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Belgrade Media Report 16 October

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Serbia ready to resume talks with Pristina whenever Lajcak schedules meeting (RTS/Tanjug/Beta/Politika/B92)
Petkovic to Lajcak: EU’s ability as a mediator to be tested (RTS)
Petkovic, Botsan-Kharchenko meeting (RTS)
Drecun: Negotiations with Pristina in deep coma phase (RTS)
For eight years I have been listening about Vucic is preparing to betray Kosovo (Novosti)
RS is state even without chair in UN (Novosti)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik: B&H Presidency has taken stance that B&H does not recognize independence of Kosovo; Dzaferovic, Komsic deny this information (N1)
Izetbegovic sends letter to international officials warning that HDZ B&H leader Covic is presenting things in B&H in distorted way (Hayat)
Dzaferovic: Nothing will ever be solved regarding B&H outside B&H and its institutions (Hayat)
EC condemns naming of streets in B&H after ‘prominent members of Ustasha movement’ (Oslobodjenje)
Court of B&H abolishes decision of B&H CEC that annulled verification of candidature of ‘United Srpska’ and Stevandic (Nova BH)
Pre-election campaign in B&H begins on Friday (FTV)
Croatia

Milanovic: B&H needs equality of all peoples, Bosniaks cannot elect two members of B&H Presidency (HRT1)
Minister Lavrov to visit Croatia 27 October (Hina)
Montenegro

Parties submit their proposals for the departments they are interested in (Dan)
Djeljosaj: Principles are more important than positions in the government (RTCG)
Abazovic: If someone doesn’t want to be part of the government, well that’s a pity (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

VMRO-DPMNE protest: Stop the abuse of EU funds (Republika)
Zaev again offers to visit Bulgaria (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Serbia expects Russian foreign minister’s visit soon — president (TASS)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: Serbia ready to resume talks with Pristina whenever Lajcak schedules meeting (RTS/Tanjug/Beta/Politika/B92

Following Thursday evening talks with the EU special envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Mirosalv Lajcak, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the conversation was good, rational and serious regarding the future of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and pointed out that Belgrade is ready to continue the dialogue, whenever it is scheduled in Brussels.

“We analyzed all that has been achieved and what is important is that we agreed to continue the dialogue and the full commitment of Serbia to continue that process, including the desire to reach a compromise solution to create better relations between Serbs and Albanians and normalize relations through UN and EU decisions,” Vucic stated. He added that during the talks he insisted on the full implementation of the Brussels agreement from 2013. “The dialogue cannot be successfully continued without this condition,” Vucic emphasized and noted that the joint assessment remains that the results are good in the economic sense, which is perhaps the most important because the free flow of goods, people and capital is thus achieved. He pointed out that the European future is very important for Serbia. “It is not a floscule, but it is important because of more investments and values that we are fighting for and advocating, and because Serbia’s position in the world will be stronger, the closer we are to full membership in the EU. Serbia’s path to the EU is significantly determined by the progress made with Pristina. We are open to all topics, but we will insist on the full implementation of the Brussels agreement. Whatever the talks are – whether they are difficult at times or not, it is better to have them than not to talk. When we do not talk, then incidents may emerge. That is not in anyone’s interest,” said Vucic. He thanked Lajcak for his commitment, hard work and desire to mediate between the expectation that a dialogue will be conducted and ended, and those who think differently about certain things, which is a very complicated task. Lajcak pointed out that everything agreed in Brussels must be fulfilled, that everything related to the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) has already been agreed and signed, and that the next step is to negotiate about the statute of that Community. “The EU plays or fulfils the role of a facilitator, based on the UN General Assembly Resolution, and our objective is to normalize relations, and the two sides should agree. The EU is here to help. We cannot want normalization more than Serbia and Kosovo,” he said. “We have made good progress in the last four months. We have agreed on some issues, and then there are financial claims and the ZSO. The key issue, or principle of this whole process, is that there should not be any open or unresolved issues in the end. We are dealing with issues that have not been negotiated so far, and those that were but have not been fulfilled. We are here to help the process go as fast as the parties are willing to go. We should not procrastinate, and there is no logic in artificially speeding it up. Serbia is in a situation where it has 18 chapters open, EU integration is in a high stage, and I am convinced that the success of the dialogue will mean a lot in the integration phase,” Lajcak said. Vucic then showed the plan for the implementation of the agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which, as he says, is little talked about in the Serbian public. “Now I will give you a document that is little talked about and that no one has seen in the Serbian public so far. This is a plan to implement the agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which consists of six elements. Point one – adjusting the legal framework, point two – association and community, point three – police, point four – judiciary, point five – local elections, point six – general provisions,” Vucic said. Lajcak denied that messages about non-fulfillment of obligations were coming from Pristina. “Before my arrival to Pristina, there were a lot of announcements. None of my interlocutors said that they would not fulfill their obligations, it was clear that everything must be fulfilled. Second – the question of the Constitution: it is logical that the constitution will have to be changed. Moreover, no one said it was impossible. I agree with the president that we want a normal situation and it is in the interest of every person. An abnormal situation is a problem,” Lajcak said. “We are negotiating a normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. My mandate says normalization but I can’t put limits on normalization. We are here to find that normalization and I am here to make the process easier,” Lajcak concluded, adding that a normalization of relations through a legally binding final agreement, solving all disputes once and for all would bring Kosovo and Serbia closer to the EU and help stabilize the region.

Petkovic to Lajcak: EU’s ability as a mediator to be tested (RTS

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic talked with the EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak about the resumption of the dialogue, goals and ways of resolving the problem of Pristina’ refusal to enable the formation of the ZSO. Petkovic said that the ZSO must be formed immediately and with the jurisdiction that belong to it according to the Brussels agreements. “Now, not only Pristina’s will to solve the problems through dialogue is to be tested, but also the ability of the EU as a mediator in the dialogue to guarantee the implementation of the agreement, said Petkovic. According to him, the ZSO has only one goal – to protect the position and rights of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. “Over the past weeks we were witnesses that neither rights nor safety of the Serbs cannot be protected in the current political-legal framework in our southern province,” said Petkovic. He says that Belgrade, in the interest of the entire region, wants the resumption of the dialogue and resolution of open issues by peaceful means, but that constructiveness and credibility must also be demands from Pristina, because at issue is a process that must be based on mutual readiness and good faith.

Petkovic, Botsan-Kharchenko meeting (RTS

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic met with the Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandar Botsan-Kharchenko and acquainted him with the course of the dialogue with Pristina, stressing that Belgrade is consistently determined for the resolution of disagreements and open issues by way of talks, but also against any prejudging of the outcome of the dialogue and imposing of solutions. According to Petkovic, Belgrade is firmly resolved to defend Serbian state and national interests, and in that sense Russia’s assistance and support is very valuable. Petkovic voiced expectation that Serbia and Russia, when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija will continue to cooperate in the struggle for respecting international law in the United Nations and in all other important international forums.

Drecun: Negotiations with Pristina in deep coma phase (RTS

Serbian MP Milovan Drecun has told the Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) morning press review that following the visit of the EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak the main question is how he thinks to overcome the key obstacle for talks and “force” Pristina to implement the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). Drecun underlines that Lajcak had said that two sides need to determine on their own how the normalization will look like and that the EU will not interfere in this. “That is something that is on a long stick, very broadly defined. For the first time, Lajcak said that the so-called constitution of Kosovo can be amended,” Drecun states. He points out that the paper on the implementation of the Brussels agreement envisages the adjustment of the legal frameworks. “Therefore, where the laws are not adjusted to the Brussels agreement, the agreement should not be changed, but the legal framework. The Albanians are going the other way, they want the Brussels agreement to be changed and that is their attempt to revise it,” explains Drecun. He says that Lajcak was not completely precise when everything that will be agreed in the next period will be applied. “The Albanians say that the realization of the agreement should be started only when mutual recognition is achieved, but they know that recognition of the false state of Kosovo cannot take place,” Drecun emphasizes. He believes that Lajcak is trying to save what can be saved since the negotiations are in a “deep coma phase” due to Pristina’s unilateral behavior and constant attempts at imposing a topic that is not on the agenda – mutual recognition. “The Albanians want to transfer the formation of the ZSO to that future possible comprehensive agreement on normalization of relations,” says Drecun.

Unacceptable for ZSO to be only association of municipalities 

Drecun reminds that the Albanians took a step that was not foreseen by the agreement and appealed to the so-called Constitutional Court, which made a completely contradictory decision.

“Lajcak also says that the ZSO should be formed in accordance with the decision of the Constitutional Court. I assume that he did not read the agreements well because there is no mention of the Constitutional Court there at all,” says Drecun. He states that the Constitutional Court has ruled that most of the provisions of the Agreement on the ZSO are not in accordance with the so-called Constitution, especially its jurisdictions. “Still, the key thing is that this court stated that the first Brussels agreement has become an integral part of the legal order that functions in Kosovo on the basis of the first Brussels agreement. And it defines the executive powers,” explains Drecun. He points out that it is unacceptable for the ZSO to be an association as envisaged by the so-called constitution of Kosovo. Drecun believes that the way in which Miroslav Lajcak is conducting negotiations, although his position is not easy, encourages Pristina to continue with unilateral moves.

For eight years I have been listening about Vucic is preparing to betray Kosovo (Novosti

Serbian Patriarch Irinej stated he had been listening for eight years that the Serbian President was preparing to betray Kosovo. He also asked if it made sense to convict a man for something he did not do, just because some think he will do it. “Vucic has tackled the numerous problems of Kosovo. He has shown himself to be a responsible statesman on many national issues. The citizens gave their opinion on his work in the elections,” Irinej told Novosti. He added that he thinks that Serbs and Albanians should be left to agree on everything on their own without imposing a solution in favor of only one side. “In that respect, the United States can play a great and historical role,” the Patriarch said. He also said that he spent a large part of his life in Kosovo and Metohija. “I was first a student at the Serbian Orthodox Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius known as the Prizren seminary, and then a professor and rector. When I first came to Prizren, there were about 16.000 Serbs living there. How many Serbs are there today? I always said that the first condition in solving problems in Kosovo and Metohija should be the safe return of some 250.000 Serbs expelled between 1999 and 2004. The international community should help, first on the issue, and only then proceed in organizing talks on other topics,” Irinej underlined.

RS is state even without chair in UN (Novosti)

In an interview to the daily, Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Milorad Dodik said that B&H will see the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) in a very disunited state, as nobody – including Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and international community – is satisfied with B&H. “Bosnia proved that it is a nest of hypocrisy and unrealistic situation. It is an imagination, an unwanted child which, unlike the real life, stands no chance of being successful. The Republika Srpska (RS) is the only functional part of B&H. A reasonable message coming from the international community towards B&H, for the past quarter of a century, would be that they tortured us enough and that it is high time we decided on our own how to proceed, even go separate ways if needed,” Dodik said. Dodik reiterated that the RS is the only functional and self-sustainable part of B&H and argued that, if it were to leave B&H, the Federation of B&H (FB&H) would immediately fall apart in two parts “and the question is how cantons would function as well. B&H was imposed on us and we are persistently proving that we can survive without it”. Asked to comment on frequent comparisons of Kosovo and RS, Dodik said that the international community has different approach to this matter as it “created some kind of an informal group for Kosovo, adopted shameful decision on independence and the world sort of accepted it. To the RS, under identical circumstances, it said ‘be silent and stay in B&H’. The West is threatening us and is imposing some catastrophic solutions. We have foreigners in every step of the way in B&H. In spite of so many foreigners, trust of people never came to life in B&H and this is where the failure of this international policy is reflected”. Dodik went on to say that tryst of Serbs and Croats in B&H has never been at a lower level and added that, in this context, talks are being carried out on the status of Serbs and Croats as well as on the status of B&H. “Constituent people must be the epicenter of decision-making in B&H. If this is not the case, then there is no reason for B&H to exist,” Dodik noted. Asked if he thinks that the world would accept independent RS and idea for Serbs to get yet another state apart from Serbia, Dodik replied that “we already live the RS as if it were a state. The fact we do not have a chair in the United Nations (UN) means nothing. I believe the RS showed that it is a factor of stability in the region and the international community’s big mistake is the attempt to centralize B&H, this is doomed to failure”. Dodik argued that (SDA leader) Bakir Izetbegovic disagrees with this, as he is of the view that Croats should be outvoted, the RS should be abolished and that “Muslims, as the majority people, will be deciding on everything”. Dodik reminded that SDA even adopted a resolution a year ago according to which B&H should be organized without the entities and he noted that “those who think that we are crazy and that we will accept this are wrong. If we add catastrophic work of international officials in B&H to all of this, then it is clear where we live”.

Asked if he is trying to say that foreigners too are destroying B&H, Dodik said that this is true because foreigners “constantly present lies” that the RS cannot make decisions such as the one on referendum. “All of this is a lie of the international community presented by the High Representatives. The RS is carrying out a recognizable policy of respecting of the original DPA. Unfortunately, it was damaged in its basic elements to create unitary B&H, primarily by (former High Representative) Paddy Ashdown. His activities will eventually turn out to be requiem for B&H”. Dodik denied that new DPA is needed and noted that B&H, instead, needs to reach an agreement to appreciate stances and end force of the international factor. “Everything that has been done against the DPA, especially by the High Representatives, must be included in the agenda again. If foreigners think we are stupid and that we will give up on this, they are very much wrong. And if they are hoping that we will end our political careers and that new politicians will come to accept whatever they want, they are again wrong. We are not impatient. We have the RS that functions,” Dodik stated. Commenting on his recent meetings with officials of Croatia and Serbia as well as on speculations that there is a conspiracy of Serbs and Croats against Bosniaks, Dodik said that such speculations are nonsense, as they discussed consensus and manners in which to achieve people in B&H living in constructive ways. “Sarajevo must know that there can be no imposing. Either they will appreciate us or we will leave B&H,” Dodik added. Commenting on the fact Bosniak politicians hope the international community will discipline the RS, Dodik said that foreigners “see us as people of lower value who do not know how to think, who are savage people, common Balkans people. They are not interested in what we want but they are only interested in what they want”. With regard to his recent meetings in Brussels, Dodik said that there are policies in the EU which are being implemented in B&H and he added that the most important thing for the EU is that there are no conflicts in B&H and “for them, it is a sign that we are successful. The fact there is no development means nothing to anyone. They give us some money and ask for some kind of reforms in return. It is very difficult to present opinions that those things do not function”. Dodik went on to say that he stated in Brussels that the perception of the West that B&H cannot do anything without foreigners is wrong. “They keep inventing new problems. I said in Brussels that they created the judicial system in B&H in a wrong way. I cannot legalize this bad system. I want to have talks on comprehensive reform of judiciary. More than two decades ago, completely different messages were coming from Europe. There were messages that the RS must stay within B&H so that a Muslim state would not be created in the Balkans. I wonder why did they create Kosovo then?”, Dodik stated and argued that it is tragic to know that people who are making decisions on this region have “no clue about us here and they do not want to have it”. In addition to this, Dodik assessed that the Washington Agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is good for Serbia. Speaking about relations of Serbs with Russia, in the context of frequent talks of Serbia and USA, Dodik said that relations between Serbs, RS and Serbia, with Russia remain good and fair. “Russia supports the DPA. Belgrade getting closer to Washington and talks are good and this has nothing to do with NATO and this especially has nothing to do with B&H. NATO is not an option for the RS and this is where the story ends,” Dodik argued. Speaking about the upcoming US presidential elections, Dodik noted that it is in the best interest of Serb community in USA for Donald Trump to win. Asked to comment on reactions to possible dual citizenship of the RS and Serbia for citizens of the RS, Dodik said that dual citizenship is needed as this is about integration and international standards. Dodik reminded that many people already have dual citizenship of the RS and Serbia and he added: “We belong to Serb people and this is confirmed by the dual citizenship. We are Serbs, we are not Bosnian Serbs”. Finally, Dodik said that he expects SNSD to win the upcoming local elections and he noted that he is not even thinking about retiring from politics: “I am the strongest now. For as long as people keep electing me, I will be here”.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dodik: B&H Presidency has taken stance that B&H does not recognize independence of Kosovo; Dzaferovic, Komsic deny this information (N1)

At its session held on Thursday, the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) adopted a joint statement calling on all institutions in B&H for urgent engagement in fulfillment of 14 recommendations from the European Commission’s (EC) Opinion on B&H’s EU membership application. However, the Presidency members presented completely opposite stances in regards to the item that concerned the initiative to recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Following the session Chairman of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic stressed that this issue was not solved because they did not vote on it at Thursday session. On the other hand, member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik claims that as of Thursday, B&H officially does not recognize Kosovo. The reporter reminded that at the Presidency session held earlier, members of the Presidency discussed the initiative of Komsic to recognize Kosovo. Komsic and Dzaferovic voted in favor of this initiative, while Dodik voted against it. It was decided that there will be the second round of voting on this issue. During the Thursday session, Dzaferovic refused to put this item on the agenda of this session. However, Dodik insisted on it. After it was included in the agenda Komsic insisted to withdraw this item. According to Dzaferovic, Dodik resumed to insist on this item and decided to vote. Dzaferovic explained that Dodik was the only one that voted on this issue. He explained that this issue will not be solved until consensus on it is reached within B&H, adding that it can be included in the agenda of any of upcoming sessions of the Presidency. Dodik stressed that this issue is solved as far as it concerns him. He explained that once included in the agenda, items concerning recognition of Kosovo could not be removed from it, because it would represent violation of the Rules of Procedures of the Presidency. At a press conference held after the session, Dodik said: “So, on the occasion of voting, Mr. Komsic did not vote, Mr. Dzaferovic refrained, I voted against it, which formally, legally and essentially means that B&H, by the B&H Presidency’s decision, did not recognize Kosovo, i.e. refused the recognition of Kosovo. That is a formal and legal decision that will be binding for all bodies”. Dnevni avaz daily comments that pro-Bosnian political forces, which strive to normalization of relations in the region, including the relations with Kosovo, can now regret the fact that due to Komsic’s shortsightedness and Dzaferovic’s inability to have political stance of his own, this decision of the B&H Presidency will have far-reaching and bad political consequences. Daily comments that Dodik will make political points, being that he prevented B&H to legally and legitimately recognize Kosovo, while on the other side, B&H’s relations with Kosovo will deteriorate further and B&H will remain on the tail of progress of the entire region, which aims towards normalization of relations.

Izetbegovic sends letter to international officials warning that HDZ B&H leader Covic is presenting things in B&H in distorted way (Hayat)

SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic has sent a letter to international officials warning that HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic is presenting things in B&H in a distorted way, especially SDA’s attitude towards the agreement signed in Mostar in June. In the letter, Izetbegovic states that it is true that SDA accepted the agreement with HDZ B&H, which agreed on an arrangement for the elections in Mostar and the principles for amending the B&H Election Law. “We expected that HDZ B&H, after this, would finally stop blackmail and blockades and agree to the implementation of the results of the 2018 General Elections for the Federation of B&H (FB&H), and that judges of the Constitutional Court of the FB&H would be elected. HDZ B&H has been persistently refusing this, further complicating and calling into question the functioning of the FB&H,” Izetbegovic stated in the letter. Izetbegovic stated that SDA has been constantly warning HDZ B&H, because it is not only an unconstitutional activity, but also a criminal act, adding that SDA took the position that until this is done, there is no sense in discussing the Election Law. Izetbegovic sent a letter to the High Representative, Ambassadors of the UK and the US, Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H.

Dzaferovic: Nothing will ever be solved regarding B&H outside B&H and its institutions (Hayat)

B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic stated that B&H wants to have good and friendly relations with its neighbors, adding that this is simply an elementary setting in regional cooperation. Dzaferovic stressed that one cannot say that B&H does not have serious problems with neighbors. “Serious, open issues which our neighbors do not want to solve. Serbia does not want to solve the issue of agreement on state border with B&H. It is asking for exchange of territories. We cannot accept any exchange of territories at some five, six key, or important locations,” Dzaferovic underlined. Dzaferovic stressed that open issues between B&H and Croatia include Peljesac Bridge, Trgovska Gora and the issue of property. “Those are all open issues and instead of speaking with the institutions of B&H or solving open issues, meetings are happening both by official Zagreb and official Belgrade with representatives of peoples. We do not have an institution of representatives of the peoples. We have our state institutions, the parliament, the Council of Ministers, the Presidency of B&H, and in that way, negative signals are being sent to B&H and I believe that not only that old, open issues are not being solved, but new open issues are being produced. They will not be able to solve anything about B&H, neither of them, without the institutions of B&H. Nothing will ever be solved regarding B&H outside B&H and its institutions,” Dzaferovic stressed.

EC condemns naming of streets in B&H after ‘prominent members of Ustasha movement’ (Oslobodjenje)

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi confirmed that the European Commission is aware of the fact that certain streets, squares and facilities in B&H, have been named after “controversial individuals, connected with WWII or conflicts from the nineties, including the war criminals sentenced by international tribunals and calls on B&H authorities to criminally sanction denying of the most difficult crimes”. The article explains that this was part of a written response to MEP’s question from the European Parliament, asking about answers from the EC, concerning the names of the streets named after “prominent members of Ustasha movement”, mentioning the names of Milo Budak and Juro Francetic in Mostar, as well as case of elementary school in Sarajevo, named after Mustafa Busuladzic. Commissioner Varhelyi reminded that every country which strives towards the EU membership is obliged to condemn denying of crimes and genocide, adding that marking the anniversary of Dayton Peace Agreement will be a chance to think about the issue of “insulting symbols in public sphere”. “We are carefully monitoring this issue in the course of political dialogue with B&H” noted Commissioner.  The member of the European Parliament Dominique Bilde from France, requested the EU to present its stance on streets named after outstanding members of ‘Ustasha regime’ “who were directly responsible for massacre of Jewish people and Serbs in B&H”.

Court of B&H abolishes decision of B&H CEC that annulled verification of candidature of ‘United Srpska’ and Stevandic (Nova BH)

The B&H Court granted the appeal of ‘United Srpska’ and its leader Nenad Stevandic against the decision of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) on banning this political party from participating in the local elections, scheduled to take place in B&H on 15 November. The Court of B&H thus annulled the CEC’s decision, enabling ‘United Srpska’ to run in the elections, as well as ruling that the political party is no longer required to pay a fine in the amount of BAM 10,000 for hate speech. Namely, the CEC had concluded that, in its video published on September 20, ‘United Srpska’ violated the Election Law of B&H in the part related to hate speech in the pre-election campaign. On the other hand, according to the explanation of the court decision, the Court of B&H established that the CEC adopted the decision on banning ‘United Srpska’ from running in the elections by referring to the violation of the article of the Election Law that regulates the issue of expressing hate speech during the pre-election campaign. Accordingly, the Court of B&H agreed with the supporting arguments from the political party’s appeal and ruled that this is not a case of hate speech in the period of the pre-election campaign, as the campaign is scheduled to officially start on Friday while the video was published in September. The court did not want to thoroughly go into the content of the video, because they only focused on the subject of the appeal. While declaring the CEC’s decision inconsistent with the law, the court touched upon the fact that the CEC could have referred to other law regulations in order to enable imposing of sanctions against ‘United Srpska’, but failure to do so led to annulling of the decision. Commenting on the Court of B&H’s ruling, Stevandic stated that institutions the staff of which is appointed unlawfully will never decide on Republika Srpska, its fate, people and citizens. Stevandic stated that United Srpska has proven its strength, noting that SDS attempted to remove him from the race in 2018 by asking that he be removed from the compensation list. “This time, they had their executors in CEC who were appointed illegally. They tried to have CEC decide instead of citizens. We have suffered immense damage because we lost precious time fighting the shameful and unfounded decision of CEC. United Srpska is growing, and winning united and unbreakable,” said Stevandic.

Pre-election campaign in B&H begins on Friday (FTV)

The pre-election campaign in B&H is set to begin on Friday and it will last until 14 November at 07,00hrs when the election silence is set to begin. On this occasion, representatives of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) addressed a press conference in Sarajevo on Thursday. Representatives of the B&H CEC called on all participants of the elections to conduct a fair campaign and the CEC also called for institutional cooperation and efficient prosecution of persons responsible for malversations. According to the B&H CEC, 543 political subjects will take part in the local elections in B&H scheduled to take place on 15 November, a total of 30,809 candidates were verified, while 3,283,194 voters were registered in the central voters’ register. The reporter noted that aside from these figures, figures about abuses and irregularities are also impressive while competences of those who should deal with the abuses and irregularities are undefined. President of the B&H CEC Zeljko Bakalar noted that the B&H CEC received the information about investigation of the abuses and irregularities just two days ago, while the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H stated that they do not consider to be competent in these cases. Bakalar said that they were informed about ten cases that are underway and that one case was delivered to some of the cantonal prosecutor’s offices. Bakalar underlined that this is the first time that the B&H CEC was informed about these facts. The reporter warned that 150,000 registrations for voting outside of B&H out of which over 400 referred to dead people that the B&H CEC received have sparked the biggest reactions, and over 27,000 of the registrations were dismissed. Speaking about this issue, member of the B&H CEC Vanja Bjelica Prutina said that in her opinion, this experience and this year’s enormous number of registrations for voting outside of B&H, indicates that rules will be significantly changed for the next elections when it comes to registration. During the press conference, the B&H CEC also presented the first online course for members of polling station committees, observers as well as for media and voters that is free of charge.

 

Milanovic: B&H needs equality of all peoples, Bosniaks cannot elect two members of B&H Presidency (HRT1)

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic stated on Wednesday in an interview for HRT1 that B&H must function in line with the Dayton Peace Agreement, which means that Bosniaks cannot elect two members of B&H Presidency, which is the case at the moment. “Croats in B&H should be allowed to have everything which is in line with the Dayton Peace Agreement, and not have Bosniaks elect their member of Presidency. Simply said, B&H needs equality of all peoples,” said Milanovic. He added that B&H needs to harmonize ethnic relations first, although some politicians are talking about civic society. Milanovic said he would like to comment on a statement of member of the Presidency of B&H, a prominent member of SDA (referring to Sefik Dzaferovic without mentioning his name), who has been using phrases such as ‘criminal enterprise’ and ‘enemies of B&H’ lately, which, according to Milanovic, equalize Croatia and Serbia. “And Mister Bakir Izetbegovic is approving it, he is his man, he safeguards his chair on the Presidency of B&H. Does that contribute to our relations?” asked Milanovic. The Croatian President further said he has sympathies for victims of B&H Muslims, in other words Bosniaks, reminding that he spoke at SDP B&H pre-election rallies in Sarajevo in 2010. In this context Milanovic said he was naive in thinking that some people had good intentions. “It did not take me long to understand, many people warned me and I realized who I am dealing with” added Milanovic. He went on to say: “And what do you want now? You want civic B&H? Or can ethnic and civic be harmonized? All right. Let’s first do the ethnic, it is the basis. First the soap, then the Chanel. This civic is the Chanel. It is not for everyone and Croatia is having difficulties coping in there, but somehow it is coping”.

Minister Lavrov to visit Croatia 27 October (Hina)

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will visit Croatia on 27 October and will Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic, the Ambassador told the HRT national broadcaster. He did not exclude that those meetings might discuss a visit by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to Croatia in 2021. Nesterenko presented his credentials to President Milanovic and said that he left a strong impression on him. “It seems that he has a broad knowledge in many areas. My impression is that the President is very interested in Croatia’s interests to be protected everywhere,” said Nesterenko, who was previously the ambassador to Montenegro and a spokesman in Russia’s foreign ministry. “I have come to Croatia with the best and sincerest intentions to work on developing relations between our two countries,” he said. Nesterenko said that in his talks with Milanovic he mentioned possible energy supplies from the USA and said that Croatia’s officials were leading a multi-faceted policy in that field and that they were attempting to take all offers into consideration, which is absolutely understandable. Commenting on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s recent visit to Croatia, Nesterenko said that his American counterpart tried to anchor himself here in Southeast Europe but that in the end he did not see any anchor. “If foreign diplomats will come to your country and throw their anchors, I think that that shows a lack of respect,” he said and added that his impression is that Croatians are a very proud, independent and sovereign people. “You yourself set the framework of your foreign policy and you yourself can assess the behavior of foreign guests,” he concluded.

 

Parties submit their proposals for the departments they are interested in (Dan)

 

All political parties from the new majority have submitted to the prime minister-designate, Zdravko Krivokapic, proposals for some of a total of 18 ministries they think they would have qualified staff for, Dan writes. According to the information of Dan, some wishes overlap, which means that Krivokapic will have to reach final decision. The majority of requests were for the position of the vice-president of the government, as well as for Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while no requests have been submitted for several departments: Ministry of Sport, Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Ministry of Finance… Earlier, they agreed that prime minister-designate should take care of the Ministry of Economy and Minister of Finance and appoint experts. As Dan finds out, Democratic Front stated they wanted position of the vice-president of the government, that they had qualified staff for vital functions in the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Public Administration. In a proposal submitted by Democratic Montenegro, they said they wanted to be the head in the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. Democratic Montenegro also wants one position of the vice-president of the government. Socialist People’s Party also proposed departments that their members could cover – one position of the vice-president of the government and four ministries: Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs and Ministry of Education. Since Movement for Changes is negotiating with the prime minister-designate separately, they asked for the position in security sector, Ministry of Defense to be more precise, along with the position of vice-president of the government, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, for which they believe they have skilled staff. They pointed out requests for secretaries of state and directors would come later. URA has said earlier it has staff to cover the position of Defense Minister and Interior Minister. They also requested Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Agriculture. They also want the position of the vice-president of the government. Negotiations are speeding up, as the new government should be formed by 10 November.

Staff of the United – head of the Clinical Center 

Representatives of the United Montenegro haven’t proposed staff for head positions in ministries. Instead, but they want their people to cover the position of the director of the Clinical Center.

Zogovic head of the Administrative Board? 

The most serious candidate for the function of the president of Administrative Board in the parliament of Montenegro is Milutin Zogovic from the list of ‘For the future of Montenegro’ coalition. For now, he is the only candidate for this function. Administrative Board will be formed by 20 October. In accordance with the deal, DF caucus shall delegate two candidates, just like Democrats-Demos club. Movement for Changes, SPP and clubs of the ‘Black and white coalition’ shall propose one MP each. DPS shall propose three candidates, SDP and Albanian coalition one candidate and club of MPs from SD and Bosniak party shall propose one candidate as well. The only name taken into consideration for the position of vice-president of the parliament is Strahinja Bulajic, proposal nobody opposed.

Djeljosaj: Principles are more important than positions in the government (RTCG)

Prime minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic started negotiations with minority parties about the participation of the new government. After the meeting with the representatives of the Albanian coalition Nik Djeljosaj and Genci Nimanbegu said that that their priority was respect for program commitments of their coalition. Djeljosaj said that Montenegro would be more democratic if their objectives were accepted. “The last thing we want to talk about is positions in the government. The most important thing for us is the agreement on the program commitments,” Djeljosaj said. Nimanbegu said that Albanian list would not give up on political requests referring to the EU and NATO integrations and stable neighborly relations. He says that Krivokapic has informed them about the requests of the three coalitions concerning ministerial positions. “We want Albanians in Montenegro to feel equal,” Nimanbegu said.

Abazovic: If someone doesn’t want to be part of the government, well that’s a pity (CdM)

Leader of URA civil movement Dritan Abazovic believes that Montenegro will have the new government within a month. He says some less known names, people who built their careers in renowned world institutions, will be part of it. “The new government some very interesting names, less known to the public. These people performed important tasks in Montenegro or built their careers in renowned world institutions. We need to see who they are, they must all send their CVs. I think we will make a good choice,” Abazovic said. All political parties have submitted to Zdravko Krivokapic proposals for the departments they are interests in. “It’s a good thing that we have got several candidates for all ministries”, Abazovic points out, adding that URA is interested in departments where it can contribute the most. Asked if he expects minorities’ support, Abazovic says that it would be pity for anyone who doesn’t want to enter the government. “Whoever wants, will get the chance, and who doesn’t want, well that’s their right,” URA leader said. Everyone who has imagined this country to be used as playground for private interests is very wrong, Abazovic says. If, after the idea of expert government, politicians make part of the new government too, does that mean that Abazovic has betrayed his voters? “We have avant-garde ideas, they can’t be accepted immediately. We have introduced the idea of expert government in Montenegro and I’m glad that we have received so many CVs of expert people. We won’t give up on the expert government, but we must find compromise. We can’t say that all politicians are not experts. Is there any greater agriculture expert than Milan Markovic, URA member? Can we say now that he can’t be part of the government because he is a member of our party?” Abazovic asks. Finding the best possible model while maintaining expertise would be the best solution in Abazovic’s opinion. “Montenegrin citizens are not primitive African tribes, they are able to make a difference between good and bad things. We must be real and we must find people who are responsible and, above all, honest,” Abazovic says. He says he renders every decision independently. “I don’t tolerate pressure. My zodiac sign is Capricorn, I am very stubborn. Nobody renders decisions on our behalf, that’s nonsense. And we haven’t god financial support,” Abazovic states. Security sector and loyalty to the state has provoked flames. Abazovic reiterates that security sector will have professionals with credible biographies, who will be doing their job in accordance with the law. He adds that Law on Freedom of Religion can’t affect the process of the government formation. Priorities of the new government are stabilization of the economic system, fight against organized crime and European integration.

 

VMRO-DPMNE protest: Stop the abuse of EU funds (Republika)

VMRO-DPMNE is holding Friday a new protest with car convoys, starting at 18:30 h. “For three years now, scandals have been revealed in the media with evidence of embezzlement and suspicions of crime, and the Public Prosecutor and the financial police are silent. They are silent about the scandal where 270,000 euros were granted to a hairdresser by the National Agency for European Educational Programs and Mobility. They are also silent about the scandal where 83,000 million euros were granted for training donkeys,” said the party.

Zaev again offers to visit Bulgaria (Republika)

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev publicly offered to visit Bulgaria, even as the Bulgarian authorities appear unprepared to welcome him. Zaev said that he is in contact with the authorities in Sofia for his visit a month ago, and he dispatched his Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani there last week, only to be forced to acknowledge that the “visit didn’t go well”. Bulgaria demands serious concessions on issues of national identity and history before it will allow the opening of EU accession talks for Macedonia. “I want to visit Bulgaria. I don’t hide it, it is my desire to have my first official visit to a neighboring country in my new term there, because of our friendship. I started my first term there and I believe that we had major successes in this period and I believe we will continue to do so,” Zaev said. The relations with Bulgaria are deteriorating as protests have weakened the Borisov government, which has in turn responded by hardening its position on Macedonia. The Government is angry after a dispute over the rule of law in the European Parliament lead to calls that Bulgaria begins to honor international court verdicts that could lead to the recognition of a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. Borisov angrily confronted Osmani with this fact, and Zaev later said that Osmani’s subsequent meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva “did not go well”. Opposition VMRO-DPMNE party leader Hristijan Mickoski said that Zaharieva asked Osmani that Macedonia amends its Constitution in a way that would reflect the Bulgarian position that the Macedonian nation only recently derived from the Bulgarian and that the Macedonian language is a Bulgarian dialect. Osmani insisted that this was not the case, but would not reveal what was it in his meeting with Zaharieva that “did not go well”. Osmani’s statement only shows how unserious our Government is in the handling of diplomatic issues of vital national and state interest. We need a national consensus and clear red lines. VMRO-DPMNE has been urging this for an entire year. If Osmani denies Mickoski’s statement, then he should say what was discussed during his meeting with the Bulgarian counterpart? The public has the right to know if we are facing new concessions and new constitutional amendments made under pressure from Bulgaria, VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release. Meanwhile, the two teams of historians, from Macedonia and Bulgaria, met to discuss whether they can make any progress on the Bulgarian request that legendary VMRO hero Goce Delcev is declared by both countries to have been an ethnic Bulgarian. Initial reports indicate that the meeting also “did not go well”.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Serbia expects Russian foreign minister’s visit soon — president (TASS, 16 October 2020) 

BELGRADE, Serbia expects Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov to pay a visit to the country soon, President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on Thursday. “Minister Lavrov will come to Belgrade in any case. Serbia has kind, wonderful relations with the Russian Federation, but Serbia had assumed the European path, and Serbia is independent and free, which is I am proud of and which is respected by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, [French President] Emmanuel Macron, [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,” he said. When asked about the previously announced visit by Putin, Vucic said that Belgrade was still waiting for a response from the Russian leader and hoped that the visit would take place despite difficulties caused by the unfavorable situation with the novel coronavirus. The Serbian presidential press service said earlier that Putin was expected to visit Belgrade in October. Vucic invited Putin to visit Serbia at their meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on December 4, 2019. The Serbian authorities said later that they expected the Russian leader to attend the consecration ceremony of the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade in October. The Kremlin administration has never confirmed the date of the visit. Earlier, a number of pro-Western Serbian media reported that Putin’s visit to Belgrade was cancelled due to Serbia’s rapprochement with the United States. Russia’s Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko strongly rejected those claims.

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Belgrade Media Report 03 December 2021

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