Vucic: We have won fight for successful Serbia (RTS/Tanjug)
Over the past nine years, Serbia has been pursuing a clear and responsible foreign policy and its improved reputation and position mean more investments, more jobs and better life for citizens, said a video message posted on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s Instagram profile avucic on Monday. “Serbia’s ties with the West and the East are now better than they have been in the past three decades,” said the message, which included footage from Vucic’s past meetings with top European and international leaders. Serbia has welcomed many global leaders and all those visits and meetings have resulted in business agreements that prove that our economy is the most advanced economy in the region and that our country is the most dependable and the most desirable partner in the Balkans, Vucic’s message also said. “Together, we have made our Serbia a respected and strong country that is today the anchor of economic stability in the region and a bridge connecting the East and the West. Together, we have won the fight for a successful Serbia whose voice is heard afar,” the message said
Selakovic: Serbia attaches great importance to Berlin Process (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbia attaches great importance to the Berlin Process and will always be an advocate of the policy of peace and connectivity because it is a way to create stability as the pre-condition of economic growth, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said at an online meeting of Berlin Process Foreign Ministers. He said the Berlin initiative had proved to be a good forum for strengthening regional cooperation, development, promotion of a policy of reconciliation and overcoming problems inherited from the past. “Unfortunately, some still have not realized the real meaning and substance of the Berlin Process and that they must first start respecting international commitments, such as the agreement on regional representation,” Selakovic said, reacting to the fact that a Pristina representative had displayed a flag of the self-declared “Kosovo”. He said the Berlin Process was supporting the EU integration of the Western Balkans through concrete projects and measures and noted that regional cooperation was focused on economic connectivity and that this was in line with the Serbian government’s foreign policy orientation. According to a statement released by the Serbian Foreign Ministry, Selakovic said the most current example of the initiative was the establishment of a common regional market in the Western Balkans. “Serbia welcomes the action plan on a Common Regional Market. To a significant degree, this document is based on specific proposals arising from an initiative launched by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in cooperation with the Prime Ministers of Albania and North Macedonia,” Selakovic said, adding that implementation of the agreement would expand possibilities for boosting economic cooperation in the region. Selakovic reiterated that full EU membership was the key foreign policy and strategic goal for Serbia.
Petkovic calls for shedding light on fate of missing persons (Beta/RTV)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic said on Monday that Belgrade considered it crucial for the issue of missing persons to be resolved and that he expected concrete support from Pristina. “We stressed unequivocally on multiple occasions that we were ready to open all archives and search all locations that Pristina suspected contained the mortal remains of missing ethnic Albanians,” he said. He added that Pristina has consistently rejected any mention of opening Kosovo Liberation Army archives or permitting expert teams from Belgrade to search sites in Kosovo and Metohija, for which he said there are very clear signs that they conceal the bodies of Serbs unaccounted for since the conflicts of the 1990s. Petkovic expressed regret that the Pristina side dismissed any possibility of cooperation on this matter and addressed the issue of missing persons solely through a reckoning with official Belgrade, but he said that Belgrade would not view the issue through a petty political prism.
Serbian parliament passes motion to amend constitution (Tanjug/RTS)
A motion to amend the Serbian constitution was passed in the Serbian parliament by a two-third majority late on Monday. Two hundred and seven of the 213 MPs in attendance voted for the motion, three voted against and two abstained, while one MP took no part in the vote. During the debate, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said constitutional amendments on the judiciary were a huge step in the right direction for rule of law and the state in general. What follows is work on the text of the amendments, which will then be tabled to MPs. If passed by the parliament, the amendments will be decided upon in a referendum.
Dacic: Important process in Serbian parliament, amendment to Constitution must end in this mandate (RTV)
The guest of the “Right Angle” on Radio and Television of Vojvodina (RTV) Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic spoke about current topics and, above all, the beginning of the debate in the parliament on amending the Constitution. To the remarking of the journalist that despite such an important topic, there were only forty deputies in the parliament on Monday, Dacic said that there were more than 170 deputies at the opening of the session, but that he did not like the picture of the hall with few deputies. “I am not satisfied either when I see that only about 40 deputies are following the debate, but I want to return to the essence, that it is an extremely important event, the amendment of the Constitution is an important event. Everyone talks about those things that interest them. “And for most people, it is not the clearest. We need to motivate citizens to go to the referendum and vote on changes to the Constitution, where the basic thing is the way judges and prosecutors are elected,” said Dacic. Dacic also says that the debate will not be attractive for ordinary people, but that this is an important process and an important event. “The convocation of the parliament that starts these changes must also end them. It cannot start now with another convocation continuing this process after the elections. That is not possible. The procedure is such that the same convocation of the parliament must end the process,” added Dacic. He also said that four processes are actually happening. “The first act is this on Monday, it is to be accepted in principle, that is, the proposal to amend the Constitution, and there are clearly listed which articles of the Constitution are changing. No one can make an amendment now and expand it as a debate. That is the procedure. If today two thirds of the deputies accept that proposal, then the government has nothing to do with it anymore. The Committee on Constitutional Affairs is taking over the work and it is actually writing the text of the amendment,” Dacic explained. It is impossible to add additional amendments to the Constitution, so every initiative or proposal to amend the Constitution must contain specific proposals, and it is not possible to change that further in the procedure, said Dacic. “Now the only issue on the agenda is the independence of the judiciary, that is, the manner of electing judges and prosecutors,” Dacic concluded.
People’s Party: Vucic amending Constitution to get full control over judge selection (Beta)
The People’s Party said in a press release on Monday that the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Serbia had been tailored to facilitate the influence of political power on judges and prosecutors to allow Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to achieve his goal of tearing down to the ground the last bastion against the lawlessness of his rule. “This is Vucic’s way to ensure that the criminal affairs of his regime are never prosecuted to lead to the highest state officials. The amendments are tailormade to solidify the influence of political power over the justice system by providing constitutional cover to the mechanisms of that influence,” the press release read. The party said the current single party line-up of the Serbian parliament, whose term has been cut short by Vucic himself because it does not represent all Serbian citizens due to the June 2020 election boycott, did not have the legitimacy to amend the Constitution. The party’s statement further described as false the claims by the Serbian cabinet that the move to amend the Constitution was due to commitment to EU integration, describing the proposed amendments as an anti-European and antidemocratic act geared solely toward granting Vucic’s regime full control over the election and work of judges and prosecutors.
MICT Spokesperson Eggleston: Everything is prepared for rendering of verdict against Mladic (RTRS)
Ahead of rendering of final-instance verdict in case against wartime commander of the Republika Srpska (RS) Army Ratko Mladic, Spokesperson of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) Helena Eggleston addressed media. Among other things, Eggleston said that everything is prepared for rendering of the verdict. She also stated that only some of accredited media will be allowed to attend rendering of the verdict in premises of MICT, while others will be situated in improvised press center. There will be no audience in the courtroom. Asked about health status of Mladic, Eggleston stated that she cannot talk about it, because it is confidential information. She reminded that all parties in the process will be allowed to attend personally or via video-link rendering of the verdict. The reporter noted that eight televisions from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) have been accredited to follow rendering of the verdict and that representatives of several Bosniak associations from Srebrenica and other parts of the FB&H will be present in the Hague. Reporter noted that the Appeals Chamber of the MICT will start with rendering of the verdict in case against Mladic on Tuesday at 1500 hours. Broadcast will be delayed for 30 minutes. Reading of the verdict will last for one hour.
Dodik: The Hague Tribunal failed to establish truth and to contribute to reconciliation (BHT1)
BHT1 reported on the expectations of the B&H public from the issuing of the final verdict against former RS Army General Ratko Mladic on Tuesday in The Hague. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that to him Mladic is a soldier and not a criminal, which is a stance that the RS cannot accept. Dodik reiterated he does not believe in The Hague Tribunal. “We are not of the view that The Hague Tribunal was fair, nor it is a place of justice. It did not succeed in reconciling peoples here in B&H. It passed different opinions, pronounced different verdicts, and, unfortunately, the practice that has been in force is applied to General Mladic. I view him as a soldier, not a war criminal, as they are trying to present him,” said Dodik. According to Dodik, The Hague Tribunal rendered different verdicts and the practice has so far been detrimental to Serbs. Dodik underlined that goal of the court in The Hague was to establish the truth and to contribute to reconciliation, adding that this court failed to achieve the set goal. Dodik added that The Hague Court failed to reconcile peoples in B&H, primarily because it used double standards.
Dodik and Covic hold meeting in Banja Luka; Dodik says there will be no reform of electoral legislation without agreement on election of B&H Presidency members (ATV)
Delegations of HDZ B&H and SNSD held a meeting in Banja Luka on Monday. On this occasion, the two political party delegations discussed interparty cooperation as well as current issues in B&H. The delegations agreed to intensify their cooperation in all segments, especially in the B&H Parliament and the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM). When it comes to the current issues discussed at the meeting, among them were the issue of amending the Election Law of B&H, the appointment of German politician Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative (HR) in B&H, the initiative to remove foreign judges from the B&H Constitutional Court (CC) and the European integration of B&H. Leaders of HDZ B&H and SNSD harmonized their stances on almost all current issues, except for the stances on the NATO integration, given the RS stance on military neutrality and HDZ B&H’s support to the NATO integration. The Election Law of B&H was the main issue of the discussion. The delegations touched upon the fact that talks of SDA and HDZ B&H on amending the Election Law have already started, as well as that the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for amending the election legislation has started operating. Speaking about the amending of the Election Law, HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik both pointed out that the amendments should define that mandates won in the elections are awarded to political parties rather than individuals. Covic and Dodik concluded that there should be no merging of general with local elections as well as that there is no institute of snap elections in B&H. Covic was reassured by Dodik that SNSD finds everything that HDZ B&H suggests regarding the election legislation as acceptable and necessary. According to their common stance, the amending of the Election Law is more politically complicated in the FB&H than for the territory of the RS. The HDZ B&H delegation and Covic reiterated that Croats have been deprived of the right to elect a legitimate Croat member of the B&H Presidency and they demand that their proposals on enabling legitimate representation in the Presidency and the House of Peoples (HoP) of the FB&H are granted. SNSD endorsed HDZ B&H’s proposals, emphasizing that this party insists that a Serb member of the B&H Presidency is elected in the RS. Covic and Dodik reminded of their earlier views that the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H should not participate in the work of the IAGW. The party leaders assessed that the CEC members were appointed illegally, which makes the CEC illegitimate, especially in the process of amending the Election Law. With regard to arrival of the newly-appointed HR in B&H, the party delegations do not support Schmidt’s arrival unless he is coming to close the Office of the High Representative (OHR). Covic confirmed that HDZ B&H and SNSD will strengthen their cooperation at all levels “for the sake of having a harmonized stance and thus decrease problems in discussions”. Covic stressed that Schmidt’s arrival should be a transition towards the end of the OHR’s mandate in B&H. Dodik said that there can be no EU candidate status if the OHR or foreign judges in the B&H CC remain. “One should not expect any kind of reform of election legislation if it does not come to reform of election of members of the B&H Presidency and the HoP in the FB&H,” the SNSD leader concluded.
Kalabukhov: Appointment of new High Representative needs to be approved by UNSC (BHT1)
Russian Ambassador to B&H explained why Russia disagrees with the appointment of the new High Representative, saying that in order to do this, the approval of the UN Security Council (UNSC) is necessary. Kalabukhov stressed that the approval of the UNSC is a permanent procedure that has been applied for the appointment of new High Representatives in the past.
Dodik says that his statement that RS might mark 15 February as RS Day was hypothetical answer (N1)
Leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik commented on criticism concerning his thesis that January 9 might stop being marked as the RS Day and that it could be replaced with 15 February – the date when Serbia observes its statehood day. Dodik explained that his statement was hypothetical response to the question about the initiative to mark 15 February as the RS Day. Dodik underlined that he absolutely believes that 9 January should be marked as the RS Day, adding that it would be fair to hear phonetic record of his disputable statement to avoid all misinterpretations. RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic stressed that 9 January is the fact and that interpretation of Dodik’s statement out of the context is the weapon used by the opposition in this entity. On the other hand, representatives of opposition parties claim that Dodik’s statement was reckless and that it undermines foundation of the RS. SDS’ Nedeljko Glamocak underlined that after the current ruling structure in the RS came into power, many symbols of the RS were abolished. He added that it seems the time to make trade with symbols of the RS has come again.
Milanovic says he never insisted Operation Storm celebration not be held in Knin (Hina)
President Zoran Milanovic said on Monday that he had only proposed, but never insisted, that the central celebration of the Operation Storm anniversary not be held in Knin this year. Milanovic said that he had proposed that this year’s celebration be held in Glina after this suggestion was made to him by many war veterans including generals. Commenting on the opposition of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party to the proposal, the president said: “Whatever I suggest, they can’t live with it”. Explaining why he would not plough ahead with the idea that the central ceremony marking 1995’s Operation Storm should not be held in Knin every year, Milanovic said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic “was a runaway and is now healing his complexes”. Milanovic also accused War Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved, who recently said that the main celebration would remain in Knin, of being “Plenkovic’s ventriloquist”. Asked to comment on a final verdict in the trial of Bosnian Serb wartime military commander Ratko Mladic before a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which is due to be announced on Tuesday, Milanovic said he expected that the appeals chamber would uphold the sentence of life imprisonment.
Appointment without consent, playing with the reputation of Montenegro (RTCG)
The President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic agreed to appoint 7 diplomats to the post of Montenegrin ambassador, 11 candidates got a negative opinion, while for an additional number the additional consultations were agreed, said Montenegrin President’s foreign policy adviser Tamara Brajovic. If, as Brajovic adds, the government decides to request an agreement of the host country for a candidate on which no agreement was reached with the president in the consultative process, she says that it is clear that it would be a frivolous game with Montenegro’s reputation. Brajovic reacted on the media writing about the proposals of the Government of Montenegro for the appointment of new ambassadors, and the interest in whether they were agreed in consultations with the President of Montenegro. She reminds that the talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the candidates for the new ambassadors of Montenegro started on 28 April. Brajovic states that out of 18 candidates, the President gave his consent for 7 diplomats, for whom, as she said, the procedure can be continued unhindered, starting with the formal adoption of the MFA proposal by the government of Montenegro. “Of the remaining 11, some received a negative opinion from the president, while for one number it was agreed to hold additional consultations. In the meantime, on May 24, the government nominated one more person,” Brajovic said. The president’s adviser reminds that the president will not speak publicly about individual candidates, because, as she says, that is good practice in diplomacy, especially not about those for which an agreement has been reached and for which the receiving country will be requested through the usual internal procedure.
Bulgarian Minister Stoev demands guarantees from Zaev that he will implement the 2017 treaty (Republika)
Bulgarian interim Foreign Minister Svetlan Stoev said that the country expects legal guarantees from Macedonia that it will implement the 2017 (PM Zoran) Zaev– Borisov treaty, and a long-term plan to resolve historic and national identity disputes between the countries. Bulgaria has always shown will for constructive and pragmatic dialogue with Skopje. We will continue to work to renew trust, Stoev said. The caretaker government will be in charge until July, and the Zaev regime in Macedonia is desperate for a break-through by late June, when the European Council could finally approve the opening of EU accession talks – which Bulgaria currently vetoes. VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski warned that Zaev is preparing to accept the Bulgarian position that their demands are officially made part of the EU accession process, which would guarantee years new demands for concessions.
Zaev makes another public promise to protect the Macedonian language as reports grow that he offers new concessions to Bulgaria (Republika)
Amid multiple warnings that he is preparing to make new, deep concessions to Bulgaria, PM Zoran Zaev issued a statement marking the anniversary of the publication of the first orthography of the Macedonian language. In his remarks Zaev notes that “the Macedonian language went through all the stages of its creation, break-through, codification and recognition, and today it is recognized by the entire world. It’s uniqueness is written down in the designation of our country in the great family of nations and countries – the United Nations,” Zaev said in a Facebook message. Zaev took a harder public position toward Bulgaria in the past weeks, as he demanded that the European Union delivers on its promise of accession talks without new concession to Bulgaria. But today, VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski warned that Zaev is in well advanced negotiations with Bulgaria under which he will accept that their demands are made part of Macedonia’s EU accession process. This would give Bulgaria great leverage to force concessions from Macedonia for years to come. Mickoski announced protests starting tomorrow against what he said will be Zaev’s next concession on Macedonian national identity issues. In the past weeks Zaev also pushed to promote an online thesaurus of the Macedonian language, a foundation dedicated to academic Blaze Koneski who codified the Macedonian language post World War Two. But his choice of events to commemorate with regard to the Macedonian language, all after World War Two when the first Macedonian state was finally able to codify the language, is not contrary to Bulgarian positions that the Macedonian language is a Bulgarian dialect which only exists as a separate language after the war.
Mickoski calls citizens to turn out in large numbers for protests against Zaev’s new concessions to Bulgaria (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski called on the citizens to join protests against the expected attempt by the PM Zoran Zaev regime to agree to a new round of concessions in the dispute with Bulgaria. Mickoski warned that Zaev is ready to agree to have the Bulgarian claims on Macedonian national identity and history made an official part of the EU accession process. This would open a years long process of “death by a thousand cuts” as every EU accession chapter is accompanied by new claims from Bulgaria that Macedonia relinquishes claims to portions of its history, historic figures, and to redefine its language and national identity.
What I want to say today, but also to repeat, is that we learned from high-level diplomatic sources, from Brussels, but also from official Sofia that the demands that are an integral part of the Declaration adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament will practically be part of Macedonia’s negotiating framework with the European Union and from that moment the bilateral problem we have with official Sofia, and refers to the uniqueness of the Macedonian people, culture, tradition, customs, Macedonian language, anti-fascist struggle, all those problems contained in the Declaration adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament will be a problem that we will have with the European Union, ie from a bilateral problem it will grow into a problem between Macedonia and the European Union. We can prevent this only in one way, and that is the public with its criticism, and at the same time the people on the streets, within which VMRO-DPMNE every day starting tomorrow will block Skopje in three places and ten cities in Macedonia in the period from 3 to 5 p.m. until the public is shown the document “Roadmap” or whatever you want to call it, which was negotiated by the Zaev-Buckovski duo with official Sofia, and refers to the acceptance of the Declaration adopted in the Bulgarian Parliament in 2019, to be part of the negotiation process or to be more precise it is the first cluster “fundamentals” or pre-chapter. So, as a nation and as a state, if this is part of the negotiation, we will be faced with a double choice, and that is either assimilation – Bulgarianization in a day when we will complete the reforms and be part of the EU or freeze and abandon the EU dream, Mickoski said. The protests begin tomorrow, and will include key infrastructure points in three locations in Skopje, and in Ohrid, Bitola, Kicevo, Kavadarci, Prilep, Strumica, Veles, Stip and Kocani. The blockades will last for two hours every afternoon, and the protesters will come on foot and in their vehicles. VMRO was able to stop Zaev from making such concessions at the start of the year, when the party organized protests after Zaev’s infamous BGNES interview, in which he accepted all key Bulgarian demands, but never put them in writing.
Ruci to Konjufca: Serbia is glorifying its criminals. Konjufca: we should function as two countries that constitute a single nation (Radio Tirana)
Kosovo Assembly speaker Glauk Konjufca has started his one-day visit to Tirana, where he was initially received by his counterpart Gramoz Ruci. The latter in his joint speech to the media said that Albania supports Kosovo which is on the right side of history, unlike Serbia which is “glorifying its criminals”. “Serbia has committed genocide, it has committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, it has hidden criminals and it has not cooperated with The Hague and today it is trying to glorify its criminals that it has protected and hidden. Kosovo is on the right side of history and has our support,” said among others Ruci. On the other hand, Konjufca said that it is not enough for Kosovo and Albania to be good neighbors, but to be a single nation and this should be materialized in its policies. “We are continuing the good tradition of our state that the first visit of the Speaker of the Assembly of Kosovo is paid to the Republic of Albania. We have the same interests because we are a nation, so I think we should have the same policies. We discussed the need to boost cooperation in several areas. I think that cooperation should be raised to another level, not as two good neighboring countries but as two countries that constitute a single nation,” said Konjufca. Citing the issue of the trial of former KLA leaders in The Hague, Konjufca said that the holy war of the Albanians in Kosovo was of the whole nation and should be protected by all.
Konjufca reveals details of the meeting with Basha (Radio Tirana)
Kosovo Assembly speaker Glauk Konjufca in a joint statement to the media with the leader of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha revealed details from the conversation between them. According to Konjufca, the focus of the conversation was the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. “We are very honored to be received at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Albania by its chairman Lulzim Basha. We had a very fruitful meeting addressing the most important topics through which we examine the situation of the Republic of Albania, but also that of the Republic of Kosovo. The fate of our countries is common since we are a nation and I was pleased to hear the official positions of the Democratic Party of Albania on the challenges that await Kosovo in the future. In particular, we touched on the dialogue with Serbia in which Kosovo is facing Serbia’s goals, which ultimately aim to destabilize Kosovo and create a Serbian territorial entity within Kosovo controlled by Belgrade, opening the Atisari plan. I was very pleased with the fact that the positions of the Democratic Party of Albania are very important for the Republic of Kosovo, which were explained by the leader of the Democratic Party of Albania Basha. These help us to position the Republic of Kosovo in future processes, not only in the dialogue we have with Serbia, but also in the challenges of European integration, because only having a unique, common position both our states can succeed. The more unified our attitudes, the easier for us to have prosperity, the faster our way to our ultimate goal, which is accession into the European Union,” Konjufca said.