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Belgrade Media Report 17 June

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic meets with Wallace (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbia, UK sign arrangement on improving defense cooperation (Tanjug)
Selakovic: Cooperation, good neighborly relations in general interest of entire region (Tanjug/RTS)
Bilcik’s response to Vucic (Tanjug/B92)
EU-Western Balkans business platform launched (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Cvijanovic: RS is not preparing for peaceful separation but it prepares negotiation team for dialogue with FB&H about future of B&H (RTRS)
Reactions to behavior of Croatian officials in NATO and EU institutions continue (Oslobodjenje)
Tegeltija says six out of 14 European Commission’s priorities fulfilled (Hayat/AJB)
Vulic and Minister Turkovic dispute over discrimination of Serbs and Croats in B&H Foreign Ministry (ATV)
Zvizdic criticizes B&H CoM: They are slow and need to work more efficiently (Hayat)
Nelson, Sattler and Kavalec meet B&H CEC members, urge IAWG to seriously consider B&H CEC’s proposal on changes to Law on Elections (Dnevni list)
Two proposals for changes to B&H Election Law to be discussed by B&H parliament without involvement of IAWG (Glas Srpske)
Mostar Agreement remains dead letter (Dnevni list)
Croatia

Grlic Radman calls on remaining EU countries to recognize Kosovo (Hina)
Milanovic: There is a plan to change Dayton Agreement (N1)
Montenegro

Djukanovic receives Mothers of Srebrenica: It’s important to preserve memory of great misfortune and do everything to prevent it from happening ever again (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Mickoski presents the new VMRO-DPMNE strategy – Macedonia for all (Republika)
A day before his meeting with Zaev, Bulgarian Prime Minister Janev says there will be no compromise (Republika)
Albania

EU will never be complete without Albania “! Speaker of the Portuguese parliament, video conference with Ruci: We support integration (Radio Tirana)
The Netherlands gives green light to start of Albania’s EU integration process (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic meets with Wallace (Tanjug/RTS

Serbia will always be a strong pillar of a peaceful and stable Balkans, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday in a conversation with UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace, who noted the Western Balkans was very important to the UK and that Serbia was of the greatest significance for peace and stability in the region. Vucic said he hoped that, through joint efforts, Serbia-UK relations would be raised to the level of the true partnership the two sides had had as allies in both world wars, the presidential press office said in a statement.

Serbia is interested in strengthening and enriching ties with the UK in all areas, including in defense, Vucic said. The significance of joint military engagement of Serbian and British army troops in the UN mission in Cyprus was highlighted at the meeting. Vucic briefed Wallace on the favorable economic trends in Serbia and expressed the hope interest among UK companies in investing in Serbia would grow. Vucic and Wallace also discussed global issues, as well as the situation in the region.

Serbia, UK sign arrangement on improving defense cooperation (Tanjug

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace signed on Wednesday the Arrangement on Improving Cooperation in the Field of Defense. In a joint address to the press with Wallace, Stefanovic reminded that this is the first official visit of UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace to our country ever and that it is the crown of the cooperation so far. Wallace said that the interest of Great Britain is a strong Serbia with which the country will cooperate in the Balkans, while it is important for Serbia to cooperate with Great Britain, because they share common values ​​and defense interests, and cooperate in ensuring peace and security around the world. Serbia has a bright future ahead of it and that is why it is important to build a good friendship on the basis of our cooperation, he pointed out and expressed his belief that there is a lot in Serbia that can be done together in the field of defense. According to him, today is an important day for cooperation between the two countries, also because 69 British soldiers are participating in the “Platinum Wolf” military exercise in Serbia. Stefanovic and Wallace held a tete-a-tete meeting earlier, at which it was assessed that today’s meeting is of exceptional importance for the further development of bilateral relations in the field of defense, as well as for the improvement of the overall relations between the two countries.

Selakovic: Cooperation, good neighborly relations in general interest of entire region (Tanjug/RTS

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said today in Antalya at a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Southeast European Cooperation Process that the key foreign policy and strategic goal of our country is full EU membership. Selakovic expressed hope that the EU will continue to support the process of integration of the SEECP participants into the Union, which will bring lasting stability and prosperity to the region and help the consolidation and development of Europe as a whole. He emphasized that peace and stability have no alternative and represent the guiding star on our region’s path to the EU, noting that Belgrade is determined to resolve all open issues through dialogue and good faith – as a responsible and predictable partner, and in accordance with the principles of international law. We must make sure that what is agreed upon is later respected and fulfilled on the ground, because our agreements primarily concern the well-being of our peoples, but they also speak about who we are and what kind of future we want, he said. Selakovic stated that Serbia pays full attention to the improvement of regional cooperation and good neighborly relations, emphasizing that by strengthening economic ties within the region, it also contributes to the relaxation of existing political relations. As he pointed out, Serbia has demonstrated its commitment to improving regional cooperation with neighboring countries – by sending vaccine shipments and enabling vaccination in Serbia. Our country has so far sent 120,000 vaccines to the region and vaccinated approximately 65,000 citizens of the countries from the region on its territory, which means that we have provided a total of about 200,000 vaccines for our neighbors, he specified. Selakovic congratulated Turkey on a successful presidency and wished the next presidency, Greece, a lot of success.

Bilcik’s response to Vucic (Tanjug/B92

EP Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik responded to Vucic‘s message that he has no right to determine with whom Serbia will participate in military exercises. President of Serbia sent that message after Bilcik stated on June 13 that the joint military exercise of Serbia with Belarus and Russia does not help Serbia’s progress in European integration. I am a politician as well as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, said Bilcik, adding that he believes that it is important to have an open and honest conversation on topics that can be difficult sometimes. He reminds that this week the sanctions will be discussed, which will be targeted by the authorities in Belarus “after the state terrorism that made the kidnapping of the EU flight between the two EU countries, Athens and Vilnius by the Belarusian forces”. “My statement was that while we are talking about an important interstate conference to be held on 22 June, holding a military exercise at that time with Russian and Belarusian special forces in Russia is a signal that a number of member states will not look positive on that,” Bilcik said. He notes that he is only trying to openly convey the mood in Brussels on that issue. “My task as the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Serbia is to work openly and in a constructive way, on relations between Belgrade and Brussels, between Serbia and the European Union institutions. My comment was given as a friendly message, which underlined that this is an important issue. I would never question what Serbia decides to do, because Serbia is a sovereign state and it is a free choice of Serbia,” Bilcik said. He added, however, that it was important to point out that some of these choices could have consequences when it comes to what he considers, and what the Serbian government also considers a strategic decision, and that is accession and EU membership. In that sense, he notes that the issue of foreign policy and its harmonization with the EU is something that member states take into account when making decisions. “Enlargement of the EU and joining the Union, after all, is about adapting a country to EU activities. Of course, we know that, when we talk about foreign and security policy, adjusting Serbia was a challenging task,” Bilcik said. He notes that Serbia is a country that is developing relations with other countries outside the EU. “We also have member states in the EU that are (militarily) neutral, but no EU member state conducts military exercises with Russia or Belarus,” Bilcik said, adding that this is an area where some red lines must be drawn, given that relations between the EU and Moscow are at a very low level, and that relations between Brussels and Belarus are frozen, after what the EU considers a case of rigged elections in which Lukashenko won. “We do not consider Lukashenko a legitimate leader of Belarus. That is our political position,” Bilcik concluded, adding that he appreciates Serbia’s position on the EU when it comes to Belarus, because, as he states, it is important that relations with different countries be developed in accordance with some hierarchy. If a country wants to join the EU, it is a strategic choice, it is not a one-time event,” he pointed out.

EU-Western Balkans business platform launched (Tanjug

The European Commission and the Western Balkans 6 Chamber Investment forum (WB6 CIF) have launched a joint EU-WB6 platform bringing together businesses from the region and EU representatives with the aim of enhancing dialogue and helping Western Balkan economies overcome challenges and prepare for integration with the EU single market. Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS) President Marko Cadez, who also chairs the WB6 CIF, highlighted the significance of strengthening the dialogue between the region’s business community and the EU, as well as of the EU single market progressively becoming open to companies and products from the Western Balkans. Cadez said he expected early integration to be available in sectors that were compliant with EU rules and standards. “By establishing the joint platform and strengthening the dialogue between the Western Balkan business community and EU institutions, we are laying the groundwork for efficient resolution of all issues important for the operations of our companies, which meet all European standards to a large extent,” Cadez noted. He urged European officials to help the voice of the Western Balkan economy be heard in the EU. Welcoming the launch of the business platform, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said it was important for boosting strategic cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkan region. He also said he expected public-private dialogue to facilitate the implementation of the EU’s 9 billion Euro economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans. The plan was adopted last October with the aim of incentivizing long-term economic recovery of the region, supporting green digital transition and encouraging regional and EU integration, the PKS said in a statement.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Cvijanovic: RS is not preparing for peaceful separation but it prepares negotiation team for dialogue with FB&H about future of B&H (RTRS

Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic said on Wednesday that the RS is not preparing for a peaceful separation as some Ambassadors and officials in Sarajevo say, but the RS prepares a negotiation team for dialogue with Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H) about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H).  She said: “We speak about the future. Why? About the future, therefore, about which the two entities and the three constituent peoples should talk about simply because we function in B&H based on this matrix. I believe that it would be good that we talked about this topic way before, before conclusions of the parliament.” RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic called on partners from the FB&H for talks because this is the only way to save B&H. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic stated on Tuesday that it is not about whether the policy that leader of SNSD and Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik advocates will be implemented or not, but whether the RS will exist or not. Viskovic responded by saying that the RS exists and it will continue to exist and its representatives are ready to sacrifice personal wellbeing to defend the RS and, in this case, they will not do anything that will lead to a war. He underlined: “We want coexistence, but we want to be respected and that the other side – that swears in B&H – respects that the three constituent peoples live on the territory of B&H if they want to preserve it. It is the best that we sit for a table and reach an agreement about the future of B&H and reach the best solutions for citizens of B&H without foreign meddling.” Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday that someone has a problem with the Dayton, arguing that they want to dismantle it, while at the same time, some people like Dodik are being published for violation of the Dayton and the Dayton was included in the declaration by force because NATO does not want it. He underlined: “Therefore, this is a broken logic, something is not right here.” RTRS concluded by saying that Croatia reacted due to Croats in B&H and thus, it helped Serbs while Bosniaks missed a chance – for B&H without the Dayton, the entities and the constituent peoples – and they will wait for another opportunity for the international factor to organize them a state in line with their wishes which is why it is no surprise that they refuse talks on the future of B&H with legitimate representatives of the Serb people, i.e. the RS.

 

Reactions to behavior of Croatian officials in NATO and EU institutions continue (Oslobodjenje

 

Former B&H ambassador to EU Igor Davidovic commented behavior of Croatian officials at the NATO Summit regarding B&H and he argues that nothing new has happened. “We were blocked by the things that have been blocking us years back, only this time articulated in the stance of the Croatian policy. Mr. Milanovic made a whole performance about the things that maybe could not have been considered completely unexpected. This is something that resulted in consequences within the Croat corps in Croatia and within Croat corps in B&H. Just look at the comments after that. This has turned into bickering which we are used to in the Balkans region,” said Davidovic. He noted that Croatia is doing its best to be distanced from the Balkans, but they are still very active and everything is coming in a time when NATO and EU integration of B&H are discussed. “Both processes are equally blocked and after bickering everything is transferred into the local backyard,” said Davidovic, reminding of bickering and quarrels between Milanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and unbelievable language used in the discussion between Milanovic and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman. He noted that in B&H this opened discussion about whose concept has won and as a result, B&H is in the same place where it was before all the political quarrels. Davidovic noted that B&H is stagnating and will probably continue to stagnate because everything that is happening with B&H’s neighbors is connected to B&H’s internal tensions, adding that such developments will not change anything or accelerate integration progress, which “is more in the domain of political or diplomatic rhetoric than in domain of reality”.  He further noted that B&H gained nothing, but is in the same place where it will remain for a long time. Head of SDA Caucus in B&H House of Representatives, Adil Osmanovic said that voting of Croatian members of European Parliament showed that “the policy of official Zagreb suffered a new defeat”. SDA’s Edin Music said that it is high time “for Croatia to stop being a hostage of retrograde and un-implementable political demands of a single political party from B&H”. FB&H Vice President Milan Dunovic (DF) submitted a question to Croatian MEPs Zeljana Zovko, Suncana Glavak and Tonino Picula asking them what is disputable in the report which EP discussed and what was it that united parties which follow different ideologies. “It is obvious that abovementioned people have issues with B&H’s progress towards the EU,” said Dunovic.

Tegeltija says six out of 14 European Commission’s priorities fulfilled (Hayat/AJB

 

At the joint session of the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) and the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) held on Wednesday, Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija and Ministers within the B&H CoM answered the questions on the work of the B&H CoM posed by members of the B&H parliament. Tegeltija said there are many more important issues in B&H than individual priorities from the European Commission (EC) Opinion related to the B&H’s candidate status. Tegeltija explained that individual priorities do not clearly define laws B&H needs to adopt, due to which it is difficult to discuss their implementation. “Those priorities, at the moment they were written, when they were discussed and what the opinions were in regards to the EU enlargement, were made in a way that some conditions within the 14 priorities for B&H, that needs to be granted the candidate status, are more difficult than if it is to become a full member,” said Tegeltija. Tegeltija also said six out of 14 priorities were fulfilled, noting that the remaining priorities are in the process of implementation. SDA representatives accused SNSD of rejecting laws at the B&H HoP that had been priory adopted by the B&H HoR, thus slowing down the implementation of the EC’s priorities. SDA MP at the B&H parliament Adil Osmanovic said: “We are very close to launching the initiative for the removal of Mr. Tegeltija, and we had, the proposal by the B&H CoM of the Law on Public Procurement. According to information I dispose with, they are working on the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests, we will see what will happen.” Osmanovic said that the CoM is not offering laws necessary to accelerate the European path of B&H, while Tegeltija responded by saying that previous convocations of the CoM blocked this process before. Tegeltija also underlined that cooperation with the NATO is underway in line with the document of Program of Reforms of B&H and he reiterated that there is no political consent on B&H path towards the NATO. Tegeltija also stated that not a single activity related to the EU has been blocked by B&H CoM, adding that he is assuring everyone that no similar activity will ever be blocked by B&H CoM.

Vulic and Minister Turkovic dispute over discrimination of Serbs and Croats in B&H Foreign Ministry (ATV

 

At the special joint session of the B&H HoR and the B&H HoP held on Wednesday, Ministers within the B&H CoM answered questions posed by members of the B&H parliament. At the session, SNSD MP at the B&H HoR Sanja Vulic asked B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic to comment on discrimination of Serbs and Croats employed within the B&H Foreign Ministry, i.e. to comment on the employment criteria. Vulic explained for ATV that the question referred to the recent meeting Turkovic held with two former members of “the co-called RB&H Army” employed in the Ministry, who were offered to choose their future posts, i.e. “so, I only asked why individuals have the right to choose embassies, while Serbs and Croats do not have the right to that”. ATV reports that Turkovic did not respond to the question. The reporter comments that Turkovic was bothered with the ‘so-called’ reference in regards to the B&H Army and, and because Vulic said “tragic conflict” referring to the past war in B&H. Responding to Vulic, Turkovic said: “You know, we do not pray to the same God. I believe in the one that is everything for us and is above us. According to your statement, you have a different perception. We will also not agree on the nature of the war. For you, that war is a tragic conflict, for me, it is aggression during which the most serious crimes were committed, including genocide, based on the decisions of the International Court”. ATV reports that Turkovic then proceeded by presenting statistical data and manner or distribution of personnel in diplomatic and consular network of B&H, employment and national structure of the employed persons. Responding to this, Vulic said: “I did not ask you about the statistics, but why you offer this to some and not to others. Why do individuals have privileges as the colleagues I have mentioned?’’. Vulic referred to the information on the official page, saying that the information was submitted together with the parliamentary question. “I am especially surprised that you hold such an important office and you do not know that the ‘tragic conflict in the region’ is a definition from the General Framework Agreement for Peace in B&H, i.e. the Dayton Peace Agreement,” said Vulic. ATV reports that Vulic also criticized Turkovic for failing to attend sessions of the B&H parliament in three years. The reporter concludes by saying that Turkovic, after that, did not take floor until the end of the session.

Zvizdic criticizes B&H CoM: They are slow and need to work more efficiently (Hayat

 

Speaker of the B&H HoR Denis Zvizdic gave an interview for Hayat and discussed the special joint session of both Houses of the B&H parliament, held on Wednesday. Speaking about his opinion on the session, Zvizdic said that he thinks everyone expected a livelier discussion, considering previous statements of certain representatives who are obviously dissatisfied with, as Zvizdic said, the unproductive work of the B&H CoM. Zvizdic added that he thinks it is good that the session was held and that they had an opportunity to ask questions and discuss current topics for B&H, namely the issue of migrants, successful fight against the pandemic, the segment of public healthcare and economic recovery, as well as realizing those priorities that are supposed to accelerate B&H’s path to Euro-Atlantic integration. When asked whether the B&H CoM should resign, Zvizdic said: “The B&H CoM must start doing its job much more actively and efficiently, because the current situation in B&H, the region and at the international level requires it from B&H. If we fail some key priorities, then we cannot expect a candidate status, because at the moment everything depends on the B&H CoM to send legal solutions in a serious and responsible way to the procedure, that will increase B&H’s credibility on the path to EU integration”. Zvizdic pointed out: “It is also an indisputable fact, that since the beginning of the pandemic, the B&H CoM has practically not adopted any measure or sent such a measure to the Parliament which would mean raising the quality of public health or a more successful fight for economic recovery”. Zvizdic gave an example regarding the procurement of vaccines and said he had proposed solutions about five months ago, which were adopted by the Parliament and sent to the B&H CoM, but nothing has been done regarding that. “If that had been done, over 50% of the population would now be vaccinated,” claimed Zvizdic. When asked to comment on B&H CoM claiming that vaccine procurement is not in their jurisdiction and whether help for economy and healthcare could have been faster, Zvizdic said that those things could have been done faster. Zvizdic compared the average number of sessions held by the previous convocations of the B&H CoM and the current convocation of the B&H CoM, which shows that the current B&H CoM is slow and inefficient. Commenting on the issue of jurisdiction, Zvizdic said: “The fact is that party politics has completely interfered in the work of the executive branch. The lack of work of the B&H CoM is a consequence of a policy that predominantly comes from the RS, which aims to make B&H a dysfunctional state and slow down the work of state institutions”. Zvizdic added that he appealed to the B&H CoM to make their work productive, especially when it comes to key issues important for the citizens of B&H. When asked how far has B&H come regarding Euro-Atlantic integration, Zvizdic stated: “We are late. We could have fulfilled certain priorities a lot earlier, in order to create preconditions to receive the candidate status before the end of 2021”. Zvizdic added that this shows that there are two policies in B&H – one is the pro-EU policy of those parties who want to see B&H in the EU and NATO and the other policy is of those parties who are in a coalition at the B&H level and only advocate for Euro-Atlantic integration declaratively. Zvizdic stated: “There are two key foreign policy priorities for B&H, namely the EU integration and NATO integration. NATO integration brings security and the necessary stability. The EU integration brings an orderly system and economic progress which creates a good basis for the perspective future of B&H. To speed up this path, the B&H CoM must be much more active, make decisions faster, reach the necessary agreements and consensus, and must follow the B&H Parliament to send a message to Europe that B&H belongs to the EU and that we are working sincerely on EU integration projects and measures”.

Nelson, Sattler and Kavalec meet B&H CEC members, urge IAWG to seriously consider B&H CEC’s proposal on changes to Law on Elections (Dnevni list

 

US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson, Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler and Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Kathleen Kavalec met with members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H on Wednesday. The US Embassy to B&H wrote on its Twitter profile that participants of the meeting discussed B&H CEC’s proposal on changes and addenda to the Law on Elections of B&H with the goal to implement recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR and GRECO. “We encourage Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) of the Parliament of B&H to seriously consider the proposal of B&H CEC and ask for their expert opinion on how to best realize it”, Nelson, Sattler and Kavalec stated. The daily reminded that B&H CEC recently proposed changes to the Law on Elections of B&H related to securing a more quality implementation of the election process which stipulate introduction of some new terms, such as early campaign, abuse of public funds in so called officials’ campaign, speech of hate, early voting, institute of snap elections, extraordinary circumstances and election technology.

Two proposals for changes to B&H Election Law to be discussed by B&H parliament without involvement of IAWG (Glas Srpske

 

Despite the unwritten rule that all proposals for changes to B&H Election Law should be submitted to the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) for electoral reform, two proposals for legislation changes will be discussed by B&H Palriament in the upcoming period. The first proposal of MPs Nermin Niksic, Sasa Magazinovic, Nada Mladina and Zukan Helez refers to reduction of election threshold within a single list of candidates from 20 percent of votes to 10 percent of votes. This proposal will be discussed in short procedure. The second proposal came from Nenad Nesic. According to the proposal, the mandate of an elected official should belong to the party and not to the individual. This proposal will be discussed in regular procedure. Nesic told the daily that he does not trust the IAWG, which is why he submitted his proposal directly to the Parliament. He explained that there are too many cases of persons who get elected as members of one party, but then change their party affiliation in the middle of their term. He underlined that all MPs who wish to prevent political corruption will support his proposal. Member of IAWG Snjezana Novakovic Bursac (SNSD) stated that there is nothing illegitimate about MPs submitting proposals for changes to B&H Election Law directly to B&H Parliament. However, she noted, this is not fair. She underlined that all parliamentary parties are represented in the IAWG. Leader of United Srpska Nenad Stevandic said that he can understand Nesic, since Nesic is not member of the IAWG. However, he added, he does not understand Magazinovic who is a member of the IAWG but decided to ignore it. According to him, Magazinovic is trying to curry a favor with international representatives who are carefully monitoring the process of electoral reform.

Mostar Agreement remains dead letter (Dnevni list

 

The daily notes it has been one year since leaders of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and HDZ B&H Dragan Covic signed the so-called Mostar Agreement about new election model for Mostar and changes to the Statute of City of Mostar and the political agreement on principles of changes and amendments to the Law on Elections of B&H. According to the daily, apart from the fact that the local elections were held in Mostar, everything else remains the dead letter. Daily notes that despite the agreements and constant extending of deadlines, one could say there has not been any progress at all and it is likely there will be no progress with the election year approaching that will be tense and full of quarrels. Daily further reads that ‘godfathers’ of the Mostar Agreement were US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson, Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler, UK Ambassador to B&H Matthew Field, High Representative Valentin Inzko and Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Kathleen Kavalec and went on to note that when it comes to Mostar, the local elections did take place and the city got new authorities, however the issue of changes to the City Statute has not been resolved.

 

Grlic Radman calls on remaining EU countries to recognize Kosovo (Hina

Croatia encourages the remaining EU countries who have not done so to recognize Kosovo’s independence, Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Wednesday, which is a move that Serbia certainly will not be pleased with as it does not recognize the sovereignty of its former southern province. “Croatia encourages the remaining five EU member states to recognize Kosovo because that would contribute to stabilizing the region and Kosovo itself,” Grlic Radman told reporters. Grlic Radman is participating at the international GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava, convened to discuss also the situation in the western Balkans. Croatia’s foreign minister said that three things were key to the region’s stability: respecting countries’ territorial integrity, equal constitutional rights of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in B&H, and the establishment of mutual trust after the 1990s wars. “The territorial integrity of Balkan countries needs to be preserved and respected, hence without changing borders like we heard over the past few months in some much-vaunted non-papers that were heading in that direction,” said Grlic Radman. He believes that trust can be achieved through sincere talks, by resolving the issue of the war missing, processing war crimes and providing justice for the victims. Speaking about B&H, he said the country is trapped between two political tendencies – centralism, or rather unitarism, and separatism. “That undermines the foundations of a stable B&H and negatively reflects on the status of the Croat people in B&H,” he underscored. He reiterated Croatia’s stance that the multi-ethnic B&H needs to reforms the election law to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of equal rights. Grlic Radman said that Croatia is a “sincere advocate” of B&H’s Euro-Atlantic pathway and that at all international forums it keeps that country in the limelight because it is in its interest to have a stable, functioning and prosperous country in its neighborhood.

 

Milanovic: There is a plan to change Dayton Agreement (N1

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic again spoke about B&H on Wednesday by saying that it is impossible to get the attention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel for relations of leader of SNSD and member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and leader of DF and member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic. This time, Milanovic commented on the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) arguing that there is a series of West-European countries “at a level below the low level” behind the intentions to change the DPA. According to Milanovic, there is a plan to change the DPA and to replace it with something else. He underlined: “We are not working on this. We do not know about this. This is totally obvious (…) or else, they would accept our modest demands.” Milanovic added that at the same time, leader of SNSD and member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik is punished for violation of the Dayton while there is strong rejection to mention the DPA in the final declaration of the NATO summit that deals with B&H. Milanovic stated: “Then, do not mention B&H, it is fine with me (…). They would like to make a utopia out of B&H and they should do this to themselves in Germany.”

 

Djukanovic receives Mothers of Srebrenica: It’s important to preserve memory of great misfortune and do everything to prevent it from happening ever again (CdM

President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic has received the representatives of the association called Movement of the Mother of the Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, better known as the Mothers of Srebrenica who reside in Montenegro. The President has welcomed and expressed great respect and full support for the activities of this organization, which has an extremely important role in preserving the memory of the victims of genocide, but also for a serious mission in efforts to ensure that the crime never happens again. “The President has pointed out that the consciousness that tolerates all the specifics of the people and leads us to the society of modern Europe is still struggling with the policy of exclusivity, bigotry and intolerance,” says the President’s cabinet. It is important to preserve the memory of that great misfortune, Djukanovic has added, but it is crucial that we do everything we can to ensure that this never happens again. The President of the named association, Munira Subasic, has thanked the President for the reception and the message he sent on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, expressing hope that others like Montenegro would unequivocally condemn it. She has pointed out that their biggest weapon is the truth, which they chose instead of tears, hatred and revenge.

 

Mickoski presents the new VMRO-DPMNE strategy – Macedonia for all (Republika

VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski presented the new strategy of the party in the coming period – Macedonia for all. Mickoski said that the conservative party will extend a hand of cooperation to all, starting with the right and center right, and that it will add colors to its traditional red and black banner to better represent this policy of openness. He added that the unification of the opposition against the PM Zoran Zaev regime is inevitable, and that concrete results in this area will come very soon. Macedonia for all is the new political strategy of VMRO-DPMNE and the world-view we will act upon. A platform that will unite all honest citizens who love their country and want to build their future here, in Macedonia. We are sharing our vision for a Macedonia that belongs to us all, away from the national and economic devastation we are now experiencing. We will defeat the immorality, kitsch and empty gestures, Mickoski said during the large gathering at the ancient theater in Ohrid, where the party celebrated the 31st anniversary of its founding. Mickoski painted a dire picture of divisions in Macedonia, and of the large portion of second-class citizens – those who are oppressed by the Zaev regime, politically or economically. Second class citizens are those 500,000 people who live on 150 denars a day, while the politicians drive their modern cars, motorcycles and yachts from one publicly paid lunch to the other. Second class citizens are those who were paying all their lives for healthcare, and now can’t get it, while those who plunder our country each day have priority passes and no problem paying private healthcare. Second class citizens are being harassed by the police for approving a mundane decisions or journalists hounded for writing an article, while Vice Zaev, who is credibly accused of extorting 250,000 Euros, Vasko Kovacevski who was rigging contracts and Oliver Spasovski who was approving passports to mobsters are not even interrogated. Second class citizens are the patriots kept in prison as alleged terrorists while actual killers and ISIS terrorists travel the world with Macedonian passports, Mickoski said. The opposition leader discussed the new colors of VMRO-DPMNE, which will join the historic red and black, and the yellow – which is the color of the Macedonian flag. The red is the color of patriotism and the struggle for Macedonia, while the black is there to lament the failures of the past, especially of the Zaev regime, which is “leading us to catastrophic national defeats”. The yellow, Mickoski said, represent democracy, the fight for human rights and the “faith in the European dream”. White is for freedom and justice. The party is also adopting the bright red, for the youth and the future of the country. Maroon will be added to represent justice and the rule of law. The orange color, which VMRO used in its successful 2006 political campaign, will be used again, to represent economic dynamism and hard work. Regarding the proposed unification of the opposition, Mickoski said that it is the only way to break this hybrid regime. We welcome every civic and intellectual movement or party, including those who bashfully refuse to answer if they are going to join us, and those who are openly inviting us to go to the end, Mickoski said. VMRO-DPMNE already leads a coalition of opposition parties, but relations with Levica, the populist party that won two seats in the Parliament at the last elections, are currently strained, as Levica makes a move for the right-wing voters. Mickoski said that new developments in the area of unification of the opposition will be announced shortly. Speaking before the party supporters at the ancient venue, Mickoski also asked the public to remember all the successes of VMRO in the past, in reforming Macedonia, bringing in foreign investments, building critically needed infrastructure, supporting agriculture… Some of the people from the previous VMRO governments are here with us. They worked hard, unlike Zaev, who says that he is out by 16h and uses the weekends for joyrides. We worked until late in the night. VMRO-DPMNE will lead the changes that are needed in Macedonia, until we create the badly needed system of values, of work and honesty, Mickoski said.

A day before his meeting with Zaev, Bulgarian Prime Minister Janev says there will be no compromise (Republika

Bulgarian interim Prime Minister Stefan Janev said that he is not in a position to make concessions or to compromise his position with regard to Macedonia, and that the country will not approve the EU negotiating framework with Macedonia in its current form. The comment comes a day ahead of the expected visit by PM Zoran Zaev to Sofia, where he is trying to plead with Bulgaria to lift its veto of Macedonia’s EU accession talks. Bulgaria will hold elections on 11 July and until then, including during the 22 June European Council, it will be led by a caretaker government that has no mandate in the matter. I don’t think that Bulgaria is in a position to make concessions or to compromise its position. Not just this interim government, but the parliament itself, in 2019, clearly instructed in what will be the Bulgarian national position, Janev said. The Bulgarian parliament unanimously adopted a position that Macedonia must accept a long list of concessions in the area of its national identity and history before it will be allowed to open EU accession talks.

 

EU will never be complete without Albania “! Speaker of the Portuguese parliament, video conference with Ruci: We support integration (Radio Tirana

Albanian parliament speaker Gramoz Ruci held a video conference today with the speaker of the Assembly of the Republic of Portugal Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, at the end of the Portuguese Presidency of the EU. The Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, Luis Capoulas Santos was also present at the Conference. Ruci praised the contribution of the Portuguese Presidency in promoting the integration of the Western Balkans. “The Portuguese presidency has kept the issue of enlargement at the top of its agenda. The decision of the European Council, in March 2020, to open membership negotiations with Albania has paved the way for the next step in Albania’s path towards the EU, that of the first intergovernmental conference. In June 2020, the Albanian government approved and launched the implementation of the Action Plan for meeting the requirements of the Council conclusions of March 2020. Based on the implementation of the Action Plan, considerable progress has been made and the requirements for the Intergovernmental Conference have been met. Albania is grateful for the strong and visible support to Albania and North Macedonia. We are also grateful for her tireless effort to mediate between Bulgaria and North Macedonia to resolve their dispute,” said Ruci.

Rodrigues, thanked Ruci for the achievements of Albania in its European journey and underlined that “Portugal has been and will be a supporter of Albania’s accession to the European family. Albania is a partner of Portugal in NATO and has shown maturity in the successful management of the OSCE Presidency as well as in being elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the years 2022-2023. European integration is a transformation process and Albania has achieved visible results in this transformation process. Europe will never be complete without Albania and the Western Balkans.” The Chairman of the European Affairs Committee Santos underlined that “I have closely followed Albania’s progress in achieving the integration objectives and Portugal is clear and determined to support Albania in holding the First Intergovernmental Roundtable as soon as possible. There is a broad consensus of Parliament, Government and political forces on this in Portugal. Albania is a country worthy of joining the EU as soon as possible,” Santos said.

The Netherlands gives green light to start of Albania’s EU integration process (Radio Tirana

The Netherlands seems to have changed its position regarding the start of Albania’s membership talks with the European Union. Dutch media report today that the Dutch Parliament finally supports the start of talks, assessing that “Albania has made sufficient progress to start talks with the EU.” Unlike two years ago, when the Netherlands kept the door closed to Albania, now this EU country says that there are “positive signals” from Albania. According to some of the politicians who had previously opposed Albania’s integration, “Progress has been made in areas such as the rule of law and the fight against corruption,” Dutch media reported. They emphasize that the new accession procedure is “essential”, while stating that one reason to agree on this is the Chinese and Russian intervention in the Balkans. Following this positive attitude expressed by the Dutch government, but also the statements of the chief diplomats of countries such as Germany, Austria and Italy, it seems that Albania will have its way opened at the 22 June meeting of the European Council for the opening of the negotiating framework, which will follow the first intergovernmental conference, which is expected to be held within this year.

 

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Belgrade Media Report 20 January 2022

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