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Belgrade Media Report 6 October 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Tuesday 6 October 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic proposes Brnabic as prime minister-designate (RTS/Tanjug/B92)
Contract on construction of Fruska Gora corridor signed (RTV/Tanjug)
EC presents economic and investment plan for Western Balkans (N1)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dzaferovic with Meta, Rama: B&H and Albania are two friendly countries which do not have serious open political issues (BHT1)
Cvijanovic does not believe current convocation of B&H CEC is capable to implement elections properly (RTRS)
Serbs in Mostar one step away from goal (Nezavisne)
US Senators Brown, Portman present resolution on occasion of 25th anniversary of DPA (BHT1/ O Kanal)
Montenegro

Djukanovic sends an invitation for consultations on prime minister-designate (CdM)
Krivokapic with Milacic: New government to be committed to the interests of Montenegrin citizens (CdM)
Dealing with the past is a prerequisite for strengthening mutual trust (CdM)
Albania

President of B&H on official visit in Tirana, meets with President Meta (Radio Tirana)
Amendments to the Electoral Code approved by 97 votes in favor (Radio Tirana)
The new CEC is created; Ilirjan Celibashi elected Chief Commissioner with 106 votes in favor (Radio Tirana)
EPP accuses Premier of spoiling April elections with Electoral Code vote (ADN)
Majority failed to seek common ground in Political Council; US Embassy (ADN)

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LOCAL PRESS 

 

Vucic proposes Brnabic as prime minister-designate (RTS/Tanjug/B92

Based on his constitutional powers, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic proposed to the Serbian parliament Ana Brnabic as a candidate for the Serbian Prime Minister, after hearing the opinions of the elected electoral lists representatives. “Several minutes ago, I signed the Decision on the proposal of a candidate for the new Prime Minister. Ana Brnabic fought fiercely for her country. She pursued a policy that did not flatter foreign centers of power or those in the country. She did her job well, and the best proof of that is a large number of critiques directed at her,” said Vucic.

“In the next four years, the objective is to raise the economic strength of Serbia including the living standard of citizens, to continue the construction of roads and railways, as well as to enter new projects and strengthen the health power of Serbia. Great things await us; it is important to work, not to be satisfied with the results from the past. I am looking into the future, and I am very optimistic,” the President pointed out and added that he gave a proposal to the Prime Minister to introduce two new ministries – the Ministry of Human Rights, Gender Equality and Social Dialogue and the Ministry of Family, Children and Demography. Vucic also said that he asked the prime minister-designate that 50 per cent of the members of the new government are women and that we would thus show in practice how gender equality works. “I hold a high opinion of Ana Brnabic. She has done well and in the interest of Serbia and there is nothing much to criticize her for. I think she is a good choice,” he pointed out and added that she pursued a disciplined and responsible policy. He was asked why this decision was waited for 106 days. “I needed to make a concept of what the government would look like. I talked to everyone. During that time, people could see, unlike those enjoying themselves at seaside, I worked hard, I was with PutinErdoganTrump. A lot of things happened for a short period of time,” Vucic said.

He stated that there was no talk of possible coalition partners at the session of the party’s presidency today. He reminded that he talked to everyone who secured the parliamentary mandates, and that the partners will be known in five to seven days, and the choice, he says, is up to the prime minister. He points out that he expects significant changes in the government, especially when it comes to the party he leads. He spoke about the messages coming from Pristina. “It is our obligation that, while facing the challenges, and the biggest are the pressures around Kosovo and Metohija and the attempt to force Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo, without getting almost anything for it, we show willingness to always express our intention to talk and reach a compromise solution. We certainly do not accept the humiliation of the citizens of Serbia, and our citizens in Kosovo and Metohija,” Vucic said. He said that it was important to point out to the future prime minister-designate the three basic goals of Serbian politics. “That is that in the policy we will pursue, Serbia is proud of three facts. First of all, Serbia is a free and independent state. Secondly, Serbia is on the European path. Thirdly, Serbia will maintain relations with Russia and China, but also develop relations with the United States,” he said. He specified the new goals of the government. “The new government will aim to raise Serbia’s economic strength – the standard of living of ordinary people must continue to rise even though it is impossible in any other country at the time of the coronavirus epidemic. Then, further construction of roads and railways, what has already been agreed on. We are also working on new projects, which we, as a state, will embark on fiercely. And the third goal is to strengthen the health care system of Serbia,” he said, adding that we must strengthen the army and police. Vucic once again thanked the citizens of Serbia for going to the polls in large numbers and pointed out that the number of votes won by the winning list brings great responsibility. “That is why we must approach solving problems with such responsibility and see how and in what way to overcome these challenges. We have managed to put the country, which has always been lagging behind when it comes to economic progress, on the path of economic reforms and progress,” concluded Vucic.

Contract on construction of Fruska Gora corridor signed (RTV/Tanjug

 

Serbian Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic signed today with the Chinese company CRBC a commercial contract on the design and execution of works on the construction of a Novi Sad-Ruma fast road. The contract on the construction of the Fruska Gora Corridor, worth €660 million, was signed in the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo. Mihajlovic stated that with the construction of this corridor and the Ruma-Sabac-Loznica project, which is already being implemented, we will have a road that will connect Vojvodina with western Serbia and underlined that this is important for the regional connection of Serbia. The Novi Sad-Ruma road will connect three municipalities: Novi Sad, Irig and Ruma. It is connected to the existing state road of the IB category number 12 Novi Sad-Zrenjanin-border with Romania, and finally to the motorway and the Ruma-Sabac-Loznica fast road which is under construction. In that way, the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina will be connected with the western and north-western part of Serbia and important regional centres such as Novi Sad, Ruma, Sabac, Loznica. It also represents Serbia’s indirect link with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Romania.

EC presents economic and investment plan for Western Balkans (N1

The European Commission on Wednesday presented a nine billion Euro economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans which is intended to help the region move forward on its path to the Union and forge closer links between its economies. According to the plan which N1 had access to, six of the nine million Euro will be directed towards the transport, energy, digitalization, agriculture, health care and education sectors in all the countries of the region. Another 1.5 billion is earmarked for the private sector and the remaining 1.5 billion for education. The Commission said that the coronavirus pandemic had a massive disruptive effect on the economies of the region which were already lagging behind in terms of economic convergence with the EU and added that the plan was intended to spur long-term recovery which would lead to sustained economic growth. It said that the countries of the region had to implement reforms in order to move forward and draw closer to the EU Single Market. The plan is intended to unleash the untapped economic potential of the region and the significant scope for increased intra-regional economic cooperation and trade. The Commission said that it would mobilise up to nine billion Euro from IPA funds for the 2021-2027 period to support economic convergence with the EU primarily through investments and support to competitiveness and inclusive growth, sustainable connectivity, and the twin green and digital transition. It added that a new Western Balkans Guarantee facility should be put in place which could potentially raise investments of up to EUR 20 billion. According to the commission, better links between the economies of the region are a priority which requires a strong commitment from the to implementing fundamental reforms, deepening regional economic integration and developing a common regional market on the basis of the EU acquis. The priorities also include waste water management and moving from coal-based to renewable energy. The commission warned of poor governance and limited progress in dealing with shortcomings in rule of law and the fight against corruption. It said that regional and cooperation with the EU are essential in addressing fraud, corruption, money laundering, terrorism, extremism, trafficking in arms and people and smuggling migrants.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dzaferovic with Meta, Rama: B&H and Albania are two friendly countries which do not have serious open political issues (BHT1

B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic on Monday kicked off his official two-day visit to Albania. Dzaferovic met with Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, as well as with representatives of the B&H community in Albania. Dzaferovic and senior Albanian officials discussed a number of topics, including improvement of bilateral relations between B&H and Albania, cooperation at the regional level and improvement of economic cooperation between the two countries. Dzaferovic and senior Albanian officials concluded that B&H and Albania are two friendly countries which do not have serious open political issues, noting that this is why relations between B&H and Albania should get new dynamics. Meta said that Albania was always on B&H’s side. “It strongly supports its sovereignty and territorial integrity and progress towards the EU, as well as all integration processes. We also support the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement and we want to see full implementation of Dayton, to see consistency in B&H, but also in the region,” Meta underlined.

Cvijanovic does not believe current convocation of B&H CEC is capable to implement elections properly (RTRS

RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic stated on Monday that she does not trust much the current convocation of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H because of the method of its appointment. She noted that she does not think that B&H CEC is capable of implementing the election process without problems. According to Cvijanovic, the connections B&H CEC members have with certain political parties is also disputable as Vanja Bjelica-Prutina has strong ties with SDS leader Mirko Sarovic and there is also B&H CEC staff who performed certain party duties within PDP. She added that she believes that there is similar situation with DF led by Zeljko Komsic. Cvijanovic explained that members of the B&H CEC were appointed without any vacancy procedures, adding that while results of 2018 elections still have not been implemented in the FB&H, someone hurried up to appoint the new convocation of the B&H CEC. Cvijanovic also stressed that some members of B&H CEC are closely affiliated with some political subjects. Cvijanovic added that the RS institutions do not want to neglect infrastructural and other important projects. The RS President emphasized that this entity is politically and financially stable despite to all challenges caused by Coronavirus pandemic.

Serbs in Mostar one step away from goal (Nezavisne

B&H Central Election Commission will complete the list of absentee voters who registered for voting by mail on Tuesday at midnight. More than 2,000 Serbs from Mostar registered for voting by mail. Together with votes of Serbs who are residents in Mostar, at least one and possibly even two Serb candidates will be elected to the City Council of Mostar. President of the Coordination of Serb Associations in Mostar Dusan Golo stated that he is very satisfied, noting that Serbs in Mostar are one step away from achieving the goal of having their representatives in the City Council. The daily notes that SDA, HDZ BIH and SDP all have Serb candidates on their lists, which “illustrates the ambition of these parties to once again push their Serbs into the City Council and prevent use of mechanism for protection of vital national interests for decisions which usually ignore interests of Serbs, which is the case in current convocation”.

US Senators Brown, Portman present resolution on occasion of 25th anniversary of DPA (BHT1/ O Kanal

US Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown from Ohio presented last week a resolution on the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) which ended the war in B&H. A similar document was proposed by Republican Congressman Mike Turner in the US House of Representatives. The resolution reads that ethnic cleansing and concentration camps were used as a war tool against the Bosnian Muslims and that this culminated in the Srebrenica genocide in July of 1995 when 8,000 men and teenagers were captured and killed. The resolution also encourages B&H authorities to continue progress in solving of constitutional issues and improvement of the economic policy, while progressing towards membership in the EU and the NATO. The resolution also urges the US government to work closely with the governments of the countries that border B&H – especially those who are signatories of the DPA – to support full implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and the Balkan states, which requires regional cooperation.

 

Djukanovic sends an invitation for consultations on prime minister-designate (CdM

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic sent an invitation for consultations on prime minister-designate to the holder of ‘For the future of Montenegro’ coalition Zdravko Krivokapic, ‘Peace is our nation’ Aleksa Becic and ‘Black and white’ Dritan Abazovic. The date set for the consultations is Thursday, 8 October at 11 am, in President’s building. “After the consultations, the president will submit the proposal to the parliament”, President’s Office said.

Krivokapic with Milacic: New government to be committed to the interests of Montenegrin citizens (CdM

Prime minister-designate for the constitution of the new government Zdravko Krivokapic talked today with Marko Milacic, president of ‘Real Montenegro’. They agreed during consultations that the new government had to be committed to only one objective – interests of Montenegrin citizens. Milacic said that formation of the first free and democratic Montenegro was the biggest historical task of the entire society. He said that ‘Real Montenegro’ and he personally pledged their full support for Krivokapic. “We think this process of the formation of the new government should be brought to an end as soon as possible and that Montenegro should get what it has been waiting for 30 years- government consisting of competent, moral, and proven people, who will be committed to only one objective – interests of Montenegrin citizens”, Milacic said.

Dealing with the past is a prerequisite for strengthening mutual trust (CdM

President of the parliament of Montenegro Aleksa Becic opened the Information and Documentation Center in Podgorica, founded as part of the partnership project with the Youth Initiative for human rights entitled “Responsibility for the past”. Becic pointed out that this event was incentive to reconciliation and cooperation. Speaking about the importance of the project, he expressed satisfaction with the fact that such projects recognized intention to build capacity and cooperation among young people in order to transform the current negative manifestations in the coming period into the cohesion force of Montenegro. Becic emphasized the importance of the information and educational component of the Information and Documentation Center, especially having regard to the fact that certain public opinion polls showed that Montenegrin citizens show “a low level of knowledge and interest in war crimes that occurred during the 1990s”, and very low information of young people. “I would like to take this opportunity and express my gratitude to the Youth Initiative for Human Rights for seeing parliament of Montenegro as partner in this project. While being aware that there is no democracy without a strong civil sector and civic activism that preserve acquired freedoms and protect human rights, I express the readiness of the parliament to support initiatives that eliminate polarizations in Montenegrin society and contribute to the harmony of civil society,” Becic concluded. The Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro Ms Oana-Cristina Popa also addressed the audience, thanking the parliament of Montenegro for recognizing the importance of this project. She pointed out that public institutions had great responsibility, and that in that context, the opening such center represented a significant historical moment of dealing with the war past and its healing. “I believe that only through concerted efforts like this, by exchanging information, facts and promoting justice, can we achieve reconciliation and lasting peace,” said Ambassador Popa. The Information and Documentation Center of Montenegro was established with the task of collecting relevant documents related to war crimes committed on the territory of Montenegro, with all statements, indictments, verdicts and other sources related to the war past during the 90s, while the parliament of Montenegro undertook the obligation to keep the collected material and make it permanently available to those interested.

 

President of B&H on official visit in Tirana, meets with President Meta (Radio Tirana

President Ilir Meta met in the premises of the Presidency with his Bosnia and Herzegovina counterpart Sefik Dzaferovic. During the press conference, President Meta said that he had talked with his Bosnian counterpart on all issues of bilateral relations, but also at the regional level. Meta stressed that Albania will continue to strongly support Bosnia and Herzegovina in all European and Euro-Atlantic processes. We are two countries that will benefit from long-term support from the EU, through the European economic plan. “Albania has always been on the side of Bosnia and Herzegovina and will continue to strongly support this country in European and Euro-Atlantic processes”, said Meta. Dzaferovic announced during the conference with Meta that a decision had been made for official Sarajevo to open an embassy in Tirana. He stressed that Albania should do the same to increase cooperation relations with each other. Meta stated that he was against the closure of the Albanian embassy in Sarajevo, and asked the current government in Albania to reopen it before 25 April. After the elections, Meta assures that the Albanian embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina will definitely be opened.

Amendments to the Electoral Code approved by 97 votes in favor (Radio Tirana

Amendments to the Electoral Code are approved by 97 votes in favor, together with the vote of the Prime Minister. 84 votes were needed to approve these changes, but they seem to have been exceeded. But what are the changes made to the Electoral Code that was approved today? These changes came as a result of the opening of the lists and the constitutional changes adopted on 30 July. List ordering – The list is made by the party chairman. The candidate can break this ranking made by the party, only if he gets more preferential votes than the average that the party has received to win a deputy mandate in a certain constituency. This “threshold” with the new amendments proposed today by the Socialist Party has been reduced to a maximum of 10 thousand votes. Distribution of mandates – According to the SP formula, the distribution of mandates starts according to the ranking of candidates from the first to the last, based on the list made by the party chairman. The ranking of candidates changes only if the candidate has received a number of preferential votes greater than the quotient, which results from dividing the number of votes of the subject by the number of seats won, but not more than 10 thousand votes.

The average number of votes needed to elect a deputy in the case of the SP draft of 10 thousand votes will apply only to those districts where the mandate of the deputy exceeds 10 thousand votes. This rule does not apply only if the candidate with the fewest votes belongs to the represented gender, thus ensuring the gender quota. Coalitions – With the approved changes, political parties that want to run on April 25, 2021, in the coalition can only do so with a single list and a single logo. This point has been strongly opposed by the extra-parliamentary opposition.

The new CEC is created; Ilirjan Celibashi elected Chief Commissioner with 106 votes in favor (Radio Tirana

The Assembly gave today the green light to the establishment of the Central Election Commission, which will be the body responsible for the upcoming parliamentary elections on 25 April. With maximum votes, the members of the parliament voted Ilirjan Celibashi at the head of the most important election institution, a figure who also received the consent of the opposition outside the parliament. The MP-s present at the session voted with 106 votes in favor, Ilirjan Celibashi to the post of Central Election Commissioner. Ilirjan Celibashi has a long experience as a prominent lawyer and with the administration of elections. We recall that he led the CEC in the period 2001-2006, where he prepared and administered the Elections for the Assembly of Albania of 2001 and 2005, as well as the Elections for Local Government Bodies of 2003. In the general elections for the Assembly of Albania, of 23 June 2013, Mr. Celibashi was elected deputy of the Fier Region, for the Socialist Party, while he took the post of Minister of State for Relations with Parliament. Now he will hold the post of state election commissioner for a 7-year term with the right of re-election. The State Commissioner is the institution that directs and supervises the activity of the electoral administration during elections and referendums. It appoints and dismisses the Electoral Administration Zone Commission members, approves the distribution of mandates in the elections for the Assembly and for the local councils, as well as gives the mandates for each deputy. The structure of the new CEC consists of 3 governing bodies: the State Election Commissioner, the Regulatory Commission with 5 members and a 5-year mandate, as well as the Complaints and Sanctions Commission, also with 5 members, but with a 9-year mandate.

 

EPP accuses Premier of spoiling April elections with Electoral Code vote (ADN

Prime Minister Edi Rama spoiled the upcoming general elections of Albania by voting this Monday to break the 5 June agreement with the opposition, highlighted the European People Party (EPP) spokesman on Foreign Affairs Michael Gahler. Gahler believes that through this, the Albanian Head of government has hindered the country’s European Union integration, because the parliamentary elections “were supposed to be free and fair and better than the previous ones”. Meanwhile, the EPP spokesman appealed on President of the Republic Ilir Meta to return today’s law for review to the Parliament and pushed PM Rama to “reconsider his position”. “By voting today to breach the EU brokered 5 June agreement with the opposition, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama cast a dark shadow over next April general election which were supposed to be free and fair and better than the previous ones. By doing so Rama clearly hinders Albania’s EU integration. More precisely the breach of the 5 June agreement may very well postpone the first Intergovernmental Conference as the first step for the beginning of the real EU accession negotiations. Albania deserves much better than that. We call on the Albanian President to send back today’s laws to parliament. We call on PM Rama to reconsider his position for the sake of the European future of the Albanian people,” EPP spokesman said.

Majority failed to seek common ground in Political Council; US Embassy (ADN

The US Embassy in Tirana expressed Monday discontent that the ruling majority did not honor its own declared commitment to seek common ground in the Political Council and pointed out that Electoral Code Changes are not in violation of 5 June deal, but in addition to it. In its statement following the adoption of Electoral Code amendments, the Embassy reiterated having pushed the political leaders of Albania “to engage each other in a transparent and inclusive manner on issues of national importance”. However, all these leaders must “hold themselves to a higher standard and ensure the freedom and fairness of the upcoming elections” as far as the US Embassy is concerned. “The United States has long pressed for Albania’s leaders – inside and outside parliament – to engage each other in a transparent and inclusive manner on issues of national importance. This kind of positive engagement produced the 5 June agreement on electoral reform. We have made clear since then that the 5 June agreement should be honored and that any additional measures should be considered and adopted in similar transparent and inclusive manner using the Political Council. Today, the ruling party terminated discussions at the Political Council and voted to adopt significant changes to the rules that will govern the 25 April elections. While it was within parliament’s competency to adopt these changes, and while these changes are in addition to – not in violation of – the 5 June agreement, it is regrettable that the majority failed to honor its own stated commitment to seek common ground in the Political Council. Albania is a member of NATO, an aspirant for membership in the European Union, and Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. It is incumbent upon Albania’s leaders – beginning with but not limited to those in power – to hold themselves to a higher standard and to ensure the freedom and fairness of the upcoming elections. We stand with the Albanian people in this expectation,” remarked the US Embassy in Albania.

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