Vucic: I hope no one will play with regional stability (Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday his discussions with EU and US special envoys Miroslav Lajcak and Matthew Palmer had also addressed Serbian holy sites in Kosovo-Metohija and the situation with electricity supplies there, and added that his stance had been very clear as well as that he hoped no one would play with regional stability. “We discussed holy sites, (the) Valac (transformer station), the situation with electricity, and my stance was very clear. I hope no one will play with regional stability and regarding that issue because the reaction of the Serb people, in Kosovo and Metohija and everywhere, would be exceptionally strong, and no one needs that,” Vucic told a press conference when asked if the topics of his discussions with Lajcak and Palmer had included protection of Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija. He reiterated that peace, stability and further economic progress were important for Serbia. When asked if the high-ranking EU and US officials had warned officials in Pristina that Serbian churches and monasteries must be protected, Vucic responded affirmatively. “They have – there is no doubt about that, and Palmer was very strong on that issue in Pristina,” Vucic said.
Vucic: No indication our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem
Vucic noted on Friday that Israel’s recognition of Kosovo changed things concerning the Washington agreement and a move of the Serbian Embassy to Jerusalem. Responding to a reporter’s question whether Serbia remained committed to the Washington agreement, with the deadline looming for moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Vucic said Belgrade maintained constant communication with the US about that document. “We can see that the Albanians have fulfilled nothing – that is, they have fulfilled only what benefits them, and they are not interested in the Mini Schengen or anything else. Something that changes certain things has happened, and that is the Israeli recognition of Kosovo,” Vucic noted. He said Serbia would continue discussions about the issue with the EU and the US, but that there was no indication the Embassy would be moved. “When we get the official interpretations and explanations, we will see,” he added.
SPC position well known – we are facing illegal secession of part of territory and there is no way to impose a solution which will imply recognition of an illegal secession (Tanjug/RTV/NSPM/RTS)
His Holiness Porfirije, Serbian Patriarch, along with Their Graces Bishops: Jefrem of Banja Luka, Irinej of Backa and Teodosije of Raska-Prizren, received Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, the EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Mr. Matthew Palmer, and the US Special Envoy for Western Balkans at the Patriarchal palace in Belgrade on 4 June 2021. In a long and open discussion, representatives of the EU and US informed the Patriarch and the Bishops with activities they have been undertaking in the dialog between representatives of Belgrade and Pristina. They emphasized that they are engaged in resolving problems on the lower municipal level, such as the issue of the land property of Visoki Decani Monastery; the issue of the Pristina’s request to UNESCO to remove monasteries of Pec Patriarchate, Visoki Decani, Gracanica and the church of the Holy Virgin of Ljevish from the list of the World Heritage in Danger; the freedom of movement and other issues of vital importance for the everyday life of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the people in Kosovo and Metohija.
They particularly said that the ancient monasteries like Visoki Decani, Gracanica and others are for them living sites and not just cultural monuments and that it should remain so. They stressed that they are not bringing any finished or previously prepared solutions or pressures but are eager to discuss with His Holiness and the Bishops with a wish to find a fair and just solution.
Patriarch Porfirije and the Bishops thanked to the representatives of the EU and US for their engagement which significantly may ease the life of the clergy, monastics and the Serbian Orthodox people in Kosovo and Metohija. “Their mission, as it is based on dialogue we see as based on Gospel, because being Christians we see every human being as our brother and our neighbor and are therefore always ready for a dialogue. For us Kosovo and Metohija, Republika Srpska and Montenegro are of vital importance,” said the Patriarch adding that it is not unknown that the government in Pristina is not essentially interested in dialogue, which is clearly seen from their dealing with the problems of Visoki Decani Monastery, their request addressed to UNESCO as well as everyday difficulties our Church and people throughout the southern Serbia’s province have been facing. The SPC highest representatives supported the dialogue but only under the condition that it in no way should endanger or bring under question the interests of the Church, our people and the state of Serbia. The position of the SPC is well known – we are facing the illegal secession of the part of territory and there is no way to impose a solution which will imply the recognition of an illegal secession. Patriarch Porfirije expressed his position that through dialog we should strive towards a European solution, which is in the spirit of the EU, where borders become softer and less important. Serbian Bishops emphasized their concern because of the behavior of Pristina authorities towards the Serbian Orthodox Church which duly respects the local laws: “We expect the institutions to respect our Church, not to contest our name, our identity and the history of our holy sites,” said the Patriarch, adding especially that the Church does not consist only of the parish or monastery churches, clergy and monastics but also of her faithful people which were expelled from their homes and do not have the possibility to enjoy their property rights, especially in the situation when this is not possible for the world renowned Monastery of Visoki Decani, despite the legally binding rulings of the Courts. For Serbs, Kosovo and Metohija is the same what Jerusalem is for Jews, and Pec Patriarchate is for the Serbian Orthodox Church that what the Vatican is for the Catholic Church.
Dacic receives Palmer (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic met on Saturday with US Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer. Dacic said that the relations between the US and Serbia have significantly improved in previous years, adding that the two countries should continue to work on their further development. “As the parliament speaker I will try to strengthen ties with the Senate and US Congress,” said Dacic, underlining the importance of intensifying political dialogue and organizing high-level visits. Responding to Palmer’s inquiries, the officials discussed the parliament’s priorities, with Dacic pointing out the strong determination to work on strengthening the parliament’s role and improving its operation during his mandate. He informed his guest about the ongoing constitutional reform process, as well as the activities within the second phase of the inter-party dialogue and his meetings with the representatives of the European Parliament. They also discussed the meetings Palmer had during his stay in Pristina, underlining that the US fully supports the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and his activities. Palmer stressed that the US wants to find a compromise solution and does not intend to put pressure on the parties in the dialogue.
Palmer: US wants Pristina to respect rule of law (Tanjug)
It is very important for the US and the EU that the Serbian Orthodox Church’s interests in Kosovo are protected, including, in particular, religious properties, US special Western Balkans envoy Matthew Palmer told Tanjug on Friday. “I was recently at the Visoki Decani monastery for the first time in quite a number of years, and I underscored in all of my meetings in Pristina our expectation that the Kosovo authorities would, consistent with the rule of law, register the church properties through the cadastral process and make sure the monastery has a proper claim on those parcels of property that are the property of the church,” Palmer said when asked if he had provided guarantees to Serbian Patriarch Porfirije that the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija would be protected. “That’s important for cultural heritage issues, but it’s equally important as an issue of rule of law,” he said. He said his meetings together with EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak at the Patriarchate earlier in the day had been “an opportunity to pay respects to the church, to talk through the dialogue process with church leadership and to underscore our intention to make sure that church equities are reflected in the dialogue process.”
Palmer: US is not side in Kosovo talks but is stakeholder (N1)
US envoy for Kosovo Matthew Palmer told N1 that Washington is not one of the sides in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but is a stakeholder and wants to see the process succeed. He said that the US is a partner, supporting EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak and his team and the negotiators on the two sides to get the process started and will not be present at the talks. Palmer expressed the hope that the process will bring a normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, opening the road to the EU for both. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State said that the fact that he and Lajcak traveled to the region together was to show that there is only one dialogue process which the US supports. He added that a comprehensive agreement is closer because both sides are prepared to engage themselves seriously. Palmer’s impression from the meetings he and Lajcak had with top officials in Pristina is that Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his cabinet are ready to take part and have a goal. I am convinced that the necessary compromise can be reached, he said. According to Palmer, officials in Pristina were told clearly that they are expected to take brave steps. He did not want to speculate about the outcome of the dialogue or topics of discussion, saying that the two sides should return to the table and define priorities. He said that Washington wants to see the agreements reached to date implemented. Palmer said that there were no covert proposals made during his and Lajcak’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. There is no hidden agenda and I am happy to talk openly and in public about the meetings, he added. Our goal is to encourage the two sides to sit down together and say what their red lines are and decide where they want to go with our support. He said that mutual recognition remains the final goal of US policy because Washington believes that is the way to resolve the issue. He said that US vision for Serbia and Kosovo is full integration into Europe as members of the EU. We see full mutual recognition as the best way to open the European path for both sides. Palmer said that the non-papers that appeared in the media over the past few weeks are insignificant and do not deserve any attention. He said that the US understands that Serbia has military cooperation with Russia but wants to be the defense and security partner that Serbia chooses because it appreciates the partnership it has with Serbia and its military and is prepared to promote it further. Palmer said that Serbia has to achieve progress on democracy, freedom of the media and protecting civil society. He said that his meetings with Serbian opposition parties and civil society organizations are intended to show that the US supports democracy, free elections and independent media.
Drecun: US and EU positions on Belgrade-Pristina negotiations differ, at least officially (RTS)
The Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) on Sunday that Pristina has passed several platforms for resuming the negotiations with Belgrade, and adopted resolutions with which that defined only obstacles for continuing the dialogue. “It was a platform against dialogue, everything that has been done so far in Pristina. It is interesting that Albin Kurti advocates the continuation of talks, but only in the direction of preparing a new meeting. As he says, he will talk to President Vucic to prepare some next meeting,” he said. He added that it is clear that Kurti aims to discuss exclusively the so-called mutual recognition, and to leave all other topics aside. “Well, when Belgrade recognizes Kosovo, and it will never recognize it, then other topics can be discussed. And in that sense, this story is now about the platform, if such a scenario as Kurti wants is accepted, then it is normal to bring a platform in Pristina after that first high-level meeting, to see which way to go further,” Drecun said. He assessed it as a waste of time, as well as that it is not possible to talk to Belgrade like that, and that it is obvious that Matthew Palmer also tried to direct Pristina in a direction that would enable some progress to be achieved. “If nothing else, at least when it comes to resolving the fate of the missing, and we see that Kurti is talking about it, Matthew Palmer is also talking about it, and our side is absolutely ready to discuss that issue and resolve it. Although, there is a problem there, the Albanians always place obstacles. For them, resolving the fate of the missing is only if the issue of missing Albanians is resolved. They are not interested in the issue of missing Serbs at all,” he said. He added that when Belgrade is looking for a location, some warnings about radioactive materials appear and those locations are sprayed with chemicals in order to burn everything, and assessed that Pristina is not sincerely committed to resolving that issue. “Given that both Belgrade and Pristina, at least declaratively, are inclined to solve this problem, that Matthew Palmer is talking about it, it may be a question around which it will primarily be possible to reach an agreement and at least make some progress, and if we wait for a thousand of their new platforms, then there will really be problems or no progress will be made,” he said. He assessed that Palmer and Lajcak demonstrated the joint approach of Euro-Atlantic allies with a joint visit, and that the importance that the US and the EU attach to solving the Kosovo problem was shown, as well as that the desire to raise the level of the whole process was shown.
US and EU attitudes differ, at least officially
“The Americans believe that these talks should end with the recognition of the false state of Kosovo by Belgrade, or as they say mutual recognition, while Lajcak had to avoid such a choice because of the five EU countries that do not recognize Kosovo. “I find much more interesting the statement given by Palmer to a daily newspaper in Belgrade, where he said that an agreement could be reached without recognition, if the two sides agree on it. This is still a novelty,” Drecun said. He added that it instills hope that in the next period it will be possible to discuss some issues that were on the agenda, as Lajcak agreed them with both sides last year. “Last year, when the dialogue was to continue, Lajcak agreed to discuss the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) on one track. Not to renegotiate what the ZSO would look like, what the Albanians would want, but to discuss what more needs to be done as agreed in the Brussels agreement and the Implementation Agreement,” Drecun said. He pointed out that it was agreed to discuss the issue of missing persons, return of displaced persons, mutual financial claims, property and economic cooperation, as well as that no progress was made during the 11 rounds of negotiations. “Now, after his statements and preparation of the ground, Kurti would want for his position to completely change the agenda to be accepted, so that the ZSO is not on the agenda at all. We don’t want that, and we will not allow that. There is no talk at all if it is not agreed to form the ZSO, precisely to specify the deadlines,” Drecun emphasized. He assessed that it will be a difficult, positional fight over what will be put on the agenda and how to proceed in the dialogue.
Inzko sends letter to Guterres: UN Security Council will not be voting on Schmidt (Depo.ba)
Outgoing High Representative Valentin Inzko sent a letter to UN Security General Antonio Guterres informing him about the appointment of Christian Schmidt to the post of new High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), who should take over the Office on August 1st. Inzko’s letter to Guterres could complete the appointment procedure and the UN Security Council will not have to declare in the appointment of Schmidt. Article noted that all former HRs, with exception of Christian Schwarz- Schilling were appointed in a way where UN Secretary General submitted the letter of the outgoing HR to the UN SC President and after that the Security Council adopted the Resolution which welcome and accepted the appointment. When Schwarz- Schilling was appointed, then UN SC President sent a letter to the UN Secretary General and said that members are informed and they welcome the appointment. If Schmidt would be appointed in this way, Russia would not have a chance to veto the appointment.
Dodik: We will welcome Schmidt as a tourist (Dnevni avaz)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik announced that the Republika Srpska (RS) will submit a letter to all members of the UN Security Council, but also EU member states concerning the appointment of Christian Schmidt to the post of new High Representative. Dodik said that they deem, because of their continuous fight, it is important to have a proof that they wrote to the UN and warned the Secretary General and UN SC President about violation of the international law. He noted that the RS does not think that Schmidt is legitimate: “We consider him to be a tourist who came to make inquiry about certain things and this is the way we will be meeting him”. Dodik noted that he does not know what could motivate Schmidt to accept candidacy for the new HR, because he is not a poorly informed man who does not know what he is doing. He said that he met Schmidt at one meeting, where he acted “mild” but that was his role at the time, to calm down the situation. “If a German is coming to any of the posts, to do something in B&H concerning the Serbs, then he has to know that our historic memory is very negative since First and Second WW and many other things and he will be informed about this,” said Dodik. He concluded that it will be interesting to see what will be happening in the following period, being that Germany is heading towards elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel is leaving and Germany will have many other issues. “Regardless of the fact that he is a proposal of German government, he will have to face our stances. If German Government has right to illegal appointment then we also have a right to completely legal behavior,” said Dodik. He noted that the RS is disputing the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and added that the RS will find a way to sue each and every one of the former HRs. “Name of the High Representatives are to be proposed by signatories of Annex X and this is clearly stated,” said Dodik.
Dodik says RS will write to UN Security Council and EU regarding new HR (ATV)
Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that the RS will write to the UN Security Council and the EU because of the illegal appointment of the German diplomat Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative for B&H. Dodik said that the RS will only accept what is written in the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). The RS will not accept anything outside of the DPA, and that is, among other things, the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), according to Dodik. Dodik said that the RS will find a way to sue every High Representative in the country they come from for violating the international law. Dodik revealed that the RS once prepared a lawsuit against former High Representative for B&H Paddy Ashdown, who used the Bonn Powers the most. Dodik stated: “When we had already concluded, we had already found lawyers who claimed to have surveyed judicial institutions in Britain and said that there was a basis for the court to decide, then the then US Ambassador came to us and said: ‘Just try to do it!’ Of course, I kept pushing it, but the people who were in the case withdrew on their own, probably under pressure from the Americans”. According to Dodik, for the RS, Schmidt is a tourist who comes to inquire about some things, and that is how he will be received. Dodik commented: “Yes, he comes from Germany in August, but the elections in Germany are in September, October. The departure of (the German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has been announced and therefore Germany will have a lot of problems. Regardless of the fact that he was proposed by the German government, he should be made familiar with our position. If the German government has the right to illegal appointments, then we also have the right to completely legal behavior”. Dodik said that he met Schmidt once, when there was talk of exporting domestic products to the EU. According to Dodik, Schmidt seemed like a gentleman, but regardless of that, Dodik reminded that the Serb people have a clear position on German politicians in this region. Dodik also added that it is very important that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has made it very clear that Serbia will for the first time request reports from the High Representative as a signatory to Annex 10 (of the DPA).
Dodik: I will support not celebrating of RS Day on 9 January but on 15 February (Sputnik/Klix.ba)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik told Sputnik that he will support the idea of marking the RS Day on 15 February when Serbia celebrated Statehood Day, instead of 9 January. He said that RS Day is disputed because of 9 January being a religious holiday and he added that there are more and more initiatives to keep their day as St. Patron’s Day of the RS: “We will be marking that”. He stressed that nobody can forbid him to go to the Church on that day and take part in a prayer for the RS: “And what do you think about the idea that I heard in last couple of days to have the RS establish 15 February as the RS Day, the same day as Serbia. I think this is a good idea”. He said that he will discuss this issue with partners in the RS and enable solving of this issue. “If they (Bosniaks) are insulted and 9 January is not a possibility, whether they will be fine with 15 February? That is the date of First Serb Uprising and we in the RS are Serbs,” said Dodik. Leader of SDS Mirko Sarovic stated that by giving politically irresponsible statements, Dodik has been checking “pulse of people.” Sarovic added that one of hidden intentions of the SNSD leader might be abolition of 9 January as the RS Day, adding that SNSD’s coalition partner SDA has been requesting this for some time. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic stressed that even biggest enemies of Serbs and the RS would not propose abolition of the day when the RS was formed. Borenovic stressed that this is evidence Dodik’s policy is aimed against the RS and against people who created the RS. Bosniak Vice President of the RS Ramiz Salkic reacted on behalf of SDA. Salkic commended discussions to finally implement decisions of the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H assessing 9 January as the RS Day as unconstitutional. He emphasized that the date when the RS Day will be marked needs to be the result of an agreement so that all citizens in the RS can respect it. Salkic stressed that 15 February as the RS Day is unacceptable for Bosniaks, because it is a part of program of Serbs in the Balkans according to which all Serbs in entire Western Balkans should celebrate the same dates. President of DNS Nenad Nesic said that it is ridiculous to even think about abolishing the Day of the RS on 9 January. He stressed that this represents a danger for the future of the RS. Nesic added that this decision is the demand of those who have been trying to abolish the RS for years. Dodik told Srna that neither (the leader of the SDS) Mirko Sarovic, nor (the leader of PDP) Branislav Borenovic, nor anyone else in the RS, need to defend the Day of the RS from Dodik, who, unlike them, participated in its proclamation. Dodik emphasized: “It is clear to all well-intentioned people that I answered the question, to someone’s idea that the RS should celebrate its day when Serbia also celebrates its day. Those well-intentioned people could also read that I said that this idea should be discussed and that January 9 will always be celebrated in the RS. I did not say that we will celebrate the Day of the RS on another date, nor is that decision in my hands”. Commenting on the opposition’s reactions to his statement regarding the celebration of the Day of the RS, Dodik said that he was impressed by the readiness of SDS and PDP to defend the RS from Dodik. “If they were ready to defend it from the Greater Bosniak policy or international occupation, I would admit to them that they are patriots. In this way, they only confirm that they are seeking to collect cheap (political) points,” concluded Dodik.
HNS adopts resolution that demands equality for Croats in B&H (BHT1)
The Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) held its ninth session on Friday and adopted a Resolution focusing on eliminating discrimination against Croat people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) as well as ensuring their equality. The session was attended by representatives of Croat political parties, as well as representatives of academic, cultural, and social circles. The Resolution was adopted with the vast majority of votes of around 450 delegates from HNS. The Resolution provides guidelines on how Croat politicians in B&H should act and sends a message to Croats, Bosniaks, Serbs, as well as the international community – the Office of the High Representatives (OHR) and the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) – as well as Croatia and others about what HNS’ views of the situation in B&H are. The Resolution overviews the political rights that Croats as a constituent people are entitled to but, as the document reads, they do not exercise them. Among other things, the Resolution mentions that the largest violation of Croats’ right in B&H involves depriving them of the right to elect legitimate representatives in the authorities in B&H. HNS thus called for urgent adoption of amendments to the Election Law of B&H. Namely, this assembly took place at the political moment when talks of SDA and HDZ B&H on amending the Election Law have entered their final phase. The amendments to the Election Law should be adopted either in this, non-election year, or no later than by June 2022, prior to calling the general elections. The Resolution includes a conclusion that Croats want an integral B&H with three equal constituent peoples, and reject ideas of separatism and unitarianism. When it comes to talks on the Election Law and possible future constitutional changes, HNS announced that they will not accept anything less than ensuring legitimate representation in the bodies and the institutions in B&H. The Resolution specified that Croats will never give up their constituent status. The HNS welcomed appointment of German diplomat Christian Schmidt, but expressed hope that the function of the HR will be abolished soon. While some delegates mentioned the idea of the third entity, leader of HDZ B&H and HNS Dragan Covic expressed an opinion that the best solution is to have two constituencies in the Federation of B&H (FB&H). Covic noted that Croats need to have legitimate representatives in the authorities, especially 17 delegates in the FB&H House of Peoples (HoP) and the Croat member in the B&H Presidency. “Everything else can be negotiated on”, he added. Chairman of the HNS Main Council Bozo Ljubic warned that the constituent status of Croat people has been undermined and failure to amend the Election Law before the 2020 general elections would bring it down “to zero” at both entity and state level. Ljubic criticized outgoing HR Valentin Inzko for one of his past statements in which he said that he does not understand what legitimate political representation means as well as that the B&H Constitutional Court (CC)’s ruling in the Ljubic case has been implemented. Ljubic noted that the CC’s ruling in this case has not been implemented “due to those in charge of the civil implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA)”. Meanwhile, 21 delegates from the Croat Republican Party (HRS) and the List ‘Capljina u Srcu’ (‘Capljina in Heart’) left HNS. HRS leader Slaven Raguz presented an opinion that HNS has become an institution that works in interest “of just one political party” and that strives to put an end to any opposing political views within the Assembly.
Izetbegovic: HNS resolution is way to pressure Bosniaks, SDA (O kanal)
The leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic commented the Resolution that the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) adopted on Friday. According to Izetbegovic, this is another way to pressure the Bosniak side, i.e. SDA to change the B&H Election Law in line with wishes of HDZ B&H. He said: “All this is on the line of non-papers that we recently saw. I think that all this is coordinated to make pressure in order to reach something that will freeze the current situation in a way that one-tenth of MPs can stop everything in this country”.
Removal of church from Orlovic’s backyard commences (O kanal)
Removal of Illegally built Orthodox Church from Fata Orlovic’s backyard commenced on Saturday in Konjevic Polje. The church was pulled down and debris should be removed by end of the weekend. In this way, the ECHR’s ruling will be implemented. Reporter reminded that in 2019 the ECHR rendered ruling ordering Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) to remove illegally built church from Orlovic’s backyard by April, 2020. However, this ruling has not been implemented until Saturday due to situation caused by Coronavirus pandemic. In a statement for media Orlovic said that she is content but not happy. “I am not glad, but I had to do it,” stated Orlovic, adding that she is glad her struggle reached an end after 20 years. Commenting on demolition, Fata Orlovic said that in the 20 years of legal battle, Saturday was the hardest day, although she did not want the church to be demolished, she wanted her land to be returned to her. Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic stated that Orlovic’s example is an example of perseverance. “Had she agreed to deals she would never have returned her property. It is a lesson for all those who uncompromisingly want to fight for the state of B&H. If we insist on what the principles of civilization are, we have a chance to build a normal state of B&H,” Komsic was quoted as saying. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic stated that removal of the illegally built church in Konjevic Polje is an encouraging and long-awaited act that confirms that the struggle for justice, for B&H and its millennium achievements, will never be in vain. Bosniak RS Vice President Ramiz Salkic welcomed the removal of the church. Salkic was quoted as saying: “Justice is slow but achievable for those persistent in the fight. One day, in this way, all forms of discrimination and injustice against our people in this part of our homeland B&H will be destroyed”. Salkic added that it is necessary to continue speaking the truth and seek justice, and never give up on that. SNSD MP in the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) Sanja Vulic said that the happiness, excitement and satisfaction of the Bosniak people and the alleged Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic on the occasion of the relocation of the Orthodox church in Konjevic Polje was sad. Vulic reminded that, according to the available data, nine mosques were built on Serb land in the Federation of B&H, and emphasized that none of the Serbs ever asked for their demolition, because Serbs respect the places of worship.
Komsic, Dzaferovic pay official visit to Montenegro, meet Montenegro officials, send good neighborly messages, regret Dodik did not join them (O kanal)
Members of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic paid an official visit to Montenegro on Friday. Komsic and Dzaferovic met Montenegro officials and sent good neighborly messages. During a meeting with Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, the officials confirmed that B&H and Montenegro are two friendly countries whose clear inter-state relations can serve as a good example for the region. According to the officials, the inter-state border agreement between the two countries confirms good neighborly relations. The officials also discussed issues related to the Euro-Atlantic path. Addressing media, Djukanovic underlined the need to be persuasive and continue the Euro-Atlantic road despite of all challenges and false alternatives. Komsic and Dzaferovic expressed content for continuation of good neighborly relations. Komsic argued that the visit would make all sense if Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik also joined them, adding that it is important that relations between the two states will not change following formation of a new Montenegro government. Dzaferovic explained that the visit comes following an unpleasant situation with a veto in the B&H Presidency that did not allow Djukanovic to visit B&H. According to Dzaferovic, stable and prosperous Montenegro – as a member state of the NATO and that is accelerating its EU path – is in the interest of B&H. Dzaferovic stressed the importance of discussing situation in the region, especially when it comes to foreign policy priorities. Djukanovic informed Komsic and Dzaferovic of his stance that all Western Balkan countries should have “a European and Euro-Atlantic future”.
Dzaferovic and Komsic also met and Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic. The officials agreed that the relations between the two countries are good and that they can serve as an example to the region. The joint message sent from Podgorica says that all countries of the region must aspire to become members of the EU and the NATO. “It was important to us, given that there is a new parliamentary majority in Montenegro, it was very important for us to hear that this does not mean any change in attitudes towards B&H. On the contrary, these relationships continue,” Komsic stated. Djukanovic assessed relations in the region as not good. He said Serbia’s attitude towards Montenegro, but also towards all other countries of the region, are similar to those attitudes Serbia had during 1990s. Djukanovic hoped that in his lifetime such mistakes would not be repeated, but he fears such path has already been paved. “Under the guise of caring for the allegedly endangered rights of the Serb people in neighboring states, the sovereignty of neighboring states is essentially threatened. That happened in the 1990s and we know the epilogue”, Djukanovic underlined. Due to constant scares and talks of new conflicts, B&H needs to become a NATO member, leaders of B&H and Montenegro agreed. “A stable and prosperous Montenegro is in the interest of B&H. Montenegro is a member of the NATO alliance, Montenegro, which is rapidly following its European path, and Montenegro, in which overall interethnic relations are relaxed in the best way”, Dzaferovic pointed out. He pointed out that Montenegro supports the entire B&H, its European and NATO path, equality of all peoples and citizens of B&H. Speaker of the Montenegrin parliament Aleksa Becic exchanged opinions with the members of the B&H Presidency on regional cooperation, as well as on the European perspective of the two friendly countries. The position of all interlocutors is that the attitude towards the past must be in the sign of respecting the judgments of international courts, including the judgments of the International Court of Justice and The Hague Tribunal, which established that genocide was committed in Srebrenica. Komsic, Dzaferovic and Djukanovic stated that regardless of the fact that there was change of authorities in Montenegro and that Djukanovic’s DPS is no longer part of the ruling coalition, there will be no change in relations between B&H and Montenegro. Dzaferovic deemed as very important that they were promised by Krivokapic as well that attitude of Podgorica towards Sarajevo will not change. Komsic, Dzaferovic and Djukanovic especially stressed that B&H and Montenegro have a common goal and the only right goal which, according to them, is making rapid progress towards the EU. Asked to comment the current relations between Montenegro and Serbia, Djukanovic stated that he believes that Serbia is currently pursuing the policy of the 1990s which led to unfortunate events and a huge number of victims. “I hoped that at least in our lifetime, we would risk repeating such mistakes. I fear that we are on the way of repeating such mistakes,” Djukanovic underlined, adding that he hopes one will manage to prevent destruction from gaining momentum.
EU Council confirms to APA existence of non-paper (Oslobodjenje)
Representatives of the EU Council confirmed to Austrian news agency APA that there is a document concerning the alleged Slovenian non-paper About change of borders in the Western Balkans. It is said that the document was not published because it could endanger international relations. APA asked the Council to reveal “the documents of all forms and in all languages, which regard the alleged Slovenian non-papers or Slovenian initiative for change of borders and related discussions”. The Council stated that General Secretariat identified one such document, but they refused the access.
Final verdict to Ratko Mladic to be pronounced on Tuesday (Nova BH)
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Appeals Chamber is scheduled to render on Tuesday the second-instance verdict to wartime RS Army Main Staff Commander Ratko Mladic, whom the first-instance verdict found guilty of war crimes in B&H including the Srebrenica genocide. This is the last major case that is expected to close the epoch of work of the international prosecution of war crimes from the territory of former Yugoslavia. In the appeals procedure, the defense team insisted on an acquittal, while the prosecutors demanded upholding the first-instance life sentence as well as to convict him for genocide in six other municipalities in B&H. Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated on Sunday that Mladic is “a soldier, a not a criminal”. Given that the first-instance verdict found Mladic guilty of war crimes in B&H and the Srebrenica genocide, Dodik said that there are attempts to present Mladic as a criminal, adding that this is unacceptable to Serb people and himself as the Serb people’s member of the Presidency. According to Dodik, The Hague Tribunal is biased and focused towards writing the history in a way of presenting Serbs as “the bad guys”. “I do not think Ratko Mladic deserves that verdict, I do not think he has that responsibility. I do not think that because his counterparts in Croatia and B&H have never been sentenced, although they also led war operations. Ratko Mladic is a soldier, and they want to make a war criminal out of him, and that is unacceptable for us. Our people do not accept that, and I, as the President of that people, also do not accept that,” said Dodik.
Grlic Radman sends letter to EU officials warning them of possible crisis in B&H if elections are held in B&H without electoral reforms (N1)
Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman has sent a letter to EU officials warning them of a possible crisis in B&H if elections are held in B&H without electoral reforms. In the letter, Grlic Radman stressed that everyone in the EU agrees that the year 2021 is an opportunity. However, he pointed out that that time is essential, since 2022 is the year of general elections in B&H. “I am concerned that if this opportunity is missed, a major political crisis will occur in 2022, which will simultaneously establish political institutions in the country and halt the entire reform process,” Grlic Radman warned in the letter he sent to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and EU High Representative for Dialogue and Other Regional Affairs Miroslav Lajcak. In the letter, Grlic Radman also emphasized the need for electoral reforms to ensure that all forms of discrimination are eliminated in a systematic and lasting manner. Grlic Radman presented a stance that it is necessary to provide more support to EU Special Representative Johann Sattler who was recently exposed to huge pressure “by those who want to obstruct electoral reform and do not shy away from slandering rhetoric”. He deems that it is necessary to encourage dialogue between politicians and European counterparts and he suggest organizing of more frequent informal meetings between EU and B&H at ministerial level.
Plenkovic: Croats as constituent people are of special importance for Croatia (Vecernji list)
Croatian Prime Minister (PM) Andrej Plenkovic stated during a session of the Croatian government’s Council for Croats Outside Republic of Croatia that Croats in B&H are a constituent people and largest Croat community outside Croatia, and are especially important to the Croatian Government and the Croat(ian) people as a whole. According to Plenkovic, ‘we’ continue to repeat and prove the dedication in supporting Croats in B&H not by just providing the political support, “which is the fundamental issue of our activities towards B&H, but also by numerous projects that are being implemented between Croatia and B&H, especially through cooperation programs”. According to the daily, Speaker of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Borjana Kristo (HDZ B&H) also took part in the session and informed the Council members about the resolution adopted at the ninth session of the Croat People’s Assembly (adopted on Friday). Among other issues, Kristo noted that Croatia put the ‘Croat issue’ on the table of international institutions.
Grlic Radman addresses conference on B&H in Split, says Croatia is sincere advocate of Euro-Atlantic path of B&H (Hina)
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia Gordan Grlic Radman attended a conference dubbed ‘Beautiful country B&H’ which took place in Split, on which occasion he noted that Croatia is a sincere advocate of Euro-Atlantic path of B&H. During the conference, ‘Above the line’ book of deputy speaker of the House of Peoples of B&H and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic was presented. On this occasion, Grlic Radman stated that Croatia is the only EU member country which has the longest border with B&H, as in line with the Constitution and as a signatory of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). “We deem that we are the only true and real witnesses as well as ones who have expertise and experience when it comes to history and creation of modern B&H. Croatia is interested in the position of Croat people in B&H”, Grlic Radman noted. Grlic Radman also assessed that past international representatives in B&H changed certain articles to the detriment of Croats in B&H, while the resolution of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) established the necessity to adopt changes to the Law on Elections so that Croats can be represented in a legitimate way at all levels of authorities. “We are witnesses that the situation is not like that when it comes to the Presidency of B&H, where the member was not elected by votes of Croats. This is not about the number, but it is about outvoting of other peoples, which is not in line with the spirit and letter of the DPA nor it is in line with the Constitution,” Grlic Radman concluded.
Government reconstruction or new elections to resolve crisis (RTCG)
Government reconstruction or the election of a new government are some of the options for overcoming the crisis. The people expect responsibility and that we fulfil our promises, one of the leaders of the Democratic Front, DF, Milan Knezevic, said. According to him, everyone who doesn’t want to take part in dismantling the former government should step out and leave his/her position to somebody else. Speaking about relations in the ruling bloc, Knezevic said that “the Democratic Front has been calling on dialogue of both the Prime Minister and its colleagues from the ruling majority”.
Djukanovic on announced vote on Leposavic’s dismissal (CdM)
President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic has said that the DPS will support the dismissal of the current Minister of Justice and Human and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavic and vote in favor of the Srebrenica Resolution in Parliament. He has also stressed that Serbia threatens the sovereignty of independent states in the region, as it did back in the 1990s. Answering the question whether the DPS will end the boycott when parliament votes on the dismissal of Minister Leposavic, Djukanovic says that there is no doubt that the DPS MPs will support the proposal for his dismissal. He has added that the DPS will also support the Srebrenica Resolution. “The DPS is the state-building party that carried most of the political burden in restoring independence. From any position, we will continue to act responsibly according to the interests of Montenegro. We have, conditionally speaking, a heavy obligation to defend something in the creation of which we have decisively influenced. We did not miss any temptation to confirm this kind of behavior. Do not have any doubt that the DPS will be in a state of readiness and responsibility to contribute to this perception of Montenegro in the international community and to prevent anyone from casting doubt that a change of government could damage Montenegro’s pro-European image. We have not been absent, nor will we be absent whenever necessary,” Djukanovic pointed out after a meeting with members of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic. Speaking about the relations between Montenegro and Serbia, Djukanovic says that at the moment that relationship is similar to the one from the 1990s. He himself is convinced that we are on the right track and that individual incidents, as an expression of irresponsible politics, cannot question the relationship between Montenegro and B&H. Commenting on the move of PM Zdravko Krivokapic not to sign the Fundamental Agreement, Djukanovic has stated that he believes that it is important to sign agreements between the state and religious communities. “A bad thing is that the content of the Agreement is secret. The content of the Fundamental Agreement must be in accordance with the Constitution of Montenegro,” Djukanovic has stressed.
Djukanovic: Montenegro continues to confirm its commitment to unity of NATO (CdM)
It’s the fourth anniversary of the biggest international achievement of the modern Montenegrin state – membership in NATO, the President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic said, pointing out that Montenegro remains a reliable ally and partner of the Alliance. The President also says that Montenegro continues confirming in deeds its commitment to the unity of the Alliance, strengthening of resilience and defence of common values, deepening cooperation with those who share its Euro-Atlantic path and preserving international order based on rules. “Proud of the achieved, responsible for the future,” he noted.
Abazovic: Four-year NATO membership has brought multiple benefits to Montenegro (Gov. Press service)
After the change of government, the Agreement of three leaders from September 2020, and the visit to Brussels, the support of citizens for Montenegro’s membership in NATO has increased enormously, said Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic on the occasion of Montenegro’s fourth anniversary of membership in the Alliance. Abazovic pointed out that the four-year membership of our country in NATO had multiple benefits, such as a system of collective defence and security, but also the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law.
“Montenegro’s membership in the Alliance had implications for the peaceful transition of the former 30-year government, and had a key impact on international support for the new government on the path to further European integration and comprehensive reforms, which the government received immediately after its formation,” he said. The Deputy Prime Minister concluded that four years after full membership, Montenegro remains fully committed to implementing all international obligations, strengthening and improving cooperation with the Alliance, and actively working to preserve peace and stability in the Western Balkans, preserving the integrity and reputation of the Alliance.
Krivokapic: Montenegro is a stable, reliable and committed member of the Alliance (Gov. Press service)
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of NATO membership, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic said that he is convinced that everything we do within our NATO agenda strengthens the position of Montenegro and facilitates its path to the European Union. We publish his address in its entirety. “Dear citizens, we are celebrating four years since Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO on 5 June 2017. Thus, one of the most important foreign policy priorities of Montenegro is fulfilled, which permanently secured its place in the Euro-Atlantic family of states. The Government I lead, as well as the political parties that form the parliamentary majority, have already pledged at the beginning of their term to continue to strengthen our contribution to NATO, in order to show our unwavering commitment to the Alliance and our European aspirations. I am convinced that everything we do within our NATO agenda strengthens the position of Montenegro and facilitates its path to the European Union, which is confirmed by the experience of some EU members. I see EU integration and NATO membership as ‘one and the same path’ on which we strive for identical values – democracy, human rights, individual freedoms, the rule of law. Montenegro has opted for these values because they mean a better and high-quality life and the only guide to a brighter future for us and our children. Montenegro is a stable, reliable and committed member of NATO. We actively participate in the implementation of NATO policies, with a desire to contribute to peace and stability in our region, Europe, but also globally. I want to emphasise that Montenegro continues its participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo. Through our engagement, we seek to provide a safe environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo, in accordance with United Nations Resolution 1244, which defines NATO’s mandate. Representatives of our Armed Forces are also engaged within NATO’s forward presence presence in Latvia, as part of the efforts to improve the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. After 10 years of successful participation, Montenegro ended its engagement in Afghanistan last year. We plan to send the first member of the Montenegrin Armed Forces to the NATO Mission in Iraq soon. This way, Montenegro contributes to global efforts to strengthen peace and stability. This is also an opportunity for our soldiers to improve their readiness and abilities, side by side with allies and partners, through joint activities and exercises. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Montenegro felt the importance and strength of solidarity and unity in the right way. Many allies have supported us and donated the necessary medical care and equipment. One of the most valuable donations was made by NATO in the amount of 800,000 euros. Part of these funds will be used for the purchase of magnetic resonance and X-ray machine for the General Hospital in Berane, which will provide citizens in the north with faster and better medical care. We are also grateful to the allies Italy and Greece who have been protecting our skies for the past three years, making Montenegro safer. The fact that Montenegro is safe and stable is an important message for all our citizens, for those who intend to visit it, or invest here and start a business. All the efforts of the Government I represent are directed towards that goal. With the great efforts of everyone, we managed to bring the coronavirus situation under control and vaccinate a high percentage of the population. As we promised, we are well on our way to enabling a high-quality tourist season, and contributing to financial stability. I hope that all our efforts bring us closer to returning to normal life. A normal in which our energy and attention will be fully focused, not only on repairing the negative consequences, but on making new achievements and progress. We should all be united in that. United as the people of Montenegro, but also as a region. United on the road to the European Union, and united in our efforts to reform our societies and systems and make them more efficient, prosperous and better. Montenegro, as a member of NATO and a future member of the European Union, is fully committed to meeting this goal. Today’s anniversary of NATO membership reminds us that we are implementing reforms for the sake of a better life for our citizens, which should be the guiding idea in the continuation of our European path,” the Prime Minister said.
Zaev announces frequent meetings with Bulgarian officials before June summit (Republika)
PM Zoran Zaev said on Sunday that the frequent contacts and meetings with the Bulgarian officials will follow aimed at reaching a solution to the dispute with Bulgaria prior to the EU summit in June, for which there is optimism that the green light will be given for holding the first intergovernmental conference. Answering a reporter’s question, Zaev said that many meetings will be held until 22 June. He mentioned the summit in Antalya on 17 June, but also pointed to the NATO summit in Brussels on 14 June as an opportunity for meetings with Bulgarian officials. I believe that we will also meet bilaterally because our foreign ministers are cooperating with their teams, developing a plan for cooperation. It is a sectorial plan from all areas, I believe we will determine it to the end. I even believe that the Intergovernmental Conference can be held in the upcoming period, and in the meantime all the necessary things can be adopted, stressed Zaev.
Government: No secret negotiations, Macedonia has declared positions loud and clear (MIA)
VMRO-DPMNE’s false and irresponsible statements undermine diplomatic processes aimed at unblocking Macedonia’s European integration process, which is in our mutual interest, the government told MIA on Friday. There are no secret negotiations, Macedonia has declared positions loud and clear and VMRO-DPMNE and the domestic public and the wider international community are familiar with that, the government said. In all communications of the members of the government, the government tells MIA, on every occasion it is emphasized that the Macedonian language and the Macedonian identity have never been and we will never allow them to be on the negotiating table with any party. In important periods for the state, we expect maximum responsibility from all stakeholders, and not populism with manipulations for petty party interests, the government said.
Enlargement, positive for peace and prosperity/Sassoli backs Western Balkans EU membership (Radio Tirana/Funke Mediengruppe)
European Parliament President David Sassoli has supported the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU. Sassoli has said that EU enlargement would be a positive step towards peace and prosperity. “Enlargement can bring great benefits to both the region and Europe as a whole, helping to ensure a stable, prosperous and peaceful continent” Sassoli said, according to German Funke Mediengruppe. However, when the countries of the Western Balkans will join the union depends on the fulfillment of the conditions. “Reforms have yet to be completed in each of these countries,” Sassoli said, adding that the European Union must also keep its promises and recognize progress. The EU is already holding accession talks with Montenegro and Serbia, while Albania and North Macedonia are official candidates. Last month North Macedonia received the support of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia to start talks with the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have so far been considered potential candidates for negotiations. The EU enlargement process has faced major challenges, some of them rooted in ethnic divisions in the Western Balkans. Unanimity is required from all EU members for the adoption of the negotiating framework.