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Belgrade Media Report 24 December 2020

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 24 December 2020

LOCAL PRESS

Petkovic to von Cramon: Serbia not calculating with issue of Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTV)
Dacic and Cubrilovic on Improving Cooperation between Serbia and RS (Tanjug/Beta/RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

IOM leaves ‘Lipa’ center (BHT1)
USC Assembly, Operational Group for Monitoring of Migrant Crisis in USC hold sessions (BHT1)
Tegeltija: B&H carries too big burden in migrant crisis (ATV)
Mostar local elections ballots transferred to B&H Central Election Commission; B&H CEC publishes new preliminary results (O Kanal/Nova BH)
HDZ B&H Board Mostar criticizes fact that results local elections in Mostar have not been published yet (N1)
Covic and Plenkovic call on relevant B&H authorities and international partners to protect integrity of Mostar elections (Dnevni list)
Russian Foreign Ministry states that Russia handed over to B&H Embassy in Moscow icon that Dodik presented as gift to Lavrov (BNTV)
Montenegro

Montenegro and UK are committed to improving cooperation within the framework of bilateral defense projects (CdM)
URA Main Committee supports the amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion (CdM)
Markovic to URA: Reconciliation is not built on the acquisitions of an abducted state and dethroned dynasty (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Buckovski expects a response from Bulgaria after New Year (Republika)
Maas: Germany not giving up on finding solution for dispute between Skopje and Sofia (DW/MIA)
Albania

Meta decrees sixth member of Constitutional Court (Radio Tirana)
Varhelyi: Significant achievement, completes the list of conditions for the first intergovernmental table (Radio Tirana)
OSCE Ambassador praises election of sixth member of Constitutional Court (ADN)
Soreca considers the appointment of the 6th member of the Constitutional Court a significant achievement (Radio Tirana)
US supports free and fair elections in Albania (ADN)
Kim met with the newly appointed minister of Interior Çuçi (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Petkovic to von Cramon: Serbia not calculating with issue of Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTV

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic said on Wednesday night that Serbia, contrary to the claims of the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Cramon, is not calculating with the issue of the status of its southern province, because our position, unlike that of von Cramon, is based on international law and European values.

Petkovic said in a statement that it was expected that Viola von Cramon, “as an open promoter of Kosovo’s self-declared independence, would say what pleases the ears of politicians in Pristina and obsessively attacks Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, even though he is undoubtedly one of the most responsible and successful politicians in Europe”. Petkovic also pointed out that for a sincere promoter of democracy, dealing with Kosovo and Metohija in an institution such as the European Parliament would provide countless challenges and opportunities to improve living conditions, democratic standards and human rights on the ground, but that this was not the focus of MP von Kramon.

Dacic and Cubrilovic on Improving Cooperation between Serbia and RS (Tanjug/Beta/RTS

The speakers of the parliaments of Serbia Ivica Dacic and the Republika Srpska (RS) Nedeljko Cubrilovic said that, at the meeting in Belgrade, they agreed to continue the cooperation and the realization of the signed agreements and activities, including bilateral visits. At the press conference, Dacic said that Serbia is extremely interested in having a stable and good relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina, because it respects the country as set up by the Dayton Accords, where every change requires the consent of the three peoples and two entities.

“Our vital interest is to preserve and help the RS, to develop good relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and to have regional stability,” said Dacic. Dacic explained that that is why Serbia is wary of harsh statements and reactions to some unprincipled statements and accusations coming at the expense of the Serbian people as a whole, the leadership of Serbia and the RS.

Cubrilovic said that he was pleased to note that Serbia is a factor of stability in this part of the world and that it supports the RS. “We use what the Dayton Accords gave us the right to – special and parallel ties with Serbia. The cooperation so far has been at an enviable level,” said Cubrilovic adding that Serbia’s relationship with the RS through various types of support is of great importance. He said that the RS supports Serbia’s position in all segments the citizens of Serbia are interested in.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

IOM leaves ‘Lipa’ center (BHT1

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) officially left the reception center ‘Lipa’, near Bihac on Wednesday. Due to revolt or some other reason, migrants set fire on most of the tents in that camp. This further complicates the migrant crisis in B&H, as all these migrants ended up on the streets. The city and cantonal authorities emphasized that they will not allow for ‘BIRA’ building to be used as a reception center once again. On Wednesday afternoon, Bihac citizens staged a protest in front of this building, seeking assurances that migrants will not be brought to this facility. BHT1 was in Bihac the entire Wednesday, and the news crew spotted a group of around 100 migrants that travelled from Lipa village to Bihac. When they tried to enter Bihac, members of the Una-Sana Canton (USC) Ministry of Interior (MoI) stopped them, preventing them to enter the city. The migrants then decided to return to ‘Lipa’ camp. After this camp was closed and after migrants set fire to several tents, the location was visited by Head of the IOM Mission to B&H Peter Van der Auweraert. “Let me say that this is a terrible day for migrants. We have 1,359 people here, that now need to leave and have no alternative solution for accommodation. It is also a terrible day for the locals in the USC, as they will also suffer when migrants start to seek accommodation in abandoned facilities, houses, forests, surrounding areas near the camp, and the rest of the USC. This is a terrible day for B&H as a country; the international community and the international media are watching this and it was really unnecessary,” said the IOM Head.

USC Assembly, Operational Group for Monitoring of Migrant Crisis in USC hold sessions (BHT1

Sessions of the Una-Sana Canton Assembly and the Operational Group for Monitoring of the Migrant Crisis in the USC were held On Wednesday. Several conclusions and decisions were adopted, most important being connected to strong opposition to reopening of ‘BIRA’ center. USC Prime Minister Mustafa Ruznic said they cannot allow those people that burned down ‘Lipa’ and cursed the state of B&H, to come to ‘BIRA’ and back to Bihac. Bihac Mayor Suhret Fazlic explained that ‘BIRA’ facility is no longer available as the owner did not sign an agreement with the local authorities and he is currently using the facility for something else. “Citizens must be replaced with police there; the police must be dispatched and engaged in securing ‘BIRA’”, Fazlic said. He emphasized that the police must work on security peace and order for the citizens, and to prevent any potential incidents.

Tegeltija: B&H carries too big burden in migrant crisis (ATV

Chairman of the Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija stated on Wednesday that B&H is currently carrying too big burden of the migrant crisis. He said that the ones responsible for this are partners who consciously direct migrants to B&H. Tegeltija said that he had opposing views regarding the crisis in comparison to political Sarajevo from the beginning. He stated that the number of migrants currently in B&H is the same it was in the previous period. “I believe that B&H carries too big burden of the migrant crisis and our partners are most responsible for this. They consciously direct these people to B&H, despite of the fact that B&H is not their natural destination,” said Tegeltija.

Mostar local elections ballots transferred to B&H Central Election Commission; B&H CEC publishes new preliminary results (O Kanal/Nova BH

Mostar local elections ballots, along with the complete election material, were transferred to the B&H central Election Commission (CEC) in Sarajevo, after Mostar City Election Commission performed a recount of the ballots. President of Mostar City Election Commission Hilmo Djidelija said that, according CEC orders, they worked on correcting technical errors at 39 polling stations on Tuesday and that they have finished with the correction. It is uncertain whether CEC will recount the votes again. The Mostar Election Commission informed this is a standard procedure and all election material is stored in the B&H CEC’s warehouse so that the B&H CEC can access and carry out control of election materials from all polling stations in B&H. The urgent relocation of the ballots was requested by the BH Bloc, that expressed doubts about the counting process in Mostar. The City Election Commission in Mostar stated that on Tuesday, its representatives did not conduct a classic recount but a process of fixing reported irregularities. Ballots from 45 polling stations were transported to the official warehouse of the B&H CEC in Istocno Sarajevo and Djidelija confirmed for media that the B&H CEC will be in charge of recount, if such a need presents itself. He said that reported irregularities cannot change the election results in any major way. The B&H CEC published on Wednesday new preliminary results of the elections for the Mostar City Council. According to the results published by the CEC, HDZ B&H is in the lead in the city and three constituencies, while the Coalition for Mostar, made up of SDA, DF, SBB B&H, SB&H and BPS, is in the lead in the remaining three constituencies.

HDZ B&H Board Mostar criticizes fact that results local elections in Mostar have not been published yet (N1

The HDZ B&H Board Mostar stated on Wednesday that the HNS has previously filed a complaint with the B&H CEC warning that the election theft through registering fictive place of residence in the Mostar Jug city area could influence the number of councilors from this constituency who participated in the election race. Representatives of the HDZ B&H Board Mostar repeatedly criticized the fact that the results of Sunday’s elections in Mostar have not been published yet. They sent press releases to newsrooms each hour on Wednesday morning counting hours since the end of the elections in Mostar and calling on the “politically compromised B&H CEC to finally announce the stolen results of the local elections for the City of Mostar.” B&H CEC replied that HDZ B&H should be reminded of the rulebook and procedures of B&H CEC, according to which the results can be defined 15 to 20 days since the day of the elections. B&H CEC assessed at its session on Wednesday that polling stations’ commissions were the weakest link in the election process in Mostar.

Covic and Plenkovic call on relevant B&H authorities and international partners to protect integrity of Mostar elections (Dnevni list

HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb on Wednesday, and after the meeting they called on relevant authorities in B&H and the international partners to do everything in order to preserve integrity of the elections in Mostar. They expressed concerns about identified irregularities, and Covic said the democratic process has been undermined due to attempts to compromise election results, which could have negative impact on the European path of BiH that Croatia wholeheartedly supports. The meeting was also attended, among others, by Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman and Croatian Ministers for Veterans Tomo Medved. The officials discussed several issues, focusing on the local elections in Mostar, welcoming the fact the elections were held after 12 years. Plenkovic stressed that Croatia is closely following the election process in Mostar and how it is unfolding, given the big importance of the local elections in question and the legitimate representation of the Croat people.

Russian Foreign Ministry states that Russia handed over to B&H Embassy in Moscow icon that Dodik presented as gift to Lavrov (BNTV

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on Wednesday that Russia handed over to the B&H Embassy in Moscow the icon from the 18th century that Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik presented as a gift to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. “In agreement with the donor, the icon was handed over to the Embassy of B&H in Moscow on 23 December. At the same time, it was recommended that the partners use the available legal mechanisms to clarify all the circumstances of this case, including the origin of the abovementioned artifact,” the statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads.

 

Montenegro and UK are committed to improving cooperation within the framework of bilateral defense projects (CdM

Minister of Defense Olivera Injac had a meeting with the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Karen Maddocks, emphasizing the very substantial and quality cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense, the Ministry announced. “She emphasized the importance of the implementation of projects that have contributed to the modernization of the Montenegrin Armed Forces and thanked the United Kingdom for its overall support for reforms and strengthening of the Montenegrin defense system”. Injac confirmed she believed defense cooperation would intensify and be focused on strengthening existing and defining new projects and activities. She added that Montenegro would continue to contribute to the stability of the Western Balkans by fostering good neighborly relations and contributing to the collective defense system. “Ms Maddocks expressed satisfaction with the fact that Minister Injac was appointed to that position, which, as she said, is an example for women and girls in Montenegro. In this regard, she praised the commitment of the Ministry of Defense to the promotion of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Women, Peace and She pointed out that Montenegro has proven to be a reliable ally, as well as that the successful Euro-Atlantic integration of our country is of great importance for the security of the region,” the Ministry of Defense stated. The Ambassador expressed firm belief that the United Kingdom and Montenegro will continue to cooperate successfully and stressed the readiness of the British side to provide support to our country in further improving the capacity and resources of the Montenegrin defense system.

URA Main Committee supports the amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion (CdM

Main Committee of URA Civil Movement supported amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs and Legal Status of religious communities during the session held on Wednesday night and stated that Montenegro “needs reconciliation”. URA representatives said that this Law “puts all religious organizations in Montenegro in a legal position and that all of them will be part of Montenegro’s legal order”. “Statements that this law creates space for someone to take away someone else’s cultural heritage of property of the State of Montenegro are forms of manipulation of the previous government,” URA stated. They add that they have managed to do what the previous government wasn’t able to do in 30 years.

Markovic to URA: Reconciliation is not built on the acquisitions of an abducted state and dethroned dynasty (CdM

After Main Committee of URA Civil Movement decided to support the amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion, Dusko Markovic, DPS deputy president, said that reconciliation “can’t be built on the acquisitions of am abducted state and church. “URA supported amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion with an explanation that “Montenegro needs reconciliation”. I want to remind you that reconciliation is not built on the acquisitions of the abducted state, church, and dethroned dynasty – but on the recognition of some sort of political crime against independent State of Montenegro,” Markovic posted on Twitter.

 

Buckovski expects a response from Bulgaria after New Year (Republika

Zaev’s envoy to Bulgaria, former prime minister Vlado Buckovski, said that he is awaiting comments and possible objections from Bulgaria on the document he presented there weeks ago. On Wednesday it was revealed that Bulgaria still hasn’t responded to the document, which is believed to contain promises from Macedonia that it will not raise minority or territorial claims toward Bulgaria. On our side, we are waiting to receive the possible objections or suggestions on the action plan. I think this should happen after New Year, and it will be a positive impulse, a new, serious chance before the general elections there, to find compromise on the several open issues, Buckovski said. Bulgaria is blocking Macedonia from opening EU accession talks, and has laid a number of demands of historic nature that touch into the Macedonian national identity.

 

Maas: Germany not giving up on finding solution for dispute between Skopje and Sofia (DW/MIA

Germany will continue to make efforts to find a solution for the dispute between Bulgaria and Macedonia even after the end of its EU Presidency at the end of the year, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. We are the last to put the breaks when it comes to this topic. When it comes to the blockade, it is about the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia. We, as holder of the presidency of the EU Council, have put a lot of effort into trying to reach a solution. Unfortunately, without success, adds Maas. According to him, the countries of the Western Balkans, aspiring for EU membership, have made huge progress in recent years, especially Macedonia. People there see their future in the EU. That is why they must be able to rely on our promises, otherwise they will turn their backs, he stressed. The German Foreign Minister assessed that the European perspective is an important stimulus for political and reforms in the field of rule of law, which are also in the interest of the EU.

 

Meta decrees sixth member of Constitutional Court (Radio Tirana

Albanian President Ilir Meta has appointed the 6th member of the Constitutional Court Përparim Kalo.  Kalo also becomes the 6th member of the Constitutional Court and  this Court is officially functional after fulfilling the minimum condition of functioning or the quorum of 6 members.

According to the ranking by KED, Përparim Kalo had 90.29 points, and was higher ranked in the list than Aleksandër Toma who has 75.57 points. In the decree, Meta writes that he decided to decree Përparim Kalo as a member of the Constitutional Court after getting acquainted with the documentary practice approved by the KED and assessing the vital need that the country has for the completion and functioning of the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court already has 6 members: Vitore Tusha, Marsida Xhaferllari, Fiona Papajorgji, Elsa Toska, Altin Binaj and the last Përparim Kalo. This Court has been non-functional for almost 3 years.

Varhelyi: Significant achievement, completes the list of conditions for the first intergovernmental table (Radio Tirana

EU Commissioner for Enlargement Varhelyi has commented on the nomination of the 6th member of the Constitutional Court in Albania by President Ilir Meta. Varhelyi considers this to be excellent news and important achievement. He adds that the functionality of the Constitutional Court now completes the list of conditions for the first intergovernmental table.

“Excellent news! With nomination of 6th member by President Ilir Meta the Constitutional Court becomes functional. Important achievement for institutions & people as part of justice reform. This completes the list of conditions for 1st IGC,” writes Varhelyi.

OSCE Ambassador praises election of sixth member of Constitutional Court (ADN

The Head of OSCE Presence in Albania Vincenzo Del Monaco praised on Wednesday the election of the sixth member of the Constitutional Court. In a short message, Del Monaco considered this action as a fundamental step for country. “Today’s appointment of Përparim Kalo as a member of the Constitutional Court is yet another great news and a fundamental step. For the first time in over two years and a half there will be quorum, making possible for the Court to operate. Congratulations judge Kalo on Your appointment and ad majora!” – Ambassador Vincenzo Del Monaco, Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania. ​

Soreca considers the appointment of the 6th member of the Constitutional Court a significant achievement (Radio Tirana

EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca says that tomorrow Përparim Kalo will be sworn in as President, while emphasizing that with the functionality of the Constitutional Court, Albania takes the main step in fulfilling the conditions for the first intergovernmental round table with the EU. “Today President Ilir Meta has decreed Mr. Perparim Kalo as the 6th Member of the Constitutional Court. Mr. Kalo will be sworn in tomorrow by the President. This very important decision ensures now the full functionality of the Court. We congratulate the President the Parliament, the JAC and the other Institutions for delivering such a significant result, which is a considerable achievement for Albania, its citizens and for justice reform. It also represents a key step to complete the list of conditions necessary to launch the first IGC for the accession talks between the EU and Albania,” writes Soreca.

US supports free and fair elections in Albania (ADN

US Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim has congratulated the adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code, which included some points reached by the 5 June agreement between political parties on electoral reform. Ambassador Kim wrote that the US will strongly support a transparent process that will guarantee free elections. “Today, in final session for 2020, parliament approved amendments to Criminal Code, completing codification of 6/5 agreement of Political Council on electoral reform. US will continue to strongly support a transparent & inclusive process that leads to free & fair elections 4/25,” Kim said.

Kim met with the newly appointed minister of Interior Çuçi (Radio Tirana

US Ambassador Yuri Kim held a meeting on Wednesday with the Minister of Interior Bledi Çuçi to whom she wished success in his new task as minister of Interior. During the meeting, Kim and Çuçi discussed the role of the Ministry of Interior in the upcoming general elections of 25 April. “I am glad to hear that he has ordered an investigation into the treatment of protesters. The right to peaceful protest must be respected. We also discussed the role of the Ministry of Interior in the elections. “We agreed to strengthen security and law enforcement co-operation.”

Interior Minister Bledi Çuçi was appointed to this position after the resignation of former Minister Lleshaj, right after the protests caused by the death of a 25-year-old.

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