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Belgrade Media Report 17 May 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 17 May 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Vulin: Serbia expects Russia’s support in preventing any changes in the mandate of KFOR and UNMIK (RTS/Tanjug)
Dacic: Request from withdrawal of KFOR more of a threat than realistic (TV Pink/RTV/Tanjug)
Pahor: EU underestimates emotions in Western Balkans (Tanjug)
Fifth session of the Committee on Kosovo and Metohija held (Serbian parliament)
NATO: All decisions about KFOR are consensual (EurActiv/Beta)
New non-paper: Kosovo remains in Serbia for 99 years, special status envisaged? (Tanjug/B92)
Working group for dialogue without foreign mediation formed (Tanjug/RTS/NSPM)
Holy Synod of Bishops of SPC to start on 24 May (RTS)
Cvijanovic: Peaceful dissolution can be an option (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik attends Delphi Economic Forum in Athens, says there is no other country in which High Representative decides on internal issues (Hayat)
Dodik says basis for peaceful dissolution of B&H was made in DPA (Srna)
Brdo-Brijuni Process will take place on Monday; Pahor: This may be chance to make something new for peace, stability in region; Dzaferovic: No talks about B&H outside of B&H; Pejanovic: Change of borders will not be on agenda (RTRS)
Cubrilovic does not expect concrete solutions from meeting of Brdo-Brijuni Process (Nezavisne/N1)
Kalabukhov says Russia’s principled position is that OHR should be closed and that Russia will not support Schmidt’s appointment to post of HR (N1)
Brkic holds phone conversation with Palmer and Murphy to discuss current political situation in B&H, B&H’s NATO path and changes to election legislation (Oslobodjenje)
Covic: B&H Election Law will be adopted by end of June with limited corrections of Constitution of B&H; There will be compromises but not about legitimate representation of peoples (RTV HB)
CoE, EU Delegation to B&H, OSCE Mission and UN to B&H say more has to be done in B&H (Oslobodjenje)
US soldiers who will participate in ‘Immediate Response 21’ military exercise arrive to Sarajevo (Nova BH)
‘Immediate Response 21’ military exercise serves as topic of political clashes in RS (Nova BH)
Netanyahu thanks B&H and other countries for supporting Israel in latest conflict with Palestinians; Dzaferovic, Turkovic: B&H does not and cannot support killing of innocent civilians in Gaza (O kanal)
Croatia

Citizens elect representatives in local elections (Hina)
Milanovic supports EU integration of Western Balkans as soon as possible (Hina)
Montenegro

Krivokapic to Lajcak: I believe Montenegro will be next EU member state (CdM)
Albania

April elections, first boxes to be reopened amid manipulation claims (ADN)
Conflict with Palestine, Israel’s PM thanks Albania for support against ‘terrorist attacks’ (ADN)
Plane with 267 American soldiers arrived at Rinas Airport (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vulin: Serbia expects Russia’s support in preventing any changes in the mandate of KFOR and UNMIK (RTS/Tanjug

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin talked on Friday in Moscow, as part of a two-day working visit to the Russian Federation, with Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolay Patrushev. After the meeting, Vulin pointed out that the relations between Serbia and Russia have never been more honest and meaningful and at a higher level. Patrushev expressed readiness to continue cooperating with Serbia and for all our security structures to work together on common topics, the fight against organized crime, drug dealers, and terrorism. These are all things that unite and connect us, Vulin pointed out. He said that Serbia expects Russia’s support in preventing any changes in the mandate of KFOR and UNMIK, in addition to UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Dacic: Request from withdrawal of KFOR more of a threat than realistic (TV Pink/RTV/Tanjug

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic assessed on Sunday that the demands for KFOR and UNMIK to withdraw from Kosovo and Metohija represent more of a threat than is realistic for it to happen. In this regard, he added that he was not surprised that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that one of the great powers would demand the withdrawal of KFOR and UNMIK from Kosovo and Metohija, stating that this was both political and intelligence information we received regarding attitudes of certain countries. This is just another support for Pristina’s views in the sense that the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is normalizing and there is no need for that anymore, and with that came the pressure to have Security Council sessions dedicated to Kosovo and Metohija as few times as possible, which used to be held four times a year and now they are held twice,” said Dacic told TV Pink. He assessed that it is good that they are held twice a year, because, as he said, it is obvious that “there is a connection in building those attitudes”. According to him, the requests for the withdrawal of KFOR and UNMIK from Kosovo and Metohija are nothing new. “This is nothing new that has not been heard at the UN Security Council sessions. True, so far only the Pristina side has been stating this because they do not miss that session and the opportunity to say how all missions should leave Kosovo and Metohija and how it is normal over there,” Dacic said. He stated that despite the fact that UNSCR 1244 is not respected, it still exists. “In order to abolish it, a decision must be made and that is our biggest advantage at the moment because in order for a decision to be made, it must be voted on. This means that consultations with UN SC members would have to be conducted in order to pass that decision, including two permanent members of that Council, Russia and China, where we have support,” Dacic said.

Pahor: EU underestimates emotions in Western Balkans (Tanjug

The EU’s geopolitical approach to the Western Balkans is not just territorial but also emotional, but the EU underestimates that emotional dimension, Slovenian President Borut Pahor said in an interview to Tanjug. He said another attempt to change borders in the Western Balkans would end in a very conflicting fashion but that there would be no such problems in the region if all its countries joined the EU simultaneously. Pahor said the upcoming Brdo-Brijuni Summit in Slovenia would be the first encouragement to a resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue because Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Vjosa Osmani, president of the Pristina self-government authorities, would meet for the first time. When asked by Tanjug whether his statement that Slovenia opposed border changes was contradictory since the country recognised the independence of the so-called Kosovo in 2008, Pahor said he understood Serbia’s interpretation of the situation. “But I have also told my friend President Vucic before that we must live in reality after the tragedy that ended in the late 1990s, leaving us with the borders we have now. We understood that the attempt to change them was very difficult at the time and that a repeated attempt, even if it began peacefully, would once again end in a very conflicting fashion,” Pahor said. He said Slovenia and Serbia were allies in efforts to ensure peace, stability, security and the well-being of people.

Fifth session of the Committee on Kosovo and Metohija held (Serbian parliament

At the session held on 14 May 2021 and closed to the public, the Committee on Kosovo and Metohija considered the Information of the Office for the Coordination of Affairs in the Process of Negotiation with the Provisional Institutions in Pristina on the state-of-play of the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The Committee noted that though the Serbian side has shown full commitment to the dialogue, Pristina, waiting for the EU’s positive assessment for visa liberalization in the first half of 2021, is intentionally prolonging the continuation of the dialogue. The Committee said that during the previous five months of the dialogue, a broad agreement was reached in principle on the key elements needed to resolve the disputed issues, but no agreements were concluded because the question of the form of their conclusion remained open. No progress has been made on financial property claims, and the key principles concerning economic cooperation, missing and internally displaced persons and refugees have been agreed but not completed. The Committee notes with regret that due to Pristina’s unwillingness, there has been no significant progress in the implementation of the agreements made within the Dialogue. Due to Pristina’s rude refusal to participate, there have been no talks on the topic of establishing the Community of Serb Municipalities, which is of the greatest importance for the Serbian side. At the same time, Pristina continues to violate agreements relating to treaties in the areas of justice, freedom of movement, police, civil protection, the main bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica and official visits. The Committee warns that unilateral moves regarding the Valac power substation could further destabilize the situation in northern Kosovo. Also, we warn that the promotion and acceptance of the so-called Kosovo Security Force and its participation in the military exercise “Current Answer 21” is a danger to peace and security in the region. The Committee assessed that Pristina continues with its attempts to resolve issues from the negotiation process unilaterally, without dialogue, in order to avoid obligations from the negotiation process and prevent the Republic of Serbia from advancing in European integration.

The Committee is strongly committed to continuing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to resolving all outstanding issues in a peaceful manner.

NATO: All decisions about KFOR are consensual (EurActiv/Beta

In a comment on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic‘s statement that one of the great powers would soon request that the Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeepers be withdrawn from Kosovo, a NATO official speaking on condition of anonymity explained that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) remained committed to the stability of the Western Balkans, and that members of the Alliance brought all decisions based on a consensus, including those about KFOR. The anonymous NATO official said in a brief comment for the EurActiv portal that “for years, the Alliance has been contributing to the stability of the Western Balkans and remains committed to the region.” “Our KFOR mission was founded by 1999 UN Security Council Resolution 1244 to ensure a safe and secure environment and the freedom of movement for all communities living in Kosovo. All decisions within NATO, including those related to KFOR, require a consensus by all 30 allies, members of the Alliance,” the official underlined.

New non-paper: Kosovo remains in Serbia for 99 years, special status envisaged? (Tanjug/B92

German magazine Zuerst announced there’s a new non-paper regarding Kosovo, envisaging that southern Serbian province will receive a special status within Serbia for 99 years. “A new so-called non-paper has appeared. Again, the authors are unknown, and the document, which the editorial office had access to, contains 16 points, and is a small, diplomatic feat, because it does not violate the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 in any point,” Zuerst points out. The non-paper suggests, as it is stated, that all citizens of Kosovo, and especially 873.000 Kosovo Albanians are mentioned, should get the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia. It is also proposed that joint elections be held in Kosovo and Serbia in April next year, at all levels. The non-paper states that the elected governor of Kosovo should also be the deputy president of the National Assembly of Serbia, Zuerst writes, which is connected with the German right. In addition, for the period of 99 years, Belgrade must guarantee a special status for the province of Kosovo. The movement of goods between Kosovo and Serbia should be encouraged again, and the security of external borders would be taken over by the officials of Kosovo and Serbia together. As it is claimed, the ambassador of Serbia to the UN, according to this non-paper, should have a deputy appointed by the Pristina authorities. According to Zuerst, this new document differs from other proposals in that it could really revive the debate on the future among Kosovo Albanians as well. The new non-paper envisages Kosovo as a province within Serbia, but, which is new, the magazine adds, the proposal is that there is some kind of partnership between Belgrade and Pristina. According to the magazine, the realization of such a solution could be undermined by the United States, because a peaceful agreement between Belgrade and Pristina would mean pushing the United States out of the Balkans.

Working group for dialogue without foreign mediation formed (Tanjug/RTS/NSPM)  

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic convened for Tuesday the first meeting of the Working group for inter-party dialogue without mediation of foreigners where they will discuss the upcoming activities of this group that was founded with the goal of defining the topics of the dialogue and coordinating its further course, Tanjug learns. The members of that group are Ivica Dacic, the Head of the SNS caucus Aleksandar Martinovic, the President of the Working Group for Cooperation with the OSCE Dejan Djurdjevic, the leader of the Enough is Enough Sasa Radulovic and the leader of the Dveri Movement Bosko Obradovic. The group also includes the leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia Milos Jovanovic, the representative of Zavetnik Milica Djurdjevic Stamenkovski, the leader of POKS Zika Gojkovic, the co-president of the Party of Modern Serbia Tatjana Macura, and the deputy leader of the Serbian Radical Party Aleksandar Seselj.

 

Holy Synod of Bishops of SPC to start on 24 May (RTS)  

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), under the presidency of His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch decided to start the regular session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the SPC with the service of the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the Memorial Cathedral of Saint Sava in the Vracar district, on 24 May 2021, on the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The Holy Liturgy will be served by Serbian Patriarch Porfirije with the concelebration of the hierarchs. The previously planned solemn act of enthronement of the primate of the SPC of the Pec Patriarchate, the ancient seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has been postponed until further notice due to epidemiological measures in force in this southern Serbian province.

Cvijanovic: Peaceful dissolution can be an option (Politika, by Mladen Kremenovic) 

 

In an interview to the daily, Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that the RS is not committed to insist on any solution, but it is committed to talks that should clarify whether a peaceful dissolution is the best option for everyone or it is a state which “returns to itself, in the way it was defined and which we agreed to in Dayton”. Cvijanovic added that she sees no logic in defending something that is obviously not good. She reminded that many issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) have been left unsolved for 20 years already and also claimed that political partners from Sarajevo have no political will to discuss this. Cvijanovic argued that Bosniak politicians “are chasing their concept of unitary Bosnia, which some of western representatives promised to them, so they are talking about a war and various nonsense things in an attempt to attract attention and maintain narrative that the state can be protected only in the way those in Sarajevo think can be done”. Cvijanovic assessed that B&H cannot function in the way Sarajevo politics insists and she warned that it is “the concept for destroying what little trust we have in this country, if any still exists”. Asked whether she thinks representatives of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) would agree to hold a dialogue with the RS on future of B&H, Cvijanovic replied by saying that she is not sure but this does not mean that the RS should stop offering talks. Commenting on the fact that the opposition parties in the RS believe that the time is not right for the dialogue and that the initiative on the dialogue was launched “for internal use in the RS only”, Cvijanovic stated that opposition parties “claim what they have to claim, their purpose is to speak differently even when they do not mean it. They excluded themselves from serious topics. It has been going on for years, not because they have an opinion but because someone told them so”. Commenting frequent criticism against (SNSD leader and Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad) Dodik that he “encourages instability with his inflammatory rhetoric”, Cvijanovic assessed that there is a hypocritical treatment of the RS and mostly of Dodik and argued: “In the FB&H, people say they are making weapons and ammunition for ‘God forbid’ situations, they present thesis that nothing in B&H can be agreed upon without having a war. They abuse everything we launch”. Cvijanovic said that all proposals of the RS are in line with the Constitution of B&H, yet it is still resented for it. Asked to comment on recent ‘non-papers’, Cvijanovic said that contents of individual non-papers are no longer important and, instead, it is important to see “what kind of hysteria” is caused if a proposed concept, different from what political Sarajevo advocates, should be considered. “For me, a reaction is always more important than the initial action,” Cvijanovic said and noted that the RS will seriously consider how to act in future if it wants to live in a dignified manner with others. Cvijanovic went on to say that it is not rare in international practice to have a topic be launched in an informal manner and only then to formalize it through procedures: “It is good to know that people see different possibilities for solution of a problem called B&H”. Cvijanovic claimed that Sarajevo is not willing to talk because it is often supported by an international factor which encourages them not to accept any talks. Cvijanovic said that nobody knows what will happen “and we should not talk about that now. There are certain western representatives who assure us that everything will stay as it is now and, in fact, they are forcing us to change the current situation. There are also those who defend decentralized B&H, as it was stipulated by the Constitution of B&H. The story on peaceful dissolution can be an option, nothing should be excluded. One should not be stubborn and insist that future must be like the present day, especially if the current situation is not good”. Cvijanovic added that a decentralized B&H, which it already gave consent to, is an acceptable model for the RS. Asked to describe B&H without the Office of the High Representative (OHR). Cvijanovic argued that B&H without the OHR would have been much better because people would have been aware of the fact that they need to talk and reach agreements for the past 20 years. “Not only without the OHR but also without those embassies that are ready to embark in micro-management,” Cvijanovic added. Cvijanovic claimed that Bosniak politicians are not willing to talk because they “are accustomed to knocking on a door, whining, turning themselves into victims etc. in order to get the support of foreigners who, as rule of thumb, did everything they could to deprive the RS of its competencies and impose sanctions against people from the RS”. Cvijanovic said that “no country can cope with so much meddling from abroad in all segments of life – administrative, political, economic, financial” and noted that it is especially difficult to cope with so much unequal approach and injustice. Asked whether she has the information that High Representative Valentin Inzko might be replaced by Christian Schmidt, Cvijanovic replied by saying that there are some activities underway on this matter. “Inzko rushed to tell us that so some EU member countries were caught by surprise because not even they knew about that. We do not need any High Representative, no matter who is in question, that is obsolete category. What the High Representatives have done largely stepped over the Dayton frame, they acquired competencies for themselves in irregular manner to which none of us gave consent. We need domestic talks, so that people can live in peace and concord as good partners and collocutors”, Cvijanovic said and concluded by saying: “It is up to us to find out what we can do for the RS and how to build partnership relations with everyone in B&H, if that is what they want”. Speaking about the announcement on possible joint activities of opposition parties in B&H, Cvijanovic stated that this is yet another unproductive project sponsored by the international community and argued that opposition parties from the RS are naive. “United opposition at the level of B&H brings no strength because the election system is such that everything will stay fragmented in the end,” Cvijanovic explained. Serb member and Chair of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik stated that the RS as an independent state would be able to fulfill all preconditions set by the EU and become a member of the EU within three years. “The most efficient path to the EU would be a dissolution so that we can independently fulfill preconditions for the membership,” Dodik said.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dodik attends Delphi Economic Forum in Athens, says there is no other country in which High Representative decides on internal issues (Hayat

 

The Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Milorad Dodik continued his official visit to Greece on Friday. He attended the Delphi Economic Forum and stated that many believe that B&H is a systemic mistake in terms of existing. Dodik also said that there are stances on the uniting of the country, as well as peaceful dissolution. He stressed that there is no other country where a High Representative makes decision about internal issues. Special Representative of the EU for Dialogue of Belgrade and Pristina Miroslav Lajcak said that only a united and sovereign B&H has a European perspective. Dodik pointed out that the Republika Srpska (RS) is trying to defend its status and autonomy, not to strive for secession, and to exclusively advocate respect for the original Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Dodik said that there is a consensus on European integration in B&H, but that it is necessary to work on many economic and political parameters first. Dodik stated: “In line with the current situation, B&H is splitting up. It all started when some thought that B&H should be a unitary state, that it should be one state. But there are third parties, which have a different opinion, so we have to do everything in our power in the current situation of autonomy, in order to resolve certain issues. It has been 25 years since the war and in the last 25 years we have had a High Representative representing the international community and abusing his powers. This person imposed certain reforms in B&H and because of such attitudes, B&H is considered a lost country”. “There are three or four foreign guests in the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H who have been creating systemic solutions that are wrong. The letter of the Constitution is completely opposite to practice in the country,” Dodik explained. Dodik argued the EU has been using double standards, adding that example for it is North Macedonia. Dodik also talked about complex political system in B&H and he confirmed that the pandemic and migrant crisis significantly affected economic situation in B&H.

Dodik says basis for peaceful dissolution of B&H was made in DPA (Srna

In an interview for Srna, Serb member and Chair of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said all alternatives for B&H with the exception of war are equal and realistic and should be treated equally in talks about the future of B&H with the Federation of B&H (FB&H) representatives. Dodik said that the RS does not undertake any actions to threaten the territorial integrity of B&H, and the peaceful dissolution is a better option than “standstill or conflicts and wars”. Dodik said that the basis for the peaceful dissolution of B&H was made in the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) which defined the boundary line between the entities and their competences, as well as the competence of B&H. “The High Representative and Bosniak Muslims in the past wanted to capture the RS in an arrogant and rude way, to strip it of its powers, and bring it in the position to lose all its competences, but they did not count on its fierce and institutional resistance and therefore they will need to pay the price of all that. The price can be paid and is minimum, and that is to go back to the letter of the Dayton and talk about all that,” Dodik was quoted as saying. Dodik said that the DPA was the scene of numerous illegal activities by the international community at the expense of the RS and the international legal order has been additionally damaged with that. RTRS report that Dodik expressed the will of the Serb side for talks for the benefit of all who live in B&H. “We are ready to have long talks; the offer is there. We think it makes sense, and is politically reasonable and necessary and that is not insulting to anyone. Only that way we can redefine some relations in B&H and start implementation of the DPA and of what has been agreed,” Dodik was quoted as saying. Dodik said the DPA implementation does not mean the reintegration of B&H, noting that every level of the centralization of B&H means less of the RS and fewer Serbs in this territory. Dodik argued that both the RS and FB&H have their boundary lines and claimed that the RS “is not undertaking any steps related to secession or related to jeopardizing territorial integrity of B&H”. Dodik noted that talks on the future should also include, for example, maintaining certain capacity of the army at the level of B&H in spite of the fact that the Constitution does not stipulate the army, but “it certainly should not be in the existing form as it is too expensive and draws too much money. Nearly one half of the budget of B&H goes solely to the Armed Forces which are useful to nobody except to create some kind of an illusion that something exists and belongs to someone, yet it is nobody’s”. Speaking about the initiative on dialogue on future of B&H with the FB&H representatives, Dodik said that B&H is going down the road to failure but there is hope that it might somewhat come back from it although it is maybe in the best interest of Serbs “not to propose anything but to simply let this journey to hopelessness to last and to lead B&H to complete disappearance. However, we are interested in the DPA which defined the RS and FB&H as two sides”. Dodik assessed as anti-Dayton the approach according to which all decisions must be made at the joint level of B&H. “Such approach is unsustainable and represents a violation of the Agreement,” Dodik argued and reminded that the Constitution of B&H can be changed only if the sides – the RS and FB&H, i.e. the three constituent peoples – reach an agreement on it. Dodik went on to say that insisting on the parliament of B&H is “legal violence by the international community, i.e. USA and EU, to please Muslims in B&H”. Dodik also wondered why the pof B&H “is called the Parliamentary Assembly of B&H and not just Parliament or Assembly” and he explained that the difference between the formal name and the other two is both formal and essential as “the Parliamentary Assembly of B&H is in fact an aggregate of assemblies, an aggregate of the entities and three peoples, in which wishes and stances of the entities and peoples are expressed in a crystal clear manner. We agreed to the Parliamentary Assembly in the DPA and Constitution of B&H. It would be interesting for legal experts to look into this matter. I am convinced that they would come to a conclusion that this matter also violates the Constitution of B&H and that the Parliamentary Assembly of B&H is not a place for anything, especially not for a change to the Constitution”. Dodik claimed that there were many deceits in the implementation of the DPA and that the RS “was pushed aside” in talks on B&H by the High Representatives in cooperation with the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), and he said that it is sometimes very depressing to try to invoke international norms and international agreements, such as the DPA, when there is “an arrogant force” on the other side which refuses to admit that it is “violating the international laws and international agreements”. He went on to say that USA “approached the Serb national issue in an arrogant manner” and “decided to support Bosniaks the whole time” and he argued that even the Constitutional Court “started dealing with those matters later and changed certain provisions of the Agreement, although it was not even supposed to deal with it” all with the goal to “create ‘the state of B&H’ with a single nation to which they even tried to impose both the language and alphabet and some kind of inexistent identification”.

Brdo-Brijuni Process will take place on Monday; Pahor: This may be chance to make something new for peace, stability in region; Dzaferovic: No talks about B&H outside of B&H; Pejanovic: Change of borders will not be on agenda (RTRS

Summit of leaders of the ‘Brdo-Bijuni’ process will be held in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia on Monday. B&H Presidency Chairman and Serb member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and B&H Presidency members Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic will also attend the summit. Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic will welcome the summit participants and then the plenary talks will start. According to the protocol, bilateral meetings between participants were planned after a joint press conference. The plan is for the countries that are taking part in the Brdo-Brijuni Process to mark the 10th anniversary of launching this initiative and once again confirm their commitment to the continuation the process of the EU enlargement. Slovenian President Borut Pahor argues that this could be a chance to make something new for peace and stability in the region. Pahor clarified what was behind his question about peaceful separation in B&H. According to Blic, Pahor said: “I did not know about the non-paper at the time of the visit to Sarajevo. Due to concern that someone believes that it is possible to change borders in a peaceful way, I asked members of the B&H Presidency whether they can have a peaceful separation. It can start this way, but it will not end this way. I asked this question because of this concern and I did not ask it the first time.” Pahor previously said that despite of different stances that dominate in countries of the region, he expects that leaders from the region will gather around one conclusion and that is that it is necessary for all countries of the Western Balkans to join the EU together. Pahor also said: “I expect open and constructive dialogue regardless of some different views. I believe that the summit will result in a declaration that gives hope for accelerated enlargement of the EU.” Dzaferovic said that he will attend the event, advocate stances of B&H about cooperation and improvement of cooperation with all countries that take part in work of the platform, adding that there will be no talks about B&H outside of its borders. The reporter noted that on the other hand, Dodik believes that topics about problems of Western Balkan countries will be in the focus of the event. According to the reporter, stances that anything related to change of borders will be on the agenda on Monday are rare in B&H. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic met Pahor in Bled on Sunday evening. Pahor said that for him, the most important thing is to form a joint stance on the importance of faster enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans, as well as a stance on the necessary reforms in these countries. According to Pahor, they must observe the entire area of the Western Balkans not just individual countries in the region. Milanovic said that they will do their best to make their neighbors part of the EU as soon as possible due to a number of business and practical reasons. Milanovic underlined: “We do not have the same stances about all issues, but I believe that we have stances that can be connected and that can coexist and bring some kind of a result.”

Cubrilovic does not expect concrete solutions from meeting of Brdo-Brijuni Process (Nezavisne/N1

 

RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic assessed that it is good that the upcoming meeting of leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process will gather leaders from the region and French President Emmanuel Macron, but he assessed that the meeting will bring no concrete solutions or proposals that can be implemented. In a statement to N1, Cubrilovic commented on High Representative Valentin Inzko and claimed that “he has compassion for only one people in B&H”. Cubrilovic added that perhaps Inzko could have contributed more to leave this country in a more organized state than it is now. Cubrilovic also said that “there are attempts to impose a law on prohibition of genocide denial under pressures exerted by one of the peoples”, but he does not expect this to happen “because this would not be rational”. Cubrilovic assessed that changes to the Election Law of B&H should finally solve the Croat issue in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) but also the political representation of Croats at the level of B&H. Cubrilovic concluded by saying that it is necessary to analyze what kind of election legislation would satisfy interests of Croat people in B&H. Cubrilovic said that talks are the only solution for progress in B&H and noted that the call of the RS parliament to dialogue with the FB&H does not prejudge any kind of a solution. “There were no reactions to the conclusions of SDA Congress that the RS should disappear, that it is a genocidal creation, yet there were reactions to some conclusions which called to dialogue and agreements. Who is bothered with dialogue?” Cubrilovic said and noted that the RS parliament clearly stated that calls to war which are “coming from the other side” do not represent a solution nor statements “on the RS as genocidal creation” represent a solution either. Cubrilovic concluded by saying that it is necessary to bring B&H’s standards closer to the EU standards, work on better relations within B&H instead on creation of bigger differences and noted that he thinks sanctions against B&H would not be a solution.

Kalabukhov says Russia’s principled position is that OHR should be closed and that Russia will not support Schmidt’s appointment to post of HR (N1

Guest of N1 was Russian Ambassador to B&H Igor Kalabukhov who spoke about the current situation and political climate in B&H, work of the OHR, whether Russia will support appointment of Christian Schmidt to the post of High Representative, whether High Representative Valentin Inzko should impose a law banning the denial of genocide, B&H’s NATO path and non-paper which suggested the idea of redrawing borders in the Western Balkans. Speaking about the current situation and the political climate in B&H, Kalabukhov said that he would not say that everything in B&H is stagnating. “That is a bit pessimistic, but I see that some share that assessment. Situation is developing, but the question is in which direction it is developing. When I speak with politicians, with ordinary people, I see that everyone has their vision of B&H. Situation, as you say, is perhaps stagnating, but maybe it is now the right time, after 25 years of the Dayton development of B&H, for representatives of the constituent peoples and citizens to come forward and for each of them to formulate their vision of B&H and then dialogue as to how to move forwards starts,” Kalabukhov underlined. Asked what, in his opinion, is the best vision for the future of B&H, Kalabukhov said that the best vision is the one that brings together the most B&H citizens, adding that of course everyone has their own opinion on what B&H should be like. Kalabukhov stressed that Russia cannot impose its vision of B&H. “Of course, we mainly see B&H as a sovereign, prosperous country, united in terms of what the constituent peoples and citizens of B&H agree on,” Kalabukhov said. Asked why he is saying constituent peoples and citizens of B&H in all his answers, Kalabukhov said that he is insisting on that because that is stated in the Constitution of B&H. Asked to explain his recent statement that Russia wants to play a properly balanced role in B&H, Kalabukhov said that, as guarantor of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), Russia monitors the implementation of the DPA and if there is imbalance, Russia needs to play a balancing role. “For example, if the international community is behaving in an unbalanced way, we are there to create balance,” Kalabukhov pointed out. Asked why the Russian Federation presents dissenting opinion to every communiqué of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) and whether this is the balancing role he is speaking of, Kalabukhov stated that the Russian Federation has a dissenting opinion in a sense that it sees incorrect citation of the DPA. “For example, in the communiqués which are in English, it is stated that B&H comprises of two entities, but in the Constitution of B&H, it is clearly stated that B&H consists of two entities. That is a big difference,” Kalabukhov stressed. Asked whether this is the only reason why the Russian Federation is not agreeing with the statements issued by the PIC SB or it is disagreeing with the PIC SB’s communiqués due to the content that clearly says that certain political leaders in B&H are undermining the sovereignty of B&H, the DPA and the Constitution of B&H, Kalabukhov said: “I do not know what do you mean when you say undermining of the DPA”. Asked whether statements of a political leader from Republika Srpska (RS) that peaceful breakup is necessary, that it is necessary to strengthen the inter-entity boundary line and that he is trying to mobilize the army of the RS represents undermining of the DPA, Kalabukhov said that “this is in terms of rhetoric and it is in a sense a position, a stance. There is another position – B&H as a civic state. In that sense, if one advocates one position, and the other a different position, that requires dialogue”. Kalabukhov added that as he understands it, “dissolution is an option only when a united B&H cannot be agreed. That is not a secessionist approach. You are referring to (SNSD leader and B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad) Mr. Dodik, but he said that it is not that. He stated that it is necessary to talk, agree on what B&H should look like”. Asked to comment on Dodik’s proposal for the RS and the Federation of B&H (FB&H) to hold a dialogue on the future of B&H and whether one needs to put an end to Dodik’s statements in which he is calling for secession or announcing possible mobilization of the RS army, Kalabukhov said that one needs to ask Dodik what he means by that. “I believe that actually, if we are speaking of dialogue within B&H, it is necessary to create certain concepts and then discuss it,” Kalabukhov stated. Asked whether sanctions should be imposed against Dodik for his rhetoric and certain moves he is making, Kalabukhov stressed that he “does not know” and added: “That is actually a matter related to the OHR because you believe that the OHR can impose sanctions against for example Mr. Dodik. That is a matter of (High Representative) Mr. Valentin Inzko”. Asked whether he is trying to say that Inzko’s position and moves absolutely do not depend on the stances of all PIC members, Kalabukhov said that they of course depend on the stances of PIC members. “If we say that there is rule of law in B&H, every man who has certain objections to what Mr. Dodik is saying, he can solve that in court” Kalabukhov noted, adding that in principle, Inzko can impose sanctions on his own, past the will of the members of PIC. “In principle, I believe that he can do that on his own, but actually there should be an agreement within the PIC SB,” Kalabukhov underlined, admitting that PIC cannot agree on certain issues. Asked why he is calling for closure of the OHR, Kalabukhov said that there are several reasons for that. “One of the reasons is historical, I would say, because everyone, including historians, such as Noel Malcolm who wrote a short history of B&H, where the main thesis is that all problems in B&H are actually result of the role of the international factor. The OHR, as an instrument, and I would say an anachronistic instrument of the international community and the international factor, is blocking (things)” Kalabukhov emphasized. He stressed that all politicians in B&H know that there is the institution of the OHR which will write laws and accept decisions which, according to Kalabukhov, is blocking things. Commenting on the fact that the OHR has not written a single law in years, Kalabukhov stated that if the High Representative has not done anything in ten years “then why is he here?” “What is his purpose if he is not doing anything?” Kalabukhov asked. Kalabukhov stressed that Russia’s principled position is that the OHR should be closed and that there should not be talks about a new High Representative. Asked whether this means that the Russian Federation will not support appointment of German candidate for the post of the High Representative Christian Schmidt, Kalabukhov said that it means just that. “We will not support the appointment of Mr. Schmidt,” Kalabukhov underlined. Asked whether Russia’s is advocating closure of the OHR so that it could develop its interests and intensify Russian interest in B&H, Kalabukhov said that Russia has its interests. “We intend to develop those interests in economic cooperation with B&H, not only with the RS, but with the FB&H as well, cultural, humanitarian and other relations and I believe that this goes in favor of B&H as well,” Kalabukhov stressed. Asked to comment on the non-paper which suggested the idea of redrawing borders in the Western Balkans, Kalabukhov stated that non-paper is an anonymous document. “That can be a lot of things. That can be a reflection, it can be a provocation. I would like everything to be without emotions. If people react emotionally, it means that they are not certain in this. If people react to all of those things calmly, no matter which non-paper they throw at you, this or that, you have your country, your business and you do not pay attention to it,” Kalabukhov stressed. Kalabukhov quoted Daniel Serwer and his non-paper which reads that “Europe will be looking for cheaper labor and increased competitivity, as it did in eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Balkans are an obvious source. The non-EU members in the Balkans should get ready now.” Asked whether the PIC can agree on the adoption of law banning the denial of genocide, Kalabukhov said that it cannot, because “that must be an internal matter of B&H.” “That absolutely does not have to be a matter of the High Representative” Kalabukhov said, noting that if there is no political will then there is no political will. “Must there be a political will?” Kalabukhov wondered and stated that the adoption of a law banning the denial of genocide depends on the Parliament of B&H. “It has mechanisms for laws and so on and dialogue can be led, but if there is no compromise…” Kalabukhov said. He stressed that he is absolutely sticking to his position that the High Representative should not impose law banning the denial of genocide because that is “a matter on which there is no compromise in B&H.” “It can only make the situation in B&H more difficult,” Kalabukhov underlined. Speaking of his statement that he advocates international law and justice and asked whether one should allow denial of genocide which was established by verdicts of international courts, Kalabukhov stated that this depends on the will of the constituent peoples in B&H and consent within the country. “There is no such law in all states. For example, such law does not exist in the United States,” Kalabukhov emphasized, adding that Russia also does not have a law banning the denial of genocide. Speaking about the letter he sent in regard to NATO integration of B&H in which he stated that Russia will react to a hostile step, Kalabukhov said that he explained everything on the subject. “I believe that I was understood here and that I was understood in NATO and I believe that this is a finished story” Kalabukhov underlined. Asked whether his abovementioned statement was a threat, Kalabukhov said that it was not a threat. “This was our reaction to a whole wave of publications in the media in B&H which dealt with the advantages of NATO. We wanted to show the dark side of the moon of the story about NATO integration,” Kalabukhov pointed out. Asked whether it is realistic to expect for Russia’s position on the integration of B&H into NATO to change, Kalabukhov said that Russia’s position on the matter is such that “this depends on the sovereign choice of every country.” “If a state chooses some integration as priority, that is the matter of those states, Kalabukhov said. Asked why Russia has a problem with B&H continuing its NATO integration and how Russia imagines an ideal security concept of B&H without NATO accession in a situation in which certain political leaders are announcing mobilization of army, Kalabukhov said that if one believes that NATO is an organization that acts and defends within the states, “that is not correct.” Asked whether he is defending SNSD leader and B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik’s position on mobilization of army, Kalabukhov said that he is not. “I am defending positions of everyone in B&H. That is a matter of internal agreement in B&H,” Kalabukhov emphasized.

Brkic holds phone conversation with  Palmer and Murphy to discuss current political situation in B&H, B&H’s NATO path and changes to election legislation (Oslobodjenje

The B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H and Chair of the Commission for Cooperation with NATO Josip Brkic had a phone conversation with Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department of State and US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer and Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department of State Michael Murphy. Their conversation focused on the current political situation in B&H, with an emphasis on the NATO path of B&H and changes to the Election Law of B&H. Brkic stated that the progress of B&H on its Euro-Atlantic path contributes to stability and progress not only of B&H but of the entire region as well. Palmer and Murphy stated that USA will continue providing assistance and support to B&H in the implementation of the upcoming reforms and reiterated that USA expects B&H to change the election legislation, adopt a limited changes to the Constitution in order to implement rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and Constitutional Court of B&H and to carry out reforms of judiciary and economy. Palmer and Murphy also said that the implementation of reforms must be accelerated this year in order to stabilize the political situation ahead of 2022 elections. Brkic also talked to US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs Laura K. Cooper. Brkic informed Cooper about the formation of the Commission for Cooperation with NATO as well as about dynamics and manner of work of the Commission. Brkic noted that the Commission is defining priorities in the realization of B&H’s obligations deriving from its participation in the NATO’s Partnership for Peace as well as those deriving from the Program of Reforms of B&H.

Covic: B&H Election Law will be adopted by end of June with limited corrections of Constitution of B&H; There will be compromises but not about legitimate representation of peoples (RTV HB

 

The leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic spoke about changes to the Election Law of B&H and announced intensive talks and negotiations between political leaders with and without representatives of the international community. According to Covic, the Election Law of B&H will be adopted by the end of June with limited corrections to the Constitution of B&H. Covic claims that there will be compromises but not about legitimate representation of peoples. In his opinion, the non-paper drafted by Croatia got the support of some EU member states. Covic stated: “This year, the year without elections, was left and it was defined by Brussels, the US administration and all other administrations that are active in B&H – the OHR, the OSCE – simply for realization of all necessary reforms for our status of candidate, there are the 14 conditions and the Election Law. I believe that the intensity of our talks will be seen in the upcoming 15 days. I believe that we will be sitting not for a couple of hours but for a couple of days and as you know, topics are already on the table. Now, we have to harmonize this, there are various views”. Asked to comment on the latest meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Covic stated that he recently talked about these topics with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic-Radman and added: “What was wished, it was achieved: the issues were open until the very end. When it comes to Brussels and the US administration and all other administrations, I said that we must finalize the issue of the election legislation as a priority for B&H. We cannot allow ourselves to end the year of 2021 without the elections and enter 2022 that is the year of elections without solving this issue completely. Therefore, I believe that we will be able to wait in peace for the elections 2022.”

CoE, EU Delegation to B&H, OSCE Mission and UN to B&H say more has to be done in B&H (Oslobodjenje

 

On the occasion of the International Day of Living Together in Peace (16 May), the authors reminded that it has been more than 25 years since the war in B&H ended and noted that although a lot has been achieved there is still more that can be done to strengthen trust, constructive dialogue, mutual understanding and respect to help secure permanent peace and sustainable development for everyone in B&H. The authors also reminded of numerous provocative memorial plates, murals, symbols, monuments, street names as well as commemorations at which sentenced war criminals, historical persons who cause divisions or controversial events are glorified to detriment of dignity of victims and survivors. The authors warned that such activities, in combination with widely spread rhetoric of divisions, represent a clear regression of efforts to again establish good neighborly relations, trust and constructive engagement among communities in B&H: “Such moves undermine many post-war achievements by raising tensions and deepening fear and divisions”. In this context, the authors reminded of the joint statement of members of the Presidency of B&H issued on the occasion of 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), in which all three members pointed out that “the obligation of all levels of the authorities in B&H is to strengthen efforts in order to secure dignified lives of peoples and citizens, along with mutual appreciation and understanding” and they also reminded of the “obligation to sympathize with pain and sufferings of members of all peoples and citizens as well as obligation to pay respect to all innocent victims of war”. The authors called all relevant participants in the process to make positive steps and activities in a timely fashion to express empathy and compassion for the pain and sufferings of both their own and other communities: “Now is the time for B&H leaders to create the atmosphere in which future generations will be able to have a safer, more peaceful life with more hope”. The authors reminded that the necessity to improve environment favorable for reconciliation is one of the 14 priorities crucial for the EU integration and concluded by saying that “it is high time everyone went from constructive statements and promises to actions. It is time for development and providing of support to work of those who are already taking such steps. People in B&H deserve nothing less”.

US soldiers who will participate in ‘Immediate Response 21’ military exercise arrive to Sarajevo (Nova BH

 

The plane with 360 US soldiers landed at the Sarajevo airport on Saturday. These soldiers will participate in the military exercise between the US Armed Forces and the B&H Armed Forces called ‘Immediate Response 21’. This is one of the biggest military exercises which will be held in B&H, which is supposed to demonstrate the readiness for an immediate response in case of an aggression, as well as readiness for interoperability with the NATO and allies, added the presenter. One of the goals of the exercise is strengthening operative abilities of the B&H Armed Forces, added the reporter. The B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic stated: “The B&H Ministry of Defense and the B&H Armed Forces test the ability of integration into wider defensive structures through this exercise, which was clearly stated in the B&H strategic documents, as well as the defense, security and foreign policy of B&H. The B&H Armed Forces, by participating in the exercise, show readiness for joint action with the US Armed Forces and partners”. ‘Immediate Response 21’ military exercise will be held from May 17th until June 2nd at the training grounds Manjaca and Glamoc, as well as the Dubrave barracks. The B&H Armed Forces will participate in the exercise with 500 soldiers with 700 US soldiers. The US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson addressed the US soldiers who arrived to Sarajevo: “I hope you understand that this is not just any exercise, it will be an important training opportunity for both you and the B&H Armed Forces. You are following in the footsteps of tens of thousands of soldiers who served in B&H. You are following in the footsteps of tens of thousands of the US soldiers, who after 1996 served to establish peace after the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) signed”. This is the first time for B&H to host such a big military exercise, which a part of great military maneuvers which will be held in 2021 at 30 locations in the whole of Europe. This exercise will include 28,000 soldiers from 26 NATO member countries as well as the countries who wish to become a member of NATO like B&H, concluded the reporter. “The US are grateful for B&H’s participation in this exercise, and for its readiness to be the host to such large number of the US troops, the largest number so far since the completion of the SFOR mission in 2014” said Nelson. The ‘Immediate Response 21’ is a bilateral exercise will be carried out in the period 17 May – 2 June, and led by the US Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF), with over 700 US troops and 500 B&H Armed Forces troops participating in it.

‘Immediate Response 21’ military exercise serves as topic of political clashes in RS (Nova BH

 

The military exercise ‘Immediate Response 21’ which will be held at the Manjaca training ground has been a topic of political conflict in the RS for several days. The opposition in RS has called on the Serb Member and Chairperson of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to withdraw consent for holding this exercise. The leader of SDS Mirko Sarovic said it was obvious that Dodik has double standards when it comes to NATO. Dodik replied and said that no NATO exercise will be held at the Manjaca training ground near Banja Luka and that this exercise was something else. While addressing the RS National Assembly (RSNA) Dodik stated: “I can see that a topic of some exercise at Manjaca is active. This is not a NATO exercise, but a simulated exercise, meaning it is more online, partly with combat shooting and infantry ammunition. It is being conducted between the B&H Armed Forces and US Armed Forces, not NATO”. Sarovic stated: “Mr. Dodik has said a year or two ago, that once the US soldiers appear at Manjaca, that he will lead 30,000 people to protest because it is unacceptable and unbearable that such a thing would happen here in RS”.

Netanyahu thanks B&H and other countries for supporting Israel in latest conflict with Palestinians; Dzaferovic, Turkovic: B&H does not and cannot support killing of innocent civilians in Gaza (O kanal

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked on Sunday the countries which, as he claims, support Israel in the latest conflict with Palestinians. B&H is among the 25 countries that Netanyahu thanked on Twitter for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense against terrorist attacks. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic swiftly reacted to Netanyahu’s post on Twitter, stressing that B&H does not support and cannot support killing of innocent civilians in Gaza carried out by the Israeli military forces. Dzaferovic called on Netanyahu to suspend disproportionate attacks on Gaza and give his contribution to the establishment of peace for the Palestinian and the Israeli people. B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic stated that B&H only supports “peace and attempts to achieve a just solution for Palestine and Israel. No violence leads towards permanent stability, on the contrary. We call for and support the urgent cessation of attacks in which the innocent suffer”. Reactions in B&H on the Israel-Palestine conflict are different. BNTV reminds of lights in color of Palestinian flag in Sarajevo and Mostar and lights in color of Israeli flag in Banja Luka and Trebinje. The reporter comments the views of the citizens represent divided society in B&H.

 

Citizens elect representatives in local elections (Hina

According to preliminary local election results from Croatia’s four largest cities published by the State Election Commission (DIP), Tomislav Tomasevic recorded a convincing win in Zagreb, Ivica Puljak in Split, Marko Filipovic in Rijeka, and Ivan Radic in Osijek. After all of the votes have been counted, Tomislav Tomasevic, (Mozemo!) won 45.15 percent (147,631 votes), Miroslav Skoro (Homeland Movement) 12.16 percent (39,789 votes), and Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic (BM 365) 11.10 percent (36,309 votes). In a photo finish, Miroslav Skoro is headed for the second-round runoff on 30 May after narrowly beating out the current acting mayor Jelena Pavicic Vukicevic. “I am convinced that in the second round we will show that there is enough reason, enough intelligence, to debunk in one argumentative debate the fallacy that is the green-left coalition,” said Skoro on Sunday night. In Split, Ivica Puljak (Centar) won the first round with 26.82 percent (17,500 votes) which places him in a runoff against Vice Mihanovic (HDZ) who received 23.23 percent (15,159 votes) of the vote. Former Mayor Zeljko Kerum (HGS) came in third place with 14.96 percent (9,762 votes). “We will not disappoint you, every word we said in this campaign, every promise we gave you, we will do our best to make it happen. We won the first half, but the game is not over yet. In order to really win, we need to play the second half,” said Puljak. In Rijeka, Marko Filipovic (SDP) won the most votes – 30.25 percent (11,970 votes), followed by Davor Stimac (independent) with 16.10 percent (6,371 votes) and Josip Ostrogovic (HDZ) with 14.11 percent (5,587 votes). Osijek gave the most votes – 38.69 percent (13,655 votes) to Ivan Radić (HDZ), followed by Berislav Mlinarevic (Most) with 19.63 percent (6,930 votes) and Goran Kusec (SDP) with 18.01 percent (6,359 votes). Meanwhile, six Croatian counties elected their prefects in the first round of voting, with candidates winning more than 50 percent of the votes. Of those six prefects, four are representatives of the ruling centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ): Antonija Jozic of the Pozega-Slavonia County, Igor Andrilovic of the Virovitica-Podravina County, Ivan Anusic of the Osijek-Baranja County, and Danijel Marusic of the Slavonski-Brod Posavina County. Social Democrat (SDP) official Zeljko Kolar was re-elected prefect of the Krapina-Zagorje County, while Matija Posavec, an independent, was reelected as the head of Medjimurje County. The remaining 14 counties will elect their prefects in the runoffs on 30 May.

Milanovic supports EU integration of Western Balkans as soon as possible (Hina

Zagreb and Ljubljana are here to help their Western Balkan friends join the European Union because that is in everyone’s interest, just as it is presumably in Slovenia’s interest that Croatia enters the Schengen zone, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said in the Slovenian lakeside resort of Bled on Sunday. Milanovic and his Slovenian host Borut Pahor held a working meeting ahead of the annual Brdo-Brijuni Process summit on Monday. The two presidents are the co-chairs of this initiative. Over the last ten years, the Brdo-Brijuni Process has shown that “it makes perfect sense,” Milanovic told the press before meeting Pahor, according to a press release from the Croatian president’s office. “We are here to encourage and help our friends and neighbours from the Western Balkans, basically the countries of the former Yugoslavia plus Albania, to join the European Union as soon and as simply as possible because that is in everyone’s interest,” the Croatian President said. Milanovic said he presumed it was also in Slovenia’s interest that Croatia should join the Schengen zone as soon as possible. “All this is part of a broader story in which we will do all we can, notably our governments, but we too, so that our neighbors become, as soon as possible, part of the community which we belong to,” Milanovic said. “After all, Europe is one and should be one because whenever it was divided in the past it was not good,” he added. Milanovic called for cooperation despite differences. “We do not have the same views on all issues, but I believe that our views are compatible and can produce a result,” the Croatian President said. He said he was optimistic and expected a good meeting on Monday. The Brdo-Brijuni Process was launched by Croatia and Slovenia in 2013 to address open issues through regional cooperation, stabilize the situation in southeast Europe and create conditions for EU enlargement.

 

Krivokapic to Lajcak: I believe Montenegro will be next EU member state (CdM

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic met with a special EU representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and other Western Balkan (WB) issues Miroslav Lajcak and pointed out that a dynamic communication with EU representatives and member states best confirmed the government’s commitment to become the next EU member. Lajcak noted that one of the EU’s priorities was the European integration of the WB, as “the EU needs the WB” noting that he “expects to see Montenegro’s further progress on the road to the EU through decisive reforms with great pleasure”. The PM, on the other hand, informed Lajcak on the activities related to the fight against corruption and organized crime, and stressed that the Government of Montenegro would ensure the complete rule of law.

 

April elections, first boxes to be reopened amid manipulation claims (ADN

 

Appeals and Sanctions Commission (KAS) accepted this Saturday the request of the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI), to open 24 boxes of election materials in the district of Berat.

It is learned that KAS will examine from the data of the election materials of these 24 boxes the compatibility of the voter lists, their electronic identification. Meanwhile, KAS rejected the request of the Democratic Party, which requested that additional information be obtained from justice institutions and law enforcement agencies, such as SPAK and the Prosecution, to prove, according to Democrats, election violations. At the request of the two members of KAS, Braho and Cefa, this Commission will also administer the data crossover from the PEI device, electronic identification. The next meeting, where the ballot boxes will be opened, is expected to take place on Monday, at 10:00. SMI claims that by opening these boxes it will provide sufficient evidence which can give it its first mandate in the Berat district, removing it from the SP. It is specifically about the mandate of Blendi Klosi, passing to Ardi Cela.

Conflict with Palestine, Israel’s PM thanks Albania for support against ‘terrorist attacks’ (ADN

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed Sunday his gratitude to Albania and 24 other countries for standing by his country’s side and backing up its right to defend itself “against terrorist attacks”. Netanyahu released this statement on the social networks after saying that this past week, millions of Israelis were forced into bomb shelters as missiles “rained down” on their cities. “Thank you for resolutely standing with Israel and supporting out right to self-defense against terrorist attacks,” wrote Netanyahu. On 11 May, the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEFA) expressed concern about what is happening between Palestine and Israel. “Albania is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Jerusalem and in and around Gaza. Rocket attacks against Israel are unjustifiable and risk a serious escalation of violence which would exact a toll on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We join the calls from our friends and allies for calm to be restored and further escalation to be avoided,” the MEFA declared on the social media.

Plane with 267 American soldiers arrived at Rinas Airport (Radio Tirana

The plane with 267 American soldiers arrived at Rinas Airport. This troop comes as part of the “Defender Europe 21” exercise, which has been taking place in Albania for weeks and a number of NATO member states are participating. Also present at the arrival of the military troops at Rinas Airport was the US Ambassador to Albania Yuri Kim, who emphasized, among other things, that the exercise brings economic growth. “USA troops are coming to Albania. This is the largest American exercise in the Balkans. It is important and historical. This exercise brings employment and mobility to the economy. The US has spent $35 million on hiring drivers, cooks, etc. It is a ‘big deal’. I think that in the end everyone will have experienced Albanian hospitality. Thank you,” said Kim.

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