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Belgrade Media Report 23 April 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 23 April 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: We will do our best to boost friendship with US (Tanjug)
Vucic: We are ready to continue dialogue, compromise a goal (Tanjug/RTS)
Maas: Right time for results in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
Selakovic: Scandalous political audacity of Vjosa Osmani (RTS)
Petkovic: Any kind of revision impermissible (RTS)
Porfirije: Consent reached on Agreement with Prime Minister Krivokapic (Tanjug)
Jansa’s extras in Balkans’ (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Leadership of Serbia visits Banja Luka (RTRS)
Serbian and RS officials condemn warmongering rhetoric following alleged non-paper and calls for peaceful dissolution of B&H (RTRS)
Turkovic comments visit of Serbian delegation and Dodik statements; Calls for ending of obstructions (Hayat)
Vucic awarded Key to City of Banja Luka; Mayor Stanivukovic causes scandal with hidden microphone (ATV)
US Ambassador Nelson comments on inflammatory rhetoric in B&H (FTV)
Sattler meets Dzaferovic: EU supports B&H sovereignty and territorial integrity (FTV)
Zvizdic: There cannot be dissolution of B&H without conflict, B&H needs stronger internal dialogue (Oslobodjenje)
Ivanic: I believe neither Serbia nor Croatia are interested in break-up of B&H (FTV)
Zunic says time is right for dialogue of RS and FB&H on future of B&H (EuroBlic)
Sattler, Nelson meet with Izetbegovic, Covic to discuss necessary reforms (Oslobodjenje)
OHR: RS authorities should offer public and transparent explanation about procurement of weapons for the RS MoI; Salkic said that many police officers in RS participated in genocide against Bosniaks (Dnevni list/Fena)
Croatia

Plenkovic: NDH is one of most tragic periods in Croatian history (Hina)
Israeli Ambassador: Jasenovac commemoration must be above daily politics (Vecernji list)
Connecting economies of Croatia, Israel and B&H cantons (Hina)
Brkic underlines importance of dialogue and consensus for NATO path: It is important that reform program stays aside from internal political outwitting (Vecernji list)
Montenegro

Abolition of term Orthodox Church contrary to SPC Council document of 2006 (Pobjeda)
Abazovic doesn’t know when government will discuss Fundamental Agreement with SPC (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Durlovski calls on public to turn out for protest on Sunday (Republika)
Albania

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee: We expect all candidates to act in accordance with democratic norms (Tirana Times)
US and EU ambassadors call for a peaceful and orderly electoral process (Tirana Times)
Ambassadors in Albania video message to citizens: Do not sell the vote. Vote for a better future! (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: We will do our best to boost friendship with US (Tanjug

Speaking about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija in a video interview to the US Atlantic Council, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that both sides must fulfill what was signed in Brussels. “You do not hear any blackmail from Belgrade. We do not threaten with war damages and lawsuits, but we hear that every day from Pristina and there is no reaction from the US and the EU,” he said, emphasizing that it is important to increase trust between the two sides and that hostile atmosphere must not be created. He pointed out that Serbia must invest more in the relationship with the US and increase the trust of the American side. “We need the US as a friend of Serbia because we can do something good. We can progress with the support of the US. That is a precondition for economic progress. The US may not be our best friend, but it is a friend with whom we have a common interest and common future,” Vucic said, adding that Serbia aspires to have as much support as possible. He noted the military-technical cooperation, but also cooperation in other fields. “I know President Biden better than I know president Trump but I can say that I don’t expect easier times for Serbia because politics is not always and not necessarily about personal issues, but we’ll do our best to boost the friendship between the two countries,” Vucic said. Vucic said there were different views, in particular on the Kosovo and Metohija issue, but that Biden had always wanted to also listen to the Serbian side, which the Serbian president said was good for us.

Vucic: We are ready to continue dialogue, compromise a goal (Tanjug/RTS

 

Germany strongly supports the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, and so does Serbia, which is ready to continue the dialogue and will approach it in a constructive manner with the aim of reaching a compromise solution, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Belgrade on Friday. He said they had discussed all important topics, including those that were not always pleasant or simple for Serbia, such as the Kosovo and Metohija issue – because Germany recognizes Kosovo – and the situation in the region. “Serbia is not looking for an apologetic reason to refuse to reach compromise, but it believes that a frozen conflict is not the best solution, because someone can always unfreeze it,” Vucic said. Peace with ethnic Albanians must be built because it is certain that Serbs and Albanians will become the two largest nations in the region in the next 100 years, he said. “The essence of progress is peace,” Vucic said. It is important that all signed agreements, in particular the Brussels agreement, are fulfilled and that a Community of Serb Municipalities is established, but we are also ready to talk about other topics, he said. Vucic added that Maas’s visit to Serbia reaffirmed the significance of political dialogue and the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between Serbia and Germany. He also said Serbia maintained the closest economic ties with Germany and had by far the highest bilateral trade volume with the country, as well as that German investors in Serbia were employing dozens of thousands of people. Vucic said Serbia would play an absolutely constructive role in the region and preserve peace.

Maas: Right time for results in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Belgrade that now was the right time to achieve results in the dialogue on normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Maas told a joint news conference after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that it was important that the dialog not be conducted for its own sake, but with a view to results. “Governments with a stable parliamentary majority have been formed in both countries. Now is the time to resume the dialog on normalization of relations and achieve results. Germany has complete confidence in the EU and Miroslav Lajcak,” Maas said. He said Germany was aware that the dialog on normalizing relations was not an easy process, but that it would lead to economic benefit.

Asked to comment on a statement by Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani that the dialogue should start over, Maas said that the process did not need to be reset, but rather that every topic from the past should be leveraged to reach results. On Serbia’s bid to join the EU, Maas said the rule was still in place that every state set its own pace in joining the EU, and added that a reformatory effort was needed at the state level, primarily in the central areas of the rule of law and fight against corruption.

Selakovic: Scandalous political audacity of Vjosa Osmani (RTS

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said that the messages of Pristina’s representatives that they will reconsider the Brussels agreement in order to ‘reset’ the dialogue with Belgrade are unprecedented political audacity and we demand an urgent and sharp reaction from all those who want lasting stability and peace in the Western Balkans. Selakovic said in a statement that today’s messages of Vjosa Osmani are a euphemism for the blockade of the dialogue, because the results of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina are not, as he said, a “buffet from which one can choose what will be applied and what will not”. He stated that Albin Kurti’s pre-election messages that the dialogue with Belgrade will be low on their list of priorities are coming true. That, he said, is definitely confirmed today, which actually means that Kurti is not interested in dialogue or compromise at all. He warned that Pristina for years, more precisely for eight years, has been refusing to implement its only real and essential obligation from the Brussels agreement, and that is the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities. He pointed out that today, Belgrade and the international community were clearly told that evasion of obligations, manipulation and lies are the standard, and not an incident, in the actions of Pristina’s political structures. “I expect the international community, especially the countries that openly and intensively support Pristina, to curb and discipline their darlings in the interest of stability and peace in the region,” he said.

Petkovic: Any kind of revision impermissible (RTS)  

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic pointed out that all agreements reached within the Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina must be implemented in order for any meaningful continuation of talks to be possible. “Every time Pristina constitutes a new composition of the provisional institutions of self-government, it threatens to reconsider and annul the agreement from Brussels, and it is clear that someone who acts from such positions does not sincerely care about an agreed solution to the problem,” Petkovic said in a statement.

He assessed that Vjosa Osmani can study and review the agreements reached within the Brussels dialogue only as a material for the implementation of the agreement, and that any revision of what was created as a result of hard work is impermissible. “I expect that this kind of political audacity and attempt to avoid the assumed obligations will not be viewed favorably in Brussels or in other European capitals,” he stated. He emphasized that Belgrade remains committed to dialogue as the only reasonable means of resolving disagreements, but that, as has been said countless times, two are needed for dialogue. “The inconsistent, shifty and perfidious policy that Kurti and Osmani decided to pursue is just another confirmation of Pristina’s bad intentions and takes us away from both the agreement and the stabilization of the situation in the region,” Petkovic concluded.

Porfirije: Consent reached on Agreement with Prime Minister Krivokapic (Tanjug)

Serbian Patriarch Porfirije told Tanjug that he is deeply convinced that the signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the state of Montenegro, on the basis of which the state’s relationship with the SPC in Montenegro will be regulated, but also the Church’s relationship with the state, will put an end to misunderstandings on the matter. The Patriarch mentioned that there is nothing secret regarding the content of the Agreement, considering that negotiations on that have been going on for years, as well as that the content of the Fundamental Agreement will be available to everyone. “Thank God, we have reached an agreement with the Prime Minister of Montenegro on the Basic Agreement that the Church should sign with the state of Montenegro, and I am completely sure that the Agreement will be signed soon,” said Patriarch Porfirije. The Patriarch said that there were various media speculations and contradictory voices reaching the SPC, but that none of that was founded.

“I think that very soon, to the joy of all Orthodox Christians and all SPC members in Montenegro, we will sign this Agreement, which will finally be the only agreement missing in terms of Church-state relations or the state and religious communities in Montenegro,” he said.

When asked how he interprets the fact that the Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that the signing of the Fundamental Agreement was conducted behind the scenes and that the process was not transparent enough, the Patriarch replied that he was not familiar with the statement, but that everyone could have their own view of everything that was happening. “As far as the Agreement is concerned, nothing is hidden, nor is it secret, and those negotiations and talks have been going on for years. Ultimately, the content of that Agreement will be available to everyone. On the basis of that Agreement, the attitude of the state towards the SPC in Montenegro will be regulated, but also the attitude of the Church towards the state. I do not understand the wording of the President of Montenegro, and I believe that he also understands that there is no problem there,” stated the Patriarch.

Jansa’s extras in Balkans’ (Politika, op-ed by Bosko Jaksic)

Journalist Bosko Jaksic reminded of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s ‘non-paper’, the details of which were published by Slovenian portal necenzurirano.si and noted: “Whenever someone here starts thinking that the time of divisions and wars was filed in archives of past, a European right-wing politician appears with a malicious idea on new reorganization of the Western Balkans”. The author reminded of details of the ‘non-paper’ and noted that the idea on reshaping of borders is backed by an old argument that multiethnic states are a constant source of conflicts and that those can guarantee future “only if those are ethnically pure”. “Such nationalistic concept, expanded with desire for purely Christian Europe, has been promoted by years by all Euro-skeptical, anti-migrant and Islamophobic ultra-right wing politicians who recently formed an alliance: the Prime Ministers of Hungary and Poland and leader of Italian League”, the author explained and noted that it seems as if those who encouraged Jansa to prepare the ‘non-paper’ should be sought for within this circle. The author argued that something is indeed being prepared and the ‘non-paper’ should not come as too big of a surprise, knowing that Slovenian President Borut Pahor asked members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) during his visit to Sarajevo in March whether there is any chance for “peaceful dissolution of B&H”. “Aleksandar Vucic said that he has “no idea what this is about”, but he anticipated the danger from Dodik’s attempt to drag him into a dangerous game. He replaced his initial ‘great caution’ with a clear statement: ‘I cannot agree with merging of Kosovo and Albania, I have to respect territorial integrity of B&H’”, the author noted.

Jaksic argued that, regardless of the fact the Council of Europe is silent now although it presented a clear stance against change of borders back in 2008, the contents of the ‘non-paper’ stand no chance of being realized because “USA will not allow B&H to become a victim of Jansa’s show. Majority in the EU assess that reshaping of borders would be ‘casus belli’ with immeasurable consequences for European safety”. Finally, the author concluded that ideas on Great Serbia, Great Albania, somewhat bigger Croatia and dissolution of B&H are unrealistic but serve as a warning because “nothing happens by coincidence in politics. European ethno-nationalists are working on their occult project”.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Leadership of Serbia visits Banja Luka (RTRS

 

The leadership of Serbia arrived in Banja Luka on Thursday to meet with Repblika Srpska (RS) officials. This was the first visit of the entire Serbian leadership to the RS in history. Several meetings took place, during which numerous ongoing projects were discussed and new ones were agreed on. The delegation was welcomed by Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik at the International Airport in Banja Luka. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, while speaker of the Serbian parliament Ivica Dacic met with speaker of the RS parliament Nedeljko Cubrilovic. Dodik and RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Two delegations convened at a meeting of the Council for Cooperation of Serbia and the RS. They discussed the construction of the highway Banja Luka – Beograd, International Airport Trebinje and the complex of hydro power plants ‘Buk Bijela’. It was determined that the realization of these projects already began. Cvijanovic stated that they need stability and that can be achieved by building up the RS. She stressed that they have mutual communication, negotiations and realization of projects with Serbia, which is something they do not have with anyone else. Vucic announced that Serbia will finance the construction of the bridge in Raca and invest additional EUR 100 million into the construction of the highway from Bijeljina to Raca. He added that at least EUR 75 million will be invested in the airport in Trebinje. Vucic stressed that at least three years will be necessary to start profiting off the airport and they will work on developing it. Cvijanovic highlighted that any help is welcome, since the connection with Serbia is important in many ways and every citizens of the RS feels it. Dodik assessed Thursday’s visit as the most important one in the history of the RS and added that they are going through a period of the best mutual cooperation. He stated that most projects were realized with the help of Serbia, after they are blocked by the B&H level of authorities. It was announced that Serbia will continue to invest into the development of local communities in the RS, as well the ones in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) with a Serb majority. Dodik stated that Serbia offered support for other local communities in the FB&H as well, but there was no understanding for this. At a press conference held after the meeting, Vucic said for the media that Serbia had made efforts to bring projects and invest in almost all municipalities in the RS, noting “I believe it may be the most important support we can give to the people in the RS”. Vucic announced help from Serbia to RS in all areas, especially related to economy and infrastructure. Vucic also promised help for less developed municipalities in RS as well as for certain municipalities in FB&H. Vucic stated: “Preserving the peace and stability, we will work to strengthen our economies in order to ensure a better future for the citizens of RS and Serbia”. Vucic announced help for four municipalities where roads, water supply, sewerage, schools and kindergartens will be constructed. Vucic said: “One of them is in FB&H, it is the Municipality of Drvar, and three are in the territory of RS. One of them, the Municipality of Kostajnica, was recently hit by an earthquake, the Municipality of Dubica also suffered (due to earthquake) and the Municipality of Nevesinje is a poor municipality”. Vucic said that they will try to invest millions of EUR into these municipalities. The construction of a memorial complex in Donja Gradina was also announced.  RS thanked the leadership of Serbia for help, because it has a special meaning for the citizens of RS.

Serbian and RS officials condemn warmongering rhetoric following alleged non-paper and calls for peaceful dissolution of B&H (RTRS

 

Serbian and RS officials who met on Thursday in Banja Luka condemned the recent warmongering rhetoric following the release of a non-paper that was allegedly submitted by Slovenia to Brussels. The political situation in B&H was discussed during the meeting of the Council for Cooperation between Serbia and the RS. The assessment of Serbs as genocidal people by Sarajevo was condemned. Chairman Milorad Dodik said that this is an atmosphere where it is not possible to cooperate. Dodik explained that the RS will defend itself, but it will not lead a war even for its independence. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that war is not an option for Serbia and they only want partner and friendship relations with Bosniaks and Croats, and not just Serbs. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that comments and statements made in Sarajevo make cooperation hard and the life of citizens harder. She stressed that problems are created when the RS has to sacrifice its stability and development by having to deal with topics imposed by Sarajevo. Cvijanovic said that these topics make it impossible to cooperate with the RS and it ends up being disputed. ˝The RS is living in surroundings where one who should be their partner with whom you think about joint development and building of joint projects receives the worst words that exude hate, intolerance and lack of communication, as well as lack of will for cooperation. This certainly burdens everything we are trying to do on the economic plan” said Cvijanovic. RS officials stated that Sarajevo is trying to eliminate institutional forces of the RS and to fill the empty space with other people who suit them better. They stressed that it is necessary to turn towards development of B&H and not war rhetoric.

Addressing the press conference, Dodik said that he informed Vucic about the current situation in B&H, noting that from political aspect the situation in B&H is very bad and that relations in B&H are disordered. He stressed that he is not ready to sacrifice peace and that he will not be the one who causes conflicts, but that he wants talks on B&H’s future. Vucic told the press that the RS and Serbia attempt to develop their economies by preserving peace and stability in order to be able to ensure different and better future for people, so that those who live in the RS and Serbia can see that they will have jobs and that their children will have future.

Turkovic comments visit of Serbian delegation and Dodik statements; Calls for ending of obstructions (Hayat

 

Commenting the meetings in Banja Luka during the visit of the Serbian delegation, B&H Minister of Foreign Relations Bisera Turkovic said that B&H is open for any form of cooperation with Serbia. Turkovic believes that open issues can be solved through dialogue. Turkovic said that no matter how much Chairman of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik wished it was different, B&H is Dodik’s homeland. Turkovic stated: “The same politics which said today that they are not interested in conflict and that they cannot find their interests in B&H, have been continuously working on making B&H dysfunctional and unsuccessful for years. They have been blocking European reforms, budgets, institutions. They have blocked for years the return of displaced persons, returnees in RS live in an atmosphere of fear where war criminals are celebrated, Bosnian language is denied and every now and then there is an attack on returnees, mosques, etc. so they can then say how they do not feel comfortable in B&H and that we should talk of a peaceful separation”. Turkovic called for an end to blockades, obstructions and politicizing, and called for working instead on economic improvement and the 14 Key Priorities of the EU.

Vucic awarded Key to City of Banja Luka; Mayor Stanivukovic causes scandal with hidden microphone (ATV

 

At the Solemn Academy held on Thursday at the ‘Banski Dvor’, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was presented with the Key to the City of Banja Luka. ATV reports that the award was presented by Speaker of the Banja Luka Mladen Ilic, at the initiative of SNSD Banja Luka City Board. On the occasion, Vucic said it is a great honor to receive award in the city of great thinkers and people, noting “with this recognition, I myself, with all duties and responsibilities, become the citizens of Banja Luka”. After the ceremony, Ilic said for the media that the promise was given that Serbia will, in cooperation with the RS government, continue to implement projects in Banja Luka. After the solemn academy, an informal meeting of the RS and Serbian leadership with Ilic and Mayor of Banja Luka Drasko Stanivukovic was held. ATV reports that during the meeting, Stanivukovic caused a scandal by carrying a microphone on his jacket in an attempt to secretly record the meeting. However, Stanivukovic was prevented by members of Vucic’s staff. ATV reports that, when asked by the media why he had carried a microphone at the meeting with the protected officials, Stanivukovic failed to provide concrete answer. Vucic announced that Serbia will continue to support Banja Luka economically and provide necessary funds as well. He stressed that Serbia will invest in many other parts of the RS as well. Ilic announced that Banja Luka will continue to cooperate with Serbia. Mayor Stanivukovic said that Serbs from Serbia are looking at Banja Luka and they will help with everything the city needs. He stated that Serbia will help the opening of two companies in Banja Luka. After the ceremony, Vucic and Stanivukovic held a short meeting. On this occasion, Stanivukovic presented Vucic with a gift of an icon. Stanivukovic said after the meeting with Vucic that Banja Luka can expect many projects. Stanivukovic claimed that Vucic told Stanivukovic as the mayor of Banja Luka to pick a project and Serbia together with Belgrade will help with the said project. Commenting on the incident related to the secret microphone carried by Stanivukovic, Cvijanovic said that whether it is an expression of disrespect towards the RS institutions and Serbian officials, or just a “childish game, or the job was done for a foreign secret service, it should be investigated”. Stanivukovic assessed that the issue was turned into a big deal and that it was an accident.

US Ambassador Nelson comments on inflammatory rhetoric in B&H (FTV

In statement to FTV, the US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson commented statements mentioning new war in B&H. Among other things, Ambassador Nelson stated that it is necessary to respect decisions of courts, adding that it is obligation of all citizens and politicians not to threaten with difficult periods and wars. He emphasized that abovementioned type of rhetoric is attempt to divert attention from real problems, adding that majority of citizens do not want war. Nelson went on to saying that attention of people should not be focused in this direction, adding that 2021 should be year of reforms. He emphasized that there have been many attempts of distraction that is moving focus from concrete reforms B&H can and should achieve in 2021. US Ambassador explained that he refers to reforms aimed to open economy of B&H, to increase incomes and to enable recovery from negative consequences of Coronavirus pandemic, to strengthen electoral legislation and election process, to strengthen rule of law in line with the European standards that will help in reduction of corruption in B&H. He stressed that no country in the Europe is recording as high drain brain as B&H.

Sattler meets Dzaferovic: EU supports B&H sovereignty and territorial integrity (FTV

 

The Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler met with member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic on Thursday. Sattler reminded that the EU member countries support sovereignty, territorial integrity and the EU perspective of B&H.

Zvizdic: There cannot be dissolution of B&H without conflict, B&H needs stronger internal dialogue (Oslobodjenje

The daily carried an interview with B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) deputy speaker and SDA Vice President Denis Zvizdic. Asked to comment the repeated “rattling of weapons” in B&H in recent period, Zvizdic said that the expression used most frequently was peaceful dissolution. However, he underlined, statements about peaceful dissolution and possible conflict are not the same. Zvizdic argued that the idea of peaceful dissolution which is advocated by SNSD leader Milorad Dodik was surely created “in some other place from which some other memorandums came earlier too”. According to Zvizdic, this is in fact a direct call for dismemberment of B&H, division and violent secession. Zvizdic argued that no matter how nice Dodik believes it sounds, peaceful dissolution is contrary to the norms of the international law, the UN Charter which prohibits any violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state, and B&H Criminal Code which stipulates prison sentence for anyone who attempts to secede any part of B&H and merge it with another state. Zvizdic noted that the idea of peaceful dissolution is the same as the idea of secession which was advocated by Dodik in the past. In the meantime, the creators of such ideas realized that secession sounds too harsh, so they came up with the term peaceful dissolution. “It is only natural that one must respond to such secessionist ideas in a very harsh manner, and that pro-Bosnian patriotic forces must clearly state that they will use all available means to respond to a possible division of B&H,” said Zvizdic. Asked if the ideas on dissolution can be viewed as populism, Zvizdic said that the ideas are very dangerous and they should not be dismissed. He noted that similar ideas were also expressed in the first Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, and these ideas resulted in war and destruction. “Of course, we all expected a much stronger reaction of the international community which seems to be getting used to Dodik’s daily statements about non-existence of perspective and future for B&H, about impossibility of coexistence within B&H and its final division” said Zvizdic and added that the notion that people in B&H cannot coexist peaceful is fascist. “How is it possible to achieve the so-called peaceful dissolution in a multi-ethnic, mixed state? Of course, it is not possible, except by means of conflict and use of force,” Zvizdic emphasized. Noting that Dodik is trying to divert attention away from economic problems in the RS, Zvizdic underlined that radical ideas about dissolution of B&H must be “cut at the root”. Speaking about the non-paper proposing new borders in Western Balkans, Zvizdic said that this document proposes implementation of three large hegemonic projects – greater Serbia, Croatia and Albania. According to him, it should come as no surprise that citizens of Montenegro, B&H and North Macedonia oppose such ideas and say that they will use all available means to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their countries. He welcomed the fact that USA and Germany dismissed the non-paper. Zvizdic stated that B&H must activate its diplomatic network to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H by lobbying with numerous friends of B&H across the globe. Also, he underlined, it is necessary to strengthen the dialogue within B&H, its institutions and the ruling coalition. “My dialogue to Mr. Dodik and members of his party is that they should be ready for dialogue within the multi-ethnic B&H. We need to focus on issues of economy, EU integration and progress, and we need to change this paradigm or spiral of attempts to cause constant conflicts in B&H,” Zvizdic concluded.

Ivanic: I believe neither Serbia nor Croatia are interested in break-up of B&H (FTV

 

Former member of B&H Presidency and honorary President of PDP Mladen Ivanic, asked to comment recent statements of some political leaders in B&H that mention secession of Republika Srpska (RS) and war in B&H, said that he believes that if leaders giving these statements were to decide, both of these things would happen. Ivanic added that he personally does not believe any of these two things will happen. He went on to saying that most probably there is an agreement between leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik and leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic behind this, because both of these political leaders have been using their old concepts to build authority among voters. He stressed that Dodik and Izetbegovic have been increasing political tensions, while many people in B&H have been dying due to lack of access to anti-Coronavirus vaccine. Asked about non-paper that allegedly talks about retailoring of borders of B&H, but also borders of other countries in the Western Balkans, honorary leader of PDP stated that this document got too much of attention. He went on to saying that during his political career he has seen number of similar documents. He added that ideas mentioned in this alleged non-paper were present earlier and will be in the future. Ivanic stressed that he believes this document exists, adding that it is hard to establish its author, because no one has confirmed they are behind it. Former member of B&H Presidency added that he believes group of new leaders of some the EU countries who do not comply with proclaimed principles and values of the EU and who want to test their authority and influence in the EU are behind abovementioned non-paper. Ivanic explained that he refers to leaders of Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and some other countries. He stressed that no serious and important country has discussed implications of this non-paper. He added that some great powers, including Russia opposed ideas presented in this document. Asked whether during period when he was active politician any the EU officials discussed similar ideas, Ivanic stated that they had not been doing it in official meetings, adding that ideas similar to ones presented in alleged non-paper were discussed unofficially. Former member of B&H Presidency said that he has always been advocating theory that the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) is real solution for B&H. Ivanic added that he believes there will be no changes of current constitutional structure of B&H for at least next 30 years, i.e. that there will be no secessions or unitary B&H. “Goal of this story is promotion of two political parties, namely SDA and SNSD and promotion of their leaders”, explained Ivanic. He also stated that abovementioned document attracted most attention in B&H, although it refers to other countries in this part of the Europe too. Ivanic stated that he believes neither Croatia nor Serbia are interested in break-up of B&H. He underlined that leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic failed to react to non-paper, because his priority is amending of the Election Law of B&H. Asked to comment insisting of representatives of the international community that 2021 should be year of reforms in B&H, Ivanic underlined that bearing in mind statements of leaders of SDA and SNSD it is hard to expect any significant reforms. Asked whether he agrees with claims of some analysts that the RS already entered bankruptcy, Ivanic said that he disagrees and that the RS cannot bankrupt for as long as new loans its current leadership is taking can cover debts and provide additional funds for the RS budget. He reminded that interest rate for sold treasury bonds is five percent and wondered why the RS authorities failed to offer these treasury bonds to citizens of the RS who would be certainly interested in five percent interest rate. He expressed hope that list of buyers of the RS’ treasury bonds will eventually become available to the public. Asked whether the RS parliament should annul awards given to sentenced war criminal, Ivanic said that the opposition in the RS did not give these awards and should not be deciding about whether they should be annulled. He underlined that High Representative’s request to annul these awards might be linked with his relations with leader of SNSD, adding that it is possible speaker of the RS parliament will become collateral of these relations.  Ivanic also confirmed that he is not planning to engage actively in politics anymore.

Zunic says time is right for dialogue of RS and FB&H on future of B&H (EuroBlic

Following the initiative of SNSD to launch dialogue between the RS and the FB&H, i.e. between representatives of Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, on future of B&H, Chair of SNSD RS Caucus Igor Zunic stated that the moment is right for such dialogue because of existing geo-political circumstances. Zunic argued that individuals in the EU and other institutions outside of B&H have believed for a while now that B&H is not functional “because the High Representative twisted the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) by force”. Political analyst Tanja Topic said that there is no readiness of domestic politicians to carry out such dialogue and added: “It would definitely be possible with some new politicians. Of course, it (readiness) exists only when the ruling politicians want to satisfy their particular interests”. Topic added that the ruling parties are the only culprits for the fact B&H is not functioning. “They use the High Representative as a good excuse and alibi for their idleness”, Topic noted. The daily reminded that PDP’s Jelena Trivic argued that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic eliminated himself as a credible collocutor for anything because of his statement that Serbs are “perpetrators of genocide”. “It is good that we had a chance to see his true face, but one must remind that Serbs will not allow to be turned into victims for as long as there is the RS. When it comes to the RS, my stance is clear – we need to preserve and nourish all those elements of statehood the people and the Army of the RS fought for and that we defended in Dayton,” Trivic added. Trivic argued that this matter “must not be privatized” and added that she deems that the call of SNSD, along with rhetoric coming from the FB&H, is insincere. “It is interesting that the rhetoric appeared at the same time the RS got disastrous loan, when there are no vaccines, when we are faced with numerous life-related problems of citizens of both the RS and B&H,” Trivic concluded. Political analyst Velizar Antic said that many important issues could be solved had there been any will, such as the implementation of the ‘Sejdic-Finci’ ruling. “However, delays in those matters are caused just because those are being dealt with by politicians who see only their own interests and use these issues to achieve goals of their policies, Antic added and noted that B&H has future only in frame of the DPA.

Sattler, Nelson meet with Izetbegovic, Covic to discuss necessary reforms (Oslobodjenje

 

US Ambassador Eric Nelson and EU Special Representative Johann Sattler met on Thursday evening with B&H House of Peoples Speaker and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and B&H House of Peoples Deputy Speaker and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic. They discussed the dialogue on achievable electoral, rule of law and economic reforms necessary for citizen confidence and progress on the EU path. As US Embassy stated on Twitter following the meeting, the USA firmly supports B&H’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Inflammatory rhetoric and steps to undermine these principles are unrealistic, unacceptable and anti-Dayton. “Additionally, these actions serve as an excuse for leaders to avoid responsibility to deliver important reforms such as inclusive electoral and limited constitutional reform for freer and fairer elections, rule of law measures to hold the corrupt accountable, and economic changes to bring jobs and investment,” the US Embassy stated.

OHR: RS authorities should offer public and transparent explanation about procurement of weapons for the RS MoI; Salkic said that many police officers in RS participated in genocide against Bosniaks (Dnevni list/Fena

 

Dnevni list reads that the media reported on an information in past several days, according to which the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) has sent several state-level bodies a request for import of the Rogue LITE Remote Control Weapon Station, 12.7mm and 7.62mm, which would be mounted on a vehicle produced by ‘Tehnicki remont’ company of Bratunac. Daily further reads that the OHR stated for Fena that the prime role of the RS MoI, like any other police force, is to maintain public law and order on behalf of vast majority of population of the RS that abides by the law. According to the OHR, the question that needs to be posed to the RS authorities is why they believe they need to procure this military-grade weapon for their police forces and what sort of security threat justifies procurement of one such deadly weapon. The OHR added by saying the RS authorities should offer a public and transparent explanation, especially during a period when available means should be directed towards fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Bosniak Vice President of RS Ramiz Salkic pointed out that many police officers in RS participated in genocide against Bosniaks and that they still have the goal of removing Bosniaks. Salkic said that what has been happening is unacceptable and should be sanctioned and stopped. “We need to be aware that parts of the RS Police from that area have been convicted for taking part in committing genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica. We need to have in mind that mass shooting of Bosniaks from Srebrenica was conducted in Zvornik and 104 mass graves were discovered in Zvornik with over 5,000 remains”. Salkic said that many are silent and live in fear. Salkic pointed out that they go these hearings without even telling their family members, let alone their friends and neighbors. Salkic claimed that the authorities rely on pressure and luck, because a person is silent out of fear. Salkic said these people say things out of fear that may save them while being unaware of damaging someone else with their statement, and then the authorities cling to such statements “which is evidently given in fear and under pressure”.

 

Plenkovic: NDH is one of most tragic periods in Croatian history (Hina

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday that the WW2 Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia (NDH) was one of the most tragic periods in Croatian history and added that the government was clearly against the use of Ustasha symbols. The PM made this statement on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the breakout of inmates of from the Ustasha-run World War II concentration camp Jasenovac. Plenkovic laid a wreath, and on this occasion, he was accompanied by the three deputy prime ministers Tomo Medved, Davor Bozinovic and Boris Milosevic and several ministers. He underscored that they came to pay tribute to all victims of the NDH regime and the horrific crimes committed in the Jasenovac concentration camp and other camps against Jews, Serbs, Roma, Croat antifascists and democrats. “That is certainly one of the most tragic periods in Croatian history and it is important that young new generations of today are aware of these facts, (…) that this is a part of our education system and that all generations never forget the terrible crimes that were committed here and across Europe in similar camps during World War II, and that there is general and unequivocal condemnation of those crimes,” he said. He added that he would continue to come to Jasenovac with piety and awareness that we must not allow such crimes ever happen again. As for amending the Criminal Code to ban Ustasha insignia, Plenkovic said that they were already banned and that it was a question of aligning action with court practice. “This topic has been with us for a long time. Everyone who knows something about our history, about the Jasenovac camp, who understand what those symbols mean for members of the Jewish people, members of Serbs, Roma, antifascists, understands that these are not symbols to be used,” Plenkovic said. Regarding the initiative of the President of the Coordination of Jewish Communities in Croatia Ognjen Kraus to ban the Ustasha salute “For the homeland ready” he said that they had talked about it and would continue to discuss it. Also, he said that the position of the government was clear and firm when it came to condemning crimes and such symbols. He denied claims by the Jewish representative that not enough had been done on the issue.

Israeli Ambassador: Jasenovac commemoration must be above daily politics (Vecernji list

Israeli Ambassador to Croatia Ilan Mor said in an interview for Vecernji list daily published on Thursday that the commemoration in Jasenovac had to be above daily politics and that if using “heil Hitler” was outlawed, the salute “for the homeland ready” should also be. “No matter how much I want to be with the prime minister, culture minister and the president, I cannot because I was instructed to come at a specific time. There is no joint commemoration due to the pandemic, which I can understand, but I hope that will not be an obstacle in the future,” said Mor, who will lay a wreath at the commemoration for the victims of Jasenovac in a separate protocol. Asked how he interprets the public treatment of the salute “For the homeland ready” in Croatia, he said he was ‘confused.’ “On my first official visit to Croatia I went to Vukovar and heard about the courage of the city’s fighters and defenders. They told me that the slogan was used during the Homeland War. Then I went to Jasenovac and heard — of course, not for the first time — that ‘For the homeland ready’ represents what I cannot accept,” he said. “The question of the Ustasha salute ‘For the homeland ready’ confuses me, and if I am confused, what will be with secondary school students that go to Jasenovac and hear one thing, and a week later hear the opposite in Vukovar,” Mor said. He expressed hope that Croatian politicians would find a way to have a joint commemoration in Jasenovac, Vecernji list wrote on Thursday.

Connecting economies of Croatia, Israel and B&H cantons (Hina

Diplomatic representatives of Croatia and Israel met with local cantonal authorities in Siroki Brijeg in B&H on Thursday to discuss joint economic projects for which Croatia has earmarked funds this year. Non-resident Israeli Ambassador Noah Gal Gendler said after the meeting with government representatives and businessmen that he was exceptionally pleased with the talks. “The objective is to exchange ideas and after that to include the private sector because they know how to very quickly recognise potential. As the state of Israel, as the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as cantons and naturally as the Republic of Croatia, we will support those efforts,” said the ambassador. He expressed satisfaction that Israel will help the development of this area by sharing its knowledge and experience. Diplomatic advisor in the Croatian Embassy in B&H Mladen Glavina underscored that this is about connecting business people and exchanging ideas between the three countries. “Our aim is long term, to achieve in the next few years as many contacts as possible between business people on the three sides” said Glavina. This all started last year with contacts between the foreign ministries of Croatia and Israel and is continuing today, with concrete cooperation to follow, said Glavina, announcing that the Croatian government will assist in this trilateral cooperation and that certain funds have been allocated for it. West Herzegovina Canton Prime Minister Zdenko Cosic said that together with businessmen he would visit Israel in an effort to make way for their cooperation. Representatives of Croatia and Israel visited three cantons in B&H that border with Croatia over the past three days in an effort to motivate economic cooperation between the three countries.

Brkic underlines importance of dialogue and consensus for NATO path: It is important that reform program stays aside from internal political outwitting (Vecernji list

 

In a statement given for the daily, deputy B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs and new Chair of the Commission for Cooperation with the NATO Josip Brkic commented on the importance of dialogue and consensus, not just when it comes to the NATO path but also in the context of some other topics like the B&H Election Law and the EU path of B&H. According to Brkic, if B&H wants any kind of sustainable decision, dialogue and consensus are extremely important. Brkic said that in March – following the first session of the commission – they adopted rules of procedure and thus, imposed themselves a task to draft program of reforms by the mid of April which ended on 19 April. Brkic explained that draft of program of reforms will be sent into further administrative procedure and after consultations, the document will be returned to the commission that will define a proposal and send it to the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). In his opinion, it is important that this topic stays aside from internal, political outwitting. In a recent statement for the news agency Fena, Brkic commented on the relation of B&H and the NATO and explained that the NATO has never made an ultimatum to B&H demanding change of status, but the NATO said that they will respect an agreement reached in B&H via consensus. He reminded that some EU member states are not NATO member states and vice versa, adding that countries from both of the categories are friends of B&H. In this regard, Brkic said that the EU and the NATO both promote a system of values that should be deeply rooted in the B&H society and those are: human rights, freedom, democracy, progress of social paradigm towards more free environment. He emphasized that a decision that is reached via consensus and that enjoys respect of partners is the true path of B&H towards the EU and the NATO, adding that domestic agreements should be promoted in B&H. According to Brkic, the issue of when and whether B&H will join the NATO will be addressed in the upcoming period and some other convocation of politicians will decide on this issue and now, it is important not to poison the environment of cooperation of B&H and the NATO with fruitless stories. The daily reported that 2021 will be the key for intensifying of cooperation between B&H and the NATO, based on internal B&H agreement, i.e. consensus around some important issues and judging by experience from the past few weeks, there is room for optimism and hope that the issue of dialogue between B&H and the NATO will not be burdened by some stories that previously led to deadlocks.

 

Abolition of term Orthodox Church contrary to SPC Council document of 2006 (Pobjeda

With the decision not to include the Orthodox Church in Montenegro in the Fundamental Agreement, the Belgrade Patriarchate has violated and changed the decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) of May 2006, backed by Serbian Patriarch Pavle and Metropolitan Amfilohije, shows the document published by Pobjeda. With that decision, the future metropolitan of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral (MCP) of SPC will be questioned the title of Archbishop of Cetinje, which the late metropolitan Amfilohije insisted on. This fact was pointed to by President Milo Djukanovic, who asks for a new attitude of the state towards this issue. “In that document, the Orthodox Church in Montenegro and the Archbishop of Cetinje are mentioned in several places. If the SPC has reached a new position, we should know what the attitude of the state is. I am still convinced that it is good to have the agreement because it also obliges the irresponsible,” Djukanovic points out. Serbian Patriarch Porfirije said that an agreement had been reached with Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapic on signing the Fundamental Agreement between the state of Montenegro and the SPC.

Abazovic doesn’t know when government will discuss Fundamental Agreement with SPC (CdM

Montenegrin deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic has said that he has not yet seen the content of the Fundamental Agreement with the SPC, and that he doesn’t know when the government will consider it. “I’ve seen spins in some media – the deputy prime minister supports it, although he hasn’t seen it. I said I support the way the issue between the religious community and the state is resolved everywhere in the civilized world. I’m still unfamiliar with the content. I was very transparent. Once I am familiar with the document, so will be the public. There is no fairer approach,” Abazovic has stated at the press conference. He minds that, although no one has seen the text of the agreement, the public has been told that something is being done against Montenegro. He has also pointed out that it is not known when the text of that agreement will be discussed at the cabinet meeting.

 

Durlovski calls on public to turn out for protest on Sunday (Republika

Opera singer and dissident Igor Durlovski called on the citizens to join the large rally planned for Sunday, to support the political prisoners of the PM Zoran Zaev regime. The rally is primarily held to call for the liberation of 16 protesters and Interior Ministry officials who were given lengthy prison sentences as “terrorists” over the 27 April 2017 incident in the parliament. Durlovski was also charged with the case, refused an offer of pardon, and was the only person that the regime appointed judge did not dare sentence. In his message, he cited the example of one of the “terrorists” – Mitko Pesov, who fought with the special forces during the 2001 war. “He defended his country in the Kale of Tetovo, in Aracinovo, Kumanovo-Lipkovo, in Radusa. He dedicated his life to the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia. Now he is sentenced to 15 years in prison as a terrorist by his own country,” Durlovski said.

Pesov was sentenced along with former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov and several other Ministry officials as the Zaev regime was trying to create a case that the police did not act fast enough to prevent the storming of the parliament. On the day, SDSM staged an irregular vote for a parliament speaker, without informing the Interior Ministry, while a large protest was going on in front of the building. As a result, the Interior Ministry did not have sufficient forces to secure the site.

 

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee: We expect all candidates to act in accordance with democratic norms (Tirana Times

Three days before the parliamentary elections of 25 April, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (Democratic Senator from New Jersey) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (Republican Senator from Idaho) issued today a joint statement, asking from all the candidates to respect the democratic norms. “We urge authorities to ensure that voters are able to exercise this fundamental right free from intimidation and violence. We also expect all candidates to act in accordance with democratic norms even as they campaign vigorously.”

The Committee called also Albanian citizens to make their will heard on election day.  “We encourage the Albanian people to vote,” said the Committee. The statement concluded with the Committee confirming their support for Albania. “Albania’s friends in America are more committed than ever to supporting a democratic and prosperous future for the Albanian people.”

US and EU ambassadors call for a peaceful and orderly electoral process (Tirana Times

US Ambassador Yuri Kim and EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca declared that they are expecting a peaceful election, where the vote of Albanian citizens will be guaranteed. The US Ambassador declared that “we are all looking forward to a peaceful, orderly electoral process where the right of Albanian citizens to express their will through their vote is guaranteed.” Kim continued her remarks by saying that there is a clear transparent process in place, and that the authorities are prepared to protect the vote. According to the US Ambassador, many international institutions, including the U.S Embassy, will monitor the elections closely. “As you know, ODIHR professionals are here, the experts are here, in addition to which, I will be among 25 teams from the US Embassy who will be going around the country. So, we will be with you.”

Regarding the shooting episode in Elbasan, Kim said that “the perpetrators must be caught and punished to the full extent of the law. There are no exceptions, no special treatment. No one is above the law.” The US Ambassador commented also over the existence of a structure at the Democratic Party organized to protect the vote. “The terrible things of the past must be left behind. Things like unauthorized, unofficial armed groups to protect citizens’ votes, this is something in the past. Leave it in the past. This has no place in the future. This has no place in a country that is a member of NATO and an aspirant of the EU,” said the Ambassador. In the end of her speech, the U.S Ambassador called all the political leaders to have a calm rhetoric. “It is the responsibility of leaders, beginning with those who are currently at the highest levels in office to be responsible, to ensure calm, not to incite violence or fear. We are monitoring very closely the actions taken by all leaders,” said Kim. EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca also called all the parties to accept the results of 25 April Elections. “We recalled our expectation that all sides would avoid anticipation of results of Sunday’s vote and would accept the results certified by the CEC. We reiterate again our call on restraint and avoidance of violence and inflammatory speech in the final steps of this campaign” said Soreca. The EU Ambassador said also that the EU Member States will deploy 50 teams in polling stations throughout Albania on election day.

The two ambassadors made the statements after meeting with the State Election Commissioner of Albania Ilirian Celibashi, to assess the general preparedness ahead of Sunday 25/4 elections.

Ambassadors in Albania video message to citizens: Do not sell the vote. Vote for a better future! (Radio Tirana

Ambassadors to Albania urge Albanian voters not to sell their vote as democracy is invaluable. Through a video message to all Albanians, the Ambassador of Sweden Elsa Hastad, the US Ambassador Yuri Kim, the EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca, the UN Resident Coordinator Fiona McCluney, the Ambassador of Spain Marcos Alonsa Alonso, the Ambassador of Slovenia Peter Japelj, the Ambassador of the OSCE Vincenzo Del Monaco, the Ambassador of Bulgaria Momtchil Raytchevski call on the citizens to vote for a better future. “Soon we will have elections in Albania and for democracy elections are the most important event. Your vote is yours, it is not a gift and therefore do not sell it. On election day, vote and decide on the future of the country! “Democracy is invaluable”, it is said in the video message of foreign diplomats in our country.

 

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