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Belgrade Media Report 14 January 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 14 January 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Announced changes to the Washington agreement must be discussed with Serbia (Tanjug/RTV)
Drecun: Participation of KBS in NATO missions destabilization factor (Radio Belgrade)
Petkovic banned from entering Kosovo and Metohija (RTS)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

EP Rapporteur for B&H Rengel: EU candidate status is possible this year in case necessary reforms are implemented; I see no problem with initiative to appoint new HR (Dnevni avaz)
SNSD to launch initiative for RS parliament to demand from Inzko to submit report on his work before leaving B&H (Glas Srpske)
RS officials oppose initiative of B&H lawmakers regarding construction of hydroelectric power plants on Drina River (N1)
Abazovic’s comment causes harsh reactions in the RS; SNSD’s Kovacevic: It would be good for Abazovic to know that there is no Republic of B&H, that there is no B&H Day, or any B&H holiday (N1)
Montenegro

Abazovic denied that the government congratulated the Day of RS (CdM)
Djukanovic and Becic summoned by Krivokapic (CdM)
Djukanovic: I will not sign the dismissal of Dakic and Pesic, a session of the Defense and Security Council will be convened (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Mickoski calls on Zaev, Osmani and Dimitrov to reveal document negotiated with Bulgaria (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Denmark Allocates €6 Million to Western Balkans Countries to Help Them With Border Controls & Repatriation of Migrants (SchengenVisaInfo.com)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: Announced changes to the Washington agreement must be discussed with Serbia (Tanjug/RTV

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today that if something is changed in the Washington agreement, the part that Serbia signed must be discussed with Serbia. Asked to comment on the meeting between EU Special Representative for the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina Miroslav Lajcak, and the Head of the US State Department Bureau for Europe and Eurasia Philip Reeker, during which changes to the Washington agreement were announced, he said that nothing is over just because Americans and Europeans, or Germans, have met. “It’s interesting to me that all those who criticized the Washington agreement, saying that it doesn’t benefit Serbia, are now mostly silent, because representatives of Kosovo Albanians and some in Europe are against that document,” he stressed. Vucic said that someone must ask Serbia about the part that Serbia signed. “It is nice that they met, but someone has to talk with Serbia about the part that Serbia signed and accepted. We are ready to talk with everyone,” he pointed out.

Drecun: Participation of KBS in NATO missions destabilization factor (Radio Belgrade

The Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has stated that the impact of so-called Kosovo Security Forces (KBS) in NATO will negatively influence the entire situation in the southern province, adding this is additionally intimidating the Serbs and poses a destabilization factor. Drecun told Radio Belgrade that the Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija with experience in combat missions and because they have some joint forces with NATO, will be encouraged to use that formation at some point to fully control northern Kosovo, which could jeopardize the survival of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. He also warns that this formation, which has not posed a threat to the security of Serbia proper so far, could already pose now. “The very endangering of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is endangering security and a security risk for the state of Serbia and the entire Serbian people. Something like this has already happened twice. First, when the KBS helped Albanian terrorists in south of Serbia and second when they helped members of terrorist Albanian organizations in Macedonia,” he said. He also reminded that instead of demilitarization, i.e. transformation of members of the terrorist KLA, we had a situation in which, under the control of KFOR and UNMIK, part of those terrorists were transferred to the Kosovo police service on the one hand and the Kosovo Protection Corps on the other, which was supposed to be an organization for emergency situations, to help with floods and natural disasters. “From the beginning they were organized according to the classic military organization and had the same, copied, organizational structure of the terrorist KLA, including operational zones, even the commanders in most cases were the same as in the terrorist KLA,” underlines Drecun. He adds that after that, the KBS were formed, which also should not be a military formation, but it was clear from the start that this formation should grow into what they call the “Kosovo army”, i.e. a classic military formation. “And that is why experts from NATO, especially from the US, Great Britain, Turkey, Germany, reorganized the KBS, formed it on the basis of a military formation, armed it, took members of that formation for training in order to make those forces complementary to NATO forces, i.e. to be in concurrence,” notes Drecun. According to him, they are now training them in a mobile component and already have 93 hammers, they are procuring larger caliber weapons, raising cyber capacities, preparing them for NATO missions. He also says that most often these are combat missions.

Petkovic banned from entering Kosovo and Metohija (RTS

The Office for Kosovo and Metohija has stated that the interim authorities in Pristina banned the Head of the Office Petar Petkovic from entering Kosovo and Metohija where he intended to deliver humanitarian aid to areas hit by floods. “It’s obvious the election campaign in Pristina already started and that the Serbs are the target again. The Albanian politicians’ move shows that political marketing was more important to them than the people’s life and safety. At the same time, such an attitude shows that the European Union is not capable of securing the respect of the agreed documents including that of the freedom of movements,” Petkovic said in a statement.

“We do not want to add to the tensions in the province, because such an atmosphere always purs over the back of our people, but there is one thing we all can be sure about – no one can stop us from helping our people. As we promised, aid of the state of Serbia and the Office for Kosovo and Metohija will reach our people endangered by floods, as we had promised,” said Petkovic.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

EP Rapporteur for B&H Rengel: EU candidate status is possible this year in case necessary reforms are implemented; I see no problem with initiative to appoint new HR (Dnevni avaz)

Speaking for the daily, European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Paulo Rengel said that B&H can obtain the status of the EU candidate this year, but this requires implementation of reforms and there are no reforms without the political will. The daily noted that Rengel is an initiator of the Resolution which will be presented to the European Parliament and its working bodies soon and which among other things calls on B&H authorities to launch constitutional changes, calls for fight against corruption, launching of investigation on election irregularities, strengthening of fight against illegal migration and negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic. “Our main message conveyed to Sarajevo is that institutional reforms are possible, they can be implemented in a short period of time. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, majority of these solutions exists within the European Union, they do not have to be identical, but there are realistic options, regardless if this concerns fight against corruption or changes of the law on public procurement. It all depends on political will,” said Rengel. He noted that only implementation of reforms can result in progress on the EU path, despite the political conflicts and riots. “The candidate status is a goal, in case the reforms are implemented, the EU will support this. If there are issues in the dialogue, the European Union is ready to assist. We do not want to impose solutions, but if you are ready to accept, we will assist accelerating the rhythm of reforms,” said Rengel.  The daily noted that the Resolution demands from the European Commission to submit Western Balkans with sufficient dosages of the COVID-19 vaccines and it calls for coordinated response and measures in fight against consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rengel’s Resolution’ also condemns every form of “historic revisionism”, secessionist rhetoric, denying or glorification of war criminals. “EP underlines urgent need for solving of shortcomings in constitutional framework and reforms that would transform B&H into a fully functional and inclusive state and calls on the international community to facilitate conditions for constitutional dialogue, under the EU leadership,” reads the Resolution.

Asked about the initiative for appointment of the new High Representative, launched by Germany, Rengel said that he does not see a problem in this: “I think this is a good idea, especially if this is agreed with B&H authorities”.

SNSD to launch initiative for RS parliament to demand from Inzko to submit report on his work before leaving B&H (Glas Srpske)

SNSD will insist that High Representative Valentin Inzko submits a detailed report on his work during his entire tenure in B&H) before he leaves the office, and this issue will probably be discussed in the next session of the Republika Srpska (RS) parliament Collegium. SNSD has been making similar demands in the past. In December 2020, SNSD Executive Committee announced its plan to ask Croatia and Serbia as guarantors of the Dayton Peace Agreement to request Inzko’s report as well. SNSD announced that it would launch the initiative in the RSNA to request a report from Inzko, and that SNSD representatives in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) Parliament would do the same. SNSD’s Srdjan Mazalica stated that it is important to establish a new practice of High Representatives preparing a report before their departure from B&H. “If he fails to submit the report, it will mean that he is not prepared to face one of the sides and it would seal his ignorant attitude towards the RS,” said Mazalica. He underlined that it is necessary to launch a debate on work of the High Representative, and to demand a different approach from Iznko’s successor. PDP’s Perica Bundalo stated that the position of the High Representative is specific. The High Representative is a foreign factor who reports to the UN Security Council and it would be difficult to expect him to report to B&H parliament, RS parliament or FB&H parliament. However, underlined Bundalo, it would be useful if High Representative would be prepared to discuss all issues. He expressed hope that the new High Representative will have a more liberal approach to relations with all political stakeholders in B&H.

RS officials oppose initiative of B&H lawmakers regarding construction of hydroelectric power plants on Drina River (N1)

Many reactions came after a request was sent to the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) by a group of representatives of parties from the Federation of B&H (FB&H) in the state Parliament to resolve the dispute with RS in regards to the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River. While waiting for consideration, the applicants believe that the situation is clear because the entities cannot dispose with state property. On the other hand, the RS warns of a possible political and constitutional crisis. The B&H CC registered the case based on a request by 24 MPs from parties from the FB&H to review the constitutionality of a number of acts of the RS relating to concessions on the Drina River. Announcements on the construction of three hydropower plants within the joint venture of the RS and Serbia are an attempt to usurp B&H’s energy sovereignty, experts in this field warn. “In the coming period, the Constitutional Court will decide whether to resolve the request for an interim measure, submitted in that case, separately or together with the decision on the request for constitutional review” the B&H CC said. We are proving something that is logical and has already been determined by the court, says one of the applicants. “The situation here is quite clear. There are case law here, i.e. earlier decisions of the CC of B&H – which I think if the CC follows them will decide in this case that it is state property that cannot be disposed of by the entities, i.e. that without the consent of state institutions it is not possible to make international agreements, in this case between the RS and Serbia on the construction of those power facilities,” states Sasa Magazinovic, SDP B&H MP in the B&H parliament. The legal team of the ‘United Srpska’ believes that the B&H CC does not have the jurisdiction in this case because it is a matter of bylaws. If the court does not reject the appeal, it will cause a political, but also a constitutional crisis, they warn. “It is obvious that the Bosniak political elite wants to do everything it used to do through the High Representative, taking away the competencies of the RS – now through the CC. They want to take away not only the competencies of the RS, but also to take away the territory and reshape Dayton-made B&H,” claims Milan Petkovic, Head of ‘United Srpska’ legal team. According to the daily, Bosniak political parties are continuing to use B&H CC to achieve their own goals which they cannot meet in regular parliamentary procedure. PDP’s Ilija Tamindzija stated that B&H CC has repeatedly overstepped its jurisdiction and passed politically motivated decisions. According to him, the FB&H MPs would never object if a similar project was planned by different investors who are not from Serbia.

Abazovic’s comment causes harsh reactions in the RS; SNSD’s Kovacevic: It would be good for Abazovic to know that there is no Republic of B&H, that there is no B&H Day, or any B&H holiday (N1)

Days after the celebration of the RS Day, disputes, comments and condemnations of the actions of leaders from neighboring Montenegro are still present in the public. Montenegro’s Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic, who extended his greetings on 9 January, has listened to and watched numerous messages and calls for a public apology to the citizens of B&H. The discussion between Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic and Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic has only just begun to subside. However, Abazovic’s latest comment provoked a sharp reaction in the RS. It all began with an informal greeting that Krivokapic sent to RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic on the RS Day. However, she mentioned this during a press conference, which caused many leaders in B&H to react. After that, Abazovic entered a Twitter debate with a fake account opened on the name of Zeljko Komsic. “To be very explicit, I think that the government of Montenegro should not have congratulated and it has not officially done so, it has not congratulated the Day of RS. For us, there is officially a day of the Republic of B&H, respecting all that are international principles, which are simply a common practice of good neighborly relations, but also international politics in general. I do not understand the need to constantly create hostilities,” Abazovic stated. This time, the hostile comment on Abazovic’s statement comes from the SNSD Headquarters. Also, via Twitter, the party’s spokesman Radovan Kovacevic responded: “It would be good for you to know that there is no Republic of B&H, that there is no B&H Day, or any B&H holiday. That way, you would already show respect”. In the meantime, Kovacevic himself omits to mention holidays from the Statehood Day to the Independence Day of B&H. Many B&H politicians, on the other hand, think that everything that has been happening in recent days is an announcement of future relations between the two countries. “We are not surprised by his (Krivokapic) behavior and actions, we know how and in what way he came to head the government of Montenegro. Behind him are those political forces that unfortunately would return some processes even to the 1990s,” said SDA MP in the B&H parliament Adil Osmanovic.

 

Abazovic denied that the government congratulated the Day of RS (CdM)

Reactions from B&H are not subsiding after the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Zdravko Krivokapic, unofficially congratulated the RS President, Zeljka Cvijanovic, on the unconstitutional Day of RS. Part of B&H politician has required that Krivokapic apologize, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic has replied that he respects only the institutions of B&H. “Let me be explicit. I think that the Montenegrin government should not have congratulated and it did not officially congratulate the Day of RS. For us, there is the Day of B&H, respecting the international principles and the usual practice of good neighborly relations, and international politics in general,” said Abazovic. Some B&H MP’s find the explanation that Krivokapic extended the congratulations personally unconvincing. “I think that he cannot be a Prime Minister Krivokapic by the noon and a physical person Krivokapic in the afternoon. Therefore, this is the announcement of what will the relations between B&H and Montenegro be in the future, and I am personally sorry to see that they are going downwards and that there will be a lot of problems,” said the SDP’s MP Sasa Magazinovic. “There are those political forces standing behind him that would, unfortunately, like to rewind some processes, maybe to as early state as 1990. We expect that the opposition, and above all some parties that make part of the government together with Krivokapic, to criticize this move of his to congratulate the illegally declared national holiday, which was contested by the Constitutional Court, and to apologize to B&H,” said SDA’s MP Adil Osmanovic. There is no explicit apology, Abazovic believes that the tensions are heightened unnecessarily. “I do not understand the need to constantly create a hostile atmosphere instead of having conciliatory politics between our two countries, and generally between all the countries in the region. We have to understand that we live in countries which recently had a very tragic history and that our frustrations arising from that cannot disappear all of sudden. But, what we can do is to turn our blind to some things, if necessary,” Deputy Prime Minister said. Krivokapic did not appear in public after the congratulations, his office only briefly announced that it had been his private conversation with Cvijanovic.

Djukanovic and Becic summoned by Krivokapic (CdM)

Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic and parliament speaker Aleksa Becic were summoned by Zdravko Krivokapic for a meeting scheduled on Friday. Djukanovic’s office has confirmed that the invitation was received, with the agenda being the functioning of the institutions in cohabitation as well as the functioning of the Defense and Security Council. Vijesti published earlier, citing unofficial sources, that the Prime Minister had sent the invitation to Djukanovic and Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic. Djukanovic has rejected to sign a set of laws and decisions of the new majority and Government.

Djukanovic: I will not sign the dismissal of Dakic and Pesic, a session of the Defense and Security Council will be convened (CdM)

Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic has announced that he will not sign the Proposals for the dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of Montenegro, Major General Dragutin Dakic and Major General Rajko Pesic, which were submitted to him earlier, because the applicable regulations were not complied with. Instead, as he announced, he will convene a session of the Defense and Security Council. As an explanation of this decision, Djukanovic has said that on 29 December 2020, he received a proposal from the Ministry of Defense for the dismissal of the Chief of Staff of the Army of Montenegro, Major General Dragutin Dakic, and a proposal for dismissal and termination of service of Major General Rajko Pesic. “Both documents were signed by the two members of the Defense and Security Council, Aleksa Becic, parliament speaker, and Zdravo Krivokapic, the Prime Minister. I also learned from the media that the proposals were accompanied by the Defense Minister’s Decision on the retirement of the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of Montenegro, Dakic, and the Proposal on the Dismissal and termination of service of Pesic,” he emphasized. He has reminded the decisions on appointments and dismissals to be in the exclusive power of the Defense and Security Council, which can pass such decisions by consensus, based on Article 8 of the Rules of Procedure. “So far the Defense and Security Council has never decided on the appointment and dismissal of the Chiefs of the General Staff of the Army of Montenegro in any way other than in a session. There is no reason to introduce new practice this time either,” said Djukanovic. He believes the change of the leading man of the Army of Montenegro to be a matter of state importance, deserving of a session of the authority comprised of the three highest actors of the legislative and executive branches of power in Montenegro. The Head of the State has also said that by this initiative legal and procedural omissions have been done, which make him opt for a negative attitude in relation to the document. The first legal omission is the breach of the provisions of the Law on the Army. “The Decision on the retirement of the Chief of the General Staff of the Army of Montenegro, Major General Dragutin Dakic, should not have been made without a previous Decision of the Defense and Security Council. Especially if we have in mind that this specific solution does not provide the answer as to what are the needs of the Army of Montenegro for the first man of its General Staff to retire. Appreciating the powers of the Defense Minister according to Article 38 of the Law on the Army, dismissal is preliminary the issue which is within the exclusive competence of the Defense and Security Council, according to Article 40 of the said Law,” Djukanovic was clear. He also notes that the proposals for dismissal of Dakic and Pesic were submitted in violation of the basic procedures set by Article 12 of the Council’s Rules of Procedure which reads that all documents that are submitted to the Council for consideration, as well as other Council’s documents, may be communicated to the public only with the prior consent of the Council regardless of the degree of secrecy assigned to them. “Such consent was not sought, and therefore not obtained from the Council. Appreciating all the above, and appreciating, above all, the importance of this matter, I will not sign the Draft Decisions submitted to me. Instead, I will convene a session of the Defense and Security Council,” concluded Djukanovic.

 

Mickoski calls on Zaev, Osmani and Dimitrov to reveal document negotiated with Bulgaria (Republika)

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski on Wednesday called on the government to reveal the 12-point document with which the government is allegedly negotiating with Bulgaria.

“The Macedonian identity is being sold out and there are conditions on the table that have nothing to do with the signed Friendship Agreement and these are conditions that deny the Macedonian identity,” Mickoski said. According to him, such a document does exist regardless of whether it will be called Annex, roadmap, guideline… “It is a document that defines new conditions that we need to accept, including politicians discussing businesses, railways, roads, telecommunications, banks and discussing the Macedonian identity. Imagine!” he said, calling on the government to reveal the 12-point document.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Denmark Allocates €6 Million to Western Balkans Countries to Help Them With Border Controls & Repatriation of Migrants (SchengenVisaInfo.com, 13 January 2020) 

Denmark has once again allocated millions in order to help the six countries located in the Western Balkans deal better with migrants that are currently located in their territory, as well as to strengthen their border controls in order to prevent further illegal migration. The Danish government has allocated almost DKK 45 million (over €6 million) from development aid to two regional projects in the Western Balkans, which intend to strengthen both border control and the repatriation of irregular migrants and rejected asylum seekers. “The government has decided to strengthen border controls and the repatriation of migrants in the six Western Balkan countries Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo by almost DKK 45 million,” the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains in a press release. The same also notes that from January 2018 through June 2020, around 167,000 migrants reached Western Balkans, 1,600 of whom currently live in destroyed buildings and tents as a result of a fire in the disused Lipa camp in Bosnia. Denmark has seen it necessary to take measures in order to prevent a possible flow of these migrants to EU countries, like Denmark. Commenting on the financial aid allocated for WB countries, the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Mattias Tesfaye noted that while blankets and warm clothes are donated every winter to migrants stranded in this zone, this solution is not politically nor humanitarianly sustainable. “Instead, we must replace uncontrolled migration with orderly conditions. That is why I am glad that with a big bag of money we can now help governments in the Balkans deal with the situation at the borders and have people sent on the plane home,” he said. At the same time, the Minister for Development Cooperation Flemming Møller also asserted that more needs to be done in order to slow down the irregular migration, including creating opportunities and hope in migrant’s home countries. “There is a need to slow down the irregular migration so that we can help more people in the local areas – and then create opportunities and hope in their own home country. But it requires that we in Europe have control over our borders,” he said. Both projects are implemented by the United Nations Organization for Migration (IOM)m, and each of them is supported with DKK 22.4 million (over €3 million each). While the first project is focused in strengthening the capacity of local authorities to repatriate rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants, the second intends to support to strengthen the local authorities’ border controls, so that better action can be taken against human trafficking and fraud with ID and travel documents. Back in August, the Danish government allocated an amount of DKK 15.4 million for a project that intended to return back home the irregular migrants located in the Western Balkans. The initiative was also supported by the governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the European Union. It offered the opportunity to return to their home countries on a voluntary basis by helping them to arrange the return journey.

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