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Belgrade Media Report 30 September 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 30 September 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Godfrey: Washington agreement shows political commitment, carries huge benefit (Nova S)
Angola does not recognize Kosovo (RTV/FoNet)
Israel interested in developing overall relations with Serbia (Tanjug)
Djuric: Serbia will neither implicitly nor explicitly recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo (RTV/Tanjug)
Stano: EC works daily to set Belgrade-Pristina new round of talks (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Izetbegovic on Zagreb meeting: Sincere talks lasted for hours (Fena)
Komsic says he would like official Zagreb to back off little from B&H and not to interfere in issue of changes to B&H Election Law (ATV)
Dacic comments Dodik’s visit to Zagreb, calls Bosniak leaders ‘hypocrites’ in regards to their policies on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict (N1)
SDA officials Dzaferovic, Izetbegovic express support to Azerbaijan (EuroBlic)
Montenegro

Krivokapic starts making plans about posts in a new government (CdM)
Knezevic suggests withdrawal of the Freedom of Religion Law prior to formation of new government (CdM)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Risi: KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo (EWB)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Godfrey: Washington agreement shows political commitment, carries huge benefit (Nova S

US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey described on Tuesday the documents signed in Washington on 4 September, as Belgrade – Pristina political commitment, not legally binding agreement, adding the economic normalization was important and would improve the living standard of all citizens. Speaking to Nova S, said the White House would meet its obligations and added the opening of the American Development Agency (DFC) in Belgrade was a clear signal the US wanted results in the economic normalization. The US hopes Belgrade and Pristina will reach an agreement beneficial for both sides. “We cannot impose a lasting solution to them, but it must come from both sides, to be in their interest and the compromises will be made on each side,” Godfrey said. The economic normalization was not a competition with the European Union, but Washington’s step is an addition to the Brussels negotiations, and that the EU had primacy in political issues, Godfrey said. He added the DFC would give an incent to Serbia – US relations. “We don’t want Serbia to be in an oppressed position, but to be a prosperous country in peace with its neighbors and to move towards Europe.” Godfrey also said he cooperated with Serbia’s opposition and hoped there would be a more diverse political dialogue. He added he agreed with the Europeans colleagues that the absence from such a discussion was not a good idea, referring to the minority opposition parties in Serbia which refused to take part in the European Parliament facilitated dialogue with the authorities. Later on Tuesday, Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj said her Serbia’s counterpart Serbian Foreign Minister for thanking Angola’s Ambassador to Serbia for not recognizing Kosovo’s independence, adding on her Twitter account Dacic had violated the agreement reached in Washington on 4 September.

Angola does not recognize Kosovo (RTV/FoNet

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received on Tuesday the Ambassador of the Republic of Angola to Serbia Alcino dos Prazeres Isata Francisco da Conceicao. Dacic welcomed the Ambassador of Angola and wished him a successful diplomatic mandate in Belgrade, and expressed confidence that the new Ambassador of Angola will contribute to the further improvement of overall relations between the two countries. He especially thanked for the strong and continuous support of Angola on the issue of preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia, as well as for the support they provide us within international organizations. The Ambassador confirmed Angola’s firm position on the issue of non-recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, it is stated in the announcement of the Serbian Foreign Ministry.

Israel interested in developing overall relations with Serbia (Tanjug

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic talked on Tuesday with the newly appointed Ambassador of Israel to Serbia Yahel Vilan to whom she wished a successful diplomatic mandate in our country. Brnabic expressed her belief that activities will continue in terms of further development of cooperation in all areas of common interest. She emphasized that especially in the areas of economy and investments, as well as the IT sector, there is room for further comprehensive strengthening of relations, and added that Serbia is interested in further development of all forms of mutually beneficial cooperation. Also, she pointed out the importance of further improving the political dialogue between the two countries, as well as the exchange of visits at the highest level. Ambassador Vilan emphasized that Israel is interested in the development of overall relations with Serbia, and added that the improvement of the business environment in Serbia opens space for new investments by Israeli companies and an increase in the volume of trade. The officials agreed that the imminent opening of the office of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Economy in Jerusalem will greatly contribute to a better use of the potential of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Djuric: Serbia will neither implicitly nor explicitly recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo (RTV/Tanjug

The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is essential for the stabilization of political conditions in the region and economic development, but Serbia will neither implicitly nor explicitly recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo within the process of normalization of relations, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said today during his meeting with the newly appointed Ambassador of Israel to Serbia Yahel Vilan.

Djuric informed the Ambassador about the course of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the political and security situation in the Serbian southern province, said a statement issued by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija. According to Djuric, the Brussels dialogue is currently a hostage to Pristina’s unwillingness to implement the obligation undertaken seven and a half years ago to form the Community of Serb Municipalities. They also discussed the recently signed Washington agreement, the statement said, adding that Djuric expressed his expectation that in the coming period, Israel, in the spirit of the traditional friendship between our states and peoples, would continue to have sensibility towards and respect Serbian state and national interests. “The Serbian people will continue to see the brotherly Jewish people as friends and a fellow-sufferer, and the two peoples will continue to fight together against historical revisionism and for the truth about our common sufferings,” said Djuric.

Stano: EC works daily to set Belgrade-Pristina new round of talks (Beta

The European Commission (EC) spokesperson Peter Stano said in Brussels on Tuesday that everyday work is being done to enable a new meeting of the heads of negotiating teams or political leaders in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. He couldn’t say when it would happen but added the EU would announce the date and agenda of the next meeting on time. EU envoy for dialogue Miroslav Lajcak postponed the meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti, planned for 28 September, due, as he said, to the coronavirus epidemic. Stano said that there is nothing to add to the implementation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) agreement to what the EU has already made known. Stano reiterated that the agreement on the ZSO should be implemented because it was ratified by a two-thirds majority in the parliament in Pristina. The formation of the ZSO was agreed upon in 2013 as a part of the document known as the Brussels Agreement but had not yet been implemented yet. It has been recently confirmed during Vucic – Hoti meeting at the EU headquarters. Diplomatic sources in Brussels said it was difficult to say when the conditions for the resumption of the dialogue would be met, but added the EU wanted that soon, and that it was convinced it would succeed.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Izetbegovic on Zagreb meeting: Sincere talks lasted for hours (Fena)

Zagreb meeting went well, and sincere talk lasted for hours, Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic said upon the return from Croatian capital where he and Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. One of the problems discussed in the meeting was the status of Croat people, one of three major ethnic groups, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Izetbegovic confirmed, adding that this was, however, not the only issue the officials talked about. “I also presented a series of facts about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), the status of Croats and Bosniaks, their relationship, the stalemate in implementation of election results and appointments in the Constitutional Court of the Federation of B&H (FB&H), and I asked for the open issues between Croatia and B&H to be finally solved” said Izetbegovic, the leader of the main Bosniak party, SDA. The meeting came weeks after Bosnian Serb leader, also the Serb Presidency member, Milorad Dodik, visited Zagreb and met Croatia’s top officials. The trip sparked reactions back in Bosnia, particularly by other two Presidency members, Bosniak Sefik Dzaferovic and Croat Zeljko Komsic, who said Dodik was not representing the Presidency but was on a private visit. Only a day later, Dodik confirmed he was there to represent Serbs, not Bosnia. Asked to comment on the statements that by travelling to Croatia as a party leader and meeting its officials he “legitimized” Dodik’s trip to Zagreb and that he also “devalued” the state institutions, Izetbegovic replied that what he “cushioned” Dodik’s visit and “made a balance.” “This was in the first place the visit of the SDA leader to the HDZ leader (Croatian PM Plenkovic), which focused on the relations of the parties that to a great extent represent the Bosniaks and Croats and which to a great extent participate in the structure of government in Croatia and B&H. I cannot see anything devaluing, harmful here” said Izetbegovic, announcing new meetings. “It is important to communicate because being silent deteriorates relations,” he added.

Komsic says he would like official Zagreb to back off little from B&H and not to interfere in issue of changes to B&H Election Law (ATV)

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stated on Monday that Croatia’s position is that one needs to stick to the letter and spirit of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and that practices where another people elects a Croat member of the B&H Presidency are not good. “Our position is that actors in B&H should produce such an election law that will prevent the situation we have now where one constituent people feels that things are unfair” Plenkovic was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated that he would like the official Zagreb to back off a little from B&H and not to interfere in the issue of changes to the B&H Election Law. Komsic said that it is “wrong, rude and not in the spirit of diplomacy” to go to Zagreb and discuss internal issues of B&H with Croatian PM Plenkovic. He added that he wants no part in that. “Charming anyone in things like this does not help. As far as I have seen, Mister Izetbegovic has put forward a very firm position that he advocates and that is that the changes to the Election Law requested by HDZ B&H will not be able to get support,” Komsic told the reporters.

Dacic comments Dodik’s visit to Zagreb, calls Bosniak leaders ‘hypocrites’ in regards to their policies on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict (N1)

N1 investigates if new Croat-Serb agreement will be reached in B&H. While officials in the Republic of Croatia remain consistent in their view that changes to the Election Law of B&H are a priority for them, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic called the last talks in Zagreb between Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic “a historic Serb-Croat agreement”. At the same time, he assessed the policy of the Bosniak leadership in B&H as hypocritical, alluding to their support to Azerbaijan in the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. “These ayatollahs from Sarajevo are now talking about Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, territorial integrity. You should be ashamed, you bastard; and you are advocating the recognition of Kosovo. Where are the principles? It is good that this historic agreement between Croats and Serbs happened,” Dacic stated. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic commented this and said that what Dacic accused the Bosniak leaders of being, that is what he in fact is – a hypocrite. “When it comes to recognizing Kosovo, let him remember well what he did with his boss Slobodan Milosevic and what the criminal Milosevic regime did in Kosovo,” Dzaferovic emphasized.

SDA officials Dzaferovic, Izetbegovic express support to Azerbaijan (EuroBlic)

The daily argued that the case of armed conflict of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh showed that not a single global problem can go by without unnecessary reactions coming from B&H. Namely, the daily reminded that officials of B&H, especially those from SDA, rushed to side with Azerbaijan in this case. Chair of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic sent a letter to President of Azerbaijan Ilhan Aliyev in which he condemned “Armenian shelling attack which resulted in escalation of the conflict in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh” and added that B&H respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. SDA leader and Deputy Speaker of the House of Peoples of B&H Bakir Izetbegovic said that Armenia bears full responsibility for breaking out of the conflict in Azerbaijan. The Cabinet of Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik did not want to comment on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh or statements of Dzaferovic. Chair of SNSD Caucus in B&H HoR Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac called to non-interfering of B&H in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region and added that there is no reason for B&H to either support or condemn anyone in this situation, especially knowing that there is no harmonized stance on this matter at the level of B&H. Professor of international relations Milos Solaja stated that B&H does not have a concept of foreign policy but, instead, its three peoples from two entities have different approach to individual matters. Solaja assessed that statements coming from Sarajevo result from drawing parallels between Nagorno-Karabakh and Republika Srpska, i.e. Federation of B&H.

 

Krivokapic starts making plans about posts in a new government (CdM)


A candidate for the prime minister, Zdravko Krivokapic, is supposed to talk to the leaders of the Democratic Front, DF, today about the composition of a new government. The CdM portal has learned that he met with the leader of the Socialist People’s Party, SNP, Vladimir Jokovic, and that deputy president of that party, Dragoslav Dado Scekic, attended the meeting as well. According to a source, Scekic would like to take over a ministerial armchair [position]. The leader of the SNP told CdM it was an unofficial meeting and they weren’t discussing the composition of a new government. The SNP doesn’t want a concrete position or ministry in a new government. We’d like to reach an agreement in a democratic way, in the best interest of Montenegro, Jokovic said two days ago. Furthermore, the media have reported that the leader of the civic URA movement, Dritan Abazovic, and the leader of the Movement for Changes, Nebojsa Medojevic, are possible candidates for a deputy prime minister responsible for coordinating all security services. In an interview for Dan daily, Abazovic told it was logical to expect that URA movement and the bloc Black on White affected the selection of staff that was going to run the security sector in the country, and insisted on the nomination of best and most competent experts. At the constitutive parliament’s sitting, Abazovic told that unserious people could not run the security sectors. Asked to whom he meant, Abazovic responded: “I think everybody in Montenegro knows it well, I don’t want to say the names.”

Knezevic suggests withdrawal of the Freedom of Religion Law prior to formation of new government (CdM)

In order to avoid any kind of possible media manipulation over the meeting between Milan Knezevic and Zdravko Krivokapic, we wish to inform the public that the Democratic People’s Party, DNP, has once again confirmed our party’s readiness to support Zdravko Krivokapic as prime minister-designate, stated the spokeswoman of the DNP, Jelena Kljajevic. “On behalf of the DNP, Knezevic had a proposal for Krivokapic – that a new parliamentary majority which backed him [Krivokapic], before the formation of a new government, withdraws the Law on Freedom of Religion in order to make preconditions for signing the Fundamental Agreement between the state of Montenegro, the Serbian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Irinej,” Kljajevic explained.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Risi: KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo (EWB, 29 September 2020) 

ROME – KFOR is still dealing with a complex security situation in Kosovo, said Major General Michele Risi, current Commander of the KFOR units in Kosovo during the conference “Balkan Perspectives 2020: The Fight for a Timely Inclusion” organised by NATO Defense College Foundation. Rissi reminded that following the Kumanovo Millatery Technical Agreement that ended 78 days of NATO intervention in FR Yugoslavia, 50.000 strong KFOR force entered Kosovo to monitor the withdrawal of Serbian forces and to stabilise the area. “First inclusions and threats by the Belgrade forces were avoided and together with the UN Police order and security were preserved. It started demilitarisation of the Kosovo Liberation Army, assistance was provided for the return of the refugees and displaced person from North Macedonia, as well for the demining of 23.000 landmines and 7500 unexploded weapons”, said Risi. He explained that following the 2008 unilateral proclamation of independence, KFOR stayed because its presence derives from Resolution 1244 and that four NATO members do not recognise Kosovo thus KFOR has maintained of what they refer as neutral status. “In other words, we do not take positions on Kosovo sovereignty. As a result, our modus operandi, vis-a-vis with the Kosovo institutions and the no recognisers can be challenging, considering that among non-recognisers – Greece, Romania and Slovakia – are troop-contributing nations”, added Risi. Risi said that over the years international partners UN, OSCE and EU have reduced their presence and competences. Relinquishing many to the institutions in Kosovo. However, KFOR with around 3500 soldiers kept its role intact as the only security force unanimously recognised. “This can be explained by the fact that now we are complemented by the Kosovo Police and the Kosovo Security Forces in ensuring security and the freedom of movement. Today KFOR has the mission of maintaining the security of Kosovo as a third responder in order to facilitate the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo,” said Risi.

KFOR is still doing its duty 

Commander said that KFOR has had to deal with the complex security situation where on one end, there were Albanian communities whose human rights were violated by the Belgrade regime, and on the other, there are Serbs and other minorities who suffered violent retaliation by the Albanian Kosovars. “KFOR has vowed to protect the Kosovar Serbian communities trying to sway the Albanians from the desire for revenge. Ending the violence, we are sure, that laid the foundation for Kosovo’s future stability”, emphasized Risi. He pointed out that various security challenges are primarily shortcoming of young Kosovar institutions which certainly need to be strengthened. “A case in point is the current issue of Dečani in which we witness the persistent municipal opposition to proceed with the cadastral legislation of 24ha adjacent to the monastery in the execution of the sentence of the Constitutional court. Or the attempt of the company appointed by the municipality to rebuild the road surface within the special protective zone without the consent of the implementation of the monitoring council which is composed by EU, OSCE and certain Orthodox church authorities, and institutions in Kosovo”, said Risi.

Risi pointed out that this event generated strong protests from the international community and the Quinta ambassadors as well as other organisations, who strongly condemned act that might trigger an escalation in the security situation. “It is worth noting that apparently nonviolent, local incident has produced resonance that led President Vučić to ask for this topic to be included in the upcoming sessions of the Dialogue”, Rissi explained and added that he practically travelled back and forth to the monastery and with the help of KFOR forces stationed in Peja in the most severe days of the crisis, they avoided an escalation of tensions. “The guarantee role of KFOR was recognised not only by Bishop Teodosije and Abbot Sava, but by Prime Minister Hoti himself who instructed police to halt construction works on the road within the special protective zone”, concluded Risi. For him, this event, unfortunately, has warned once more that corruption and illegal approach to common issues has spawned out of the weakness of the young institutions. “I see this as a factor that risks compromising the credibility of the local institutions, also on the international level in which Serbia exploits in its narrative aimed at discrediting Kosovar establishments”, concluded Risi.

The event was organised in cooperation with the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the European Union and the NATO Defense College 

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