Selakovic: Neither side gets everything, both get enough (Politika/Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic stated on Thursday in Berlin, after talks with German Foreign Minister Heike Maas, that Serbia will soon receive 300,000 vaccines from the Covax program. Selakovic, who is on a two-day visit to Germany, said at a joint press conference with his German colleague that one of the topics of the meeting was the fight against coronavirus.
Selakovic conveyed that the issue of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and dialogue in order to normalize relations were also discussed today, presenting the position of Serbia and expressing support for EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak. According to him, the essence of Belgrade’s position on the issue of relations with Pristina is that a compromise is necessary, which implies a serious approach so that neither side would get everything, but that both would get enough. He pointed out that during the meeting, they also talked about the European integration of Serbia, the necessity of maintaining the reform course in the field of the rule of law, as well as the freedom of the media. I asked for an approach that will imply a lot of concrete things, because the reforms were always successful when we encountered openness in communication and when our attention was drawn to things that should change, Selakovic emphasized. According to him, a more obvious opening of the European perspective to the countries of the Western Balkans, a region that geographically, culturally and mentally belongs to the European family, is needed. Selakovic also stated that the economic cooperation between Serbia and Germany is excellent, emphasizing that 67,000 people work in German companies in Serbia, and that the goal is to reach the number of 100,000. Maas announced that more than a million vaccines will be delivered to the Western Balkans within the Covax program, emphasizing that the EU has decided to provide support to the region in the amount of €12 million. He also emphasized that Germany takes the European perspective of all countries in the region seriously, noting that Berlin believes that Serbia belongs to the EU. Maas assessed that our country has set very ambitious goals, that the pro-European course is important, encouraging Belgrade to continue implementing reforms. Selakovic ended his two-day visit to Germany with a conversation with the chairman of the Working Group of the ruling CDU/CSU and member of the Bundestag Johann Wadephul. Earlier, Selakovic met with adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel Jan Hecker and other important German politicians. In a statement for Tanjug, at the end of his visit to Germany, Selakovic stated that Serbia can expect pressure from both Brussels and Washington on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, and that Belgrade should fight and defend its position and defend national and state interests. The German partners want to listen to us, so we will continue to talk. Their interest in Serbia is great. And whether it will be easy for us – it will not, said Selakovic. He pointed out that Germany is one of the most important EU countries that supports Serbia’s European path with a strict but fair approach, in the sense of telling us what the problem is and what we should do together. According to him, Germany is our most important foreign trade partner and the country whose economy invests the most in Serbia. He said that German journalists were very interested in Serbia’s cooperation with Russia and China, adding that he used the opportunity to reiterate that our country is firmly committed to the European path, but at the same time nurture friendships that have lasted for decades, even centuries.
Lajcak and Brnabic on implementation of agreed in Belgrade-Pristina talks (N1)
The EU special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic discussed on Thursday the implementation of the obligations agreed upon in the negotiations so far. He tweeted that the talks with Brnabic included the support of Serbia’s EU integration.
Lajcak: Both Belgrade and Pristina understand dialogue has no alternative (N1)
The EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak told N1 TV in an interview that his main conclusion from talks in both capitals was that the two sides were willing to resume the dialogue and understood it did not have an alternative, adding that if there was will, a deal could be reached in several months. He added that one of his goals was to inform Albin Kurti, the leader of the Self-determination movement and its candidate for the next Kosovo Prime Minister and the chief negotiator with the Serb side, about the process so far. “I see as an important thing that he decides on his platform, program and priorities based on what he has to know regarding the dialogue,” Lajcak said. He told N1 TV that some parts of the future agreement had been agreed upon – about missing persons, internally displaced, and economic cooperation, while currently, the property issue was on the agenda. Lajcak said there weren’t different interpretations of those parts and that it was clear who, when and how would do that. “But we haven’t published those texts because there is a principle – we negotiate a comprehensive agreement, and that means that nothing is agreed upon until it is. For me, there must be no double interpretation.” Regarding the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), Lajcak said the EU did not give up the agreed. “I think we have enough room, and I expect the first meeting (of the two delegations) in a reasonable time after Pristina forms all institutions, and that can happen before the summer,” Lajcak said. He added it was important to him that “none of the players I have met in Kosovo and Serbia hasn’t asked whether the dialogue is necessary. And that is the crucial message.” “The normalization is a political and very sensitive issue. For Pristina, it means a formal recognition, establishment of diplomatic relations; for Belgrade, that doesn’t mean the same. That’s why we need a process because without the normalization, a solution to all open topics, neither Kosovo nor Serbia could not advance on the European road which both sides want to follow and we are here to help,” Lajcak said. Asked if that message was more part of technical or political dialogue, the EU envoy said there were no two dialogues but one, a political by definition. Speaking about his talks in Pristina, he said Kurti understood the necessity of the dialogue and was ready to deal with it as the head of Kosovo’s delegation. “He is ready to come to Brussels to meet President Vucic,” Lajcak said, reiterating that he would have to wait for the formation of Pristina’s institutions. The EU diplomat denied rumors he brought a non-paper with an ultimatum to Belgrade, adding he heard about it from some media. “I want to say that the EU doesn’t bring ultimatums; the EU works with partners who want to join the bloc, and it helps them to speed up the process and meet all requirements. That’s the EU. There are a lot of non-papers in our process, but none is an ultimatum,” the EU envoy said. He reiterated the Euro-integration process was based on the rule of law, fight against corruption, independent media… “That doesn’t change, but the dialogue, normalization of relations, are an additional condition for Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t want that to be seen as discrimination, but as a logical sign that you cannot bring unsolved issues into the EU. That would enable the (bloc’s) functioning,” Lajcak said. Asked whether the EU expected Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence, he said he could only say what was within his mandate, and that was an agreement on normalization. “I cannot go out of my mandate and say more than it is within it.” Lajcak said the negotiators from both sides should be open to their publics and present what they negotiated transparently. “I don’t want it to be a process inside the negotiating rooms and that the public does not know anything about it.” Commenting on the US new administration, the EU envoy said Washington’s position was clear – their diplomacy aimed to help the EU and the Western Balkans’ European road. Asked if the EU could accelerate the process or set the deadlines, Lajcak said there were no deadlines and that the bloc was ready to follow the speed at which the two sides were prepared to go. “Knowing the details of the process, I say that can be over in several months if there is will.”
Changes to B&H Election Law will not be agreed anytime soon because SDA and HDZ B&H’s completely opposite stances (Nezavisne)
Despite the rulings of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Constitutional Court ordering changes of B&H Election Law, it seems like amendments to the Law will not be adopted anytime soon, mainly because of completely opposite stances of SDA and HDZ B&H on the matter, reports the daily. According to the daily’s sources, even the growing international pressure will not lead to a solution soon. The essence of the problem lies in the fact that Croats insist on protection of legal representation through the Election Law, while Bosniaks insist on the civic principle according to which each citizen can vote for any candidate and run for any office. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic recently stated that no changes to the Election Law will be accepted without the civic principle built into them. He also expressed pessimism regarding the possibility to find a solution soon. On the other hand, Croats say that changes of the Election Law, which will implement the ruling of B&H Constitutional Court on the motion filed by Croat People’s Assembly member Bozo Ljubic, must be adopted before the summer holidays. Ljubic stated that HNS already presented one proposal which was passed by B&H House of Peoples, but it was rejected by Bosniak MPs in B&H House of Representatives. SDA and HDZ B&H also disagree over the matter of constitutional changes. HDZ B&H claims that all necessary changes can be regulated through the Election Law, while SDA insists that it will be necessary to amend B&H Constitution as well in order to implement the ruling of the European Court for Human Rights in the ‘Sejdic-Finci’ case. Croatia has been openly taking the side of HDZ B&H, which proves how much the matter of Election Law is important for Croats. Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman stated that according to the Dayton Peace Agreement, B&H Presidency has three members and the purpose of this provision is to keep the balance and protect equality of three constituent peoples. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated that Republika Srpska (RS) remains with the stance that the Serb member of B&H Presidency should be elected directly and election of B&H Presidency members by the Parliament are not acceptable for the RS.
Urgent, unannounced meeting of leaders of SDA, HDZ B&H and SNSD with Ambassadors Sattler and Nelson takes place; Izetbegovic satisfied with atmosphere of meeting and will of all attendees to create better atmosphere in B&H and to begin process of reforms (Nova BH)
Nova BH reported that an urgent, unannounced meeting of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik with EU Special Representative (EUSR) Johann Sattler and US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson took place at the EU Delegation (EUD) building in Sarajevo on Thursday. Aside from the party leaders, their close associates SDA’s Denis Zvizdic, HDZ B&H’s Borjana Kristo and SNSD’s Ana Trisic-Babic were also at the meeting. The topics of the meeting were not announced in advance. Following the meeting, journalists have learned that collocutors had difficulties agreeing on the issues that should be discussed at the meeting. While the leaders of the three largest parties in B&H insisted on discussing the EU’s assistance to B&H in dealing with the issues with the purchase of vaccines against COVID-19 and the migrant crisis, the ambassadors were more interested in discussing implementation of the 14 priorities from the European Commission (EC)’s Opinion on the B&H’s EU Membership Application and the reforms on that path. This was the first meeting of all of these three party leaders in the last year, and – like in previous cases – it required an international factors’ mediation. While Covic and Dodik did not want to give statements to the media, Izetbegovic addressed the journalists in front of the EUD building and briefly explained what the collocutors discussed. Izetbegovic stressed that these three party leaders wanted to impose the EU’s assistance regarding vaccines and migrants as the issues that should be discussed, while the ambassadors focused on creating the better political atmosphere in B&H. The SDA leader noted that they discussed progress of B&H on the EU path. “They are trying to help us move towards more important issues and the most important reforms within implementation of the 14 priorities on the EU path,” the SDA leader confirmed. “Some of the details of HDZ B&H-SDA meetings were also discussed, i.e. whether the amendments to the Election Law of B&H are needed only or the constitutional reform is necessary as well”, Izetbegovic stressed. Izetbegovic said that he is satisfied with the atmosphere of the meeting and the will of all attendees to create a better atmosphere in the country and to begin the process of reforms. Asked what the most disputed issue regarding the 14 priorities is right now, Izetbegovic said that the transfer of competences from the entity to B&H levels are the biggest issue. He added that there is readiness from all sides to move the stalemate in B&H forward. According to Izetbegovic, Sattler and Nelson tried to help B&H politicians to overcome differences and reiterated that transfer of competences – that officials from the RS often mention – represents the biggest problem. The reporter characterized the meeting as mysterious and said that all reporters who were waiting outside of the building concluded that attendees seemed quite discontent when they left the meeting.
New FB&H government has not been formed yet; Izetbegovic says current government reshuffle is necessary, opposition and HDZ B&H do not support this idea (BHT1)
The new Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) government has not been formed yet although more than two years have passed since the 2018 general elections in B&H. While HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic demands amending the Election Law of B&H as a condition to form the FB&H Government, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic has a new proposal to return posts SDA had in the FB&H government. After the death of FB&H Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Salko Bukvarevic (SDA) who died from COVID-19 and FB&H Minister of Education and Science Elvira Dilberovic (SDA) resigned because of her appointment to the post of B&H Ambassador to Sweden, FB&H Minister of Interior Aljosa Campara has left SDA and joined NiP recently. New ministers that will replace SDA’s ministers at these posts could be appointed in the new convocation of the FB&H government, but its formation is currently uncertain. However, Izetbegovic said that the reshuffle of the current FB&H government is necessary in order to have SDA’s ministers at the post of the FB&H Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the FB&H Minister of Education and Science. Izetbegovic’s idea comes after SDA has lost support of its voters in the local elections and influence in the FB&H government. Commenting on the proposal, the opposition said that this is not good idea. SDP B&H delegate in the FB&H House of Peoples (HoP) Aner Zuljevic stated that SDP B&H hopes that Izetbegovic will not take an unconstitutional path because it is impossible to reshuffle the government which ended its mandate. He stressed that election winners are expected to implement executive authority in full capacity, 1,000 days after the general elections were held. Zuljevic said that it seems that compromise is impossible to achieve without pressure of the international community, but the question is what are they waiting for. According to Zuljevic, the international community is expected to return all negotiations to institutions and to include all representatives of parliamentary parties in order to find solutions through which European values will be promoted. FB&H President Marinko Cavara (HDZ B&H) commented that SDA always tries to resolve the issues of their interests only but this time Izetbegovic’s plan will not get support, adding that there are much bigger problems that need to be addressed but SDA blocks their solutions.
Dzaferovic and Nelson discuss electoral, rule of law and economic reforms (Dnevni avaz)
Member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic met with US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson on Thursday. The statement about the meeting was published on Embassy’s twitter account: “AMB Nelson met with B&H Presidency member Dzaferovic to discuss the opportunity for B&H to deliver this year on concrete electoral, rule of law and economic reforms consistent with the EU path, and address the immediate and long-term needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Komsic with Schmidt: Electoral legislations of Germany and Croatia acceptable in B&H (Dnevni list)
Member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic spoke with German politician Christian Schmidt, who is a likely candidate for new High Representative. According to a statement issued by Komsic’s office, during a lengthy conversation Komsic stressed that support of Washington, London and Brussels is of crucial importance for successful functioning of the OHR. Member of the Presidency of B&H further stated that fulfilling of priorities from the European Commission’s Opinion should be the OHR’s agenda in B&H. Speaking about changes to the Law on Elections of B&H, Komsic said that civic principles that are applied in electoral legislations of Germany and Croatia are acceptable in B&H.
Inzko sends letter to BPC authorities asking of annulling of decisions on removal of Milovic, Velic and Risljanin (Dnevni avaz)
High Representative Valentin Inzko addressed the issue of recent reshuffles in legislation and executive power in Bosnia Podrinje Canton (BPC), calling on the Assembly officials and parties to work in line with the law. In a letter, HR Inzko asked the Assembly to return the things to “the situation from before the interruption of 9th special session”. The daily reminded that about a month ago, the Assembly discussed the removal of Assembly deputy speaker Edita Velic (DF) and Interior Minister Nizama Risljanin and appointment of Aida Sirbubalo (DF) and Nermin Karisik instead of them. The session was interrupted due to invoking of Vital National Interest (VNI), but representatives of the majority held a new session and removed Velic and Risljanin from their posts. Inzko deems that being that the VNI procedure was disregarded, the decisions are to be considered as void. In a letter, Inzko noted that he expects for BPC budget, adopted on February 23, to be discussed again. The daily noted that even though many see this Inzko’s letter as announcement of returning of removed officials, representatives of the ruling majority deem that this is only the opinion of the OHR, not a decision. SBiH’s Senad Celjo told the daily that the public misinterpreted this letter as announcement of the return of the removed officials, but in fact the High Representative has not reached such decision, but only presented his opinion and the final decision will be made by Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Constitutional Court. Stressing that they will comply with the FB&H CC ruling Celjo noted that they will ask the OHR for explanation whether “replacement of Bosniak with a Bosniak (Sirbubalo instead of Velic) is on the list of VNI of any of the peoples”. On the other side opposition representatives see the OHR’s letter as confirmation the removals were illegal and contrary to VNI protection and are therefore void. Velic told the daily that in case the OHR’s stances are ignored the crisis will only deepen and someone will have to answer because of that. She noted that the least they expect is for the BPC Prime Minister to resign.
B&H CoM adopts documents necessary for unblocking of delivery of vaccines through COVAX (BHT1)
The B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) adopted on Thursday the amendments to the agreement on purchase of COVID-19 vaccines with the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and thus unblocked the arrangement with the COVAX system for the vaccine delivery. The agreement now has to be approved by the B&H Presidency. The B&H CoM also specified the compensation and responsibility details in the agreement between B&H, ‘AstraZeneca’ and ‘Pfizer’. Addressing the press conference on Thursday, B&H CoM Chairman Zoran Tegeltija said that he hopes that the first doses of vaccines will be delivered through COVAX to B&H by the end of March. He stressed that regardless of all the obstacles, the safest way for small and economically underdeveloped countries to procure the vaccines is through the GAVI. Tegeltija added that he is sure that direct procurement of vaccines would fail in B&H as even bigger countries than B&H cannot achieve success in the direct procurement either.
B&H Minister of Civil Affairs Ankica Gudeljevic issued a statement after the B&H CoM’s session on Thursday according to which obstacles to the delivery of ‘AstraZeneca’ vaccines to B&H were removed, confirming that ‘AstraZeneca’ vaccines are expected to arrive in B&H by the end of March. BHT reminded that there is still no information on when B&H could receive the first vaccines through the EU program, although B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic announced earlier that these vaccines will be delivered to B&H in a couple of days.
Freedom House: Croatia outscores the US in 2020 global freedom rankings (Hina/Vecernji list)
Croatia placed 23rd out of 27 EU countries in the new global freedom rankings compiled by the Freedom House NGO, Vecernji list daily reported on Thursday, adding that Croatia was also ranked ahead of the United States. The rankings were published in the latest Freedom in the World 2021 report, a yearly overview which Freedom House uses to rate people’s access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries and territories. In the rankings, which assign scores to countries based on a set of criteria related to democracy and human rights, Croatia’s received a score of 85, placing it in the category of “free countries,” while the United States got 83 points, the same as Monaco, Panama, Romania, and South Korea. Three Scandinavian countries – Finland, Norway and Sweden – shared the top spot with the maximum score of 100. On the other end of the ranking, only Syria and Tibet (rated separately from the rest of China) received the minimum score of 1 point. “Civil and political rights are generally respected, though corruption in the public sector is a serious issue” Freedom House’s analysts wrote about Croatia. Within the European Union, Croatia ranked 23rd out of 27 countries, besting Romania (83 pts), Poland (82 pts), Bulgaria (78 pts) and Hungary (69 pts). Hungary is the only EU country placed in the “partly free” category. As for the Western Balkans, all six countries and territories were rated as “partly free” – Albania (66 pts), North Macedonia (66 pts), Serbia (64 pts), Montenegro (63 pts), Kosovo (54 pts), and Bosnia (53 pts). As for trends in the region, Croatia and Bosnia had no change in rating this year. Serbia and Kosovo slid by 2 pts from last year, and Albania slid by 1. Montenegro had a 1 point increase while North Macedonia improved its score by 3 points – the best year-on-year improvement on the continent. Other European countries which saw improvement were Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Moldova. The worst rated countries in Europe, all categorized as “not free,” are Belarus (11 pts), Russia (20 pts), and Turkey (32 pts). Disputed territories of Ukraine, which are rated separately, fared even worse with Crimea getting only 7 pts and eastern Donbas getting 4 pts. As for the global developments in 2020, the NGO says that “as a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny.” Freedom House said that 2020 was the “15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.” “The countries experiencing deterioration outnumbered those with improvements by the largest margin recorded since the negative trend began in 2006. The long democratic recession is deepening… The impact of the long-term democratic decline has become increasingly global in nature, broad enough to be felt by those living under the cruelest dictatorships, as well as by citizens of long-standing democracies,” Freedom House analysts said.
Krivokapic with Lajcak: This government has a chance to bring Montenegro to EU membership (RTCG)
Prime Minister of Montenegro Zdravko Krivokapic met with EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak. Prime Minister Krivokapic thanked Lajcak for his continuous support, saying that Montenegro’s strategic goal is EU membership. “We see our future exclusively in the EU and we will take all necessary steps to justify the expectations of our citizens,” Krivokapic said. Krivokapic stressed that Montenegro is committed to strong reforms in the area of the rule of law. “We strive for our country to get final benchmarks for Chapters 23 and 24 in 2021. In this way, conditions would be created for intensifying reform activities in the field of rule of law, and at the same time give impetus to speed up negotiations in all other negotiating chapters of the acquis,” said the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister stressed that it is certain that in-depth reforms are needed in terms of the efficiency of the prosecution. He briefed Lajcak on changes to prosecutorial laws, noting that as the Prime Minister he had appealed to the Parliament to hold public hearings and consultations with key European partners before passing all systemic laws in the area of the rule of law, including prosecution laws – the European Commission and the Venice Commission. Krivokapic also said that the suspension of the criminal proceeding in the “Envelope” case is proof of the weakness of the judiciary. He also cites the case of the Special State Prosecutor as a problem, which, as he stated, led to the Prosecutor’s Office losing its reputation. Krivokapic said that the problem in Montenegro is not the laws, but their implementation. The Prime Minister noted that the government is ready to face its biggest challenges, but that it needs support and clear indicators for more dynamic progress in the European integration process. Lajcak said that he was glad to continue the conversation he and Krivokapic started in Brussels, saying that Montenegro and the Western Balkans are the center of attention and interest of the EU. “Regardless of all the challenges that the EU is currently facing, we remain consistent with the policy of EU enlargement, and Montenegro is the most advanced in that process and should retain the status of leader. We look at you as a partner, because direction of Montenegro’s foreign policy is clear. If you persevere on this path, you can become the Prime Minister who will bring Montenegro into the EU,” Lajcak said. He said that Montenegro’s trump card is full compliance with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. He pointed out that the Government’s priority must be measurable results in Chapters 23 and 24. “An expert government can bring perspective and expertise in this process. For this to happen you must take full responsibility for using existing laws to strengthen the rule of law. The State must act more convincingly in cases of corruption,” Lajcak said. He also said that he wanted to encourage government representatives to consult with the European Union when making any important decision. “Montenegro already has bodies and mechanisms in place to ensure judicial and prosecutorial independence and accountability, and should make further progress, not regress, in implementing judicial reform. We encourage you to consistently use these mechanisms and build on what has already been achieved, in order to achieve further results in the fight against corruption and organized crime. You will have the full expert assistance of the European Commission to find the best solutions and improve regulations,” said the EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans. Lajcak said that Montenegro needs stable institutions and professional people who are elected in a transparent manner and based on merit, who are loyal to the state, and not to political parties. Krivokapic also informed Lajcak about the problems that Montenegro is facing, which are caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stated that the Government has tightened the control of the existing measures, in order to avoid the full lockdown, which would cause great damage to Montenegrin economy. Furthermore, Krivokapic emphasized that the lack of unity is a problem in the fight against coronavirus. “This is not the time for one-upmanship, but for solidarity and unity,” Krivokapic said.
Djukanovic meets Lajcak (CdM)
Brussels expects Montenegro to maintain a policy of co-operation and harmonization with EU policies and positions, including the harmonizing with the opinion of the Venice Commission, said EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and Other Regional Issues in the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak at a meeting with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. Djukanovic said that we can’t act against European standards while we are moving towards the EU. As it is stated from President’s cabinet, Djukanovic thanked Mr Lajcak for coming to Montenegro. The President recalled that the transfer of power in Montenegro confirmed that there was a new capacity for democratic culture, and stressed the need to confirm in Montenegro and in the new conditions a full understanding of Montenegro’s role as a NATO member and the practice of not acting against European standards as long as Montenegro was in partnership with the EU, President’s cabinet says. Djukanovic reiterated that the determination of European political forces in Montenegro was to support everything that leads the country to Europe, and thus contribute to maintaining the dominance of pro-European thought in the Western Balkans. Lajcak stressed the importance of respecting the country’s commitments in the negotiation process and in partnership with the EU. He welcomed the mature and responsible reaction towards the state shown by the previous government after the election results. Lajcak concluded that regular communication with European partners was important for the integration path of Montenegro and the region, and welcomed the contribution made by the President of Montenegro in such communication, the cabinet points out. The meeting was also attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Cristina Oana Popa.
Djukanovic: Serbia persistently working to its detriment, sowing hatred towards everything Montenegrin (CdM)
President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic states that Serbia is working incredibly persistently to its detriment. He adds that the spirit of hatred from the bottle towards Montenegro and everything Montenegrin has now been released, which is why relations between the two countries are at the lowest possible level today. “There is no need to prove that, I have been present in political life for 30 years, I followed the 1990s, the Z-4 plan offered for Croatia, the plans offered for Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), the Rambouillet offered for Kosovo. All that was arrogantly, rudely and hastily rejected, and all that ended in serious losses for Serbia and for those who were the creators of such a policy in Serbia. So, I have no doubt that this policy towards Montenegro today is a policy of releasing the spirit from the bottle, the spirit of hatred towards Montenegro,” says Djukanovic at the Podgorica Journalists’ Forum. According to him, what was done from official Belgrade in the 1990s to Croatia, B&H, Kosovo, is being done today to Montenegro. He adds that this can now be seen “through the relentless campaign that is being conducted from Serbia in relation to the local elections in the second largest city in Montenegro, Niksic”. Speaking about the upcoming census in Montenegro, Djukanovic says that the opinion of the previous government was that the questionnaire should be freed from traditional issues, which the EU got rid of in most countries, because the census is important primarily for the economic development of each country. According to him, the national census is important for those policies that are not European, but are nationalistic and chauvinistic. He says that Montenegro has the strength to defend its civic and secular character, due to the culture and tradition of civic and anti-fascist values that it cherishes. He stresses that it is realistic to expect a quick return of the USA to the Euro-Atlantic community and also to the Western Balkans, because the representatives of the new American administration are excellent experts on the situation in the Western Balkans.
Djukanovic: Montenegrin identity under attack (CdM)
President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic said at the Podgorica Journalistic Forum that the Montenegrin identity was under attack. “As much as all opponents of the civil state of Montenegro, and thus the pro-European state of Montenegro, have a problem with all elements of the civil state in Montenegro, they primarily have a problem with Montenegrin identity, because they would easily go over what the future of Bosniaks Muslims, Albanians and Croats in Montenegro will be”, said President Djukanovic. “But the problem here is what we will do with Montenegrins. So, we have to prove that there are no Montenegrins – that Montenegrins are a fictional people, that they are communist-Djilas bastards, that Montenegro is a state that originated from Broz’s Jajce, in addition to all the other nonsense we had the opportunity to hear, even from the highest dignitaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church and some quasi-historians and politicians from the current political and intellectual scene in Serbia,” Djukanovic explained. “Montenegrin identity is primarily under attack. Secondly, we register that we are already witnessing a serious violation of the Charter of Human Rights in Montenegro itself. So, there’s a serious group, and potentially it is the most numerous group in Montenegro, I say potentially, it is not potential that Montenegrins represent about 45% of the total population structure, but I can’t tell you how many believers are among them, but as many as there are, and I suppose there’s a greater number of them, they are denied their religious rights. They can’t satisfy their religious rights like Montenegrins. They must agree to satisfy their religious rights in the Serbian Orthodox Church, which treats them as Serbs,” Djukanovic said. He noted that the Serbian Orthodox Church really acted as an instrument of Serbia’s expansionist policy towards the region. “So, we have that problem today, it’s a fundamental problem that someone is going to have to deal with seriously. Of course, Montenegrin politics is seriously dealing with this, but the wider political public will have to deal with it, as well”, he explained. “I think that for various reasons we still don’t have sufficient identification with the most important national interests of our country” he stressed. “So, that identification could be said to be manifested to the maximum at a time when we were emotionally driven by the idea of rebuilding our state. After that, it was as if we misunderstood that the job was done and then we started various factional conflicts on that Montenegrin and pro-European political scene, which I would say was used by the opponents of civil and European Montenegro at that moment,” Djukanovic pointed out. “But we have no choice but to defend what is our most essential national interest. So, I don’t need to prove to anyone that a man without a roof over his head is a man without an identity, without a future. It is the same with the people. So, Montenegro has made a great feat, modern Montenegro, after a century of pause, has democratically renovated its state house, and as I said, it has directed itself towards the right, European system of values. We have been attacked, and these are now to say some more or less known phases of the political and security environment and life in our area. So, if someone outside Montenegro is fighting for Niksic, and they want to conquer Niksic, Niksic is not so important to them, it’s that they want to show through Niksic that they are conquering Montenegro. Will we let anyone do that? No, we won’t” President is clear. “In the elections on 30 August, our opponents had a few more votes, and we congratulated. Go ahead now, take responsibility and lead Montenegro, but if you have interpreted your success in the elections as the right to destroy or sell and betray Montenegro, then that is no longer a political issue. Then we will defend it the way Montenegro has always defended itself during its thousand-year history. That must be clear to anyone who misinterpreted the results of the 30 August elections,” Djukanovic stresses. “A census of great national interest for the state of Serbia is soon to be held here, a census to campaign so as to explain to people that they are not what they are, but that they are actually Serbs,” Djukanovic stressed. “Our struggle for the European future of Montenegro continues. We strongly believe in our value, we absolutely believe that good will always defeat evil, we think that we stand for the good of the citizens of Montenegro, for the good of this country, the region, for the good of Europe to which we belong”, he stressed. He said that numerous researches showed that the rating of the DPS policy in Niksic was growing. He also spoke about the expectations from the new American policy towards the Western Balkans. “Let’s not be pretentious, let’s not even think that now our space will return to the very top of the US foreign policy agenda, as it was at the time in the 1990s. But what is very important for us, is that we now have a completely clear announcement that we are going to rehabilitate the Euro-Atlantic cooperation. That in itself, I would say, will strengthen that policy of consolidating Europe,” Djukanovic said. “Wherever the role of the European Union was absent, room would open up for the malignant influences of some policies opposed to the European Union. Russia has been present throughout history in this area, there has always been a lot of pro-Russian mood here, which means that there is still a lot of room for malignant political influences and manipulations from the outside”, he pointed out. Djukanovic said that when we talk about the Serbian World, we talk about only one new phrase for something that represents the traditional expansionist policy of Greater Serbian nationalism towards Montenegro. He noted that for the first time in 30 years of multi-party system, the previous government, and the current opposition, congratulated the victory on the night of the elections, although it was not a convincing victory. “Montenegro didn’t have enough strength to protect itself from the hybrid war that came from various platforms, both regional and out of it, and from some non-political platforms from Montenegro itself. The role of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which was a very agile actor in the electoral process in Montenegro, should be recalled” Djukanovic pointed out. However, he warned that everything that had happened in the three months since the new Government took power called into question the seriousness of its intention to take responsibility for running Montenegro. “The Democratic Front has 27 out of the 41 majority MPs, and 2/3 are under the strict control of official Serbia and its president” Djukanovic said. The other line of influence was the Serbian Orthodox Church, and that policy was personified by Metropolitan Amfilohije”, President stressed. “So, the basic idea is to destroy the civic character of Montenegro, to question its path of pro-European development, and I would say that the dominant danger in the elections was to destroy the secular character of Montenegro. Therefore, the ideas of Greater Serbian nationalism personified by Metropolitan Amfilohije were those. As we know, he wasn’t thrilled with President Vucic or the authorities in Belgrade. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about the top ranks of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Patriarchate, but he had a serious idea, a serious misconception that Montenegro could be returned to the Middle Ages, at a time when Montenegro was governed by the church. I would say that these two dangers were flying over Montenegro at the same time”, Djukanovic pointed out. “These dangers still exist, especially the first one, but my deep conviction is that Montenegro is able to defend itself from it”, Djukanovic stated categorically.
US and EU impose sanctions on Russia because of Navalny, what will Montenegro do? (CdM)
The US and the EU have imposed sanctions against Russian officials and companies, after American intelligence concluded that the Russian government was behind the attack on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed CdM that Montenegro still hasn’t received an invitation to join these restrictive measures. Two days ago, the EU imposed sanctions for the first time within the new global regime for “human rights violations” against four Russian citizens for the arrest of Alexei Navalny, according to a document published in the EU’s Official Gazette. The USA also imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday due to the almost fatal poisoning of Navalny, said the officials of the administration of US President Joe Biden. Answering CDM’s question about how Montenegro will decide on this issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Djordje Radulovic, has explained that Montenegro, as a candidate for membership in the EU and the only candidate country that has opened Chapter 31 (Foreign, Security and Defense Policy), fully aligns its positions with the EU’s common security and defense policy.
US reportedly rejected Zaev’s much criticized nomination of Ljubomir Frckoski as Ambassador to DC (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s candidate for Ambassador to the US, university professor Ljubomir Frckoski, was reportedly rejected by the US. VMRO official Antonio Milososki and several news outlets reported this. Frckoski, a notorious former interior and foreign minister, during some of the murkiest days of Macedonia’s early independence, was lustrated for abusing his power to prosecute political opponents as Interior Minister, as well as accused of violence toward his first wife and in one instance of assaulting a woman over a parking space. Former president Gligovor accused Frckoski of trying to bribe him on behalf of Greek intelligence services to give up on the Macedonian name, and former speaker Stojan Andov accused him of involvement in Gligorov’s assassination attempt in 1995. Still, Frckoski continued to wield influence in SDSM, and the party even nominated him for President in 2009 (he lost to Gjorge Ivanov). Milososki said that the US asked Macedonia to withdraw his nomination after warning the country that Frckoski could not get a NATO security clearance or be entrusted with confidential information.
EP Draft Resolution on Albania: Elections, Fundamental for EU Integration (ADN)
The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament voted on Friday the draft resolution on Albania integration process. The resolution stresses that the general elections of 25 April 2021 will be key for the consolidation and renewal of country’s democratic procedures and structures and to achieve a higher level of political stability underlines that free and fair elections are fundamental for EU integration. Draft Resolution expresses concern with the allegations of vote-buying and reminds that its prosecution is among conditions set by the Council on 25 March 2020; stresses the importance of ensuring that preparations for the 2021 parliamentary elections take place in a transparent and inclusive manner; notes that all political forces, state bodies, civil society and the media have a joint duty to ensure a transparent, credible and objective election campaign, free from disinformation, intimidation and false accusations. According to the Committee, the fight against money laundering and the punishment for vote buying are the conditions for Albania to open negotiations with the European Union.
President ready to resign if majority wins without manipulating votes (ADN)
President of the Republic Ilir Meta stated once again that if the ruling majority wins the 25 April elections without affecting the votes, he will resign on 26 April. During the online conversation with representatives of civil society, Meta said that all party leaders should ask citizens to punish their party, if someone tries to steal votes. “We are here because of the degradation of the elections, of the Constitution, of the removal of powers from the President. The President has been very clear, despite the tones. The President has said that if this majority is confirmed as the winner without affecting the vote, the president resigns on 26 April and let everyone know. I am a President who has never been afraid of elections. I said two years ago that this crisis is resolved by elections. I have never avoided this challenge, but to violate once again the Albanian people, whoever you are, this is something that won’t be allowed. So, the President has said, if anyone worries about me worrying for my former political party, I say to you punish him if it tries to get hands on the election. Punish his former party. This should be done by the leaders of other parties themselves. The only thing that matters to the President is that the vote is equal. But if the prime minister, unfortunately, gathers the mayors and says publicly that ‘I want 800.000 votes from you’, I do not know what to say. This does not seem acceptable to me. Others try to turn it into a personal problem, but it is not a personal problem,” said Meta.