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Belgrade Media Report, 29 October 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 29 October 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Serbian parliament elects new government (Tanjug/RTS/Beta)
Brnabic: Serbia sovereign, independent state on European path (Tanjug)
Vucic receives Ambassador MacLeod (RTS/Tanjug)
Milivojevic: New government to serve a technical term in office (Beta)
Maas: Belgrade – Pristina agreement would have positive impact on region (Beta)
EP to call for prompt continuation of talks between authorities and opposition (Danas)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik: Existence of B&H is dependent on entities, as both entities were formed before Dayton conference (RTRS/Srna)
Inzko comments Dodik’s statements: There will be no retailoring of B&H (Dnevni avaz)
EUD comments Dodik’s statements: Inviolability of borders is fundamental principle of EU (Dnevni avaz)
Komsic: RS borders are non-existent, only B&H borders exist (Oslobodjenje)
Sattler presents to HJPC 2020 Report on B&H regarding rule of law: I am disappointed (BHT1)
Croatia

Vukovar City Council says no conditions to expand Serb minority rights (Hina)
Montenegro

Krivokapic: Some coalition partners haven’t submitted proposals for their candidates (CdM)
DF seeks urgent meeting with Krivokapic (CdM)
Krapovic will be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koprivica – Minister of Justice (CdM)
Djeljosaj: We didn’t get the offer from Krivokapic (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Foreign Minister Zaharieva says that, unless something changes, Bulgaria will not allow the opening of accession talks with Macedonia (Republika)
Grubi asked Bulgarian Ambassador Angelov not to allow “history to hold the future hostage” (Republika)
German Ambassador Holstein says EU should not get involved in the dispute between Macedonia and Bulgaria (Republika)
Dimitrov hopes that France will help him out with Bulgaria (Republika)
Albania

MEP worried for Electoral Code vote without Venice’s opinion (ADN)
The Venice Commission will review the decision on the Electoral Reform in December (Radio Tirana)
Pisonero: The opinion of the Venice Commission does not affect the Intergovernmental Meeting of Albania (Radio Tirana)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Palmer about Montenegro: We expect people who are committed to the NATO agenda to be in key ministries (VOA)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Serbian parliament elects new government (Tanjug/RTS/Beta

The Serbian parliament elected on Wednesday night a new government of the Republic of Serbia. 227 MPs out of the 232 present voted for the program of the new government and the Office of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, 5 were against, there were no abstentions and 16 MPs did not attend the voting. After the voting, the Prime Minister and members of her office took an oath, which marked the beginning of their mandate.

Brnabic: Serbia sovereign, independent state on European path (Tanjug

Serbian Prime Minister-designate Ana Brnabic said that, through all the challenges ahead of us, we must lead and protect Serbia as an essentially free, independent and sovereign state on the European path – both politically and in terms of values, but keeping its friendly relations with Russia, China and all our other partners and building better relations with the United States.

In her key note address at a parliament session, where she presented the makeup of the new government, Brnabic pointed out that Serbia has ceased to be a country that is experiencing historical defeats and has become a country that wins. She pointed out that this government will have six goals, namely: the fight against COVID-19 and strengthening our health, preserving the vital interests of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, fighting organized crime and a comprehensive war against the mafia, preserving independence and independent decision-making Serbia, the rule of law and the acceleration of reforms on our European path and further economic strengthening of Serbia. She said that it will be an absolute priority for this government to complete the health infrastructure projects that have been launched and start new ones and added that the correctness of investing in health infrastructure was shown when the whole world faced the coronavirus pandemic against which Serbia is fighting more successfully than the richer and more developed countries of the world. According to her, the new government will continue to pursue a policy of protection of vital national interests, peace and cooperation when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija, with the aim of protecting our people, cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, but also peace and stability in the entire region. In addition to these two serious challenges, we are facing a serious and difficult fight against organized crime – the mafia. The victory over organized crime will require the participation of all branches of government, and above all the judiciary. We will provide full protection to all those involved in the fight against organized crime, and any police and financial inspector, prosecutor, judge, journalist or government official who is targeted by criminal gangs will be protected. Every citizen who helps in the fight against crime will be protected, Brnabic said. She added that in addition to specific infrastructure projects, we must continue to change things in our country in order to continue further economic strengthening of Serbia, we must increase the overall productivity of our companies, which is currently relatively low compared to the EU average. In terms of strengthening human capacities, one of the key priorities of the government of Serbia will remain education. From April next year, Serbia will have a unique education information system for the first time, the Prime Minister-designate emphasized.

In the coming period, we will additionally support the development of preschool education by increasing investments in kindergartens, equipping preschool institutions and supporting professional staff, and we have important tasks ahead of us – to introduce dual education at higher education institutions and complete a new education strategy. In the mandate of this government, she pointed out, we must start the construction of the Biosens Institute in Novi Sad, an additional building of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade, complete the construction of the Research and Development Institute in Kragujevac and provide support to private initiatives to open research centers in Serbia. It is extremely important that we work on improving the telecommunications infrastructure in Serbia. We must build “digital roads”, i.e. ensure that every village and every household in Serbia has fast and quality internet. We must also support companies engaged in research and development, register patents and engage in innovation, and analyze what additional support is needed for their further development.

According to the Prime Minister-designate, we must find a way to connect our science with our economy more efficiently and thus raise productivity and competitiveness. One of our greatest chances is to make a step forward in the food production chain towards products with a higher degree of finalization and to transform ourselves from an exporter of agricultural products to an exporter of food and finished products. She said that the new government will continue to invest in preserving cultural and archaeological heritage and easing working conditions with a focus on individuals – independent and freelance artists – whose status we will finally resolve after decades. Regarding the energy sector, the realization of planned investments in the energy infrastructure, raising the air quality and reducing the emissions of harmful gases and the greenhouse effect are goals of special importance for our country. We will continue to modernize the electricity infrastructure; we will complete the construction of the main gas pipeline from the border with Bulgaria to the border with Hungary (the so-called “Turkish Stream”); we will start the construction of a gas interconnection between Serbia and Bulgaria and we will work on expanding the capacity of the underground gas storage in Banatski Dvor, Brnabic emphasized.

The mining sector will remain an important element in Serbia’s economic development, and a special focus will be on the realization of the Jadar project, which represents a great opportunity for our country, bearing in mind that Loznica has a deposit of newly discovered lithium borate mineral, jadarite. Brnabic pointed out that the most serious reform that awaits us is the introduction of pay grades in the state administration. We have to finish this and thus enable everyone in the state administration who work on the same job and with the same responsibilities to be paid equally, and not that their salaries depend on where and in which state institution they work, she explained. Also, we need to work faster on a reform of public enterprises. This is a demanding process that we have already entered into with the support of partners such as the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This reform will not only help the budget, but will significantly increase the competitiveness of our economy. The Prime Minister-designate pointed out that one of the priority tasks is to further amend the Law on Financial Support to Families with Children.

We also plan to work on solving the housing issue for young married couples, subsidizing kindergartens and allocating funds for a richer network of preschool institutions through a partnership with employers that enables the harmonization of work and parenthood. She said that the future government will continue to support changes to the Constitution in the field of justice in order to find the best solutions for our legal system. The future government of Serbia will have 21 departments and two ministers without portfolios, with six completely new ministers and as many as 11 women ministers who will lead some of the most complex departments in the government, Brnabic underlined.

Vucic receives Ambassador MacLeod (RTS/Tanjug

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met earlier today with the British Ambassador to Serbia Sian MacLeod to discuss the results of the fight against the infectious disease COVID-19 in both countries. They agreed that the health of the people of Serbia and the United Kingdom and international cooperation represent priorities for the authorities of the two countries. They expressed hope that the current alarming situation with this infectious disease, will soon be overcome with solidarity so that Serbia and the United Kingdom can commit to the goals of social and economic development. Vucic reiterated Serbia’s commitment to strengthening the political dialogue with the United Kingdom at the highest level, which would contribute to enhancing cooperation between the two countries in various areas of common interest, including the economy and defense. He also expressed the need to strengthen cooperation within international organizations, given that both Serbia and the United Kingdom are sincerely committed to the principles of multilateralism. MacLeod said that the government in London also intends to strengthen economic, especially trade cooperation between the two countries, expecting that the circumstances will allow the visit of the line minister to Serbia soon. Ambassador MacLeod conveyed Prime Minister Johnson’s invitation to President Vucic to participate in the online Summit on Climate and Climate Change, which he is organizing in December together with the UN Secretary-General, the President of France, the President of Chile and the Prime Minister of Italy. She emphasized that the United Kingdom and Prime Minister Johnson attach great importance to the issue of environmental protection, expressing hope that Serbia will be able to participate in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, to contribute to building a “green economy” and achieving other goals.

Milivojevic: New government to serve a technical term in office (Beta)  

Cvijetin Milivojevic, a political scientist, said in interview with Beta that Serbia’s

new cabinet was about to serve a technical term with one single purpose – to lay the groundwork for a regular democratic vote. “It is a completely irrelevant fact that the prime minister-designate, Ana Brnabic, failed to mention changes to the electoral process in her exposé. What matters is that President Vucic will be forced to open a serious dialogue with the opposition, in order to define and meet proper requirements for a democratic election,” Milivojevic said. According to the expert, Brnabic “has nothing to do” with her speech before the Serbian parliament today. “She just read what she was told to read. There was nothing written about elections in her exposé, and so she did not have anything to say about them,” Milivojevic said.

Maas: Belgrade – Pristina agreement would have positive impact on region (Beta

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo would have a positive impact on the path of the entire Western Balkans towards EU membership. Opening the international online conference “Youth, Migration and the Demographic Challenge in the Western Balkans”, Maas added that there was no alternative to a comprehensive legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina and that such a step required strong political leadership. “I am convinced the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina will prove it and open the door to a new era. That would significantly contribute to the stability of the entire region,” Maas said. He praised the work of the EU Special Representative for the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcak, during whose mandate negotiations resumed after a 20-month standstill. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Maas said there was no place in the EU for countries that denied war crimes. “This also applies to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a country which wants to join the EU, there is no room for nationalist propaganda, for denying war crimes or for glorifying war criminals,” Maas said. During the conference’s first panel attended by the foreign ministers of the Western Balkans or their deputies, European Commissioner for Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi reiterated the EU remained committed to the Western Balkans. He said the new EU economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans should provide economic growth, new jobs, better opportunities for young people and make the region more attractive for investments.

EP to call for prompt continuation of talks between authorities and opposition (Danas

The European Parliament (EP) is soon to send two letters to Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic calling for a continuation of the dialogue between the Serbian authorities and the opposition as soon as possible. Citing diplomatic sources from Brussels, Danas claims that Dacic will first receive a note from EP President David Sassoli, and then another from EU- Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee co-chair Tanja Fajon and EP Standing Rapporteur on Serbia Vladimir Bilcik. According to the daily, the MEPs messages will not only be letters of congratulations to the former Serbian foreign minister on his new appointment, but will also urge him to have the talks between the authorities and the opposition about the improvement of election conditions in Serbia be resumed under the auspices of the EP as soon as possible. “For such discussions to begin, it will be necessary for Dacic to, on behalf the parliament, sign an agreement with the EP, which would grant the EP the role of an intermediary,” Danas reports. According to the daily, the letters will propose that in the talks Dacic acts on behalf of the Serbian authorities while Fajon and Bilcik would represent the EP.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dodik: Existence of B&H is dependent on entities, as both entities were formed before Dayton conference (RTRS/Srna)

Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik stated on Wednesday that the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights are parts of the constitutional organization of B&H, as they are constituent parts of the Constitution of B&H. “These documents guarantee the right of the people to self-determination so that every narrative that the Constitution and the Dayton Peace Accords do now allow the peoples to decide on where and how they want to live is false and is being told by those who would like to maintain the status quo where only they feel good,” Dodik said in a statement for Srna news agency. He said that the existence of B&H is dependent on the entities, as both entities were formed before the Dayton conference, where both were incorporated in that which is now called B&H. He has stressed that this is confirmed by the fact that the Republika Srpska (RS), just like the Federation of B&H (FB&H), is the signatory to all the annexes to the Dayton Peace Accords. Commenting on the position of the US Embassy in B&H, according to which the Dayton agreement and the Constitution of B&H do not grant possibility of secession to any of the entities and that existence of entities fully depends on existence of B&H, Dodik said it is high time that the Bosniaks who, according to him, control the public relations office of the US Embassy, stopped creating public views of the Embassy. “I know that the US Embassy will deny it, but both we and they know it is the truth,” added Dodik. “Instead of empty talk which boils down to us sitting down and being quiet, dissatisfied with the status which was created by international brokers who twisted the Dayton Peace Agreement, I am constantly suggesting dialogue and agreement – either we return to the original Dayton Peace Agreement or we will look for ways for peaceful dissolution,” said Dodik.

Inzko comments Dodik’s statements: There will be no retailoring of B&H (Dnevni avaz)

Dnevni avaz daily comments that many fierce reactions followed the statement of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik who said that Serbs and Croats will draft a joint statement about ways in which B&H can function and if their proposal is not accepted the dissolution is the only possible solution. In a statement to daily, upon daily’s inquiry, High Representative Valentin Inzko, as the supreme interpreter of the Dayton Peace Agreement, said that Dodik’s statements lead to nowhere. “Instead of making provocative statements which lead to nowhere, politicians need to focus on the goals which are future orientated and to improvement of lives of citizens, which they represent”, said Inzko. He added that such statements only create tensions concerning the fundamental aspects of the DPA. “In a communiqué from June 3rd 2020, Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), once again confirmed their unequivocal dedication to territorial integrity of B&H, as integral, sovereign state, which is composed of two entities,” said the High Representative. Inzko stressed that PIC SB clearly underlined that entities do not have the right to secession from B&H: “It was stressed that the entities exist only based on Constitution of B&H”. HR Inzko reminded that B&H became a member of the United Nations on 22 May 1992, as an integral state and after the accession the internal administration of the country was changed by the DPA. Inzko underlined there will be no retailoring of B&H’s map: “Next week I will address this and others disputing of the Peace Agreement in my address to the UN Security Council”.

EUD comments Dodik’s statements: Inviolability of borders is fundamental principle of EU (Dnevni avaz)

EU Delegation to B&H reacted to the statement of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik who said that Serbs and Croats will draft a joint statement about ways in which B&H can function and if their proposal is not accepted the dissolution is the only possible solution. “European Union supports sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of B&H. Inviolability of borders is fundamental principle of the EU. Any rhetoric of divisions need to be avoided during the election campaign which instead of this need to focus on issues pertaining the improvements of lives of B&H citizens. Further on, political stakeholders need to work on implementation of vital reforms which are necessary for country’s path towards the EU accession,” reads the EUD’s statement.

Komsic: RS borders are non-existent, only B&H borders exist (Oslobodjenje)

Member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic issued a statement concerning the attempt of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to promote the non-existent borders of RS through the alleged talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. “Whatever he talked about with Vucic, Dodik has to know that the RS does not have borders. Only borders of B&H exist. B&H Border Police stands on these borders and not some non-existent border police of entity of the RS,” said Komsic.

Sattler presents to HJPC 2020 Report on B&H regarding rule of law: I am disappointed (BHT1)

Head of the EU Delegation to B&H and EUSR Johann Sattler presented the main conclusions of the Report on B&H of the European Commission regarding the Rule of Law to the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) on Wednesday. He highlighted the disappointment with the lack of progress regarding reforms in B&H judiciary. Sattler said that the EU does not see enough reforms that will justify their investment and stressed that it is necessary to urgently change the Law on HJPC. He added that every delay will only damage B&H on its EU path. Sattler stressed that the first serious step towards reforms needs to be taken by the judiciary itself by forming a unit for integrity within the Secretariat of the HJPC. Sattler calls on HJPC B&H to urgently change situation in the judiciary’ not signed reports that Ambassador Sattler reiterated words of European legal expert Reinhard Priebe who called for a “shift in judicial culture”. Daily also reports that the Ambassador thanked the HJPC for swiftly responding to the concerns of the Central Election Commission by adopting instructions about the prioritization of election fraud cases during the forthcoming electoral period.

 

Vukovar City Council says no conditions to expand Serb minority rights (Hina

Vukovar City Council concluded by a majority vote on Wednesday that conditions have not yet been reached to expand ensured individual rights and to regulate collective rights for members of the Serb minority who live in that town. The conclusion was adopted following several hours of debating on the achieved level of understanding, solidarity, tolerance, and dialogue among Vukovar residents – members of the Croat majority population and the Serb national minority. The conclusion received the support of 15 councilors while 6 voted against it. The conclusion notes that in conditions “when fundamental human rights are still neglected for a vast majority of Vukovar residents of all ethnicities, who opposed the Great Serbia aggression in 1991, and that is the right to life, human dignity, and human freedom, because of the systematic deferment of launching proceedings against perpetrators of war crimes, the necessary preconditions have not been achieved to recognize new special rights to the Serb national minority within the framework of the equal use of the language and script.” The Council for the Serb National Minority of the City of Vukovar commented on the proposed conclusion in writing earlier, saying that Mayor Ivan Penava has not made sufficient effort to mend relations between Croats and Serbs in Vukovar which, the council said, can be seen in the fact that the proposed conclusion is identical to the one adopted last year. The council also complained that Mayor Penava is constantly warning of impunity for war crimes committed in Vukovar in 1991 against the majority of people while never referring to crimes committed against Vukovar Serbs. The Hungarian and Ukraine minorities’ council supported the draft conclusion. The City Statute obliged the City Council to discuss the state of human rights in Vukovar each October, or at least once in two years, and to adopt a decision on that basis.

 

Krivokapic: Some coalition partners haven’t submitted proposals for their candidates (CdM)

Although some coalition partners haven’t submitted their proposals for the candidate for offered departments, I am encouraged by the progress we have made, and particularly by the fact the coalitions agree that departments should be led by professional people,” Zdravko Krivokapic said. Democratic Montenegro sent list of its candidates to Krivokapic, Dan reports. New Serbian Democracy nominated representatives for the following departments: Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy and Ministry for Spatial Planning and Construction (formed after division of the Ministry of Tourism and Sustainable Development). Movement for Changes will nominate candidates for: vice-president for democratic transition and reforms and Ministry of Education. Democratic People’s party will nominate candidates for: Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Public Administration. Socialist People’s Party will nominate candidates for Ministry of Health and Ministry of Sport.

DF seeks urgent meeting with Krivokapic (CdM)

Prime minister-designate, Zdravko Krivokapic, has prepared his own list of candidates who would be in charge of ministries in the new government in case agreement in coalitions is not reached. This list doesn’t include the DF trio, (Andrija Mandic, Milan Knezevic and Nebojsa Medojevic), sources close to the prime minister-designate have told CdM. The prime minister-designate is expected to say this publicly very soon. Meanwhile, DF wants meeting with Krivokapic to discuss the problem. “We can’t talk about the Government via emails” source claims. The information that Krivokapic doesn’t want Front leaders to lead departments of the government was originally published by CdM. The situation got even more complicated after Front selected the leaders that prime minister-designate didn’t want. And it was even worse, when Dritan Abazovic stated that he would not agree with DF taking over Ministry of Interior. Krivokapic has said for Nedjeljnik that everybody in Montenegro “knows that it wasn’t Andrija Mandic who appointed him holder of the list and that he has no responsibilities for any political leader”.

Krapovic will be Minister of Foreign Affairs, Koprivica – Minister of Justice (CdM)

Functionary of Democratic Montenegro, Dragan Krapovic, will be head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his party counterpart, Momo Koprivica, will be Minister of Justice.

Zdravko Krivokapic offered nine ministries and function of vice-president with competences for one of those ministries to the coalition ‘For the future of Montenegro’. To URA civil movement, Krivokapic offered position of a vice-president for fight against corruption and coordination of security sector, defense, agriculture and human and minority rights. Dritan Abazovic said that the concept of expert government was the best solution.

Djeljosaj: We didn’t get the offer from Krivokapic (CdM)

Albanian list didn’t get the proposal from Zdravko Krivokapic. “After we presented our program requests to Krivokapic, he offered Albanian list Ministry of Tourism and Ecology as well as Ministry of Human and Minority Rights. He also offered functions of the assistants and secretaries of state,” Nik Djeljosaj stated. “A very important fact for me personally is the division of departments of other institutions with special emphasis on the security sector as well as personal solutions for these departments. Our decision to dialogue and talk was justified but of course we will not be part of the government at any cost. “With our position on the issue of dialogue, we have shown political maturity and seriousness in presenting our people, and on the other hand, we wanted to see in action whether the invitation of the new majority to minority parties was sincere or just a formality,” Djeljosaj pointed out. Session of the presidency of the Albanian list is expected after consultations between members of the list with party bodies.

 

Foreign Minister Zaharieva says that, unless something changes, Bulgaria will not allow the opening of accession talks with Macedonia (Republika)

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva confirmed that, as things stand right now, Bulgaria will block the opening of EU accession talks with Macedonia. At this time Bulgaria is not in a position to approve the negotiating framework in this form. We still have time, but it’s very short, Zaharieva said. Macedonia is hoping to open accession talks by the end of the year and to have the negotiating framework approved until November 10. Zaharieva said that the teams from the two foreign ministries are in constant online communication and are trying to resolve the outstanding issues. Bulgaria wants Macedonia to make concessions on historic issues and issues of national identity, such as declaring a number of its historic figures as – ethnic Bulgarians. “We do not deny the right to self-determination of any citizens, including the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, and to call their language what they like. We acknowledge the reality but they need to acknowledge the past,” Zaharieva said, insisting that Macedonia accepts a Bulgarian reading of its history as a condition of opening accession talks.

Grubi asked Bulgarian Ambassador Angelov not to allow “history to hold the future hostage” (Republika)

First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi met with Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia Angel Angelov to discuss the expected Bulgarian veto to the Macedonian EU accession talks. Earlier, Angelov also met with Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani and German Ambassador Anke Holstein, after which he said that Bulgaria must respect the declaration of its Parliament which demanded additional concession from Macedonia before the talks can begin. Grubi’s office said that he asked Angelov not to allow history to keep the future hostage. According to the otherwise content free press release, the two also said that the 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty is an “excellent foundation for cooperation in a number of areas and will bring the two countries and peoples closer together”.

German Ambassador Holstein says EU should not get involved in the dispute between Macedonia and Bulgaria (Republika)

German Ambassador to Macedonia Anke Holstein said that it is not the place of the European Union to interfere in a dispute between two countries such as Macedonia and Bulgaria. This comment, after the meeting with Foreign Minister Osmani and Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia Angelov dashed hopes that Germany will pressure Bulgaria to withhold its veto and allow the opening of EU accession talks by the end of the year. Holstein said that there is still a little time to have the talks open during the German presidency of the European Council and that Berlin remains optimistic. Angelov, on the other hand, said that Bulgaria can’t go around the declaration of its parliament in which more concessions are demanded from Macedonia, in areas of historic issues and of national identity, before the accession talks can be green lit.

Dimitrov hopes that France will help him out with Bulgaria (Republika)

Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov expressed hope that France will be able to help persuade Bulgaria not to block the opening of EU accession talks for Macedonia. Dimitrov is on a visit to Paris, which blocked the opening of accession talks in 2019. Now France declares that it is satisfied with the changes to the EU enlargement criteria, but Bulgaria is threatening a veto unless Macedonia accepts major concessions on issues of history and national identity. France and the EU need partners who strive for stability, good neighborly relations and regional cooperation. A positive trajectory for (North) Macedonia will encourage others and will guarantee stability, Dimitrov said, during his meetings in the French Senate.

 

MEP worried for Electoral Code vote without Venice’s opinion (ADN)

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) David McAllister conveyed Wednesday concern that Albanian Parliament will vote on the Electoral Code amendments will take place today in absence of expertise from the Venice Commission. In McAllister’s opinion, unilateral changes might deepen “mistrust and polarization” in the period preceding 25 April parliamentary elections in Albania. “They will be counterproductive” to the country’s efforts on opening the European Union integration first intergovernmental conference, as far as he is concerned. “Extremely concerned that, despite national and international calls, urging to wait for an opinion of the Venice Commission, the vote for changes to the Albania’s Electoral Code have been scheduled for tomorrow. Unilateral changes to the agreement could further entrench the climate of mistrust and polarization in the run-up to the general elections of 25 April 2021. They will be counterproductive to the efforts of opening the first intergovernmental conference by the end of the year,” tweeted MEP McAllister. Earlier on, Prime Minister Edi Rama has warned that the Parliament will pronounce without losing time for Electoral Code amendments even though the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Oliver Varhelyi appealed to wait for Venice Commission’s opinion on the matter.

The Venice Commission will review the decision on the Electoral Reform in December (Radio Tirana)

The Venice Commission does not seem to have taken into account the request of President Ilir Meta, for the urgent review of the Electoral Code. The Venice Commission, through a letter to the head of state, informs him that “the issue of the Electoral Code will be addressed in December.” “Dear Mr. President! In response to your letter dated 21 October 2020, in which you request an urgent opinion on the process of unilateral and accelerated amendment of the Constitution and the Electoral Code of the Republic of Albania I have the honor to inform you that the Bureau of the Commission has decided, influenced by the short time remaining before the next plenary session and the complexity of the case, not to authorize the urgent procedure. Therefore, the opinion will be prepared in the ordinary procedure and will be presented to the plenary session for consideration and approval in December. In our practice, this opinion will in principle be drafted together with the ODIHR. “I take this opportunity to thank you once again for your trust in the Venice Commission,” the letter of the Commission writes.

Pisonero: The opinion of the Venice Commission does not affect the Intergovernmental Meeting of Albania (Radio Tirana)

The European Commission does not expect the amendments to the Electoral Code to be an obstacle to convening the First Intergovernmental Conference. Spokeswoman Ana Pisonero clarified that the constitutional amendments and those of the Electoral Code are not related to the OSCE-ODHIR recommendations, which are a condition for the negotiations. The Constitutional Court and the media law now remain a challenge for Albania. The amendments to the Electoral Code and the submission of the issue to the Venice Commission for opinion by President Ilir Meta are not related to the conditions that Albania must meet before the First Intergovernmental Conference on Negotiations. For the European Commission, the 5 June political agreement meets the condition related to electoral reform, which the EU Council set in March for the official start of accession talks. This was the comment of the spokeswoman of the Commissioner for Enlargement, Ana Pisonero, while she was asked in Brussels whether the overthrow of the presidential decree on the amendments to the Electoral Code would have any impact on the convening of the First Intergovernmental Conference on Negotiations. “The European Union believes that the Venice Commission will give an opinion to all parties on the implementation of all constitutional changes adopted by Parliament. “We expect the parties to take into account the opinion of the Venice Commission,” Pisonero said.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Palmer about Montenegro: We expect people who are committed to the NATO agenda to be in key ministries (VOA, 27 October 2020)

The USA expects people who will make sure that Montenegro fulfills the obligations arising from NATO membership to be in the key ministries in the new Montenegrin government, Matthew Palmer, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative for the Western Balkans said in an interview with Voice of America (VOA). Matthew Palmer also stressed that Washington would closely follow the moves of the future government.

VOA: Montenegro is in the process of forming a new government. What does the United States expect from the new cabinet and prime minister? 

Palmer: I would like to emphasize that we expect the next government to do the same as any government in Montenegro – to remain committed to the European path, to fulfill its obligations as a NATO member, to cooperate well and closely with the United States in supporting a prosperous and stable future, to be committed to the reforms necessary to progress towards membership of the European Union. That is what we expect from the next Montenegrin government and what we expected from the previous one.

VOA: Does the USA have any role or stance on personal solutions and members of the new government? The Democratic Front sent a letter to the American ambassador to Montenegro, in which they essentially claimed that the prime minister-designate for the composition of the new government was under pressure from foreign diplomats not to give the leaders of that coalition a seat in the cabinet. 

Palmer: Our partnership is with Montenegro, not with any particular political party or leader. It has nothing to do with individuals. However, we expect and hope that there will be people in positions in the next government of Montenegro who we can work with, who are committed to the future that I have already talked about. People who understand the responsibilities and obligations of NATO membership and candidates for membership in the European Union. Therefore, we hope that there will be people in the key ministries in the next government who can be good partners in these efforts. We hope for that and we expect that from the next government.

VOA: Do you think that the leaders of the Democratic Front can be those partners? Does Washington oppose that? 

Palmer: It is not my job to select or identify individuals for specific responsibilities. But I want to emphasize that it is important to have people in key ministries who are ready not only to be partners of the United States, but also of European allies in advocating for a positive and European future and to ensure that Montenegro fulfills its obligations as a NATO member. The United States is committed to defending Montenegro. We are committed to fighting in the defense of Montenegro. Montenegro is committed to the defense of the United States and other members of the Alliance. That is a serious responsibility. It is an obligation that we have taken on freely and to which we remain committed. We need strong partners in Montenegro who also understand the importance of this commitment.

VOA: Are you concerned about Montenegro’s pro-Western future, given the fact that the new parliamentary majority also includes parties opposed to NATO membership, advocating stronger ties with Putin’s Russia and publicly opposing Western sanctions against Moscow? previous government supported? 

Palmer: In Montenegro, there is strong support for the country’s western orientation. The Montenegrin public supports the European future and NATO. That is the foundation on which we would like to build further. I am convinced that the relations between the USA and Montenegro are strong and solid and that there is a lot of potential for further development, that Montenegro will remain committed to the European path. Whatever government is the result of this process, I hope it will reaffirm its readiness to implement the reforms necessary to progress towards EU membership. That is our vision of the future of Montenegro. This is the vision that the Montenegrin people have and I hope and expect that the next government will share it.

VOA: How do you comment on the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the election campaign and in the formation of the government? 

Palmer: People in Montenegro have every right to expect that the representatives of those institutions that have been entrusted with the responsibility to form the government through the democratic process, and then to govern, will be the ones to lead the process. Montenegro held democratic elections that were fair and free. And it elected political leaders to represent the interests of the Montenegrin public in government institutions. That is parliamentary democracy. Therefore, the ongoing negotiation process should be led by the leaders of the political parties which this responsibility has been entrusted to. Does that mean that the church has no right to express its opinion? Everyone has the right to do so, just like civil society and other institutions and individuals in Montenegro have the right to do so. However, the ultimate responsibility for forming a government lies with the political leaders entrusted with it.

VOA: What do you think the future government should change or do differently from the previous one? 

Palmer: I think there is certainly room to do more in the area of reforms. In recent years, we have also pointed out the areas in which Montenegro is lagging behind, especially when it comes to media freedom, the fight against corruption and the rule of law. These are key areas, which are important for NATO members, which is not only an alliance based on interests, but also on principles. And of course, they are crucial for membership in the European Union. Our vision of a European Montenegro, fully integrated into the family of European countries, requires progress in implementing these reforms. And whatever government is the result of this process can consider the United States a partner in these efforts.

VOA: Minority national parties are not ready to be part of the new government. What is your message to them and the new majority? 

Palmer: Our message to the representatives of different ethnic communities in Montenegro is that we see Montenegrin experience as a successful, multi-ethnic democracy. And we respect that and we think that it can be a model for the region. Also, we want to keep the channels of communication open, not only with the government but also with the representatives of the ethnic communities in Montenegro. I often travel to Montenegro, of course we have an ambassador in Podgorica, we have good relations with representatives of various ethnic groups. And we want to maintain those relations, further develop and strengthen them, and we are committed to maintaining the multi-ethnic character of Montenegrin democracy.

VOA: Can the partnership between America and Montenegro be strengthened with the new government in Podgorica, and will the upcoming US elections have any impact on bilateral relations between the two countries? 

Palmer: America’s commitment to the Western Balkans and partnership with Montenegro is consistent from administration to administration. No matter what happens in the United States on November 3 (election day), we will remain committed to that relationship. Our vision of a European Montenegro and a promise to the Montenegrin people that they can rely on friendship, support and partnership with the United States will remain. “I believe that the interests of the United States go beyond American and Montenegrin politics and will lead us on the path to a brighter, more prosperous, stable and European future for the region and Montenegro.

VOA: Will you follow the government’s future moves closely? 

Palmer: Of course. This is an important partnership for us. We will remain active in the region and in Montenegro. We will remain engaged, not only with the political class, but also with the representatives of the wider part of Montenegrin society. We will remain engaged with the media, civil society, the church, representatives of the business community. These are all parts of Montenegro that, in the opinion of the United States, should contribute to the broader picture and the future in terms of which we all agree.

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