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Belgrade Media Report 31 May 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 31 May 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: I won’t sign independence of Kosovo (Beta/RTS/Politika/Novosti)
Unanimously – SNS and SPAS united (B92)
Selakovic: Serbia proud of China’s support regarding Kosovo and Metohija (Politika/RTS)
Djuric: Biden administration recognizes Washington agreement (Politika)
Serbian Orthodox Church elects Joanikije to serve as Metropolitan of Montenegro (FoNet)
Impersonal position on Kosovo and Metohija (Danas)
Knezevic: This is an unprecedented scandal (B92)
General Mojsilovic: KFOR only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo and Metohija (RTV)
Provelegios: Recognition of Kosovo by Greece will not happen (Tanjug)
Germany nominates Schmidt although it was advocating shutting down of OHR (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Inzko reflects on Schmidt’s appointment as new HR (Face TV)
Cvijanovic points out that imposition of solutions is unacceptable to RS (RTRS)
Dodik: PIC’s appointment of Schmidt as new HR is unacceptable (ATV/RTRS/RS Radio)
Croatia

Voters in four biggest cities elect new mayors (Hina)
Croatian President returns war decorations to General Branimir Glavas (Hina)
Venice Commission and European Union are getting involved in electoral reform in B&H (Vecernji list)
Montenegro

Embassies prevented Krivokapic from signing fundamental agreement with SPC via (Pobjeda/Vijesti)
Metropolitan: Concord, unity needed just as much as air (Dan)
Albania

Committee of Inquiry approves the report on impeachment of Meta (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: I won’t sign independence of Kosovo (Beta/RTS/Politika/Novosti

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he would not sign any recognition of Kosovo’s independence regardless of pressure, which he said would be huge around mid-July, when the dialogue on Kosovo is slated to resume. “The point of running a country is in its independence. You can’t make decisions on behalf of Serbia. They won’t be made by any foreigner nor ambassador,” Vucic said at the opening of the session of the SNS Main Board.

On the topic of the dialogue with Pristina, he stressed that the other side was not meeting the obligations that it undertook in previously achieved agreements, but “the West is not very perturbed by that”. He also said that a strategy had been devised against him, one that entailed pressure on countries that have not recognized Kosovo as independent, but also “the further criminalization of my family”. “They did that with the support of some of our members who presumed that that they were going to get medals from abroad and rise to power,” Vucic said.

Unanimously – SNS and SPAS united (B92

The main board of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) made a decision on unification with the Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS). The session of the Main Board of the SNS began in the Kombank Hall in Belgrade with an address by the party leader Aleksandar Vucic. The second item on the agenda of the Main Board was the unification of the SNS and SPAS. Vucic said that they had prepared a declaration which would be an important document in the work of that party. “It is important for us to work on the unity of Serbia. To fight for a clear majority that will bring results. The result is a new paradigm of SNS policy. That is what we are leaving behind. That is why I wanted and participated in the negotiations with Mr. Sapic, because I wanted us not to constantly divide, but to show responsibility and to be able to unite. That our big family, our party brings people together. Our party must never be what some other political parties were,” Vucic said. He says that the SNS must take into account the interests of the people. “We have agreed on all the most important goals and I think it is important that the great events that await us, in the face of great pressures and the extraordinary results we achieve in the economy and health, that it is important for us to have new people and prepare for the party assembly. The party assembly will be held between 21 and 24 October. We will have more plenums, make important decisions, recommendations for the party’s work on the ground and programs for the future until 2030,” Vucic said. Pursuant to Article 15 of the Statute, the Main Board decided that the members of SPAS should join the SNS in its entirety. “I state that we unanimously accepted our friends from SPAS to our party,” Vucic pointed out. He also read the text of the declaration of unification of SNS and SPAS, which, as he said, will be one of the fundamental political documents of the SNS for the future. Topics at the session of the Main Board are the unification of SNS and SPAS, as well as, as Vucic said earlier, plans, programs, but also problems within the party.

Selakovic: Serbia proud of China’s support regarding Kosovo and Metohija (Politika/RTS

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic stated on Saturday, after a meeting in Guiyang with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, that the two countries will continue to work on improving political, economic and all other relations, although they are currently at their highest level in our modern history. This was a unique opportunity to discuss the existing relations between Serbia and China and their future improvement. We are two countries that have a comprehensive strategic partnership and that are proud of their steel friendship, marked by the best relations between our presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Xi Jinping. Those relations were the best stimulus for the development of our bilateral relations, said Selakovic. Selakovic stated that he talked with his Chinese colleague about cooperation and mutual support in international forums and organizations, because our countries are fully committed to respecting the international legal order and the UN Charter. Serbia is proud of the fact that it has the support of the People’s Republic of China regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija. Your support, as well as the support of your ministry, is something that contributes to our difficult position being less difficult and to feeling stronger in the fight to resist the pressure on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, Selakovic said. Recalling that since the historic visit of President Xi Jinping to Serbia in 2016, the trade exchange of our countries has tripled, and Serbian exports to China have increased 15 times over, he stated that these are exact and visible results of our good political and economic cooperation. We completely agreed on all the issues we discussed and we will be there for each other as in previous years. We expect the next historic visit of President Xi Jinping, because such was his previous visit, after which everything started to develop in a good direction, Selakovic pointed out. Wang Yi stated that the Chinese and Serbian peoples are heroic and peoples of integrity, that they fought side by side and supported each other in the fight for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that today they crossed their arms on the path to progress. It has been proven that the friendship and cooperation between China and Serbia have contributed to the well-being of our peoples, international relations, and the protection of international equality and justice, he noted, adding that there is a mutual desire to promote friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership. Wang Yi pointed out that our two countries will continue to support each other on issues of common interest, but also that they will continue economic cooperation, cooperation in the field of education, as well as internationally, and that they will continue to show solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.

Djuric: Biden administration recognizes Washington agreement (Politika

Serbian Ambassador to the US Marko Djuric has said that the administration of US President Joseph Biden recognized all of the terms of the Washington agreement signed under previous US president Donald Trump. In a Saturday interview to Politika, Djuric said that in the past weeks he had spoken with representatives of the US Department of State, National Security Council and members of the new administration and received encouraging messages about their attitude toward the Washington agreement and that there was support for everything that was written to be carried out. On the topic of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Djuric said Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti had “in recent weeks shown a tendency to contrariness and a less than constructive approach, even toward suggestions from senior representatives of the US administration”. “From the talks we have had in previous weeks, it appears that the US will support the EU efforts as the main actor in line with the UN Security Council’s mandate in 2011 for conducting the dialogue,” Djuric stressed. He said that “bearing in mind that since the beginning of the year, instead of suppressing violence, we have witnessed dozens of attacks on Serbian Orthodox Church property and messages about the abolition of endangered church property and Serbian shrines, it is a confirmation of immaturity and unwillingness to take responsibility for the security and protection of sanctities.”

Serbian Orthodox Church elects Joanikije to serve as Metropolitan of Montenegro (FoNet

The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) said that it filled the vacant dioceses and that the former head of the Eparchy of Budimlja and Niksic, Joanikije, had been elected Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, while his former post was taken over by Metodije of Dioclea and the Eparchy of Valjevo was taken over by Isihije of Mohacs. Patriarch Porfirije was also elected head of the Holy Synod, the highest executive and judicial authority in the SPC.

The SPC assembly said that in its latest meeting in Belgrade it discussed “phenomena that endanger, and in some cases violate the unity of the Orthodox Church.”

Impersonal position on Kosovo and Metohija (Danas

This year’s Synod is the first one over the past five years, counting also the two-year pause in the Synod sessions, which didn’t officially with a statement reiterate the position of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) on explicit opposition to independence, division and delineation in Kosovo and Metohija, even though the Brussels negotiations are entering the finale and are heading towards the signing of the legally-binding comprehensive agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. The official Synod statement underlined “special attention to the position of the Church and position of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, where injustice, pressure and violence against the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija and endangerment of identity, freedom, rights and property of the SPC continue in an increasingly sever form”. Though, the Synod officially stated that it “considers unacceptable for the draft law on Serbia’s cultural heritage to exclude the territory of Kosovo and Metohija from its sphere of action, although the biggest Serbian sanctities and most important Serbian cultural monuments are located there”. On the other hand, Kosovo and Metohija was the main tasked topic to the Synod members at the lunch with Aleksandar Vucic, after which the Synod didn’t issue a statement.

Knezevic: This is an unprecedented scandal (B92

Milan Knezevic, the leader of the Democratic Front (DF), assessed that Krivokapic’s non-signing of the fundamental agreement present a scandal of unprecedented proportions. Being hosted on the TV show Focus on TV B92, he said that this means that Zdravko Krivokapic does not intend to sign that contract. “This is a first-class scandal for which Krivokapic does not have the support of the DF, neither the support of the Church, nor the support of voters who gave us a vote to resolve relations with the Serbian Orthodox Church. Just when you think Krivokapic cannot create a new scandal, he did it again, which only confirms that he cannot perform his duty,” Knezevic said. Krivokapic started citing the conditions to sign the basic contract, Knezevic points out, and adds that it is a clear sign that he is under someone’s influence.

“It was said that the contract would be signed immediately after the Easter holidays, then it was postponed, yesterday he came to sign the Fundamental Agreement, and then he asked for it to be postponed again and signed on a new date in Cetinje. So, it is obvious that Krivokapic does not intend to sign the Fundamental Agreement,” Knezevic concluded.

General Mojsilovic: KFOR only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo and Metohija (RTV

The Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army, General Milan Mojsilovic, met on Friday in Belgrade with KFOR Commander Major General Frank Federici. They talked about the current security situation in Kosovo and Metohija and the activities that are being undertaken to monitor the situation on the ground and to preserve and improve peace and security in the area of the southern Serbian province. General Mojsilovic pointed out this time as well that KFOR is the only legitimate armed formation in Kosovo and Metohija, since the Military Technical Agreement, as well as other signed agreements with KFOR, do not recognize other parties than the security forces of the Republic of Serbia and KFOR, and that as such, it is most responsible for the security of the population in the entire area of Kosovo and Metohija and the protection of our national, cultural, historical and religious heritage.

Provelegios: Recognition of Kosovo by Greece will not happen (Tanjug

Greece does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and there is no indication that this will change, says the leader of the Civic Party of Serbian Greeks Vassilios Provelegios, who believes that an Athens government that would recognize Kosovo would collapse as a result. In a statement to Tanjug, he said that, for years, Greece had successfully resisted the pressure to recognize Kosovo and that there was no reason for this to be any different now. “A recognition is not going to happen,” Provelegios said in a comment on rising pressure by major powers aimed at getting Greece to recognize the so-called Kosovo. He urged decision-makers in Greece to be more proactive in lobbying for Serbia on the Kosovo and Metohija issue. “In case, as a result of global political shifts, Greece were to recognize Kosovo, it would be an encouragement to the other four EU member states (that do not recognize it) to recognize Kosovo’s independence,” Provelegios said. He said he was confident an Athens government that would recognize Kosovo would collapse as a result and that Greeks would react similarly to the way they had reacted at the time of the 1999 NATO bombing of FR Yugoslavia, when they showed their “sympathies, love and friendship towards Serbia.”

Germany nominates Schmidt although it was advocating shutting down of OHR (Politika)

The daily reminded that German politician Christian Schmidt was appointed as the new High Representative by the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) with dissenting opinion of the Russian Embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). Namely, Russia is of the view that the UN Security Council should decide on this appointment.  The daily also reminded that Schmidt comes from Germany which advocated shutting down of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and is a member of CSU. He performed a number of party, parliamentary and state functions and was the Minister of Agriculture in the Cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2014 to 2018. He was also intensively dealing with the Western Balkans countries, especially B&H, at the beginning of 1990s as the Spokesperson for CSU for foreign and defense policy. Following his appointment, Schmidt said that until he assumes the post on August 1, he will focus on “establishing a close coordination with domestic leaders and international community” as well as on “exchange of ideas with elected representatives and citizens, especially young generation”.  The daily reminded that the Republika Srpska (RS) too opposed Schmidt’s appointment and noted that the RS officials have been strongly reacting to “past decisions and moves of outgoing High Representative (Valentin Inzko) that were aimed against Serb people and the RS” and the RS repeatedly asked for closure of the OHR. Commenting the appointment of Schmidt and resignation of Inzko, Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik assessed that this was “a bluff by the international community”. At the same time, political parties from Sarajevo both praised Schmidt and expressed their regret over Inzko’s departure. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic assessed that the new High Representative will hopefully “enjoy a greater support than his predecessor” and also be able “to do more for B&H”. Inzko said that Schmidt’s appointment is an announcement of a more attacking approach of the international community to solving of problems in B&H and he should also be using the authority which enables him to impose decisions and punishments. Inzko also said that Schmidt already held talks with high-ranking officials from Washington and also paid a visit to Brussels and Berlin over past days and had a phone conversation with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic as well.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Inzko reflects on Schmidt’s appointment as new HR (Face TV

HR Valentin Inzko, asked about the appointment of Christian Schmidt as the new HR, explained that his resignation is simply a technical requirement because the post of the HR has to be vacant for his successor to be officially appointed. He stressed that he welcomes Schmidt’s appointment as the new HR and he has always been supportive of new ideas and new initiatives, which is what Schmidt will bring with him to B&H.  He emphasized the significance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitting that she wants to push B&H into the top of the international community’s agenda. Inzko claims that he understands why the IC did not have much time for B&H in the past 12 years because different regions engulfed in conflicts seemed to be literally competing for attention and thankfully B&H was unable to keep up as there were no armed conflicts and human casualties. He noted that he is glad Merkel finally has a good partner in the administration of US President Joe Biden and good cooperation between the US, the EU and Germany will be solely to B&H’s benefit. He agreed that Merkel selected Schmidt shortly before she steps down because she wants Schmidt to do something more with B&H. Furthermore, Inzko reminded that the IC’s work in B&H can be divided into two phases, namely the initial phase with strong presence of the international community and introduction of new currency, new flag, new passports and new ministries at the state level and the second phase where the international community preferred homemade solutions over use of the Bonn powers. He explained that B&H was expected to move away from the Dayton Peace Accords and towards the EU and he would have been an impediment. Inzko deems that one of his great successes as the HR was keeping B&H in focus and in the agenda of the IC with his semiannual reports to the UN Security Council. He added that he managed to “keep the spark alive and Mr. Schmidt can now turn it into a flame”. As to Chairman of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik’s claims that his resignation is a bluff by the international community, Inzko said that he does not understand what Dodik was trying to say, but Dodik himself is by far the most responsible for keeping the OHR in B&H and working. According to Inzko, there were plans in 2009 or 2010 to shut down the OHR as soon as possible although he was not in favor of this for many reasons, one of which is that presence of the IC is required until B&H is irreversibly on its path to join the EU. He pointed out that he does not know how the IC is bluffing when Schmidt was officially appointed as the new HR with support of the majority of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). Inzko stressed that he will inform UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Russia was the only one out of 12 PIC members to vote against Schmidt’s appointment and Schmidt is scheduled to officially take over as the HR on 1 August. He underlined that Schmidt’s arrival is not in doubt regardless of whether his appointment is supported by the UNSC or not. He clarified that former HR Christian Schwarz-Schilling was the only HR whose appointment was not backed by the UNSC’s resolution, presumably due to a mistake, but this did not prevent Schwarz-Schilling from working as the HR and using the Bonn powers. Inzko revealed that he jokingly advised Schmidt to forget about coming to B&H if he has no intentions to use the Bonn powers. Inzko added that Schmidt has his own style and solution to offer and his enormous experience working as an MP and a minister will surely be very helpful. Inzko confirmed that all mechanism and instruments of the HR, including the Bonn powers, remain at his disposal until Schmidt takes over on 1 August. Asked if he will impose a law banning genocide denial or any other law before he departs from B&H, Inzko argued that France and Germany showed how great nations should conduct themselves by accepting full responsibility for involvement in genocide in Rwanda and Namibia respectively. He deems that there is still time for the parliament of B&H to adopt aforementioned law or to amend the Criminal Code and he is always in favor of homemade solutions. He underlined that B&H politicians are responsible for ensuring the law is adopted while he will decide what his next steps will be and announce them at the right moment. Inzko claims that he is not content with his work results as the HR because he could have done much more and he is not searching for any excuses but he was given strict orders at the start of his tenure not to use the Bonn powers and his main task is to shut down the OHR. He said that the OHR did prevent many unwanted things, in particular the RS did not hold a referendum on independence or secession from B&H, and he is sure there will be no peaceful dissolution of B&H. Asked about possible changes of the Law on Elections of B&H, Inzko said that homemade solutions are the best one and he will probably not impose changes of the Law on Elections as there is little time left before his departure. He pointed out that the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) is tasked with proposing the changes/amendments but changes must not cause ethnic or territorial divisions whatsoever. Inzko stressed that the main priority is the implementation of Sejdic-Finci judgment and recommendations from the OSCE. He noted that the most important thing is to regularly hold free, fair and democratic elections.

 

Cvijanovic points out that imposition of solutions is unacceptable to RS (RTRS

Outgoing HR Valentin Inzko continues to shock the public with his statements, noting that in his latest statement Inzko directly suggested to his successor that he can use the powers that enable him to impose decisions and penalize people. RTRS stressed that Inzko sees Christian Schmidt’s appointment as the new HR as an announcement of a more offensive approach by the international community in solving problems in B&H. Reacting to Inzko’s latest statement, RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic pointed out that imposition of solutions is unacceptable to the RS, emphasizing that no one can give anyone an agenda. Cvijanovic reiterated that B&H does not need HRs, but added that if it is still not time to shut down the OHR, the OHR must be within its mandate. Cvijanovic emphasized that everything related to Inzko is meaningless, including his last statement. “Imagine, you are getting out of here and you are imposing an agenda on a new High Representative, and you spent here a lot of money of the international community. You were here some ten, twelve years, you insulted the RS in any way you could, and then you are setting the agenda for someone else. We do not accept imposed solutions. Inzko can say what he wants,” Cvijanovic underlined. The RS President failed to find out what representatives of the opposition parties in the RS have to say about the new HR because they did not respond to the invitation to attend a meeting with her at the RS Palace. Cvijanovic stressed that it was her obligation to invite representatives of the opposition parties in the RS to a meeting, noting that their answer shows their maturity or immaturity. “I wanted to hear the leaders, the leaders must have their own opinion on that… This is too serious a topic to deal with their trivia,” Cvijanovic said, wondering whether the opposition has the courage to contribute to public discourse. She stressed that at the meeting with representatives of the ruling coalition in the RS, only the manner of Schmidt’s appointment was analyzed which, according to her, is not legally valid. Meeting of the ruling parties in the RS and the opposition that was supposed to discuss the issue of arrival of the new HR in Banja Luka on Saturday was cancelled as the opposition did not want to talk about this topic. On Friday, representatives of authorities of the RS argued that the appointment of the new HR was not in line with procedures and that no one asked the RS about this.

Dodik: PIC’s appointment of Schmidt as new HR is unacceptable (ATV/RTRS/RS Radio

 

Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the appointment of German diplomat Christian Schmidt as the next HR in B&H is not in line with the Dayton Agreement and is not binding for the RS. In an interview for the RS Radio, Dodik said that ambassadors and the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) cannot appoint the High Representative. He added that the RS is ready to talk about the new appointment, but in line with the Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement. “PIC has no right whatsoever to appoint the High Representative. It is an informal group which is trying to make formal decisions. That is why signatories of the Annex 10 should reach an agreement on the name of the new High Representative, which is confirmed with the relevant resolution of the UN Security Council. None of those things happened, and therefore Srpska has no obligation to accept the appointment”, presenter quoted Dodik as saying. For Dodik, the appointment of Schmidt as the new HR for B&H is unacceptable and represents PIC’s bluff because the PIC nor the ambassadors can appoint the High Representative, as Dodik pointed out. Dodik said that Schmidt’s appointment is not in accordance with the law and added that Schmidt was not appointed but was attempted to be appointed. RTRS carried Dodik’s statement made over the phone: “The RS authorities will not accept this man. This is not about him as a person, this is about the High Representative no matter who he is. We do not accept this kind of the appointment of the High Representative and that is how we will treat him”. Dodik repeated that if he was appointed, Schmidt can only be a High Representative in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) if he wants to be. After current High Representative for B&H Valentin Inzko tried to suggest to Schmidt to achieve things with imposing decisions and punishments, Dodik stated that threats with Bonn powers belong to a bygone time. Dodik stated over the phone: “Inzko is a total loser who absolutely showed that wanted to do that but he could not or did not know how, so why would we accept that? We did not accept that before and especially will not accept it now”. In the case of imposition or attempts to transfer competencies, according to Dodik, two results are possible and said that either the High Representative will fail or the possibility of B&H functioning will fail. “B&H imagined by the High Representative cannot exist and it is not a matter of them, it is a matter of us who live here. We wanted to discuss this topic but whenever there is a possibility for local factors to make arrangements, the High Representative and the international community enter,” stated Dodik over the phone.

 

Voters in four biggest cities elect new mayors (Hina

Data from the State Election Commission (DIP) shows that Sunday’s local runoff election in Zagreb was won by Tomislav Tomasevic (Mozemo!), that Ivica Puljak (Centre) won in Split, Marko Filipovic (Social Democratic Party) won in Rijeka and that Ivan Radic of the Croatian Democratic Union won in Osijek. Ballots from all polling stations in Zagreb have been counted and according to DIP’s information, Tomislav Tomasevic of the Mozemo!-led green-left coalition won 65.25 percent of the vote.

Tomislav Tomasevic wins in Zagreb 

In the first round of the local elections on May 16, Tomasevic won 147,631 votes, and in Sunday’s runoff he won 199,630 votes. His opponent from the right-wing DP party, singer-turned-politician Miroslav Skoro, won 34.75 percent of the vote or 106,300 votes in the mayoral runoff. The turnout in Zagreb was 45.07 percent, which is two percentage points less than in the first round, and 2 percent of ballots were invalid.

Ivica Puljak wins in Split 

The mayoral candidate of the liberal Centre party, physicist Ivica Puljak, won Sunday’s runoff election in the Croatian second city of Split, with 56.75 percent of the vote. In the first round, he won 17,500 votes and in the second 35,565. His rival, Vice Mihanovic of the ruling centre-right HDZ party, won 43.25 percent of the vote or 27,106 votes. The turnout in Split was 43.53 percent, which is less than in the first round, when the turnout was 43.97 percent, and 2.90 percent of ballots were invalid.

Marko Filipovic winner in Rijeka 

Ballots from all polling stations in the port city of Rijeka have been counted as well, and the results show that Social Democrat Marko Filipovic won 54.48 percent of the vote. In the first round on May 16, he won 11,970 votes, and in the second 18,902. His rival, independent candidate Davor Stimac, won 45.52 percent of the vote. The turnout in Rijeka was 34.16 percent, 3 pp less than in the first election round, and 3.37 percent of ballots were invalid.

Ivan Radic wins in Osijek 

The winner in Osijek is Ivan Radic of the HDZ, with 59.68 percent of the votes won, while his rival Berislav Mlinarevic, an independent candidate supported by the DP party and the conservative populist Most party, won 35.52 percent of the vote. Radic won 15,526 votes in the runoff as against 13,655 votes in the first round. The turnout in Osijek was 29.13 percent, as much as 10 pp less than in the first round, and 4.80 percent of ballots were invalid. The turnout at the national level was 37.96 percent for elections for county heads and the mayor of Zagreb, and 43.86 percent for other mayors.

Croatian President returns war decorations to General Branimir Glavas (Hina

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has annulled former President Ivo Josipovic‘s decision on stripping wartime Osijek official, general Branimir Glavas, of war medals, since Glavas’s convictions were quashed and the retrials were ordered. Glavas’s son, lawyer Filip Glavas, told Hina on Saturday, that the return of the seven war medals to his father were the only logical and fair decision as his father had no longer the status of a convict. Milanovic’s decision on declaring null and void Josipovic’s decision was published in the Official Gazette after it had been adopted on 21 May on the advice of the state commission for decorations and awards and in line with the Constitution and the relevant legislation. The commission took into consideration the changes in the trials in the cases dubbed ‘Garage’ and ‘Duct tape’ for the war crimes against local Serbs in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek in the early 1990s. Lawyer Filip Glavas said today that the reasons such as the final convictions for stripping his father of war decorations had not existed for some time and that in 2019, they had asked the then president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to return the decoration to his father. However, she ignored our request, the lawyer Filip Glavas told Hina. A month ago, we sent the request to this effect to President Zoran Milanovic, and he granted our request, which is the only fair and logical decision considering the fact that the Constitutional and Supreme Courts quashed the convictions, he said. The Supreme Court quashed the trial court verdict on 28 July 2016 and requested the Zagreb County Court to hold a new trial in this case. In the initial trial which lasted from October 2007 to April 2009, Glavas and the other accused were sentenced to lengthy prison terms but the final verdict was quashed by the Supreme Court. By that time Glavas had served most of his eight-year term in prisons in Bosnia and Herzegovina where he fled before the announcement of the trial court verdict. In late November 2019, Glavas, who was still standing trial for war crimes, supported in Osijek with his signature Milanovic’s presidential candidacy, saying that his signature “is not a signature for the SDP or for drawing closer to the SDP but for Milanovic as a candidate for the president of the republic”, while members of his HDSSB party would decide for themselves whose presidential bid to support. Later that day, Milanovic, who was the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for the Croatian president, said that he distanced himself from the support expressed for his presidential bid by member of parliament and HDSSB party leader Branimir Glavas. “I would like to distance myself from his support because Glavas is not my kind of people. I think that (his support) is a message to (PM Andrej) Plenkovic. The man has been indicted for grave war crimes and the court is expected to make a ruling. The biggest problem about it is that the trial is taking too long, considering that the events in question happened in Osijek in 1991. That is something that I, as the future president, will change if I can, by statements and by exerting pressure at least. The case is still under way and that’s not how the judiciary should work,” Milanovic said then during his presidential campaign.

Venice Commission and European Union are getting involved in electoral reform in B&H (Vecernji list

 

Vecernji list daily notes that G7 Foreign Ministers recently held a meeting in London during which they rejected a possibility of retailoring of borders in the Balkans, and at the same time strongly insisted on electoral reforms in B&H during this non-election year. According to the daily, Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US issued a joint statement, which reads that parties in B&H have to, within the electoral reform, cooperate with representatives of the Venice Commission and the OSCE Mission. “We resolutely reject any attempt of undermining of territorial integrity of B&H. We call on parties in B&H to agree and implement electoral and limited constitutional reforms, and implement judgments of the European Court of Human Rights”, reads the statement. Daily went on to say it is interesting to note that HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic recently told Vecernji list that the next meetings will be joined, apart from the US and the US representatives, by representatives of “international organizations that can provide legal assistance to us”.

 

Embassies prevented Krivokapic from signing fundamental agreement with SPC via (Pobjeda/Vijesti

Two representatives of the embassies of powerful Western countries and Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic warned on Thursday Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic that it’d be a big political mistake if he signed the fundamental agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC, because it’d lead to destabilization in the country and possible fall of the government, Pobjeda daily has learned. “Abazovic told Krivokapic that his visit to Belgrade might be risky, and that he could not guarantee the government’s survival,” sources of Pobjeda told. Krivokapic got the message of Western partners seriously and at first delayed the flight to Belgrade planned for 6 pm. However, alarming calls came from Belgrade and the PM was in the Belgrade patriarchate around 9 pm on the same day, proposing to sign the agreement on 30 October. According to Pobjeda sources, if Krivokapic had signed the fundamental agreement two nights ago, he would have violated the law, as he didn’t have either government’s authorization or conclusion allowing him to do it. The previous fundamental agreements with the Holy See and the Islamic Community in Montenegro were first endorsed within executive power and the Commission for Political System. Abazovic told Vijesti TV that he knew about Krivokapic’s trip to Belgrade, but also suggested that he should not rush to sign the Fundamental Agreement with the SPC. Although, as he says, he sees no problem in signing the Agreement with the SPC, Abazovic points out that it should be analyzed before the signing and that the interests of Montenegro should be clearly protected in it.

Metropolitan: Concord, unity needed just as much as air (Dan

The newly elected Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Joanikije (Micovic) said after his election that “concord and unity are needed as much as air, bread and breathing.” “I have completely given myself up to the will of God, and it is clear that His will has been fulfilled through the archbishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church,” Joanikije said in a brief comment for Dan daily. The Church Assembly (Sabor) elected the administrator of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral Joanikije to be the successor of Amfilohije (Radovic), who died of the consequences of Covid-19 last October.

 

Committee of Inquiry approves the report on impeachment of Meta (Radio Tirana

Committee of Inquiry approves the report on the impeachment of President Meta.

The Committee of Inquiry has approved the final report on the impeachment of President Ilir Meta and will submit it to the Albanian Parliament, to introduce it in the plenary session. The report of the parliamentary inquiry committee for the impeachment of President Ilir Meta was approved by 11 votes in favor from both the socialist and opposition members of the Committee. According to the voluminous report of more than 50 pages, which was read by Alket Hyseni, President Ilir Meta has committed serious violations of the Constitution.  “It clearly turns out that the President has been involved in party activities, anti-majority, which runs contrary to Article 89 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the President cannot hold any other public office, cannot be a member of the party or perform other activities. The president should not campaign against one or more political forces, or voice his support for them. The President has consistently maintained his public stance against the majority. The Committee of Inquiry considers that the President did not stand on the parties and with his attitudes lost the function of being a balance factor.” When the report is approved by the Conference of Chairmen, the report on Meta will be passed on the agenda of the parliament. The Inquiry Committee was set up at the request of 49 socialist deputies who demanded the dismissal of Ilir Meta from the post of President of the Republic. The Constitution stipulates that at least 94 votes are required for the dismissal of the President of the Republic in parliament. Meanwhile, it will be the Constitutional Court that has the final say on the dismissal or not of President Meta.

 

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Belgrade Media Report 02 December 2021

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