Vucic meets Kosovo Serbs in Kursumlija (Tanjug/RTV)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met today in Kursumlija with the political and institutional representatives of Kosovo Serbs. Previously, Vucic talked with the Serb List representatives. Then he met, along with the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic, with the heads of the provisional institutions in ten Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija and representatives of healthcare centers in Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic addressed the media after the meeting and thanked the Serbs for patience and that all those who wanted to undermine the unity of the Serbs did not succeeded. We talked about the arrival of the EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak, all the talks we are having, as well as about important projects, which is why many ministers were here with me, said Vucic. We also agreed to send special financial assistance not to those who are registered in Kosovo and Metohija, but to those who really live there, who are unemployed. We will also provide money for each child. As he says, they must stay in Kosovo and Metohija and guard their and our hearths. Asked what Serbia will do regarding the disrespect of the Washington agreement, Vucic said that all those who think that something can be organized without Belgrade, that this will not possible, and that all those who think that he will recognize Kosovo – he will not. “If 43,800 votes were for the Serb List, and the runners-up, who tried to divide the Serb people, received 1,300 votes, it is clear what the difference is and how much support there is for the Serb List and support for unity with Serbia,” said Vucic.As he said, despite the fact that some invested a lot of money in the efforts to divide the Serb people, because the Albanian political leaders wanted that division – they did not succeed. “And they also worked through Belgrade and through some media, but they didn’t succeed,” said Vucic.
Drecun: Lajcak pushed to the side ZSO, story about a non-paper appearing for who knows how many times (RTS)
The Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told the press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the optimism of Miroslav Lajcak on progress of Belgrade-Pristina talks is based on wrong facts and misunderstanding things. He says that he invites institutional representatives of Serbs to attend the sessions of the Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, expects them to declare themselves and expects them to present their observations and problems. He expects that the strategy for the next period will be agreed at the meeting with the President. He points out that it is clear that Biden’s administration will return to the old course of the Democratic Party in the US, which implies strong political pressure on Belgrade to recognize Kosovo’s self-declared independence, this is how he defined his policy during the election campaign in the document “Vision for the future of relations with Albanian and Kosovo” where he said that the US expects so-called mutual recognition. “We need to completely reject the story of mutual recognition much more strongly, there is nothing to talk about recognition,” Drecun said. “Anyone who thinks that they can force us through a conversation in Brussels or draw us into a situation for us to close one eye and agree with something that could be interpreted as recognition, they really have wrong expectations, and are behaving politically irrationally, he says.
The problem is coordinated action of Washington and Berlin
According to him, it is completely opposite to all our national, state interests, interests of progress and development of the economy for us to recognize self-declared state of Kosovo, this would destroy the future of the entire Serb people and we will most harshly oppose all that.
He points out that the problem will now be coordinated action between Washington and Berlin, because Berlin stands on the firm position that Kosovo is a done deal, and that Serbia only needs to recognize that false state, which is unacceptable to us. “If the whole story was over, if they could have completed the job of creating that false state without us, then they would have worked without us. Kosovo cannot gain full international legal capacity without UN membership, and that is why they want to put us in a situation that we must recognize that false state of Kosovo through talks,” said Drecun.
Lajcak’s optimism, who stated that progress was achieved
“The public is not sufficiently acquainted with the situation regarding the talks between Belgrade and Pristina. Lajcak will be staying in Pristina in Belgrade these days, space for speculation is opening, a story about a non-paper appears, who knows how many times, attitudes are well known,” says Decun. “We have a situation that when it is said that there was an agreement in principle on some issues of Belgrade and Pristina, during 11 rounds of talks last year, it means nothing, there has been no progress,” says Drecun. When it comes to the issue of missing persons, Drecun explains that Pristina requesting excavations at locations in Serbia where it is suspected that at issue are the bodies of killed Albanians, and Serbia is meeting such demands.
“We have a request to excavate at five locations, some fires suddenly appear at those locations, or there is material that has radioactive characteristics in the immediate vicinity, we are talking about a location in Djakovica, for example, where we suspect that there are several locations where the bodies of killed Serbs are,” says Drecun. “When resolving issues of economic cooperation, free movement of people and goods, the Albanians want to move talks from Brussels to CEFTA, where they cannot impose their interests, try to reach an agreement with a member state of that organization, first with Albania they agree on that issue and then for it to insist that this organization acts in accordance with the agreement between Pristina and Albania, and not Pristina and Belgrade,” says Drecun. He recalls that Lajcak went with the thesis – nothing has been agreed, until everything has been agreed. “Belgrade rejected such an attitude, but Lajcak pushed aside the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), which indicates the intention of the powerful western countries to finally achieve only what the Albanians are talking about in an orchestrated way – so-called mutual recognition,” Drecun concluded.
Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnection important for whole region (RTS)
Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlovic talked today during her working visit to Bulgaria with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov about cooperation between the two countries in the field of energy and construction of Serbia-Bulgaria gas interconnection. Mihajlovic conveyed the greetings of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and thanked for today’s hospitality and the opportunity to visit the works on the construction of the first section of the highway from the border to Dragoman, because it means a lot to the Serbian and Bulgarian people. For us, the diversification of roads is of great importance, and all credits for the Balkan Stream and for the speed with which it was all done and built. We will continue to work together on the new gas interconnection between Nis and Dimitrovgrad. For us, that means diversification of suppliers and many new opportunities, of course, in addition to better prices and better connection of the entire region, she said. Our two countries are transit countries, and thus they can do a lot and use their transit position, said Mihajlovic. Borisov welcomed Mihajlovic and once again expressed his respect for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbian government. Borisov pointed out that Serbia and Bulgaria are building a lot together and that they have never had such close relations, and that they will continue to maintain friendship and continue to work together.
Dacic with Fabrizi on continuation of inter-party dialogue (Tanjug)
Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic talked on Thursday with the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Ambassador Sem Fabrizi about the second phase of the inter-party dialogue scheduled to start with a video-meeting on 1 March. In addition to Dacic and the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister, the meeting will also be attended by Vladimir Bilcik, Tanja Fajon, Knut Fleckenstein and Eduard Kukan. Fabrizi emphasized the importance the EU attaches to the continuation of the inter-party dialogue and welcomed its beginning. At the interest of Fabrizi about the Constitutional amendment proposal the government had forwarded to parliament concerning changes in the part of the Constitution relating to the judiciary and election of judges, Dacic informed the guest about the Constitutional amendment procedure, explaining that this is a complex process that includes a referendum.
Dacic also informed Fabrizi that the law to ratify the Status Agreement between Serbia and the EU on Actions Carried Out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency in Serbia (Frontex) is on the agenda of the session currently in progress and that the parliament would be voting on it.
Bilcik: EP glad to help, as it did in 2019 upon Belgrade’s invitation (N1)
Vladimir Bilcik, the European Parliament (EP) Rapporteur for Serbia, told N1 on Thursday that Belgrade invited the EP to facilitate the inter-party dialogue in the country in 2019, ahead of the previous elections and added he was looking forward to the new talks hoping those opposition parties which boycotted the 2020 vote would take part in 2022 race. He confirmed 1 March as the date of the online dialogue. He said the EP delegation would include the Chair of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister, the Chair of the Delegation for relations with Serbia Tanja Fajon, and former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein. The four current and former MEPs already worked together to establish the Inter-Party Dialogue and its first phase. On the Serb side, parliament speaker Ivica Dacic will take part in the online meeting.
Bilcik said he hoped the dialogue would enable wider inter-party talks about better election conditions and that the opposition parties which did not want to take part in the 2020 general elections after they said the EP’s facilitation did not bring satisfactory changes and that Serbia’s authorities did not implement what was agreed. Asked if he believed that the authorities and the opposition would reach an agreement, Bilcik said the only credible option for Serbia was in Europe and the work needed to be done for that to happen. Commenting on his report on Serbia adopted by the EP Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), he said the MEPs had a detailed discussion and that the report resulted from a compromise. The report noted some progress Serbia had made but warned there was a lot to be done, particularly in judiciary reform and the rule of law. Bilcik said that the report was still not in its final version and suggested more talks later. He also said the Belgrade – Pristina relations were one of the critical issues but that the rule of law and judiciary reform were challenging topics since some needed Constitutional changes.
Bilcik reiterated that Serbia had to adjust its foreign and security policies with the EU as a crucial point in the bloc’s accession negotiations.
EU spokesman denies Lajcak bringing ultimatum to Belgrade (N1/Beta)
European Union spokesman Peter Stano denied reports in a Belgrade daily that EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak was bringing an ultimatum or non-paper to Belgrade to force the Serbian authorities to recognize Kosovo. “Usually we do not comment on baseless speculation in the media. Let me assure you that this reporting is total nonsense,” Stano said on Thursday, commenting the report in Vecernje Novosti daily. Diplomatic sources in Brussels also expressed surprise at the daily’s report, saying that it is rumor and fabrication of the kind that some media are known for.
US Embassy: US continues to provide full support to Euro-Atlantic integration processes in B&H (Dnevni avaz)
The daily reminded that the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers, with nine votes in favor and one against, renamed the Commission for NATO Integration into Commission for Cooperation with NATO and this information provoked fierce reactions in the public, finding that this means that B&H officials has given up on its main foreign-policy goals, which is NATO membership. In statement for the daily, US Embassy to B&H stated that the US continues to provide full support to B&H in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration. “We welcome forming of the Commission for Cooperation with NATO, which enables B&H to efficiently coordinate and implements Program of Reforms. Process of Program of Reforms started in 2019 and it is an opportunity for B&H to identify its reform priorities and way in which it sees assistance of the Alliance in achieving these priorities. These reforms include sectors starting from modernization of the defense to better management and rule of law and they are complementary to B&H’s path towards the EU,” reads Embassy’s statement. The Embassy further underlined that the USA will continue with providing of the support to reform priorities in line with B&H’s Program of Reforms. “Focus of NATO in B&H is on the strong partnership and doors remain open for membership. Any future decision about invitation to B&H to join NATO would be reached based on the consensus of all members. Also, it is necessary to reach consensus within B&H authorities before any future decision on NATO accession”, stated the Embassy. The daily noted that the only one who voted against this decision of the CoM was defense Minister Sifet Podzic, who argues that everyone who voted for this decision have violated the Article 45 of the Law on Defense, which reads that B&H institutions will work on NATO accession. He argues that the voting method, which will be used in the Commission, and which requires at least one representative of each people to vote in favor of the decision, presents a certain path towards new blockades on NATO path.
Turkovic says that with Commission for NATO Cooperation we are in situation, with support of US Ambassador and the NATO General in B&H, to form functioning body (FTV)
B&H Foreign Minister and Deputy Chairperson of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Bisera Turkovic, asked why the name of the Commission for the NATO Integration had been changed to the Commission for the NATO Cooperation, said that, when she was appointed in the B&H CoM, the Commission was not functioning, there was no single view on its work, the Reform Program “we had to adopt by December of last year has not been adopted’’. “Now we are in situation, with the support of US Ambassador (Eric Nelson) and the NATO General in B&H, to form a functioning body, but with the different name,” said Turkovic. She noted that the question is “do we want the name or the substance”, i.e. the Reform Program implemented every year and accepted by the NATO. Asked what is changed with the name of the Commission, Turkovic said that the Commission for the NATO Cooperation implies cooperation in different forms which does not exclude the NATO integration, i.e. “we will cooperate, go one step at the time, and decide at one point if we want to integrate”. Asked to comment the reactions from the political parties from the Federation of B&H and majority of the public who “view SDA as the traitor of the country” Turkovic said they would then have to view as traitors “our friends who are who are with us on our NATO path, the US and the NATO who accepted this arrangement”. Turkovic added that carrying out the tasks is more important than the name as such.
RS opposition, ruling structures accuse each other regarding NATO path of B&H (N1)
The opposition and ruling structures in Republika Srpska (RS) continue to accuse each other regarding the NATO path of B&H, after the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) adopted on Wednesday a decision on formation of the Commission for Cooperation with NATO. Amid mutual accusations between SDS and SNSD on the Program of Reforms unanimously adopted at the level of B&H, SDA representatives reminded that the NATO integration of B&H after almost a decade of stalemate was reactivated by B&H Presidency’s decisions adopted in 2019. According to B&H Presidency Chairman and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, the cooperation with NATO is not disputable but the NATO integration is. SDS’ Dragan Mektic reminded that SNSD’s support to the Program of Reforms represents deception, adding that the action plan within the Program of Reforms stipulates tasks and deadlines actually represents a document regarding the further NATO integration of B&H. In a written statement on Wednesday, SDS leader Mirko Sarovic stated that SNSD made “a scandalous move” to accept the Program of Reforms for NATO and betrayed the Serb people. In a phone statement, SNSD Spokesperson Radovan Kovacevic stated that Sarovic and the RS opposition have shown lack of understanding with their assessment that endorsing the Program of Reforms and the decision on forming the commission for cooperation with NATO is a betrayal of own people. According to Kovacevic, the Program of Reforms does not prejudge the integration into NATO, and with that, B&H has agreed to cooperate not to join NATO. Kovacevic stressed that “the only thing Dodik and SNSD betrayed is the path towards NATO”. He added that former Serb member of the B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic (PDP) had endorsed the Membership Action Plan (MAP) and the Annual National Program (ANP) and he had been treating them as if they were a part of consensus in B&H. SNSD’s delegate in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Dusanka Majkic said that the name of the commission regarding NATO has been renamed in a way that it no longer prejudges membership but rather focuses on cooperation. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic reminded that B&H has certain obligations arising from B&H Presidency’s decision adopted in 2019. He added that every year B&H has obligation to submit the annual programs, action plans of reforms and work with the NATO Headquarters in Brussels and B&H Presidency’s decision is being implemented regardless of how the body for cooperation with NATO is named. According to Borenovic, Dodik had a key role in the adoption of this decision in 2019. RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic (DEMOS) said that claims of the RS opposition parties that the B&H CoM made few steps closer to the NATO accession of B&H are not true, reminding that titles of documents adopted by B&H CoM on Wednesday confirm that it is about the cooperation with NATO only – not about the NATO integration. Head of the SNSD Caucus in B&H HoR Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac stressed that it is of crucial importance at the level of B&H how things are defined and claims that titles are unimportant shows how serious PDP actually is. SDA issued a statement welcoming B&H CoM’s decision to adopt the Program of Reforms which proves B&H’s sustainable ability to meet its obligations in the process of NATO integration. According to SDA, B&H is thus continuing to meet its obligations in line with the Membership Action Plan, and the Commission for Cooperation will continue to implement earlier adopted laws, strategies and decisions on B&H’s NATO integration.
B&H sends report on progress in realization of Program of Reforms to NATO HQ in Brussels (EuroBlic/AJB)
B&H sent on Thursday the report on progress in realization of the Program of Reforms to the NATO Headquarters (HQ) in Brussels, after the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) endorsed it at Wednesday’s session. At the same session, the CoM adopted a decision on renaming the commission for NATO integration into the commission for cooperation with NATO. In a statement issued from Brussels-based NATO HQ to Al Jazeera Balkans (AJB), it is necessary to wait for a response from Brussels. The statement reads that the Alliance has never interfered in the sovereign decisions of the states aspiring to become its members. Namely, the CoM unanimously adopted the report on the Program of Reforms, which was not the case with the decision regarding the commission. Given that the issue of the commission remained unsolved for months due to SNSD’s opposing to formation of the commission for NATO integration, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic (SDA) proposed a compromise solution to rename it into the commission for cooperation with NATO. Following adoption of the decisions, Turkovic confirmed: “All Serb ministers voted for it. This means they endorsed the Program of Reforms, in a way that it has been drafted, and it will be sent to Brussels in this form. They also voted for the commission for cooperation with NATO” she confirmed, concluding that the decision on the Program of Reforms was unanimous. B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic (DF) was the only minister who voted against renaming the commission. In a statement to Al Jazeera Balkans, Podzic explained that such move represents moving further away from the NATO integration. Podzic said: “The Program of Reforms precisely defined the name of the commission as the commission for NATO integration.” He wondered what else will not be considered acceptable, reminding that the Annual National Program (ANP) was also a term that did not obtain the support from the RS. People and Justice (NiP) leader Elmedin Konakovic said that, with his political skills, Dodik has succeeded in convincing SDA to propose renaming of the commission “in a way of changing the future goals, which appears to be cooperation rather than membership”. Member of SDS Presidency Vukota Govedarica stated that he is afraid “NATO will say at one point that preconditions were met for B&H to join the Alliance and this, in line with Dodik’s order, will happen right after 2022 general elections”. MP Damir Arnaut (Our Party) accused Turkovic of reaching “an agreement with Russians to replace the NATO integration with cooperation. She agreed that the Commission will violate ‘Sejdic-Finci’ (seven members each from the three people, no others) and to have it decide by ethnic voting”.
Dodik and candidate for HR Schmidt agree in phone conversation that responsibility for future of B&H lies on elected officials in authorities (RTRS)
In a phone conversation they had on Thursday, Serb member of B&H Presidency and B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik and Germany’s candidate for the new High Representative Christian Schmidt concluded that the elected authority representatives hold responsibility for B&H’s future and that all processes, including the support from the international community, need to be based on peace and people’s will. Dodik reminded of the RS’ stance that the Office of the High Representative should be closed down and that the method of appointment of the HR and his powers were defined entirely by the Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA).
Turkovic: Current situation is that on one hand we want OHR to leave and at the same time we demand DPA to be fully implemented, which is impossible (FTV)
B&H Foreign Minister and Deputy Chairperson of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Bisera Turkovic, asked what is currently being done to make progress, taking into account recent statement by US Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer that B&H will be paid attention by the new US Administration once it shows progress in the implementation of the 14 priorities, said she agrees with Palmer’s statement, “which is the part of the US and the EU policy, that it is expected from B&H to take over control over its destiny to great extent’’, and to show the work is done towards achieving its goal. Asked if it is possible to amend the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), Turkovic said that the current situation is that “on one hand we want the Office of High Representative (OHR) in B&H to leave, and at the same time we demand the DPA to be fully implemented, which is impossible”. Turkovic added that with time “we will find ourselves in the situation not to be pushed, but to try to analyze it and see what we can agree on”. Turkovic said she expects “from our side much more readiness and flexibility’’, noting the risks must be taken and difficult decisions must be made. Asked to comment the support she had given to former Commander of the B&H Armed Forces Sakib Mahmuljin, convicted for war crime, in the light of the statement by the US Embassy to B&H statement that glorification of war criminals is unacceptable, Turkovic said there is a “principle in the criminal law, i.e. innocent until proven guilty, or as we say someone whose sentence is not final is innocent’’, noting that until the sentence is not final in the appellate procedure, “persons are innocent, and I do not see the issue’’, noting that the situation in the said case had not been fully clarified. Turkovic noted that general position of the OHR and the US Embassy to B&H cannot be selectively “attributed in once case that does not have those characteristics, nor the basis for which the position is intended” and added that she supports the position “of the both institutions and I think it should be acted in such manner, but here, we have completely different situation”.
Cubrilovic says he is not afraid of his possible removal but it would not solve problems imposed by High Representative (EuroBlic)
In an interview to the daily, speaker of the RS parliament Nedeljko Cubrilovic said that the essence of High Representative Valentin Inzko’s letter to the RS parliament is in the ultimatum to have the RS parliament act in line with an order of the High Representative “i.e. to demonstrate force”. “For us, for the RS parliament and RS as state-building entity within Dayton B&H, this is unacceptable. I am convinced this would be unacceptable for the entire democratic world, for all states which care about their dignity and principle of distribution of authorities,” Cubrilovic said. Commenting on the deadline set by the High Representative to revoke decorations awarded to Momcilo Krajisnik, Biljana Plavsic and Radovan Karadzic, Cubrilovic said that there is nothing personal here and noted: “I did not receive the letter of the High Representative because I am Nedeljko Cubrilovic but because I am the speaker of the RS parliament, nor the letter was sent by Valentin Inzko but by the High Representative”. Cubrilovic added that he is not afraid of a possible removal because “unfortunately, I would not be the first Serb official to be removed”. However, Cubrilovic reminded that the RS survived, strengthened its identity and subjectivity and became even more visible in public space not only within B&H but within the region as well. “Therefore, my removal will not solve the problem that was imposed by the letter of the High Representative. There will be someone else as the Speaker of the RS parliament instead of me and the problem will not be removed without talks, dialogue, so I am surprised that a politician and diplomat with such long experience as the current High Representative has not even tried to talk to us, the leadership of the RS parliament, but he immediately set the ultimatum and threatened with sanctions”, Cubrilovic said. Asked what kind of a response the RS parliament might send to the High Representative with regard to his request to revoke decorations, Cubrilovic said that he will schedule a meeting with Chairs of Caucuses: “I cannot state precisely right now when this might happen. The High Representative ‘set us the deadline’ until the end of April, so there is no reason for us to be in a hurry. After all, sometimes it is best to let time do its thing, as time is the best judge”. Asked to comment on the announcement of Inzko that he will deliver a draft law on prohibition of denial of genocide in B&H to the parliament of B&H and also asked what he will do if this text is delivered to the RS parliament as well, Cubrilovic replied: “First of all, there was no genocide in B&H. So far, only Srebrenica was mentioned as the area in which possible genocide happened. Secondly, if I wanted to avoid answering this really serious and difficult question, I would have told you to address it to someone from the leadership of the Parliament of B&H. However, I do not want to avoid the answer. I think the Parliament of B&H will not adopt such law, just like the RSNA would not have adopted it had it been addressed to it. Therefore, the only other option is for it to be imposed by the High Representative”. Cubrilovic assessed that this would be “extremely bad” because it would additionally shake up already fragile trust among peoples in B&H. Apart from this, Cubrilovic argued that such law would deprive of meaning any kind of new studying of the war in B&H as new documents, findings and information would mean nothing. “Because of this, I hope the High Representative will consider consequences that will be produced should he decide to impose the law”, Cubrilovic concluded. Asked whether this is the right time for the RS parliament to call the High Representative to submit his report to the RS parliament, as many things are currently changing in international relations towards B&H, Cubrilovic replied by saying that he does not understand what kind of things are changing and argued that everyone “have been playing by same tunes here for the past two and a half decades”. As far as the report of the High Representative is concerned, Cubrilovic said that the RS parliament has the right and need to discuss the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) with the High Representative: “I see nothing bad about this. Had we held such discussions more often, I believe we would have had less problems in mutual communication”.
B&H CEC establishes results of Doboj, Srebrenica elections (Hayat)
The Central Election Commission (CEC) adopted two decisions on Thursday regarding the repeated elections in Doboj and Srebrenica. The decision on the confirmation of the election results of repeated elections in Srebrenica was adopted with two votes against. Members of the B&H CEC Suad Arnautovic and Ahmet Santic explained that they voted against the decision since the B&H CEC did not annul the votes that were cast through vote-by-mail in Srebrenica when deciding to annul elections in this local community. The decision on the adoption of the election results of the repeated elections in Doboj was adopted unanimously. The CEC informed that the complaint against the decision on determining and publishing the election results for Doboj and Srebrenica may be filed via the CEC to the Appellate Division of the Court of B&H within two days from the day of the publication of the decision. Newly elected Mayor of Doboj Boris Jerinic stated that B&H CEC has been undermining legal security ever since it was appointed. “Members of CEC should resign because they inflicted huge cost upon citizens of Doboj and Srebrenica”, Jerinic underlined. Commenting the results of repeated elections in Doboj, Jerinic said that SNSD has achieved absolute victory, and that SDS could not even pass the threshold. He noted that SDS’s demands for repeated counting of ballots are merely the last attempt of a failed political party to do something. Jerinic announced that SNSD observers will monitor the repeated process of ballot counting.
Bosnia and Croatia sign military cooperation plan for 2021 (Hina)
B&H and Croatia on Thursday signed a military cooperation plan for 2021, the Bosnian Defense Ministry said. The document was signed by B&H Assistance Defense Minister Zoran Sajinovic and Croatia’s Military Attaché to B&H, Brigadier Davor Kiralj. The plan provides for 27 joint activities in Croatia and 14 in B&H. The activities include military education and training, exercises and high-level meetings. Sajinovic and Kiralj expressed their satisfaction with the cooperation between the armed forces and defense ministries of the two countries, with a view to further promoting good non-neighborly relations between B&H and Croatia. They expressed confidence that the cooperation would continue to be expanded in a spirit of Euro Atlantic integration for the benefit of both countries.
Boskovic: Croats want to elect their representative, do not want imposed ‘member’ of Croat people (Vecernji list)
Vecernji list carried an interview with Deputy Speaker of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) House of Representatives (HoR) Mladen Boskovic (HDZ B&H) who was first asked to comment on the current relations within the FB&H authorities and whether there is a clear majority at the FB&H level. Boskovic replied by saying, among other issues, that he has mentioned several times before that there is a problem who really forms the parliamentary majority. He argued that legitimate representatives of the Croat people and the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) Caucus, which is led by HDZ B&H, has been compact ever since the beginning, whilst on the other hand there is some sort of reshuffle among the Bosniak parties “where one does not know which party has how many representatives and this especially reflects on the cantons”. Asked if there is any hope for the Law on Elections of B&H i.e. whether changes and amendments to the law will be adopted, Boskovic replied by saying that the (Mostar) agreement was endorsed by representatives of the international community as well and that the IC representatives strongly advocate reforms to the electoral legislation, which was presented in a joint statement issued by representatives of the EU, the US and the OSCE the other day. “US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer, as key operative of the State Department, also sent a clear message in that sense during recent conversation with the SDA President. The issue of Law on Elections should resolve all key obstacles in functioning of the state and finally secure full equality of three constituent peoples,” said Boskovic. Asked to comment on relations between Bosniaks and Croats, and the daily’s remark that the relations are always politically tense, Boskovic says the relations between Bosniaks and Croats have been challenging in the last 25 years, adding that he sees no “political satisfaction through imposition of the second Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H, nor through imposition of the platforms or alliances”. Asked what should the electoral legislation reform result in, Boskovic replied by saying that Croats, as a constituent people, “want to elect their legitimate representative, a not imposed ‘member’”.
Europe thinking about abolition of principle of constituent peoples in B&H; Croats to become minority? (Jutarnji list)
Writing about the situation in B&H, the daily reminds that back in 2009, then US Vice President Joe Biden asked a question in the parliament of B&H “when will you get bored of nationalistic rhetoric of divisions”, also reminding that the US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer said the other day that the new US administration expects from politicians in B&H to demonstrate responsibility and readiness to implement reforms “because nobody can do it for them”. The daily also reminds that Director of Human Rights of the Council of Europe Christophe Poirel said the other day that it is time B&H moved to a different, a more modern system without discriminations, not based on constituent peoples, whilst EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell usually says it is crucial to implement the ‘Sejdic-Finci’ ruling. According to the daily, implementation of the said ruling would make the principle of constituent peoples obsolete, which would result in Serbs and Croats complaining, and which would probably favor the Bosniaks.
Djeljosaj and Tuzi residents block boulevard towards Podgorica (CdM)
The police have come to Tuzi in order to close hospitality facilities that opened despite the measures imposed by the Ministry of Health. The police are prevented from doing their job by the Tuzi mayor Nik Djeljosaj and the gathered residents. Namely, they blocked the boulevard towards Podgorica, saying that they won’t move until PM Zdravko Krivokapic and Deputy PM Dritan Abazovic arrive, accusing them of discrimination. Djeljosaj has accused the government of making a political decision on Tuzi, stressing that Tuzi won’t allow humiliation. Addressing the public, Zdravko Krivokapic says he has decided not to go to Tuzi, not because he doesn’t respect the residents of that municipality, but because, as he claims, it is nothing but a political show. “This Government won’t allow anyone to carry out banditry, because no one can be stronger than the state” PM Krivokapic points out. According to him, what is happening today in Tuzi doesn’t serve anyone’s honor. “The new epidemiological measures are aimed at protecting the residents of Tuzi, because we show that the health of our citizens is above all,” Krivokapic stresses. Special State Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic has said that the events in Tuzi reminded him of the uprising in Budva and that the state authorities should react. He has also said that “the war in Yugoslavia began with similar events as in Tuzi”, but that he believes that it will not happen again. “We did that in Budva because we suspected that there was a criminal organization, which is not the case in Tuzi,” he stresses. Katnic adds that the Special State Prosecutor’s Office is monitoring the situation and that everyone will suffer the consequences for improper situations.
Do secret data leak from Montenegro? (Pobjeda)
A special team of NATO Office of Security has been in Podgorica since yesterday with the intention of making sure whether the Montenegrin security sector implements measures to protect classified information and whether there has been a breach of security protocol in permits for access to classified information, Pobjeda learns from several diplomatic sources. NATO team experts visited the Ministry of Defense yesterday and talked to Minister Olivera Injac and the director of the Intelligence and Security Directorate Aleksandar Saranovic. A bit later, they met with the Deputy PM and coordinator of all security services, Dritan Abazovic. According to Pobjeda, the Alliance Security Sector experts are to visit the Directorate for the Protection of Classified Information, which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, as well as the National Security Agency (ANB) and talk to the acting ANB director Dejan Vuksic.
Mickoski: Mijalkov fled to Belgrade, but had to return after pressure was put on Zaev (Republika)
Saso Mijalkov,former head of the UBK security service, was allowed to flee Macedonia and he got to Belgrade, only to be forced to return under pressure, said VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski in a radio interview. He referred to the scandalous events of the past few days as a circus organized by the PM Zoran Zaev regime and Mijalkov, which deeply undermines what trust is left in the rule of law in Macedonia. People who know Mijalkov and his inner circle are open about the fact that, in the past weeks and event months, his closest confidants, the people he has most trust in, are Zoran Zaev and his brother Vice Zaev. The trust between them is such that at this point Zoran and Vice Zaev are the only people Mijalkov trusts. They are the ones who promised him that he will be safe from arrest. But apparently the pressure that was put on them was too great and at one point Zaev was forced to resort to the methods he himself mentioned and Mijalkov had to return from Belgrade, Mickoski said. Zaev claimed that he had no prior knowledge of Mijalkov’s escape from Macedonia and did not authorize it, but that he threatened Mijalkov’s family and businesses unless he returns. After years of demonizing Mijalkov, especially during his Colored Revolution, Zaev has developed a profitable working relationship with Mijalkov, in politics, where Mijalkov is helping Zaev by trying to create a faction in VMRO-DPMNE that will weaken Mickoski, but also allegedly in various businesses. I’m aghast at what is happening. Just when you think that Zaev has hit rock bottom, he digs himself even deeper, Mickoski said.
Mijalkov in the dock as the court will reach its verdict in the 2015 wiretapping scandal (Republika)
The Skopje court is due to reach a verdict in the first instance in the massive 2015 wiretapping scandal. Defendants are Saso Mijalkov, former head of the UBK security service, former Interior Minister Gordana Jankuloska and a number of UBK and Interior Ministry officials.
The wiretapping was used by Zaev to start the 2015 Colored Revolution. The charges were initially filed against Zaev, for politically abusing the tapes, against former UBK chief Zoran Verusevski who is now Zaev’s security adviser and two UBK technicians. They were accused of abusing the system to record conversations of VMRO-DPMNE officials, including Mijalkov, Jankuloska and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski – as the recordings that Zaev shared with the public included only a token few harmless conversations that he or other SDSM party officials conducted. But after the case was given to a Zaev loyalist – Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva – it was turned on its head and she dropped the charges against Verusevski and Zaev, and accused Mijalkov and Jankulovska. At the same time, Zaev’s SDSM party lauded the two technicians as heroic whistleblowers, only adding to the confusion about the trial. Lence Ristoska, a prosecutor who worked on the case with the now thoroughly disgraced Janeva, demanded maximum penalties, including 13 years in prison for Mijalkov, which likely spurred him to make a run for it. But due to the fact that since 2015 he has sided with the Zaev regime on a number of issues – such as the imposed name change and attempts to weaken VMRO-DPMNE further by creating factions in the party, it is still possible that he will get a light sentence, despite the escape attempt.
Izet Medziti also turns his back on Zaev and DUI (Republika)
Due to disagreements in the Skopje wing of DUI, there are difficulties in the functioning of the ruling majority in Parliament. The former mayor of Cair Izet Mexhiti, who is also the coordinator of DUI’s group in parliament, has rarely attended parliament sessions in the last few months, leaving the parliamentary majority lacking quorum for holding the plenary sessions.
Due to Medziti’s frequent absence, the coordinating activities in the party fall to the deputy coordinator of the parliamentary group, Arber Ademi, who is the most frequent member of the parliamentary group coordination with the Parliament Speaker, Talat Xhaferi. An additional problem for the ruling majority, which is composed of 62 MPs, is that besides Medziti, even a few DUI MPs who are considered close to him did not attend sessions in Parliament. Such absences are confirmed by Xhaferi himself, who informed the media that in recently there were situations when the quorum hung precisely due to the absence of DUI MPs, as was the case at the last plenary session on 16 February, when the parliament failed to adopted the agenda of the new session.
Large-scale Albanian protests planned in Skopje over the Good Friday massacre sentences (Republika)
A large protest is expected early afternoon in Skopje, after the Friday prayers, as Muslim Albanian groups demand that the sentences in the 2012 Good Friday massacre are overturned.
After a lengthy retrial, the court again gave life sentences to the three Albanian islamists who killed four Christian Macedonian boys and one man near Skopje. Two of the islamists fled to Kosovo and have since disappeared. Albanians generally reject the sentence due to a campaign of spreading conspiracy theories initiated in 2015 by now Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, as part of his Colored Revolution. Zaev claimed that he has “horrific evidence” about the involvement of his chief political opponents – the VMRO-DPMNE party – in the massacre and that the islamists were not guilty of the brutal killings. After grabbing power in 2017, in large part due to help from ethnic Albanian voters and coalition partners, Zaev refused to share the evidence with the public, and finally, in 2020, acknowledged that he has nothing new of substance to offer in the case. This is unacceptable to the Albanian community. The protests will begin in Cair, Skopje’s central majority Albanian district, include a march on the courthouse and finally – the government building. During previous recent protests, the protesters skirmished with the police and changed in support of the UCK terrorist organization, for Greater Albania and some of the family members threatened war if their relatives are not released.
EP calls on EU to hold intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia and Albania (Radio Tirana)
The European Parliament (EP) has addressed the issue of the first intergovernmental conferences with Albania and North Macedonia in the EU foreign policy orientation documents. In the first weeks of this year the document oriented towards the positioning of the EU as an “elected partner” in a changing geopolitical order, European lawmakers appeal for the holding of the first intergovernmental conferences with Albania and North Macedonia, following the decision on the opening of accession talks with both countries. The policy-oriented document reinforces the commitment to enlargement as a key EU transformation policy and welcomes the methodology reviewed by the Commission and its stronger emphasis on the political nature of the enlargement process. Expressing support for the European perspective for the Western Balkan countries, the reconfirmation of the clear support of the EU Member States for this perspective, from the Zagreb Declaration of 6 May 2020 and the decision to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, turns to the European Council to speed up the process. Parliament calls on the Council and the Commission to start intergovernmental conferences with these two countries without delay and more generally to speed up the accession process, as the countries of the Western Balkans are geographically, historically and culturally part of Europe. He underlined that the integration of these countries into the EU is essential for the stability and security of the continent as a whole, as well as for the EU’s influence in the region and beyond. While urging Bulgaria, in particular, to stop opposing the opening of an intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia, parliament also reminds reform-minded countries to seek sustainable results.