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Belgrade Media Report 17 September

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LOCAL PRESS

Lajcak: Financial issues on agenda of Belgrade-Pristina technical talks (Beta)
Djuric: First topic on agenda in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels will be the Community of Serb municipalities (Tanjug)
EU message to Pristina: You have commitment… (Tanjug/B92)
Vilan: Technically we haven’ recognized Kosovo, but that is part of the reached in Washington (Tanjug/RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik pays visit to Zagreb, meets with Milanovic and Plenkovic (RTRS)
Dodik: Croatia wants peace and stability in B&H, but it also wants to protect rights of Croats (ATV)
Dzaferovic: Move of Croatian officials will strain the relations between the two countries (Hayat)
Komsic: Besides Lukashenko, Milanovic is only president of one country that held bilateral meeting with Dodik (O kanal)
Izetbegovic: Dodik has been conducting policy of destabilization, divisions, secessionism, and blockade of Euro-Atlantic path of B&H (FTV)
Izetbegovic and Covic meet to discuss changes of Election Law, fail to reach concrete agreement (FTV)
Cavara: SDA wants to control Croat Caucus in FB&H House of Peoples (Vecerlji list)
US and Germany support the initiative of ‘Mini Schengen’; Dzaferovic says initiative cannot get ‘green light’ (Dnevni avaz)
Croatia

President: Croatia will not support unilateral revision of Dayton Agreement (HRT)
Montenegro

Abazovic: Krivokapic as prime minister is acceptable to me (CdM)
Krivokapic: New agreement in preparation, it will encompass abolition of the Law on Freedom of Religion (TVCG/Njezagaj)
Djeka: We were in coalition with URA (Dan)
Republic of North Macedonia

Zaev-Tsipras: Prespa Agreement not only solved name row, ensures long-term strategic partnership (MIA)
Dimitrov: Expecting support and assistance from Greece on European path (MIA)
Grubi, Tahiri discuss North Macedonia-Kosovo motorway and border crossings (MIA)
Albania

Rama: Greece has a right to expand its territorial waters (Tirana Times)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

S&D MEPs and opposition parties in Serbia call for renewal of EP-mediated dialogue (EWB)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Lajcak: Financial issues on agenda of Belgrade-Pristina technical talks (Beta)  

EU special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak has stated that the topic of the Sept. 17 technical talks between Belgrade and Pristina would be mutual

financial claims, while the arrangements for the nonmajority community would be considered in the next few days. Lajcak tweeted that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Premier Avdulah Hoti had agreed for their negotiators to continue the talks about solving the mutual financial claims and the arrangements for the non-majority community. “Both topics are v. complex. That’s why we will discuss financial claims tomorrow & arrangements for non-majority community in the coming days,” Lajcak tweeted.

Djuric: First topic on agenda in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels will be the Community of Serb municipalities (Tanjug

The first topic on the agenda in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels will be the Community of Serb municipalities, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said. He wrote that on Twitter, responding to the announcement of the EU special representative for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina Miroslav Lajcak, who said that mutual financial claims and arrangements for the non-majority community would be discussed in the continuation of the dialogue. “Thank you for hosting the meeting. First topic on the agenda tomorrow will be the Community of Serb municipalities. At least for the Serbian side. The one agreed under EU facilitation seven and a half years ago,” Djuric wrote on Twitter. In the dialogue with Pristina, he notes that the Serbian side will certainly participate in the talks on property issues, where there is a lot to say.

EU message to Pristina: You have commitment… (Tanjug/B92

EU spokesman Peter Stano says that Pristina is obliged to implement the agreement on the Community of Serb municipalities signed “in good faith” back in 2013. He added that this commitment stems from the signing of the Brussels agreement. “The Brussels agreement was signed by all participants in the process and it is valid. Moreover, it has been ratified by the Kosovo parliament. Kosovo has thus made an international commitment to implement this agreement. It is up to them to say how they will implement it,” Stano told Tanjug. When asked by Tanjug how he assesses the change on the agenda of today’s expert talks in Brussels, Stano reiterated that at the meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti, it was agreed to continue talks on mutual financial claims and the status of non-majority communities. “These topics are very complex and both sides agreed in the previous days that today’s meeting would be entirely dedicated to the issue of financial claims. As a continuation of this meeting, talks on non-majority communities in the coming days will follow,” Stano concluded.

Vilan: Technically we haven’t recognized Kosovo, but that is part of the reached agreement in Washington (Tanjug/RTS)  

The newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to Serbia Jahel Vilan stated on Wednesday that Israel has not yet technically recognized Kosovo, but points out that it is part of the recently reached agreement in Washington and that he believes that it will not affect strong relations between Serbia and Israel. “As for Kosovo, we have a statement by the Israeli Prime Minister on mutual recognition of Israel and Kosovo. So far, we have not taken additional steps on the ground, but that is part of the agreement signed in Washington,” Vilan told Tanjug, in his first statement for a media outlet in Serbia, immediately after he handed over his credentials to President Aleksandar Vucic. However, the Israeli diplomat is convinced that the mutual recognition of Israel and so-called Kosovo will not affect his country’s strong relations with Serbia, which, he points out, Israel plans to strengthen even more. He also said that the meeting with the Serbian President was precisely focused on relations between Serbia and Israel. Vilan pointed out that Israel’s relations with Serbia under the leadership of President Vucic have “dramatically improved”. “First of all, I am grateful to President Vucic for saying that Serbia will move the embassy to Jerusalem,” the Israeli Ambassador pointed out. Asked whether Israel, if Serbia moves the embassy to Jerusalem, will “reciprocate” Serbia to this concession, Vilan said that it was a very important move by Serbia as a friendly country on the one hand, while, on the other hand, other friendly countries are also expected to do so.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dodik pays visit to Zagreb, meets with Milanovic and Plenkovic (RTRS)

Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik visited Zagreb on Wednesday where he met with Croatian President Zoran Milanovic Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Commenting on the visit Dodik said that at the meeting joint cooperation was discussed. He said: “I had the opportunity to inform the host about the situation in B&H the way we, Serb people see it, how the Dayton Peace Agreement and Constitution have been destroyed”. Dodik added that even after 25 years B&H has to consume the international presence that will bring nothing good in the next ten years. Dodik noted that a comprehensive agreement should be made in B&H with respecting the constituency and identity of peoples as a starting point that will allow B&H to “travel faster towards the EU’’. Dodik said that he thanked Croatia for its support to B&H on the EU path, noting that without the candidate status B&H will be in a situation of not being able to find solutions. Dodik said that the infrastructural issues were also discussed, among other the construction of the bridge and the border crossing at the Sava River, Gradiska and that Plenkovic guaranteed that Croatia will finalize its part within the set deadline. Migrations and construction of the 5c Corridor were discussed as well. “And of course, we again heard the official position of Croatia with regard to Trgovska Gora, that it is an issue they decide on and that they are not of the view it can cause environmental damage as we see it” said Dodik. Asked to comment the reactions of Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic Dodik said he did not come to Zagreb on behalf of the B&H Presidency but, at the invitation of Milanovic. He added: “I am a member of the B&H Presidency, elected in Republika Srpska (RS) and on behalf of the RS and have sufficient capacity to represent in that part interests of that people, i.e. Serb people”. Dodik noted that Serb and Croats need to make efforts to improve relations and to achieve the best possible relations between Croatia and Serbia. “Whether it insults them (Dzaferovic and Komsic) or not, it is another issue,” said Dodik, noting that Komsic visited North Macedonia in the same capacity and Dzaferovic visited Turkey. “I think that nothing was said here that would be harmful for Bosniaks or B&H but another thing is clear here, B&H has a defect with regard to the constitutional capacity of the Presidency, because essentially we have two Bosniak members of the B&H Presidency and one Serb member of the B&H Presidency. I was elected in the RS and Bosniaks and Croats vote there and I equally represent them,” said Dodik. Dodik added that the major issue is pathological intolerance of Sarajevo towards Serbia and Serbs, and with arrival of Komsic toward Croats. “I do not know what their political approach is. I think of the utmost interest should be, primarily for Bosniaks in B&H to open to have communication with all peoples whether they want it or not, the most important peoples they are in contact with are Serbs and Croats,” said Dodik. RTRS reports that Dodik also met with the Metropolitan of Zagreb Prorfirije and said that the RS will donate EUR 100,000 to the church in Zagreb for the recovery of the damage caused by the earthquake.

Dodik: Croatia wants peace and stability in B&H, but it also wants to protect rights of Croats (ATV)

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik paid an official visit to Zagreb on Wednesday. Speaking about his visit to Zagreb, Dodik stated that he had an open discussion with the Croatian President on topics that are important for Croatia, B&H and the RS. “I informed him about the situation in B&H the way we see it from the RS’ point of view, possible perspective of development of relations within B&H. I also informed him about what the international community did and stances that are known on our part. We believe that they did not do anything good for B&H and that they trapped it into impotence and that an agreement of internal factors in B&H is necessary for any kind of possible continuation of the path. Otherwise, B&H will destroy itself and it will not be able to decide on anything. Therefore, in that respect, if that process is not owned by the people in B&H, then of course the question of its sustainability is raised. In any case, that was a topic also with the (Croatian) Prime Minister. We all want the European path of B&H. I came here to once again confirm our commitment to the European path being our goal. Of course, we believe that we should not join the NATO. Croatia is a member of the NATO. But what I can see, without anyone telling me that, is that it is obvious that NATO states do not want countries with an unorganized system, such as B&H, to be members (of the NATO),” Dodik underlined. Dodik stressed that he and Croatian officials also discussed infrastructural projects. “The main issue for us is the bridge over Sava River. The Croatian Prime Minister confirmed that Croatia will fulfill its obligations in regard to the border crossing after the bridge, entry into Croatia and part to Okucani,” Dodik said. Asked how Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic reacted to his stances, Dodik stated that Croatia supports B&H on the path towards the EU. “It wants peace and stability in B&H, but it also wants to protect the rights of Croats, and that it quite legitimate,” Dodik said, adding that this could be heard in Zagreb on Wednesday, but that all of this was known from before. Dodik stressed that the Croatian officials expressed concern for the situation in B&H and pointed to the need to ensure equality of all constituent peoples in B&H and to make sure one people is not able to elect political representatives of another people, like in the case of Zeljko Komsic. Dodik stressed that essentially, there are currently two Bosniak members in the B&H Presidency and that the B&H Presidency lacks a Croat member.

Dzaferovic: Move of Croatian officials will strain the relations between the two countries (Hayat)

Chairman of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, asked to comment Wednesday’s visit of Serb member of the B&H Presidency, Milorad Dodik to Zagreb, Dzaferovic assessed this move of the Croatian officials as a bad message sent towards B&H. He said they chose this path and they will suffer all potential consequences of that move. Asked to elaborate those consequences, Dzaferovic said he spoke many times of the necessity for maintaining good bilateral relations between B&H and Croatia. “The importance of those good relations derives from all the open issues that exist between us,” he added. Dzaferovic reminds that he called upon solving these open issues, so that relations between the two countries could be additionally improved and strengthened. He fears this latest move will strain the relations even further. It is decision of Croatia to avoid institutions of B&H and they will suffer possible consequences of it. Commenting on constant attacks against the Bosniak leaders, which are orchestrated by Croat and Serb leaders, led by HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, Dzaferovic said the most dangerous thing is that these attacks were seemingly supported by official Belgrade and, now, it seems by official Zagreb as well. He assessed that no one in the region should behave like this. B&H needs stability and development, the Presidency Chairman concluded. Dzaferovic said Dodik and Covic’s plans will never be accomplished, as secession of the RS will never happen and Covic’s plans on further ethnical divisions within the country will not come to pass. He said the only possible move forward connects to the country’s paths towards the EU and the NATO. Anything else, he stressed, would be just waste of valuable time. Asked to comment Dodik’s statement which says that constituent status of peoples in B&H is not respected, Dzaferovic pointed that this is fully respected, even maybe a little too much. “The constituent peoples are greatly protected; there are great mechanisms through which they are protected”, Dzaferovic explains, adding that minorities are those that need to be protected in B&H. He said the constituent status of peoples is often misused by politicians for blocking important processes within the country. When analyzing negotiations between SDA and HDZ B&H, Dzaferovic said that Covic speaks about “endangerment of Croats”, but that is simply not true, as Covic would not be able to make any conditions or blockades if the Croats were truly endangered. He concluded that HDZ B&H tries to turn every issue into an attack onto the vital national interest of Croats, when in fact only matters that refer to the identity of constituent peoples can be perceived in such way. “HDZ B&H wants us to abolish the Houses of Representatives, for democracy to no longer exist; for the Houses of Peoples to make all the decisions”, Dzaferovic said and added that a dictatorship would then be established. Three sessions of the B&H Presidency, one regular and two extraordinary, are scheduled for Thursday. Dzaferovic said that the extraordinary session will address proposals of Dodik and Croat member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic, which call upon relocation of the B&H Embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and B&H’s recognition of Kosovo. He confirms that decisions on the relocation of Embassy and Kosovo’s recognition will not be adopted, as this is not in line with the mechanisms which the Presidency’s work is based on. “As far as I am concerned, that is simply unnecessary and it is politicization of the entire situation, populism and a complete waste of time”, he concluded. Dodik also made a request for one minute of silence, during the regular session of the Presidency, for the recently departed Momcilo Krajisnik, who is a convicted war criminal. He should be ashamed of such a request, Dzaferovic points. “Victims deserve respect and criminals and killers do not. And that will certainly not be accepted,” he underlined.

Komsic: Besides Lukashenko, Milanovic is only president of one country that held bilateral meeting with Dodik (O kanal)

Member of B&H Presidency from rank of Croat people Zeljko Komsic commented the visit of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to Zagreb. Komsic underlined that in his private visit to Croatian officials, Dodik brings the message that is at the same time goal of his policy – merging of the RS and Serbia in one state. He added that regardless how this message will be received in Zagreb, with approval or not “we in B&H know what to do, and those in Zagreb should do as they will.” He concluded that things agreed in Karadjordjevo, Serbia by former President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic and former President of Croatia Franjo Tudjman will never be achieved. Komsic also said that Milanovic is the only president of one country besides Lukashenko who held a bilateral meeting with Dodik. Komsic went on to say that the concept of constituent status of people was completely rejected by the EU. He went on to saying that all countries in the EU are civic and do not recognize the concept of constituent status. Komsic emphasized that B&H aims to become part of the EU, i.e. to abolish the concept of constituent status. “I support this, despite of resistance of Croatia,” underlined Komsic.

Izetbegovic: Dodik has been conducting policy of destabilization, divisions, secessionism, and blockade of Euro-Atlantic path of B&H (FTV)

Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic commented the visit of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to Zagreb and he stressed that Dodik has been conducting the policy of destabilization, divisions, secessionism, and blockade of the Euro-Atlantic path of B&H and that he has been slowing down work of B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), insulting Croats and Bosniaks and preventing these two peoples to elect their legitimate representatives in structures of authorities in Republika Srpska. “Inviting Dodik while bypassing Sefik Dzaferovic is a very bad message. In a way, it confirms the stories about some new cooperation between the Serbs and the Croats at the expense of the Bosniaks,” said Izetbegovic.

Izetbegovic and Covic meet to discuss changes of Election Law, fail to reach concrete agreement (FTV)

Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic met on Wednesday with leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic to discuss amending of the Election Law of B&H. Reporter commented that considering statements of two leaders, this meeting only additionally undermined relations between two political parties. Izetbegovic stressed that there will be neither new talks with HDZ B&H nor changes of the Election Law of B&H without appointment of new the Federation of B&H (FB&H) government and filling of the Constitutional Court (CC) of the FB&H. Reporter wondered whether the fact two leaders failed to reach the agreement to amend the Election Law will affect the agreement on local elections in Mostar. Izetbegovic stressed that these two things are not linked. “If Covic insists on linking these two things, we will not have the FB&H CC, the FB&H government. The City Assembly of Mostar will not be formed and a new Statute of Mostar will not be adopted”, explained the leader of SDA. Izetbegovic added that he believes HDZ B&H does not need it – to prove in this way that B&H should not have such mechanisms of blockade. According to the leader of HDZ B&H, amending of the Election Law is linked with the issue of local elections in Mostar. Namely, Covic stressed that agreements reached in Mostar represent “the system of connected vessels.” He explained that SDA and HDZ B&H signed the agreement reading that two sides have to reach an agreement to amend the Election Law by 17 December. “Elections in Mostar are scheduled for December 20 and both agreements are in balance. These two agreements should be implemented simultaneously” said Covic. He added that if amending of the Election Law is not agreed by 17 December, none of agreements reached in Mostar exist. Reporter commented that the appointment of the FB&H government is a special issue and that is why SDA insisted that B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) should be appointed along with the FB&H government. However, SDA failed to achieve this goal due to insisting of HDZ B&H to solve the issue of amending the Election Law primarily. Reporter wondered whether it is realistic to expect the appointment of the new the FB&H government if the issue of amending of the Election Law is not solved. Izetbegovic stated that as far as it concerns SDA, all these things can be completed within period of seven days. “Why would not we fill in the FB&H CC and appoint the new FB&H government,” said Izetbegovic. Covic said that the agreement on all abovementioned things can be achieved, adding that it requires a partner. “I am afraid that at this moment we do not have partners for that agreement,” concluded the leader of HDZ B&H.

Cavara: SDA wants to control Croat Caucus in FB&H House of Peoples (Vecerlji list)

FB&H President Marinko Cavara stated that SDA’s behavior is showing that SDA only wants to spend time, namely that they want to spend time without changing anything and to go into the 2022 (general) elections with the current Law on Elections “and by then they will only pretend they are negotiating”. Cavara stressed that SDA is not even hiding its intention to gain control over the Croat Caucus in the FB&H House of Peoples with the ultimate aim to turn the FB&H into an entity dominated by the Bosniaks. In this context the FB&H President said it is clear SDA will not give up on the goal, adding that would mean unilateral violation of the Washington agreement by the Bosniak representatives. President Cavara went on to say this is why it is necessary to change the Law on Elections of B&H, which would secure legitimate representation of all three constituent peoples.

US and Germany support the initiative of ‘Mini Schengen’; Dzaferovic says initiative cannot get ‘green light’ (Dnevni avaz)

To daily’s inquiry to comment the initiative for B&H joining the ‘Mini Schengen’, the US Embassy to B&H stated: “We welcome the initiative and activities that promote regional cooperation and good neighborly relations. Economic cooperation can assist establishing of trust for implementation of difficult, but necessary political reforms”. Daily reminded that this initiative, should include B&H, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania. Official Berlin also officially welcomed this initiative and they have nothing US support. Rapporteur for German Parliament for Serbia and Kosovo and Rapporteur for Trans-Atlantic Relations Peter Beyer stressed that this is an important regional cooperation. He reminded that this initiative was originally “instigated” couple of years ago by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Daily reminded that member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik submitted this initiative to Presidency of B&H to discuss and noted that they published an article on Wednesday which argues that Chairman of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic was submitted with an opinion, which argues that B&H cannot agree to this initiative as it leader to danger of losing of security. The mentioned opinion also reads that with joining ‘Mini Schengen’ would present return to “political, cultural and economic orbit of Belgrade, willingly integrating into Greater Serbia”.

 

President: Croatia will not support unilateral revision of Dayton Agreement (HRT)

Milorad Dodik arrived in Zagreb for a visit. He met with President Milanovic and Prime Minister Plenkovic in Zagreb. He arrived at the invitation of the President of the Republic, whose office announced that it was a visit by a representative of the Serbian people. Dodik’s visit provoked sharp reactions in Sarajevo. “This was an opportunity to acquaint them with the situation in B&H and the RS, to identify common problems that could be solved on the issue of infrastructure projects, to analyze the ways in which we have implemented projects so far. I think that our cooperation is taking place in the best possible way”, said Milorad Dodik after the meeting with Zoran Milanovic in the Office of the President and Andrej Plenkovic at the government offices. Milanovic said that Croats must be equally treated as other two constituent peoples, which is why Croatian officials will not support any one-sided initiatives on revision of the DPA, those which would endanger the peace and stability in B&H and the Southeast Europe.

“Regarding the European perspective of B&H, we are grateful for the support of the Republic of Croatia on that path. This is what I saw today at both meetings, exactly the will to support B&H to move towards the EU as quickly as possible,” he stressed. Dodik said that the construction of the bridge on the Sava near Gradiska had been agreed upon and that he had received a confirmation from Prime Minister Plenkovic that everything would be completed on time. He added that they had agreed to maintain bridges on rivers at the borders. There was also talk of the problem with migrants. Dodik said that the migrants do not want to be in B&H. “Migrants want to enter the EU, but they are a serious problem for us and we will have to unburden B&H. We are showing a deficit in solving that problem,” he said. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met for a working meeting at the government offices with Milorad Dodik, a member of the Presidency of B&H. The main topic of discussion was the further development of transport connections between Croatia and B&H, with special emphasis on the construction of a new road bridge near Gradiska and access roads. This bridge is a joint investment of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will significantly increase the volume and flow of traffic of people and goods, for the benefit of both countries. Prime Minister Plenkovic emphasized the importance of the return of exiled Croats, as well as the protection of their property. It was confirmed at the meeting that the route of the Banja Luka – Prijedor highway will go in an alternate direction, which will protect the property of Croats in the area and avoid the demolition of their houses. During the working meeting, they also discussed stronger economic cooperation, investments, Croatia’s support for B&H’s European path and the situation in Southeast Europe, as well as the problem of illegal migration, the Croatian Government reported. The member of the Presidency of B&H from the RS came to Zagreb at the invitation of President Milanovic. The Croatian president’s office announced the Bosnian Serb leader as a representative of the Serb people, not as a member of the B&H collective presidency. At the meeting they discussed the situation in B&H and its Euro-Atlantic perspectives, the problems in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, and the position and rights of all three constituent peoples, Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks. The interest of the Republic of Croatia is a stable and functional B&H, as well as ensuring equal rights for Croats in B&H, as an equal and constituent people. Therefore, the Republic of Croatia cannot remain passive and will not support initiatives aimed at unilateral revision of the Dayton Agreement that would endanger peace and stability in B&H and Southeast Europe. For the realization of a stable and functional B&H, it is important to continue dialogue between representatives of all three peoples in B&H, to which the Republic of Croatia, as a friendly and neighboring country, is ready to contribute, announced the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia.

 

Abazovic: Krivokapic as prime minister is acceptable to me (CdM)

Although Dritan Abazovic, leader of URA, has reiterated that “they are game-changers”, in the interview on Public Service last night he admitted that it would be acceptable if Zdravko Krivokpaic was the new prime minister, who was introduced to politics by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). “Some important decisions will be rendered on Friday. But it is totally acceptable to me that Krivokapic is appointed new prime minister,” Abazovic said. Not only did Abazovic confirm that SOC has the last word, but he also recoiled from the rush of DF functionaries who have been reiterating that PM will be someone from their coalition. There was something else Abazovic said and which resonated strongly with the public. He said “that there’s truth in allegations that Berlin, Washington and London are insisting on the government without radical politicians”. “But there’s no conditioning. Fundamental principle and an important part of the victory is the fact that on 11 July, URA came out with the information that the new government will be expert government. I think that’s correct political approach which relaxed international community. It’s important that we don’t have people who would provoke negative emotion,” Abazovic said. If this is true, then Andrija Mandic, Nebojsa Medojevic, Milan Knezevic and Marko Milacic can’t count on head positions they aspired to. Listening to Abazovic, one recurrent thesis could be noticed – regardless of objectives of different people, the important thing is that the government has been changed. Asked about the coalition with those who hail war criminals and conduct great Serbian politics, Abazovic said that he had legitimacy to talk about it on the behalf of his list. “I don’t know if they had changed”, he said about the people he intends to form government with. How did he envisage leading pro-European Montenegro with pro-Serbian coalition partners? They have got two agreements, two important steps forward. Although Abazovic didn’t say it, it is clear that the first agreement was only political. Abazovic finally said that he “sees himself in the parliament”. To sum it all up, everything is possible but it also does not have to be so.

Krivokapic: New agreement in preparation, it will encompass abolition of the Law on Freedom of Religion (TVCG/Njezagaj)

Holder of the list ‘For the future of Montenegro’ Zdravko Krivokapic said that the second agreement of the three coalitions was under preparation. It will encompass also the abolition of the Law on Freedom of Religion but Krivokapic declined to answer if Russian sanctions will be abolished as well. Russian Njezagaj asked Krivokapic if they would abolish “anti-Russian sanctions”. Krivokapic answered that “30 years ago, Russians were considered the closest people”. “But Djukanovic was conducting the policy in Tito’s spirit which led to deterioration of our relations. I will tell you the most important thing: we will establish good relations with all countries in the world, including Russia,” Krivokapic said. Why is there no mention of the Law on Freedom of Religion in the first agreement, Krivokapic was asked, Krivokapic said that the second agreement is in the preparation phase, “Abolition of that law will be top priority in this agreement,” he said.

Djeka: We were in coalition with URA (Dan

President of the Democratic Party and holder of Unanimously list Fatmir Djeka said in the interview for Dan that they could be part of the new government.

Will you enter the new government? If the answer is no, why? 

Djeka: We said in the pre-election campaign that we want to be part of the government in order to realize our program objectives and keep promises we gave. However, we are not rushing to enter the government at all costs. We want to cooperate with everyone. Therefore, we believe it would be the best to support minority government of civil parties, whose cornerstone would be Black and White coalition and Democratic Montenegro. I believe in that case Socialist Democratic Party would be part of the government. We think representatives if other minority parties that have MPs in the parliament would agree to enter that government. From 2014 to 2016, we were governing in Ulcinj, together with the part of Dritan Abazovic and our cooperation was very successful.

Do you intend to support elections in judiciary and adoption of laws? 

Djeka: That does not depend on us, we have only one MP out of 81 MPs. But we certainly want the entire system to function in line with the Constitution and Montenegrin laws.

What do you think about the agreement on the new government and first actions of the governing trio? 

Djeka: The agreement has shown readiness of its signatories to respect and accept reality. We appreciate and praise that, especially as far as Kosovo and NATO questions are concerned.

How will this agreement be implemented in practice remains to be seen. What is the most important thing now is preservation of multi-ethnic and inter-cultural harmony. That’s the most precious values and biggest capital of this country. Those who try to spoil that harmony should immediately be sanctioned. We must not allow anybody to feel vulnerable or suffer any form of violence.

Do you believe that the new government can take a step forward in EU integration? 

Djeka: I do, especially if pro-European parties of the new government deal with that question.

Will you cooperate with the new government even if you don’t enter it? 

Djeka: That form of cooperation would reflect in the fact that we will support proposals for laws and good staff solutions. We want political stability, we want this country to accelerate its European course, we want strong economic development. We are on this ship together and we want calm sea and peaceful and safe European harbor. Wherever we are, we assume certain level of responsibility.

 

Zaev-Tsipras: Prespa Agreement not only solved name row, ensures long-term strategic partnership (MIA)

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev met late Wednesday in Athens with Greek opposition leader and SYRIZA president Alexis Tsipras, discussing the implementation of the Prespa Agreement they signed in 2018. Zaev and Tsipras agreed that the treaty made a turnaround in bilateral relations and unstuck North Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic processes, since the country has since joined NATO and is expecting the start of EU accession negotiations, the Government said in a press release. The Prespa Agreement not only solved the name row, but has also ensured long-term strategic partnership and broad development of bilateral relations. Significant political decisions are expected in the coming period, such as agreements on elimination of double taxation and investment protection. Interlocutors also said that the Prespa Agreement opponents in both countries have accepted it as a historic treaty of enormous significance for the future of the people in North Macedonia and Greece.

Dimitrov: Expecting support and assistance from Greece on European path (MIA)

The decision on the opening of the EU accession negotiations is a key turning point for North Macedonia and the region in 2020, but also a testimony of the Union’s commitment to its geo-strategic priorities, said Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov at a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens on Wednesday. Deputy PM Dimitrov and FM Dendias discussed Greece’s support in North Macedonia’s integration process as essential in the new chapter of bilateral relations, but also a big step in the joint vision for the future, the Secretariat for European Affairs said in a press release. Dimitrov briefed Dendias on the expectations for adoption of the negotiating framework by the year-end, during the German EU Presidency. FM Dimitrov also met with Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, tackling regional and bilateral cooperation, highlighting the activities to be undertaken in the coming period within the enhancement of the Action Plan for cooperation and implementation of the obligations within the Strategic Partnership Agreement and the Memorandum of Cooperation that SEA and the Greek MoFA have signed, enabling the technical assistance from Greece for swift harmonization of national legislation in specific chapters of the European Acquis. Interlocutors emphasized that further implementation of the Prespa Agreement will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations, enabling both countries to use the full potential for political and economic cooperation, but also improved cooperation and coordination within regional initiatives, reads the press release. After the meeting, Dimitrov said he and Vavritsiotis share the vision about the region – European area without open issues, promoting cooperation, understanding and close friendship. “We agree it is very important to continue with the full implementation of the Prespa Agreement and we will work together on the Memorandum of Understanding. The EU accession process is critical for us, which means we have to bring Europe at home, in the sense of European law but also with regards to standards, because this is a long but probably the only way to ensure the European way of life for our youth, so that they remain in their own country,” said Dimitrov. He added that time and generations were lost but an enormous step forward has been made. “Now is the time to write this chapter of closeness and friendship and this is probably the key message from the first visit of the new government,” underlined Dimitrov.

Grubi, Tahiri discuss North Macedonia-Kosovo motorway and border crossings (MIA)

First Deputy PM and Minister for Political System and Community Relations Artan Grubi met Wednesday with Kosovo counterpart Besnik Tahiri, saying there are no open issues between the two countries. “We discussed on bilateral transfer of experiences with regards to the EU and NATO integration, and the Covid-19 pandemic. I personally favor the opening of border upon the model of Albania and Kosovo, which borders never closed and the virus transmission is minimal, while benefits for the countries’ economies have been enormous,” said Deputy PM Grubi after the meeting. Therefore, he added, we have to liberalize borders with all neighbors so that economies can function freely and efficiently. Tahiri said the meeting tackled the issue of the secretariat that the Pristina government wants to establish upon the model of North Macedonia, the motorway that is set to be constructed and Covid-19. “The motorway section in Kosovo is already complete and I hope that North Macedonia will soon start to work on its section so that both sides connect even better and enjoy enhanced economic cooperation,” said Tahiri.

 

Rama: Greece has a right to expand its territorial waters (Tirana Times)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has stated that it is Greece’s right to expand its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea by 6 miles. Speaking during the ‘Western Balkans beyond 2020’ roundtable organized by The Economist magazine in Athens, Rama said that this issue could be resolved through the mediation of a third party, adding that Greece and Albania are on the right track to resolve all remaining issues. Rama said that the issue of the maritime delimitation has sparked debate in Albania, while reaffirming his stance that Greece has a right to the expansion.

“The Greek Prime Minister talks about a legitimate right to extend its maritime borders by 12 miles and only this becomes an issue in social networks in Albania and in political circles, as if the Greek Prime Minister must answer to people who do not know what they are talking about,” he said. Amid rising tensions between Greece and Turkey, Rama said that the two countries are strategic partners of Albania, while emphasizing that President Erdogan is not ‘anti-Greece’. “We are in a strategic partnership between Greece and Turkey, but we are not in danger between two fires. There is potential in this Greek-Turkish agreement to be beneficial for Europe as well, because Turkey is instrumental and Greece is key to Europe’s borders. Without a doubt Erdogan is not an anti-Greek person and there is no doubt that the past has shown that when there is a will there is a way,” he said. Rama is currently staying in Athens to attend the 24th Roundtable organized by the Economist and the government of Greece, titled “Europe: Reinforcing cohesion in turbulent times” to discuss rising tensions between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. The roundtable will focus on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy and business, Brexit, migration flows, economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions between Greece and Turkey. Meanwhile, ahead of the roundtable discussion, Rama visited Turkey where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the latter’s summer residence in Marmaris. Greece and Turkey have been embroiled in an increasingly tense and dangerous clash in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean over drilling rights for hydrocarbons and their maritime borders.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

S&D MEPs and opposition parties in Serbia call for renewal of EP-mediated dialogue (EWB, 16 September 2020) 

MEPs from the S&D group, together with the representatives of the Serbian Freedom and Justice Party, the Democratic Party and Together for Serbia, urged for the resumption of the inter-party dialogue under the mediation of the European Parliament as soon as possible. Our portal learned that the president of the Party of European Socialists, Sergei Stanishev, the Chair of the EP delegation for Serbia, Tanja Fajon, as well as MEPs Kati Piri, Tonino Picula, Demetris Papadakis and Andreas Schieder participated in today’s meeting. Dragan Đilas and Ljuban Panić from the Freedom and Justice Party, President of Together for Serbia Nebojša Zelenović and the Vice President of the Democratic Party Dejan Nikolić were also present. “With reference to the upcoming Belgrade elections and next parliamentary elections, we fully support European Parliament’s dedication to re-establish the Inter-Party dialogue with the Serbian Parliament and political parties in Serbia, as well as Commissioner Várhelyi’s position that the European Parliament should engage in an inter-party dialogue between the government and the opposition”, reads the statement seen by the European Western Balkans. In a letter to the opposition last week, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Várhelyi emphasized that all parties should continue the dialogue under the mediation of the European Parliament and stressed the crucial role that the opposition should play. According to the statement, previous engagement of the European Parliament was set to produce some progress, but due to the fact that it happened too close to the elections and that the government was solely responsible for implementing its results, the electoral conditions were still not sufficient for the opposition to participate. “European Parliament showed its devotion to help establish a functional democracy, rule of law and media freedom in Serbia as a precondition for the country’s successful integration into the European Union, currently endangered by Serbia’s status as a “hybrid regime”, elections that resulted with there being no parliamentary opposition, and no new chapters opened due to lack of progress in key Chapters 23 and 24,” the statement reads. It stresses that the inter-party dialogue should start as soon as possible.

“The current state of democracy in Serbia requires a thorough and open process with credible results and insurance mechanisms in order to have all political parties participating in the next elections,” it concludes.

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