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Belgrade Media Report 4 May

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Publication of non-paper a strategy of circles closer to Pristina (Tanjug/RTS)
Vucic: Elections to be held in March or April (Blic)
Patriarch: I believe in the coexistence of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija (Radio Belgrade/Tanjug)
Selakovic visits Spain’s Congress of deputies (RTS/Tanjug)
Selakovic: Spain and Morocco important, friendly countries that didn’t recognize Kosovo (Tanjug)
Selakovic: Foreign Ministry to get economic diplomacy sector by end-May (Tanjug)
Vulin: Creating of Serb world is solving national question of Serbs (Novosti)
Russian Balkan Center opened in Belgrade (Tanjug/RTV/Politika/Novosti)
Dacic: Inter-party talks under EP auspices in Serbia not before June (TV Pink/Beta/N1)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Campara: I am warning Vulin, you will break your teeth on every attempt to start process of uniting of Serbs to detriment of B&H (Oslobodjenje)
Dodik accuses US Ambassador Nelson of undiplomatic behavior: Nelson should not speak on behalf of B&H citizens, which he often does, because citizens did not give him mandate for that (N1)
US Embassy: Our stance on Dayton Peace Accords and future of B&H remains unchanged (Glas Srpske)
Palmer says it is up to people of B&H to bring relations in B&H in order, expresses support of USA (N1/ Dnevni list)
Russian Embassy reacts to Nelson and Palmer’s statements (N1)
Maas rejects claims that Germany took part in drafting non-papers that allude to changing borders in region (O kanal)
Dodik: The RS has prepared its own non-paper (Nova BH)
Dacic: Good thing about non-papers is possibility of autonomy of northern part of Kosovo and merging of the RS with Serbia (RTRS)
RS government sends 25th report to UN Security Council (RTRS)
B&H CEC will not be included in negotiations on changes to Election Law (N1)
Glas Srpske gets insight into document of EEAS that allegedly reads EU is strengthening pressure on B&H regarding changes to B&H Election Law with aim to speed up its European path (Glas Srpske)
Croat Caucus in HNC Assembly launches initiative to give Serbs status of constituent people in HNC (FTV)
SNSD, HDZ B&H delegates in B&H HoP voted against inclusion of Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet in constitutions of several FB&H cantons (FTV)
Croatia

Borovo hate speech suspects placed in police custody (N1)
Members of IAWG tasked with drawing changes/amendments to Law on Elections of B&H appointed (Vecernji list)
Montenegro

Joanikije: Fundamental agreement for now just a draft, government’s position pending (CdM/Radio Svetigora)
Timonier: Nationalist forces in region survive and are an obstacle to reconciliation (Dnevne novine)
Republic of North Macedonia

Osmani in Berlin: Macedonia delivered and deserves to start the EU negotiation process (Republika)
Maas: Dispute between Macedonia and Bulgaria to be resolved by experts, without external pressure (Republika)
Albania

Presidency calls for full administration of April 25 election process (ADN)
DP’s Chair refuses to recognize election results (ADN)
The socialists discuss the removal of President Meta (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: Publication of non-paper a strategy of circles closer to Pristina (Tanjug/RTS

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday Belgrade was carefully analyzing a new non-paper on a solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue, and expressed the concern the publication of the document was a deliberate strategy of circles that were closer to Pristina’s than to Belgrade’s views on the issue. When asked about progress of the analysis and what was acceptable to Serbia, Vucic said sections of the non-paper were more acceptable than the Ahtisaari plan but that this did not mean the solution proposed was a good one. “I am afraid the publication of the non-paper was a deliberate strategy of certain circles that are much closer to Pristina’s than to Belgrade’s views on Kosovo and Metohija in the tactical sense,” Vucic said, but declined to elaborate on the analysis of the document.

 

Vucic: Elections to be held in March or April (Blic

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has announced elections would be held in March or April next year. “There are only three dates when it is possible to hold elections,” Vucic told Blic in an Easter interview. When asked if elections at various levels would be held at different dates, Vucic responded that he saw no need for that. “I do not understand that, but if we hear valid arguments, I am ready for a discussion. You cannot separate what comes at a certain time under the law,” he said.

Patriarch: I believe in the coexistence of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija (Radio Belgrade/Tanjug

I deeply believe that there’ll be some point of contact and opportunity for coexistence of Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian Patriarch stated. He assessed that at this moment, “various great interests” are intertwined around Kosovo and Metohija, which, as he says, see the people in Kosovo and Metohija as objects, and Kosovo itself as a “soulless territory”. “For us, Kosovo is something completely different,” Patriarch Porfirije said in an interview with Radio Belgrade 2. When asked how he sees the future of Serbian cultural and historical monuments in Kosovo and Metohija, the patriarch points out that it depends only on us, regardless of various external factors, who would like something else, but also depends on our attitude towards Kosovo and Metohija and our experience of Kosovo. If, he adds, we perceive it only as a territory and a myth, then in that respect you can be losers and winners, current or final. “But, if we experience Kosovo from its very nature and perspective, then we will understand that Kosovo is really a covenant and thus inextricably linked to the identity of our existence,” he stated. He states that at this moment, not only is it difficult for our people in Kosovo and Metohija and with the people, monks and nuns, but that he deeply believes that sooner or later there will be a point of contact and an opportunity for Albanians and Serbs and other peoples to live together in Kosovo. He emphasizes that it is important to talk and to get the opportunity to talk in calm tones and to try to get to know each other even more and understand each other’s arguments. “I am sure that, if we have such a mood, sooner or later we will come to a situation in which we will be able to live together, where we do not have to be like brothers, but I am sure that we will be able to be like good neighbors”, he said. When asked about the attacks on the abbot of Visoki Decani,Sava Janjic, Patriarch Porfirije stated that it was “both tragic and funny” and that Janjic showed breadth, openness and a democratic attitude towards every situation and towards all people. “He is a Christian, a man of the Gospel, and I personally know that he has absolutely never had a different attitude towards people, whether they are Serbs, Albanians, Roma, or I anyone else. He was always ready to be as open as possible and to be as helpful as possible to everyone,” Porfirije concluded.

Selakovic visits Spain’s Congress of deputies (RTS/Tanjug

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic has begun an official visit to Spain with meetings at the country’s Congress of deputies, where he said that Serbia-Spain relations were excellent and friendly, without open issues and characterized by mutual support on issues representing vital national interests of both countries. He spoke with Congress President Meritxell Batet, President of the house’s Foreign Affairs Committee Pau Mari-Klose and with Susana Sumelzo Jordan, chairwoman of the Joint Congress-Senate Committee for the EU. Selakovic noted that bilateral political cooperation was much better than economic ties and that Serbia wanted to step up economic relations with Spain, for which he said there was ample room and potential.

Selakovic urged Spanish investors to boost their presence in the Serbian market, noting that Serbia was the regional leader in attracting FDI. He also noted that full EU membership was a strategic foreign policy goal for Serbia and that Belgrade was grateful to Spain for its support in the EU integration process. He also said Serbia extremely appreciated Spain’s principled stance on and support for Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as its support in international organizations. At his meetings in the Congress of deputies, Selakovic said Belgrade was committed to dialogue with Pristina and a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo and Metohija issue, and noted that Pristina had been failing to meet its sole obligation – establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities – for a full eight years. Preserving regional stability and a regional orientation towards more intensive cooperation is a key Serbian interest and the Mini Schengen initiative has been launched for that purpose, creating room for development of the region and for more relaxed economic as well as political relations in the Western Balkans, Selakovic said.

Selakovic: Spain and Morocco important, friendly countries that didn’t recognize Kosovo (Tanjug

In the coming days, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic will pay official visits to Spain and Morocco, and according to him, the talks will focus on Serbia’s bilateral relations with those countries, the issue of Kosovo and Metohija and economic issues. Selakovic pointed out that Spain and Morocco are two extremely important and friendly countries, reminding that neither Madrid nor Rabat recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. “Spain and Morocco are serious reliance and support for Serbia in all international forums and organizations, and not only do they support the interest and position of Serbia with their position, i.e. voting, but they additionally stamp out and speak in favor of protecting our state and national interests,” Selakovic told Tanjug.

Selakovic: Foreign Ministry to get economic diplomacy sector by end-May (Tanjug

In a first for the Serbian Foreign Ministry, an economic diplomacy sector is due to be set up within the institution by the end of May, Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic has announced, adding that the move was very important for Serbia’s further economic progress. “That is one of the strategic objectives and the Ministry has been working on it over the past four or five months. We will have a separate organizational unit, a separate assistant minister to deal with these subjects and today, when Serbia is making progress, becoming economically healthy and getting on its feet, it is very significant for the ministry’s work,” Selakovic told Tanjug. He noted that the priorities of the Serbian foreign policy were to protect the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, fight to safeguard Serbian state and national interests in Kosovo and Metohija and demonstrate good will and be committed to the dialogue on normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations. “In a period when we expect Serbia to face serious pressure within the dialogue itself, that is an absolute priority,” Selakovic said. Simultaneously, the EU integration process is also underway as Serbia strives for full-fledged EU membership while preserving, cherishing and fostering traditional and friendly relationships and partnerships with friendly nations outside the EU, such as Russia, China, countries of the Arab world, Africa and Latin America as well as boosting ties with the US, Selakovic also said.

Vulin: Creating of Serb world is solving national question of Serbs (Novosti

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Saturday in an Easter interview with Novosti, that creating of “Serb world” is solving the national question of Serbs and the uniting process has already started and cannot be stopped. He noted that nobody minded that Germans united, thus completing the revision of results of World War II, but “they are bothered because Serbs want to live in one country”. “I trust that creating of ‘Serb world’ solves national issue of Serbs, it stops spreading of ‘Greater Albania’, it guarantees Serbs that genocide against them will never repeat and above all, it secures long-term peace in the Balkans,” said Vulin. He said that he often hears that everyone will be living in the EU and thus there is no reason to gather in Serb state: “They forget that we already lived like that, for centuries in the Ottoman Empire, couple of decades in Austro-Hungarian, and four years under the command of the Third Reich”. He said that it is not a solution for all Serbs to live together in someone else’s country, but to have the majority of Serbs living in their own country. “People who met the repeated genocide in every generation and always by the same perpetrators, has no right to live the opportunity for their children to suffer the extinction by their countrymen in parts of the nation where the state does not protect them. Thanks to Vucic Serbs have become the united political people and the uniting process has started and this can no longer be stopped,” said Vulin.

Russian Balkan Center opened in Belgrade (Tanjug/RTV/Politika/Novosti

The Russian Balkan Center was opened in Belgrade on 29 April, with the aim of scientific research and analysis of contemporary political, economic, social, cultural, religious and other processes in Serbia and the countries of the region. The Chair of the Board of Directors of the newly opened Center, State Duma MP and the President of the Institute for Diaspora and Integration Konstantin Zatulin congratulated on the opening of the Center and read the message of the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Yuri Borisov. On the occasion of the opening of the Center, a conference dubbed “The Past, Present and Future of Russian-Serbian relations” was organized. Zatulin pointed out that Russia and Serbia do not have a common border, that the peoples of the two countries have never lived in one state, but that they have been connected for centuries by the same religion, similar worldviews and “mutual, sometimes mystical love”. In that sense, he reminded of the events during the NATO bombing of FR Yugoslavia in 1999 and Russia’s role in that. “The fact that Russia did not help Yugoslavia can be explained, but it cannot be justified,” Zatulin said, expressing regret that Russia was so weak at the time that it could not help. He emphasized that “today’s Russia would find it difficult to allow the bombing of Yugoslavia”, but also that “it no longer has the right to weakness”. The opening of the Center was also attended by Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic, who pointed out that Serbia has had the principled support of Russia all these years, without which he must not even think about where our country would be. “Russia, as a global power, shows in action a tendency not to allow violations of international law,” Dacic pointed out. “We do not intend to join the sanctions against Russia, not only because we would trample on our friendship and because we ourselves have been victims of sanctions and pressure, but also because it would harm our interests. We are firm in that,” Dacic said. Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko read a message from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who reminded that relations between the two countries are developing upwards and pointed out to the importance of social diplomacy in strengthening friendship and cooperation between the two peoples and two countries. In the letter, Lavrov expressed the expectation that the Center would contribute to that, and Botsan-Kharchenko said that he himself would try to help the work of the Center, whose opening he considers an important step on the path of developing dialogue, social diplomacy and overall relations between Russia and Serbia. “Our relations are on the biggest rise, but there are also temptations and that is why the opening of the Center and this gathering are very current. In our practice and daily activities we feel the lack of additional intellectual contribution that would be the result of open scientific dialogue among people who know Serbia and the Balkans and love Serbia and the Balkans,” said Botsan-Kharchenko. The Director of the Russian Balkan Center in Belgrade Slavenko Terzic said that the Center would be a gathering place for Russian and Serbian, i.e. Balkan and other European and non-European regions, and that his mission would be to have deeper Russian knowledge and understanding of the Balkans, but also better knowledge and understanding of Russia, its civilization and modern aspirations. “Each historical epoch has its own meaning and significance. We are right at the beginning of a new historical epoch full of different challenges,” Terzic said.

Dacic: Inter-party talks under EP auspices in Serbia not before June (TV Pink/Beta/N1

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic confirmed on Monday the inter-party dialogue on election conditions mediated by the European Parliament (EP) would not start before June, which would be less than a year ahead of the 2022 presidential, local and early parliamentary vote. He recalled the recent dialogue with 26 organizations that refused to talk to the MEPs was held and denied the participants were anti-European parties. Following the talks on 28 April, the leader of the opposition nationalist Dveri Movement Bosko Obradovic said the ruling coalition agreed to end the inter-party dialogue on election’s conditions six months ahead of the ballot in 2022. Dacic added that the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SPP) and the People’s Party did not want to participate in the talks without the EP representatives.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Campara: I am warning Vulin, you will break your teeth on every attempt to start process of uniting of Serbs to detriment of B&H (Oslobodjenje)

Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) Minister of Interior Aljosa Campara reacted to the statement of Vulin: “Aleksandar Vulin, as a person who does not recognize judgements of international courts and genocide in Srebrenica, it not relevant to talk about genocide. Instead of empty talks, which serves to entertain the public, it would be smarted for Aleksandar Vulin to make a civilization step forward i.e. recognize genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and apologize to victims of Greater Serb ideology,” said Campara. He deems that the statements of Aleksandar Vulin and nationalists like him, inflict the biggest damage to Serb people, which in 2021 failed to achieve civilization level to be able to face the judgements and show remorse because of committed war crimes: “Serbians have their country, and it is called Republic of Serbia. Its borders are internationally recognized, and they will remain like that because they will never get an inch more than the current territory of Serbia. It is necessary to keep in mind that achieving of a dream about life of all Serbs in one country, literally means invasion of Serbia on Germany, Switzerland, France or even Austria. Namely, numerous Serbian citizens are feeling today from the system where Vulin is Minister of Interior”. In the end, Campara conveyed message to Vulin: “I am warning Vulin, you will break your teeth on every attempt to start process of uniting of Serbs to detriment of B&H. Do not move on that path if you have hidden agenda”.

Dodik accuses US Ambassador Nelson of undiplomatic behavior: Nelson should not speak on behalf of B&H citizens, which he often does, because citizens did not give him mandate for that (N1)

N1 carries that retrograde political rhetoric, their own interests and not interests of the citizens is in short, the review of US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson of the current conflict situation that was created by B&H politicians. War, conflicts, secession, peaceful breakup, redrawing of borders and non-papers are words that have dominated the public space in B&H in recent weeks. N1 stressed that the international community had to get seriously involved in everything. “These distractions serve leaders’ interests by preserving the opaque and unequal economic and political systems that enrich them and maintain their influence at the expense of ordinary citizens and lives. Sanctions for destabilizing the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and for corruption are on the table,” Ambassador Nelson wrote on his blog. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer called on the B&H political leaders to compromise, stressing that it is time for B&H to become more functional and for politicians to work more transparently and responsibly. “The US does not support the Greater Serbia, the Greater Croatia or the Greater Albania. The US already went through all of that some 20, 25 years ago. What we support is a greater B&H. I define that greater not as a geographical term but as a country that represents good governance, transparency, responsibility, prosperity and authorities capable of delivering what people in B&H need. This is the vision of a greater B&H that has the strong support of the US. And we are committed to that,” Palmer underlined. Commenting on the recent statements by Ambassador Nelson, B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik stated that Nelson’s behavior is undiplomatic. “The remarks about the ‘filling of pockets’ by domestic politicians, which stem from Ambassador Nelson’s pen, go beyond good diplomatic practice and prove our claims that foreign diplomats in B&H have taken on the role of domestic political actors, without electoral legitimacy. Such statements in any other country in the world would put any ambassador in an unenviable position, but B&H is obviously not a serious enough state for Ambassador Nelson if he so carelessly presents such difficult qualifications,” Dodik was quoted as saying. Dodik stated that there is one Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and that it was signed by all sides in B&H with the mediation of the US. Dodik called such constructions clumsy and zealous. Dodik stressed that there is no other DPA for the Republika Srpska (RS) and that there should be no other DPA for the US Ambassador either “whose country worked hard to achieve what he is calling retrograde.” Dodik explained that talks on the future of B&H initiated by the RS precisely serve the same goal which Ambassador Nelson is speaking of, i.e. how to reach an agreement on a state that will satisfy the needs of all three constituent peoples. “These are not the 90s, no one here is calling for conflicts, call from the RS is a call for dialogue, which became extinct in B&H to a good extent thanks to the interference of foreign diplomats whom we welcomed, but we did not give them mandate to organize our lives how they think they should look. Ambassador Nelson should not speak on behalf of the citizens of B&H, which he often does, because the citizens did not give him mandate for that,” Dodik was quoted as saying.

US Embassy: Our stance on Dayton Peace Accords and future of B&H remains unchanged (Glas Srpske)

The daily asked the US Embassy to B&H to clarify the statement of Ambassador Eric Nelson who called the original Dayton Peace Accords retrograde. The Embassy stated that USA’s stance on the Dayton Peace Accords and the future of B&H remains unchanged. “We are still firmly dedicated to B&H as democratic, multi-ethnic, sovereign and independent state with undeniable territorial integrity”, stated that Embassy and added that USA will continue to use sanctions whenever it is estimated that stability and security are directly endangered and whenever there is a significant risk of obstruction of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Palmer says it is up to people of B&H to bring relations in B&H in order, expresses support of USA (N1/ Dnevni list)

In an interview to N1, US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer said that it will not be “the Biden-Harris Administration” that will bring relations in B&H in order because this is something people in B&H will have to do. However, Palmer added that USA will strongly support this process. “Local officials must work for the European future. People of B&H can rely on assistance of USA as its strongest advocate. We believe in reforms that are necessary and we will be on your side every step of that way. We will be working on your fulfillment of 14 priorities of the European Commission. However, it is not up to USA to organize B&H”, Palmer added. Asked to state how it is possible to talk about reforms when there are threats with secession and war, especially with participation of other great powers such as Russia which always presents dissenting opinion in the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), Palmer replied by saying that the success of talks on elections in Mostar proves that even difficult things can be done. “As far as Russia is concerned, it is clear that it is working on undermining of stability and territorial integrity of B&H. Russia is working on undermining of stability of the entire Western Balkans, promotion of distrust and conflicts. USA wants European future of the Western Balkans. Each individual country has the same vision. We are, therefore, the strongest partner in the region. We want every country with such ambition to join the NATO”, Palmer added. Commenting on Russia’s recent announcement that it will assess B&H’s accession to NATO as a hostile move, Palmer said that it is not up to Russia to decide on future relations of B&H with NATO, EU or anyone else. “B&H is an independent, sovereign country capable of making its own decisions,” Palmer added. Commenting on Slovenian ‘non-paper’, which called to dissolution of B&H, Palmer said that this ‘non-paper’ should not be taken too seriously. Palmer added that he had a chance to read many reports on the ‘non-paper’ but did not have a chance to read the document itself: “Honestly, I am not taking it too seriously because nobody will say who the author is. In my opinion, this is not an official document. I do not know where it came from. Ideas presented in it are dangerous and directed in a wrong way. Those ideas were rejected a long time ago as completely irrelevant for the Western Balkans”. Palmer also reiterated that the USA firmly support territorial integrity of B&H and this will not change. “We support efforts to identify compromise among political leaders and parties in order to make B&H more functional, to work in a more transparent and responsible manner, so that B&H can present itself as a credible candidate for the EU membership. I reject the story on the ‘non-paper’, it means nothing to me,” Palmer added. Asked to say what the USA intends to do to prevent secessionists from dividing B&H, Palmer replied by saying that the USA is closely cooperating with the EU and noted that 2021, as one of few non-election years, is a chance for leaders to find a compromise on election reform, including a limited and targeted constitutional reform. Simultaneously with this, Palmer added, politicians should be working on economic reforms. “We were very glad to see Dragan Covic and HDZ B&H give their support to the limited constitutional reform as a part of necessary package of compromise”, Palmer stated and explained that ‘limited constitutional reform’ envisages solving of the Sejdic-Finci ruling as well as other rulings. “I think that, ultimately, an agreement will require the support of Covic, as well as SDA and SNSD. It will be impossible to move forward without such a wide consent,” Palmer explained and noted that they can rely on US’ support and partnership. Finally, Palmer said that USA supports Christian Schmidt as a candidate for the High Representative and he noted that (German candidate Christian Schmidt) Schmidt is a strong politician who is very well acquainted with the Western Balkans. “Our goal is to see the Office of the High Representative (OHR) be shut down eventually. We would like to see the end of the mandate of OHR, but this requires a full implementation of ‘5+1’ plan”, Palmer said and concluded that the US’ vision on the Western Balkans is the European future of the region.

Russian Embassy reacts to Nelson and Palmer’s statements (N1)

The Embassy of the Russian Federation to B&H has reacted to recent statements by US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer. “According to Palmer, and according to the opinion of many others, Russia is to blame for all the troubles in B&H. We can comment on such conclusions only with the sentence of Sergey Lavrov – it is good that we have not yet been blamed for the murder of Franz Ferdinand,” the Embassy of the Russian Federation in B&H stated. The Embassy of the Russian Federation in B&H stated that Ambassador Nelson’s statements are also interesting, especially those mentioning sanctions. “He recently spoke about the fist of Russia, while America is extending a friendly hand. Now, colleague is declaring Dayton retrograde and he immediately points out that sanctions are on the table. And for what? For violation of Dayton and corruption,” the Embassy of the Russian Federation in B&H stated. The Russian Embassy asked Ambassador Nelson what the creator of the original agreement Richard Holbrooke would have to say about his statement on retrograde Dayton. The Russian Embassy in B&H also commented on what it called a very interesting statement by Palmer that the US supports creation of “a greater B&H.” “Will Palmer’s allegory become a signal for Bosniaks living in Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo province, North Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia that the time has come for creation of a greater B&H? When one is speaking about something greater here, one is precisely referring to redrawing of borders,” the Russian Embassy in B&H stated.

Maas rejects claims that Germany took part in drafting non-papers that allude to changing borders in region (O kanal)

 

Germany has reiterated that it is against changing the borders in the Balkans. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has rejected claims that Germany took part in drafting non-papers that allude to changing the borders in the region. Maas stressed that the non-paper is not a real document, stressing that one should no longer deal with that because, according to him, any kind of change of borders would have negative consequences. Maas stressed that Germany cannot be linked with any non-papers, adding that such rumors are fake news. He stressed that it has always been the principle of German foreign policy towards the Western Balkans not to touch borders. Maas went on to saying that they believe any retailoring of borders would affect the entire region, adding that Germany completely rejects such solution.  Maas stated this during a press conference he held along with his North Macedonian counterpart.

Dodik: The RS has prepared its own non-paper (Nova BH)

SNSD leader Milorad Dodik announced on Monday the intention to meet with HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic on Wednesday in order to discuss the issue of a peaceful dissolution within B&H. Dodik noted that the RS has its own ‘non paper’ and that it is waiting for the right time to send it to everyone. According to Dodik, it is currently difficult to carry out the talks with the RS opposition on the issue of survival of B&H. In his opinion, it is crucial for the RS parliament to discuss this issue and to form a platform for negotiations with the FB&H “as an institutional organizational framework” and the other two constituent peoples, Croats and Bosniaks, on the future solutions for B&H. “We demand that this is done without involvement of foreigners,” he said. “There is no cohesive element in B&H that could gather the constituent peoples,” said Dodik, adding that “there will come a time of peaceful dissolution”. During a press conference, Dodik stated that in many situations, the RS opposition parties stood with the official Sarajevo, when some difficult subjects were discussed in B&H. “Frankly, I am not even surprised that this happens. At the end, we must be aware of the fact that this comes from ‘mentors’ – that are not them (the opposition). They follow the opinions of foreigners, that say something is good. Well, they are free to do as they please,” Dodik said. “What we want is a dialog, nothing else, the dialog on all topics. We do not shy from discussing how it would be possible for B&H to survive, but also, if it is impossible for it to survive, it is logical to have an idea how to break up. In that view, this broad platform will allow dialog. If they think they should not participate in it, that is fine. We are not certain that Muslims, in agreement with them, will participate in that, because it is clear that the responses to this initiative are the same by SDS, PDP and SDA. With HDZ we will talk,” said Dodik. Dodik also stated that it is the fact that some solutions that would earlier be defined as destructive have been discussed now publicly. “Today we hear it from mouth of important European and world officials,” said Dodik. He added that during his recent meeting with one diplomat “from across the ocean”, this diplomat asked whether peaceful dissolution of B&H would be possible.

Dacic: Good thing about non-papers is possibility of autonomy of northern part of Kosovo and merging of the RS with Serbia (RTRS)

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic commented on the issue of non-papers. He added that a good thing in these unofficial documents is the possibility of autonomy of northern part of Kosovo and merging of the RS with Serbia. Dacic deems these documents represent test balloons. Dacic also said that “non-papers” do not speak just about the RS, but also about a peaceful dissolution of B&H and assessed that “someone already sees realities that are present in the region.”

RS government sends 25th report to UN Security Council (RTRS)

The RS government sent its 25th Report to the UN Security Council (UN SC). “The RS is committed to the future of B&H, but as a successful and stable country based and guided by principles of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) is based on,” reads the report. RTRS reported that, according to the report, in April the RS leadership called for open political dialog of the RS and the FB&H and the three constituent peoples “aimed at bringing back the letter and fundamental principles of the DPA”. The RS government had reminded the UN SC that the High Representative (HR) in B&H and the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) have violated rights of the constituent peoples with continuous attacks on the Dayton structure of B&H before the courts.

RTRS reports that the anti-Dayton rhetoric of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic has been outlined in the report. “Discussion among the Serbs and Croats in B&H, as well as others in the region, on potential peaceful dissolution of B&H occurs as an inevitable reaction to these persistent threats with further centralization of B&H, contrary to the B&H Constitution. The threats with abolition of the RS by individual Bosniak political leaders cause the Serb leaders to always respond that the RS will invoke the right to self-determination and will not allow its abolition,” reads the report. The RS government warns in the report that all proposals for changes in laws and constitution require caution and must respect the basic Dayton structure of B&H. According to the report, the RS has welcomed the recently presented US policy on constitutional changes which supported the DPA. RTRS reports that it was also outlined in the report that a new HR should not be appointed in secrecy and an overview of threats and ultimatums by the HR, including the most recent request for withdrawal of awards presented on the occasion of marking the 25th anniversary of the RS parliament. “Ambassador Valentin Inzko says that the withdrawal of awards will take away collective responsibility from the Serb people and remove collective guilt. Inzko’s attributing of guilt to innocent Serbs, even the Serb children, for crimes committed during the war by individuals is a great insult contrary to the European values. Collective guilt of one people is a poisonous, Fascist and fanatical concept that is destructive for national reconciliation and harmony,” reads the report. RTRS reports that in the section on the European integration, the commitment to the EU was reiterated and a brief list of activities on implementation of the 14 priorities for the candidacy status was provided. As the main obstacle, the foreign supervisor, i.e. the HR was stated, as well as the B&H CC with three posts reserved for foreigners.

 

B&H CEC will not be included in negotiations on changes to Election Law (N1)

The B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) will not be included in negotiations on changes to the Election Law. President of the CEC Zeljko Bakalar said that the decision to exclude B&H CEC from these negotiations was a political one. SNSD and HDZ B&H are trying to discredit the CEC in various ways due to dissatisfaction with certain members of the CEC, added the reporter. However, the CEC will still send its bill proposal to the parliamentarians, focusing on the following as Bakalar stated: “The changes in the method of appointing polling station members, introduction of new technologies in the process of voter identification at polling stations, as well as voting and counting of ballots at polling stations, then faster transmission of election results because you know that the election commissions receive and publish results much later than political entities, then the introduction of additional security mechanisms to prevent a number of abuses that occur when registering voters to vote by mail”.  The coalition partners at the state level are not united in their position on the role of the CEC in the coming period. SDA wants them in the negotiations while the SNSD does not, added the reporter. SDA representative in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Adil Osmanovic stated: “Nothing serious can be done when it comes to changing the Election Law without CEC members, they are operational and they will inevitably be present at sessions where they will give advice and other proposals when it comes to changing the Election Law”. Chairperson of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija said that he did not see the role of the CEC in the legislative part. Tegeltija added: “The CEC is someone that implements the Election Law, they need to make sure that the elections are conducted in accordance with the Law and I do not really see any important role for them”. HDZ B&H, on the other hand, is once again expressing optimism and a final solution to the frustrations of Croat political representatives in the form of corrections, as they said, of injustices towards Croats as a constituent people, commented the reporter. Leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic spoke of “respecting all the verdicts of the Constitutional Court on the legitimate representation and all the verdicts of the Court in Strasbourg” in the next two months in order to “incorporate them into the Election Law and according to that Election Law, what needs to be changed in the Constitution”. Covic added: “We will have elections next year under the new Election Law”. Legitimate representation is crucial for HDZ B&H, and SDA demands implementation of all verdicts related to electoral discrimination against citizens, but the opposition needs key changes that will prevent new election theft and therefore the presence of the B&H CEC members is necessary, commented the reporter. SDP representative in the B&H HoR Sasa Magazinovic commented: “They do not want the CEC inside. Why? Because the CEC members were not elected by their will and because they are not their soldiers, which does not mean that they are not political soldiers of some others, but they are not theirs”. Leader of DNS Nenad Nesic commented: “To form a working body without those who conduct the elections and who control the course of the elections themselves, who announce the election results, I believe that this does not make sense and that this Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) will eventually fail like everyone else so far”. Leader of SDS Mirko Sarovic believes that excluding the CEC is a mistake. Leader of PDP Branislav Borenovic pointed out the vote stealing at the previous local elections in Doboj. Covic recently announced talks with SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, possibly at the same time with SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. An Inter-Agency Working Group, consisting of three delegates, the heads of party caucuses in the B&H HoR and three members of the B&H CoM, should start working soon.

Glas Srpske gets insight into document of EEAS that allegedly reads EU is strengthening pressure on B&H regarding changes to B&H Election Law with aim to speed up its European path (Glas Srpske)

The daily presents a draft version of a document of the European External Action Service (EEAS) that allegedly reads that the EU and its partners are taking an initiative and strengthen pressure on B&H when it comes to changes to the B&H Election Law and constitutional reforms that arise from this issue with the aim to speed up its European path. The daily characterized the document as some type of a non-paper that was forwarded to EU member states for harmonization and that should be officially presented at a meeting of ministers of EU foreign affairs on May 10 that will discuss the Western Balkans as one of the topics. According to the document, “progress in B&H when it comes to the issue of the 14 key priorities from the Opinion of the European Commission (EC) is the key in order for the country to move from the Dayton to Brussels.” The document also reads: “This year without elections gives an opportunity for a new progress of the country’s road to the EU, pushing forward key reforms that would contribute to improvement of functionality of the country, beginning with the election/constitutional reform.” Thus, the EU will work on this goal via its special representative and along with the US and other partners. The document claims that in order to stabilize the Western Balkan region and keep it on the road towards the EU membership, the key elements are strengthening good-neighborly relations, higher presence of missions and delegations on the field and constant engagement of member states that will use all tools to promote EU policy in the region. According to the daily, it is interesting that those who drafted the document are aware that the EU will not have much demographic and economic benefits of integration of the Western Balkan countries in the EU, but the integration will be geostrategic investment in stable and prosperous EU in terms of political, security and economic sense of the word. The document reads: “30 years after collapse of the Yugoslavia, unity of the continent has become a political imperative”, and argues that despite of the current commitment to the EU, people still have a deep feeling of disappointment in the enlargement process while some of the main causes are the growing nationalistic rhetoric, uncertainty of the process itself and disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks. The daily claims that it is totally obvious that the EU does not support any kind of change of the borders because all items of the document speak about the EU path of the countries in their current borders. The document also reads: “This year offers good chances for concrete and significant progress, five out of six Western Balkan partners held parliamentary elections. With newly-formed parliaments and government, the EU and member states should advocate speeding up EU reforms, especially in the rule of the law sector, regional cooperation and sustainable economic recovery.” Besides, all member states were invited to agree regarding improvement of cooperation on key security issues and to demonstrate more commitment and get involve in a systemic way and at operational level. The document stated: “Joint work – based on firm messages and actions – will continue in the upcoming period with full use of our political force.”

Croat Caucus in HNC Assembly launches initiative to give Serbs status of constituent people in HNC (FTV)

For the first time in history, Croat Caucus in the Assembly of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC) – in other words, representatives of HDZ B&H – have launched initiative to give Serbs status of constituent people in the HNC. Deputy speaker of the HNC Assembly Tomislav Martinovic (HDZ B&H) confirmed that the initiative has been sent to the government of HNC. According to reporter, the initiative also promises to implement rulings of the Constitutional Court; reporter explained that it means Croatian language version of cantonal Constitution will now read that official languages in HNC are Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian, instead of Bosniak language, as it has been the case so far. Martinovic said that there is absolutely no reason not to implement the Constitutional Court’s ruling regarding the official languages in the HNC. Reporter noted that Bosniak Caucus in the HNC Assembly launched almost the same initiative on several occasions, but each time they did not have the support of Croat Caucus. Speaker of the HNC Assembly Serif Spago (SDA) said that if the Croat Caucus is true to its word, the entire process will be carried out as soon as possible. “If necessary, we will convene an extraordinary session to resolve this civilizational issue,” said Spago. According to reporter, HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic has promised that HDZ B&H will support the initiative. “I can assure you that it will be completed in the cantonal Assembly in one month’s time,” Covic said on Friday.

SNSD, HDZ B&H delegates in B&H HoP voted against inclusion of Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet in constitutions of several FB&H cantons (FTV)

The reporter noted that resolving of the issue of constituent status of Serbs in Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC) and some other cantons in the FB&H could have started several days ago in the House of Peoples (HoP) of the B&H parliament. It has not because, according to the reporter, SNSD and HDZ B&H delegates in B&H HoP were against it. The reporter reminded that Serbs are not constituent people in HNC, West Herzegovina Canton and Posavina Canton, while Serbian language is not an official language in any of those cantons. However, SNSD’s delegates in B&H HoP voted against the initiative for inclusion of Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet in constitutions of those cantons. “SNSD’s delegates voted against Serbs having the right to Cyrillic alphabet, or being treated as equal in constitutions of certain cantons of the FB&H. Those are absurd situations,” said Bosniak delegate in the B&H HoP Denis Becirovic. He added that people need to hear about this, and they need to see who and how is ‘defending’ the interests of citizens throughout B&H. Reporter noted that initially, there was no concrete explanation as to why SNSD’s delegates voted against this initiative. However, soon it became clear that SNSD was against the initiative because they would have to give Bosniaks the same rights in the RS.

 

Borovo hate speech suspects placed in police custody (N1)

Persons suspected of hate speech in Borovo will be handed over to a detention supervisor on Monday, and police will file a criminal complaint against them with the competent state attorney’s office, police reported. Police say they detained 14 persons from Vukovar-Srijem County on Sunday who are under criminal investigation on suspicion of committing the crime of public incitement to violence and hatred, chanting inappropriate slogans. In cooperation with other police departments, a criminal investigation is being conducted into several other persons from other counties, police added. The incident that occurred in Borovo on Sunday morning, when a group of football fans chanted anti-Serb slogans, including “Kill the Serbs”, was condemned by the Vukovar branches of the HDZ and SDP parties, the SDSS, the Joint Council of Municipalities and the county Serb National Minority Council. The incident in Borovo which occurred on the day of the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of 12 members of special police forces from Vinkovci, killed in an ambush by Serb paramilitaries on 2 May 1991, and on the day when Orthodox Christians, who are a majority in Borovo, celebrated Easter, was also condemned by the government, President Zoran Milanovic, the Serb National Council and others.

Members of IAWG tasked with drawing changes/amendments to Law on Elections of B&H appointed (Vecernji list)

The B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) has finally unblocked the process of electoral reform in B&H, which is, according to the daily, being blocked by the Bosniak political parties. Namely, daily notes that late last week, the CoM adopted a decision to appoint its representatives to the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) tasked with drawing changes to the Law on Elections of B&H. The CoM appointed Vjekoslav Bevanda, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of B&H Stasa Kosarac and Deputy Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of B&H Dzevad Mahmutovic as the IAWG members. Earlier, the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) appointed B&H HoP delegates Barisa Colak (Croat Caucus), Sredoje Novic (Serb Caucus) and Munib Jusufovic (Bosniak Caucus) as members of the IAWG. The B&H House of Representatives (HoR) also appointed its representatives to the IAWG. They are: Borjana Kristo (HDZ B&H-HNS Caucus), Alma Colo (SDA Caucus), Dzenan Djonlagic (DF Caucus), Damir Arnaut (Our Party-Independent Bloc Caucus), Nenad Stevandic (Srpski klub Caucus), Branislav Borenovic (SDS-PDP-DNS Caucus), Sasa Magazinovic (SDP Caucus) and Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac (SNSD Caucus). The IAWB will have 14 members and will not include a representative of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H. According to the daily, the CEC will be consulted during the negotiations if the need be, same as representatives of non-governmental institutions, academic community etc.

 

Joanikije: Fundamental agreement for now just a draft, government’s position pending (CdM/Radio Svetigora)

Even though Patriarch Porfirije stated recently that the content of the fundamental agreement, which is supposed to be signed by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the government of Montenegro, was aligned and only needed to be signed, it soon turned out that it’s still a draft.

Bishop Joanikije of Budimlja-Niksic, who’s also an administrator of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, says they have only draft agreement, adopted by the SPC, for now. Now the government should declare on it. For him, as he says, and for the church, unless both sides sign the agreement it actually doesn’t exist in a legal sense. “We should understand significance of the fundamental agreement correctly, trying not to attach less or greater importance to it than it has. It’s obvious that many people either don’t know or they don’t want to know about significance of the agreement,” Bishop Joanikije tells in an interview for Radio Svetigora. He further stresses that Montenegro signed three fundamental agreements with other three religious’ communities: The Holy See, the Islamic and Jewish community. The agreement with SPC is to be signed by Patriarch Porfirije and PM Zdravko Krivokapic.

Timonier: Nationalist forces in region survive and are an obstacle to reconciliation (Dnevne novine)

The country can’t progress in the process of joining the European Union if it does not recognize international judicial system. Especially since the European Parliament recognizes the existence of genocide in Srebrenica. For the good of the country and our cooperation, we can only wish that this sad page is turned, as soon as possible, through a broad parliamentary consensus, says in an interview for Dnevne Novine the Ambassador of France to Montenegro, Christian Timonier. He points out that, since he came to Montenegro, he has been meeting with representatives of various communities who have told him that they are concerned and asked him to carefully monitor respect for human and minority rights. Speaking about the situation in the region, he stresses that the nationalist forces, fed by toxic ideas, survive and represent an obstacle to reconciliation.

 

Osmani in Berlin: Macedonia delivered and deserves to start the EU negotiation process (Republika)

Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani met Monday in Berlin with Federal Minister for Europe Michael Roth, highlighting the importance of implementing last year’s Council decision for the start of Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations as a prerequisite in maintaining Europe’s credibility in the region, specifically the enlargement process’ credibility. What is encouraging is the fact that within the presidency trio, Germany retains its proactive role in supporting the Portuguese Presidency, rounding off the process of EU unification as a common EU interest. Macedonia, and in general the Western Balkan region is not located on the periphery of Europe, but in the heart of Europe, surrounded only by EU member states. Such a step would send much-needed encouragement to the entire region and strengthen European credibility as a whole, Osmani said. At the meeting with Uwe Corsepius, adviser to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the focus was again on reaffirming German support for our European perspectives, but questions were also raised about other forms of co-operation aimed at developing overall relations between the two countries, he added. Osmani’s agenda in Berlin included meetings with several important interlocutors, and in that regard, the Minister met with Sabine Stohr, Head of the Western Balkan Division in the Federal Foreign Office, and Susanne Schutz, Director for South-East Europe, Turkey and EFTA States in the German Federal Foreign Office. His visit to Germany was also used for meetings with Bundestag officials, which focused on bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the implementation of reforms in Macedonia and the transformation of the country into a credible European democracy. It was jointly confirmed that Macedonia has delivered and that our country deserves to start the process of negotiations and transformation in order to join the EU.

 

Maas: Dispute between Macedonia and Bulgaria to be resolved by experts, without external pressure (Republika)

The German government believes that the dispute between Macedonia and Bulgaria should remain on a bilateral level and be resolved by experts, without external pressure. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas sees no reason to involve third parties in resolving the dispute, but says Berlin is always ready to help and share its experience. After meeting with Macedonian counterpart Bujar Osmani in Berlin, Maas reiterated Berlin’s support for Macedonia’s accession talks with the EU to start “as soon as possible”. Germany is serious about the EU perspective of the countries in the region and that especially applies to Macedonia, which has long met the conditions for the start of negotiations. That is why last year we made a lot of efforts to hold an intergovernmental conference, but that was not possible. We now support the Portuguese presidency in doing so. Not only do we consider it logical, but also necessary, to hold the intergovernmental conference as soon as possible not only in terms of the trust of the citizens in Macedonia, but also in the interest of the EU, Maas said.

 

Presidency calls for full administration of April 25 election process (ADN)

President of the Republic Ilir Meta‘s spokesperson Tedi Blushi has appealed Monday for the administration of 25 April general elections’ process to the end and in compliance to the Electoral Code of Albania. In his statement, President Meta’s spokesperson underlined that transparency and respect to the votes of all voters who “spoke” on the parliamentary elections is fundamental when it comes to trust in elections and democracy. “It is necessary for the election administration process to continue until the end, in respect of the Electoral Code. Transparency and respect for the vote of every citizen who participated in the April 25 elections is decisive to trust in elections and democracy. This is a matter of national interest today and not the internal problems of the parties,” emphasized Blushi.

DP’s Chair refuses to recognize election results (ADN)

Chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha has declared Monday that his political structure cannot acknowledge an electoral process such as the one executed in the general elections of 25 April in Albania. During the meeting with local DP branches’ leaders and secretaries, the DP Leader underlined that the elections were not free and fair, but also were not pursuant to the right standards. In addition, next week, Basha will conduct tours around each branch of the PD, to gather evidence of the manipulations. Among other things, he delegated a message to DP leaders in the districts to gather evidence proving election theft. “DP cannot recognize an election process like the one of April 25. Do not fall into the trap of the opponent. Gather the facts of the manipulations. We are gathering facts in legal ways to not recognize the 25 April process. Next week, I will start a tour in every branch of the Democratic Party,” said Basha in front of the districts’ leaders of the Democratic Party.

The socialists discuss the removal of President Meta (Tirana Times)

The Socialist Party discussed on Monday the options to remove President Ilir Meta from his post, as reported by the media. The socialists have justified the need of removing the President, by saying that his involvement in the 25 April election campaign was unconstitutional. While the socialist group will take into consideration all the options, the possibility of filing a second request for the establishment of an investigative commission against the President looks impossible, considering that it is prohibited the creation of a parliamentary commission 4 months before the formation of the new parliament. The news about an upcoming move from the majority to remove the President was announced initially by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who a couple of days before the elections said that there were only two scenarios available, either that the President would resign, or that the socialists would start the procedures of the removal of Meta. In a press statement issued yesterday, Meta made it clear that he did not intend to resign, a comment that was followed with an immediate reaction by the Secretary-General of the SP Taulant Balla, who reconfirmed what Rama had previously said about the removal of the President. “No one expected from him to maintain his word,” said Balla, referring to the promise Meta made before the election that he would resign in case Rama would win his third term without stealing any votes.

 

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Belgrade Media Report 11 June 2011

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