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Belgrade Media Report 27 May 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 27 May 2021


Vucic on the French solution: We’ll see what’s going on between Pristina and Athens (TV Pink/Tanjug/Beta)
Vucic with Falconi: Serbia for compromise along with national interests (RTS/Tanjug/RTV)
Brnabic, De Falco discuss Serbia-US cooperation (Tanjug)
Hasanpur: We fully support Serbia’s territorial integrity (Radio Belgrade 1)
Exhumation of Kosovo war victims completed in western Serbia (N1)


Bosnia & Herzegovina

IAWG adopts Rules of Procedure (FTV)
Inzko: You will sooner get new High Representative than Law on Elections (Dnevni list/ Federalni Radio)
Dodik: Signatories to Annex 10 should give consent in election of new HR (RTRS)
Croatia allows transit traffic of trucks from B&H via Velika Kladusa-Maljevac border crossing (O kanal)

Slovenian PM supports Croatia joining Schengen (HRT)
Kristo: Maintaining status quo regarding Law on Elections undermines foundations and brings into question stability of B&H (Vecernji list)

Xi Jinping to Djukanovic: We attach great importance to highway project implementation (CdM)
Several ambassadors recalled (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia

Roth comes to Skopje to encourage Zaev and Dimitrov, insists that a deal with Bulgaria is possible in June (Republika)

Roth: Negotiations should be opened with Albania and North Macedonia (Radio Tirana)

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Vucic on the French solution: We’ll see what’s going on between Pristina and Athens (TV Pink/Tanjug/Beta


Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated on Wednesday that Greece was assuring Belgrade that it would not recognize the independence of Kosovo, but that developments in relations between Athens and Pristina were “certainly not the best of news” for Serbia. He added that “big and important” consultations on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija will follow in the coming days. Asked about speculations that France could take over the “lead” regarding the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Vucic answered for TV Pink: “I will discuss things in the coming days. It is important for us that we protect our national and state interests, and everything else in the coming days.” As he said, there will be big and important consultations in Belgrade, and then he expects the dialogue to continue in Brussels. Asked about the allegations that France could propose an interim agreement according to which the north of Kosovo and Metohija would get autonomy, and the Serbian Orthodox Church a special status, in exchange for the recognition of Greece and visa liberalization for Kosovo, he said: “We can talk about it in the coming days. I wouldn’t talk in advance before we are certain what’s on the table.” He added that there were some changes in relations (between Athens and Pristina). “I expect to see, since there have been some changes in relations, whether it is just a trade office or there is a ‘point of interest’ between Pristina and Athens. We will see how it goes, so we will inform the public,” Vucic said. On speculations that Greece could recognize Kosovo, he says that Greece assures us that it will not do that. “They assure us that they will not recognize Kosovo, and these allegations that we have heard are certainly not the best news for us. We will see, we will inform the public about it,” Vucic pointed out. After a meeting with representatives of the German company Bizerba, Vucic stated that the agenda of the 29 May meeting of the Main Committee of the Serbian Progressive Party would include the unification with the Serbian Patriotic Alliance of Aleksandar Sapic and discussing of problems within the Progressive Party.


Vucic with Falconi: Serbia for compromise along with national interests (RTS/Tanjug/RTV


In a conversation with French Ambassador Jean-Louis Falconi about the future of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic pointed out that there is always readiness to find a compromise solution and that he will respond to the invitation from Brussels, but also that much strength and energy to reach a compromise, and that our delegation will take into account the state and national interests of Serbia. Vucic emphasized the importance that cooperation with France had for Serbia, both on the political and economic level, and that he was pleased with the attention that President Macron devotes to the relations between the two countries, the President’s press service announced. Vucic and Falconi also talked about bilateral relations, the progress of our country on the European path, as well as the situation in the region.

At the meeting, which was attended by Ministers Sinisa Mali and Nebojsa Stefanovic, they discussed further strengthening of cooperation, especially in the field of infrastructure, as well as in the field of defense, i.e. military-technical cooperation.


Brnabic, De Falco discuss Serbia-US cooperation (Tanjug


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic held a video meeting on Wednesday with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe and Eurasia David De Falco to discuss ways to enhance Serbia-US economic cooperation. Brnabic and De Falco also discussed enhancement of cooperation with US companies and institutes in the field of energy diversification and renewables, as well as in the digital economy and research and development. Noting that work on a strategic integrated national plan on the energy sector and climate was underway, Brnabic said the legal frameworks had been created for a favorable business environment and for opening the market to new investments in that field. De Falco said Serbia had proven to be a good market to invest in and one of the leading economies in the region, the Serbian government said in a statement. He said economic cooperation must be strengthened in sectors offering mutual benefits and added that US companies in Serbia were operating with the same intensity even in the present epidemiological conditions. The digital economy and the IT sector are recognized as the pillars of future Serbia-US cooperation, while major project-based cooperation with US companies could be achieved in digitalization of the Serbian health care sector, the parties said.

The meeting was also attended by Serbian Ambassador to the US Marko Djuric and US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey.


Hasanpur: We fully support Serbia’s territorial integrity (Radio Belgrade 1


Relations between Serbia and Iran are good, without negative points, said Rashid Hasanpur, the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic in Serbia, in an interview for Radio Belgrade 1. He said that the recent visit of Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic to Tehran shows that.

Hasanpur stated that political cooperation is at the highest level. “We have a great understanding when it comes to regional and international issues, because both sides try to have principled positions based on international law and norms. That is why we did not recognize the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence and fully support the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia. “On the other hand, Serbia is constantly trying not to join the resolutions against Iran and to vote against them,” Hasanpur said. The high level of political cooperation should be used to improve economic relations, the Iranian Ambassador points out. Hasanpur pointed out that preparations are currently underway for the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Tehran.


Exhumation of Kosovo war victims completed in western Serbia (N1


Forensic teams completed the exhumation of Kosovo war victims at a site in western Serbia close to the border with Kosovo on Wednesday. The investigation of the Kizevak site outside the town of Raska was conducted under an order from the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution. The remains will be identified using DNA tests by the International Missing Persons Commission. The exhumations were started on 30 November 2020 under an order from the War Crimes Section of the Belgrade Higher Court. The site was visited by Serbian government Missing Persons Commission chief Veljko Odalovic and the head of the missing persons delegation from Pristina Ibrahim Makoli both of who confirmed that the investigation of the site had been completed. Odalovic said that new sites are being investigated. They were at the site with experts from the International Missing Persons Commission, EULEX and International Committee of the Red Cross.




IAWG adopts Rules of Procedure (FTV


The third session of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for changes to the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Election Law was held in Sarajevo on Wednesday. FTV stressed that the beginning of the session of the IAWG was marked by harsh words, name-calling, swearing, insults and finally calls for physical confrontations. Member of the IAWG Nenad Stevandic (‘United Srpska’) stated that while he was speaking, member of the IAWG Dzenan Djonlagic (DF) addressed insulting words at him, such as moron. “I told him if that was a provocation, now I have to say to you that I will slap you and the session will fail and that is not ok,” Stevandic said. After this, a short break was made in order to calm the tensions down. After the break, the IAWG adopted the Rules of Procedure of this working group according to which the IAWG votes by consensus. FTV stressed that now, proposals of changes to the B&H Election Law have to be concretized. Member of the IAWG Borjana Kristo (HDZ B&H) stated that focus and interest when it comes to the Election Law are decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H on legitimate representation of constituent peoples. FTV noted that there are objections to the request to include and implement recommendations of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) in proposals of changes to the B&H Election Law. SDA representatives claim that this cannot be done without the B&H CEC. Chair of the IAWG Alma Colo (SDA) stated that the B&H CEC should be involved in this process because the CEC can initiate changes to the Election Law in accordance with the law. “They have always done this so far. Now, we have explicit opposition”, Colo pointed out. Namely, HDZ B&H and SNSD do not want participation of the B&H CEC in this process. Member of the IAWG Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac (SNSD) stated that “as long as the B&H CEC is in an illegally appointed composition, we cannot nor we want to accept that Commission.” Members of the IAWG from the opposition did not want to give statements to the media. However, they have been claiming from the beginning that everything is premeditated and meaningless. FTV stressed that now it is the international community’s turn. The international community announced that its representatives will attend the next session of the IAWG, stressing that it will ask for inclusion of the B&H CEC. Stevandic claims that someone is trying to amend the B&H Election Law beyond the IAWG. “Whether someone, somewhere already finished the Election Law and is trying to accuse the IAWG as the body that will be against something by using known mechanisms… That is what is before us and we will find out soon enough. If someone did that, new Election Law will surely not be adopted,” Stevandic emphasized.


Inzko: You will sooner get new High Representative than Law on Elections (Dnevni list/Federalni Radio


Dnevni list daily carried High Representative Valentin Inzko’s interview to Federalni Radio. Inzko stated that he expects a new High Representative to be appointed at the session of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) next week and he added that he is not entirely satisfied because more could have been done but he also reminded that the policy of the international community at the moment of his appointment was to shift the responsibility onto domestic politicians. Inzko added that stability in B&H is crucial and that the new High Representative will work in a systematic manner, adding that there are already some proposals. As for Russia’s stance on this matter, Inzko said that they will hopefully give their support, as they gave it to his appointment. He also reminded that German Chancellor Angela Merkel too stated that she wants B&H to return to “international agenda”, because security in the Balkans means security in Europe as well. “If there is an order and rule of law here then Europe will be peaceful as well,” Inzko noted. Asked if B&H had been deliberately removed from the international agenda over past years, Inzko said that the international dynamics is rigid but there is also a competition of conflicts. “Frozen conflicts need to be addressed. We all know situation in B&H, this is an imperfect peace and for some, especially in Republika Srpska (RS) wartime goals still exist. We have to be grateful to Milorad Dodik, he is not hiding this so it is perfectly clear to us. So, he wants peaceful divorce. Although, neither it will be peaceful nor there will be a divorce,” Inzko said and reminded that he always says that B&H will never be a centralized state but it must be functional. He also noted that he can personally reconcile with Dodik but he can never reconcile with him politically: “He again said recently that B&H is impossible. If B&H is an impossible state, then Europe too is impossible,” Inzko argued. Speaking about changes to the Law on Elections of B&H, Inzko assessed that both changes to the Law on Elections of B&H and Constitution of B&H are necessary as everyone in B&H has been witnessing discrimination of some 300,000 citizens for the past 20 years. He noted that removing of the discrimination is priority, just as it is preventing of election thefts. “The Central Election Commission of B&H (B&H CEC) is the most competent to deal with the changes and they were thrown out. The ruling of the Constitutional Court in Ljubic case is implemented, to be clear immediately no need to reheat this. It is implemented and concerns only the entities, the Federation of B&H, not the state,” said Inzko. HR avoided to comment HDZ B&H proposal for electoral reform, reminding that Kresimir Zubak put it nicely when he said that it is necessary to address the discontent of Croats in the RS as well, asking whether they have legitimate representatives there. “This is not the question of relation between Dragan Covic and Milorad Dodik, but question of truth and justice. And then there is the issue that needs to be addressed whether Serbs have the same rights in cantons,” Inzko added. Asked to explain what legitimacy means, Inzko replied that it is obvious that only those who have a certificate issued by a political party is a legitimate representative. He underlined that Croats are frustrated and it is necessary to have understanding for this, but it is necessary to create a “nice election law, which will be for entire B&H”. Inzko said that people must have same rights and noted: “And when 300,000 people cannot run in elections that is not equality. Let constituent peoples have protection mechanisms, but who is talking about legitimacy of citizens? I never heard of it”. “However, if we were to have more of entities, then unitarism would be extremely strong, just like in the RS. This would represent an additional division of B&H. Therefore, one must be honest and say that unitarism is extremely strong in the entities”, Inzko noted and assessed that the biggest destabilizing factor in B&H at the moment are the three constituent peoples which are unable to reach agreements. Asked if the time has come for someone to be removed from the political space in B&H, Inzko said that there were several phases in activities of the international community so far: “There was first the robust phase when we did many good things. Then we entered the second phase which included taking over of the responsibility by domestic politicians. And nothing happened. Therefore, I say that a certain mix is needed here, to have domestic leaders take over the responsibility but we should also take elements from the first, robust phase. The second phase has been exhausted, there were some positive things but those were too slow, it is necessary to accelerate things,” Inzko said and assessed that the presence of foreigners is needed in order to consolidate and stabilize the country and only then the international community can withdraw. “We made a mistake 12 years ago, after the robust phase, because we withdrew ourselves suddenly and left everything to domestic politicians. That was too fast”, Inzko said and noted that he is convinced that Christian Schmidt as the High Representative will work in a more systematic manner than he did. In the end, Inzko said that he absolutely believes in B&H which has existed for more than 900 years and which is the only country in Europe, except for Switzerland, whose borders never changed.


Dodik: Signatories to Annex 10 should give consent in election of new HR (RTRS


Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik has told Srna that the High Representative (HR) in B&H is an institution established by Annex 10 to the Dayton Framework Agreement for Peace in B&H and that the RS demands that the Dayton Accords and all annexes, which, among others, were signed by the RS, are consistently respected. When asked to comment on a statement by HR Valentin Inzko that B&H will get a new HR sooner than it will get a new Election Law, and that his successor should be appointed in the coming days at a session of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), Dodik has said that all signatories to Annex 10 should give their consent in the election of a new HR, who is then appointed by the UN Security Council (UN SC). He recalled that only the first High Representative was elected this way in 1995 and said that the RS will insist on respecting procedures that imply the consent of signatories to the appointment of the new HR. Dodik also stated that neither the Annex 10 or any other document stipulate the existence of Deputy High Representative, and this office has been existing for years without any legal grounds.


Croatia allows transit traffic of trucks from B&H via Velika Kladusa-Maljevac border crossing (O kanal


O Kanal carries that strong diplomatic pressure of members of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) seems to have yielded results. Namely, Croatia allowed transit traffic of trucks from B&H via the Velika Kladusa-Maljevac border crossing whose blockade, due to the adoption of the decision on re-categorization of roads in Croatia, caused problems and brought carriers from B&H into a situation in which their costs are rising, while B&H economy was brought into a situation in which it is less competitive. The B&H CoM discussed on Wednesday, among other things, the re-categorization of roads which led to transit traffic for trucks from B&H exceeding 7.5 tons being banned at five border crossings between the two countries, including Ivanica-Gornji Brgat, Velika Kladusa-Maljevac, Brcko-Gunja, Strmica-Strmica and Osoje-Vinjani Gornji. Following the B&H CoM’s session, B&H Minister of Transport and Communications Vojin Mitrovic hinted that Croatia will allow trucks from B&H to temporarily transit via the Velika Kladusa-Maljevac border crossing until a final solution to this issue is found. “Did Croatia need to inform us? It should have. It is their obligation precisely in accordance with the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) and agreements they signed” Mitrovic said. Mitrovic explained that the decision on re-categorization of roads in Croatia is identical to the decision of Croatia from 2008, but that the traffic ban had not been implemented so far, adding that the decision was made unilaterally and that the SAA implies agreement and talks between the involved parties. Meanwhile, before Maljevac border crossing was reopened for transit traffic for trucks from B&H, truck drivers from B&H Wednesday were again waiting for hours at the Izacic border crossing to cross into Croatia.


Slovenian PM supports Croatia joining Schengen (HRT


Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Wednesday at a press conference with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli that he supported Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania entering the EU’s border-free Schengen Area because it would increase the security of the entire bloc. Jansa also supported EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, saying many problems there, including border issues, would be taken off the agenda with the accession of those countries. EU enlargement is in our common interest. It should be our strategic response to numerous challenges, he added. He said that when the EU was dealing with the financial and then the migrant crisis, neglecting enlargement, some other factors started expanding their influence in the Western Balkans. Those foreign factors don’t have the same values as we in the European Union, he added, saying that a European perspective was the answer. We can solve problems by making borders less important. Slovenia is now part of the European Union and Schengen, where there are no physical borders, he added. Jansa announced an EU-Western Balkan summit for 6 October in Slovenia during Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU which is set to begin on 1 July. The statement comes after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Brussels on Tuesday after a two-day extraordinary summit of EU leaders that Croatia was on the right track to join the Schengen area in 2022; and enter the euro zone shortly afterwards. During his stay in Brussels, Plenkovic held bilateral talks on the sidelines of the summit in an attempt to raise awareness about the fact that the European Commission had already given a green light to Croatia and that they had met all the technical criteria to join the Schengen area. The Prime Minister added that the political decision to this effect would be considered after his talks with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson scheduled for next Monday.


Kristo: Maintaining status quo regarding Law on Elections undermines foundations and brings into question stability of B&H (Vecernji list


Vecernji list carried an interview with speaker of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) and Deputy President of HDZ B&H Borjana Kristo, who is also a member of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for changes to the Law on Elections of B&H. Asked to comment on the work of the IAWG that has 14 members and the fact the IAWG failed to adopt its Rules of Procedures during its first session, Kristo replied by saying it is irrelevant if a body has 14, 15, 20 or three members, stressing that the key issue is existence of political will, which existed in the case of identifying solution to the (local) elections in the City of Mostar. Asked to comment on the daily’s remark, according to which maintaining status quo could be the aim of the Bosniak parties, Kristo said that an attempt to maintain status quo, in order to create unitary concept, only undermines foundations of the Dayton agreement and its Annex IV, which eventually brings into question key conditions pertaining to stability and sustainability of B&H and its European future. Asked to comment on possibility of continuation of talks among the political leaders, or whether everything will be left to the IAWG, Kristo replied by saying that continuation of political dialogue at the level of party leaders is foremost important in terms of implementation of reforms processes, which are necessary for obtaining the status of EU candidate. “On that road the legitimate representation of constituent peoples and their equality is an imperative, and one of foundations of the political dialogue at the level of party leaders is the Mostar agreement signed in June of last year, with participation of representatives of the international community in B&H,” said Kristo. Asked to comment on the daily’s remark that many people suspect there will be no changes to the Law on Elections and whether the country could be destabilized if the next elections are held in irregular conditions, Kristo said that changes to the law in line with rulings/judgments of the Constitutional Court of B&H and the European Court of Human Rights are the necessity and priority, hoping that everyone will find enough political wisdom to “complete this issue, foremost in interest of B&H and its stability and future”. Asked to comment on the daily’s remark that a decision on arrival of a new High Representative (HR) is expected shortly and whether the change of the HR is meaningful if the OHR continues to have people “like the duo from the OHR Legal Department that has been pro-Bosniak oriented” Kristo said that recommendations of the European Parliament and the European Commission clearly stress B&H cannot become full EU member as long as the OHR is in place. She added by saying: “Therefore if we are seriously thinking about meeting 14 key priorities from the European Commission’s Opinion in order to get the status of candidate and become part of the European family, any further story about the institution of the OHR is simply meaningless”.


Xi Jinping to Djukanovic: We attach great importance to highway project implementation (CdM


President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic talked on the phone with the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, and on that occasion, it was said that the two countries should continue friendship, strengthen political trust, and through the highway project deepen their cooperation for the benefit of both nations. Djukanovic stressed the cooperation in the field of economy as the most important, within the Belt and Road initiative and the 17 + 1 mechanism. The Chinese president said that China attached great importance to the implementation of the highway project and expressed readiness for the countries to be in contact regarding the grace period. Djukanovic emphasized that, thanks to these initiatives, the most valuable infrastructure project in the history of Montenegro – the construction of the first highway section, was being carried out. The section is expected to be completed by the end of November with a very positive experience of cooperation with CRBC and Exim Bank.


Several ambassadors recalled (RTCG


The government of Montenegro has made a decision to withdraw six ambassadors, confirmed the Minister of Foreign Affairs Djordje Radulovic and said that it was done in order to achieve authentic representation of foreign policy. As previously announced, Ambassador to the United Nations Milica Pejanovic Djurisic, Ambassadors to Croatia Boro Vucinic, Slovenia Vujica Lazovic, Argentina Srdjan Stankovic, United Kingdom Vladimir Beratovic and Montenegrin Ambassador to the Council of Europe Zoran Jankovic were recalled. At a press conference after a meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Radulovic said that the recalled ambassadors had a reasonable amount of time to return to Montenegro and to their duties in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). “All ambassadors were informed of these facts in a timely manner, they were contacted through a phone call,” Radulovic said. He said that the recalled ambassadors, who have a permanent employment in the MFA, will continue to work, and those who came from other positions will return to their previous offices. Asked whether Montenegro will join the EU sanctions against Belarus and how much it could affect the tourist season, Radulovic answered that the foreign policy priorities are clear and that they are the European integration of the country, good regional cooperation and credible NATO membership. According to him, Chapter 31 is just as important as any other.


Roth comes to Skopje to encourage Zaev and Dimitrov, insists that a deal with Bulgaria is possible in June (Republika


German State Minister Michael Roth is in Skopje for meetings with PM Zoran Zaev and Nikola Dimitrov, during which he said that he fully supports the efforts of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Council to open accession talks with Macedonia and Albania. Roth is also visiting Tirana. And while Zaev and Dimitrov learnt to manage expectations after their many failures, Roth kept the hopes up and insisted that there is still chance that the green light will be given in the late June meeting of the European Council. “I am grateful to our friends in the Government and in Bulgaria and thanks to them we now have a great opportunity to come to a solution that will be acceptable to all involved parties as early in June. The Portuguese Presidency is actively working to find such a solution and we in the Federal Government in Berlin are supportive where we can,” Roth said. He did not specify what has changed recently to give him this level of optimism. Dimitrov, in turn, literally used the phrase “managing expectations” and noted that there were high hopes in June 2018, then in June 2019, in October 2019 and finally in March 2020, but every time the hopes of opening accession talks were dashed.


Roth: Negotiations should be opened with Albania and North Macedonia (Radio Tirana


German Foreign Minister Michael Roth demands the opening of negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia. In a post on social media, Roth says the time has come for the European Union to keep its promises. The German Foreign Minister further stated that the future of the Western Balkans is European and the EU must act now. “The time has come for the EU to keep its promises to start membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania. “The future of the Western Balkans is European, let us act decisively now, so that there is no doubt about it later,” says Roth. This reaction comes at a time when North Macedonia and Albania are awaiting the holding of the first Intergovernmental Conference.


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