Petkovic: Belgrade ready for dialogue – recognition not a topic (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Belgrade is absolutely ready to continue the dialogue with Pristina, but mutual recognition is by no means a topic, said on Wednesday the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic. According to a statement from the Office, Petkovic said that Albanian politicians, with the threatening message that the only result of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina must be so-called mutual recognition, directly proved that they are not interested in dialogue, agreement and search for a compromise solution. “Instead of blindly deceiving the public and sabotaging the dialogue on a daily basis, let them admit that they are not interested in building peace and stability, but in advocating a frozen conflict and daily tensions on the ground, which are unfortunately a danger and an alternative to dialogue.” Imposed solutions and unilateral moves are neither dialogue, nor help mutual understanding and agreement, but increase tensions and the gap that exists between the peoples on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija,” says Petkovic, as stated in the press release of the Office. He adds that Belgrade is a credible partner in the dialogue and is ready to sit at the negotiating table in Brussels in the best of will, “in order to resolve issues of interest to both the Serb and Albanian people in the province, and the issue of mutual recognition is neither a topic nor will be a topic in the status-neutral dialogue in Brussels”.
Dacic: Parliament to hold session on Kosovo and Metohija on 22 June (Tanjug)
With a new round of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue announced for 15 June, Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic confirmed on Wednesday President Aleksandar Vucic would on 22 June address a special parliamentary session on the course of the dialogue. In a recent interview to Tanjug, Dacic said Vucic was due to present to MPs a report on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue following the Brussels meeting. “As early as several months ago, we discussed the possibility of such a parliamentary session being held but the issue has now become current because of the coordination of pressure on both Vucic and our country to take steps that are unacceptable to us, such as a recognition of Kosovo,” Dacic said in the interview. Having political stability and unity, including institutions that support each other, is important to Serbia in all this, Dacic noted.
Biden signs executive order to sanction persons contributing to destabilizing Western Balkans (Beta/VoA)
US President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order to expand the range of special measures for the Western Balkans proclaimed in 2001, also setting criteria for the introduction of U.S. sanctions to respond to challenges like corruption, as well as other acts to obstruct key institutions and international treaties, the Voice of America reported on Wednesday. President Biden ordered sanctions for any person the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may find “to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of any area or state in the Western Balkans, or undermining democratic processes or institutions in the region”. The sanctions also pertain to persons “responsible for serious human rights abuse and are involved in corruption in the region, including the misappropriation of public assets, expropriation of private assets for personal gain or political purposes, or bribery”. The White House says the Order also makes it possible to sanction those involved in any act that “has obstructed or threatened the implementation of any regional security, peace, cooperation or mutual recognition agreement or framework or accountability mechanism related to the Western Balkans”.
EU: We will not follow Biden in the Western Balkans (Tanjug/Sputnik/B92)
Following Biden’s statement on expanding the scope of emergency measures in the Western Balkans, the EU declared itself and confirmed that it would not follow in sanctions. On the occasion of the executive order of US President Joseph Biden, on the expansion of emergency measures in the Western Balkans, the officials in Brussels say that the EU has its obligations towards partners in the region, and that sanctions are not part of the current European policy in the Western Balkans. “Our engagement in the region is very strong. Talks about potential sanctions are not on the agenda. Any decision on this must be made unanimously by all member states. At the moment, this is not being discussed when it comes to partners in the Western Balkans,” EU spokesperson Peter Stano stated. Asked by the media in Brussels to comment on Biden’s signing of a decree extending US sanctions on individuals and organizations from the Western Balkans in order to ‘ensure stability and security in the region’, Stano said that the EU does not comment on US administration decisions and has its own policy pertaining to the partners in the Western Balkans. He reminds that the commitment to the region is one of the basic points of the EU agenda, as well as that regular talks are held with the leaders of the Western Balkans on the problems of the region, Tanjug reported.
Starovic says he hopes US Administration will punish those who violated 1244 Resolution and DPA (Novosti)
Commenting on the announcement of imposing of the US sanctions against individuals in the Western Balkans who undermine peace and stability, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nemanja Starovic said: “We hope the US Administration will demonstrate consistency in implementation of this decree and that it will be prone to punishing those who jeopardize territorial integrity of Serbia by not respecting 1244 Resolution or those who are trying to diminish competencies or even abolish the RS on a daily basis”. Starovic said that Serbia finds it important that the decree refers to individuals responsible for corruption, crimes, violation of international obligations, violation of territorial integrity, various agreements signed since 2000, but it also mentions the Dayton Peace Agreement and 1244 Resolution.
Djuric: Serbia will carefully analyze contents of Biden’s decision (Politika)
Serbian Ambassador to USA Marko Djuric stated that Serbia will carefully analyze contents of the decision of US President Joseph Biden on strengthening of sanctions against individuals in the Western Balkans, monitor its implementation and possible consequences for citizens and region and decide on its reactions accordingly. “Judging by mentioning of 1244 Resolution and Dayton Peace Agreement in ‘freshened-up’ decree on sanctions, I personally want to believe that the authors actually referred to those who advocate abolition of the Republika Srpska and reshaping of borders of Serbia recognized by the UN, including Kosovo,” Djuric added.
Botsan-Kharchenko in Nis: Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center one of most important projects of two countries (RTV)
The Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in Nis is one of the most important projects of the two countries, and in the previous seven years it has justified the purpose of its existence, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko concluded during Wednesday’s visit to Nis. Botsan-Kharchenko and Nis Mayor Dragana Sotirovski referred to the work of the Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Center, the Serbian-Russian Friendship Association in Nis, as well as future plans related to cooperation between Russia and Nis. With the leaders of the city, the Ambassador pointed out that Nis is largely part of the bilateral cooperation between Russia and Serbia. Today is a very important day for the center, considering the conference on seismology. The conference itself shows that the center has only a humanitarian goal and a humanitarian purpose, said the Ambassador. It was stated at the press conference that in the previous years, the city of Nis worked intensively on the improvement and development of the humanitarian center.
“The headquarters of the Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Center is in Nis and we are fully aware of how much the people who work there have helped us in various troubles in which not only Nis, but also the whole region found itself, when it comes to emergencies, especially floods and fires,” said the Mayor of Nis. The Mayor said that at the meeting, which was closed to the public, they also talked about the potential connection of Nis with Russia by establishing an airline.
Djukanovic: Fundamental Agreement can’t be reason for new government dethronement (Danas)
The Fundamental Agreement cannot be a reason for the dethronement of the new Government in the country, says the President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic in an interview for Danas. Some analyzes after the change of government last year state that the Law on Freedom of Religion “cost” the DPS government. Can the Fundamental Agreement “cost” the current government?
Djukanovic: I think that these analyzes have simplified the picture of the electoral environment that led to the first change of government in Montenegro since the introduction of the multi-party system, now in the last century and millennium. The change of government of one party or coalition gathered around it as a headquarters, after three decades of uninterrupted duration, simply had to happen once. Regardless of the fact that in those thirty years of our rule, the country was rebuilt and regained international recognition, that Montenegro established economic sustainability from one of the most backward Yugoslav republics and became the leading economy in the region, which is classified as an elite tourist destination in the world, that during the bloody disintegration of the Yugoslav state and the NATO bombing, it preserved peace and strengthened multiethnic harmony, and later was recognized by the international community as a country of good news and an anchor of stability in the Balkans, the part of the public that showed saturation and wanted change grew. This desire was reinforced by the numerous mistakes that every government inevitably makes. One of the mistakes was the poorly chosen timing for the adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion. Disagreements over the Law on Freedom of Religion served to abuse religious sentiment and political manipulation at a bad time, practically at the beginning of the year in which regular parliamentary elections were held in August. The instrument of manipulation was the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the strategy was defined and managed by the state political leadership of Serbia, with a clear intention to change the government in Montenegro in order to create favorable conditions for the implementation of the large-scale project of the Serbian World. Unfortunately, some of our Western partners, not delving much into the essence of the conflict, which was created in Montenegro with regard to the allegedly endangered religious rights, fit into the superficial, uncritical advocacy of change, which, in any case, will in itself bring the desired prosperity.
As far as the Democratic Party of Socialists is concerned, that change is welcome. It will help us make the necessary improvements in our organization, which we would not have undertaken if we had won the election. But the change came at an unfavorable time for the country, given developments in the region and globally. I do not believe that the Fundamental Agreement can be a reason for the change of the new government in Montenegro. It is more about balancing forces within the ruling coalition and about collecting points who will have more credit for that “historical act”, and who will therefore secure a better place with the Serbian church and state, in the Serbian World.
The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee did not adopt a Resolution on the Srebrenica genocide. Voting in Parliament is now to follow. Why was such a resolution not adopted while the DPS was in power?
Djukanovic: It was adopted. The Parliament of Montenegro condemned the genocide in Srebrenica in 2009 and was the first in the region to accept the Resolution of the European Parliament. The Declaration of Acceptance of that Resolution was then adopted. Therefore, no one in the majority public in Montenegro questioned the official position of Montenegro on Srebrenica, so there was no need for such a Resolution. Now obviously there is.
You stand for the principle of the regatta when it comes to European integration, which you said recently at the summit of the Brdo-Brioni Process. How realistic is this principle after the change of government in Montenegro?
Djukanovic: The real question is how realistic and promising the European perspective is for Montenegro and the region after all the crises within the EU that we are witnessing. It is important that the aspiring countries for membership persevere in comprehensive reforms, and that in this way we impose ourselves on Brussels to return the enlargement policy to the top of its political agenda. Persistence on the principle of the regatta is an incentive for all candidate countries, and should not depend on a change of government in any country. When it comes to Montenegro, the representatives of the coalitions that make up the current parliamentary majority have agreed that they will continue to lead the country on the established foreign policy course, so that there is no problem, at least formally. You have repeatedly spoken about the EU’s attitude towards the Western Balkans, stating that the region has fallen into the background for the EU. Are you disappointed with the EU’s attitude towards the region?
Djukanovic: I have never been particularly fascinated by that relationship. I only realistically, guided by decades of political experience, look at the situation. And I repeat that, regardless of the fact that in life, let alone in politics, it is not good to have no alternative, the European integration has no alternative for the Western Balkans. And I would say the same goes for the EU. If the European Union really wants to be globally competitive, to take its place in the new division of roles on the world stage, it must be united and stable on its entire continent.
What is Russia’s influence in Montenegro and the region?
Djukanovic: This is in a way related to the previous question. Third parties are present in the Western Balkans as much as the EU leaves them space. And unfortunately, it does. Russia is one of them. It is traditionally present here, as it is today, as one of the world’s leading countries with its own interests in the Balkans. They largely do not coincide with the European ones, with the interests of our Western partners. In the relations of small and large nations, there is always a part of emotion in the former. Meanwhile, relations between Russia and America, Russia and the European Union have deteriorated. And so, Montenegro, as the former US Secretary of State said, has found itself on the line of fire. We have the experience from 2016 before the accession to NATO, which almost ended tragically. We withstood that blow, we became a member of the alliance, which does not mean that Russia has given up its interests. Only it does it much more sophisticatedly, and through its intermediaries in the region. Russia is closely following the processes in the European Union, and here in the Balkans it is skillfully using the vacuum in the enlargement policy.
You have recently said that the actions of Aleksandar Vucic remind you of Slobodan Milosevic. Do you think that Vucic has definitely been doing things the same way?
Djukanovic: I did not personalize the policy of Serbia, but I said that today’s policy of Belgrade is most reminiscent of the 1990s. The same rhetoric is used, only the place and the participants are different. Someone in Serbia recently noticed that Serbian leaders in Montenegro, Mandic and Knezevic, are very similar to non-independent Serb leaders from Croatia, Babic and Martic, in the early 1990s, noting that the fatal misconception of Serbian politicians and intellectuals outside Serbia is that Belgrade always works in their country’s interest. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the example of the Serbian House in Montenegro. At the top of the state, Serbia boasts of financial support from the budget of several million euros provided to Serbs in Montenegro through this project, which benefits about twenty politicians and other Serbian leaders, who divided shares among themselves and became part of its ownership structure.
Do you think that a solution to the Kosovo issue is imminent?
Djukanovic: I could not say that I am an optimist, but I certainly welcome the efforts of all actors in that process. I hope that the recent joint visit of Miroslav Lajcak and Matthew Palmer to Belgrade and Pristina will give impetus to the dialogue. The most important thing is to reach a solution respecting reality. And the reality is that Kosovo is an independent state, that the Serb community lives in the north of that state, and that there are illusions that compensation for Kosovo can be sought somewhere else.
It has been 31 years since the collapse of the SFRY. Should that state have been preserved?
Djukanovic: There is an anecdote about Kardelj, when somewhere in a village inn he asked an old man how he liked socialism. And the old man said that it was not bad, but that it was much better in the time of Francis Joseph. Adding that he was then twenty years old. My and all generations that were part of that great common state, naturally cultivate emotions towards Yugoslavia, each for its own reasons. But when you ask me if it should have been preserved, perhaps the most correct answer would be: if it should have been, it would have been preserved.
What do you consider your greatest success, and what would you do differently in your political career?
Djukanovic: After 30 years in politics, it is not easy to opt for either. There are so many undeniable successes, but also the fact that there have been opportunities to arrange some things differently. Fifteen years ago, we restored the state independence, in a peaceful democratic way, which is the historical success of today’s generations in Montenegro. But I would still say that I consider the greatest success to be that I contributed as much as I could during the wars and war destruction during the disintegration of Yugoslavia to preserve peace and strengthen multiethnic harmony in our Republic, as well as to save Montenegro from NATO bombing in ‘99. Because, if it were not for that, there would be no independent Montenegro. And when asked what I would have done differently, the most accurate answer is that I would have avoided engaging in politics. Especially during this dishonorable time, we are witnessing.
Address of Ambassador Alkalaj to UNSC causes conflict between B&H Presidency members (BHT1)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Ambassador to the UN Sven Alkalaj addressed the UNSC on Tuesday after the report on the work of the Mechanism for International Criminal tribunals (MICT) was presented. This caused discontent between the B&H Presidency members, with Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik saying that Alkalaj did not have the official approval of the B&H Presidency to address the UNSC on Tuesday, while the two other B&H Presidency members say the opposite. Alkalaj stated that B&H remains dedicated to the processing and sentencing of those responsible for war crimes, regardless of their ethnicity, religion of political direction. He added that the glorification of war criminals is unacceptable and has to be punishable by the law. Alkalaj discussed the work of the MICT in his speech and demanded the extradition of former head of the Republika Srpska (RS) Army Headquarters Novak Djukic from Serbia. Dodik sent a letter to the President of the UNSC and asked for the cancelling of the address of Alkalaj, saying that he will appear before the UNSC without the approval of the B&H Presidency. Dodik sent a letter to the B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this as well. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic sent letters to the President of the UNSC as well. Both officials stressed that Alkalaj has the full support to address the UNSC. The letters sent by Dzaferovic and Komsic had the same content, saying that Dodik did not respect the procedures by addressing the UNSC as a Chairman and informed the President that there are no restrictions for the appearance of Alkalaj. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sided with Dodik, saying that Alkalaj did not speak on behalf of B&H and reminded that Dodik sent the letter, explaining that Alkalaj does not have the full approval for his address. Commenting on the issue, Alkalaj said that one of the main reasons for Dodik’s request is probably to hide disgrace Dodik himself advocates for through hiding true situation in B&H regarding war criminals and their glorification. Alkalaj added that other reasons include the fact that Vucic also attended the UNSC session so Dodik was afraid that he will embarrass himself by showing that he cannot control the situation in B&H.
Dodik: Alkalaj violated RoP of Presidency and did not get consent to talk on behalf of B&H (ATV)
Commenting on Sven Alkalaj‘s speech on Tuesday at the UN Security Council session, the Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that Alkalaj disobeyed the rules and the stance of the B&H Presidency, according to which a representative of B&H cannot deliver a speech unless the text of the speech was approved by all three members of the B&H Presidency. Dodik was quoted as saying: “What every Ambassador of B&H from the rank of the Serb people is now asking is, what would have happened if I had done so? That I ignored the position of the collective head of B&H, that I violated the rules and laws that determine the behavior of diplomatic representatives?”. Dodik stressed that they are aware that the sanctions would be severe and would take effect immediately. Dodik was quoted as saying: “I now declare that no Serb diplomat from B&H, regardless of rank, has the obligation to obey the orders and instructions of his bosses from the rank of other peoples, and especially not the instructions of the (B&H) Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Bisera Turkovic”. Dodik also stated that the address of “so called” ambassador, who violated the Rules of Procedures of the Presidency of B&H is reflection of anarchy for which there is no cure. Dodik said that Alkalaj’s appearance was without agreement within the B&H Presidency, because “he carries out the orders of his principals”, noting that such actions are the best way to “destroy B&H, regardless of the American rules and what they impose”. Dodik added that Alkalaj presented a series of opinions that are not official opinions of B&H. “The question raised is how to act. I think that we should continue with our policy of decisively defending the position of the RS, and opposing such tendencies,” said Dodik and added that those are people who promoted conflicts and political divisions in B&H, noting that “today, there is a situation that the Croat and Serb peoples have almost identical positions on the situation in B&H”. Dodik said the only issue is with Bosniaks who want to resolve their “internal instabilities with regard to political structure of Bosniaks”, noting that the role of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic among Bosniaks can no longer be understood, nor the opposition has strengthened their position. “Everything they do, they do it to take certain position ahead the upcoming elections, even to undermine what has been with great difficulty agreed in B&H if necessary” said Dodik, noting that their sponsors “like the US, the European Union (EU) are also an issue”. Dodik added that the EU ignores such things, while it is ready to strongly react against statements by representatives of Serbs in the RS and Serbia, or representatives of the Croat people. Asked to comment the statement of former commander of the Main Staff of the Army of the RS (VRS) Ratko Mladic after the final verdict, i.e. “It is not I who is important, the RS is important,” Dodik said everyone who is responsible and loves the RS “will do that’’. “That world has done everything to degrade our political and military representatives and ban us from discussing them,” said Dodik. He reminded of being a defense witness in the trial to Mladic and Radovan Karadzic “in the process that I think was not fair and was directed only to sentencing Serbs, and my duty, as someone who was elected on behalf of Serbs for many years, was to defend the goals of our Republic and there was no dilemma about it. The fact that there were sanctions against me from the US because of that, I do not consider it as punishment”. Dodik reiterated he does not believe Mladic is a criminal, noting that “having a command responsibility is a new category and is almost impossible anywhere in the world”.
Asked to comment on only Russia opposing the Report by Chief Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Serge Brammertz, Dodik said it clearly shows how the world functions. He added that representatives from the EU cannot know the real situation in this region and “they have their orders, already formed opinions and they simply present that”. Dodik reminded that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic talked on behalf of the Serb people, “but it does not help”. “We see the return of an old practice of political violence, that seeks subjects, minions and is exclusively directed to the realization of a globalization concept, which has clearly failed” said Dodik. He went on to say that the situation will not change for a long time, “but it does not mean we should change our position’’ and concluded by saying “it is devastating that a country that presents itself as a democratic country is trying to regulate a part of the world using undemocratic methods”.
Reactions to final verdict against Mladic (AJB/Dnevni list/Nezavisne/Hayat)
When asked by the Al Jazeera, how he would react to the glorification of Ratko Mladic and the denial of genocide, High Representative for B&H Valentin Inzko was quoted as saying: “It is necessary to face the past and look at the facts honestly and openly. It is a way to honor the victims and build an environment conducive to reconciliation”. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) issued a statement: “The denial of facts and the fabrication of distorted historical narratives, as well as its frequent use in public discourse, underline the obvious need to adopt legislation to address this problem. Adoption of such legislation would show that B&H is ready and determined to overcome the legacy of war and build a future for all in this country”.
Future High Representative and MP in German Bundestag, Christian Schmidt commented the rendering of final verdict to Mladic, stressing that Mladic is one of the main culprits for massacres which happened in B&H during the nineties and he reminded of the role of the international community. “The Hague Tribunal is making it clear that there can be no justifications for war crimes. There can be no long-term stability without fierce persecution of perpetrators and without the open approach. This is about individual responsibility for crimes against humanity, especially genocide,” said Schmidt. He stressed that all B&H citizens have right to peaceful coexistence and they have right to know what happened and that in the future there will be no violence, terror and destruction. “Therefore, war criminals are not decorated by the heroism. My country had to learn, understand and overcome that in a hard way,” said Schmidt. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the verdict and said that it is fair that he is held responsible for his outrageous crimes against civilians, including the murder of thousands of Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. Stoltenberg also reminded that the NATO helped two ethnic wars in the Western Balkans to end and added that the region will stay strategically important for NATO. Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova, said the verdict to Mladic showed that international mechanisms for processing of war crimes suspects in former Yugoslavia are biased. Zakharova noted on Wednesday that the verdict against Mladic is hypocritical given that the Tribunal in The Hague acquitted other participants of the conflict. Zakharova added by saying it is ‘our’ position that the MICT should finish its activities as soon as possible in order to end this disgraceful chapter in history of the international law. Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said that it is good that Mladic is in prison and that he should stay there. Croatian Government welcomed the judgement sentencing Mladic to life in prison, but expressed regrets over the fact that he was not punished for crimes committed in Croatia too. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said: “This way I think that General Mladic has been sent directly to legend, where the Serb people knew that without his command and the spirit he maintained in the army, our people would suffer much more. On the other hand, Serbs are the greatest victims in the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia”. Mayor of Banja Luka Drasko Stanivukovic said: “All citizens, all peoples have suffered equally the horrible sacrifices, and the epilogue is that Serbs have 1,000 years of sentence and other citizens and peoples 40 and 20 years, it is the Court I cannot believe in and I cannot accept such political decisions”. SDS members are of view that The Hague Tribunal shows no interest in suffering of Serbs and is unilateral. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said Serbs being sentenced to five life sentences with over 800 years in prison for the events in the period 1992-1995, “while others’ sentences are multiply lower. I remind that in the past Defense Patriotic War 30,000 Serbs lost their lives, among whom were 7,000 civilians, and that The Hague did not sentence those responsible for Serb victims”. DNS leader Nenad Nesic said: “Before he throws a rock on others, (SDA leader) Bakir Izetbegovic should remember ‘Kazani’, 150,000 of displaced Sarajevo Serbs and numerous camps for Serbs in Sarajevo. It would be decent from him not to humiliate the tears of Serb mothers. Tears are of the same nationality and I am sorry for every innocent human life”. N1 reports that Ramush Haradinaj, Naser Oric, Ante Gotovina are only some of the generals acquitted of charges for crimes against Serbs.
Director of the RS Center for Research of War, War Crimes and Search for Missing Persons Miodrag Kojic said that only individuals are tried before The Hague Tribunal, noting that “General Mladic did not commit genocide, Serb people are not genocidal people, the RS is not genocidal creation”.
Families of 350 victims of Srebrenica genocide can file compensation claims to The Netherlands as of next week (FTV)
FTV analyzed if victims of the genocide in Srebrenica can file compensation claims following the final verdict to Ratko Mladic, who has been found guilty of war crimes in B&H including genocide in Srebrenica and sentenced to life in prison. In addition to this latest verdict, families of 350 victims of genocide in Srebrenica can file a compensation claim to The Netherlands as of next week, given that the Supreme Court of the Netherlands earlier ruled that The Netherlands is obliged to pay compensation to families of 350 victims of genocide, because soldiers from The Netherlands were found responsible for their death. Sylvia Wortmann, jurist from The Netherlands explained that, when it comes to compensation claims that will be submitted to The Netherlands, the compensation to women whose husbands died in the genocide will be in the amount of EUR 15,000. “If you are a child, parent, brother, or sister of the victim, the compensation amounts to EUR 10,000. The claim cannot refer to a higher amount,” Wortmann noted. She added that the extramarital partner who lived in the same household as the victim or had a child with the victim is also entitled to a compensation in this regard. In a phone statement to FTV, legal representative of mothers of Srebrenica Semir Guzin said that, unfortunately, the legal basis for seeking compensation based on the ruling related to The Netherlands and the verdict to Mladic is not the same. Croatian attorney Anto Nobilo said that families of genocide victims have the right to seek compensation from the RS, because Mladic was not some rogue member of the RS Army but rather a commander of the military force of the RS.
Dodik: US is powerful country, however executive order may be proof of their weakness (RTRS)
Serb member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, asked to comment on US President Joe Biden signing the executive order on sanctions for destabilization of the Western Balkans, said the US is a powerful country, however “this may be a proof of their weakness, i.e. that arguments and methods they used until recently to model the world in the role of the most important country are now in the crisis or do not provide results, and now, of course, it is being threatened with force. What we could hear is halting the whole democratic process of the Western Balkans countries, it is undermining and the occupation of political life by such rules”. Dodik noted that the US society is greatly divided, but “it is not talked about, because it is prohibited in some way. But it is quite clear that with Biden, an old group of people has returned, what is in the US life called as the Clinton’s followers who were direct participants of the events here in regards to the dissolution of Yugoslavia. They contributed greatly to the wars, now they are trying to model everything here with their rules, but they exempt themselves from all situations”. Dodik added that the US’ decisions “are often not regulated by systematic rules, because, how can you explain that they support different undemocratic and dictatorship regimes throughout the world when it is in their interest and they would qualify the standard political struggle here in a way that suits them”.
IAWG convenes to discuss work methodology (BN TV)
The Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) to Amend the Election Law of B&H was presented on Wednesday with new proposals on amending the Election Law of B&H. The proposals were presented by representatives of the Transparency International (TI) B&H, who stressed that abuse of public resources and functions in the election process must be prevented. They reminded that currently not a single law prevents functionaries from using budget funds and other resources available in their personal pre-election campaigns, such as the public procurement, allocation of incentives or threats to voters and civil servants, ensuring votes through employment, etc. TI B&H’s Ivana Korajlic stated that this needs to be systematically regulated and institutions needs to have obligations and limitations regarding spending, adding that ban on using any public function or resources that do not only include financial but also human resources needs to be introduced as well. She said that one of the proposals is to scan ballots in order to protect voters’ will. However, representatives of the SNSD-SDA-HDZ B&H ruling coalition found inacceptable some of these proposals. SNSD’s Sredoje Novic said that it is not disputable that everyone needs to have in mind rational spending of public funds, but one needs to consider B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) specific decisions defining the way how to avoid the conflict of interest with the Election Law of B&H. Most of the members of the IAWG to Amend the Election Law of B&H also find unacceptable the proposal to scan ballots in order to protect voters’ will, arguing that this would be intimidating for voters and cause their distrust. PDP’s Branislav Borenovic stated that representatives of the ruling coalition do not find the election campaign real unless they have the use of public resources available, which shows how much they are unrealistic and that they live in the world full of privileges, benefits and severe abuse of public resources. This IAWG’s session was marked by disagreements of the IAWG members with regard to the issues that should be discussed and some members even criticized this working group for lacking clear objectives. No concrete conclusions were reached.
Numerous recommendations before Croatian Eurozone Membership provided (Hina)
Croatian Eurozone membership depends on numerous factors, and the sorting out of the mess that is the portfolio of state-owned companies is just one of the pressing ones. As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, although some strides have been made, state-owned companies remain synonymous with political flattery, corruption scandals and, in general, just bad business. However, if Croatian Eurozone membership is to become a reality, and if the country wishes to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which are two strategic foreign policy goals of the government, Croatia will have to make serious efforts to sort out the mess in the portfolio of state-owned companies. To this end, in the form of the OECD team, in cooperation with the European Commission and the Croatian authorities, a comprehensive diagnosis was made and the government was provided with a number of recommendations for improving corporate governance. Three are key to a significant turnaround: centralizing state ownership, professionalizing governance, and harmonizing the legal and regulatory framework through a new law on state-owned companies, the OECD said. “The owners of these companies are taxpayers. The idea is that they should be accountable to the public as private companies are to their shareholders,” said Charles Donald of the working group on state-owned companies and OECD privatization. “Although these recommendations aren’t mandatory, they’re the ”acquis” for joining the OECD,” Donald said. Sanja Bosnjak, State Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, assessed the guidelines as a benchmark and made sure to state that Croatia has committed itself to reforms in the state-owned enterprise sector in the action plan for joining the exchange rate mechanism. “This is a symbolic start to work on reforms in this area that involve the entire administration” she said. The value of state-owned companies is estimated at a massive 190 billion Kuna, making up a whopping 47.2 percent of Croatian GDP in 2019. The (central) state owns 59 of them, of which 39 have special status. 19 are wholly or majority owned by the Centre for Restructuring and Sales (CERP), and two more companies are outside that umbrella. Beyond them is a constellation of 938 local state-owned companies. Most of them operate in the segment of transport, energy, construction, finance, telecoms, manufacturing, tourism and property/real estate. While with about 260 state-owned companies per million inhabitants, Croatia can ”boast” of being one of the record holders in the EU, as well as in the rest of Southeastern Europe where a similar phenomenon reigns, the problem is, in typical Croatian fashion – total and utter inefficiency. The return on capital and revenue growth is lower than it is in the private sector, and with the exception of strategic companies, more than 80 percent of non-strategic ones have failed to reach even the median return on capital of the sector in which they operate, the OECD found. With fragmented competencies, from ministries, the CERP to various agencies, the OECD recommends the establishment of a single body with adequate mandate and resources to coordinate stakeholders and end the current practice of unclear roles and, more importantly, blurry responsibilities. The second recommendation for Croatian Eurozone membership is aimed at professionalizing management through strengthening the role and powers of the supervisory board. The current election of members of supervisory boards is open to political staffing, varies by company, and the prescribed fees are typically not very attractive to professionals. The recommendation is to establish professional and independent committees, as well as independent auditors, and to enable supervisory boards to set their own strategies and oversee management. In doing so, the OECD emphasizes in particular that government officials and policy-appointed persons cannot by any means ever be considered independent experts. Finally, a new law is needed that should harmonies the current legal framework and underpin reforms in the state-owned enterprise sector. In addition, the list of recommendations for Croatian Eurozone membership includes increasing transparency, strengthening internal controls, setting clear financial and non-financial targets, and simplifying the legal framework and corporate structure of companies so that state-owned companies compete evenly with private ones in the same market.
Becic: We’ll be partners if PM and Govt believe refreshment is needed (Pobjeda)
Budget adoption is the highest priority of parliament, says speaker of parliament Aleksa Becic. He adds that before scheduling a session on that issue, numerous amendments must first be considered. Speaking about the Government reshuffle, he points out that his party will be a partner if PM Zdravko Krivokapic and the government say that refreshments are needed.
Asked whether the Democrats remain in the position that they will abstain from the vote on the dismissal of Minister of Justice Vladimir Leposavic, Becic says that his party agrees with the reasons for the dismissal, but that, as he repeats, no dismissal will be supported together with the DPS.
Bojanic meets with Croatian Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds (RTCG)
During the visit to Croatia, the delegation of the Ministry of Capital Investments led by Minister Mladen Bojanic, met with the Croatian Minister of Regional Development and European Union Funds Nataša Tramisak and her associates. The delegation of the Ministry of Capital Investments presented Montenegro’s further plans related to the use of European Union funds, emphasizing the importance of Croatia’s experience. Minister Tramisak referred to the current and future cooperation between the two countries in the field of the Interreg IPA Cross-border Cooperation Program Croatia – B&H – Montenegro 2021-2027, as well as the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative chaired by Montenegro. Both sides supported further cooperation on all projects of common interest and expressed openness for further dialogue. Cooperation between the two countries in the Interreg IPA Cross-border Cooperation Program Croatia – B&H – Montenegro is intensive and it also includes the exchange of experiences in harmonizing legislation and public procurement procedures. The ministers agreed on the need to continue cooperation. Bojanic invited the Croatian delegation to pay a working visit to Montenegro in order to sign an agreement between the two countries on cooperation on joint strategic projects.
Zaev claims that the Biden decree fully legitimizes his government (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev jumped to the White House declaration issued yesterday, to declare that the United States openly support his government. President Joe Biden announced sanctions against all who undermine four treaties in the Balkans – and included here the 2001 Ohrid treaty and the 2018 Prespa treaty – and Zaev is the signatory and main proponent of the latter. “This decree is the greatest acknowledgement of the values my Government represents. Crime and corruption destroy our democratic societies and this is a serious message of encouragement and additional motivation. This is also a message to all who block, undermine and grumble. Prespa and Ohrid are valued a lot in the United States – the US aided these treaties,” Zaev said.
Zaev’s Deputy Prime Minister Ljupco Nikolovski made a similar statement: “This is a strong message from our strategic partner to those who block and delay processes in the state! The citizens of North Macedonia decided to strongly stand behind the Ohrid and Prespa treaties and these are the foundations of our new path, of our modern society, transformed after a European model with stable inter-ethnic relations,” Nikolovski said.
Meta dismissed with 104 votes by the MPs (Radio Tirana)
Albanian MPs voted for the dismissal of President Ilir Meta. The Albanian parliament convened in plenary session to review the draft decision “On the approval of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Assembly” On the investigation of serious constitutional violations by the President of the Republic of Albania “and review the draft decision” On dismissal of the President ” of the Republic due to serious violations. After discussions by the deputies, the parliament approved with 104 votes the report of the Commission of Inquiry for the dismissal of President Meta. The head of the Commission of Inquiry Alket Hyseni presented to the deputies the report on the dismissal of Meta, a report which, as he said, was also sent to the head of state and was published in the Official Gazette. In the 96-page report, the Commission of Inquiry listed 16 serious violations of the Constitution by Meta. Meta is the only one in Albania’s history dismissed by the parliament.
C. Court can abrogate parliament’s decision on dismissing President (ADN)
Judges of the Constitutional Court have the power to nullify the decision of the parliament on dismissing President of the Republic Ilir Meta if they do not reach the conclusion that he has violated the fundamental act of the state, based on Albania’s legislation. Some articles of the law on the organization and functioning of the Constitutional Court provide for procedures for the removal of the President from office. Specifically, Article 61 of this law provides that for the declaration of dismissal of the President of the Republic, the Constitutional Court is set in motion by the decision of the parliament, which has voted the dismissal. According to the law, the decision of the parliament must contain a reasoned description of a serious violation of the Constitution or a serious crime, as well as be accompanied by relevant evidence. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has the obligation to make this decision and evidence available to President Meta, who enjoys the right to give in writing the arguments he deems necessary. Based on Article 62 of the law, with the majority of its members the Court decides to pass the case in public session, which the President is invited to attend and may choose to be represented by a lawyer. But by law, the unreasonable absence of the Head of State or his lawyer does not constitute an obstacle to the conduct of the trial. After reviewing the case and concluding that the President has violated the constitution, the constitutional judges declare his dismissal. This decision enters into force on the day of its announcement. However, Article 47 of the law provides for deadlines for the examination of the case. Referring to this, the review of cases by the panels or the Meeting of Judges ends within three months from the submission of the request. At the moment when the issue is considered in the plenary session, the Constitutional Court declares the justified final decision no later than 30 days from the end of the session. Earlier, the outgoing Parliament voted the final report of the Inquiry Committee which requires the dismissal of the President Ilir Meta. 104 MPs voted pro, while 7 voted against and only two abstained.
Rama in Bulgaria with President Radev (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama is paying an official visit to Bulgaria this Wednesday. Through a Facebook post, PM Rama writes that he started the morning with a meeting with President Rumen Radev where they talked about relations and resolving the critical situation between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. “Sofia – Working breakfast with President Rumen Radev on excellent bilateral relations and the need for dialogue between the parties to resolve the critical impasse between Bulgaria and North Macedonia (which currently hinders the convening of the EU-Albania Intergovernmental Conference),” wrote Rama.