Vucic: The situation is not easy for Serbia (B92/Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic presented plans and programs for further development and the future of Serbia at a press conference. As announced by the Office for Media of the President, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Branislav Nedimovic, and the Minister of Health, Zlatibor Loncar, also participated in the press conference. Vucic announced four topics he will talk about, two of which are political. Vucic says that talks are taking place in Brussels and that Serbia wanted those talks to be essential rather than formal, mostly about the economy and our relations. “Pristina comes to these talks formally and only wants recognition, so I don’t know why we are conducting these talks. For us, the news of an attempt to pass a law on protecting the so-called KLA is horrid, and I talked about it with Lajcak and pointed out that it was an introduction into a place where nobody in Kosovo and Metohija will be able to think differently, otherwise they will be arrested,” he said and added that he would see how Brussels will react to that. He said that the situation is not at all easy for Belgrade, because great powers are not giving up the position that the only solution to the Kosovo issue is mutual recognition, that America and Germany will not withdraw their recognition of so-called Kosovo and that they will look for ways to drag Serbia into that plan. I will represent Belgrade in Brussels in September, as the dialogue continues. I will ask for the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities, only when we get a concrete answer, a paper and they fulfill the only thing what was asked of them, then we can talk,” he said.
For me, Operation ‘Storm’ is the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe since World War II
“I tried not to say anything bad about those who go to the ‘Storm’ celebration,” Vucic said, explaining that Serbia and Republika Srpska had a day of mourning, while there was a celebration in China. As he further states, Milosevic‘s departure will not bring anything good.
“On their six top portals, 1.014 texts were published against me. If you tell me that it was accidental and that it was not organized – I have been in politics for a long time for such stories to pass. Belgrade thought we would be more Europeans if we flatter and distance ourselves from the national interests of Serbia”, Vucic says and adds: “To support this act – it is not in my mind at all. To drag Serbia into the celebration of the Storm – we will not participate in it. To say that the Storm was not ethnic cleansing? I will not say that. For me, the Storm is the greatest ethnic cleansing in Europe since World War II. We got that Serbs are not united.” As he states, it’s okay to make efforts to achieve reconciliation, but not to celebrate. “Let those who celebrated explain that gesture to the people,” Vucic says.
Cooperation of US and Serbia for peace and prosperity (Tanjug/Beta/RTS/RTV)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received a letter from US State Secretary Mike Pompeo which states that the US cooperates with Serbia and with all other states in order to ensure peace, stability and economic prosperity of all nations. Pompeo also said in his letter that the US is aware that every leader should protect human rights, conduct diplomacy on behalf of citizens he or she represents and continue to hold meetings, even virtually. Pompeo expressed gratitude to Dacic for having addressed him in writing and for his message that, according to Pompeo, cheered him in these difficult times caused by the pandemic. On 4 July every year the Americans celebrate anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, which clearly says that all human beings have the right to life, freedom and search for happiness. These ideals pervade American diplomacy every day, Pompeo underlined. “I’m looking forward to further cooperating with you in overcoming the challenges we both face, and to work on improving freedoms and protection of human dignity of all people,” Pompeo wrote in the letter to Dacic, which was conveyed by the Ministry in its entirety.
Godfrey: US supports Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)
US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey had told the TV Happy morning broadcast that the US supports the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, noting they are satisfied that it has resumed. “We will support it in all possible ways we can,” said Godfrey. “Neighbors also wish their neighbors to be rich since this means that the entire region will be in a better position. I admire the work of President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, who are trying to improve and connect people in the Western Balkans, and the US supports the idea of a ‘mini Schengen’. We believe that investments in transport, infrastructure … will be encouraged,” he says. He says that this is in the heart of what the US official Richard Grennel had focused on. “He believes that we can show people in Pristina and in Belgrade the economic value of cooperation and then there will be more support for difficult decisions that need to be brought,” says Godfrey. He says the attention is focused on trying to enable the economies of Belgrade and Pristina to have closer ties and that is why there is so much insisting on abolishing taxes, since, according to him, this is a big obstacle to move the dialogue forward. Godfrey says that his country will support Serbia on the EU path since a strong Serbia is also in the interest of the US. “The US wants Serbia to be a prosperous, stable country, where democratic institutions are well developed, to be in peace with its neighbors,” says Godfrey. “Serbia has chosen its destination, it wants to be part of the EU. Of course, it will not forget its historical and cultural ties with Russia and the Orthodox world. That is an important part of what constitutes a Serbian national identity, but I am very happy to see that Serbs are western-oriented,” he said. Asked whether he was sent to Serbia to suppress the Russian influence, he answered that it was too early to speak about such struggle of powers over Belgrade. “However, I admit that the goals of the Russian Federation and the goals of the European Union for this part of the Balkans are not the same. I think that most Serbs understand that EU membership is not a goal that is supported by all Serbian partners and friends,” the Ambassador said. Stating that he lived in Russia for four years and that he had a good time there, he said that “the vision of a stable democracy with good institutions, with a free press, with a responsible government is what the US, EU and OSCE support and advocate”, but, as he noted, he does not see that this exists in Russia or China where the Communist Party is in power.
Godfrey says there is concern over what Russia and China are trying to achieve in Western Balkans and in general in Europe. “Do they support Serbia’s goals, western integration and EU membership, do they support the way Serbia develops democratic institutions, and is it safe for Serbia, for its telecommunications industry, for example, to use technology controlled by the Chinese Communist Party? These are questions that Serbia needs to answer,” said Godfrey.
He adds it is his job to warn about the potential influence that Moscow and Beijing may express here. “That is why, when we talk with the Serbian government, for example, about its energy policy, we draw their attention to the fact that Russia uses dependence on sources to achieve political goals and that countries that are able to make their energy sources diverse achieve independence from external influences. That is important,” noted Godfrey.
Drecun: Goal of law on KLA is to intimidate witnesses and prevent truth on crimes (Tanjug/RTV)
The MPS in Pristina should have before them the Draft Law on Protection of War Values of the former Kosovo Liberation Army, which according to the Chair of the parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun is nothing but an attempt for Serbs to accept the Albanian version of events from 1998 and 1999 under the threat of sanctions, but also an effort to prevent them from talking about the crimes committed against them. Drecun told Tanjug that the law, which will be in the Assembly despite diplomats’ warnings that it does not bring good to any community, and an attempt to legalize the hiding of the truth about the war in Kosovo and Metohija and the horrific crimes of the terrorist KLA, to prevent all , especially Serbs, who talk about these crimes. He reminded that the law protects the war waged by the terrorist KLA, then the veterans, the KLA archives, the General Staff headed by Agim Ceku, the KLA political administration headed by Hashim Thaci and the headquarters of the operational zones in which were, as he added, criminals Haradinaj, Limaj and others. “It is clear precisely from this formulation that at issue is protection of those who can be indicted and tried. There is no doubt that the law was written in order to interfere with the establishment of the truth about KLA crimes and trials against KLA members if they are prosecuted,” said Drecun. Apart from that, it is interesting, as he says, that certain formulations of the law confirm that Hashim Thaci had control over the KLA, and that there is a KLA archive, although the head of their negotiating team claimed the opposite during the dialogue in Brussels. It is completely clear that there is a KLA archive and that the Albanians are hiding it, Drecun says, adding that it remains to be seen how potential witnesses to KLA crimes will behave, if the law is passed, whether they will stick to their statements or whether it will intimidate them. “Without witnesses and archives, there is no evidence of KLA crimes,” said Drecun.
Reactions to statements of Palmer in RS (Srna/ATV)
In a statement for Srna, Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik pointed out that the latest statements of US State Department’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer are nothing but a reflection of the continuity of his policy, which is marked by interference and attempts to arbitrate the internal affairs of the countries he comes to. Dodik added that Palmer mainly adopts solutions that are to the detriment of the peoples and states in which he comes, and in which he, by bypassing reality, strictly tries to impose his solutions. “That same Palmer belongs to the team that created the Dayton Agreement, and he is just violating it, imposing solutions, threatening and sanctioning anyone who does not fulfill his wishes, bypassing the provisions of the same Dayton Agreement”, Dodik was quoted as saying. Dodik stated that Palmer should advocate respect for the original Dayton Agreement and the institutions envisaged by it, and not to allow or impose its changes on his own initiative and approve the accumulation of administration at the level of B&H, thus trying to reward the Bosniak political elite, which Dodik believes is an attempt to centralize B&H, which is a bold attempt to overthrow the Dayton Accords. Asked by Srna to comment on Palmer’s position that says “in its ideal form, the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo should lead to mutual recognition between the two sides”, Dodik reminded Palmer that Serbia had long ago become an internationally recognized state, emphasizing that it was not clear what recognition he is talking about now or which lessons he is trying to teach Serbia. “And in whose name does he speak? As far as we all know, America is represented by its President (Donald Trump), who clearly said ‘if you want freedom, be proud of your country, if you want democracy, stick to your sovereignty’,” Dodik underlined. Officials from the RS warned Palmer not to forget that the DPA guarantees the power to the RS and some of them observe his statements as supporting the Bosniak policy’ side to which, according to SNSD MP Sanja Vulic, he was inclined before. In her opinion, Palmer said this bearing in mind that the elections are getting closer and he wished to help some colleagues in the “political relations Milos Solaja assessed that Palmer’s words could be interpreted as ambiguous. Solaja stated: “The first reason is because there is really no clear conception on how to go on with B&H because we see more and more that the approach applied so far – and that is strengthened centralization – failed. The second reason is the current moment of the elections in the US – and everything is nowadays being observed through elections – and it would not be good to mark some negative point for the current authorities, i.e. the US President Trump”. ATV reminded that Palmer is also known by his speeches before the US Senate during which he did not hide intolerance towards Dodik, characterizing him as someone who blocks everything that leads to progress in B&H, while the RS used to respond by saying that “Palmer represents continuous US threats to Serbs and support to Bosniaks”.
Croatia’s Deputy PM: Messages from Knin may be beginning of new Croatia (N1)
Boris Milosevic, a Serb Deputy Prime Minister in the Croatian government, said on Thursday he had mixed emotions during the celebration of the Victory Day in the town of Knin in the Dalmatian hinterland, the capital of the rebel Serbs’ area during the 1991-1995 war. “I tried to stay focused, to look at what is happening and listen to the messages. Is this a beginning of a new Croatia? Well, maybe. There were strong gestures and speeches before and that’s why I would say this is the beginning of a long road which this government must not leave,” Milosevic said. Asked what he thought about Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s words of respect for all innocent victims, Milosevic said: “Healing.” He added it meant a lot to him when Plenkovic showed respect to all the victims without hesitation, condemned all war crimes without hesitation, listed names of places where the Serbs were the victims of war crimes and said he understood the fact that the majority of the Serbs’ view of the ‘Storm’ operation was different from that of the Croats. “Because of that, I felt like an equal citizen of Croatia, and that’s why I, as a Deputy Prime Minister and as a human being, want to say that I condemn all war crimes, particularly those committed against the Croats,” Milosevic said, naming several places in Croatia where those crimes took place.
Pupovac: Anyone who thinks state can be excuse for war crimes is seriously mistaken (Hina)
Anyone who thinks that the state can be an excuse for war crimes is seriously mistaken, the leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, said in Uzdolje, near Knin, on Thursday, in an address to a memorial ceremony for eight Serb civilians killed there in the wake of Operation Storm 25 years ago. “Even more mistaken are those who think that peace can be built by ignoring killings like these and without showing empathy for the suffering that people endured,” he added. Pupovac said that the victims had been “perfidiously and inhumanely” killed by those who thought they were doing a big thing and those big things justified such crimes. Pupovac said that the people attending the commemoration had gathered together to stand up to such thinking and belief, adding that they would continue to organize such memorials to condemn those crimes and encourage the authorities to identify those responsibly and bring them to justice. “We will continue to gather together in the belief that by respecting the suffering endured by our compatriots, both Croats, and Serbs, we will create a society of peace in which we will close the chapter on the war rather than reopen it every year, a society in which people will be able to live in peace and look to the future,” Pupovac said.
War crimes against Serbs seldom prosecuted
SDSS MP Anja Simpraga warned that while the war crimes committed against Croats were recognized and formally commemorated and many Serbs were prosecuted and punished for those crimes, this could not be said of the war crimes committed against Serbs and of their expulsion.
“War crimes against Serbs have been seldom punished, particularly those committed during or in the wake of Operation Storm. The places of their suffering are marked and commemorated by Serb organizations only, and they don’t seem to exist for the state and the government. The same is true of the expulsion of nearly 200,000 Serbs during Operation Storm alone, not counting those expelled during Operation Flash and those expelled from many towns outside the war zones,” Simpraga said. She said that there was no public awareness among the Croats of such large-scale suffering of Serbs and no awareness of the need to express regret and empathy.
“Condemnations of war crimes are getting fewer and fewer over the years and are giving way to callousness and unchristian ridicule, hatred of the remaining Serbs, intolerance towards what makes them different from Croats, and violence,” she added. Simpraga recalled that in addition to the 200,000 Serbs who had fled from Operation Storm, nearly 2,000 had been killed during or in the wake of the Croatian military offensive, and “hundreds of villages and a thousand houses” had been devastated. She said it was high time to shed light on the war crimes, what had happened during the war, and the damage that had been done not just to Serbs but to Croatia itself. “It is necessary to stop the hatred and violence against Serbs and start building a society of tolerance and respect for diversity. It is also necessary to stop keeping quiet about other people’s suffering during the war and ridiculing it but rather show respect for the suffering of all (both Croats and Serbs). That’s what honorable warriors and wise and honest politicians do and what true priests preach,” Simpraga said. Stevan, Janja and Djurdjija Beric, Milos Cosic, and Sava, Milica, Jandrija and Krstan Sare were killed in Uzdolje on 6 August 1995. No one has been brought to account for these murders.
Two-month political engagement – the argument for Interpol’s decision (Pobjeda)
The Interpol Commission has cancelled international arrest warrant for Dusko Knezevic, Montenegrin businessman wanted for many criminal offences which caused damage to the state budget and even accused of being the head of criminal organization that wanted to evade taxes and contributions and maunder money, several sources have confirmed. This information was released yesterday by the Serbian portal Glas javnosti.
This decision is by all accounts the finishing act of the plan Knezevic worked out with his team of lawyers at the beginning of January 2019. Knezevic entered “political waters” only after several cases had been formed against him. He went out of it when his support for protests against legitimate Montenegrin government could only be interpreted as political engagement.
During protests in February and March of 2019, Knezevic claimed to be financing part of demonstrators and offering them political services. He also said he wanted to address them publicly on 16 March. However, organizers of protests never accepted his request.
Although he tried to get involved in “Resist” movement, presenting himself as direct and the most powerful opponent of the current government and put aside suspicious that he is an organizer of several criminal groups. After disagreement with organizers of the “Resist” movement, Knezevic invested money in organizing his own protests entitled “To the freedom”, which were attended by several hundred citizens in several occasions in April. However, his political engagement lasted only a few weeks. Knezevic started his independent “political fight” only one month after Montenegro and Great Britain signed bilateral agreement which simplified extradition of their nationals accused of serious crime offences. It was obviously a plan Knežević developed with international team of lawyers with the aim of establishing basis for formulating request to Interpol in Lyon for cancelling international warrant. It remains unclear on the basis of which documents international police organization assessed that Knezevic’s political “engagement” was more relevant than indictments presented by Special Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro. Although Knezevic has been removed from the international arrest warrant, the national one is still in force. If Knezevic stepped in the territory of Montenegro, he would be arrested immediately.
As new investigations against Knezevic unfolded and evidence emerged, he based his defense on claims that Milivoje Katnic and Milo Djukanovic were constructing indictments against him.
The Special State Prosecutor’s office has brought six indictments against Knezevic and his close cooperators. His name could be found in cases known as Airport, Global Karbon, Kaspia, e-commerce and two money-laundering cases. Decision of the Interpol Commission is not final as the Montenegrin authorities have the possibility to lodge an appeal.
Holder of the “For the future of Montenegro” coalition list resorts to inflammatory rhetoric (CdM)
Holder of the coalition list “For the future of Montenegro”, consisting of Democratic Front (DF), Socialist People’s Party, Prava Crna Gora, United Montenegro, Labor Party and National movement, university professor, Zdravko Krivokapic, said in his first interview with the Serbian media using very inflammatory rhetoric: “All who draw the sword will die by the sword”, addressing Milo Djukanovic. Asked if he thinks Djukanovic would peacefully hand over power in case of defeat in the elections, Krivokapic said he “doesn’t know what Djukanovic’s intentions are, but the President must recall how he came to power”. “There’s a gospel rule: All who draw the sword will die by the sword”. I think Djukanovic is wise enough not to provoke any riots”, Krivokapic said in the interview with Srpski telegraf. According to Ljubo Filipovic, political analyst, Krivokapic’s message is not threatening, it’s just part of the rhetoric this group generally uses. “That’s their discourse, the culture they live in, they are distorting messages of Christ’s love and adapt them to the political agenda”, Filipovic told CdM. Krivokapic is a fervent opponent of the Law on Freedom of Religion. He said that the first thing he would do if his group won the elections was to abolish this law. Asked if he counts on the support from the Serbian Orthodox Church, Krivokapic said that the Church “won’t meddle”. Same words – “All who draw the sword will die by the sword” – were used by Amfilohije in 2003 at the funeral of the murdered Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic.
SDSM: We are holding serious talks to form government (Republika)
SDSM is holding serious talks for the formation of the government with a full four-year term, supported by a stable majority in parliament, whose one of the main priorities will be the fight against crime and corruption at all levels, the party said. The task of the new government is to ensure order and discipline in all institutions and to clear crime and corruption at all levels, regardless if someone comes from a party, a municipality, an institution, regardless if they are experts, officials, known or unknown. Together, we’ll implement a system for inspecting the origin of every office holder’s finances and corrupt persons will be sanctioned, SDSM said in a press release on Thursday. According to the party, those who run institutions on behalf of the citizens, must be accountable, transparent and honest and therefore, they say, the will introduce a legal obligation to make public all official expenses of all officials in the executive, local and judicial government.
Mickoski and Ahmeti met to discuss a possible coalition (Kanal 5)
VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski met with the leader of the DUI party Ali Ahmeti on Thursday. The two party leaders met in the parliament for about an hour to discuss forming a possible coalition following the inconclusive 15 July elections.
Ahmeti meets with Zaev to see if they can restore trust after the bitter campaign (Republika)
DUI party leader Ali Ahmeti met with SDSM leader Zoran Zaev on Thursday, shortly after meeting with VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski. DUI spokesman Bujar Osmani said that the latter meeting was held to see if DUI and SDSM can regain trust, after Zaev campaigned strongly against Ahmeti, in an attempt to snatch some of the ethnic Albanian vote from him. Asked whether DUI still insists that the next Prime Minister is an ethnic Albanian, Osmani said that he would rather not disclose the party’s negotiating positions and added that more meetings will be held in the coming days. The parliament is narrowly split with none of the major parties having a clear shot at forming a government, and DUI is likely to be a key part of any coalition.
DUI denies reports that it agreed to have Lazar Elenovski as the next Prime Minister (Republika)
DUI spokesman Bujar Osmani denied the media reports that the party is proposing former Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski as the next Prime Minister. DUI campaigned on having an ethnic Albanian as Prime Minister, specifically Naser Ziberi, while Elenovski is half Albanian.
We had a candidate for Prime Minister in the elections and we consider all other speculations as an attempt to damage DUI and the coalition making process. When there is something to inform the public about, we will do so, Osmani said. A similar speculation, that DUI reached agreement on Elenovski with VMRO-DPMNE, was already denied by VMRO leader Hristijan Mickoski. Osmani added that DUI is in talks with SDSM, and with other parties. DUI leader Ali Ahmeti today met with both SDSM leader Zoran Zaev and with the leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski. President Ahmeti leads this process and he won’t rule out any political party from our talks, Osmani said.
SDSM reportedly plans to propose Sekerinska as speaker of parliament (ABC)
SDSM plans to nominate Radmila Sekerinska as speaker of the parliament, the Albanian language ABC news site reports. According to the site, SDSM is hoping to cobble together enough votes, along with ethnic Albanian parties, to form a government, and a first step would be the election of a new speaker. ABC writes that the social-democrats have decided that they will propose Sekerinska for this role. Various speculations have been rife over the past days, as the Parliament convened but has no clear majority and numerous options for forming a coalition are being put forward by the parties and media outlets.