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Belgrade Media Report 28 July

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LOCAL PRESS

Dacic: Serbia to resume derecognition campaign, if Kosovo continues lobbying (TV Pink/Beta)
Dacic: Belgrade to carry on if international community does not react to Pristina’s announcements (TV Prva/Beta)
Djuric with Botsan-Kharchenko about problems of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija (RTV/Tanjug)
Stankovic: I don’t recommend anyone to underestimate Serbia (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H HoR adopts harmonized text of Proposal of Law on Budget (O kanal)
Arnautovic: Sole reason for scheduling elections in Mostar for 20 December is the Election Law and fact that changes of law came in force on 18 July (Oslobodjenje)
EuroBlic publishes part of recently declassified US documents which show former US president Clinton advocated attack on Serbs following massacre in Srebrenica (EuroBlic)
Dodik: It is time to review idea of Clinton from 1995 and for Serbs to have referendum on secession (ATV)
SSS B&H holds protest against amendments to Labor Law, calls on FB&H government to withdraw it (Nova BH)
Croatia

Opposition agrees with President’s criticism of Covid-19 response team (Hina)
Montenegro

DPS and DF tried to discredit Becic, Democrats claim (Pobjeda)
Davidovic: We have an obligation only to the people and the church (Dan/In4s)
Republic of North Macedonia

AA/Alternativa coalition holds protest in Skopje against election fraud (MIA)
SDSM: We’ll form a government much more committed to people’s interests (MIA)
After the new statute, VMRO will promote new local and national level officials (Republika)
Alliance of Albanians rejects DUI proposal for a new unified Albanian platform (Republika)
Albania

Parliament approves motion to not impeach President Meta (Tirana Times)
Electoral reform: US & EU call for consensus (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Dacic: Serbia to resume derecognition campaign, if Kosovo continues lobbying (TV Pink/Beta

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic once again said today that Serbia would resume its derecognition campaign, if Pristina continued lobbying for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and for its membership in international organizations. Dacic told TV Pink that Belgrade was ready for the talks and compromises, but stressed that it would strongly defend Serbia’s national interests. “Due to Pristina’s unilateral actions, the dialogue had been pushed into the state of reanimation, nothing was happening and there were many unilateral activities threatening to seriously jeopardize peace in this region,” Dacic said, noting that Kosovo had been going through a continued political legitimacy crisis. Commenting on Washington’s stand on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Dacic said that President Donald Trump’s administration was that the US would accept a compromise between the two parties: “It is enough for us,” Dacic noted.

Speaking about the formation of a new Serbian cabinet, Dacic said he and the Serbian President and the Serbian Progressive Party leader, Aleksandar Vucic, had not discussed the distribution of ministerial posts in a future cabinet, describing that as “a technical issue.” Dacic added that this Socialist Party of Serbia was ready to continue cooperation with the Progressives in a new government.

Dacic: Belgrade to carry on if international community does not react to Pristina’s announcements (TV Prva/Beta

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that Serbia would “show restraint,” but would continue its actions if the international community did not react to Pristina’s announcements of continued lobbying and if Pristina applied for membership in international organizations.

“The explosion or big noise of inarticulate reactions from the international community is interesting,” Dacic told TV Prva on the occasion of an announcement by Kosovo Premier Avdulah Hoti that Pristina would continue to lobby. “We will still show restraint, i.e. we will wait for a reaction from the international community and if there is no such reaction and if it is seen that Pristina is applying for international organizations, we will continue with our actions,” said Dacic, adding that he had not heard anyone condemn Hoti’s statement. The Minister also stressed dialogue as the solution. “We must resume the dialogue, but that dialogue is based on a large dose of mistrust,” said Dacic and added that Pristina’s policy was based on lies.

Djuric with Botsan-Kharchenko about problems of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija (RTV/Tanjug

Belgrade is committed to dialogue as a means of normalizing the situation in the region and creating conditions for economic development, but no one will be allowed to humiliate Serbia and deliver it demands to neglect its elementary state and national interests, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said at the meeting with the Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Botshan-Kharchenko. He acquainted him with the political-security situation in the province, problems of the Serbs and the course of the dialogue – both at the political and expert level. According to Djuric, brotherly ties between the Serbian and Russian people, as well as the relationship of essential understanding and trust built by Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Vladimir Putin, will continue to be the foundation of the extraordinary relations between Russia and Serbia. He expressed confidence that Serbia will continue to have Russia’s support at the international level. On behalf of the government of Serbia and the Serbian people, Djuric thanked once again Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko for the valuable help that Russia provided in the fight against the pandemic, but also for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia.

Stankovic: I don’t recommend anyone to underestimate Serbia (Politika

The President of the Coordination Body for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Zoran Stankovic tells Politika that the security and political state-of-affairs in the south of central Serbia is stable, there no international or any other tensions. He says there is no possibility for some irresponsible and provocative statements and behavior of people in this region to cause any kind of tensions.

In comment that, despite the fact that it seems that it suit somebody to have tensions, he underlines that the Serbian institutions are functioning in full scope, have been securing, are securing and will secure economic, legal, property, personal and any other safety for all people living in this region, including the Albanians, in accordance with the Constitution, laws and accepted international conventions, regardless of national, religious and political affiliation.

“To underestimate anyone, including the Republic of Serbia, I don’t recommend, because this is a characteristic of people who are guided in life by emotions, and not reason,” said Stankovic.

Stankovic opines there is no need to respond to the decision of Albanian parties to violate, upon return from consultations in Tirana, the agreement and after 18 years to form on their own the government in Bujanovac, but should continue, as before, with activities that will enable all people in this region to live from the results of their work. Asked whether he expects, in accordance with the requests of Albanian politicians from Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, to be integrated into Serbian institutions and participate in government at the republic level, Stankovic recalls that the Albanians are represented in the Serbian parliament with three MPs, which is the largest number so far. “The police force in Presevo makes up more than half of Albanians, classes in schools attended by Albanian students are conducted in the mother tongue, work in health and other state institutions … We support efforts to include and represent the Albanian minority in all other important segments of importance for community development.” “Representatives of the international community know who, why and with what political goals and under what conditions forms a mono-ethnic political majority in any mixed environment. I know that they are against the formation of a mono-ethnic local government in Bujanovac,” said Stankovic. He says that Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja were, are and remain integral parts of the Republic of Serbia, while exchange of territories is proposed and sought by those who are not aware of how many people gave their lives to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.

“Our obligation is to preserve the territorial integrity of our country and the lives of our citizens, and we will do that without big words and empty promises, but in a way that affirms Serbia as a country of serious, educated and responsible people who respect others but also protect their interests,” said Stankovic.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

B&H HoR adopts harmonized text of Proposal of Law on Budget (O kanal)

At its session held on Monday the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Representatives (HoR) adopted harmonized text of the Proposal of Law on Budget of Institutions and International Obligations of B&H for 2020 amounting to BAM 1.8 billion. Reporter noted that 23 MPs voted in favor of the Proposal, while eight voted against it. Earlier on Monday, the joint commission of B&H HoR and B&H House of Peoples (HoP) met to discuss harmonization of the text of the Proposal. The commission consisting of two representatives of SDA, two of HDZ B&H and two of SNSD failed to adopt harmonized text in the first round of voting, because representatives of SDA failed to support amendments submitted by HDZ B&H and adopted by B&H HoP. Later on, they adopted the text of the Proposal of Law on B&H Budget similar to the one adopted by the B&H HoP. Among other things, it rejects the amendment adopted by the B&H HoR stipulating allocation of funds for fight against illegal migrations. It also includes amendments stipulating allocation of BAM 750,000 for expenses of the parliament of B&H.

HDZ B&H’s delegate in B&H HoP Lidija Bradara said that the Budget is the result of a unanimous decision of the joint collegium of both Houses of the B&H Parliament. “I am certain that not a single BAM will be spent by the end of 2020. It was a principle to protect this institution,” explained Bradara. Delegate in B&H HoP Dusanka Majkic (SNSD) underlined that neither the Presidency of B&H nor B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) can reduce the budget of the parliament. “It represents the lack of respect towards the Parliament. If we had accepted rejection of this, there would have been attempt to deprive the Parliament of its funds in every Proposal of the Budget,” stressed Majkic. The opposition parties in the B&H HoR accused SDA of succumbing to demands of HDZ B&H and SNSD. MP in B&H HoR Sasa Magazinovic (SDP) emphasized that SDA, SNSD and HDZ B&H reached an agreement to buy vehicles instead of relocating funds for NATO path, dealing with migrant crisis and with consequences of economic crisis caused by Covid-19. On the other hand, SDA’s Asim Sarajlic said that although they attempted to find a compromise, it was obvious that SNSD and HDZ B&H had their positions on this issue harmonized and the Proposal had to be adopted in this form. He added that there are more advantages of adoption of the Budget of B&H Institutions than disadvantages. Reporter commented that adoption of the Budget of B&H Institutions will enable implementation of local elections in B&H. Delegates in B&H HoP will vote on the Proposal on Wednesday which is the deadline for adoption of the Budget, i.e. to provide funds to finance local elections scheduled for 15 November.

Arnautovic: Sole reason for scheduling elections in Mostar for 20 December is the Election Law and fact that changes of law came in force on 18 July (Oslobodjenje)

Member of B&H Central Election Commission (B&H CEC) Suad Arnautovic commented the fact that elections in Mostar are scheduled for December 20, while the rest of B&H citizens will vote on 15 November and stressed that the key reason is in reaching of the political agreement and changes of B&H Election Law. “B&H CEC cannot operate its work based on political agreements, deals, political desires, demands, but solely on the laws. According to the Election Law of B&H, the elections are called 150 days before the election day. Changes of the Election Law regarding Mostar came in force on 18 July 2020. Everyone can calculate that there is no way we could have scheduled the elections in Mostar for 15 November, but that this day is 20 December. That is the sole and main reason,” said Arnautovic. He stressed that changes to the Statute of City of Mostar enable all citizens to vote and be voted for in their constituencies: “Every B&H citizen, with the right to vote and the place of residence in Mostar, will have a right to participate in the election process, without any differences and without some groundless limits”.

EuroBlic publishes part of recently declassified US documents which show former US president Clinton advocated attack on Serbs following massacre in Srebrenica (EuroBlic)

Recently declassified US documents, dating back to 1990s when Bill Clinton was the US president, revealed what world leaders were talking about following the massacre in Srebrenica. Namely, Clinton held a phone conversation with then President of France Jacques Chirac on 13 July 1995 and informed then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl about the conversation. On that occasion, Chirac argued that “a strong and limited military operation is needed” and noted that France is willing to activate its troops which participate in the mission. “I still do not know what Brits want to do. It directly concerns them, as they are in Gorazde, next to Srebrenica. I wonder if they intend to leave Gorazde just like Dutch left Srebrenica. I do not want France to be an accomplice in such situation”, Chirac said and asked “is USA willing to cooperate in the fight against the ethnic cleansing or just wants to sit down and let these people fight and go home. We cannot allow ourselves to be accomplices!”. Clinton replied by saying that he is thinking a lot about the situation in B&H and about what can be done. “I want you to consider several things. Gorazde is much more important than Zepa and Srebrenica in terms of its size and psychological effect. The Bosniak Government has 9,000 soldiers in Gorazde, who are obviously willing to fight. There were approximately 3,000 troops in Srebrenica but, as you know, they left the territory because of shelling. They left without a fight, although I think they could have fought. Brits have 300 troops in Gorazde so I think they will be more inclined to taking a stance there. We all know that if anything happens to Gorazde, the Bosnian Serb army will feel as if they have the path open to go to Sarajevo. Our military advisors say that there is significant danger related to the attempt to deploy troops by helicopters to Srebrenica and that it is better if UNPROFOR secured Gorazde first and only then to move on to east,” Clinton said.  Clinton also wanted to know how to protect Muslims who decide to return to the enclaves, but the next part of his conversation with Chirac was censored. Clinton again reiterated that the Army of the Republic of B&H should have fought and noted: “My military advisors say that Muslims could have gave hell of a fight in Srebrenica and raise the price of occupation for Serbs, but they did not do that. We cannot send Muslims back and commit ourselves to staying there forever if they do not want to defend themselves, that is the problem with the strategy you are suggesting”. “I agree, Serbs mocked the UN. They took Srebrenica. We did not even bombard them. We should have raised the price and even bombard Pale. I claimed we should let NATO carry out the operation. However, if we enter the war to defend Bosnians, they too must defend themselves,” Clinton argued. Former minister of foreign affairs of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zivadin Jovanovic told the daily that he does not know whether Americans were really close to an idea of granting Serb people in Republika Srpska (RS) the right to independence and merging to Serbia. Jovanovic added that this is something that then Yugoslav leadership asked for and he argued that there was resistance to such idea because “Yugoslavia was torn apart in order to break compactness of Serb people. The Germans and Brits were especially engaged in this”.

Commenting on recent announcement of Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik that he will present the stance of the RS to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that it is impossible to discuss possible secession or special status of Kosovo without discussing a special status of the RS, Jovanovic stated that it is not right to bring in connection rights of the RS and Kosovo, because Serb people in the RS have the undisputable right to self-determination regardless of everything including the status of Kosovo.

Dodik: It is time to review idea of Clinton from 1995 and for Serbs to have referendum on secession (ATV)

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik told Srna that it is high time to rehabilitate the idea of the US from 1995 for Serbs to organize a referendum about the secession from B&H. He stated that recently revealed documents from that time show that former US president Bill Clinton advocated this idea. Namely, during the events in Srebrenica in 1995 Clinton proposed a plan to give one half of B&H to the Croat-Muslim Federation, while the USA would pressure the Muslim side to agree on a referendum two to three years after the end of the war for Serbs to vote on their secession from B&H. Dodik assessed that the time for this idea to be reviewed again has come and Serbs finally need to be given the right to self-determination. “It is obvious that there is no will of Bosniak political representatives to respect the original Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and that we are the hostages of the Bosniak single-mindedness whose goal is to create a unitary B&H. The time has come to renew the idea of Clinton and to apply the regulations on civil rights and freedoms that predict the right to self-determination for all peoples in B&H like they have it in all other normal countries,” said Dodik. He added that B&H does not have a future as it is right now, there is no better life for its citizens or progress of any kind until things get moving. Dodik said that RS deserves the right to self-determination in order to enable for everyone to live peacefully and normally next to each other, because B&H does not have a chance for any kind of agreement. Dodik emphasized that he does not know why the afore-mentioned idea, advocated by the United States in 1995, when publicly spoken provokes sharp reactions nowadays, and even sanctions are mentioned with the explanation that it is an alleged violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

SSS B&H holds protest against amendments to Labor Law, calls on FB&H government to withdraw it (Nova BH)

The B&H Association of Independent Trade Unions (SSS B&H) organized a protest march from the Federation of B&H (FB&H) government to the FB&H parliament in Sarajevo on Monday, in order to voice dissatisfaction with the proposed amendments to the Labor Law. The amendments define how to organize the work during a state of emergency or a state of disaster, especially after the state of disaster caused by the outbreak of Covid-19. Around 100 members of trade unions participated in the protest abiding by the epidemiological measures, wearing protective face masks and keeping physical distance.  SSS B&H President Selvedin Satorovic conveyed a message to the FB&H government that it should withdraw the “disgraceful” amendments to the Labor Law that they think would push workers into slavery. The point is that without a defined minimum salary, employers will be able to pay workers as much as they want during the state of emergency. “Every item is problematic. Six items give absolute freedom to employers, while the remaining four items stipulate that this salary may be lower than the lowest one,” Satorovic explained. “During the pandemic, trade unions in the EU have been talking about reducing the working week to four days and reducing the number of working hours from 40 to 32, while we in the FB&H are fighting against an increase in the number of working hours from 40 to 72,” he said. The proposed amendments to the Labor Law are expected to be discussed at the session of the FB&H House of Representatives (HoR) in Sarajevo on Tuesday.

 

Opposition agrees with President’s criticism of Covid-19 response team (Hina)

Homeland Movement MP Milan Vrkljan said on Monday the current Covid-19 response team should be dissolved. “We agree with the president of the republic that it’s a para-body, a body outside the constitution and the law and that it was established in the interest of a very small, narrow group of people covered by party affiliation,” he told press. As for the establishment of a new team, Vrkljan said the parliamentary health committee should discuss the issue and propose to the government how a new team should be established. He said the team should be relieved of any politics as soon as possible and be left up to experts, and that everyone in Croatia who could and should say something should be involved in its work. “That’s definitely not just doctors who are members of the HDZ.” MP Nikola Grmoja of the Bridge party said parliament should “definitely” examine the activity of the team which had lost all credibility. He said the case of HSLS MP Dario Hrebak showed that “if you are close enough to those in power, you don’t have to self-isolate if you are needed for the parliamentary majority.” Grmoja said the team was compromised by the fact that its key members were candidates in the recent parliamentary election, and that Bridge agreed with President Zoran Milanovic‘s assessment of the team. “Bridge was the first not to give the team those powers,” he said, adding that the current team might be dissolved. “It’s possible, but that would require the goodwill and the political will of the prime minister to include in the team’s work people who will be proposed by all parliamentary parties,” Grmoja said. He added, however, that those in power would refuse “because the team was their key lever in the election campaign and the election victory and they will keep it that way, but they will also bear the consequences.” President Zoran Milanovic said on Sunday that the national Covid-19 response team was not legally established and that it needed authority for the decisions it was making, and that parliament should play a key part in that. “I warned the prime minister that people will sue the state because the decisions aren’t legally founded. That team is a para-body. The Constitutional Court will have to decide on that.” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Monday responded to President Zoran Milanovic’s accusations that the national Covid-19 response team was a counter-constitutional body, calling it repetition and recycling of topics. “We already resolved this story in parliament. A repetition, recycling of topics,” he told the press ahead of a meeting of his HDZ party’s Presidency when asked to comment on Milanovic’s statement. Plenkovic said he did not know what the Constitutional Court would say in assessing if the laws whereby the team has been given powers to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms are in line with the constitution and if some of the team’s decisions are in line with the constitution and the law. Plenkovic said he had his opinion on that. Asked why this topic was being raised again, he urged the press to ask “him (Milanovic) and them.” “We are doing everything both constitutionally and legally, good both for health and the economy. That’s the key difference between those who work to protect citizens’ health, to ensure salaries, elections, a stable government, European funding and economic recovery, and those who complain,” the Prime Minister said.

 

DPS and DF tried to discredit Becic, Democrats claim (Pobjeda

Even though they pledged not to attack the rest of the opposition during the pre-election campaign, the Democratic Montenegro still did it by accusing the Democratic Front, DF, of trying to discredit their leader, Aleksa Becic, along with the Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, Pobjeda daily reported. According to the paper, Democrats made the election campaign flyer presenting their program for the forthcoming elections and suggesting that ‘DPS alongside DF organized an attack trying to discredit the leader of Democrats, Aleksa Becic. “Several people from the DPS and the DF set up an organized group for frauds called the NGO ‘Center for Academic Integrity’ in an attempt to discredit the leader of the Democrats, Mr Aleksa Bečić, and harm the Democratic Montenegro. People from this group, after receiving orders from the DPS management, launched a media campaign accusing him of something he hadn’t done. The Senate of the University of Montenegro joined the media chase during 2018 and 2019 and unconstitutionally initiated the procedure for determining the alleged plagiarism although three commissions, one of which is from the Faculty of Economics, claimed that Aleksa Becic’s master’s thesis was not plagiarism,” suggests their pre-election flyer. Then came a response from the media close to the DF, saying that “while the DF and the rest of the opposition continue to openly offer everyone to set up a single list or the broadest possible opposition coalition, Democrats are doing fieldwork and sending young people to hand out leaflets and flyers, accusing the DF of collaborating with the DPS.” “In addition, they are silent about the events in Budva where they are fighting against the DPS together with the DF” the portal Borba reported. At the same time, the new portal Udar for which the DF claims to be the one-time Democrats’ portal, published that “one of the DF leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic, is trying to save the ruling DPS”.

 

Davidovic: We have an obligation only to the people and the church (Dan/In4s)

 

The People’s Movement, which grew up on the foundations of the former opposition group “For everyone to have”, will be constituted by Thursday, 30 July, after which we will start talks with all interested political entities regarding joint participation in the elections, said Miodrag Daka Davidovic, Niksic businessman and founder of the Movement. He also said that he would make a decision on a possible coalition by 2 August. In an interview with In4s, he said that the People’s Movement consists of a group of independent deputies, the United Montenegro, the Workers’ Party, the Democratic Serbian Party, Miholjski zbor, the Democratic Party of Unity, the Gentlemen of Podgorica, as well as a large number of free-thinking intellectuals, to win the upcoming elections, on 30 August. “This movement came from “the head of the whole nation”. The advantage of the People’s Movement is that it consists of over 95 percent of new people on the Montenegrin political scene, smart and capable, who so far have not had the opportunity to show the general public how much they know and can do. The advantage of this movement is that it has no obligation to anyone, except to the people and God,” said Davidovic. He also pointed out that the goal of the People’s Movement is not to kidnap anyone’s voters.

“Our goal is to gain the trust of those Montenegrin citizens who have not gone to the polls so far, those citizens who have not trusted any of the offered political options, as well as all those citizens who are disappointed in the results of political parties, for which they voted so far,” says Davidovic. He also points out that the position of the Movement is that the upcoming elections must be postponed.

 

AA/Alternativa coalition holds protest in Skopje against election fraud (MIA)

A country that is about to open negotiations with the EU must not allow some of its citizens to be denied the right to elect and to be elected, one of the main human and political rights in the EU, the Alliance for the Albanians (AA)/Alternativa coalition said Monday at a protest it organized in Skopje under the slogan “March for Democracy.” According to its representatives, DUI didn’t win the 15 July elections and it has no legitimacy to represent the Albanian community in North Macedonia. Addressing the protest in front of the EU Delegation office, the leaders of Alliance for Albanians, Zijadin Sela, and of Alternativa, Afrim Gashi, issued two demands to the EU member countries – DUI’s legitimacy as representative of the Albanians not to be recognized and a process of radical reform of the Electoral Code to be launched. “If we are a country striving to integrate into the EU, freedom and democracy should be the key words in the integration process. We urge the EU countries to condemn the abuse of the right to vote and not to recognize DUI’s legitimacy to represent the Albanians in North Macedonia as well as to support the process of radical reform of the Electoral Code ahead of the next elections,” speakers at the protest said. According to the organizers, the 15 July elections were ‘the least democratic elections ever held in the country.’ They accused of ‘manipulation of the will of Albanian voters.’ “It was brutally evident in the recent elections, which sounded our alarm, because if we don’t react today, tomorrow it could be too late” they said. According to them, vote buying, racketeering of voters, corruption, voter intimidation and other types of election fraud is the signal that the ‘Albanian society in North Macedonia is held hostage by mobsters.’ The fight for democracy will not end, organizers vowed. “The coalition won seats in parliament and they will be the voice of Albanians either as part of the majority or in opposition.” Protesters marched in the streets of Skopje from the Chair municipality, passing in front of the government and ending the protest outside the EU Delegation office in downtown Skopje. Protesters waved the flags of Albania, the United States and the EU and carried banners reading “Our democracy was hacked,” “Thieves in jail, not in government,” and “State Election Crime.” Police presence was heightened during the protest, which was mainly held in line with the anti-coronavirus protocols of the health authorities.

SDSM: We’ll form a government much more committed to people’s interests (MIA)

SDSM said Monday it will form a government led by the party, which will be much more committed and much better deliver the result expected by the people. “People’s support at the early parliamentary elections is wind at our back and a clear signal to continue the path we have taken. To provide more money for the people, to provide more justice, to be part of the European family” SDSM’s press release reads. According to the party, the victory of SDSM and the coalition shows that the people have clearly confirmed they want the country to continue forward. “No more going back, no more of the regime, uncertainty and instability. The people want to live in an economically advanced country with European values at home, a country where laws are equal for all and a country that is a proud NATO member,” SDSM says.

In response to SDSM’s press release, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE said that the SDSM government led by Zoran Zaev had done absolutely nothing. “They didn’t live up to a single promise they had made in their pre-election campaign,” VMRO-DPMNE said. “The only thing the SDSM-led government will be remembered for are criminal tenders, racketeering, corruption. The people of the Republic of Macedonia don’t deserve this.” The State Election Commission (SEC) announced Saturday at a public session the official final results of the July 15 early parliamentary elections in North Macedonia. According to the final results, SDSM-led coalition “We Can” won 46 MP seats, the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition-44 MP seats, DUI-15, Alliance of Albanians and Alternative (AA/A)-12, Levica-2 and Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA)-1.

SEC President Oliver Derkoski then handed over the certificates to the MPs elected at the July 15 early parliamentary polls. MPs of Levica, DPA and Alliance for Albanians failed to appear at the State Election Commission to receive their certificates. The SEC said that after the session had ended, the authorized representative of the AA/A coalition has picked up the certificate for the coalition. To date, certificates have not been handed over to the MPs of DPA and Levica.

After the new statute, VMRO will promote new local and national level officials (Republika)

After the party adopted a new statute that allows for more openness and limited terms for the leader, VMRO-DPMNE will begin to re-elect some of its officials from the ground-up. The party announced that in the coming days and weeks new officials will be presented before the public. These changes are meant to instill greater trust in the projects of the party at the local and central level, especially if VMRO-DPMNE enters the next government, and as it prepares for the coming municipal elections in 2021, the party said. Conservative sister parties from the European Union welcomed the adoption of the new statute, that allows party delegates to convene a congress more easily, and that limits the leader of the party to two terms – with a third possible but only if the leaders are reelected with a two-thirds majority.

Alliance of Albanians rejects DUI proposal for a new unified Albanian platform (Republika)

The Alliance of Albanians (AA) rejected the offer from the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) that parties representing ethnic Albanians sign a treaty to advance their national interests in Macedonia. As the slightly larger party, DUI often push for a solidification of the Albanian vote behind them. AA responded with allegations that DUI stole the election by ballot stuffing and is preparing for a protest in Skopje this afternoon. I hear the DUI spokesman talking about five national policy pillars but he is forgetting the sixth pillar, the pillar of shame, where the Albanian vote was degraded and stolen by local gangs. Robbing the voters of the free will is destroying the European democratic values our people strive for, said AA Vice President Arben Taravari, adding that the Albanian parties already began cooperation under the Tirana platform in 2017, but that DUI never called for a new meeting of the parties after that. AA leader Ziadin Sela also responded to DUI leader Ali Ahmeti, calling his proposal worthless. The BESA party, which participated in the elections in coalition with SDSM, said that it is still waiting for DUI to invite them to an official meeting where Ahmeti’s proposals will be reviewed. Ahmeti proposes that the Albanian parties agree to unite in at most two lists and that the party which wins a single vote more than the competing Albanian party, will “speak for all Albanians”, and the losing party supports the winning party on all strategic issues. DUI won 15 seats in the elections with the Alliance of Albanians winning 12 (while alleging ballot stuffing on the part of DUI), and a share of the Albanian vote also went to SDSM/BESA and the smaller DPA party.

 

Parliament approves motion to not impeach President Meta (Tirana Times)

The Albanian parliament approved a motion to not impeach President Ilir Meta with 78 votes in favor and 17 against, while eight abstained. The votes in favor of the motion were cast mainly by the ruling Socialist Party, while the parliamentary opposition remained firm in its demand to impeach the President. According to the Socialist Party’s investigative report presented during the meeting of the Commission of Inquiry on 17 July, Meta exceeded his powers, but the violations are not of such magnitude as to justify his impeachment. Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated the SP’s stance during Monday’s plenary, claiming that President Meta should have been dismissed for serious violations of the constitution, but that the socialist majority chooses to respect the decision of the Venice Commission. On the other hand, according to parliamentary opposition, Meta exceeded his competencies when he issued the decree for the annulment of the 30 June elections. The SP also recommended the drafting of an organic law for the review of the powers of the President and intervention in the Constitution so as to avoid the grid lock that was created due to the Constitutional Court appointments. The clash between the parties began after Meta decided not to appoint one of the candidates for the vacancy to be filled by the Head of State, arguing that he had already filled a vacancy and it was up to parliament to proceed with electing a candidate from the lists. According to the majority, Meta failed to abide by the 30-day deadline set by the law, and as a result, the top-ranked candidate Arta Vorpsi was automatically named. The parliament followed with the election of two candidates, while Meta subsequently decreed from his list Marsida Xhaferllari who was invited to take the oath, along with the two candidates elected by parliament. Meta spoke about an attempt by the majority to take over his powers and launched a fierce battle against the Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council, Ardian Dvorani, whom he described as the cause of the created situation and a man who had worked on behalf of the ruling majority.

All of this, as well as the further decision of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, set up to dismiss Meta as president, to expand the scope of his work, not only on the occasion of the decree canceling the June 30 elections, but also on the appointments to the Constitutional Court constitute the first part of the more than 40-page petition Meta filed with the Venice Commission.

Electoral reform: US & EU call for consensus (Tirana Times)

As clashes between the Socialist majority and the extra-parliamentary opposition continue, the US and EU Ambassadors have emphasized that any changes to the electoral reform must be agreed by both parties. US Ambassador to Albania, Yuri Kim and EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca have asked Prime Minister Edi Rama that any constitutional changes, must be approved by the extra-parliamentary opposition and must respect the 5 June agreement. Furthermore, the ambassadors demanded that the reform be approved as soon as possible and that the process of agreement is both inclusive as well as transparent. On Friday, the Socialist majority and the parliamentary opposition adopted the 5 June Agreement on the electoral reform, which stipulates several changes to the Electoral Code in Albania. The agreement of 5 June was reached between Socialist Party and the opposition Democratic Party and Socialist Movement for Integration, in accordance with OSCE/ODHIR recommendations. However, tables were turned when Prime Minister Rama declared his support towards an open-list system over two weeks ago, urged mainly by the parliamentary opposition. On the other hand, the extra-parliamentary opposition accused the two of attempting to make “unilateral changes”, which contradicts OSCE/ODHIR recommendations and undermines the 5 June Agreement. Based on the agreement between the SP and the parliamentary opposition, the open-list system 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. During Monday’s plenary session, Prime Minister Rama restated that the voting process on the constitutional amendments will take place on 30 June, adding that a full open-list system is possible, as per the request of the DP and the LSI.

 

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