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Belgrade Media Report 26 May

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Vucic: I don’t expect any changes in Washington’s attitude towards Serbia (B92/Beta/parlamentnilisty.cz)
Support to priorities of Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship; Sweden supports EU mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS/Tanjug)
Dacic: Good cooperation with OSCE (RTV/Tanjug)


Bosnia & Herzegovina

Krivokapic meets with senior RS officials in Banja Luka: Time has come for economy to dominate in region (ATV)
B&H trucks over 7.5 tons cannot enter Croatia at five border crossings (Nova BH)

Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure states new Rulebook does not cancel existing routs for freight transport between B&H and Croatia (Hina)

Montenegrin Justice Minister: Text of fundamental agreement agreed upon with SPC (Dan)
Lakovic: Abazovic receives unprecedented support from MEPs for the fight against crime (Office of the Deputy PM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Bulgaria will ask the EU to provide guarantees that Macedonia will keep its promises (Republika)

Soreca: Albania passed the EU test with the elections! It has met the conditions to hold the Intergovernmental Conference (Radio Tirana)
Germany ‘blames’ Turkey and Balkans countries for high Covid-19 infections last summer; Rama reacts (ADN)

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Vucic: I don’t expect any changes in Washington’s attitude towards Serbia (B92/Beta/parlamentnilisty.cz

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told Czech portal parlamentnilisty.cz that he was not previously informed that Czech President Milos Zeman would apologize, and that this was not part of the joint materials for the preparation of the visit. “I was surprised, very positively, and I was extremely glad to hear his words. That statement is a healing balm for the wound of the Serbian nation. Zeman thus entered the history of Serbia and the Serbian nation, and will enter our history textbooks,” he underlined. Vucic reiterated that Zeman is the first president, such a high-ranking politician who is still on duty, who did something like that. “Do you know how much this means for a small nation in Europe? Our small country was attacked by 19 foreign countries, which will always say that they did it because of a humanitarian catastrophe, because of children. Instead, they killed 72 children in Serbia in air-raids. “Was this the price we were forced to pay? Did they want to punish us in this way? This was really not a legitimate punishment,” he pointed out. He added that Zeman’s words are important to him because of that, because they raise the pride and dignity of our nation. Vucic stated that Zeman could not make the citizens of Serbia happier than by giving such a statement. When asked if he expects NATO to ever apologize for the aggression, he answered with a clear – no. “They will keep repeating that they did the best they could and just wanted to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. If there is truth in this, I have to ask whether the murder of thousands of people, especially 72 Serb children, was just ‘collateral damage’ “Or what? I don’t believe in any official institutional apology from NATO. But if you ask me if Zeman is the last president to do that, I don’t think so. He is the first, but certainly not the last,”” Vucic is convinced. In this regard, he recalled that Madeleine Albright, when she was in Prague a few years ago, when asked about the bombing, answered that they had to do it to save lives. “They always find reasons to defend themselves, but it’s a one-sided approach. I also respect people with whom I don’t have to agree, but it’s a very, very one-sided approach and, above all, it’s not true,” he stressed. When asked what the change at the head of the United States means for Serbia, its foreign policy and whether he expects some changes, Vucic answered that that change does not mean that much. “I know President Biden better than Trump. I saw him briefly twice and talked to him basically only once. While in the past I saw President Biden five times and talked to him four times longer,” Vucic added. If, he says, the question is what the new president of the USA means in the geopolitical sense, Vucic stated that United States of America has recognized Kosovo and does not want to give up that direction. “The United States will, of course, continue to put pressure on Serbia or, not to mention the pressure, but the demand to recognize Kosovo’s independence. But this is a category that does not change in the US foreign policy, so I do not expect any changes,” Vucic said. Asked how the process of resolving the problem of Kosovo and Metohija is going, Vucic said that Serbia is still open for dialogue, because whenever the two sides talk to each other, tensions ease a bit. “And whenever you have a dialogue, you can guarantee a little more security for the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. It is important for us to hold talks and we are interested in finding a compromise solution,” Vucic repeated. He said that at the recent Summit on Brdo near Kranj, in Slovenia, he met Vjosa Osmani, who, he says, expressed interest in everything, except for a compromise solution to that issue. “If their intention is to wait for someone to put pressure on Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence, to make accusations of genocide against Serbia, and I don’t know what else, then I am not an optimist,” Vucic said. All this, he adds, shows that the other side is not interested in dialogue. “Whether we can successfully reach a compromise solution, I don’t know at the moment and I don’t see it as optimistic. I hope we will succeed one day,” Vucic said.

Support to priorities of Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship; Sweden supports EU mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS/Tanjug

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic spoke on Tuesday with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde about priorities of the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship, continuation of European integration of Serbia, the rule of law, media freedoms and the fight against organized crime. At the meeting, which also featured Minister of Justice Maja Popovic and Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic, Linde underlined that Serbia has achieved progress in reforms, but that it is necessary to continue working on their implementation. On that path, Serbia has full support from the organization she currently chairs, Linde said. Brnabic said that Serbia supports priorities of the Swedish OSCE Chairpersonship. Speaking about reform processes, she mentioned her personal dedication to work on the freedom of the media and the security of journalists and underlined that building mutual trust is an achievable goal. Speaking about constitutional changes, Brnabic told Linde that constitutional amendments are in parliamentary procedure, and that the completion of the whole process is expected by the end of the year. She added that the process of adopting amendments to the Constitution also entails a broad public debate, with the previously acknowledged objections from the Venice Commission.

When it comes to EU integration, Brnabic asked for Sweden’s support to opening clusters in the negotiation process and pointed out that that would be a good signal for the citizens of Serbia when it comes to joining the EU. Linde pointed out that Serbia responded well to the challenges during the coronavirus pandemic and praised the donation of vaccines to countries in the region. When it comes to the economy, Linde added that Sweden is increasingly present in Serbia as an investor, that bilateral relations are good and that it also supports the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the mediation of the EU.

Dacic: Good cooperation with OSCE (RTV/Tanjug

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic met on Tuesday with Swedish Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde, currently visiting Serbia. Dacic expressed his full support for the Swedish chairmanship of the OSCE and shared his personal experiences from the chairmanship during 2015, pointing out that these are very complex and delicate tasks. He stressed that Serbia is prizes its cooperation with the OSCE and that the OSCE has made an important contribution to the reform process in Serbia. He highlighted the good cooperation with the OSCE missions in Belgrade and Kosovo. Dacic informed his guest about the joint activities of the Serbian parliament and the OSCE, adding that the Women’s Parliamentary Network, operating successfully since 2013, was formed in cooperation with the OSCE. Linde shared the priorities of the Swedish chairmanship of the OSCE, as well as the challenges the organization faces in its work, stressing how satisfied she was with the good cooperation between the OSCE and Serbia. She was interested in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and pointed out the importance of including more women in this process. The officials opined that the bilateral relations between Serbia and Sweden are very good and both sides expressed readiness to work on their further improvement. They also agreed that the ample Serbian diaspora in Sweden contributes to the understanding and closeness of the two countries.



Krivokapic meets with senior RS officials in Banja Luka: Time has come for economy to dominate in region (ATV


During his two-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), Prime Minister of Montenegro Zdravko Krivokapic visited Banja Luka. The reporter comments that after Krivokapic’s visit that ended on Tuesday, it seems that good relations of B&H with the countries in the region depend primarily on good relations of the Republika Srpska (RS) and its citizens with the citizens of those countries. ATV reports that Krivokapic met on Tuesday with RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic and RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic and the focus of the meetings was on infrastructure, energy and tourism. After the meeting with Cvijanovic, Krivokapic said for the media that the focus of the new Montenegrin Government, unlike the previous one, is on future and better relations with the countries in the region. “It is not important how someone feels, what their nationality is, because the time has come that economy dominates in this region,” said Krivokapic. ATV reports that better road communication, capital energy projects and tourism were topics at the meeting of Krivokapic and Viskovic. After the meeting, Viskovic said it is high time to turn to renewable energy sources. “Expert teams will be formed soon, that will work on finalization of all the agreements,” said Viskovic. Krivokapic said that his visit to the RS represents a turning point. “Montenegro very often forgot certain regions that essentially bear a prefix that was not accepted in the best way by the previous authorities in Montenegro. We want to change that…,” Krivokapic underlined. Cvijanovic stressed that there is great room to improve the foreign trade exchange between Montenegro and the RS. “I believe that this is something that one should work on. Our institutions are committed in that sense,” Cvijanovic said. Viskovic stated that there was no this type of institutional cooperation between Montenegro and the RS, adding that the arrival of the PM enables to enable solving of all of the issues as soon as possible and in the best possible way to the benefit of citizens of the RS and Montenegro.

B&H trucks over 7.5 tons cannot enter Croatia at five border crossings (Nova BH


According to the decision of Croatian authorities concerning re-categorization of roads, transit traffic for trucks from B&H exceeding 7.5 tons is not allowed at five border crossings between the two countries. Namely, the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure of Croatia has adopted a new decision determining public roads on which transit traffic of trucks through the Republic of Croatia must take place. In accordance with the decision, Croatia has banned transit of trucks via five border crossings with B&H, including Ivanica-Gornji Brgat, Velika Kladusa-Maljevac, Brcko-Gunja, Strmica-Strmica and Osoje-Vinjani Gornji. B&H Minister of Transport and Communications Vojin Mitrovic stated that it is very strange that the decision was adopted without any of the representatives of the Croatian authorities informing B&H about the adoption of the decision which came into force on May 20. Due to the entire situation, relevant ministries in B&H are in contact with their Croatian colleagues. B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Stasa Kosarac said that one will use the instruments of contacts with the representatives of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H, primarily Head of the EUD to B&H and EUSR in B&H, Ambassador Johann Sattler, who, according to him, will be informed that we believe that such unilateral decision of Croatian structures must be changed. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H Zoran Perkovic stressed that this is one of the issues that require a prompt reaction given the fact that 70, 80 percent of the total traffic in B&H is performed by road transport companies. Experts claim that if such situation continues, the damage will be measured in millions. In talks with Croatia, relevant B&H officials intend to refer to an interstate agreement that guarantees unhindered traffic of people, but also goods, across all interstate border crossings. Croatia’s decision to ban transit of trucks via five border crossings with B&H Tuesday caused big traffic jams at certain border crossings, including Izacic. A kilometer-long column of trucks could be seen at the Izacic border crossing where truck drivers from B&H were waiting between four to five hours to cross into Croatia.


Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure states new Rulebook does not cancel existing routs for freight transport between B&H and Croatia (Hina


After reactions by the B&H authorities with regard to closing down of five B&H-Croatia border crossings for freight traffic the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure has issued a statement that the new Rulebook on Transit Transport does not cancel the existing routs for the freight transport between the two countries. “Furthermore, we note that according to the previous Decision on designating public roads for the freight traffic through the Republic of Croatia, that was in force since 1 January 2009 until the new Rulebook entered in force, the freight transport for vehicles in transit over 7.5 tons and 14 m length was not permitted at the said border crossings,” reads the statement by the Ministry.


Montenegrin Justice Minister: Text of fundamental agreement agreed upon with SPC (Dan


The contents of the fundamental agreement which has been agreed upon between the legal teams of the government and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is entirely in accordance with the Constitution and the legal order of Montenegro, and there is not a single reason for this agreement not to be signed in the shortest possible deadline, said the Montenegrin Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavic on Tuesday for the site of the Podgorica daily Dan. In response to the objections that the fundamental agreement was supposed to be published first, and speculations on its content and manner and time of its signing, Leposavic said that the agreement “was not a law, but rather a bilateral legal act” and that it therefore did not need to be previously published nor does it fall under the regulations of a public debate. “No fundamental agreement made so far (with other religious communities in Montenegro) had been previously published, or debated, so that there is no reason to act differently concerning the SPC,” Leposavic said.


Lakovic: Abazovic receives unprecedented support from MEPs for the fight against crime (Office of the Deputy PM


“We express our gratitude to the MEPs for confirming the efforts of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the fight against organized crime,” said Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister for National Security Miodrag Lakovic on the occasion of the adopted Resolution of the Rapporteur for Montenegro in the European Parliament Tonino Picula. Referring to the Resolution in the European Parliament, which was adopted with 518 votes in favor, 97 against and 77 abstentions, Lakovic stated that it is unprecedented that the EP explicitly supports the efforts of one member of the government in the fight against organized crime and clearly condemns death threats previously addressed to him. “We were pleasantly surprised by the point of the Resolution on Montenegro, which praises the efforts of the Deputy Prime Minister in arresting members of organized criminal groups. Although the Resolution contains many expressions of concern, mainly due to inherited problems, this represents a great success, satisfaction and encouragement for serious issues that should be opened in the coming period concerning the rule of law,” Lakovic emphasized. Abazovic received praise from the European Parliament for his contribution to the recent arrest of members of organized criminal groups. At the same time, the MEPs in the adopted Resolution strongly condemned the death threats addressed to him and called for the protection of all officials dealing with corruption and organized crime, despite the risk to their own lives and expressed solidarity with them.


Bulgaria will ask the EU to provide guarantees that Macedonia will keep its promises (Republika

Bulgaria’s interim Foreign Minister Svetlan Stoev said that talks on the dispute with Macedonia are the highest priority for the country. He implicitly accused Macedonia of violating the 2017 Zaev – Borisov treaty and said that Bulgaria will turn to the EU to demand guarantees that the treaty will be upheld. Bulgaria is currently blocking Macedonia from opening EU accession talks, while it demands serious concessions on matters of national identity and history – as provided in the treaty. For this, Bulgaria faced some pressure from EU officials and countries like Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Portugal. “We are looking to return this matter in the normal European format, so that the EU member states can review the issue and give Bulgaria the necessary guarantees that what is agreed in the bilateral format will be implemented in the future. This EU monitoring will guarantee that the bilateral treaties will be implemented after they are signed,” Stoev said.


Soreca: Albania passed the EU test with the elections! It has met the conditions to hold the Intergovernmental Conference (Radio Tirana

Parliamentary elections were a test Albania passed successfully. That was the statement issued by the EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca, as he said that all conditions have been met to hold the Intergovernmental Conference, where the decision for the official opening of negotiations is expected to be taken. “Regarding the European Union, we can say that Albania has met all the conditions to hold the Intergovernmental Conference. The member states will take a decision in the coming weeks, we think that the time has come for this decision to be taken and we continue to believe that the EU is not complete without the Western Balkans”. Soreca cited the OSCE / ODIHR report, saying that 25 April went smoothly, while the irregularities alleged by the opposition should follow the institutional path. “We considered the election day an exam, that is, how the election day would go, and in fact the OSCE / ODIHR preliminary report made it clear: Election day went smoothly, without problems. So for us the test was the day. It was very important how the Electoral Code would be implemented. As for the opposition, I have said and I will repeat that any irregularities must be pursued institutionally,” said Soreca.

Germany ‘blames’ Turkey and Balkans countries for high Covid-19 infections last summer; Rama reacts (ADN


Germany needs to stay vigilant and further bring down the number of coronavirus infections if the country is to enjoy a “carefree summer” and large-scale reopening’s, Health Minister Jens Spahn said. Germany has in recent weeks managed to break a third wave of the pandemic after imposing strict nationwide curbs and picking up the pace of vaccinations. Germany’s 16 regional states have started relaxing restrictions, with some reopening beer gardens, hotels and swimming pools while others are bringing pupils back to school full-time. But Spahn warned against opening up too soon. “Caution and vigilance remain the order of the day. Last summer the incidence rate was below 20. We should aim for that again”. The minister also said Germany had to learn lessons from the summer of 2020, when returning holidaymakers led to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Spahn said special attention should be paid to trips by people visiting relatives in Turkey and Balkan countries, which at one point last year “accounted for around 50 percent of all new infections” in Germany. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama came out openly against this statement, even sharply criticizing Spahn. “It is a scandal that a German minister publicly denounces the Balkans and thus also devalues ​​people with a migration background” stated Rama. “A German health minister should take care of the vaccination of the German population and not arouse stereotypical dissatisfaction against the Balkans in order to maintain a significantly worse record”, while adding that he “will not allow Albania to be portrayed as a danger zone for holiday travel, there are no figures to prove this.”


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