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Belgrade Media Report 24 September 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 24 September 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Serbia will never agree to humiliations (RTS/RTV/Tanjug)
Possible postponement of second round of dialogue in Brussels over Pristina? (Tanjug)
Schieb: Joksimovic failed to mention that new chapters can be opened only if there is progress (Blic)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms case as response to disclosure of identity of protected witness in case ‘Josipovic et al.’ involving RS PM Viskovic (BHT1)
Dzaferovic addresses UN General Assembly: Illegal migrations in B&H are big problem; Dayton can be changed only with wide political consensus (Hayat)
Sattler: It would be right decision if B&H became part of Mini Schengen initiative (Glas Srpske)
Montenegro

Aleksa Becic appointed president of the parliament of Montenegro (CdM)
Abazovic: We accept proposals for the president of the parliament and prime minister-designate (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Parliament elected deputy ministers in the government (Libertas)
VMRO-DPMNE protests (Republika)
Albania

Albania & Greece PMs meet in Athens, agree to resolve issues (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: Serbia will never agree to humiliations (RTS/RTV/Tanjug

In his remarks to the UN General Assembly, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic pointed out that Serbia is facing a problem in terms of preserving territorial integrity, i.e. efforts to resolve the issue of the autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija, despite all obstacles. “We believe that after a long and difficult dialogue it will be possible to reach a solution, but rest assured that Serbia will never agree to humiliation. For us, anything that is not a compromise is not acceptable, and both sides must be equally satisfied or dissatisfied with the compromise,” he said. is Vucic. “The Republic of Serbia remains committed to finding compromise solution for the issue of Kosovo and to building a common future with politics of peace and cooperation,” Vucic said on Wednesday. He believes that the recent resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the EU auspices, after almost two years of stagnation, is certainly the first step on that path, but that the recent signing of the agreement in Washington is a big step forward. “I am using this opportunity to emphasize and praise the very constructive and important role that the administration of US President Donald Trump played in reaching an agreement, which is an important signal of its commitment to finding a lasting and sustainable solution to this important issue,” Vucic pointed out. The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is the right way to reach a sustainable agreement, Vucic said, but he said that the starting point could not be humiliating and unacceptable for Serbia, and that is the so-called independence of Kosovo. He said that EU membership remains Serbia’s foreign policy goal but added that it does not exclude deeper cooperation with other countries. “We maintain partnership relations with Western countries, including intensive cooperation with the US but at the same time we are proud of our excellent relations with Russia and China,” he said and added that cooperation with African and South American countries is part of the country’s foreign policy but that promoting regional cooperation is a basic tenet of foreign policy. Vucic said that Serbia attaches great importance to UN peacekeeping efforts across the world and recalled that Serbia is the leading country in the Western Balkans and ninth in Europe in terms of contributions to military and police contingents in UN peace operations.

Possible postponement of second round of dialogue in Brussels over Pristina? (Tanjug

Next round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, scheduled for 28 September, called into question by Pristina’s refusal to discuss the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). European diplomatic sources told Tanjug that the next round of expert talks between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the high-level meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of the Interim Institutions of Kosovo Avdulah Hoti are still in question. The problem, as it is unofficially stated, is Pristina’s refusal to discuss the implementation of the agreement from 2013, which implies the formation of the ZSO. Tanjug sources state that the EU told Pristina that it could not choose what it will negotiate and what it will not, because it has already agreed to the designed agenda, which includes talks on the implementation of all unimplemented agreements from the Brussels Agreement. Although the meeting between Vucic and Hoti is planned and announced for September 28, the European External Action Service says that they cannot announce that meeting at the moment. Instead, they note that the dialogue at the expert and high level continues as soon as everything is in place, i.e. as soon as the two sides agree.

Schieb: Joksimovic failed to mention that new chapters can be opened only if there is progress (Blic

German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb told Blic that the EU is assessing whether Serbia is ready to open five chapters in its pre-accession talks as European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic claimed, but warned that no new chapters will be opened without progress on rule of law. “The EU is assessing that at the moment. That is standard procedure but the Minister did not mention that new chapters can only be opened if there is progress in priority chapters. Serbia has to meet its rule of law obligations,” he said. He said that the three most important topics are the reform of the judiciary, implementation of the national media strategy and fight against corruption and that without progress on those issues no new chapters can be opened. “Imagine a ship in the shipyard for maintenance. There’s no sense in modernizing the passenger cabins if the engines haven’t been fixed. Unfortunately, we can’t exclude the possibility that 2020 could be a year lost for Serbia’s negotiations on EU membership if it does not show more commitment to fixing the insides of the ship,” he said. The Ambassador said that he is optimistic and fully believes that the new government and parliament will do everything to make up for lost time. Discussing the Belgrade-Pristina agreement reached in Washington, Schieb praised all activities that lead toward the rapprochement of positions of Serbia and Kosovo, and consequently to the betterment of living conditions of the people on the spot.

He saluted the agreement, but added that certain elements of it have the potential to lead both Serbia and Kosovo away from their respective EU paths. “[Serbia] moving its embassy to Jerusalem is not in accord with the EU’s foreign policy. The fact is that new agreements should not go against what has already been achieved or the obligations which are part of the EU negotiations framework,” Schieb said.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms case as response to disclosure of identity of protected witness in case ‘Josipovic et al.’ involving RS PM Viskovic (BHT1)

The Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) formed a case due to disclosure of identity of a protected witness in case ‘Josipovic et al.’. The Prosecutor’s Office reacted after first the initials of this witness were revealed and then his name and surname were disclosed by certain media outlets in B&H. BHT1 reminds that ‘Josipovic et al.’ case focuses on war crimes committed during the past war in B&H, and amongst others, Republika Srpska (RS) Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic was also mentioned in some parts. The Prosecutor’s Office informed competent state bodies of this incident. The main priority now is to ensure protection of the witness and his family. “The case was formed due to media reports and the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H will conduct all investigations in line with the laws. The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H also received a report against certain employees of the Court of B&H and the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H and in connection to disclosure of identity of the protected witness and unauthorized assignment of documents and it will check the claims stated in this report,” the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H wrote in its statement. The US Embassy underlined that revealing of identity or information that can lead to revealing of identity of the protected witness jeopardizes safety of the witness and negatively affects preparedness of the witnesses to testify in criminal processes, especially in war crimes trials. It was added that protection of information about the witnesses is vital for functioning of professional and independent judicial system. “In sensitive trials such as war crimes proceedings, some witnesses are considered particularly vulnerable and must be protected by the authorities to ensure their safety and integrity of their testimony” the OSCE said, arguing that this is the reason why there are laws governing witness protection in place. “All media, including public service broadcasters, must adhere to the highest standards of professional journalism and reporting. This includes full compliance with witness protection provisions in court reporting. In such cases, journalists have a serious responsibility to the public and those they report on; their professionalism is crucial to ensure that they do not endanger the lives, safety or well-being of victims, witnesses and others involved in the trial,” the OSCE wrote in its statement. The OHR called on the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H to react to the recent case of revealing the identity and the US Embassy warned that the revealing of the identity of the protected witness endangers their safety and negatively impacts the readiness of witnesses to testify in cases. The EU Delegation to B&H reminded that revealing the identity of the protected witness represents a criminal offense and it is up to the authorities to perform a thorough investigation.

Dzaferovic addresses UN General Assembly: Illegal migrations in B&H are big problem; Dayton can be changed only with wide political consensus (Hayat)

B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic addressed the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in a video format on Wednesday. Dzaferovic spoke of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, security and other challenges, as well as relations between B&H and neighboring countries. Dzaferovic also reminded about the problem of illegal migrations.

Speaking of the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), Dzaferovic said that when it was signed, “it seemed fragile, and perhaps even unsustainable, but it proved to be a very strong and resilient stabilization framework that managed to withstand numerous challenges.” “B&H has been living in peace for 25 years and that is of irreplaceable importance bearing in mind our experience of the 1990s, as well as the experience of numerous crisis hotspots that have opened up around the world. However, when we talk about the shortcomings of Dayton, we should never forget that this is a peace agreement, whose primary goal was not to ensure the application of sophisticated constitutional standards, and it is quite natural that it needs an upgrade, which is possible only with wide political consensus. It is very important that all relevant political subjects in our country are deeply aware of the fact that the foundations of Dayton can be changed only through wide consensus and consent of all. Of course, such a situation means that there are no quick and easy changes, and therefore no quick and easy progress, as many expect and demand. But at the same time, this situation guarantees everyone in B&H that they have a significant degree of security and protection,” Dzaferovic underlined. Dzaferovic concluded his video address by saying that B&H has made progress on its European path, as well as that it continues its NATO path.

Sattler: It would be right decision if B&H became part of Mini Schengen initiative (Glas Srpske)

 

In an interview for the daily, EU Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler stated that in a relatively short time, B&H made several good steps forward on its path to the EU and that he hopes that B&H will get several new legislative solutions and strategy for solving war crimes cases by the end of the year. Ambassador Sattler emphasized that Europe showed that it will not leave B&H stranded, as well as that domestic leaders have to demonstrate seriousness and will in action. Commenting on the initiative for B&H to become part of Mini Schengen, Sattler expressed hope that it will have a positive epilogue. “The EU supports regional economic integration, whatever it is called. Essence is important, and those are elements for a common market. We are not only speaking of freedom of movement of people, but also capital, services and goods. It would be the right decision if B&H became part of this initiative,” Sattler underlined. Asked where B&H is on the EU path, Sattler said that events in the last six months clearly showed that progress is possible, even when it comes to very difficult issues. “I want to commend all three members of the B&H Presidency who restarted the process of solving of 14 key priorities from the Opinion of the European Commission (EC) and since then we have seen that progress can be made. The RS government adopted that Public Administration Reform Strategy which had been on hold for a long time, agreement for Mostar was reached, where elections will be held after 12 years, and there is also the parliamentary committee for stabilization and accession, whose work has been unblocked after five years. This goes in favor of what the citizens want and that is quick progress,” Sattler pointed out. He noted that in the next two, three months, one will be working on legislative issues, i.e. laws on public procurement, conflict of interest, the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), as well as on the National War Crimes Processing Strategy. “Those are things that are ready for adoption and I hope that they will be finalized,” Sattler underlined. Asked whether B&H can be part of the EU while it has foreign judges and the OHR, Sattler stressed that the EC’s Opinion says that international supervision is contrary to membership in the EU. “Therefore, this reflects on the OHR, but also on the Constitutional Court (CC). Foreign judges are only one of the elements. It is necessary to ensure professionalism and integrity of the Court and the judges,” Sattler emphasized. As for the implementation of ‘Sejdic and Finci’ verdict, Sattler said that this issue will not disappear, reminding that it is part of the 14 priorities. “There are more verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights related to democracy and exercise of active and passive suffrage and they all need to be implemented. Agreement from Mostar speaks of the implementation of verdicts of the European Court. Next year, which is not an election year, is crucial,” Sattler underlined. Asked where joint contact point for cooperation with EUROPOL should be set up, Sattler said that agreement with EUROPOL is clear and that the contact point should be set up at the B&H Ministry of Security. Speaking of the migrant crisis and how the EU is helping B&H, Sattler said that when it comes to B&H, one is looking for a strategy that will define the manner of management of migrations and equal distribution of responsibility in the country. “It is not ok for about 90 percent of the migrants to be in Una-Sana Canton. Serbia established a good system. Key is not to have big centers with several thousand people, but 200, 300 people in one place. If that happens in B&H as well, the EU will not leave it to deal with that alone, and we bear about 95 percent of the costs anyway,” Ambassador Sattler stated.

 

Aleksa Becic appointed president of the parliament of Montenegro (CdM)

The President of Democrats and holder of the list ‘Peace is our nation’ Aleksa Becic was appointed as new president of the parliament of Montenegro, with 45 votes for him and one against. “It is an honor and privilege to be the first public functionary after the very first democratic change of power in Montenegro. Those who refused to vote should know that I will be fighting for them even more fiercely. I want the opposition to have better status than we had”, Becic said after taking an oath. He said that parliament must be a true representation home of every citizen. He also said that war against organized crime and corruption had to be won. “All things are transient. But Montenegro is eternal. May long live Montenegro,” Becic added.

After the constitutive session of the parliament, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is obliged to set the date of consultations with presidents of parliamentary parties in order to propose prime minister-designate, not later than 30 days.

Abazovic: We accept proposals for the president of the parliament and prime minister-designate (CdM)

Leader of the ‘Black and white’ coalition and URA civil movement Dritan Abazovic said in the parliamentary session that he “agrees that Aleksa Becic should be president of the parliament and that Zdravko Krivokapic prime minister-designate”. He congratulated everyone on the commencement of the new term of office, expressing hope that this convocation will be more efficient and useful than the previous one. “I really wanted to see DPS sitting in that part of the parliament. Make yourself comfortable there and good luck,” Abazovic said. He thinks that everybody has demonstrated democratic maturity. He said that his movement accepted DF proposals for the president of the parliament and prime minister designate. Becic said that turnout in the elections was at historic level and that citizens had decided about their destiny. “We didn’t win only to feel like winners, while others feel like losers. We won to turn the new page that Montenegro needs. That’s the new wave of rising above divisions and primitivism and the path that guarantees Montenegro’s safe future,” Becic said.

 

Parliament elected deputy ministers in the government (Libertas)

 

Last night, within the 13th session, the parliament elected the deputy ministers in the government with 62 votes ‘for’, 44 ‘against’. Bashkim Hasani was elected deputy Minister of Defense, Nazim Bushi was elected Minister of Interior, and Agim Nuhiu was elected Minister of Justice. Ilhan Rahman is the new deputy Minister in charge of the Ministry of Political System and Inter-Community Relations, and Fatmire Isaki is the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Dimitar Kovacevski will be the deputy Minister in the Ministry of Finance, and Zoran Manevski in the Ministry of Economy. In the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy, the deputy Minister will be Trajan Dimkovski, who previously held the ministerial position in the same Ministry. Ilir Hasani has been elected deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health. Arafat Sabani is the new deputy Minister in the Ministry of Education and Science, Enver Husejin in the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Zoran Dimitrovski in the Ministry of Local Self-Government and Sedat Sulejmani in the Ministry of Culture. Deputy Minister of Information Society and Administration will be Aleksandar Bajdevski, in the Ministry of Transport and Communications Bekim Redzepi, and in the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Hristina Odzaklieska. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said the proposed deputy ministers were experts, deserving of a chance, and called on the opposition to support them. He said he would encourage both ministers and deputies to co-operate with parliament. The MPs from SDSM said that the MPs from the opposition are leading a contest in who will present more untruths, insults and slanders about the Prime Minister, the representatives of the majority and the candidates for deputy ministers. Nenad Kocic said that they expect the deputies, together with the ministers and the prime minister, to fight for the realization of the government’s program and for the direction chosen by the majority of citizens – NATO, economic development and the EU integration.

VMRO-DPMNE protests (Republika)

Thousands of people joined the protest of VMRO-DPMNE against injustices, revanchism and violence. The protest started in front of the Ministry of Justice, and the citizens led by the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE reminded that the mafia of Zoran Zaev should resign. Macedonia is a country where innocent people are in prison, while the country is shaken by scandals with crime and corruption by the government on a daily basis, protesters said. In addition to the debate on deputy ministers, tonight the opposition MPs blamed the health and the leather industry in Stip, where, as they said, the dismissal of workers is imminent. They talked about dealing with the coronavirus, tobacco, viticulture, marketing and low product prices, education, the economy… Lidija Petkoska from VMRO-DPMNE believes that tourism is on the verge of collapse. He appealed to the proposed deputy ministers, especially for economy and finance, to meet with the tourism workers tomorrow and to review their requests, which, as he said, were submitted to the mentioned ministries in June this year. MP Dimitar Apasiev from the Left said that among the proposed deputy ministers there are people with rich biographies and agreed that they should be given a chance, but there are also “old characters who have baggage from the past.” MP Merita Kolci Kodzadziku said that DUI will support all the proposed deputy ministers, but will also criticize them, if necessary. They expect from them active participation, maximum involvement in the initiated processes and in the policies for good interethnic and neighborhood policies. She said that she had analyzed the biographies of the candidates for deputy ministers and was convinced that they would help in the ministries where they were proposed. Public Prosecutor at the proposal of the opposition, prevention of revanchism, pressure and political labeling in the administration, establishment of Commission for Protection against Discrimination, reopening of all cases where injustice was felt. These are the four requests VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski made at Wednesday’s protest, who said that “justice in Macedonia is under attack”. The first request, Mickoski pointed out, is the fulfillment of the promise given, as he said, by the “mafia when it was in opposition”, to give the opposition the opportunity to propose an independent and impartial Public Prosecutor, who, as he said, “will eradicate crime”, starting from the first case ending with the last, regardless of political affiliation. This should not be an obstacle for Zaev, because he proposed the same before coming to power. Public prosecutor at the proposal of the opposition, said Mickoski. Second, he urgently called for the prevention of revanchism, pressure and political labeling in the administration, the military, the Ministry of Interior. To all who have been wronged, regardless of affiliation and political orientation. VMRO-DPMNE offers them free legal aid. All those who feel oppressed and are under pressure from the government, are the target of revenge by the government, VMRO-DPMNE is available for free legal aid. Third, said Mickoski, the country is currently without a Commission for Protection against Discrimination. He demanded the most urgent establishment of the commission and the adoption of a new Law on Protection against Discrimination. Those who are subject to blackmail, threats must be protected, said Mickoski.

Fourth, he added, all cases that are known to the public, where injustice, pressure, blackmail and revenge are felt, where justice is not protected, all cases of crime, for which the government is now silent, to be opened and revised. Equally, said Mickoski, to be subject to analysis of why no action was taken, and should have been taken.

 

Albania & Greece PMs meet in Athens, agree to resolve issues (Tirana Times)

Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis have agreed to work on resolving outstanding issues and enhance further cooperation between the two countries after meeting in Athens on Tuesday evening. Initially, the two Prime Ministers were expected to discuss about Greece’s plan to expand its maritime borders in the Ionian Sea – a matter which has sparked debate in Albania since Mitsotakis first announced it in 26 August. However, the official announcement by the Greek government did not mention any details of the subject. Discussions also centered on the Greek minority in Albania, “which should be a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples, while the emphasis was on strengthening bilateral economic and trade relations,” the announcement reads. Talks of the maritime delimitation resurfaced after Mitsotakis announced that the Greek government would soon submit a plan to expand its maritime borders from 6 to 12 miles in the Ionian Sea. In response to the Greek PM’s announcement, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania later stated that the expansion of the maritime border of Greece has nothing to do with the Albanian-Greek maritime border. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania at the time said that “this is an issue that is regulated by international law and specifically by the Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982.” 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. Speaking at a trade fair earlier last week, Greece’s Prime Minister Mitsotakis said Greece would buy 18 new fighter jets from France to replace the obsolete Mirage 2000 fleet of aircraft. Athens will also purchase four new naval helicopters and as many frigates.

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