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Belgrade Media Report 17 August 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 17 August 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Dacic: There will be no unpleasant surprises in Washington (RTS)
Djuric: Pristina is trying to obstruct talks in the White House (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV)
Request to UNESCO to react to threat to Visoki Decani (Tanjug/RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Number of coalitions increases ahead of elections, no principled connection within coalitions (FTV)
Political parties begin announcing names of candidates for upcoming local elections (N1)
DF: Joint participation of pro-Bosnian parties to prevent Covic and Dodik’s overtaking of Mostar (Oslobodjenje)
Viskovic: B&H CEC is illegal but regardless of that, SNSD believes in its election win (Srna/Nova BH)
Results of public opinion research show SNSD has by far greatest support of RS citizens (ATV)
Dodik: RS is not responsible for fact B&H did not get 250 million Euros from EU help for solving of consequences of pandemic (FTV/ATV)
Ambassador Jukic requests explanation from Montenegro authorities about new measures concerning entrance of B&H citizens to this country (RTRS)
Montenegro

Markovic to diaspora: Montenegro is your country, you’re always welcome home (CdM)
President’s Cabinet: Just another untruth of IFIMES (CDM)
The “sleeper agent” of the Serbian Orthodox Church as new DF marionette (Dnevne novine)
Residents of the USA and countries in the region allowed to enter Montenegro (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Talks on government formation continue (MIA)
Albania

Albania humanitarian crisis escalates at Greek border (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Dacic: There will be no unpleasant surprises in Washington (RTS)  

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said ahead of a meeting between Belgrade and Pristina’s delegations hosted by the White House, that he didn’t expect any unpleasant surprises.

“We will not allow to be manipulated. President Vucic said that all the talks he had had with the US President’s envoy Richard Grenell indicated that economy will be the topic of the meeting in Washington. “If someone tries to push through the back door the political part into some draft proposals, President Vucic said it would be unacceptable,” Dacic told RTS on Sunday.

Asked about the claim of the Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun that the EU mediator for dialogue Miroslav Lajcak would throw a proposal at a meeting in Brussels, which would imply some kind of agreement, Dacic said that it was too early to talk about it. “When someone wants to give you an ultimatum, it’s usually one who can do it. Can it be five ultimatums, basically let them agree on who will give us the ultimatum. Personally, I think if they’re smart they’ll never do it, because they know we will never accept it,” said Dacic.

Djuric: Pristina is trying to obstruct talks in the White House (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTV

Pristina is trying to obstruct the talks between Belgrade and Pristina, scheduled for September 2 at the White House, by saying that these are negotiations about Kosovo’s independence, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric told TV Happy. He expects these to be talks about economic issues. “Pristina is doing that for two reasons – in order to pacify the domestic public and to confuse those states who are ready to change their position and withdraw their recognition of Kosovo’s independence,” Djuric said. Pristina, as he says, is running away from real talks, because they hope that this is 1999, that someone will on their behalf slam some solution on the table and use a magic wand to force Serbia to agree to it. That’s not happening, neither is Serbia today what it was in 1999, nor are the Albanians the ones from 1999, nor has the world remained the same,” said Djuric. “President Aleksandar Vucic and the state delegation are trying to use all types of conversations with Pristina to strengthen the state position of Serbia, both in the West and with our traditional partners who have not recognized Kosovo,” stated Djuric. He pointed out that it is important that the talks will be taking place at the White House, because the United States has a great deal of influence over the Albanians, and it is not realistic to expect the problem to be solved without the involvement of great powers. “Serbia’s position is very difficult, but President Vucic managed to, with serious work, have Pristina delegitimized, for 18 countries to withdraw their recognition, and for great powers to open up to the idea of ​​reaching a compromise solution,” he stressed. That Vucic would hand over Kosovo, he continued, has been talked about for eight years by those during whose time in power, Djuric said, Kosovo went, Montenegro declared independence, EULEX was brought in instead of UNMIK, and borders were set at Jarinje and Brnjak.

Request to UNESCO to react to threat to Visoki Decani (Tanjug/RTS

The Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information strongly condemned the resumption of illegal works on the main road Decani-Plav in the protected zone of the monastery Visoki Decani. The Ministry sent on Friday a protest note to UNESCO, in which it asks that organization to react urgently and protect the world cultural heritage facility. The letter, addressed to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azula, Deputy Director of Culture Ernest Ottone and Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre Mechtild Rössler, called on the authorities to react immediately and protect the cultural heritage site that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in accordance with the principles based on international conventions, in particular the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, as well as other relevant recommendations. The Diocese of Raska and Prizren announced that the local Kosovo authorities in Decani, with the support of the authorities in Pristina, started again with intensive works within the protected zone of the Visoki Decani monastery.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Number of coalitions increases ahead of elections, no principled connection within coalitions (FTV)

FTV noted that ahead of each election in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), the number of coalitions increases but there is no principled connection within coalitions and parties unite based on their interests such as the goal to win seats. So far, the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) verified 90 coalitions and nine lists of independent candidates for the upcoming local elections in B&H. The reporter noted that the leading parties in the coalitions remain the same while combinations change presenting some examples in details. In this regard, FTV reported that unlike the Sarajevo Canton, SDA and SBB B&H will be partners in Banja Luka at the upcoming elections.

Political parties begin announcing names of candidates for upcoming local elections (N1)

Political parties started announcing names of their candidates for the upcoming local elections. N1 reports that SDA’s candidates will be the current heads of municipalities in Sarajevo, with the exception of Ilidza Municipality in which SDA’s candidate is Fikret Prevljak; it is still not known if Semir Efendic will have the party’s support to run again for the post of head of the Novi Grad Municipality. SBB’s candidate for the head of Novi Grad Municipality is Sanela Prasovic Gadzo. Our Party (NS), People and Justice (NIP), SDP Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), and Independent B&H List (NBL) will jointly participate at the local elections in Sarajevo and that they have not announced any of the candidates yet; according to the media a potential candidate for the Centar Municipality is former Sarajevo Canton (SC) Minister of Communal Economy and Infrastructure Srdjan Mandic. N1 reports that SDP B&H and NS, unlike in Sarajevo and Mostar, will participate independently at local elections in Tuzla; SDP’s candidate being the current Mayor of Tuzla Jasmin Imamovic, and potential NS’ candidate being NS MP at the B&H Parliament Mirjana Marinkovic-Lepic. SDP B&H will also participate independently at the local elections in Banja Luka. N1 reports that SNSD’s candidate is the current Mayor of Banja Luka Igor Radojicic and his opponent is SDS and PDP joint candidate Drasko Stanivukovic. N1 reports that SNSD’s candidate for the post of Head of Istocno Sarajevo Municipality is Ljubisa Cosis. All Serb political parties in the Srebrenica Municipality have endorsed Mladen Grujicic (SNSD) and all Bosniak political parties have endorsed Alija Tabakovic (SDA) as candidates for the post of Head of the Srebrenica Municipality.

DF: Joint participation of pro-Bosnian parties to prevent Covic and Dodik’s overtaking of Mostar (Oslobodjenje)

DF issued a press statement urging all pro-Bosnian parties to joint participation in local elections in Mostar, having in mind the publicly presented plan of Dragan Covic and Milorad Dodik to join forces and try to win majority in Mostar City Council. “Local elections in Mostar are neither place nor time for ideological divisions to right and left parties, but are the time and place for joint participation of all pro-Bosnian parties and attempt to stop the axis Covic-Dodik in their intention to overtake Mostar and thus extend already long rule of HDZ B&H. There are many other municipalities and cities in B&H where we can divide to right and left and quarrel about this if necessary, but this should not be the case with Mostar,” reads DF statement.

Viskovic: B&H CEC is illegal but regardless of that, SNSD believes in its election win (Srna/Nova BH)

In a statement for Srna , SNSD Vice President Radovan Viskovic said his party and its coalition partners are ready for the upcoming local elections, expressing belief that they will achieve a convincing win. Viskovic noted that it is still unclear why elections were pushed from October 4 to 15 November. As far as SNSD is concerned, Viskovic says, the current convocation of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H is disputable but regardless of that SNSD is sure in its election win. “As far as we are concerned, that CEC is illegal; it should not be connected to any parties, but it is more than politically connected. That is not hidden anymore and we know that members of PDP, SDS and SDA sit there,” Viskovic stressed.

Results of public opinion research show SNSD has by far greatest support of RS citizens (ATV)

Results of public opinion research which ATV has in its possession show that SNSD has by far the greatest support of citizens of Republika Srpska (RS). The public opinion research was conducted throughout the RS, more precisely in all nine constituencies in the RS and it covered 1,516 residents of the RS. ATV stressed that judging by the results of the public opinion research, SNSD definitely has reason to be satisfied. Namely, survey showed that SNSD has 37,92 percent of support, followed by SDS with 13,39 percent of support, PDP with 10,21 percent of support, DNS with 6,54 percent of support, United Srpska with 4,55 percent of support, SP RS with 3,32 percent of support, DEMOS with 3,01 percent of support, Socialist Party of the RS with 2,32 percent of support, NDP with 1,88 percent of support, SDS Semberija – Mico Micic with 1,85 percent of support. Representatives of SNSD previously said that they are convinced that they will win the upcoming local elections. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stressed that SNSD with its lists will take part in the local elections in 63 municipalities in the RS, 25 municipalities in the Federation of B&H and in Brcko District, noting that SNSD is ready for all election activities. “I believe that the state and readiness of the party for the elections is great. If they were held at this moment, we would have no problem achieving a significant victory. We expect that our candidates will win the local elections, as well as our joint candidates,” Dodik underlined.

Dodik: RS is not responsible for fact B&H did not get 250 million Euros from EU help for solving of consequences of pandemic (FTV/ATV)

After the European Commission (EC) informed on 11 August that macro-financial assistance aimed at mitigating negative economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic was agreed upon with eight countries, not with B&H, Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that RS is not responsible for B&H not receiving 250 million Euros of the European financial assistance. He added that the money belongs to the RS as well, but if it is planned to be centralized then it is unacceptable. The reporter commented that by saying this Dodik indirectly revealed where the problem lies in the negotiations in B&H. Dodik noted that the RS does not accept the financial assistance to be allocated through the centralized system. Dodik stated: “We do not accept distribution of certain assistance via centralization. There are rules that were valid until now and we only demand respect for these rules. We believe that the EU funds will come. As for the RS, we want to be visible in this and we have the right to this. It is a lie that B&H is getting a loan or funds and that it (B&H) allocates it to the entities. The entities return each loan, we return and therefore, we want to be visible in this”. “Entities return every loan. Consequently, we want to be visible, no one should negotiate on our behalf,” stressed member of B&H Presidency.

Ambassador Jukic requests explanation from Montenegro authorities about new measures concerning entrance of B&H citizens to this country (RTRS)

RTRS reported that new decisions of the national coordination body for contagious diseases in Montenegro on entrance to this country confused citizens of B&H. Namely, the national coordination body for contagious diseases in Montenegro published a new decision according to which citizens of B&H can enter this country with a negative PCR test or a positive result of the ELISA serological test to antibodies for the Coronavirus issued in past 72 hours. RTRS noted that thus, it remains uncertain whether citizens of B&H will be able to enter this country with both negative parameters of the serological test as up until now and according to unofficial information, citizens of B&H will be able to cross the border in this way on Monday. Huge jams were seen at the border crossing of Sitnica between the two countries on Sunday and passenger waiting to cross the border told RTRS that they learned that they will be able to cross the border in line with the old regime by Monday. B&H Ambassador to Montenegro Branimir Jukic also reacted and demanded an explanation from the Montenegro Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the new measures, asking whether B&H citizens will be able to cross the border in line with the practice that was present in the last couple of weeks regarding tests for the Coronavirus. The Montenegro Public Health Institute told RTRS that new information will be available on Tuesday.

 

Markovic to diaspora: Montenegro is your country, you’re always welcome home (CDM)

Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic told our diaspora that Montenegro is their country where they can come whenever they want. “These days, we’ve had the opportunity to see inappropriate and ill-intentioned messages of the opposition sent to our diaspora and our citizens. I’d like to remind you that Montenegro ensured the return of all our citizens to our country in the most difficult times of the coronavirus epidemic, when many other countries closed their borders. There was no election campaign at the time, nor were elections called for! However, we did care for the people of Montenegro, and the state showed hospitality towards each of our citizens, wherever he or she was. And it will stay that way!” he noted. He called on the Montenegrin diaspora and citizens abroad to give the best answer to those who list them as foreign nationals in the coming days, in a democratic and civilized manner. “Dear diaspora, Montenegro is your country today and forever. You have your place in it and you can come here whenever you desire, and at any time! Welcome home! May Montenegro be eternal!” Markovic said.

 

President’s Cabinet: Just another untruth of IFIMES (CDM

Cabinet of the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, has denied the allegations of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies from Ljubljana (IFIMES) that the president might go to The Hague soon in the capacity of defense witness in the trial of the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, charged with war crimes in Kosovo. “This is just another in a series of untruths coming from the organizations that presents itself as international institute” President’s Cabinet said shortly. IFIMES has been releasing a set of malevolent and unfounded statements on the account of Djukanovic and Montenegro. Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has recently dismissed insinuations about Djukanovic’s connection with war crimes and alleged information on the existence of mass graves of the killed Bosniaks.  IFIMES published earlier analysis that “proves” that Montenegro hid accurate data on the number of Covid-19 infections at the beginning of the crisis. Montenegrin government categorically denied the information that was reported by almost all Serbian portals. Stjepan Mesic, former Croatia’s President and honorary president of IFIMES, and Budimir Loncar, former minister of foreign affairs of FR Yugoslavia and president of the Advisory Committee of IFIMES, have distanced themselves from that analysis.

 

The “sleeper agent” of the Serbian Orthodox Church as new DF marionette (Dnevne novine

When Professor Zdravko Krivokapic appeared as holder of the coalition list gathering around Democratic Front (DF), everybody starting wondering who this man is, how it can be that a university professor is a holder of the list which is under the auspices of the Serbian orthodox Church, what his references were… Before taking part in the protests against Law on Freedom of Religion, Krivokapic was known to the public only as regular professor of the Faculty if Mechanical Engineering, manager of the Quality Center, president of the Administrative Board of the Accreditation Body of Montenegro, representative of State University in the consulting body of the Capital City that took part in the development of the Strategy for the development of the Capital, adopted in February this year. Professor Krivokpaic was often seen at the promotion of the Strategy for the development of Handball in Montenegro. And how come Krivokapic has now become a DF staple in attempts to outs power in Montenegro for the interests of one or several foreign countries. Dnevne novine interlocutors say it comes as no surprise that professor Krivokapic is one of the “sleeper agents” who have activated over the past several months to “defend holy structures and places” and bring down the government. “He didn’t come out of nowhere. Probably he was recruited long time ago, he now just “woke up”. He’s not the only one, look at how many university professors, doctors, attend religious processions. Many of them came to Montenegro from other countries only to wake up and turn against the country that gave them all”, sources said. Sources draw attention to the photo of Krivokapic with the Serbian Patriarch Pavle taken when he was young. Who really is Zdravko Krivokapic: a professor, activated “sleeper agent”, a moralist or a hypocrite? Dan columnist, Dragan Rosandic Rosi”, wrote in one of his columns that he is an unknowledgeable person discovered by Andrija Mandic. “Given the fact that the opposition is rotten to the core, damaged leaders started frantically looking for the new Lekic. And they found Zdravko Krivokapic, took him out of a magician’s hat. I have never heard of this renowned professor before,” Rosandic wrote. If priest Gojko Perovic is to be given credit for the “apparition of Krivokapic” then he chose a bad student as two days ago in Murino, he breached church rule and consumed alcohol in the middle of fasting. Presenting yourself as a believer, and kissing hands of priests public and in front of cameras while ignoring church rules, can only do somebody who is a fake believer, the one who deceives those who trust him. It is really difficult to conclude who Zdravko Krivokapic is.

 

Residents of the USA and countries in the region allowed to enter Montenegro (CDM)

National Coordination Body decided to enable residents of all countries in the region and the USA to enter Montenegro, provided that they have negative PCR or ELISA test and to allow hospitality facilities to work until 1 am. Relaxation of measures is in accordance with the current level of infection in Montenegro and region countries and consultations with the representatives of tourism economy and hoteliers. Residents of the USA, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia are allowed to enter Montenegro under following conditions:

They must have negative result of PCR test or positive result anti-body test obtained by ELISA testing; Tests must be issued by a registered laboratory and must not be older than 72 hours at the moment of entrance; People entering Montenegro should make sure they were not in a country which were closed to Montenegro 15 days before entering Montenegro. Children up to the age of 5 are not required to have tests. Measures came into force on 15 August 2020.

 

Talks on government formation continue (MIA)

Talks on the government formation following the 15 July elections continue after President Stevo Pendarovski gave the mandate to SDSM leader Zoran Zaev. DUI said Friday the government formation talks with SDSM continue at different party levels.  “Principles upon which the future government will be based have been confirmed. We’re now working on designing a detailed programme and choosing office candidates,” reads the press release. The party expressed conviction that this approach will result in final agreement and formation of a government with a four-year term which will serve all citizens equally and continue the partnership with Euro Atlantic allies.  The Alliance for Albanians-Alternativa coalition announced Friday its representatives have never had a meeting – official or unofficial – to discuss the prospect of joining the new government. DUI, according to the coalition, is a legal but illegitimate winner of the elections in the Albanian political bloc. “Even though we are the legitimate winners of the 15 July elections in the Albanian political bloc, we will not negotiate until DUI delivers its election promise to make sure Naser Ziberi is elected as the first Albanian PM. If a proposal is sent to parliament to elect Ziberi, the coalition’s 12 MPs will vote for him, But, if DUI fails to deliver the promise, it will no longer have the right to be part of the future government and it’ll belong in opposition” Skender Zeid Rexhepi, Alternativa’s secretary general, told a news conference. DOM party, which is part of the SDSM-led coalition, also reacted to DUI’s request for an Albanian PM. According to the party, DUI’s request for an ethnic PM is unacceptable, leading to divisions in Macedonian society, rise of nationalism and represents a threat to the modern civic concept of One Society for All. “The PM post should not turn into ‘merry math’ of 1+3, 2+2 or 3+1. In addition, the post’s rotation could become a practice for other political offices in the future, leading to dysfunctional institutions,” reads the press release.

 

Albania humanitarian crisis escalates at Greek border (Tirana Times)

Thousands of Albanians wishing to enter Greece have been stranded at the Kakavija border point for the third day in a row, while they are struggling with the hot weather conditions and lack of food. On Saturday, the queue of travelers became almost 25 km long, extending to a village in the Gjirokastra district. The queues came after the Greek government announced that it would restrict movement allowing up to 750 people a day at the border checkpoint, in addition to a mandatory COVID-19 test. The queue of cars has extended due to the limited schedule as well, as the border checkpoint is closed every night from 22:00 to 6:00. Civil emergency authorities and army forces have been providing water and food assistance since Friday evening, but there is concern that the humanitarian crisis may deepen if queues are extended further, with thousands having spent the night at the border checkpoint already. The situation escalated on Saturday morning when an ambulance struck and killed a 10-year-old child among the queues at the Kakavija border. The ambulance was reportedly carrying a sick woman inside when the tragedy occurred. On 14 August, Minister of Internal Affairs Sander Lleshaj stated that he was ‘making efforts to ask the Greek authorities to find opportunities to speed up testing procedures and reduce waiting times at the border.’ However, on Saturday, Lleshaj called on citizens to postpone travel plans to Greece for a more convenient moment, or at least stop and wait in more convenient conditions in towns or villages along the road. The same call was made by the Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka. The President of Albania, Ilir Meta, expressed his concern regarding the situation through a Facebook post. “I appeal the government and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs to contact with the Greek authorities and take all measures for guaranteeing the free passage of Albanian travelers.  The solution should be immediate,” Meta said. On the other hand, the opposition accused the government, stating that “this crisis cannot be solved by propaganda on social networks, by making helicopter tours and then returning to 5-star hotels, where members of his government cabinet rest, but through the commitment of the highest levels of government.”

 

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