Dacic: KFOR is the only legal and legitimate military formation in the province (RTS/Tanjug/Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated today that the Belgrade NATO Week for the eighth year in a row provides an opportunity for open discussion on many important foreign policy and security issues of interest not only for Serbia but also for the region and the broader environment.
At the opening of this gathering, Dacic pointed out that by intensively initiating regional topics, Serbia wants to contribute to the stability of the region and its accelerated economic growth, through initiatives to increase investment and trade, as a basis for accelerated economic development. Serbia is fulfilling its obligations very responsibly, acting in accordance with the agreements reached and expecting others to do the same, he stressed, adding that partnership with NATO is an inseparable part of Serbia’s overall foreign policy position and efforts to keep the region permanently stable. According to him, these relations are clearly defined and are based on partnership cooperation in accordance with the policy of military neutrality of Serbia, without striving for membership in the Alliance and other military alliances, but at the same time with openness to further improve political dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO in all areas of common interest. Dacic underlined that Serbia is committed to further development of cooperation with the Alliance, as well as with members and partners on a bilateral basis. He reiterated that the policy of military neutrality of Serbia is not questioned at any time, it remains our fundamental and recognizable position that NATO, its members and partners, as well as other countries, fully respect. We expect the Alliance to understand and support our priorities, which especially refers to Kosovo and Metohija, since the situation in the province is the main political and security challenge for Serbia, he reiterated. He underlined that only a compromise solution, reached through dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and with the support of the international community, can ensure lasting peace and stability. That is why it is very important that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has resumed after more than a year and a half, Dacic pointed out and added that it was important for Serbia that the KFOR mandate be fully implemented, which, as the only legal and legitimate military formation in the province, is an important guarantor of the implementation of the Brussels agreement and the only guarantor of the security and survival of Serbs, their property, religious and cultural heritage. Serbia strongly opposes the transformation of the so-called Kosovo Security Forces into the so-called Kosovo Army, because it violates UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and endangers regional and wider stability, and creates the potential for causing instability. According to him, that is why it is very important that such provocative and dangerous moves by Pristina be met with a clear and unequivocal condemnation of international factors. Dacic highlighted the importance of the fact that NATO and Serbia are directed at each other and that, despite the tragic past and bombing of the then FRY, joint engagement and cooperation is imperative for the future, primarily for the sake of the stability of the region as a key condition for prosperity.
Vulin: Germany violates international law by delivering arms to Kosovo (FoNet/RTV)
Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin warned Germany that it would be violating both UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and its own laws by sending arms to the Kosovo military, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. He said that by approving the supplying of arms to Kosovo Germany was also sending a message to Serbia, it said and added that providing weapons to terrorists whose leaders have been indicted for war crimes while hoping for peace and stability in the region is either hypocrisy or madness. “When Germany shows military force, the whole world should be concerned for the future. History repeats itself,” Vulin said.
Djuric: Serbian delegation travelling to Brussels for technical negotiations (TV Pink)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric announced that a Serbian delegation is travelling today to Brussels to hold talks with representatives of the EU and the provisional institutions of Pristina over the next two days. Djuric told TV Pink that the issue of mutual recognition will not be on the agenda, but economic cooperation and the issue of the missing and internally displaced persons, which Pristina assumed under the Brussels agreement.
We will talk first and foremost about economic cooperation, on how to go back to the market of Kosovo and Metohija, where the Serbian goods have been blocked for more than 20 months, he pointed out. We will also speak about the missing persons from Kosovo and Metohija, whose number is around 1,500 and also about creating preconditions for the return of those expelled and displaced from the southern Serbian province. Djuric underlined that at every meeting with representatives of Pristina Serbia will raise the question of the Community of Serb Municipalities and all obligations of Pristina under the Brussels agreement.
Romanian Foreign Ministry: No change of stand on Kosovo (RTS)
Romania, but also some EU member states, are not thinking about recognizing Kosovo. The statement of the Romanian Foreign Ministry delivered to the Pristina portal Klan Kosova notes that Romania’s position is based on the principle stemming from the general political consensus and respect of international law. “Presently we are not thinking about changing this position. Romania will support a solution of the issue of Kosovo’s status only if it is based on an agreement of the two involved parties, if it contributes to regional stability and is in accordance with international law,” states the Romanian Foreign Ministry.
Fabrizi: Significant part of EU funds to be directed to Serbia (RTS)
The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi stated today that the EU budget for the period from 2021 to 2027 provides 12.5 billion Euros for pre-accession funds intended for countries in the enlargement process, of which a significant part will be directed to Serbia.
“It is considered that Serbia is the largest economy in the Western Balkans in terms of size, and an important part of the funds will be directed to it,” Fabrizi told RTS. As he stated, Serbia is not yet a member of the EU, but it is close to it, so it is expected that a much faster economic recovery of the EU will affect the economy of Serbia as well. He recalled that 67% of Serbia’s foreign trade is directed towards the EU, as well as that most foreign investments in Serbia come from the EU. “The sooner the EU economy recovers, the better off Serbia will be,” said Fabrizi. He added that the EU budget is oriented towards the digital agenda and the green economy, which will also reflect on Serbia. Asked whether Serbia can expect additional support from the EU, in addition to the 93 million Euros announced for the fight against Covid, Fabrizi said that 15 million Euros have already been spent on emergency medical care, that an agreement on financing employment of medical workers has been signed, and that the EU is open to new demands coming from the Serbian government. He also recalled that it was agreed at the Summit in Zagreb that the EU would present a package of economic recovery for Serbia and the Western Balkans, and that additional funds that Serbia would be able to use for economic recovery would be considered. Leaders of EU’s 27 member-states reached an agreement yesterday, after several days of marathon negotiations, on a multi-year joint budget and a recovery fund. The total amount of the recovery package is 1,824 billion Euros, of which 1,074 billion is within the joint budget for the period from 2021 to 2027. The EU Recovery Fund amounts to 750 billion Euros, and consists of 390 billion in grants and 360 billion in loans.
Intensive cooperation between foreign ministers of Serbia, China (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received a telegram of gratitude from State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi for a letter which Dacic had sent on the occasion of recent heavy floods in China. The telegram voices readiness for maintaining intensive working relations and incessant deepening of exchange and cooperation between the two ministries, with the aim of promoting the development of the overall strategic partnership between China and Serbia.
B&H HoP adopts 2020 B&H budget but text of this document still requires harmonization in both Houses of B&H parliament (BHT1)
At its session held on Tuesday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Peoples (HoP) adopted the Law on Budget of B&H Institutions and International Obligations of B&H for 2020. However, due to the fact that the text of the adopted law differs from one adopted by the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) earlier, a competent joint commission of both Houses of the parliament of B&H will work on harmonization of the text of the abovementioned law. The B&H HoR and B&H HoP will have to vote again on harmonized version of the law. Delegate Denis Becirovic (SDP) explained that proposed amendments stipulate increase of funds for procurement of official vehicles by some BAM 754,000. According to the proposed amendments, these funds should be provided by transferring some of funds from the item concerning assistance for elimination of economic consequences of Coronavirus. Leader of SDA and deputy speaker of B&H HoP Bakir Izetbegovic expressed hope that the abovementioned amendment will be changed, adding that if it is adopted in its current form, his cabinet and cabinet of SDA’s deputy speaker of B&H HoR Denis Zvizdic will not spend a single BAM for procurement of new vehicles or redecoration of their offices. Reporter noted that the second group of amendments proposed by HDZ B&H ignores the amendment to the Law on Budget adopted by B&H HoR stipulating allocation of BAM 450,000 from budget reserves as assistance to deal with the migrant crisis in Una-Sana Canton (USC). Delegate Nikola Spiric (SNSD) underlined that SNSD’s MPs in the B&H HoR voted against this amendment adding that consequently, SNSD delegates voted for “erasing” of it. SDS’ delegate in B&H HoP Mladen Bosic said that he did not believe that decision-makers will be so arrogant to vote in favor of postponement of adoption of B&H Budget, underlining that it will definitely affect implementation of upcoming local elections. “I believe that there is something behind this, something that could be described as Mostar scenario for entire B&H,” explained Bosic.
Delegate in Croat Caucus Zlatko Miletic stressed that he voted in favor of the budget just because it will enable implementation of the local elections in B&H. Delegate Asim Sarajlic (SDA) stated that SDA-HDZ B&H-SNSD coalition is functional depending on the situation. Sarajlic emphasized that some political forces are still trying to “buy some time” and to blackmail certain institutions. He added that these political forces declaratively support the EU path of B&H and adoption of B&H budget, while in practice they will do everything in their power to prevent adoption of the B&H budget. The speaker of B&H HoP expressed hope that harmonization of text of the Law on Budget will be completed next week.
Bakalar comments decision of B&H HoP regarding budget (Dnevni avaz)
Commenting the decision of the B&H House of Peoples, according to which the state budget for 2020 is going to additional harmonization, which represents only another postponement in organizing of local elections, President of B&H Central Election Commission Zeljko Bakalar told the daily that B&H CEC will present their plans and stances towards B&H institutions in this regard on Wednesday or Thursday. “We are still carrying out pre-election activities, but this decision tampers with everything that is important for elections to take place when they were planned. We are making extreme effort to work, without funds and staff. Colloquially speaking, our people are passing out trying to do the things that we have done so far. This now is pushing back our plans,” said Bakalar. B&H CEC member Suad Arnautovic told the daily that it is a known fact that games with the budget are played because of the local elections. “The B&H CEC is absolutely at the stance of the rule of law, which means it has to abide by the Election Law and procedure the Law prescribes. The one who does not respect the Election Law has to justify that to the public. We continue to work, full steam ahead on preparations of the local elections and we act in that way,” said Arnautovic.
Dzaferovic: I expect budget to be harmonized and adopted in upcoming days (Hayat)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic commented the adoption of the budget of B&H Institutions and International Obligations, noting that adoption itself is a positive thing, but the negative side is that the budget cannot enter into force since different texts have been adopted by the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) and B&H House of Peoples (HoP). Dzaferovic added that he expects the text to be harmonized and the budget adopted and published in the Official Gazette of B&H in the upcoming days. Dzaferovic said that the elections will be held. “As prescribed by the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC). I have never had doubt that we would find ourselves in a situation not to hold elections as prescribed by the elections regulator that is the B&H CEC,” said Dzaferovic.
Sattler: Adoption of the budget will enable holding of local elections, including holding of the elections in Mostar (BN TV)
Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H and EU Special Representative (EUSR) Johann Sattler stated on Tuesday that B&H has not made significant steps forward in its work on the 14 priorities, which the EU set before B&H (in the European Commission’s Opinion on the EU Membership Application of B&H), since May 2019. Still, Sattler welcomed the steps forward that were made in terms of adoption of the state budget, which should enable holding of the local elections, and expressed expectation that the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) will soon be completed. “Adoption of the budget will enable holding of the local elections, including holding of the elections in Mostar. However, there might be another positive step forward this week, in completing the procedure of appointment of the new Minister of Security. The Minister of Security itself is an important function and it is important to have someone at that post, considering all the challenges of that ministry, including the migrant crisis.”
Statements of Dzaferovic and Izetbegovic on war crimes against Bosniaks spark fierce reactions in RS (EuroBlic/Srna)
Chair of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) attended the collective funeral near Kozarac, after which he said that “advocates of idea on Greater Serbia should visit these places and see how Republika Srpska (RS) was created”. At the same time, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic stated that “defenders and aggressors must not be treated in the same way and genocide must not be denied”. The daily noted that such statements continued practice of Bosniak politicians to use commemorations in political purposes while, at the same time, they never mentioned Serb victims or distanced themselves from those who committed crimes against Serbs. President of the Association of Women Victims of War from the RS Bozica Zivkovic-Rajilic said that crimes were committed on all sides in B&H and all three people made mistakes so one cannot blame only Serbs for everything bad that happened during the war. “The story on Serbs as genocidal people is propaganda Bosniaks have been using for years with help of foreign factor, i.e. part of the international community”, Zivkovic-Rajilic argued and added that she does not expect the current generation of Bosniak politicians “who started and produced the war, primarily those from SDA, to change their behavior”. Zivkovic-Rajilic noted that both the international community, which targeted Serbs as war criminals since the very beginning, and Serbs who did not fight hard enough for truth are both to be blamed for the fact Serb victims are almost not mentioned nowadays. Director of the RS Center for Investigation of War, War Crimes and Search for Missing Persons Milorad Kojic said that he was not surprised with statements of the Bosniak politicians and reminded that claims genocide was committed in Prijedor have been present since 1995 because Bosniak political top is trying to “present it as if genocide was carried out in the entire territory of the RS which has nothing to do with truth. First victims of war in Prijedor, Sarajevo and many other places in B&H were Serbs and not Bosniaks”. Kojic warned that encouraging of hate, which is being done by high-ranking Bosniak politicians, cannot contribute to reconciliation and he reminded that Dzaferovic played a significant role in wartime events as former Chief of Zenica Center of Security Services. Kojic reminded that members of El-Mujahedeen unit decapitated Serbs in the area of Ozren and Vozuca and argued that “it is obvious Bosniak politicians do not want to talk about that, but they are talking about some kind of projected truths”. In a statement to Srna, Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik said that crimes in Kazani, Sarajevo was a result of a systematic joint criminal enterprise “carried out with the goal to eliminate Serb population and it had all elements of genocide”. Dodik also sent a message to “advocates of Greater Bosniak idea” and recommended them to pay a visit to Kazani “and see how B&H was tailored to suit Muslims” and then also to pay a visit to Zenica, Konjic, Kravice and all other places of sufferings of Serbs. Expert on fight against terrorism Dzevad Galijasevic stated that the RS “through the Memorial Center Komicani in Kozarac showed that it is a democratic state and that minority people in its territory can mark and visit sites of sufferings of their beloved ones, while something like that is not possible in the Federation of B&H”. Galijasevic told Srna that Dzaferovic, instead of presenting inflammatory statements, should first explain what he has done to prevent war crimes in Ozren region or to find out where are remains of 192 soldiers and civilians “who were brutally slaughtered on Ozren”.
Croatia to receive more than 22 billion Euros from EU budget and recovery fund (HRT)
Four days and nights and more than 90 hours of negotiations have produced an agreement that has both pleased central and eastern EU member states, as well as those in western Europe advocating for a more frugal budget and recovery plan. Speaking to reporters after the deal was reached, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that Croatia achieved an “unprecedented success,” securing more than double the amount of EU funds it has received in seven years of membership: “It we add the slightly more than 12.6 billion from the seven-year budget to the 9.4 billion from the ‘Next Generation EU’ instrument, we arrive at a sum of more than 22 billion Euros.” Plenkovic said that the budget and fund were an excellent indicator of solidarity within the EU, and that the 22 billion total for Croatia was the result of a strong and well argumented position by the country’s diplomacy: “We will use both of these instruments to enter into a speedy economic recovery on the basis of a national plan and recovery program, which will be formulated during the fall. This success is additionally important, because we managed to have one entire paragraph in the European Council’s conclusions dedicated solely to Croatia. Here we received an additional 400 million Euros for our regions that require additional support. These are areas suffering from depopulation and precisely because of that we will direct those funds into these areas.” Finance Minister Zdravko Maric outlined which areas the 22 billion Euros would be focused on: “Measures to preserve jobs, to finance a shortened work week, there will be an emphasis on structural reforms, including education, research and development, and of course there is infrastructure, both digital and other segments, as well as equal regional development.” According to the Finance Ministry’s projections Croatia will pay roughly 660 million Euros into the EU budget per year over the next seven years, which totals approximately 4.6 billion Euros.
Markovic: Negotiations with SPC without results, we only asked them to register (CDM)
Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic announced that the talks between the legal experts of the government and the dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) ended without results, despite numerous concessions made by the government’s negotiating team.
“During the second round of expert talks we accepted first – that the procedure of determining land registry entries be moved from the administrative procedure to a regular court procedure where the burden of proving ownership falls on the state and not the church. In that sense, we proposed a completely new Article 63 of the Law, thus accepting the proposals of the Church” said Markovic in his address to the public after the end of the second round of talks between legal experts of the government and the SPC. According to him, the government team accepted that the SPC continues to use all church and monastery buildings, property and other real estate that are state property or are determined in court to be state, religious and cultural property.
“In that sense, we have proposed a completely new Article 64 of the Law, and clearly excluded the possibility that religious facilities can be used by any religious community except the Metropolitanate of Montenegro-Primorje and other dioceses of the SPC in Montenegro,” Markovic said. “In simple words – this would mean that the shrines are no longer attacked as the Church represents. That is, that they would be completely and permanently protected by the amendments to the Law!” In a word – that there is no more talk about their alleged endangerment,” he emphasized. Markovic pointed out that with these concessions, whose primary goals are overcoming disagreements and divisions in the Orthodox body of Montenegro and building trust between the state and the Church, the government, for its part, did not set any conditions. “The only request of the government was the registration of all churches and religious communities, including the SPC and its dioceses, according to the letter of the law. Registration, which was an obligation under the previous law. Registration, as regulated by all civilized and democratic societies. Unfortunately, the church refused,” said the Prime Minister.
Markovic noted that he received information with regret that the talks did not result in success.
“Through dialogue, we wanted to provide additional guarantees for the position of the dioceses of the SPC in Montenegro, to ensure the existing regime of using church property and exercising the religious rights and freedoms of Orthodox believers, ie conditions for unhindered religious service by their priests,” said Markovic. He notes that after the adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion, the SPC did not accept the competence of the same administrative bodies with which it had been registering property rights in its favor for decades. “The issue of property, I will remind you, was on the table during the debate for the adoption of the Law, when, at the request of the opposition leader, leaving the parliamentary session, I agreed to meet with Metropolitan Amfilohije, trying to find a solution to that issue.” “Neither then nor after the adoption of the Law, there were no other important and open issues by the Church,” said the Prime Minister. Markovic said that the SOC has remained in the established practice of functioning outside the legal system, outside the rules and procedures. “And for decades behind us, that was reflected in the following: unregulated residence status for priests and monks brought from abroad, which serve in our churches and monasteries; unregulated work and pension status of both foreign and domestic clergy; non-payment of taxes for income from church businesses; non-compliance with laws and other regulations of Montenegro; The attitude of church dignitaries and elders that the state should register with them,” he pointed out. Markovic assessed that the refusal to register in a democratic world means non-recognition of oneself; non-acceptance of society and the state; and non-recognition of a legitimate social and legal order. “With regret, that we have not been able to reach the agreement that Montenegro needs, and to which we have been committed from the beginning, I take this opportunity to say that the government will continue to guarantee religious freedom; to ensure the peaceful enjoyment of church property. Montenegro is a free and secular state, in which, with respect for the law, never and in no place – believers, religious officials, churches and religious communities, must not and cannot feel like they don’t have space,” concluded Markovic.
Episcopal Council: The government had no sincere intentions, registration humiliation for the church (CDM)
The Episcopal Council of the SPC, dissatisfied with the outcome of the latest talks on the Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Legal Status of Religious Communities, announced that it is an unprecedented humiliation for the Church to “re-register” and regain legal personality as a newly formed religious community, which is recognized and acknowledged by all authorities”. The Episcopal Council claims that the government did not have sincere intentions to reach a mutually acceptable and sustainable solution through dialogue. “We note with regret that the latest proposal of the gset an ultimatum before the Church in the form of mandatory registration of the Metropolitanate and Diocese of the SPC in Montenegro, despite the fact that they have existed as church institutions in Montenegro for eight centuries,” state the Episcopal Council.
According to their claims, no one has ever raised the question of the existence of the legal subjectivity of this church and its property rights on shrines and other bequeathed church property, for which, as they say, there are countless evidence from the Ottoman Empire through the Kingdom of Montenegro to SFRY. “It is not typical for the church to issue ultimatums to anyone, not even to the government of Montenegro. This was also the case in this case, because, despite certain expert remarks, we accepted 61 out of 66 articles of the Law. In relation to the five disputed, we have proposed an amendment only in the part that does not respect and annuls the centuries-old identity, dignity, subjectivity and sanctity of the Church and in which the Church, the only one in Montenegro, beyond any right and elementary justice, is forces to prove that the Church’s sanctities belong to the Church and not the state. It is clear to everyone, regardless of the fact that the government persistently deceives the international public, that no essential recommendation of the Venice Commission from 24 June 2019 has been implemented in the law,” claim in the Episcopal Council. They considered the government’s proposal for potential changes to Articles 63 and 64 of the law and concluded that they were essentially meaningless with the Government’s insistence on the survival of Article 62 of the law, which, conditionally, declares church property state property, although it has never been in Montenegrin history. “It cannot withstand the test of the elementary logic, the fact that in December 2019 and March 2020, the government accepted the proposal of our church which guaranteed the legal subjectivity of the church and religious communities, which they acquired according to their historical continuity and previous regulations. That same thing is now unacceptable to them, and that the issue of saints is now vainly and ultimately conditioned by registration. Based on all the above, it is clear that the government, unlike the church, did not have sincere intentions to reach a mutually acceptable and sustainable solution through dialogue, but the call for dialogue obviously served for new blackmail of the church and current political marketing, in which the Church cannot and does not want to participate,” the Episcopal Council believes. According to their assessment, the intention and goal of the government, unfortunately, showed the persecution of the clergy, monastics and faithful people for several months, starting from participation in peaceful liturgies, through rejection of temporary stays for priests and monasteries, to demolition of shrines. “Having in mind the complexity of the situation in Montenegro, the Episcopal Council believes that accepting our proposal for amendments to the Law would represent full respect for the Constitution and the legal order of Montenegro and would crucially contribute to calming of the tensions in society. This is the only way to overcome the essential divisions and problems that have been shaking and tearing Montenegro for a long time,” they state, among other things, in the Episcopal Council of the SPC.
Zaev: New government coalition to be formed in August (MIA/A1on)
Negotiations over the formation of a new government will kick off after Ilinden (2 August). The numbers are very clear – SDSM and the “We Can” coalition in last week’s elections won most seats and it is crystal clear who has secured the mandate to form a government, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev says. “We had fair, democratic and crystal-clear elections that demonstrated the democratic capacity of our country and of SDSM as well, being a political option and a ruling party. In three elections in a row, the citizens voted in a free and democratic atmosphere and SDSM has won all three elections. Is there a greater success than the citizens entrusting you to lead in a free atmosphere? Is there greater victory than winning a majority in freedom, opposed to the majority (ex-PM Nikola) Gruevski had won with intimidation,” Zaev tells the web-portal A1on in an interview. According to him, the support of voters for the “We Can” coalition is a clear signal that the majority want their country to be European, safe, prosperous and economically developed, building new friendships and fostering good neighborly ties. “The election victory is yet another confirmation and support of SDSM’s policies, of the Prespa Agreement and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria. It was proven once again that the citizens support bold decisions, which makes me very proud and happy,” Zaev says, criticizing the opposition VMRO-DPMNE’s offer of ‘outdated and nationalistic policies.’ “Their offer to revise the agreements with Greece and Bulgaria, to threaten our NATO membership and our EU integration process was shown a red card by the voters,” he stresses. The SDSM leader says his party and the coalition have ‘the biggest coalition-making potential.’ “We will discuss forming a coalition with all the parties that are ready to endorse the European, democratic and freedom-loving concept of the country,” Zaev says, adding the negotiations will start right after the Ilinden holiday in early August. “At this moment, we need stable parliamentary majority, stable government capable of managing the health crisis and the economic consequences effectively all the while maintaining the EU integration concept, we’ve been waiting for 30 years,” notes Zaev. He voices hope that ‘reason’ will prevail to secure a functional government within the deadlines regulated under the Constitution. Commenting on VMRO-DPMNE’s position that it won the elections, the SDSM leader notes that the opposition party and its leader has demonstrated lack of political culture and no capacity to concede defeat. “VMRO-DPMNE and Hristijan Mickoski in the elections experienced a clear defeat in a fair and democratic contest as they were also defeated in the local and presidential polls in the past few years,” Zaev states.
As regards DUI’s stance that the party should propose the candidate for prime minister, Zaev notes that it is very clear who gets mandate to form a government in a parliamentary democracy, adding he would no longer comment on this. Furthermore, Zaev underscores that the country in the coming period will be faced with serious processes to handle the corona crisis and the economic consequences as well as the upcoming opening of negotiations for membership in the EU. “I believe all political stakeholders will realize the gravity of the moment. Our goal is to form a government for the next four years. We’ve had enough of snap polls,” he states in the interview with A1on. According to Zaev, August will be a busy political month when North Macedonia is expected to complete the election process and to get a new parliament and a new government.
VMRO-DPMNE committee authorizes Mickoski to negotiate for new parliamentary majority (MIA)
The VMRO-DPMNE Central Committee late on Tuesday upheld the executive committee’s decision to authorize the party leader, Hristijan Mickoski, to negotiate the formation of a new parliamentary majority. The decision has been reached unanimously, VMRO-DPMNE member Panche Toshkovski told reporters after the Central Committee’s session. Also, he said that the members had decided to amend the party’s statute to allow ‘the party to become more democratic.’ Under one of the changes, the party leader’s term is limited – they will be at the helm of the party for two terms and one more only if they are elected by a two-third majority at a party congress. According to the changes, gender equality in the party’s bodies must be respected. “VMRO-DPMNE is the first party in the Balkans to limit the number of terms of high-ranking officials, including the leader,” stated Toshkovski. According to him, the statute doesn’t envisage a position of honorary president. “It means that neither Nikola Gruevski, nor any other former official are honorary presidents in line with this statute,” Toshkovski said.
Alliance for Albanians and Alternativa to protest against vote rigging next week (MIA/TV24)
The Alliance for Albanians and Alternativa next week will organize a march to protest against vote rigging and ballot stuffing, Arben Taravari, secretary general of the Alliance for Albanians, said Tuesday. The protesters next Monday will march from the Skopje settlement of Chair to the EU Delegation’s office before gathering in front of the State Election Commission, Taravari told TV24. “The message we want to send at the march is – we’ve had enough with ballot stuffing, leave the people alone to express their political will,” he said, adding the party had proof that the names of deceased people had been used for casting votes. The OSCE/ODIHR Mission has been informed about this, he added. Commenting on the negotiations over government formation, Taravari said all options were open for them. “However, the main condition is DUI not to be part of the parliamentary majority,” he said, noting that a change was needed in the Albanian political bloc after 18 years.
Electoral reform: Gov’t – opposition clash continues (Tirana Times)
The five-hour meeting of the Political Council on Monday was concluded without any tangible solutions. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama along with the senior representatives of the two oppositions, the Democratic Party and the SMI on the one hand and MPs Muslim Murrizi and Rudina Hajdari on the other. Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke of “interesting discussions” following yesterday’s meeting, while reiterating that for most, “opening the lists is not an alternative, but a commitment to the Albanians.” He added that the majority must lead to the end the agreement signed on 5 June.” However, the non-parliamentary opposition claims that the 5 June Agreement cannot imply further interventions in the Electoral Code as a result of “unilateral constitutional changes” which is unacceptable according to Democratic Party Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi. He added that they have asked the Prime Minister to let them know when the Agreement will be approved in the parliament “without any unilateral changes that undermine it.” On the other hand, deputy Rudina Hajdari, stated that the discussions between SP and DP representatives were only focused on the 5 June agreement and not on the opening of the party lists. The SP and the parliamentary opposition agreed to an open-list system last week, which stipulates that the voters will be able to choose 2/3 of the deputies in the parties’ list, while 1/3 will be decided by the political parties based on gender representation. Through this agreement, clauses 1 and 2 in articles 64 and 68 of the Albanian Constitution will be amended in order to provide open lists, but will make it impossible from now on to enter the elections with pre-electoral coalitions. The current system favors coalitions by giving more value to the votes of small parties under the umbrella of a large party. However, in the current political system, avoiding coalitions seems to suit the Socialist Party better. The government’s decision to support the open list system was strongly opposed by the non-parliamentary opposition. The Democratic Party stated that “the attempt to break the 5 June Agreement, achieved with the full support and mediation of the US-EU strategic partners, is the sole responsibility of Edi Rama.” According to the statement, “any dirty game to secretly and unilaterally change the Constitution seriously threatens the political and social stability of the country.” The opposition clarifies that “it fully stands for the return to legal changes, without any change of the 5 June Agreement, as the minimum basis for creating a normalized environment for the elections in Albania.” Furthermore, the general secretary of the Democratic Party Gazment Bardhi says that with the unilateral constitutional changes, Edi Rama wants to change the agreement and force the parties to compete as he pleases, with a joint list and not as he himself gave his consent in the 5 June agreement. President Ilir Meta responded in the same line of thought as the parliamentary opposition, stating that the majority’s initiative unilaterally breaks the agreement. He stressed that the current parliament has no legitimacy to make constitutional changes, while adding that the initiative itself was undertaken in violation of the Constitution, during a period of natural disaster, a time when acts are not allowed to change the basic law of the state. Moreover, Meta said that the proposals contradict the constitution, as Article 96 recognizes the pre-election coalitions. This way, Meta will not recognize the amendments, if approved by the parliament.
“As a guarantor of the Constitution and the unity of the people, I call on everyone to be accountable and reflective, and at the same time I will exercise all my constitutional responsibilities to curb, paralyze and at the same time devalue such an unprecedented action in three decades of pluralism. Such a unilateral act will not be recognized by the Institution of the President of the Republic”, Meta said.
Law Commission approves agreement between political parties (Radio Tirana)
The Law Commission has approved article by article and in full the draft agreement reached between SP-SMI and DP at the meeting of the Political Council on 5 June. The draft was approved by the majority votes only, while receiving 3 votes against from the members of the parliamentary opposition. The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Laws, Ulsi Manja, said that with these changes, the Electoral Code will be enriched even more. “With 3 against, no abstentions, the draft law is approved in its entirety. I thank Damian Gjiknuar and other colleagues for the excellent work done both in the special commission and for the agreement in the Political Council for materializing the agreement. The new electoral code has been enriched,” said Mr. Manja. The representative of the Socialist Party in the Political Council, Damian Gjiknuri, welcomed this step. “The approval of the amendments to the Electoral Code is a valuable contribution that the political class gives to the process of integration and the realization of the first conference between Albania and the European Union in the framework of membership negotiations,” Mr. Gjiknuri wrote in a reaction.
OSCE/ODIHR praises the Albanian parliament (Radio Tirana)
The Albanian parliament has been praised by the OSCE / ODIHR for productivity and transparency during the pandemic. In the report “OSCE Human Dimension and state responses to the Covid-19 pandemic”, published these days by the OSCE / ODIHR, the Albanian parliament has received very positive assessments and has been evaluated among the parliaments that have responded best, through innovative activity to the pandemic. “Regarding the transparency of parliamentary work, good practices have been recorded in a number of participating countries in using the current crisis to increase access to information and open data. “In Albania, for example, the decision to allow remote meetings of committee meetings, using videoconferencing platforms, has enabled the live broadcast of these meetings to be accessible to the general public,” the report reads.
Balla meets with Hoti: Focus on two governments’ priorities and economic recovery (Radio Tirana)
The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti received for the meeting the Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party in the Assembly of the Republic of Albania Taulant Balla with whom he talked about the comprehensive cooperation between our two countries. Hoti spoke about the priorities of the government of Kosovo, with special emphasis on the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and on the efforts for economic recovery. Appreciating the role of Albanian diplomacy for Kosovo, Hoti thanked Balla especially for the contribution of Albanian MPs in the European Parliament. Balla will also meet with the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci. Balla has reacted through a post on Twitter after the meeting he had with Hoti. Balla expresses his gratitude to Hoti and states that Albania and Kosovo welcome the demands of MEPs from the main political groups of the European Parliament who have asked the German Presidency to approve within 2020 visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Angela gave the green light, the Germans are arming Kosovo (Sputnik, 22 July 2020)
While Germany propagates Pristina-Belgrade negotiations, it nevertheless negotiates with Kosovo the purchase of weapons and military equipment, Sputnik reports. Thus, in fact, it is further stated in the text, Germany is violating its own laws. Authorities in Pristina have been negotiating for months with German intelligence services on the procurement of cannons and anti-tank missile systems for the so-called Kosovo Army, and their focus is on the supplementation of light artillery and modern infantry weapons. By arming Kosovo, Germany is violating its own rules and laws, because the 1971 provision prohibits in principle the export of weapons to non-NATO countries. In order to justify the status of the fourth largest arms exporter in the world with a 5.8 percent share in the arms market, this provision has been replaced by a complicated process, so the final word in “disputed” arms sales has the Federal Security Council, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and several line ministers of the German government. The Council approved about 60 percent of the requests of arms manufacturers for export to countries that are not members of the EU or NATO, the study of the Hessen Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK)) showed, made on the order of the non-governmental organization Greenpeace. Kosovo Albanians have so far, Sputnik writes, spent around 170 million euros on Germany for the purchase of weapons, equipment and training of members of the Kosovo Security Force, and are negotiating the purchase of a new contingent of German G-36 automatic rifles (Heckler and Koch) and Leopard 2 tanks”.