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Belgrade Media Report 1 June

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: It is not just about Kosovo, their goal is to stop our economy (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTS)
Selakovic: Strong Serbia-China relations reflected in all areas (Beta/Xinhua)
Selakovic: We hope we will continue to enjoy Mexico’s support for inviolability of Serbia’s territorial integrity (Tanjug)
Lavrov: Russia will continue to support Serbia in preserving territorial integrity and sovereignty; we will accept solution for Kosovo that is acceptable for Serbia (NSPM/Beta/Politika)
Patriarch Porfirije to the Ministry of Culture: Postpone the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage! (spc.rs)
Gojkovic says draft law changed at church suggestion (N1)
Kostic says Pristina’s letter to UNESCO a provocation (N1)
Meyer: Change of borders in Balkans does not necessarily lead to war (Novosti)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

RS officials to meet with Vucic in Belgrade to hold consultations on issue of appointment of new HR (Srna/ATV)
Mazalica announces no meetings will be held with Schmidt and his decisions will not be respected; Lukic argues only UN SC can appoint High Representative (EuroBlic)
Tegeltija on appointment of Schmidt as new HR: What PIC decides means nothing without confirmation of UN SC (ATV)
IAWG is not likely to be successful in reaching agreement on electoral reform (Nezavisne)
B&H CoM decides conditions for entry of foreign citizens to B&H remain unchanged, no visa liberalizations for citizens of Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Great Britain (BHT1)
Montenegro

An open letter from Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic (PM Press Office)
Knezevic claims that both Abazovic and Becic saw Fundamental Agreement (Pobjeda)
Stoltenberg: Montenegro should show it is a committed NATO member by actions (Pobjeda)
Republic of North Macedonia

Pendarovski: “Decisive Strike 21” exercise strengthens Transatlantic partnership (Republika)
Albania

President’s impeachment/parliament expected to vote on 9 June (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: It is not just about Kosovo, their goal is to stop our economy (TV Happy/Tanjug/RTS

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said late on Monday pressure on Serbia was growing but was not only related to demands for a recognition of Kosovo by Belgrade, but also aimed at stopping Serbia’s economic growth. In an appearance on a TV Happy talk show, Vucic said there was evident US and EU pressure aimed at reaching a solution but that, for the US and the EU, a recognition was always the solution. He said that, in 2014, Serbia had ranked fourth in the region in terms of average wage and was now the regional leader in that regard and that the gap was growing continuously. “I have heard a Chinese official say that it is not all about Kosovo, but that they want to bring down entire Serbia through Kosovo. That is not far from being true,” Vucic said. He also said the latest announcements that Athens would raise the level of its diplomatic relations with Pristina as well as a potential opening of a Spanish office in Pristina were a part of major and increasing pressure that had been expected. It is evidently a coordinated campaign, he said. “For us, it is important that there is no panic in Serbia,” he said. “Last Friday, we were officially informed that Greece is improving relations with Kosovo and raising the level of communication with Pristina,” Vucic said, adding that it was difficult and painful for Serbia, but that he did not want to insult Greece by saying that it had succumbed to pressure. He added that Spain is also establishing an office with Pristina, at a lower level than Greece, and that this is being done before the continuation of the dialogue in Brussels and before the visit of Matthew Palmer and Miroslav Lajcak. Which, he says, can’t be a coincidence. Vucic said that he had offered Pristina a compromise “a thousand times” but that the “Greater Albania hawks enjoy huge sympathy in the West, Germany more than the US… Osmani is an American student, Kurti is married to a Norwegian.” “The only change now is that they want not only independent Kosovo but a Greater Albania along with Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, as they say,” he said.

Selakovic: Strong Serbia-China relations reflected in all areas (Beta/Xinhua)  

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Monday that the strong ties between Serbia and China were reflected in all areas, adding that cooperation between the two nations had solidified in the shared fight against COVID-19. “Serbia is the first European country to begin to use Chinese vaccines. The two countries are in the process of arranging the production of the Chinese vaccine in Serbia,” Selakovic told the Chinese Xinhua wire service in an interview while visiting China. Selakovic said he was opposed to vaccines being treated as a geopolitical issue. “On the contrary, that is a matter for all of humanity and a matter of saving lives,” he stressed. He also spoke highly of the positive impact of the Belt and Road initiative and the mechanism of cooperation between China and Central and East European countries on the development in Serbia and the region. Selakovic said the Belt and Road development initiative was historic, and that it demonstrated that the entire world could achieve success through similar multilateral cooperation.

Selakovic: We hope we will continue to enjoy Mexico’s support for inviolability of Serbia’s territorial integrity (Tanjug

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic talked on Monday via video link with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Mexican States Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, on the occasion of marking the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Selakovic underlined that the relations between the two countries are traditionally friendly, based on mutual understanding, respect and support. He said that our country is interested in intensifying the political dialogue at high and the highest level with Mexico and invited his colleague to visit Serbia. Selakovic expressed special gratitude for Mexico’s principled position on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija. We hope that we will continue to enjoy Mexico’s support for the inviolability of Serbia’s territorial integrity in the future too, Selakovic said, adding that our country especially counts on Mexico’s support during its term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2021-2022).

Lavrov: Russia will continue to support Serbia in preserving territorial integrity and sovereignty; we will accept solution for Kosovo that is acceptable for Serbia (NSPM/Beta/Politika)   

In the course of his official visit to Moscow, Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic met with former colleague Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. During the friendly and pleasant meeting the officials stressed they were ready to contribute to the further development of strategic relations between the two countries, both at the bilateral and multilateral level.

They discussed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, situation in the region and developments on the global political scene. Lavrov reaffirmed that the Russian Federation would continue to support Serbia’s efforts to preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and accept the solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue that is acceptable for Serbia. Lavrov informed Dacic about the upcoming meeting of President Putin and President Biden in Geneva. Dacic said in Moscow on Monday that Serbia will never support sanctions against Russia. “I want to say once again that Serbia will never support the sanctions against the Russian Federation imposed by international organizations or certain states,” he said. A press release on the State Duma web site said that they discussed high level, dynamic cooperation between the two countries. “We remain committed to further developing brotherly relations,” Dacic is quoted as saying. Volodin is quoted as saying that Belgrade and Moscow share views on some issues and added that interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states is impermissible especially in terms of imposing values. Dacic stressed that parliamentary diplomacy is a strong mechanism for cooperation and advancement of relations, saying that after the successful meetings with the speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin and Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko he is ready to invest his best efforts into strengthening that cooperation, especially within the two parliaments’ Cooperation Commission, planned to meet by the end of the year.

Patriarch Porfirije to the Ministry of Culture: Postpone the adoption of the Law on Cultural Heritage! (spc.rs

His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch, the Chairman of the Holy Synod of Bishops, sent a letter to Mrs. Maja Gojkovic, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, stating that the Serbian Orthodox Church is the largest individual owner of spiritual, movable and immovable cultural heritage in the Republic of Serbia, but that it was unfortunately not involved in the drafting process of the very important Law on Cultural Heritage, which also affects its internal functioning. For that reason, pointing out the shortcomings of certain articles of the Draft of this law, and knowing that the common goal is the preservation of cultural heritage, His Holiness suggested to Ms. Gojkovic to postpone its adoption until further notice. Among other things, the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church pointed out that the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is mentioned in six articles of the draft law, while the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija not in any article,  where cultural heritage is most endangered and exposed to attacks and devastation. In this regard, His Holiness indicated the possibility of ill-intentioned conclusions that by omitting the southern Serbian province from the text of this draft law, the province was excluded from the system of state care, which is certainly not the case and may diminish the state’s enormous efforts the state is doing in the protection of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. The Patriarch also pointed out the fact that Art. 102 of the respective Draft Law, the Serbian Orthodox Church, de facto, was deprived of the right to use the cultural heritage whose owner it is for its own mission, for which these cultural goods have been created for centuries. Legal experts pointed out to His Holiness that the strict application of this article would reduce the Church from the owner to the user, who after eight centuries would be denied the basic property rights that are sacred in all democratically organized societies and states. With the amendments to the proposed Draft, the law will not be in conflict with the Law on Churches and Religious Communities, which is undoubtedly the case now. Concluding his address, His Holiness Porfirije, the Serbian Patriarch believes that the adoption of such a law would not contribute to the joint two-decade-long intensive struggle of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the state to preserve their cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as in the constitutional and cultural protection system of the Republic of Serbia.

Gojkovic says draft law changed at church suggestion (N1

Serbian Culture and Information Minister Maja Gojkovic informed Serbian Patriarch Porfirije that the suggestions that the church made about the draft law on cultural heritage were adopted, the Ministry said in a press release on Monday. Gojkovic’s letter to the Patriarch said that text of the draft law that the church objected to were not included in the draft law. The letter said that the goal of the draft law is to preserve cultural heritage with focus on efforts to protect that heritage in Kosovo “which is under daily attack and being destroyed”.

Kostic says Pristina’s letter to UNESCO a provocation (N1

The President of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) Vladimir Kostic told N1 on Monday that the letter sent by the Kosovo authorities demanding that UNESCO remove three Serbian Orthodox Christian monasteries and a church from the list of endangered monuments is a provocation. “I can’t take any other view of it except as a provocation. It reminds me of a play in which a man is told to apologize to the man who beat him up for beating him up,” he said.

He said that the Kosovo government is trying to say that everything is fine and well over there. “I see that as a provocation at this time. I don’t know those people but their actions, words, the fact that they are claiming our pearls as theirs even though they are mankind’s pearls. That is a problem that cannot be resolved politically. We have to be interested in that story. There is identity and our identity is not just the past,” Kostic said. He said that a framework should be set up to discuss cultural heritage, adding that cultural heritage can’t be discussed without the church because it owns it and because it was the institution that rallied people. “What’s strange in this story is that its view is being ignored, it has to be asked,” Kostic said.

Meyer: Change of borders in Balkans does not necessarily lead to war (Novosti)

Former CIA deputy chief for Balkans Steven Meyer said that the most recent non-papers launched a serious debate on change of borders in the Balkans and possibility of a dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and he argued that changes of borders would not necessarily result in a war. Meyer claimed that “false narrative of the Western – especially American – vision on how to organize Balkans can easily be refused during a discussion” and he argued that the western politicians have been treating the Balkans as if it should be “a servant of Europe and USA” and not as if people of the Balkans are “mature, intelligent and independent players”. The author added that the non-papers can initiate development of political communities in line with ethnic reality and argued that the document gave the legitimacy to the idea that, at least at the moment, ethnic states would be a rational solution for the Balkans and would serve interests of citizens of Balkans countries. Meyer speculated that there are three possible scenarios for the outcome of a discussion on future of the Balkans – first, leaders from the region might decide to maintain the status quo but such decision would guarantee political and economic stagnation and would suit nobody’s interests; second, a discussion might result in additional centralization and such decision would affect B&H and Kosovo more than other areas and would probably not require any change of borders, but it would certainly worsen ethnic rivalry and might encourage ethnic-based violence; finally, the third outcome would mean a support to solutions presented in the non-papers, i.e. ethnic states which would not negatively affect economic, safety and political agreements. Meyer went on to say that it is of a crucial importance to solve issues between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia in a peaceful manner, otherwise the region will continue to stagnate while ethnic-related hostility will remain present. Secondly, Meyer reminded, there is the issue of B&H and noted: “Even more than the issue between Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, B&H is a direct result of western incompetence and arrogance. It is, in fact, ‘a state’ which nobody in the region wanted. The existence of Bosnia, at least in its current form, is a direct result of interference and pressures by the West. Even now Washington is not willing to abandon 26 years old failed policy which resulted in devastation of economy, shocking unemployment, corruption, exodus of youth and crippling political system”. Meyer argued that ethnic political communities would probably be able to function more efficiently and more peacefully than “the crippled ‘state’”. In order to do so, Meyer explained, it is necessary to abolish institutions which the western powers imposed 26 years ago and noted: “Organizations, such as the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), the High Representative and Bonn powers have outlived any kind of usefulness they had more than 20 years ago. By rejecting those useless institutions, the Republika Srpska (RS) parliament rejected the request of the High Representative to revoke awards given to sentenced war criminals. The RS parliament also decided that the High Representative cannot have greater authority than the RS in any situation. This is a step in the right direction, because it clarifies the right of an ethnic community to openly and completely express itself as an independent entirety”. The author noted that the Balkans leaders understand that the EU is faced with internal disintegration and weaknesses while, at the same time, the economic disproportion between northern and southern Europe is growing. “There is no doubt that there is an open question of whether a membership in the EU would be a good thing for the Balkans. However, majority of the Balkans leaders think this would be a good thing, Meyer added and said that it is an irony to see that the EU did not have a strong reaction to the non-papers, except for the fact it again confirmed the goal of integration of the Balkans in the EU.  The author noted that individual EU countries, however, reacted by showing that they somewhat understand and accept the non-papers. “In fact, the EU would probably accept any kind of an arrangement in the Balkans that can be peacefully solved. This should be a positive sign for the Balkans leaders to continue developing countries based on ethnic affiliation. If this can be successfully solved, then it should solve many outstanding issues by removing the ethnic dimension as a disputable point,” Meyer noted. However, the author reminded that some in the Balkans, including High Representative Valentin Inzko, claimed that change of borders would result in a war. Meyer claimed that a war should not necessarily come as a reaction and reminded that there were several examples of countries in Europe which peacefully changed their borders and there should be no reason for this principle not to be applied in the Balkans as well. “Germany got united peacefully, Czechoslovakia split peacefully into two states and Russia peacefully lost several of its republics”, the author reminded and concluded that violence and war are unnecessary, especially if there is an obligation to solve issues in a peaceful manner.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

RS officials to meet with Vucic in Belgrade to hold consultations on issue of appointment of new HR (Srna/ATV)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has responded positively to a letter of RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic and scheduled a meeting with representatives of institutions and parliamentary parties from the RS in Belgrade on Wednesday. The Cabinet of the RS President confirmed the information for Srna. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that consultations of officials of the RS and Serbia will be held in the upcoming day or two due to “an illegal attempt” to appoint a High Representative (HR) in B&H. “RS President Cvijanovic has already sent a letter to Serbian officials, because Serbia is a signatory of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) and its Annex 10 which clearly reads that only sides that signed the DPA have competences to ask for the HR’s appointment. Sides that signed the DPA must define the proposal that needs to be confirmed by a relevant resolution of the UN Security Council, instead of attempts of some ambassadors and self-declared bodies to impose HRs by violating the international law,” Dodik said. Vucic said that Schmidt is one of the most prominent German politicians and added that while he understands Dodik, Serbia has to “insist on peace and stability in the region”. “There was no voting in UN Security Council, but I do not want to speak about this. We have to take care about interests of Serbia. Schmidt is a serious man and my good acquaintance. I do not think he is a man who hates Serbia and Serb people. Serbia has to talk to German representatives, but also stand by the RS. Germans will do their best to create functional state of B&H through taking of competencies of the RS authorities. I have to continue to insist on stability,” said Vucic.

Mazalica announces no meetings will be held with Schmidt and his decisions will not be respected; Lukic argues only UN SC can appoint High Representative (EuroBlic)

The daily reminded that the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) appointed Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative and added that it is expected that Russia will oppose Schmidt’s appointment before the UN Security Council (UN SC) having in mind Russia advocates shutting down of the Office of the High Representative (OHR). The daily went on to say that, in case Schmidt arrives to B&H without a confirmation of the appointment by the UN SC, he will be faced with the fact that neither the RS nor the Embassy of Russia to B&H recognize his appointment. The daily reminded that Serb member of the Presidency of B&H and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik already announced that the RS does not accept Schmidt’s appointment or any of his authority. Deputy Chair of SNSD Caucus in the RS parliament Srdjan Mazalica told the daily that, in practice, this would mean that no meetings will be held with Schmidt, his decisions would not be accepted and his presence or authority in B&H would not be respected in any way. “Ever since a conflict with former High Representative Miroslav Lajcak, the RS decided not to publish decisions of the OHR in the Official Gazette of the RS. The OHR lost its credibility in the RS back then and continued to adopt some kind of decisions for the Federation of B&H (FB&H)” Mazalica added. Mazalica also reminded that the RS parliament asked High Representative Valentin Inzko to present his report to the RS parliament, as in line with the Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement, but Inzko failed to do so, because of which the RS “degraded his responsibility towards the RS” and also announced that it will not give its consent to the appointment of the new High Representative. The daily did not get replies related to the appointment of Schmidt from the Embassy of Russia to B&H by the time the paper was printed, but it reminded of the statement of the Embassy of Russia to B&H following the PIC’s decision on the appointment of Schmidt in which it stated that “no person would have the necessary international-legal legitimacy and cannot be considered as the High Representative in terms of the DPA without the approval of the UN SC”. Law professor at the University of Istocno Sarajevo Radomir Lukic claimed that the PIC does not exist in the DPA and argued that this is “a self-proclaimed organization of states which gathered in London in 1995 with the intention to help B&H”. Lukic also claimed that, ever since then, the PIC took many authorities which do not belong to it according to any of legal acts which regulate the situation in B&H and added: “They granted themselves the right to give authority to the High Representative, they acquired the right for members of the Steering Board from the western countries to discuss people and internal relations in B&H and interfere in internal affairs in this way which B&H has the right to protect just like every other sovereign country. In the end, they also granted themselves the right to appoint the High Representative too. However, this does not mean that this is the real right”. Lukic concluded by saying that the High Representative can be appointed only by the UN SC in line with the past practice.

Tegeltija on appointment of Schmidt as new HR: What PIC decides means nothing without confirmation of UN SC (ATV)

According to ATV, the appointment of Christian Schmidt as a new HR may be undermined without consensus in the UN SC as the UN SC should confirm Schmidt as a new HR once again, but Russia may file a veto. According to lawyers, what the PIC decides means nothing without the confirmation of the UN SC as one of the resolutions of the UN SC clearly stipulates who gives the final word for a new HR and everyone but former HR Christian Schwarz-Schilling got the confirmation. The UN SC Resolution 1031 dating from the 1995 says that the UN SC confirms that a HR is the final authority in terms of interpretation of the Annex 10 on implementation of the civil part of the Dayton Peace Accords. According to lawyers, the decision of the UN SC is valid only if it comes as a result of voting via consensus and in case of a veto, Schmidt will have no legitimacy in B&H and his diplomatic status will be called into question. Legal adviser of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, Milan Tegeltija said that if the appointment in line with the Dayton Agreement and resolutions of the UN is missing, he (Schmidt) will have no authority. According to Tegeltija, Schmidt will not be a legally-appointed representative which means that he can represent countries that appointed him but he cannot have the status of a HR and authorities arising from the Annex 10 the way the agreement and the Resolution 1031 stipulate. According to lawyers, it is also absurd that a HR is presiding over the PIC SC that appoints HRs which is why the UN SC is the final authority for interpretation of the Dayton Agreement.

 

IAWG is not likely to be successful in reaching agreement on electoral reform (Nezavisne)

The Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for electoral reform has held only three sessions so far. However, the daily claims that it is already clear that it will not be able to achieve any significant results and that the 2022 General Elections will be held in line with the existing law. The IAWG had a hard time agreeing even on the rules of procedure and the last session led to a verbal conflict between its members Nenad Stevandic and Dzenan Djonlagic which almost ended in a fist fight. The main problem lies in SDA and HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), with both parties showing no willingness to make compromises. Electoral reform will also require constitutional changes, which makes the situation even more difficult. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic announced a meeting with HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic later this week to discuss electoral reform. Political analyst Tanja Topic is pessimistic regarding IAWG’s chances for success. “I think the chances for a successful reform of the Election Law which would satisfy all stakeholders are very weak. The problem lies in entrenched stances, views which do not go beyond petty party interests, lack of willingness to make dialogue and reach compromises. And of course, the main obstacle lies in calculations of parties which have almost started with campaigning already”, said Topic. Project Director of the election monitoring coalition ‘Pod lupom’ Dario Jovanovic stated that it would be important not to avoid technical improvements of the election process because of major political disputes. According to him, the main problem with the election process is election fraud which can be prevented by technical improvements.

 

B&H CoM decides conditions for entry of foreign citizens to B&H remain unchanged, no visa liberalizations for citizens of Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Great Britain (BHT1)

 

The B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) did not adopt the proposal of a decision for new conditions regarding the entry of foreigners into B&H, which means that vaccinated people or those who recovered from COVID-19 cannot enter B&H without a negative PCR test. The B&H CoM also rejected the decision to enable citizens of the UK, Ireland and Saudi Arabia to enter B&H without a visa. The B&H CoM’s decision means that, without a negative PCR test, only the citizens of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro will be able to enter B&H. Citizens of other countries will have to submit a negative PCR test not older than 48 hours and fast negative antigen tests will not be recognized, noted the reporter. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic believes that the Ministers who opposed the decision (on visa abolition) are responsible for multimillion damages which will be caused with such a decision. Turkovic was quoted as saying: “The public has to know that the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs will, after such shameful obstructions, consider all other legal possibilities which would accelerate the ease of issuing of visas for tourists who wish to come to B&H in order to save what can be saved. We are ready to urgently reinforce embassies with additional staff and find other modalities in accordance with the law. We cannot shake the impression that someone’s goal was to prevent B&H’s economic recovery”.  One of the reasons given to explain why HDZ B&H did not support entry of certain citizens into B&H without a visa was the stance of the European Commission (EC) which expressed concern regarding the security aspect. B&H Minister of Justice Josip Grubesa from HDZ B&H claimed that the HDZ B&H are not the ones blocking the processes in B&H. Grubesa said that they will stick to their position of protecting the European path of B&H. Grubesa stated: “HDZ B&H supported the decision on more liberal entry of foreigners but we were against preferential treatment as well as visas. Speaking specifically on visas, there is great controversy and dilemma. Of course, tourists are welcome and it is true that we have a tourism sector with huge problems, but we must have security preconditions for everyone who comes to B&H”. SDA reacted to the decision of HDZ B&H ministers in the B&H CoM to oppose the proposal to ease visa regime for tourists from Saudi Arabia. In its statement issued on Monday, SDA said that while Switzerland has been inviting Arab tourists to visit this country, HDZ B&H has been leaving B&H without BAM millions through its unreasonable decisions. The statement reads that considering the fact citizens of China, as well as people forum South America countries such as Brazil and Argentina have been exempted from visa regime for entrance to B&H, there are only two possible explanations why HDZ B&H ministers’ oppose proposal to ease visa regime for Saudi Arabia citizens: they work against B&H tourism on purpose or their decision is the result of Islamophobia. SDA called on HDZ B&H not to politicize one rational decision and to stop working against their country, because they will be held responsible for lost jobs in tourism and financial damage inflicted to budgets in B&H.

 

An open letter from Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic (PM Press Office)

After numerous statements, opinions and press releases, on the occasion of my visit to the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness, Mr. Porfirije, I have an obligation and a personal need to speak straight from the heart for the sake of my people in Montenegro and abroad. I accepted my path as Prime Minister because of the people and the victory over dirt in which the soul of the people finds its way to the truth, even when the truth is persistently concealed. I accepted my path as Prime Minister with the blessing of Metropolitan Amfilohije, to be the leader of our struggle for love, in which he won magnificently. I accepted this path in a life in which I already had everything, and didn’t need anything, except God. I accepted to be misunderstood and condemned because that was also a call for change that Montenegro was crying out for, and I cried out for freedom, in which no one can take anything away from us anymore, in which no one can forbid us anything anymore, after thousands and thousands of learned and taught lessons, I decided to be a servant to my people. On that path, I defend the shrines of my past and my future, my shrines. As the Prime Minister-designate, I promised that the first task of our Government would be to propose a different Law on Freedom of Religion, the law of peace and justice, and when it was adopted by the parliamentary majority, on the day of the birth of our Saint Basil of Ostrog, my people defeated evil. The property of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but also the shrines of other religious communities, are thus finally protected.

On behalf of the Government and the state of Montenegro, I will conclude an Agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, my church, in my country, although it is not the foundation or condition for the protection of church property. Church property is protected by the adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion, but the conclusion of the Fundamental Agreement is an act of civilization that has been signed with the Islamic community, the Jewish community and the Holy See, but not with the Serbian Orthodox Church. The conclusion of this Agreement is an obligation and a need for justice for both the people and God who knows no nationalities but knows equality. The need of my Patriarch, my Metropolitan and my Bishop Joanikije, is also the need of the Montenegrin Prime Minister, who is a believer and a man who shares the spirit of his kin, although this is often considered a sin. The conclusion of this Agreement is the need of our Metropolitan Amfilohije, whose blessing on all our souls I feel as the greatest duty to fight for what he unwaveringly, rebelliously defended, against political and all other blackmail, and a game that pulls strings outside Montenegro and outside the Serbian Orthodox Church. I will do everything to preserve his shadow, but I do not agree and I will not agree with anyone who nullifies the Blessing of the Metropolitan and his clearly expressed will. I went to Patriarch Porfirije, despite my wife’s health problems, not realizing that I was entering a political game, which had long since begun outside the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Holiness and Bishop Joanikije, about which neither they – and I sincerely believe that – nor I knew anything. I went there with a desire to discuss the said Agreement. I proposed 30 October as a possible date for signing the Agreement, a possible and not an exclusive date, solely out of desire to honor Metropolitan Amfilohije, on the anniversary of his death. I suggested to His Holiness to set a date for signing, if he wants to sign it before that date, openly stating the fact that I cannot sign the Agreement before the Cabinet session at which the text of the Agreement would be adopted, that all Cabinet members must express themselves on this subject, not just me. I have dedicated my life to my family, church and profession. I hate the thought of someone thinking that I, Zdravko Krivokapic, can and want to question the signing of the Fundamental Agreement, which is also my personal foundation. I admit, non-pragmatically, but only from the heart and depth of my soul, I expressed my desire that Bishop Joanikije becomes the future Metropolitan. We ended our conversation in a good mood and an atmosphere of dialogue, respect and friendship. In another, as far as I can see now, political game that is openly played outside the Serbian Orthodox Church, I am persistently presented in the media and the public of Serbia and Montenegro as a traitor of everything Serbian or everything Montenegrin, and now of everything ecclesiastical, because the traitor is not only the one who blindly follows the instructions and policies of the Democratic Front. In the background, and I am now speaking openly to the people of Montenegro, one of the main roles is played by the leader of the Democratic Front, Mr. Andrija Mandic, who directly and personally exerted pressure to postpone the election of the Metropolitan until the Government reshuffle. Zdravko Krivokapic did not, and the people of Montenegro must know this clearly, say anything to the Patriarch last night that would endanger the interests of Montenegro, nor the interests of the believers of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but Zdravko Krivokapic obviously endangered the interests of the Democratic Front. I did not agree to such blackmail, because the Government of Montenegro and Montenegro, during my term of office will not be blackmailed, not even by a part of the parliamentary majority, to which the signing of this Agreement – which is now clear – is an excuse to overthrow the Government. I will be direct: gentlemen, leaders of the Democratic Front and all those who hide in front of or behind them, do not teach me about my faith and my church. You showed your attitude towards the Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije and thus the people of Montenegro at the meeting near Ostrog immediately after the parliamentary elections. I was obliged not to agree to such a political subterfuge, of which I believe either my bishops or my Patriarch were not aware last night. For the sake of truth, I want to tell and explain this political background to the people of Montenegro. As the Prime Minister of the people, I work and I will work according to my conscience and heart, and I will not agree to be a pawn in the political game of a part of the parliamentary majority. I will carry the burden and the will of my people as taught by the late Metropolitan Amfilohije, believing that the truth will eventually find its way to the hearts of all who believe in it. So help me God.

Knezevic claims that both Abazovic and Becic saw Fundamental Agreement (Pobjeda)

DF MP Milan Knezevic says that PM Zdravko Krivokapic was not the only one who saw the Fundamental Agreement, but that DPM Dritan Abazovic and parliament speaker Aleksa Becic saw it too. “I claim that DPM Dritan Abazovic and Parliament Speaker Aleksa Becic saw it because the Prime Minister justified himself in the Patriarchate by saying that Messrs. Abazovic and Becic were pressuring him not to sign it, and I think some ministers, Vladimir Leposavic who worked on its harmonization, also saw it,” Knezevic has told journalists in front of the Prosecutor’s Office. He has called on Abazovic and Becic to confirm whether they saw the Agreement. The Democratic Montenegro has denied these claims. This party stresses that Becic respects the Constitution and, accordingly, does not interfere in the work of the executive power, nor in the internal affairs of churches and religious communities.

Stoltenberg: Montenegro should show it is a committed NATO member by actions (Pobjeda)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that both Prime Minister of Montenegro Zdravko Krivokapic and President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic have convinced him that our country is committed to NATO. Just ahead the 4th anniversary of our country’s membership in that alliance, Stoltenberg says that Montenegro needs to show its commitment by its actions.

When asked by Pobjeda whether the cooperation between our country and the Alliance has changed, bearing in mind that there are now parties in the ruling coalition that are also anti-NATO, Mr Stoltenberg says he is glad that Montenegro has been a member of that alliance for several years. “It is important to me that Montenegro shows in its actions that it is a committed member and I think that is good for the country, the region and NATO,” Stoltenberg has said at a press conference in Brussels.

 

Pendarovski: “Decisive Strike 21” exercise strengthens Transatlantic partnership (Republika)

Macedonia will continue to invest in the development of the Krivolak army field, which no longer serves as just our military capacity, but one for the entire Alliance, President Stevo Pendarovski said on Monday during the Distinguished Visitors Day at the “Decisive Strike 21” military exercise. In the past two weeks you have had a great opportunity to test interoperability with several NATO countries. It is indisputable that you have shown capacity and ability to plan and organize large-scale exercises together with other allied armies, said Pendarovski, congratulating all participants in the major military exercise. He added that in addition to being a confirmation of the military capabilities for conducting integrated operations, this exercise is very important for strengthening the transatlantic partnership and thus for the security of Europe and the Western Balkans.

 

President’s impeachment/parliament expected to vote on 9 June (Radio Tirana)

The parliament is expected to vote on Wednesday on the report of the Committee of Inquiry seeking the dismissal of the head of state. The decision was taken today by the conference of mayors that approved the 3-week agenda of the Assembly. It will take 94 votes for the report to be approved, which even in other elections, such as the 5 June agreement or the constitutional amendments, the Socialists have managed to secure. However, as it is known with the vote in the parliament, the procedure of dismissal of the President cannot be called complete. This is because it is the Constitutional Court that will decide whether the violations found by the parliament are serious constitutional violations or not. Currently this body has 7 out of 9 members that it should have. However, any decision of this court, including the one on the assessment of constitutional violations by the President, which is accepted, requires the support of the majority of the incumbent members. So at least 5 of them should be pro-dismissal. The term of the President ends in July 2022 and if he ends before this deadline by decision of the Constitutional Court this would be the first precedent of dismissal of a President in our country.

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Belgrade Media Report 28 September 2021

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