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Belgrade Media Report 21 October 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 21 October 2020

LOCAL PRESS

UN Secretary-General: Kosovo’s Thaci, Veseli obstruct Specialist Court’s work (FoNet)
Vucic: Parliamentary elections to be held on 3 April at the latest (Tanjug)
Brnabic: I expect full implementation of Brussels agreement (RTS)
Dacic: It is an honor to be at the helm of the parliament (Sputnik/RTV/NSPM)
Mali: I will remain finance minister (TV Prva/RTV)
Milivojevic: Vucic announces early vote even before new government is formed (Nova S/Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Biden presents plan for US’ relations with B&H (FTV)
Biden’s team is full of people from Clinton’s administration who built their careers on myths of Serbs as genocidal people (Glas Srpske)
Izetbegovic and Erdogan discuss situation in the region, relations between B&H and Turkey (Dnevni list)
DNS leader Nesic leaves Serb caucus in parliament of B&H (EuroBlic)
US, Italian and UK embassies comment increased number of reports about election malversations and frauds (Dnevni avaz)
Croatia

Plenkovic: Milanovic’s behavior is bizarre (Hina)
Croatia expects North Macedonia to open EU accession talks by year’s end (Hina)
Montenegro

Members of Administrative Committee elected, Zogovic named as new chair (CdM)
Patriotic Association of Montenegro: Albanians again defended Montenegro (CdM)
Becic: Initiatives aiming to change country’s national symbols won’t be launched (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Zaev: The Macedonian language is me, the Macedonian language is you, the Macedonian language is all of us (Republika)
Albania

Rama in a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Dendias (Radio Tirana)
Opposition pushes for abolition of Albania-Greece War Law (ADN)
Courts in total dysfunction: reform effects take a heavy toll (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS 

UN Secretary-General: Kosovo’s Thaci, Veseli obstruct Specialist Court’s work (FoNet

The UN Secretary-General accused Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo Kadri Veseli of obstructing the work of the Specialist Court for Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) 1998-1999 war and post-war crimes. In his regular six-month report on the work of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to be discussed at the UN Security Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Antonio Guterres said that besides the coronavirus pandemic, political crisis and the announced indictment, Thaci and Veseli further agitated the already fragile political and security situation in Kosovo. The report said that 189 people, most of them Serbs, have returned to Kosovo in the past six months, while just above 28,000 people have done it since the end of the war in 1999. Guterres welcomed the resumption of the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, saying the process was boosted by new energy. The previous Security Council session about UNMIK’s work was held online on 24 April. Outgoing Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic will take part on Belgrade’s behalf at Wednesday’s video session.

Vucic: Parliamentary elections to be held on 3 April at the latest (Tanjug

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated on Thursday night that a new government of Serbia will have six priorities and will be of limited duration, which means that parliamentary elections will be held together with presidential elections, on 3 April 2022 at the latest. Speaking at a press conference held after a session of the SNS Presidency, Vucic said that the first goal is to preserve the life and health of citizens and a strong health system. The second goal is the fight for Kosovo and Metohija and preservation of the country’s vital interests in the province, then the fight against crime, the fourth goal is achieving independence of Serbia’s foreign policy, the fifth is the rule of law and European integration and the sixth goal is further economic growth. He said that the SNS will form the new government together with SPS and the SPAS list of Aleksandar Sapic, which will have one ministry. The Serbian President stated that SPS leader Ivica Dacic will get the position of speaker of the Serbian parliament, while the composition of the new government will be made known in the coming days. All parliament committees will be formed on Thursday at the latest, after which the parliamentary group will submit a law on ministries, Vucic announced and added that the Prime Minister-designate should give a keynote address on Wednesday morning. He said that he still cannot disclose the names of all ministers since there are still a few doubts.

Brnabic: I expect full implementation of Brussels agreement (RTS

Prime minister-designate Ana Brnabic told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that she expects full implementation of the Brussels agreement. “I don’t believe in dialogue where you talk with people with whom you had already agreed something and signed, but they didn’t implement this. Any normal, civilized person expects that already signed things be implemented. This is the minimum of the minimum. The signatory of the agreement is also the EU, this is something the EU guarantees that it will be implemented, and in the field of the EU it is on it to fulfill the given word,” said Brnabic. When it comes to the amendment of the Constitution in the part that concerns the judiciary, Brnabic said this amendment of the Constitution is up to Serbian citizens. “The Serbian parliament can recommend this. We recommended in the government that headed to the parliament an amendment of the Constitution in the part that concerns the judiciary, I am proud that a public dialogue was held on this for the first time,” she said. Brnabic says that calling early elections for 2022 means that the authorities are taking the risk of having the public evaluate their performance in 2021. She said that the decision to call those elections was very responsible, adding that if the ruling SNS does not have a good year in 2021, someone else will get an opportunity to come to power. Brnabic said that Serbia will face a number of challenges next year, primarily in terms of health care and the economy. She said that her new cabinet will have the capacity to take important decisions even though its term in office is limited. Brnabic said that minority parties have been offered places in the government. Asked if her cabinet would be a unity government of the kind formed by all parliamentary parties in times of crisis, Brnabic said that the world is in a crisis which demands unity.

Dacic: It is an honor to be at the helm of the parliament (Sputnik/RTV/NSPM

Former foreign minister Ivica Dacic said on Tuesday evening that the post of parliament speaker was an honor for every politician and thanked President Aleksandar Vucic for nominating him to head the legislative body. He said that “only a united Serbia can face the challenges of the coming period”.

Mali: I will remain finance minister (TV Prva/RTV

Former finance minister Sinisa Mali has told TV Prva that he will remain the finance minister in the new government. “I received an offer that one doesn’t refuse, to continue to lead the finance department. That is a great honor for me and a big responsibility,” said Mali.

Milivojevic: Vucic announces early vote even before new government is formed (Nova S/Beta

Political analyst Cvijetin Milivojevic said that the latest parliamentary elections were not legitimate and that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had announced an early vote even before the new government had been formed. Speaking for Nova S TV Milivojevic also said that the opposition should not accept the concurrent holding of local and parliamentary elections but should insist on their separate organization. “Why is Vucic insisting on that? Well, so that he can win at one blow, and by using his name. There are no regular elections if they proceed with his name involved, if you have [his] domination in all media, if you have a propaganda that intimidates, discredits, and lynches every publicly spoken opinion,” Milivojevic said and added that if not pressured, Vucic will not organize a new dialogue with the opposition. Commenting on an announced fight against organized crime Milivojevic said that Vucic has not initiated any serious investigation of the people from his party or those close to him. “When he speaks about tycoons, mobsters, racketeers, he alludes to those who were part of the previous authorities. Well, if they are here, why hasn’t he arrested them in all these past years?” Milivojevic asked. The analyst also said that “from a war propagandist, Vucic has turned into a propagandist against his own people,” adding that such a transformation is not normal and poses a danger to society.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Biden presents plan for US’ relations with B&H (FTV)

Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Joseph Biden, who is running against current US President and Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump, published a text entitled ‘Joe Biden’s Vision for the US’ Relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H)’ in which he expressed his friendship towards B&H. According to FTV, Biden’s victory in the presidential elections would mean the US administration’s greater attention towards B&H. Biden expressed understanding for why B&H is important for the US and why it is in the US’ interest to ensure integrity of B&H, which should move forward towards the membership in NATO and the EU. Biden also expressed understanding that, for success, B&H needs a firm support from the US, and that now is the right time for a resolute US’ leadership in promoting and implementing of reforms and reconciliation. Biden commits to always stand against hate and supports B&H’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and multi-ethnic character. The text mentions everything that Biden has so far done for B&H, with the assertion that his role was crucial in the efforts to convince the US Government and the key European allies to put an end to the brutal campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out by first Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. In 2009, Biden, as US Vice-President at the time, visited B&H and addressed the B&H Parliament, saying that the “administration Obama-Biden” will strengthen the long-term commitment of the US to Europe as integral, free, and in peace – and that includes B&H. During Biden’s mandate as the US Vice-President in the US Administration led by Barack Obama as the US President, the US introduced sanctions against SNSD leader and current Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, who was then Republika Srpska (RS) President, for open obstructions of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), hate speech, and spreading of intolerance. This was a message that the US will not tolerate threats to sovereignty or territorial integrity of B&H.

Biden’s team is full of people from Clinton’s administration who built their careers on myths of Serbs as genocidal people (Glas Srpske)

Democratic Party’s candidate Joseph Biden in US presidential election published a text entitled ‘Joe Biden’s Vision for the US’ Relationship with B&H’. The document highlights Biden’s role in the 1990s war in former Yugoslavia, his influence on the Western allies to intervene against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his plans for strengthening cooperation between US and B&H, as well as his plans for strengthening of Euro-Atlantic integration of B&H. According to the daily, Biden’s team is full of people who used to work in US President Bill Clinton’s administration who built their careers on “Serbophobia” and myth of Serbs as genocidal people. Political analyst Srdja Trifkovic stated that the document was created not by Biden himself, but by members of his team who are “followers of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ideology”. According to Trifkovic’s Biden’s main foreign policy advisors are Antony Blinken who follows Clinton doctrine on unfinished job in the Balkans and Samantha Power who launched her career with the myth of Srebrenica genocide. Trifkovic also noted that one of Biden’s key advisors is Michele Flournoy who is a known “Russophobe and Serbophobe”. In his opinion, future US policies for Balkans would not be created by Biden, who would only be a “marionette in hands of the establishment which created the sanctions, demonization of Serbs and bombings”. Trifkovic believes that their final goal is unitarization of B&H, revision of Dayton Peace Agreement, abolishment of the RS and forcing Serbs to admit responsibility for genocide and recognize Kosovo.  Professor of political science Zeljko Budimir shares Trifkovic’s opinion. According to him, Biden’s victory would bring back people who launch new wars and advocate stronger US presence in many regions in the world. According to him, US President Donald Trump believes that there is no need for strong US presence in South-Eastern Europe, and he is the only US President since World War II who did not launch any military campaigns. Inset ‘Serbs deciding election’ – According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, 750,000 Serb immigrants who live across USA might decide the outcome of US elections. The article notes that Serbs have not forgotten Biden’s role during the war and most Serbs are against him.

Izetbegovic and Erdogan discuss situation in the region, relations between B&H and Turkey (Dnevni list)

SDA President Bakir Izetbegovic talked on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the talk about regional relations, Izetbegovic informed Erdogan about the current situation, with special focus on the B&H-Serbia-Croatia triangle. The statement further reads that Izetbegovic thanked Erdogan for being interested in his health condition, following the news that Izetbegovic tested positive for Coronavirus. Izetbegovic also thanked Erdogan for remembering late Alija Izetbegovic on anniversary of his death, which confirms that he respects the first President of the Presidency of B&H. According to the statement, part of the talks was also dedicated to relations between B&H and Turkey during the Coronavirus pandemic and how to improve the relations, which will be a topic of meeting between Chairman of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic and President Erdogan, which should take place as soon as the circumstances caused by the pandemic allow it.

DNS leader Nesic leaves Serb caucus in parliament of B&H (EuroBlic)

DNS leader and MP Nenad Nesic officially left the Serb Caucus, by which he confirmed his intention to end all relations with former coalition partners both at the level of Republika Srpska (RS) and B&H. In spite of this, many municipal boards of DNS already expressed their intention not to change their current course and want to stay in coalition with SNSD. On the other hand, individual municipal boards, including those in Istocno Novo Sarajevo, Pale and Bileca, already announced that they will not be in coalition with SNSD. The daily reminded that DNS Presidency never stated that local boards will have to terminate coalition with SNSD but it only set the deadline to present their stance on who they want to be in coalition with at the local level by October 21 at 15:00 hrs. After that, DNS Presidency will consider their decisions and adopt the final and mandatory decision on coalitions at local level.  A source from the top of DNS told the daily that DNS is still indecisive about what kind of decision to make because they are afraid, they might lose the support of local boards if they try to change their decisions by force. The source also said that it is still unknown whether all representatives of DNS in the RS parliament will support the decision of the top of DNS to act outside of the ruling coalition in future. Rumor has it that at least two representatives might deny obedience to decisions of the top of the party because they are afraid they might lose their positions in the authorities. The daily reminded that even SNSD leader Milorad Dodik announced that DNS personnel from local boards which decide to leave the coalition will automatically be removed from positions in all public institutions. The daily noted that things at the level of B&H are clear, as Nesic already notified the Parliament of B&H on his decision to leave the Serb Caucus. This decision came as surprise for Chair of the Serb Caucus and leader of ‘United Srpska’ Nenad Stevandic as well as other representatives of the ruling coalition, having in mind that Nesic’s decision brought in question the current parliamentary majority. Nesic did not want to comment on his decision on Tuesday. Stevandic told the daily that he was surprised with Nesic’s decision because the Serb Caucus had nothing to do with SNSD, but it was based on positions of the RS. Asked whether Nesic’s decision might even jeopardize the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H, Stevandic replied by saying that he does not think something like that might be possible and he added that he thinks Nesic will continue to vote the same as other Serb MPs in the parliament of B&H.

US, Italian and UK embassies comment increased number of reports about election malversations and frauds (Dnevni avaz)

Daily noted that the number of information about the alleged malversations in the election process and bringing in question legitimacy of upcoming local elections increases, which is why daily contacted several embassies in B&H asking for their stances. Daily noted that several political parties warned about danger of local elections being staged and abused. Asked about possibility of having Quint countries react being that elections are held in time of the pandemic, which could additionally decrease the turnout, the US Embassy to B&H stated: “Together with our partners in the international community, we continue to carefully monitor all aspects of the election process and provide adequate assistance. However, these elections concern the future of B&H and therefore the leaders, institutions and civic society of this country have to be the ultimate guarantees of security and credibility of the elections”. In their statement to the daily, the US Embassy added: “We fully support efforts of the Central Election Commission to improve the transparency and integrity of this year’s elections and we call on the police and prosecutors to work with them in order to bring perpetrators of election frauds to justice. We also call on competent institutions at all levels to provide security of voters and staff in charge of the elections, by undertaking necessary protection measures from the Covid-19”.  Italian Ambassador to B&H Nicola Minasi told the daily that Italy will provide election observers: “Italy strongly supports the necessity for fair and transparent elections in B&H and will provide observers who will assist monitoring of voting process. The only guarantee for transparency is implementing the recommendations that OSCE/ODHIR already provided”. Ambassador Minasi noted that he expects the parliament of B&H to adopt all necessary changes for abiding by EU standards.  The UK Embassy to B&H stated that everyone is responsible to secure free and fair elections. “Processes for reporting irregularities have been established and we are glad to see they can function. We support the work of the CEC, but considering the great number of recommendations from ODHIR and GRECO, which have not been implemented yet, what is necessary is dedication of the state, legislation as well as funds, in order to improve integrity of elections,” stated UK Embassy.

 

Plenkovic: Milanovic’s behavior is bizarre (Hina)

Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that President Zoran Milanovic‘s conduct over the past few months had been bizarre.

“The thing that I consider to be crucial is to recognize three fundamental points in this truly bizarre behavior by President Milanovic over the past few months which I consider to be problematic, not just from my aspect as prime minister but from the aspect of society overall” Plenkovic said ahead of a meeting of HDZ’s leadership when asked by the press to comment on Milanovic’s behavior. In that regard, he recalled Milanovic’s statement which could have affected the trust of a certain portion of citizens in “what the government has been doing and what the national Covid-19 response team and epidemiologists and physicians have been doing.”

“If someone says something like ‘coronavirus can be compared to tooth decay’, then I consider that to be undermining the trust in those who are serious and committed to their work in hospitals and welfare institutions every day so that the most fragile do not become ill and what is worse, die,” he said. Observing the situation in Europe and the world, there is no one left who is downplaying the novel coronavirus. Milanovic’s behavior is also highly unusual in reference to the activities by the DORH prosecutor’s office, USKOK anti-corruption office and police regarding Janaf and other scandals, he said. “The President’s comments on the work of DORH, USKOK and the police are unbelievable,” said Plenkovic and wondered whether Milanovic may have a problem because those institutions were fighting corruption. “The fight against coronavirus – it seems he is opposed to it, the fight against corruption – he seems to have a problem with it. I don’t believe that he is against it exactly but it’s obvious he has a problem with it,” said Plenkovic. Referring to the attack on government House and the grave wounding of a police officer, Plenkovic said that some people are downplaying that event. “Downplaying that event means minimizing it and that’s not good,” he added. Asked whether President Milanovic called him after the attack on Monday, Plenkovic confirmed that he did. “He called, that’s correct. We spoke briefly and that was all. I did not experience that as some sort of support nor do I need it,” he said. Asked whether a meeting of the National Security Council would be convened as suggested by President Milanovic, Plenkovic answered briefly: “We’ll see.” Plenkovic added that he cannot see any cooperation or support that Milanovic has spoken about.

Croatia expects North Macedonia to open EU accession talks by year’s end (Hina)

Zagreb and Skopje expect that North Macedonia will open accession negotiations with the European Union before the end of the year, North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said after meeting with Croatian leaders on Tuesday. “Croatia is deeply imprinted on the collective memory of our European integration process. It all began in Croatia with the 2000 Zagreb Summit and ended in Croatia with the 2020 Summit,” Osmani said after meeting with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic Radman. “We expect continued close cooperation in the further process of accession of North Macedonia to the EU,” Osmani added. Osmani took office in late August, becoming the first ethnic Albanian in North Macedonia to fill this post. Earlier in the day he met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The EU integration of North Macedonia was the main theme at both meetings. Addressing the joint press conference, Grlic Radman said that Croatia “highly appreciates the reform efforts” made by North Macedonia which “demonstrated political courage” and resulted in the country’s admission to NATO membership and getting the green light to open accession talks with the EU. Grlic Radman welcomed “the tangible results” of the reform process in North Macedonia, which was also recognized by the European Commission. In the progress report released earlier this month, the Commission said that North Macedonia had made good progress in combating corruption and reforming its judiciary and public administration. Osmani said that North Macedonia “is developing an authentic way of developing ethnic relations which can serve as an example” to the region. The Commission expressed concern about the dispute between Skopje and Sofia over identity and language, which might result in Bulgaria blocking North Macedonia’s further progress towards EU membership, shortly after a long-standing dispute with Greece was settled with great effort. Osmani said he was optimistic because it was in the interests of both Bulgarians and North Macedonians for his country to join the EU as soon as possible. Osmani and Grlic Radman said that the Bulgarian minority in Croatia and the Croatian minority in Bulgaria were an important link between the two countries, announcing the possibility of opening cultural and information centers to boost ties.

 

Members of Administrative Committee elected, Zogovic named as new chair (CdM)

Members of the Parliament of Montenegro elected today members of the Administrative Committee. Milutin Zogovic of the Democratic Front was named the new chair of the Committee. Members of the Committee are: Rados Zecevic (Democratic Front), Vladan Raicevic (Movement for Changes), Dragan Vukic (Socialist People’s Party), Momo Koprivica and Vladimir Martinovic (Democratic Montenegro and Demos), Milos Konatar (Black on White coalition), Luidj Skrelja, Daliborka Pejovic and Suzana Pribilovic (Democratic Party of Socialists and Liberal Party), Damir Sehovic of the Social Democrats, Kenana Strujic Harbic of the Bosniak Party and Rasko Konjevic of the Social Democratic Party – Albanian bloc ‘Unanimously’. Of the 66 MPs, 64 voted for the election of the chair and members of the Administrative Committee, while two were against.

The discussion was marked by a heated debate between the DF MP, Milan Knezevic, and the DPS MP, Luidj Skrelja. During thes discussion, the President of the Liberal Party, Andrija Popovic, said that his party wouldn’t support the election of the members of the Administrative Committee. “When the state is in danger, we are ready to fight in a political war that is going to last. Montenegro must be saved” he noted. The DF MP, Slaven Radunovic, then reacted and told that Montenegro is now secure more than ever. “We have liberated Montenegro and its revitalization lies ahead,” he said. Milan Knezevic of the DF told the Administrative Committee would not be the same as in the previous convocation. “The main machine gunner, Skrelja, machine-gunned the DF deputies, while Marta Scepanovic sniped precisely at those who didn’t think alike. That committee lifted our immunity,” Knezevic said. Ljujidj Skrelja of the DPS said that calling him a machine gunner was an insult. “I wish the new MPs success in work. Welcome Mr prime minister-designate. Everything that Knezevic and Vucurovic told is not true because the Administrative Committee did not take away anyone’s immunity. I’m a servant of everything that is good,” Skrelja pointed out. Knezevic continued: “I have nothing against you because you’re an Albanian but because you belong to the DPS.” The Movement for Changes MP, Branko Radulovic, told that “we’re at the beginning of hard road”. “I’m sure that the reform government will be set up in two weeks and it will be entirely citizens-oriented. Those who were stealing, who were thieves and spies, they have to take criminal responsibility and return what belongs to the state.” Bozena Jelusic of the Civic Movement URA noted that “today we witnessed intense polarization and hatred.” The DF MP, Predrag Bulatovic, said that lifting the immunity at the Administrative Committee represented a showdown with the political opponents. Dragan Krapovic of the Democrats said that “we got a great chance to make a great change in the development of our country”. At the beginning of the session, it was noted that Caslav Vesovic, Vlastimir Golubovic and Ivan Vukovic resigned from their positions in the DPS, and the SNP MP, Dragoslav Scekic, resigned as well.

Patriotic Association of Montenegro: Albanians again defended Montenegro (CdM)

The Patriotic Association of Montenegro welcomes the decision of the Albanian coalition ‘Unanimously’, comprising the Democratic Party, the Democratic Union of Albanians and the Democratic Alliance, to reject the invitation of the prime minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic, because the new government will be led by the parties and politicians that “don’t want the equality of Albanians in this country”, as well as due to the fact that these parties “did not vote for Tuzi to be an independent municipality, did not vote for the Law on the Use of National Symbols, they call the state of Kosovo false, they do not want civil but (greater) Serbian Montenegro, whereas its leaders, in the 21st century, dream of capturing Shkodra and Dubrovnik, Pec and Prizren, and consider the NATO membership a mistake.” “Well done, our brothers, the Albanians! Like the leaders of the Bosniak Party, you have once again defended Montenegro, as you did on 21 May 2006, when we renewed our old Montenegrin state together. We do not applaud for simply rejecting to negotiate with them, as negotiation and dialogue are ways of communication in the modern world, but because you refused to negotiate with the opponents of the state of Montenegro, its people and other peoples living in it. We applaud your patriotism, which has always been expressed for Montenegro, even when some Montenegrins were against it and its identity,” they noted.

Becic: Initiatives aiming to change country’s national symbols won’t be launched (CdM)

The leader of the Democratic Montenegro and Montenegro parliament speaker Aleksa Becic has pointed out to the principles arising from the agreement signed by the three leaders of the winning blocs, which will represent foundations of a new, democratic and pro-European government of Montenegro. He recalled that they had pledged to implement responsibly all current international commitments, boost and improve the cooperation with the NATO Alliance, carry out all necessary reforms for Montenegro’s full membership in the EU and perform the complete depolarization of key state bodies, with the aim of ensuring an uncompromising fight against organized crime and corruption, the Democratic Montenegro said in a statement.

Becic reiterated that he was going to adhere to the Constitution of Montenegro and would not launch any initiatives with the aim of changing the country’s national symbols. “Becic has added that, according to the Agreement, the new democratic government in Montenegro won’t seek to withdraw recognition of Kosovo, won’t carry out revanchism on a political or any other basis, whereas all laws will be passed or revised in line with the European standards in order to accelerate Montenegro’s membership into the EU,” says the statement following yesterday’s meeting of Becic and President of the Civic URA Movement, Dritan Abazovic, with David McAllister, Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and EPP Vice-President, Reinhard Butikofer, Member of the European Parliament and Foreign Affairs Committee, Simon Ilse, Director of the Belgrade Office of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, and Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Belgrade Office, Norbert Beckman-Dierkes. Becic especially highlighted the commitment of a new democratic government to enable minority parties to take part in the government regardless of their parliamentary status. He’s clearly noted that the new government will be pro-Montenegrin, pro-Western and pro-European. “The European Union represents the top priority of the new democratic government in Montenegro,” he underlined.

 

Zaev: The Macedonian language is me, the Macedonian language is you, the Macedonian language is all of us (Republika)

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, together with the Minister of Education and Science, Mila Carovska, attended the International Scientific Conference “Macedonian language – a source of scientific research (at home and abroad)” at the Institute of Macedonian Language “Krste Misirkov”. In his address, Prime Minister Zaev emphasized the two important anniversaries – 75 years since the publication of the Macedonian alphabet and the Macedonian orthography. Let us be guardians of the Macedonian language because the Macedonian language is me, the Macedonian language is you, the Macedonian language is all of us, he said.

 

Rama in a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Dendias (Radio Tirana)

Prime Minister Edi Rama gave a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, thanking the neighboring country for the assistance they provided on November 26 last year, when our country was hit by a devastating earthquake. While expressing gratitude to the minister, who according to him, was close to the Albanians in those dramatic moments, the head of the Albanian government stressed that the Greek search and rescue troops risked their lives to save people under the rubble. “I express my gratitude to the good friend of Albanians, Mr. Dandias, for his visit today. The Minister was with us and near us even in an extremely dramatic moment, when the earthquake of November 26 last hit thousands and thousands of families and in a few seconds put us in front of an extremely difficult situation. A situation where the direct contribution not only with the symbolic presence of the minister here, but also with the presence of search and rescue troops from Greece amid a wide flow of troops coming from friendly countries, enabled us to get out of that situation, saving a lot human lives. I will never forget the moment of the exhumation of a young boy by the rescue troops that came from Greece, in absolutely dangerous conditions. Those boys in the uniform of a neighboring country, who came here for the first time, sacrificed quite a bit and were ready to sacrifice their lives to save lives. With that strong and unforgettable memory, today we welcome here our friend to talk about the common path of the future. We have to do our best, especially at the political level. We have opened a very positive chapter with the government of Greece and I want to bring it back here to the fact that apart from the minister, who was here personally at that difficult moment, the prime minister was among the first to be interested after the tragedy and that he has been continuously concerned to be informed of the progress of things and certainly also ready in that moment of difficulty which arose at the border, as a result of the measures taken against Covid. For us, Greece has been a strategic partner since the beginning and remains so. “We consider Greece a precious neighbor and definitely our partnership with Greece is a partnership for the future, never forgetting everything that connects us from the recent and distant past,” said Rama.

Opposition pushes for abolition of Albania-Greece War Law (ADN)

Chairman of Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha stressed Tuesday to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias that abolition of the law of war passed by Greece after Italian occupation forces in Albania attacked Greece in October 1940 is necessary. The opposition leader has made the above emphasis during his meeting with Dendias, but Basha also stressed that pending issues must be solved and bilateral cooperation in all areas must be intensified in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect between Albania and Greece. “Today, I had the pleasure to meet with the Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Dendias. During the conversation, we underlined the necessity that in the spirit of mutual understanding and respect, to solve the pending issues and intensify bilateral cooperation in all areas, including facilities for Albanians living and working in Greece. I reiterated the position expressed for 10 years, that the solution for the sea issue must come through the International Court and I repeated to Minister Dendias the necessity for the abrogation of the law of war. On behalf of the Democratic Party and the Albanian opposition, I thanked him for the valuable support that Greece is giving to our country in the historic process of European integration,” said Basha.

Courts in total dysfunction: reform effects take a heavy toll (Tirana Times)

After the publication of the list with the names of candidates for the Constitutional Court (CC) from the Parliament and the President of the Republic, the international community applauded the “courage of those who responded to the call to serve.” US Ambassador Yuri Kim took to Twitter to express the need of Albania to have a functional Constitutional Court by the end of this year and urged the Judicial Appointments Council (JAC) to act with a resolve. This is also one of the key conditions set by the EU for the first intergovernmental conference on accession negotiations. Although it is symbolically the most important, the CC is far from being the only one under duress due to the upheaval that the justice reform has caused with the vetting process that has taken out of the system several judges and prosecutors. In the practical sense, the situation in the High Court is more devastating. Despite holding tens of thousands of unsolved cases it has only one functional chamber, with just 3 out of the necessary 19 needed judges on the bench. Most recently the JAC has just a few days to choose another High Court member, should he be deemed as fulfilling all requirements. Courts at the local level are slowly but definitely starting to feel the burden of dysfunctionality too. Most recently the Appeals Court of Korca was left with one sole judge due to the vetting process outcome for the others. Human resources are becoming scarce almost everywhere s prosecutors and even judiciary police officers are disqualified from their profession due to the vetting. So far, 106 judges and prosecutors have been removed from the system and around 60 of them have resigned or retired. From the appeals courts to the first instance courts, the problem of dysfunctionality seems to be just a matter of time. On one side the cleansing of the system is a necessary result, however it seems that the risks of dysfunctionality at least in the short and medium term have no mitigation plan. In the worst case this might lead to the blockage of the judiciary, a quite apocalyptic scenario that needs to be avoided.  Experts and decision makers will need to go back to the design table in order to identify the intervention spaces in the reform to properly mitigate this destructive risk.

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