Vucic with Quint Ambassadors on dialogue, government formation (RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic talked with Quint Ambassadors and Representatives and EU Representative. He with US Ambassador Anthony Godfrey, French Ambassador Jean-Louis Falcone, Italian Ambassador Carlo Lo Cascio, German Ambassador Thomas Schieb, UK deputy ambassador Rebecca Fabrizi and the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi.
Vucic’s office said in a statement that the interlocutors exchanged views on the current issues like the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, Serbia’s European path and consultations about the new government Vucic held with the parliamentary parties. “Quint Ambassadors and Fabrizi said the respect of the rule of law especially the right on gatherings and media freedom were essential for Serbia’s road to the EU,” the statement said. It added the diplomats welcomed Vucic’s intention to form an inclusive government with a clear mandate to lead the country towards the EU.
Vucic thanked the EU for its aid to Serbia during the coronavirus pandemic and the economic recovery afterwards, adding he was grateful to the non-EU member countries like the US and the UK for their help as well.
Dacic: Relationship between Progressives and Socialists rests on national interests (Beta)
The Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dacic said on 20 July that the Socialists’ relationship with the Serbian Progressive Party wasn’t deteriorating, underlining that it rested on state and national goals. After a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Dacic said to reporters that a new cabinet wasn’t discussed, but that the two party leaders focused on the achievements of the outgoing government, discussing also “what’s lying ahead of Serbia.” He said the new government was to be installed by early November, but that he expected it to be in place before the deadline. The Socialists and the Progressives believe that in the next two years they will be able to set a solid foundation that “will be key to the future of Serbia,” Dacic said. “If you have an agenda for pay and pensions to be carried out until 2025, it is very important what will happen in the next two years. If you miss those two years and Serbia takes a wrong turn, you won’t be able to achieve the strategic goals you have set,” Dacic said.
Djuric: Lie that there will talks on recognition of Kosovo (RTV/Tanjug)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has stated on Monday that the Prime Minister of the Provisional Institutions of self-government in Pristina Avdulah Hoti is deliberately deceiving, above all, the domestic, but also the international public, because it is a lie that that there will be talks on an agreement on recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo in Brussels on Thursday or any time. “Hoti can only dream of recognizing the independence of Kosovo and he is getting further and further away from it by each day, whereas he and Isa Mustafa can only recognize each other”, Djuric said in a statement. He underlined that the first issues on the agenda in Brussels will be precisely Pristina’s obligations undertaken in the current course of the Brussels dialogue, then an attempt to normalize economic cooperation, because this is what oppresses ordinary people, as well the issue of missing, which is a debt to the families of the victims. After all, the denial of Hoti’s lie that arrived from Brussels shows that a lie has short legs, said Djuric.
Albanian parties signed coalition agreement in Bujanovac (RTS)
Representatives of four out of five Albanian political parties in Bujanovac signed a coalition agreement on the formation of local authorities. Only the Democratic Union of Albanians, which has one mandate, didn’t sign the agreement. This was preceded by a meeting in Tirana. Since 2002, Serbian and Albanian parties have been in power in Bujanovac. “What is important to us is that Bujanovac belongs to all citizens who live in Bijanovac, and likewise, the state should also belong to everybody. We have included both communities in Presevo, and for the first time it occurred that Albanian political representatives are no included in Medvedja,” notes Ragmi Mustafa, the President of the National Council of Albanians in Bujanovac. “The question is what kind of political stability will we have, the question is what kind of message are we sending to potential investors who should come and invest their money in our municipality, the question is of new jobs. This is not good at all and doesn’t support citizens living in the Bujanovac municipality,” says Nenad Mitrovic, the President of the SNS municipal board in Bujanovac.
“At the level local, in my opinion, there should not be high politics, but daily circumstances and problems of citizens should be dealt with. To bring foreign investors, to open new jobs,” says a journalist from Bujanovac Jeton Ismaili. His colleague Nikola Lazic opines that the fact the Albanian parties formed the majority may pose a problem in democracy. “Because Albanian parties will not have opposition in their corpus. Never before since 2002, did it occur for all Albanian parties to be in power.” Ten mandates each have the Democratic Party and coalition around the SNS, in the local parliament there are nine Albanian, Serbian and Roma coalitions and parties.
Vucevic: SNS asked for a mandate (B92)
Consultations on the formation of a new government have been completed. Vucevic said: Legitimately, we asked for a mandate for the composition of the new government. After the convincing victory on the elections, our list legitimately asked for a mandate in the composition of the new government, a senior SNS official Milos Vucevic said, after the meeting with the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He said, after the conversation ended, that the conversation itself was meaningful. “We discussed not only the parliamentary majority and the new government, but also the situation regarding the coronavirus epidemic, as well as the economic challenges facing the whole world. We also discussed current issues regarding the region and Kosovo,” he said. Vucevic also stated that he can say that he expects the assembly to be constituted by 3 August, and the government, for the formation of which the deadline is 3 November, at the end of August or the beginning of September. According to him, it will be a government of continuity in accordance with the “Serbia 2025” program. “We are aware of the responsibility, and the number of won mandates is just a confirmation of that responsibility,” Vucevic said. Asked whether the SNS will form the government itself or whether another political party will join it, Vucevic said that the SNS does not have the same position in that regard. However, he said the government would be “refreshed”. Milan Krkobabic and Rasim Ljajic, who are on the list with the SNS, and who attended today’s meeting, also confirmed that there was no specific talk about personnel decisions. Ljajic said that he thinks that it is not good for Serbia to be left without opposition in the parliament, because that is a part of normal political life.
EUD, US Embassy and OHR called on politicians to adopt 2020 budget and secure holding of local elections (Dnevni avaz)
The EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), US Embassy and the OHR stated that adoption of the state budget and holding of local elections are the number one priorities at the moment. Author reminded that during the meeting between Ambassadors of Quint countries, Head of EUD Johann Sattler and leadership of B&H House of Representatives and B&H House of Peoples, which took place on 8 July, domestic leaders made a promise that the budget will be adopted by 21 July. The EUD stated to the daily that implementation of elections in line with European standards, along with local elections in Mostar, is the number one priority from the European Commission’s Opinion. They further stated that postponing of adoption of the state budget would jeopardize holding of local elections. “Political leaders in B&H need to act responsibly in order to respect the basic democratic principles. Therefore, we call on them to secure, without postponement, necessary funds for holding of local elections in entire country, including Mostar,” reads the EUD statement. The US Embassy told the daily that elected officials have to continue to carry out reform priorities that all citizens will benefit from. “As we have stated earlier, B&H citizens expect urgent adoption of the state level budget, in order to secure their fundamental right to participate in elections”, reads the US Embassy statement.
High Representative Valentin Inzko said that he hopes that delegates in B&H HoP will be wise enough to adopt the budget, which is late for more than half a year. “This would be a strong signal to B&H and international public that there is a political will to move certain things from the dead spot. Besides the fact that the issue of migrants and situation concerning Covid-19 pandemic, have their own dynamics, this year’s budget is even more important as it would enable holding of local elections”, said Inzko. He added that it is high time for the Central Election Commission to receive necessary funds for elections, which should be completely unquestionable, being that there are certain legislation obligations to secure citizens’ rights to democratic elections. Daily learns from unnamed diplomatic sources, that politicians in B&H have been warned that failure to hold local elections would jeopardize B&H’s EU path.
Osmanovic admits this party has deliberately blocked appointments in joint institutions (ATV)
Head of the SDA Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Adil Osmanovic admitted that SDA has been deliberately blocking and conditioning certain appointments in the joint institutions of B&H. “Of course, we stopped certain things during the appointment of members of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). You know that we stopped the appointment of the B&H Minister of Human Rights and Refugees. We presented our arguments as to why representatives of SDA could not support such person,” Osmanovic said.
Head of the Serb Caucus in the B&H HoR Nenad Stevandic replied that if everyone started to behave like SDA and make up some kind of reasons to obstruct something, it would not lead anywhere. He assessed that it is good that “SDA has finally admitted its calculations that were obstructing the work of all state institutions”. He added that they might as well obstruct the appointment of Selmo Cikotic as the B&H Minister of Security in the same way. At the same time, PDP representative in the Republika Srpska (RS) parliament Igor Crnadak said that there is obviously a coalition between SNSD and SDA, while he must have forgotten that one of the members of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) comes from PDP, thanks to the votes of SDA, SDS and PDP itself, according to the reporter. Head of the SNSD Caucus in the B&H HoR Snjezana Novakovic Bursac replied that SDS and PDP are the ones who formed a program-based coalition with SDA and other partners and joined the B&H CoM back in 2014. She argued that Crnadak was the head of the working group in charge of drafting the Foreign Policy Strategy of B&H, according to which the activation and implementation of the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) is one of the foreign policy priorities of B&H. She reminded that this document was adopted in March 2018, while the RSNA adopted the resolution on military neutrality in October 2017.
Dodik: Inzko would not miss opportunity to show that he is not in B&H to monitor implementation of DPA but to implement Muslim policy wrapped up in EU integration (ATV)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik was quoted as saying on Monday that High Representative Valentin Inzko would not miss an opportunity “to show to us and to the world that he is not in B&H in order to monitor the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), which is his mandate under this agreement, but in order to implement the Muslim policy wrapped up in the European integration, which he is not even hiding”. ATV noted that, in an interview for Der Standard in Vienna, Inzko presented a lot of inaccurate information and qualifications about the authorities and leaders of Republika Srpska (RS). He targeted Serbs as the ones responsible for “the war without guns” that is allegedly underway in B&H.
“Valentin Inzko is trying to implement the policies of Austria-Hungary and the Ustasha regime 75 years after the genocide against Serbs” Dodik said. “It has been 102 years since the crimes against Serbs were committed by Austria-Hungary in WWI and 75 years since the genocide against Serbs was committed by the Ustasha regime, which was a satellite of fascist Germany and Valentin Inzko is still trying to implement the same policies against Serbs in this region, this time without weapons,” Dodik explained. ATV noted that many things seem to be unclear to the High Representative and that he deems that the unresolved issue of distribution of the state property is one of the biggest problems in B&H. “Dodik says that everything that is located on the territory of the RS belongs to the RS, although a supreme court of B&H decided otherwise. Dodik claims that the territory of the RS will be reduced in case these facilities are given to the level of B&H. It is a ridiculous statement,” Inzko was quoted as saying. Dodik commented that “history is repeating as a farce” and that the reason is clear – “we are listening to a ‘nonelected’ international foreigner speaking about what his agenda is and whom our property belongs to, or about decisions of a supreme court of B&H that does not exist”. “Valentin Inzko would rather stay and not do anything while receiving an enormous salary, calling for a war from time to time, in order to stay here for as long as possible, to give some kind of interview and lie about something just to reminds us that the international administration is still here. This is neither 1918 nor 1945,” Dodik argued. ATV noted that Inzko also complained about not having thousands of “soldiers” by his side, unlike his predecessors, so that he could impose decisions of the international community and remove democratically elected politicians. “(Former High Representative Paddy) Ashdown used to be able to remove 50 politicians in only one day, while we currently have 600 soldiers and such ventures are impossible,” Inzko was quoted as saying.
“Although he admitted himself that he cannot change anything, Inzko does not mind serving as the High Representative for 11 years. If he had ever thought about the need for B&H to get integrated into the EU, Inzko would have resigned as the High Representative and he would have said before the UN Security Council that protectorates cannot be a part of the EU so he wants to contribute to prosperity of B&H by leaving,” Dodik concluded.
Tegeltija and Varhelyi discuss current situation in B&H (RTRS)
Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) Zoran Tegeltija spoke on Monday via video link with European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi about the current situation in B&H caused by the pandemic of Covid-19 and about economic and political subjects in the country and the region in the light of the European integration. Tegeltija expressed his gratitude for the support the EU provided to B&H in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and stressed the importance of the continuous EU engagement in strengthening political and economic ties in the Western Balkans. He also pointed out the importance of regional and multilateral cooperation, as well as the need for greater solidarity and joint actions in the fight against the pandemic. The Commissioner expressed readiness of the EU to additionally support the B&H healthcare sector, in keeping with expressed needs and informed Tegeltija of the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans which he will present to the European Commission (EC) in the fall to provide the region with long-term support and have it get closer to the EU. Varhelyi also stressed the importance of continuation of reforms and signing the agreement with Frontex. Varhelyi also held on Monday talks via video call with B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic and Serb member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. Varhelyi discussed the Coronavirus crisis, the situation regarding resolving 14 key priorities from the European Commission’s (EC) Opinion and migration challenges with Dodik and Dzaferovic.
Prime Minister presents new government cabinet (HRT)
After a meeting of the Presidency and the National Council of the Croatian Democratic Union, the Prime Minister and President of the Croatian Democratic Union, Andrej Plenkovic, presented the composition of the new government. Instead of 20, it will have 16 ministries and 4 deputy prime ministers. Along with the current Davor Bozinovic and Zdravko Maric, the new deputies are Tomo Medved and Boris Milosevic from the Independent Democratic Serb Party.
Davor Bozinovic will continue to serve as Minister of the Interior, Zdravko Maric will remain in charge of finances, and Tomo Medved is still the Minister of Croatian Veterans. Ministers who have held office before and who remain are: Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman, Minister of Health Vili Beros, Minister of Agriculture Marija Vuckovic and Minister of Martime, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic.
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will be taken over by Nikolina Brnjac, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds by Natasa Tramisak, and the Ministry of Science and Education by Radovan Fuchs. Tomislav Coric is heading the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development, which will include the departments of economy, energy, climate change and environmental protection. The Ministry of Construction, Physical Planning and State Property will be headed by Darko Horvat. The new Minister of Defence is Mario Banozic, and Ivan Malenica heads the unified Ministries of Administration and Justice. The departments of labor and pension system and social policy have also merged, and Josip Aladrovic is the head of that ministry. Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek will head the Ministry of Culture and Media.
Gordan Jandrokovic was unanimously supported for the position of Parliament Speaker, and Zeljko Reiner and Ante Sanader for Deputy Speakers. The president of the Croatian Democratic Union Club of Representatives will be Branko Bacic.
President will not attend formation of new parliament (HRT)
President Zoran Milanovic has decided that he will not attend the formation of the new parliament on Wednesday. Besides members of parliament, due to the coronavirus crisis, only the Prime Minister, President and Presidents of the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, were invited to formation of the new Parliament. The announcement from President Zoran Milanovic’s office saying that he will not be attending and that by calling the session he used his authority clearly regulated by the Constitution, has provoked numerous reactions. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic described such a move as unusual. “You have to ask him why he doesn’t want to come. For example, when his inauguration was held, which was also humble in character, we received an invitation and we attended because we believe that we respect Croatian institutions, we respect all those symbols of the country, that was our logic, it’s not clear to me why he doesn’t want this,” said Plenkovic. The opposition has also reacted. “Fine, that’s his stance, he is evidently consistent in wanting to influence political life as little as possible. There is the argument that since he called the session, it would be good for him to attend, but I don’t think this is something crucial,” said Tomislav Tomasevic from the “We Can!” platform. Responding to criticism, also via social networks, President Milanovic pointed out that the reason is his understanding of the role and position of Croatian parliament – independent of the President, so he interprets the move as affirmative and well-intentioned towards the Parliament. He called protocol an inertial sequence of repetition of certain actions. “I was chosen by the will of citizens, for the institution of President, that is in principle for the most part, but not exclusively, a protocol institution. It does not cross my mind to imitate and automatically repeat everything that someone before me did or didn’t do. This is just the beginning, there will be more changes,” said the President on social media. “In the end a big kiss to all haters and the biggest kiss to all fake analysts all personally involved in petty business arrangements with the government. They have been faithfully following me for a decade and a half,” said Milanovic. At the end of his message to haters the President paraphrased Bolshevik revolutionary, Soviet politician and Marxist philosopher, Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, saying that there is also a drop of their sweat on the victory flag that I am flying.
Lekic: The call of the authorities for the Serbian Orthodox Church is a cheap trick (CDM)
The decision of the party president Milo Djukanovic, the main creator of the toxic atmosphere of the schism in the country and the director of the marketing of the election campaign, to send an invitation to church figures for the so-called expert negotiations through social media a month before the elections, represents the image of the top of the Montenegrin government, said Demos President Miodrag Lekic. “While everywhere in the world, the government is obliged to present the results of their rule to the citizens before the elections, here, the top of the government cynically continues with topics that encourage and deepen conflicts in Montenegro. At the same time, underestimating the citizens, if expecting that they will not recognize this cheap trick by which they want to escape from presenting the real situation in the country. From the real financial balances of the state and the poverty of the citizens in the over-indebted country, all the way to the scandalous examples of the non-existence of the rule of law in this country,” Lekic said. According to him, “the central theme of this country on the eve of the elections is not the church, much less the electoral market of souls, but the “Envelope (the affair)”, as a brutal fact and metaphor for the deeply degenerative situation in the country.” “In this transparent and provincial play, the so-called legal experts have a special, tragicomic place. Legal experts of the government do not publicly comment on the situation and causes of the non-existence of the rule of law, obviously ready to help those who are the main obstacle to constituting Montenegro as a serious, legal country,” said Lekic.
Mesic to Djukanovic: Montenegro is a successful European story (CDM)
Montenegro’s President, Milo Djukanovic, received Ocean Alliance Conservation Member (OACM) delegation, headed by the vice-president of that organization, Stjepan Mesic, former president of Croatia. Mesic said it was not by chance that they had chosen Montenegro for visit and potential cooperation. Mesic pointed out that Montenegro, as successful European story, had been recognized as a country that could take another step towards adoption of the principles of healthy and high-quality lifestyle and environment protection. “Purification of sea surface and coastal zone project was presented by founder and chair of the organization, Kristijan Curovic, and offered potential integration with MNE as ecological brand,” the President’s Cabinet reported. Djukanovic said that the initiative was very inspiring and in line with the needs of the response to the present challenges. Irresponsibility to environment has reached the ultimate point and it is necessary to take necessary steps to save planet Earth for our offspring, he said. With OACM support, president expressed initial Montenegro’s readiness for participation.
The Bosniak party goes to the polls on its own (Dan)
The Bosniak Party (BS) will run independently in the elections on August 30, Dan has learned from the leadership of that party. As it was said, that decision will be officially confirmed at the session of the Presidency of the party in two days at the latest. The session will be held electronically, due to the overall situation around the epidemic caused by the coronavirus virus and the measures prescribed by the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NKT) in order to protect the health of citizens. The President of the Bosniak Party, Rafet Husovic, as well as the entire party leadership, have pointed out since the announcement of the elections, both parliamentary and local, in five Montenegrin municipalities, that of all models they prefer independent performance, and that they always gave it priority before every election, which, will be the case this time as well. The party’s political director, Suljo Mustafic, recently said that the Bosniak Party has no problem reaching the census, and that it can always run on its own without relying on coalitions. He is also convinced that he will gain the support of a large number of voters, as a confirmation of everything they have done so far. The decision to run independently in the upcoming elections has so far been made by two other political entities, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), headed by Draginja VuksanovicStankovic, and the Social Democrats (SD), led by Ivan Brajovic. The leadership of both parties has repeatedly pointed out that they were expected to act independently, given that their voters are used to it, and that possible coalitions can be negotiated after election day. They do not hide that the trust they are gaining from the citizens is growing day by day, and that without the doubt expect even better election result this year.
Zivkovic: URA is a Trojan horse of DF (CDM)
The election platform of the URA exposed the essence of that political entity, although it was certainly not their intention, DPS MP Danijel Zivkovic said. “By publishing the content of the platform and the names of the signatories and supporters of its text, the public can finally form a clear picture of why the strategists of the media-political concern persistently fail to achieve political goals in the elections,” said Zivkovic. Based on the latest actions of the URA, it can be concluded, he adds, that this group does not choose the means to somehow skip the census and get to the parliament. “Because how else to understand the fact that former activists for joining NATO and his opponents, former independents and unionists, are on the same list. Stefan Djukic and Dritan Abazovic, angry rivals from the campaign for joining NATO, now want power from the same list. Can anyone imagine that the duo governs a local institution, let alone a state?” Zivkovic said in a statement. All this shows what the URA is in essence – the Trojan horse of DF, believes Zivkovic, whose task is to attract a part of the Montenegrin electorate for their needs, primarily from the SDP, but also from the Democrats. “He will publicly pretend to be the reason why opposition is not going to the elections in one single list. Abazovic is only here to play the role of an “honest Albanian”. Some claim consciously, some unconsciously. That is why the state-building forces, sincerely committed to European values and Euro-Atlantic integration, will win the elections in August,” concludes the DPS MP.
URA: Our vision is Montenegro as one family, unlike DPS who sees as Montenegro in the ownership of one family (CDM)
The Secretary General of the URA movement, Mileta Radovanic, responded to DPS MP, Danijel Zivkovic, who criticized the platform of that party. Radovanic believes that the platform of the URA movement is the basis on which Montenegro will change, and that is what Zivkovic does not like. “It is a concept that brings together all the people who sincerely want to contribute to the changes we need. We are reconciling Montenegro, and you are the ones who are constantly arguing for the sake of surviving in power. We offer a list of experts, successful and capable, ready to lead Montenegro through the financially demanding times that your 30-year rule has brought us to. You are just a group of people who robbed the state and brought the citizens to the brink of poverty. For you, Montenegro is not a homeland, but a property, and you have proven that many times in the past 30 years. That has come to an end because the citizens are fed up with your false promises and empty stories” states the Secretary General of the URA movement. “You, who have officially pushed the country into hybrid regimes, give yourself the right to talk about European integration and democratic values. You, who destroyed almost all its natural resources and sold everything you could, must not even think that you are talking about preserving Montenegro. URA, as a member of the Greens of Europe, is recognized in the European framework as a sincere and credible alternative to your criminal government, and that is what bothers you the most,” Radovanic emphasizes. He especially emphasizes that “the story of divisions, Chetniks, foreign and internal enemies no longer hold water.” “Please, do not defend the state from URA and us who love it sincerely and without interest. Our vision is: Montenegro as one family. And yours, Montenegro owned by one family. That is a huge difference between you and us. And rest assured, we will save Montenegro from you. The citizens will judge you, it is clear as day,” conclude the URA movement.
DF: We are open to any agreement; We are waiting for other opposition parties to announce decisions and demands (CDM)
The Democratic Front (DF) is ready and open for any agreement and is waiting for the other opposition parties to announce their decisions and demands, the DF announced. “As it is known to the public, the DF did not blackmail anyone in the process of making lists and coalitions, and any alleged information about that is false news. Moreover, we have shown readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of uniting the opposition and accept the blackmailing demands of certain parties, which after our answers gave up their own conditions and found other excuses not to be part of a single opposition alliance,” said the DF. The pro-regime media, had previously slip it the story about the DF intentions to run in the elections on their own, in order to create a bad atmosphere of mistrust in which, as they say, fabrications would make it impossible for certain subjects in opposition to agree. “The constituents of the DF have made concrete decisions on the broadest opposition appearance on party bodies and instructed the leadership to try, everything in their power, in order to realize this set goal. The DF is ready and open for any agreement, and other political parties from the opposition should make a decision on that and announce their own demands.
Rakocevic: The DPS list will be the best political option so far (Pobjeda)
The head of the parliamentary club of the Democratic Party of Socialists, Nikola Rakocevic, said in an interview for Pobjeda that the electoral list of the Democratic Party of Socialists will be the best political option so far in Montenegro. The best composition of the DPS, strengthened by new, capable people, will be dedicated to economic and state stability, in the center of which is a citizen of Montenegro,” said Rakocevic for Pobjeda.
The DPS will most likely run independently in the upcoming parliamentary elections. How realistic is it for the candidates of some other parties, such as the old partners of the Liberal Party or new ones like Crnogorska, to be on the DPS list?
RAKOCEVIC: We have not yet considered the form of the appearance at the competent party bodies for that issue. Regardless of the decision with which partners we will perform or the decision on independent performance, we will work hard. We will present the successful four-year mandate to the citizens in a quality way and the best staff that Montenegrin society has for the challenges, which can only be successfully overcome by an experienced, competent and serious professional team.
The opposition did not agree on a single list, and as things stand now, it is possible to expect as many as five lists. Can such an approach be a serious alternative to the ruling party?
RAKOCEVIC: Our political competition, which is increasingly manifesting itself as competition to the state, is free, of course, to choose the best model for itself. Fortunately for civil Montenegro and its future, there is no opposition model that can provide them with a good result. Political parties need to think, in fact, about their political programs, but also about their collective and individual achievements, in order to deserve the opportunity to exercise power. In contrast, the (anti) Montenegrin opposition thinks only of Dont’s formula, synergy in performance and mutual rivalry. It will only help them to lose more convincingly.
To what extent can the conflict with the Serbian Orthodox Church on the Law on Freedom of Religion affect the election results of the ruling parties, do you expect the SOC to actively interfere during the election campaign?
RAKOCEVIC: The misunderstanding between the Serbian Orthodox Church and the state of Montenegro helped the citizens to see correctly and clearly that a great Serbian state project still lives in Montenegro, which first tries to annul our state as a civil one, make it Serbian, and then place it in alternative state framework, after a logical question would be asked: What will the two Serbian states do next to each other? However, the problem also became regional, as the dominant public in the B&H, RS entity and the Republic of Serbia showed that the ambition of the “Serbian world” and its infamous past, not only lives in the future, but has its “modern” settings. The citizens of Montenegro have defeated dangerous opponents and so far, they have rejected more complex hoaxes, they will do the same with this transparent damage to the national interests. In the last 20 years, and especially after the referendum in 2006, Montenegro has permanently emancipated itself and profiled itself as a civil, multi-ethnic state and a free society. That is why you are allowed to express your views, even if they are the most politically retrograde, coming from the address of the religious community. But not everything that is allowed is good and useful at the same time. It is now clearer than ever that civil, free and European Montenegro is in danger from elements within Montenegro and beyond. We will defend the valuable achievements convincingly, because the opponent has openly shown his intentions, and multi-ethnic democracy and anti-fascism must remain the verticals of Montenegrin statehood. Finally, I expect that those who now oppose the national interests of Montenegro, will eventually recognize those interests as their own. It’s a process.
Ziberi: DUI maintain “Albanian PM” position, door for talks not closed (MIA)
DUI leader Ali Ahmeti remains on the position that the party’s requirement for entering a coalition is the idea of an “Albanian Prime Minister” but the doors for talks over the formation of the future government are not closed, said Naser Ziberi, DUI’s PM candidate. “According to the information I have, Ahmeti is still keen on the idea of me being the next PM-designate and there are no concessions on this for the time being. Of course, all doors are not closed. In fact, the creation of a parliamentary majority is a result of talks,” ZIberi said. According to him, Ahmeti believes that the country should topple the final ethnic barriers and no post should be reserved for one or another ethnic community. “This will strengthen the country’s internal capacities and the state will show that every post is available to everyone,” adds Ziberi. He notes that DUI is of an opinion that the cooperation with the current coalition partner should continue, but this does not mean that the option of collaborating with others is excluded. “My political vision about the future is building harmonious interethnic relations and space where everyone would feel equal, in parallel with a foreign policy as that of NATO and EU, while observing the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty. These aspects are the foundation of the country’s future, there is no room for talks here,” says Ziberi. On the possibility of SDSM and VMDO-DPMNE “giving each other” MPs in order to produce a coalition with other parties of ethnic Albanians, while sending DUI into opposition, he says being part of the next government is not the most important thing for DUI but adds that no one has the right to trade with the “heads” of the lawmakers. Ziberi says there is a “gentlemen agreement” among parties of ethnic Albanians that the one getting even one vote less would consider itself of losing the elections. “I cannot guarantee if this consensus will be maintained, but they are surely aware of the repercussions if they are part of the executive without having the legitimacy. The option of stealing MPs from left to right and vice versa would do the country no favors. We believe that the people’s will should be considered and Zaev, Mickoski or Ahmeti have no right to seek for MPs to form a government. The principle of a winner-winner coalition should be observed,” says Ziberi. He claims that the first priority of the new government should be to cope with the effects of the pandemic, both in health and economic terms. “We would like to strengthen the health sector, not only through capacity building but financially, supporting those on the frontlines,” adds Ziberi. He also notes that the people’s trust in the rule of law should be restored, while fighting crime and corruption should be the top priority. “This process will start with the judiciary, then public officials, heads of institutions. One has the impression that the judiciary often makes its decisions from a political or ethnic standpoint. The judiciary must function independently and citizens must have trust in the court when knocking on its doors,” says Ziberi. He says that no one will be saved in the fight against corruption, “including DUI officials”. “We are on the doorstep of the EU accession negotiations. The rule of law is a prerequisite for the opening of talks and we cannot move forward unless we abide by this principle,” underlines Ziberi.
Alliance of Albanians rejects offer of cooperation from DUI, says it stole the Albanian vote (Republika)
Arben Taravari from the Alliance of Albanians (AA) said that this party can’t forget how Ali Ahmeti and his DUI party subverted the democratic will of the ethnic Albanian voters. AA submitted 150 reports of ballot stuffing and intimidation perpetrated mainly by DUI in their fight for the Albanian vote, but all were rejected by the State Electoral Commission. DUI now propose some sort of cooperation with AA as the Albanian parties position themselves to determine which of the main Macedonian parties would form a government. Days ago, DUI officials stuffed ballots, abused the political will of the Albanians, but now they invite us to sit together. It’s like a thief robbing your home and then inviting you for lunch at his home days later, Taravari said. DUI is projected to win 15 seats and AA – 12, and as the main parties VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM are virtually tied between 44 and 46 seats, the Albanian parties would be necessary for anyone trying to get to the 61 votes needed to form a government. AA points especially to the heavily depopulated municipality of Zajas near Kicevo, which is the main stronghold of DUI. AA spokesman Flakron Bexheti said that the party is prepared to give all its seats in Parliament to DUI if the ruling party can point to just one polling station in and around Zajas where the number of voters corresponds to the number of actual voters. Much of the population there has left for Germany, Switzerland and other emigrant destinations. Bexheti showed how, in one station in Zajas, by 13h, there were 150 votes, and the number almost doubled by 15h to 288 – a physical impossibility as it would require a vote to be cast every minute for full two hours.
VMRO declares that the elections were held in an undemocratic environment (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE held a meeting of its Executive Committee, which decided to empower party leader Hristijan Mickoski to begin negotiations with for the creation of the next ruling coalition. The party leadership points that the elections were held in an undemocratic environment, with “a massive amount of vote buying on the side of the ruling SDSM party, and with numerous irregularities on election day”. VMRO-DPMNE will submit charges to the Administrative Court about the irregularities and the vote counting process. Never the less, “VMRO-DPMNE won the trust of the voters in most municipalities and won more seats in parliament than SDSM did – excluding SDSM’s partner BESA”. VMRO-DPMNE is projected to take 44 seats and SDSM – 46, but this is including the four seats going to BESA. Neither party has a clear shot at forming the next government and coalition talks are expected to begin with the ethnic Albanian parties, mainly Ali Ahmeti’s DUI.
Albanian opposition leader meets with Kosovo President (Tirana Times)
Albanian Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha held a meeting with President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci on Monday, during which he stated that the coordination between the two countries will strengthen and accelerate the dialogue process with the aim of mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia. “I expressed my full support and that of the Democratic Party, the united opposition for all the positions of the heads of institutions and politics in Kosovo, especially for those who have sacrificed these 22 years for the freedom of Kosovo and who must continue to sacrifice in personal plan to ensure the continuity of the fruits of freedom, independence and human dignity for all citizens of Kosovo and in particular for Thaci and all his associates,” Basha stated. On his part, President Thaci expressed his gratitude for the contribution that Basha gave to the recognition of Kosovo in international organizations during the time when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania. Furthermore, the importance of coordination between Kosovo and Albania were also emphasized by Thaci. “Albania’s contribution has always been welcome, and it is also vital for us and the international community to coordinate the European Union first, but also a close coordination between Washington and Brussels in order for it to be a safe, credible process,” he said. The meeting with Thaci was held as part of Basha’s visit to Kosovo on Monday, which also included meetings with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and parliament spokeswoman Vjosa Selmani. Earlier, Basha pledged to remove the National Road tax for Kosovo if he wins the upcoming elections.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Nothing gets done by sitting out (EurActiv, by Ana Brnabić, 20 July 2020)
For years, Serbia lagged behind. We were a step away from bankruptcy, in April 2012, our unemployment rate was 25.5%, with youth unemployment at 51.5%. Our leaders spent money we did not have and watched our infrastructure decay and our population flee the country. Today, the reality is very different, writes Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. Ana Brnabić is the prime minister of Serbia. Reviving this country did not come easy. We had to switch mindsets and focus on long-term prosperity rather than short-term gains. We had to take responsibly, not to lay blame or look backwards, but to understand what went wrong and avoid the mistakes of the past. And we had to approach the Serbian people differently, choosing to speak to them honestly and candidly, rather than using lies to defend inefficient policies.
That was President Aleksandar Vučić’s approach when he came to power in 2014 and they have been our core values ever since. Our citizens have experienced this transformation first-hand and now have the confidence to believe in a better tomorrow. In election after election, since 2014, President Vucic and SNS are gaining more votes. Citizens of Serbia understand: we are the only party with the vision, organization and leadership to keep Serbia on a path to prosperity. Last month’s electoral victory reinforced this statement. With over 60% of the vote, this historic election proved we have gained the trust of the people. We won in places where we failed before and achieved results no other leaders had seen in this country. Approximately half of the population turned out to vote – similar to other recent European elections, and significant given the so-called boycott and the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. While some opposition parties chose to skip the election hoping to undermine its legitimacy, the unprecedented results displayed this was just a wrong and unpopular decision. The absence of certain pro-EU parties from the ballot is regrettable, but the reality is that they have refused to even take part in talks mediated by the European Parliament. Rather than opting to collaborate for Serbian people, they chose to stage an unsuccessful political scene. Similarly, far-right actors that did not pass the 3% threshold to enter the National Assembly, decided to exhibit commotion once again by fomenting and storming the parliament. I continue to condemn this type of vandalism and violent intrusion, especially at a time when our country faces a major uptick in Covid-19 cases. Oblivious to the realities, these groups have forged chaos for political points, and are now causing a further surge in the number of positive cases and putting the lives of millions at risk.
Regardless of their behaviour, we will vigilantly stay on our European path. Our commitment to the Serbian people has not faded and our priorities to lead this country are clear. First, we need to manage Covid-19. This invisible enemy continues to upend the world we live in. It has shaken our foundations to the core and put our country and our citizens to the test. Though we were able to contain it initially with restrictive measures, we are now seeing the situation worsen throughout the region. Sadly, we are approaching the worst figures we had in April and the reality is, this will be a long fight. For that reason, we are relying on the cooperation of our citizens in order to avoid the harsh measures imposed in the spring. Bars and clubs must now close at 11 p.m., gatherings inside and outside of more than 10 people have been banned, and people must wear masks inside closed space and whenever social distancing measures cannot be maintained. We have also increased the number of PCR tests, ventilators and protective equipment, but nothing will work if we don’t take individual action. It is vital that we all stay on course and do our part to combat this virus. In addition, we are committed to building on the economic transformation that started six years ago. As soon as we took office, our first priority was to reduce the budget deficit. We had to impose some unpopular consolidation programmes, but they paid off. We are now one of seven countries in the world that have set aside more than 10% of GDP to support the economy, and international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF have expressed confidence in our economy. International investors now have the assurance to bet on our country. This fiscal discipline made us resilient towards COVID-19, enabling us to pass measures to boost our economy, support workers and companies, and ultimately ease the consequences of the crisis. It also gave us a strong foundation to continue with large investment plans despite an unforeseen crisis – we are continuing with improving our road and railway infrastructure, clinical centres and general hospitals across our country, building new infrastructure for education, science and research. We are committed to raising living standards across Serbia and ensuring a vibrant future for our citizens at home. The list of our priorities for the future is lengthy, and we understand we cannot do it alone. As a result, President Vučić is currently meeting with representatives from all political parties that have entered the parliament to grasp their proposals, demands and needs, and determine ways to work together in the new government. Today’s challenges are unprecedented, and our hope is to have a dialogue with the other sides in parliament – not hostile arguments on the streets.