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Belgrade Media Report 28 September 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 28 September 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic on Kosovo: We are ready for difficult solutions, as there’re no easy ones (Tanjug/B92)
Lajcak: Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels postponed (Tanjug)
Drecun: EU continues to yield to Pristina (TV Pink)
Djuric: Hoti cannot run away from formation of ZSO (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Ambassador: Israel not yet technically recognized Kosovo, process is underway (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Recent Dodik’s statement on possible Serb-Croat declaration to leave B&H resumes to spark reactions (N1)
Mehmedovic: Dayton Agreement needs to be completely revised (Oslobodjenje)
Sarovic and Borenovic harshly react to Plenkovic’s request before UN GA for change of DPA (BN TV)
DF: EU institutions should penalize Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic (Dnevni list)
Croatia

Plenkovic before UN GA: Equality of Croats in B&H remains our highest priority (TCN)
Croatian officials will discuss status of B&H Croats with US State Secretary Pompeo (Vecernji list)
Dodik: Croats in B&H have been pushed to the limit; if Bosniaks keep insisting on civic state, Croats and Serbs will probably demand to leave B&H (Vecernji list)
Djukanovic: SPC is an instrument of great Serbian nationalism and Russian interests in the Balkans (Jutarnji.hr)
Montenegro

Thorny road to a new government: How to cope with negative emotions (CdM)
Abazovic and Medojevic are potential candidates for the function of coordinator of all security services (Dnevne novine)
Picula: New government should be formed within deadline set by Constitution (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia

Zaev spoke to Borisov in an attempt to avoid the Bulgarian veto (Republika)
Albania

Croatian Ambassador: Serbia must forget myths (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbia to boost ties with Turkey: President (Anadolu Agency)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic on Kosovo: We are ready for difficult solutions, as there’re no easy ones (Tanjug/B92

On Saturday, in Pranjani near Gornji Milanovac, we confirm the strength of friendship with our American, British and Canadian allies from the Second World War. This was announced by the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, on his Instagram profile “Buducnostrbijeav”. The 76th anniversary of the World War II Operation Halyard, during which more than 500 Allied airmen and crew members were rescued, was marked on Friday in Pranjani village, central Serbia. The ceremony was opened by John Capello, retired US Air Force officer and Halyard Mission Foundation President, who paid respects to the pilots killed in the jet fighter crash a day before. “We will always respect the past and build the future together,” he underlined. David Tabor, Commanding General at Special Operations Command, Europe, said it was necessary to work together to overcome all challenges. “This is an important day and we must remember the ordinary Serbs, who did the impossible in 1944. Your predecessors risked their families to save the Americans…although they were threatened by horrible retaliation,” he added. Vucic also addressed the event, saying that the people of central Serbia showed courage and that the Serbs then became the brothers in arms with Americans, Englishmen and Canadians. “We had the largest number of wars in the 20th century. The Serbian people proportionally lost the most people. Today, there are far fewer of us than there would be. But we have always proudly guarded our homeland and claimed to preserve the honor of the Serbian nation,” says Vucic in Pranjani. However, as he further states, we have always found a way to share and think the worst of each other. “That time has passed and I am convinced that the time of our unity has come. It is important that we are united when it comes to Serbia. That is why it is very important for us to preserve peace, to have more children in the future. Serbia has no future if we do not think about it. Where life is best, we have the fewest children,” Vucic said. He thanked Trump once again, and stated that he was convinced that the President of the United States would visit Serbia and try Sumadija brandy on that occasion. He said everyone could find a reason to blame the another because this relationship changed during the 1990s, especially in 1999 after the NATO bombing of former Yugoslavia. Vucic said that Serbia is ready for talks with Pristina, for difficult solutions, but he also added that “two are needed for tango”. In Pranjani, Vucic told the press that Serbia was and remained ready for talks, regardless of the fact that some others were not. “Unlike them, I can’t play blaming games. Something has to change in the society in Pristina, to understand that only a compromise solution is a solution and that it won’t happen that someone takes a hammer and hits me in the head or Serbia, so Serbia will be forced to recognize independence,” he said. He told Pristina to sit down and think about what could be an essential, compromise solution. “We are ready for talks and difficult solutions, because there are no easy ones,” he concluded. When asked who came up with the idea to name Lake Gazivode after the American president, he states: “Our people in Kosovo love Trump. How can anyone not understand that, they experienced the worst hardships during the previous administrations. As far as I have seen, people made it themselves. What do you think – that we should kneel before those who bombed our country? We won’t do that, and I’m not ashamed to say it.”

Lajcak: Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels postponed (Tanjug

The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina at the expert level in Brussels, scheduled for Monday, 28 September, has been postponed. EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak said the reason for the delay was the coronavirus pandemic. The potential date of the postponed meeting was not determined. “Out of abundance of caution related to COVID19, the Dialogue meeting scheduled for Monday next week will be postponed”, Lajcak said on Twitter. The Office of the Special Representative states that the delay was due to the quarantine of one of the participants by the EU mediator in the dialogue.

Drecun: EU continues to yield to Pristina (TV Pink

The Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun assessed on Saturday that the EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina Miroslav Lajcak is leading the process badly because, as he says, he is giving Pristina a chance not to stick to the agreement. “Lajcak can refer to the corona virus, but he cannot hide the truth that Pristina undermines the continuation of the talks and does not want to reach any agreement, but is just trying to get recognition from Belgrade and nothing else,” Drecun told TV Pink. He points out that instead of the EU insisting in order to show that Belgrade has a valid interlocutor who is ready to negotiate and implement something, he adds that it allows Pristina to behave like that. “That is why Belgrade cannot trust the Albanians that they will realize what we will agree on in the future,” Drecun stated.

Djuric: Hoti cannot run away from formation of ZSO (Tanjug/RTS/RTV

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric stated today that Avdulah Hoti cannot run away from the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), and added that the issue will be closed once the ZSO is formed. “Hoti can lie to the public as much as he wants, but he will not run away from the creation of the ZSO. He sings another song at the meetings in Brussels, and not only promises to enable the formation of the so, but also guarantees additional powers for it, he said. “The issue of the ZSO will be closed when it is formed in accordance with the agreements reached in Brussels, and not even then, because the ZSO is has been designed and agreed as an institution that can evolve and expand its membership and competencies,” said Djuric.

Ambassador: Israel not yet technically recognized Kosovo, process is underway (Politika

The new Ambassador of Israel to Serbia Jahel Vilan stated that Israel has not yet technically recognized the so-called Kosovo. “Procedures are not over, there were no meetings among officials, diplomatic notes were not exchanged, but that does not mean that the process is not ongoing or that it can be reversed,” Vilan said in an interview with Politika. Asked why Israel changed its mind about Kosovo’s independence after 12 years of refusing to recognize it, Vilan said there were two reasons why recognizing Kosovo was a problem – the first was that recognizing such a unilateral move could benefit Palestinians, and the second is the relationship with Serbia. “I understood the statements of President Vucic, as well as what he told me, and we will try to work with maximum respect for Serbia. President Vucic said some things directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Vilan. When asked whether he talked with President Vucic about the transfer of the Serbian embassy to Jerusalem, Vilan answered that no details were discussed. “Israel is grateful to Mr. Vucic for what he has done for our relations and for his decision, made before the Washington summit, to open an economic office in Jerusalem, which is an important move not only economically but also politically for both countries,” he said. Vilan.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Recent Dodik’s statement on possible Serb-Croat declaration to leave B&H resumes to spark reactions (N1

The recent statement of member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency and leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik that Serbs and Croats in B&H might adopt the joint declaration to leave B&H if Bosniak political representatives continue to insist on their civic state concept resumes to spark reactions. Member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic emphasized that any possible declarations signed by Dodik and leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic are not mandatory for anyone, because Dodik and Covic are not exclusive representatives of Serbs and Croats. Youth Association of SDA also commented this statement and underlined that Dodik’s rhetoric invoking new conflicts and divisions is forcing young people, mostly Serbs to leave B&H. Youth Organization of SNSD provided response by saying that people are actually forced to leave B&H due to feelings caused by SDA’s statements about war. Reporter commented that Dodik’s announcement of abovementioned declaration, the recent letter he sent to the US President and the initiative to relocate B&H Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem heated political debates in B&H. B&H Presidency was brought into situation to discuss the initiative to relocate B&H Embassy in Israel, as well as the initiative to recognize Kosovo as an independent country. MP in B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Denis Zvizdic (SDA) stressed that the initiative on B&H Embassy in Israel will not be accepted, adding that a special session of the Republika Srpska (RS) parliament dedicated to the decision of the Presidency of B&H concerning recognition of Kosovo will be held. “Of course, Dodik will use this opportunity to talk for entire day about protection of Serbs and Serb interests. I do not think these decisions are productive. B&H Presidency, B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) and all parliaments in B&H should deal with topics much more important for B&H and its international rating”, explained Zvizdic. Vice President of PDP Igor Crnadak stressed that the RS politicians confronted foreign policy goals of the EU in regards to topics important for people in this entity, including prevention of B&H to join the EU in imposing sanctions against Russia. He went on to saying that if the RS wants to join the EU, they should not confront the Union’s foreign policies in regards to rather irrelevant topics.

Mehmedovic: Dayton Agreement needs to be completely revised (Oslobodjenje

 

The daily carried an interview with B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) member Semsudin Mehmedovic (SDA). Asked to comment the fact that there has been no progress in talks on changes to B&H Election Law or formation of new Federation of B&H (FB&H) Government, Mehmedovic said that since the 2018 elections, centers of power have been reduced to individuals and electoral will of people is being ignored, which has resulted in very undemocratic processes throughout B&H. According to him, B&H Constitutional Court needs to explicitly state who is violating the Constitution. “Election Law is one thing, and implementation of election results something entirely different. There can be no blackmailing,” Mehmedovic emphasized. According to him, forces which are trying to preserve B&H are in position where they have to make agreements with advocates of policies of genocide and joint criminal enterprise. Therefore, he argued, the presence and engagement of the international community must be much stronger. “I think this is the time for complete revision of the Dayton Peace Agreement,” said Mehmedovic. “The time we are living in is war after war. Nothing has been resolved!” he added. According to Mehmedovic, the Dayton Agreement was an experiment which failed and it therefore needs to be revised in presence of the international community. He also argued that the Bonn powers need to be put to use again, and purpose of the existing form of OHR reexamined. According to Mehmedovic, current state is suitable for flourishing of corruption and crime. He accused the international community of being hypocritical and siding with “policies of joint criminal enterprise and genocide instead of promoting values of modern democratic and advanced societies”. “Hereby I mean (High Representative Valentin) Inzko and some people in OHR structures who are serving certain alienated political centers of power”, Mehmedovic clarified. Commenting recent talks between SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, Mehmedovic said that nobody believes in progress of those talks anymore because Covic is serving interests of Croatia. He also accused Croatia of working against interests of B&H and emphasized that Croat people in B&H needs to distance itself from HDZ B&H’s policies which are not bringing any solutions but are instead making relations within B&H more complicated. Speaking about the upcoming election and the future of the pro-Bosnian coalition of SD, SBB and DF, Mehmedovic said that statements of SBB leader Fahrudin Radoncic who said that SBB wants to leave Government of FB&H but it is being held hostage by poor relations at the entity level can be viewed as political distancing from policies of blockades and destabilization. He underlined that progress requires political stability and institutional security. “We are in reality hostages of our own weakness. Regardless of daily attacks and destabilization of the state and policies of pro-Bosnian parties, we must reach agreement on political step forward through concrete moves, and not reactions and criticism against those who obviously do not see B&H as their own. Such people must be eliminated from political life of B&H,” said Mehmedovic. According to him, B&H cannot win the fight against retrograde policies which enjoy institutional support of neighboring countries without support of friends from the international community. He also added that it is necessary to use the Bonn powers in order to regulate the work of High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council. Speaking about relations with neighbors, Mehmedovic said that Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia as neighboring countries should be B&H’s main partners. However, their attitude towards B&H needs to change and they need to view B&H as an equal partner, said Mehmedovic. He added that those countries need to stop solving their internal problems through their satellites in B&H. “Development of B&H’s institutional capacities need to stand against aggressive policies of our neighbors is being blocked by their satellites in B&H. Croatia committed aggression against B&H and usurped part of B&H’s sea, it usurped significant B&H property in Croatia, it is building a nuclear waste disposal site which jeopardizes health and lives of our citizens, it has a bad neighborly policy towards B&H and presents us as a problem to the world by falsifying reports. It is stigmatizing an entire people as potential danger, while at the same times it uses our national treasures,” said Mehmedovic. According to him, Serbia too is doing all of this and more, and it opposes any progress of B&H. He warned that recent events in North Macedonia and Montenegro indicate that B&H needs to be on alert in order to avoid being used as a bargaining chip in Serbia’s relations with Kosovo.

Sarovic and Borenovic harshly react to Plenkovic’s request before UN GA for change of DPA (BN TV

 

Ahead of this year’s marking the 25th anniversary of signing the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) that brought peace in B&H, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic requested change of the DPA while he addressed the online session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) on Saturday evening. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic and PDP leader Branislav Borenovic harshly reacted to Plenkovic’s request, assessing it to be very dangerous bearing in mind that Plenkovic supports HDZ B&H, which has strategic cooperation with SNSD led by Milorad Dodik. In his reaction, Sarovic said: “Whoever considers accepting that initiative coming from Croatia he works against interests of RS. Whether that is Dodik or someone else, I want to clearly say this. I do not know whether or not that was a subject of discussion (during Dodik’s recent visit) in Zagreb, but the DPA revision is out of question. That is playing with the fate of the RS and the people.” Sarovic emphasized the need to preserve the DPA in its current form, assessing that its proper implementation can only bring progress. “That type of adventurism and playing with something we achieved with so many sacrifices during the war can only be thought out by a mindless person”, the SDS leader noted. The SDS leader added that the DPA revision should not be advocated by someone living outside B&H, reminding that change of “a single letter” of the Constitution of B&H, stemming from the DPA, requires agreement by representatives of peoples in B&H. In his opinion, Plenkovic’s initiative will fail. Borenovic shares Sarovic’s stance, underscoring that any DPA revision is out of question because it could be detrimental to the RS. Borenovic warned that changing the DPA threatens to lead to re-tailoring of the RS, which could either cause its fragmentation or reduce it in size.

DF: EU institutions should penalize Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic (Dnevni list

 

DF issued a statement, which reads that Croatian Prime Minister (PM) Andrej Plenkovic, who is the Prime Minister of an EU Member Country, directly called for failure to implement ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA). Namely, DF argues that PM Plenkovic used phrases and political constructions, such as alleged need for achieving full status of constituent people and adoption of corresponding Law on Elections of B&H, which was in fact a direct call not to implement ECHR rulings in B&H. DF further said that in the case ‘Zornic’, the ECHR labeled the issue of constituent peoples are consequences of genocide and ethnic cleansing, which is why, according to DF, the principle of constituent people should be fully dismissed. All this led DF to say the party is of opinion that institutions of the European Union should appropriately penalize political and public obstruction of the ECHR’s ruling committed by a Prime Minister of an EU Member Country.

 

Plenkovic before UN GA: Equality of Croats in B&H remains our highest priority (TCN

 

Croatian President Andrej Plenkovic addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday. Part of his speech was dedicated to B&H. He emphasized that the Dayton Peace Agreement which stopped the war was signed 25 years ago. “In the meantime, this part of Europe changed for the better, but some problems remain and they deserve our full attention. Croatia believes that the anniversary should be used to consider accomplishments of the Agreement, but also the current situation in B&H, in order to firmly direct this country towards its European path. Full equality of Croats in B&H remains our highest priority” said Plenkovic.

Croatian officials will discuss status of B&H Croats with US State Secretary Pompeo (Vecernji list

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Croatia. According to daily’s sources, one of the topics will also be situation in B&H and status of Croats in B&H. The daily claims that Croatia as a signatory of Dayton Peace Agreement played a crucial role in ending the war in B&H, but violations of the agreement to the detriment of Croats are reason enough for a diplomatic offensive. According to the daily, Bosniaks announced that they will elect and impose Croat representatives at all levels of authorities, and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic recently referred to Croats as minority, which has caused outrage among Croatian officials and Croats in B&H. This can be interpreted as intention of Bosniaks to eliminate the status of constitutive people for Croats. According to diplomatic sources, US partners are well-aware of the problem which can completely destabilize the country. The daily argued that such conflict with Croats would surely ignite secessionist ambitions of Republika Srpska (RS). The daily’s sources claim that this issue will also be main topic of next week’s visit of B&H Presidency members to Brussels. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has decided to raise the issue of status of B&H Croats to the highest level, and he will meet with Izetbegovic in the next ten days. The daily concludes that Croatia will not sit aside while Croats in B&H are being outvoted, and that Plenkovic will try to bring Izetbegovic back to the table to discuss Election Law with HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic.

Dodik: Croats in B&H have been pushed to the limit; if Bosniaks keep insisting on civic state, Croats and Serbs will probably demand to leave B&H (Vecernji list

 

The daily carried an interview with B&H Presidency member and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. Commenting his recent visit to Zagreb, Dodik said that he communicates with Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on a regular basis, and emphasized that normal communication is necessary. He explained that he was invited by Milanovic but he met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic as well, and underlined that this visit was not aimed against anyone. Asked why other Presidency members were not invited as well, Dodik said that this is a question for the hosts. According to him, Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic is probably viewed in Zagreb as someone who exploited constitutional rights of Croats in a very cunning way. Dodik added that Croatian leadership probably realized this ad decided to give full support to the constitutive status of B&H Croats. He noted that Croats cannot forget threats of Bosniak leaders who say that they will elect other Croat representatives at lower levels like they did with Komsic. Commenting the statement of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic who said that his visit to Zagreb will worsen B&H’s relations with Croatia, Dodik said that Izetbegovic is worsening the relations, along with those who denied Croatia’s right to build the Peljesac Bridge. However, he underlined, there are real open issues such as Croatia’s plans to construct the nuclear waste disposal site close to B&H border in Trgovska Gora. “That is why it is important to open communication. And my visit was contribution to better understanding. Izetbegovic’s statement indicates that he believes that Bosniaks represent B&H, and that is not true: I did not speak against anyone in Zagreb, including Bosniaks” said Dodik. Speaking about relations between Croats in B&H and Croatia, Dodik said that the so-called ‘Herzeg-Bosnia’ was traded for integrity and independence of Croatia. He also argued that Croatia did not know how to or did not want to fight for national interests of B&H Croats during its negotiations on EU membership. However, he underlined, Croatia today has no reason why it should not get involved and help protect the collective rights of B&H Croats. Commenting Milanovic’s statement that Croatia will not support one-sided changes of Dayton Agreement, Dodik said that this statement is very important for the position of Croats. Speaking about his own political interests, Dodik said that his main interest is preservation of constitutive status for all peoples. He underlined that Komsic is only formally the Croat member of Presidency, and that all of his initiatives serve interests of Bosniaks. “Croats must have their authentic representative. If that does not happen, B&H has no reason to continue living” said Dodik. According to him, Croats have been pushed all the way to the wall, and they need to take a stance and insist on it. Dodik noted that it is absurd that SDA insists on civic state, while Croats and Serbs reject that idea. “If they keep insisting on that, it is probably that the representatives of the two peoples (Serbs and Croats) will pass a joint declaration and demand that they leave B&H because their rights guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Agreement will be violated,” said Dodik.

Asked if this would lead to a new war, Dodik said that there will be no new war, and that there is nothing that Bosniaks could do if Republika Srpska (RS) decided to secede. He explained that Bosniak member of Presidency cannot deploy Armed Forces without consent of Serb member of Presidency, and Federation of B&H police cannot cross the entity borderline. “We want to make political decisions here, and they want to keep their right to be tutors and outvote the two other peoples by threatening with war. If they want ‘Bosnia’, as majority people they must make many concessions” said Dodik. He argued that the present situation in B&H reminds him of the situation in former Yugoslavia. He admitted that in some ways, Serbs acted so arrogantly in former Yugoslavia that they gave right to other peoples to secede. However, he warned, Bosniaks are acting even more arrogantly today in B&H. Asked to explain why he keeps comparing status of Kosovo with the RS, while the international community dismisses any such comparison, Dodik said that Serbs have listened to the foreigners for far too long. According to him, the US Administration gave its support to Bosniaks and it has been working on creation of unitary B&H. “We no longer want to be naive fools and applaud to that”, Dodik underlined. He added that it is fortunate that Croats have HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic who is working on realization of constitutive status and quality for Croats. He argued that a national minority of former Yugoslavia has the right to declare independence, there is no reason why a constitutive people from B&H should not have the same right. He argued that Croats maybe should also raise the same issue of their status.

Djukanovic: SPC is an instrument of great Serbian nationalism and Russian interests in the Balkans (Jutarnji.hr

Montenegrin President Milo Dukanovic said that “it is more that obvious that Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) was not only inappropriately involved in the elections, but it was also the most active political actor”. SPC has continuously been, Djukanovic said, an instrument of great Serbian nationalism and Russian imperial interests in the Balkans, only this time “it was open about it”. Parliament of Montenegro is constituted, president was appointed and prime minister-designate has been proposed. In line with the Constitution, it’s your turn now, isn’t it?

With the constitution of the parliament, legitimization of the election process has entered the final phase. Candidate for the president of the government has been announced informally. I say informally because there’s one-month deadline for the consultations between the president of the country and leaders of political parties. The government must be formed within the next 90 days.

You did not attend constitutive session. Why? 

I was prevented by commitments I took on earlier. That’s a part of protocol anyway. It is more important that we have acknowledged the results of the elections. We’ll do our best to make the transfer of power as easy and smooth as possible.

What’s your comment on the fact that the governing coalition agreed on the division of functions with the mediation of Metropolitan Amfilohije? 

That’s not unusual. It is more that obvious that SPC was not only inappropriately involved in the elections, but it was also the most active political actor. SPC has continuously been an instrument of great Serbian nationalism and Russian imperial interests in the Balkans, only this time it was open about it. One of the SPC spokespeople said after the elections that SOC would withdraw from political life and this confirmed what I have just stated. However, his superiors disagreed with that. They decided who the holder of that policy will be. That’s our reality, we must face it and preserve Montenegro as civil and secular state with multi-ethnic democracy and European values.

Your statement that you are ready to defend Montenegro not only in the parliament but also from the woods provoked a storm. Is the situation really that bad that it could lead to civil war? 

It is not that bad. Montenegro is the most stable society in the WB. I firmly believe that we can pass this test too. The government changed after 30 years. The opposition, which has never been in power so far, has to adapt and learn. And on the other side, the former government has to learn to act as opposition. That message about fighting in the woods, if necessary, I sent to those who started to interpret the result of the election too simply. There’s a thesis in national and international public that result of the elections has jeopardized Montenegrin state. These elections were not about the state. The decision on the state was brought 14 years ago. But if anybody from Montenegro and the region believes that change of power can jeopardize our country, then they must know that we will defend it. Therefore, it was not a foreboding or expression of the present reality.

Major geopolitical games have been played in the Balkans for centuries. How real is the speculation over Serbia’s compensation for the loss of Kosovo with concessions related to Montenegro and Republika Srpska? 

Everything is changing really fast on global scene, expect for that unfavorable Balkan reality. That’s one of Balkan misconceptions, wrong perceptions. The Balkan region has always been on the front line of different global interests. Several years ago, we were target of Russian interests that wanted to prevent Montenegro from acceding NATO. We can’t rule out the possibility that great Serbian interests have not been fulfilled yet. So far, I haven’t heard any relevant Belgrade address denying this. The process of Kosovo’s accession to UN is underway, and those who cherish great Serbian aspirations could believe there’s some sort of compensation. But these are all illusions.

Leaders of the governing bloc signed the joint statement in which they claim they will not change Montenegro’s foreign policy. Do you know how that resonated with the West? 

That way, they gave us greatest recognition. Did that surprise somebody in the West? Of course not, because that agreement was initiated by the West. They would not make such salto mortale without suggestion of the west. I am more prone to believe acts not words. We’ve heard some saying Montenegro is free after 75 years. In 1945, Montenegro was free from fascism and also from Serbian occupation that started in 1918.

You openly accused Serbia of meddling into the election process in Montenegro and of expressing verbal and political aggression. Have you talked about that with Aleksandar Vucic? 

There is almost no Serbian official who has not directly and brutally interfered in the political life of Montenegro and in the election process. There’s no dilemma that Serbia provided logistics support for great Serbia nationalism in Montenegro. I have talked with Serbia’s president recently and pointed to that, but his reply was covered in the cloak of worry for the endangered rights of Serbian minorities in neighboring countries. I had an impression that Vucic has taken some actions towards media, which resulted in slight relief of aggression.

What will be the co-habitation like? In Croatia, we enjoy very stable and firm co-habitation. Will it be even firmer in Montenegro? 

It will be normal co-habitation, at least as far as I’m concerned.

It will be challenging anyway, because Aleksa Becic asked you to resign a couple of days ago. 

Anyone can ask for my resignation, and I can ask him to resign right now. I am legitimately elected president of this country, I am very proud of everything we have achieved and I think we should keep going the same way. Nobody will threaten my functioning as President.

 

Thorny road to a new government: How to cope with negative emotions (CdM

President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic announced he was going to propose a candidate for the next prime minister by 23 October. Zdravko Krivokapic, the leader of the coalition For the Future of Montenegro is most likely to become it. All 41 MPs making up a new parliamentary majority in the parliament of Montenegro agree that a university professor Krivokapic should run the government. However, it’s already obvious that the negotiations about the formation of a new government will be long and uncertain having in mind different views, programs and priorities of the ruling majority gathered around the three blocs – For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation and Black on White. Few days after winning a slender majority in the parliament, the public could witness the disagreements on who should be running the security departments in the government. The Democratic Front, DF, believes they should be running the security sector in the country, as they won 27 seats in the elections, while the Black on White bloc, that is, the civic URA movement, headed by Dritan Abazovic, claims a new government should comprise experts and must not be run by those who provoke divisions by their actions and stir negative emotions in a number of citizens. The DF has understood that the URA movement clearly meant on Andrija Mandic, Milan Knezevic, Nebojsa Medojevic and Marko Milacic. On the other hand, the Movement for Changes, a party within the Democratic Front whose leader is Medojevic, has stated they are interested in specific positions in a new government that would enable the implementation of their program priorities. “The Movement for Changes will demand only what belongs to it based on election results and the will of voters. We won’t impose any requirements and accept all staff proposals of our coalition partners. A new government should be formed as soon as possible, in a fair and human way,” the Movement for Changes told CdM. Of the 27 seats in the parliament won by the bloc For the Future of Montenegro, the Movement for Changes controls five. On Abazovic’s statement that he has to preserve the national interests of Montenegro and cannot allow the Serbian politicians to run the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Justice, one of the leaders of the DF, Milan Knezevic, has noted that it’s his legitimate right. “I guess the solution lies somewhere in between, but it’s why we need to talk,” claims Knezevic, but stated last week in the Parliament of Montenegro that a new government would not be set up by Zeljko Ivanovic and Vijesti who backed Abazovic’s Black on White bloc. In addition, Krivokapic announced that the negotiations on the formation of a new government would be lengthy and exhausting.

Abazovic and Medojevic are potential candidates for the function of coordinator of all security services (Dnevne novine

Leader of URA Civil Movement, Dritan Abazovic, and president of the Movement for Changes Nebojsa Medojevic are potential candidates for the very important function – vice-president of the Government coordinator of all security services, Dnevne novine unofficially finds out.

And while embassies of West European countries are openly “pushing” Abazovic, Medojevic is being supported by Democratic Front, the strongest constituent of the governing coalition. This organization of the government irresistibly reminds of the organization of the government of Serbia in 2012, when Ivica Dacic served as prime minister and Aleksandar Vucic took over the function of the vice-president of the government of Serbia and coordinator for security and fight against corruption. That lasted for a year, and then Vucic took over the prime minister function. He gained popularity by coordinating arrest of ‘Delta’ owner, Miroslav Miskovic. On the other side, leader of ‘Black and white’ coalition Dritan Abazovic said earlier that he did not expect “people who are not serious” to take over sectors relating to national security. He also demanded that leaders of Front not be ministers in the new government. Medojevic, on the other side, said that only criminals and smugglers could oppose his participation in the government. Media have published recently that leaders of DF were under terrible pressure of national public and EU embassies. Future prime minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic should start informal consultations with governing parties this week. The data that MFC announced formation of its own club proves that this DF constituent is preparing to take over a very important function. Such decision came from the need of the MFC to be recognized again and Medojevic’s desire to strengthen his position within government.

Picula: New government should be formed within deadline set by Constitution (RTCG

During the regional online conference ‘Time of Challenges – Cohesion of Berlin process and EU Integration of the Western Balkans’, the European Parliament Rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula shared his hopes that a new government in Montenegro would be formed in line with deadline prescribed by the Constitution and would deal with the major problems of the country. During the conference, Vladimir Bilcik, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the EU-Montenegro SAPC, had a message as well. Bilcik told that Europe wanted to see reforms and they shouldn’t be implemented in Brussels but rather in the countries of the region. According to Picula, Montenegro is now going through the period that most countries have already faced, adding that this whole thing has been a unique experience for the EU. “This is the first time that we have the change of power in Montenegro. The opposition got the opportunity to form a new government, whereas the former ruling coalition now has to prepare itself to become an opposition. In a way, it’s a democratic process, but there are many issues when it comes to Montenegro due to the nature of the former opposition bloc and how they perceive the relations with neighbors, primarily Serbia, Kosovo and all other countries… It’s normal to ask,” Picula said. “The EU is quite interested in the intentions of a new parliamentary majority and the first steps of the new government. Let’s hope for the best – that the new government will be formed within the deadlines determined by the Constitution and that it’d start dealing with the major issues of the country” he added. “We need to hear a clear message: Europe is our strategic goal. That’s true and something like that doesn’t prevent a partnership with China or other countries, but we must hear that clear message followed by relevant changes in those countries.”

Zaev spoke to Borisov in an attempt to avoid the Bulgarian veto (Republika

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev spoke on the phone with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to discuss the growing dispute over Goce Delcev and other historic heroes and national identity issues. Zaev’s office issued a press release saying that he and Borisov are planning a meeting in Bulgaria soon to discuss the dispute in more detail. Prime Minister Borisov pointed out that Bulgaria remains determined in its support for the European future of Macedonia, and together with Prime Minister Zaev they expressed assurance that both sides remain engaged in implementing the Friendship Treaty, Zaev’s office said. The 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty declares that Macedonia and Bulgaria will work to create a shared historic narrative, and that the treaty is key to Macedonia’s EU integration. As Bulgaria holds the veto power in EU, it recently announced that it will not allow the opening of accession talks for Macedonia until the Macedonian government implements the treaty in full – in effect, until it accepts many elements of the Bulgarian historical narrative. Bulgaria also sent a strongly worded memorandum to the European Council, in which the Macedonian nation is declared as a recent creation, separating itself out of the Bulgarian nation, and that the Macedonian language is actually a Bulgarian dialect.

 

Croatian Ambassador: Serbia must forget myths (ADN

 

The Croatian Ambassador to Albania, Zlatko Kramaric touching upon the expected visit of the US Secretary M. Pompeo to Croatia told Albanian Daily News “it is a confirmation of a clear friendship and strategic partnership between one world authority and one EU member state.”

In a comment on the Agreement signed in Washington lately in the frame of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, the Croatian Ambassador was of the opinion that when the witness to that Agreement is the American president himself then it is certainly something that adds special weight. “It seems to me that the Agreement in Washington is a part of a broader geopolitical picture, where generally acceptable political solutions will be reached through certain economic measures and some peculiarities and nuances will no longer be taken into account. American politics is tired of the old diseases of the Balkan countries, all suffering from “burdens of the past.” According to Kramaric, of course Brussels is involved in this dialogue, and there are different interests of individual EU countries as for example the approach of Germany which is somewhat different from the American one. “The time will show how important this Agreement in Washington will be for the future relations between the countries of the Western Balkans.” Asked about the current political situation in Albania, Ambassador Kramaric believed that Albanian politicians are holding everything in their hands. “I believe that Albanian politicians are aware of this situation and that they know how to use it for the benefit of their citizens.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to pay a visit to Croatia next week and one of the topics to be discussed is the waiving visas for Croatians. Besides that topic which are some of the items part of the agenda of the visit? Let me mention that earlier Mr. Pompeo visited Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia warning them “against the growing influence of China and Russia”. Is this expected to be a point in discussion in Croatia? 

The arrival of the US Secretary M. Pompeo in Croatia is a very important political event. It is a strong and clear message that the US policy places Croatia on the new world political map – Croatia is still considered as a sincere ally and a partner, who has patiently proved that Croatian citizens deserve to have a visa-free regime. Furthermore, the Republic of Croatia is a member of the NATO Alliance and, as such, it is clearly politically and militarily aligned. In other words, there should be a balance in the cooperation with China and Russia. Despite the fact that the modern world market is free, the capital entering must be justified and controlled. If there is a conscious imbalance, then there are certain political consequences. I think that the US Secretary made a point about this banal fact during his previous tour. I am not familiar with the whole agenda of his visit to Croatia (after the presidential and parliamentary elections in Croatia, the rapid formation of the government and just before the presidential elections in America), but this visit is a confirmation of a clear friendship and strategic partnership between one world authority and one EU member state!

As a follow up Mr. Ambassador how do you assess the energetic involvement of the US in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, and in your view how much efficient could the two strands of the dialogue, supposedly the economic dialogue led by Washington and the political by Brussels, be? And secondly, given the agreement reached in Washington do you believe that Serbia can go against the interests of Russia? 

There is no doubt that when the Agreement is signed in Washington, and the witness to that Agreement is the American president himself, D. Trump, then it is certainly something that adds special weight. This is exactly the way I experience all this. It is more than obvious that at the end of his term, President Trump needed this (re) turn to the Western Balkans, because everything here is the law of interconnected vessels – if Kosovo, then Republika Srpska, as well. It seems to me that the Agreement in Washington is a part of a broader geopolitical picture, where generally acceptable political solutions will be reached through certain economic measures and some peculiarities and nuances will no longer be taken into account. American politics is tired of the old diseases of the Balkan countries, all suffering from “burdens of the past”. Of course, there is Brussels, there is the EU, there are different interests of individual EU countries, there is also Germany, whose approach is somewhat different from the American one; the time will show how important this Agreement in Washington will be for the future relations between the countries of the Western Balkans. The mini-Schengen project has been given the green light in Washington, but many things are still unclear.

Some Bosnian leaders and politicians in Croatia expressed concern and alarm over a meeting held in Zagreb on Thursday between Croatian President Zoran Milanovic and Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of the Bosnian state presidency. What would you say on such a development? Which is the position of Croatia towards efforts for a unilateral revision of the Dayton Agreement? 

Bosnia is still Achilles heel, the quadrature of the circle of all previous Croatian policies. No matter what we do, it turns out that there are always those who have objections to certain decisions in Croatian politics. As always the ‘others’ are to be blamed for everything! On the one hand, these political decisions of the ‘others’ are problematic, but, on the other hand, these fierce critics do not have an adequate answer as to what should be the right solution to the Bosnian politics. I, personally, have nothing against the civic concept of Bosnia, but those who advocate that concept should answer what in fact is the real content of that concept. Is it a unitary Bosnia or is it something else? Does this concept follow the previous B&H political tradition (for example, the war one from 1943 established in Mrkonjic Grad), which is, as a rule, national and not civic one? Furthermore, how to ‘push’ this famous civic concept into the Bosnian constitution / Dayton agreement, when this Constitution / Agreement was written from a different political perspective? In addition, its proponents should explain how they intend to protect the collective rights of individual nations (that are constitutive) on the entire B&H territory. Finally, I have the impression that M. Dodik’s visit is a part of broader international political activities, which should result in achieving peace and stability in the Western Balkans. Namely, none of the Agreements, neither the one in Dayton, nor Kumanovo Agreement, nor Ohrid Agreement brought a definitive solution to the conflict. Although they stopped the war operations at some point, they did not bring a permanent solution. Some attempts are being made to remedy these difficulties by meetings in Washington and by a surprise the visit of M. Dodik to Zagreb (it should not be forgotten that in the period from 1992 to 1995 over 150,000 Croats left the territory of the Republika Srpska). Little is said about this exodus. Some of these people did not take part in any military operations, especially not in the conquest.

Mr. Ambassador let me touch upon a sensitive issue on the process of reconciliation with the Serbs and the Serb minority in Croatia. How has this been received by the public in Croatia and do you think that will help the improvement of the co-existence of Serb minority in Croatia and the atmosphere of the bilateral ties between Croatia and Serbia? 

We in Croatia are aware of the importance of a sincere policy of reconciliation, because this policy cannot be reduced to large gestures of so-called high politics, where the representatives of either the minority community or the majority express reverence for the victims of the war in the 1990s. The policy of reconciliation must be much more than that, the constant formation of life values for every citizen, the insistence on dealing with all the episodes of the recent past, especially those dialogues that relate to the behavior of one’s own community. Believe me; I know what I’m saying, because I was the war mayor of the city of Osijek. It is the largest urban entity that was exposed to the aggression of the Yugoslav / Serbian army for over a year, with the help of some local Serbs! However, in all my public appearances I always insisted on the fact that there was no collective guilt, that every crime had a name and a surname, and that the most important thing was not to respond to other people’s madness and hysteria with one’s own hysteria, one’s own madness. I am proud to say that that policy yielded results – there was almost no retaliation against members of the Serb community. As a result, the international community of NDI recognized my efforts, so in 1997 I received the prestigious A. Harriman Award, for promoting liberal-democratic values in difficult times of war. It is important to say that the members of the minority community should face their own guilt, the kind that K. Jaspers describes in its metaphysical aspect. In some challenging times, some members of that community did not behave with integrity towards their Croatian homeland. Instead of a political struggle for their goals, they consciously chose military rebellion, terror, robbery, genocide.

Finally, the Serbian community in Croatia must once and for all get rid of the tutelage of Belgrade, Serbia. It is exactly this vassal relationship that makes them an object of politics, not a sovereign political subject. It would be good for Belgrade to face its own mistakes made in the 1990s, to conclude once and for all that imperial policies, the myth of territory and Great Serbia were a lifetime ago and that they are ultimately the most harmful to the Serbian people as a whole. It is a long and demanding process, but if Serbia wants to be a member of the EU, then it must go through that catharsis. This is a condition of all conditions!

Mr. Ambassador, how would you assess the political situation in Albania in face of ongoing tensions between the two major adverse political forces on electoral-related issues, a deadlocked judicial system, high rates of corruption and rising trend of people leaving the country among others? And Albania is waiting to start the first intergovernmental negotiations with the EU? 

Albanian politicians are holding everything in their hands. It all depends on them. Albania is one of a very few countries, where there are all political strategies, ruling and opposition ones, pro-European or pro-NATO. It is, by all means, a big political capital, additionally supported by strong public support, NGOs, etc. Over 90% of citizens believe that the EU is the right solution for the progress of the Albanian society and that blank loan must be used in the best possible way. I believe that Albanian politicians are aware of this situation and that they know how to use it for the benefit of their citizens.

Mr. Ambassador the recent general elections in Montenegro removed from power Mr. Milo Djukanovic after a three- decade rule. According to your opinion, which is the expected course of the foreign policy of that country ruled by a pro Serb and pro-Russian coalition? 

Election results must be respected. They are a political will of the majority of citizens in a country. We respect the will of the Montenegro citizens although we have certain objections to the behavior of some non-political actors (Serbian Orthodox Church, foreign countries, secret services …) during the election process. It will soon become clear that the election winners will face a whole range of problems from the treatment of the defeated policy options to the presentation of their own political strategies. Furthermore, they will have to take responsibility for their actions. Victory can be a curse, but if there is no harsh revenge on the defeated, a continuous pro-European perspective, proper relationship to national minorities (Croatian, Albanian, Bosniak ones), NATO membership, independent policy making in all segments, then the neighboring countries can be at peace. Any other behavior could provoke a new crisis. Parliamentary winners must be clearly identified by the Montenegrin state.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Serbia to boost ties with Turkey: President (Anadolu Agency, by Talha Ozturk, 25 September 2020) 

Turkish President Erdogan treats Serbia with respect on Kosovo issue, says Serbian president 

BELGRADE, Serbia

Serbia wants to further develop friendly relations with Turkey in the future, said the country’s president on Friday. Aleksandar Vucic’s remarks came after a working lunch with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. “[With Turkey] we want to keep our best level relations and further develop friendly relations in the future,” said Vucic. Turkey has an important influence in the Western Balkans, he stressed, adding that there is excellent communication between the two countries. ”This is very important from our perspective. Turkey is among one of the most important regional powers and also a power [moving] to a more prominent position in the world every day,” said Vucic. The leaders also discussed the dialogue process between Serbia and Kosovo. “I listened to Mr. Erdogan’s stance on this issue and I explained our position to him. He treats Serbia with respect,” noted the Serbian president.

Vucic said they responded evenly to anyone who respects Serbia, adding that they want to live with no regard to the idea of parting with Turkey. Serbian and Kosovar leaders in early September met in a US-sponsored two-day talks in Washington where they reached an historic milestone — agreeing to normalize economic ties. Serbia and Kosovo signed separate agreements with the US in which Serbia agreed to move its embassy to Jerusalem. While Kosovo and Israel also agreed to normalize relations and establish diplomatic ties, Serbia agreed to open a commercial office in Jerusalem in September.

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