exceeded his powers, but the violations are not of such magnitude as to justify his impeachment. The SP also recommended the parliament to make an organic law for the review of the powers of the President and intervention in the Constitution to avoid the grid lock that was created due to the Constitutional Court appointments.
However, it seems that there are two different stances on the matter: that of the Socialist majority, and that of the parliamentary opposition. Meanwhile, President Meta discussed today with the chairman of the opposition Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, the possibility of reconvening the Political Council, which reached an agreement on 5 June for the electoral reform. The clash between the parties began after Meta decided not to appoint one of the candidates for the vacancy to be filled by the Head of State, arguing that he had already filled a vacancy and it was up to Parliament to proceed with electing a candidate from the lists.
According to the majority, Meta failed to abide by the 30-day deadline set by the law, and as a result, the top-ranked candidate Arta Vorpsi was automatically named. The parliament followed with the election of two candidates, while Meta subsequently decreed from his list Marsida Xhaferllari who was invited to take the oath, along with the two candidates elected by parliament. Meta spoke about an attempt by the majority to take over his powers and launched a fierce battle against the Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council, Ardian Dvorani, whom he described as the cause of the created situation and a man who had worked on behalf of the ruling majority. All of this, as well as the further decision of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, set up to dismiss Meta as president, to expand the scope of his work, not only on the occasion of the decree canceling the 30 June elections, but also on the appointments to the Constitutional Court constitute the first part of the more than 40-page petition Meta filed with the Venice Commission.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Interview: Belt and Road Initiative contributes to global fight against COVID-19, says Serbian scholar (Xinhua, 1 July 2020)
BELGRADE — China’s role in fighting COVID-19 is immense, and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will prove as key to mitigating negative effects caused by the pandemic globally, a Serbian scholar has told Xinhua. The BRI is important to both global health and economic development amid the pandemic, said Ivona Ladjevac, head of the center for the Belt and Road Initiative at the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Serbia, on Friday. She expressed her confidence that the initiative will continue to be an engine of international economic growth thanks to the timely measures taken by Chinese authorities. Commenting on China’s response to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, Ladjevac said that the country used “milder and less invasive” economic measures to deal with economic consequences of the pandemic than the European Union or the United States. “China has primarily focused on fiscal policy measures and measures to maintain liquidity, rather than monetary measures,” she said. In the second quarter, China posted a positive growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.2 percent, showing that the country has turned around the negative trends from the first quarter. Ladjevac said that China is facing the biggest challenge to diminish the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in China and to contribute to economic recovery across the world. “This challenge is the biggest and the most serious since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Since the economic rate was negative in the first quarter of this year, the Chinese government will continue to insist on promotion of economic and social development, providing necessary assistance to enterprises in order to maintain jobs,” Ladjevac said. “With China being an engine of the international economy, it is more than necessary to keep its economy stable,” she said. Recalling how the steel friendship between the two countries helped Serbia prevent the worst scenario in the early days of the epidemic, she commended the contribution of the BRI to global health and economic development. Noting that China sent tons of medical equipment and two teams of epidemic experts to help combat the outbreak and provide treatment to patients in Serbia, Ladjevac said “China has provided selfless professional, moral and material assistance, more than envisaged by the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between our countries.”
Were it not for the experts, lab equipment, testing kits, medical devices and protective equipment from China, Serbia would have been in an even more difficult situation, she added. With 20,498 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 461 deaths, the country’s death rate from the disease stands at 2.25 percent, which is well under the global average. Ladjevac said that Serbia, now faced with the resurgence of the epidemic, continues to look forward to cooperation with China for the development of its economy, especially on projects within the BRI. She said that some of the BRI projects will be of crucial importance to Serbia’s future after the epidemic, such as the construction of Shandong Linglong Tire Factory in Zrenjanin, the modernization of the Kostolac thermal power plant, and the construction of the Belgrade-Budapest railway as well as the Belgrade-South Adriatic highway. Most recently, in June Chinese construction company Shandong Hi-Speed started the construction of the 18.3-km Lajkovac-Iverak expressway in Western Serbia, which is expected to bring benefits to local residents and boost employment in this part of the country. “Since the Belt and Road Initiative is the widest world initiative that gathers so many countries, it is necessary to overcome current problems posed by the pandemic and add new impetus to the initiative, which serves as the engine of not only regional economic growth but global economic development,” Ladjevac said.