Vucic meets with Lajcak in Brussels (Tanjug/RTV)
A new round of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina at the highest political level has started in Brussels, with the EU mediation. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has met with EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak. After the meeting with Lajcak, Vucic will meet with the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell within the new round of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. On the way to Brussels, the president of Serbia pointed out that talks with Albanian representatives are important, because that preserves peace and stability. “It’s never particularly pleasant to travel or be in Brussels when you hold talks with Albanian representatives. However, it is important for Serbia because it helps our people in Kosovo and Metohija, preserves peace and stability which are crucial for economic progress of the whole of Serbia,” Vucic posted on Instagram.
Selakovic: Serbia committee to dialogue with Pristina (TV Prva/Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Sunday that he could not predict how the July 19 meeting in Brussels between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti would unfold, but stressed that Belgrade was committed to the dialog. Selakovic told TV Prva that “not a shred of constructiveness” was shown by Pristina at the previous encounter, while the European officials had been fair. “We’ll see what will happen, I can’t predict anything,” he said, recalling that Belgrade remained committed to the dialog with Pristina. Selakovic also noted that the dialog was of paramount importance to Belgrade. He added that Belgrade also still expected the European Union to be the guarantor of the Brussels Agreement when it came to implementation. Asked about the possibility of Greece changing its position on Kosovo’s independence, he said “I want to believe” that Greece will not recognize Kosovo as independent. Selakovic also said that he had received assurances that this was not going to happen in his meetings with Greek officials, but added that certain actions from Athens signaled a different intent. Selakovic said that Greece welcomed Albin Kurti and is “increasing the degree of office in Athens,” while its officials claim that the situation with Cyprus and Kosovo is not the same. “I wish to believe that this will not happen and I will pray to God that this doesn’t happen,” he stressed.
Serbia will not have to give up Kosovo for the sake of joining the EU (APA/Tanjug/B92)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic pointed out that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was the most important topic on Serbia’s path to the EU. He expressed confidence that Belgrade would not have to give up Kosovo for EU membership, and that no candidate country was asked to do anything similar. “Do you know of a case of a candidate country that had to do something similar to become an EU member?” Selakovic asked. He also asked how this could be a precondition for EU accession, in a situation when not all members have the same position regarding Kosovo. “Kosovo is not only a southern province according to the Constitution of Serbia, but also on the basis of UN Resolution 1244. Serbia joined the UN with its borders, which include Kosovo and Metohija, and we are a member of the UN,” he underlined. At the same time, he points out that Belgrade is still ready for a compromise solution with Pristina, which must be sustainable, applicable and acceptable to both sides. “That doesn’t mean one side gets everything and the other nothing,” he pointed out. According to the APA, Selakovic did not want to talk about what a compromise might look like, and when it came to changing the borders, he said that no one was talking about it. “There is no solution of that kind on the table,” he stressed. Asked if Belgrade could come to terms with the fact that Kosovo Albanians do not want to live in Serbia, he answered with the question: “Is it reasonable to force a million Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) to live in B&H?” Precisely because these are principles, according to him, Serbia fully supports the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. “We know that our attitude towards B&H preserves our position regarding Kosovo. I have not met anyone who could explain to me why the principle of self-determination should apply only to Albanians in Kosovo, but not to Serbs in Republika Srpska (RS),” he pointed out. Selakovic added that on the issue of Kosovo, the international community thought that changing the border was a good solution. “I think that is not a good solution. If the border changes once, then it will always happen. It is not good for the region, nor for us,” the head of Serbian diplomacy said. Selakovic criticized Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, pointing out that Pristina does not want to implement the Brussels agreement, that is, the obligation to form the ZSO. “If there is an agreement, then it must be fulfilled, regardless of whether someone likes it or not,” he said. Belgrade, he says, has fulfilled all its obligations and is now waiting for the EU and Kosovo Albanians to do so. Selakovic expressed concern over Kurti’s sympathies regarding the unification of Kosovo and Albania, adding that he was not worried about his statements, but about “silence in European capitals”. He advises the future high representative of the international community in B&H, Christian Schmidt, to be impartial. “If a solution is wanted for B&H, we must not interfere and stand on one side,” he said. Bosnian Serbs, he says, have good reasons for being skeptical of the international community’s high representative. He said that the former High Representative used his powers to limit the competencies of RS. “The Dayton Peace Agreement is one of the most successful peace projects not only in Europe, but in the world, and it should be preserved,” Selakovic stressed, adding that changes to the agreement are possible only with the consent of all three peoples and two B&H’s entities. On the issue of Serbia’s European path to the EU, he criticized the EU accession process and the hypocrisy of certain countries in their treatment of Serbia. “How can it be that EU member states are ready to accept EU citizens, but not Serbia as a member?”, he asked. Selakovic pointed out that the goals in the EU accession process are constantly changing. Although Serbia, as the first candidate from the region, accepted the new methodology, it did not receive an accession date, which, he says, is a huge difference compared to the previous round of EU enlargement, in which the conditions and dates were clear from the beginning. He emphasized that pointing to economic data, Serbia is well prepared for EU membership. Selakovic pointed out that this year, Serbia’s economic growth will be higher than six percent, that the country meets the Maastricht criteria regarding public debt, and that the unemployment rate has dropped from 26.9 percent to nine percent in the past few years. According to him, many young Serbs are now returning to their homeland to work in international companies. He also pointed out that Serbia attracts most of the region’s foreign direct investments. Selakovic emphasizes that Serbia’s membership in the EU should not be important only for our country. “We see that the EU could feel sorry if Serbia does not become an EU member,” he underlined, adding that, after all, the EU does not want a “vacuum” in the region. Selakovic also believes that it is important for the EU to get “fresh blood”. Regarding the issue of the fight against illegal migration, he said that it was paradoxical that Serbia was facing waves of migrants from the territory of the EU. He pointed out that many countries are interested in partnership with Serbia when it comes to migration. “Somehow it has become normal to want Serbia as a partner when it comes to problematic issues, but we do not want Serbia as a partner or member regarding good issues,” he said. Speaking about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Selakovic thanked for the support. “It doesn’t matter if we all share his position, he is a great leader and a brave man, and the only problem I see with him is that he is someone who always says what he thinks. Unfortunately, that is no longer common in today’s world,” Selakovic said. He recalled that Europe is based on freedom of expression and that it will survive as long as it accepts differences on the issue of different attitudes. He says that he would personally prefer if Europe supported its identity and culture more strongly, instead of constantly talking only about the market, trade and money.
Dacic: No extremely important results will be achieved in Brussels (TV Prva)
Monday’s new round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in Brussels will definitely not lead to extremely important results, but it is very important that the discussions are underway, Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic said on Monday. “The extremely important result here is that the process is being returned to some kind of continuity and that the discussions are underway, after all,” Dacic told TV Prva. It will take patience and time before Kosovo Albanian representatives get involved in the dialogue and start acting in a way appropriate for the dialogue, Dacic added.
“We are taking part in the dialogue and we will request that all agreements be implemented,” he said. The Brussels agreement was initialed on 19 April 2013, and Dacic said definitely no one had expected the international community would not put the Kosovo Albanians under “tougher” pressure to comply with the agreement. “The Albanians are not the problem here because we know their tactic is that one group signs something, another group rejects it, a third group wants a decision of the Constitutional Court, and then the governments change all the time and no one undertakes the responsibility to implement what someone before them has signed,” Dacic said.
On the other hand, Serbia has shown great seriousness and state-building capacity, out of a desire to make a constructive contribution to tackling unresolved issues, he said. The Kosovo Albanians do not like the idea of having any discussions at all, and their only idea is to formalize the situation they have declared a finished affair, to have Serbia agree to an independent Kosovo and to conduct dialogue solely on some technical issues, Dacic said. “That is their understanding of the Brussels dialogue and, in a way, it is a consequence of all the relationships from the time the UN General Assembly decided to move the dialogue to Brussels,” Dacic said.
Petkovic: Vucic will insist in Brussels on formation of ZSO (Tanjug/RTS)
Ahead of the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina at a high political level, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic pointed out that the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) is the “soul” of the Brussels agreement and the foundation around which the dialogue and other signed agreements were developed. “Without the formation of the ZSO, without the collective rights that Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija should receive, we cannot talk about any normalization of relations,” Petkovic told reporters in Belgrade, where he attended the memorial service for killed and abducted Serbs in Orahovac in Kosovo and Metohija 23 years ago. Petkovic, who will be in Brussels on Monday as a member of the Belgrade delegation, reiterated that for more than 3,000 days, Pristina has refused to form the ZSO and fulfill its obligations under the agreement it signed in 2013, stressing that the EU is responsible for the fat that the ZSO was not formed. He pointed out that the Belgrade delegation, led by President Vucic, would insist on other important issues in Brussels, including the issue of the missing, emphasizing that it was important that the issue was finally resolved. He stated that Belgrade responded to Pristina’s requests and that 21 locations suspected of being potential graves of the missing were searched, but that none of the nine locations that Belgrade requested to be searched were investigated. “During the previous round of dialogue, the representative of Pristina said, ‘So where are we going to dig, so then it turns out that Albanians committed crimes’,” Petkovic claims. As he says, Pristina intends to cover up crimes against the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, but not only the Pristina side is doing this, but also those who support it and do not allow the idea of the alleged success story of so-called Kosovo to be “mired”. “We do not dispute that there were crimes on both sides, but the fact that only one victim stands out and differences are made, that we have first and second order victims clearly speaks of the true intention of those who would like to hide all crimes that happened to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija,” concluded Petkovic.
Stano: 19 July round of dialogue to focus on progress to date (Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the PM of the provisional Pristina institutions Albin Kurti will meet on 19 July in Brussels in a new round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue at high-political level. Starting from 2 pm, the Belgrade and Pristina delegations will first have bilateral meetings with EU facilitators – Josep Borrell and Miroslav Lajcak – after which a trilateral meeting will be held. Diplomatic sources in Brussels said the discussions were scheduled to conclude by 6 pm but that their “course and duration” could not be foreseen at this time.
EU spokesperson Peter Stano said the meeting would focus on progress achieved to date and further steps in the dialogue. Following announcements from Brussels that Monday’s second round of direct Vucic-Kurti discussions should be “well-prepared” at expert level, Stano told Tanjug this did not only include public meetings in Brussels. The Brussels sources said EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak would, based on expert and technical discussions and additional consultations, present fields in which progress was achievable. The sources told Tanjug the EU, as the main facilitator in the dialogue, intended to host monthly meetings in Brussels between the two sides with the aim of maintaining the dynamics of the dialogue and achieving its final objective – a legally binding agreement on normalization of relations.
Dacic: SPS oldest political brand (Beta)
Socialist Party of Serbia president Ivica Dacic said on Saturday, the 31st anniversary of the party’s founding, that it was the oldest Serbian political brand and told Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that he could count on the Socialists in the battles to come. In an introductory address at the Steering Committee session on the anniversary of the party’s founding in1990, Dacic said Serbia sadly had no opposition, because a part of it “decided it didn’t have a country.” “We have no serious alternative idea, other than the tycoon option which is grab power, rob and dismember Serbia. We have no one with an answer to the difficult questions of Kosovo and Metohija, the region, Europe and the world,” he added. He stressed that Vucic and he had assumed the responsibility of signing the Brussels Agreement with Pristina, conducting difficult economic reforms and dealing with regional issues still unresolved after decades. “Sadly, looking at other political parties, sometimes it is presented that this is not an attitude toward politics and the regime, but to Serbia. If you hate Dacic and Vucic, you mustn’t hate Serbia,” he said.
Lazanski: Montenegro refuses Belgrade’s request to allow the use of its ports for weapons donation (TV Prva/Beta)
Serbian Ambassador to Russia Miroslav Lazanski said on Saturday that Montenegro had rejected Serbia’s request that it allow a Russian arms donation to be shipped to the Port of Bar, and from there to Belgrade by train. Lazanski explained in an interview with TV Prva that because of Podgorica’s refusal Serbia had to pay “20times more” to have the donation shipped in by plane. “I asked the Montenegrin ambassador to Russia twice to call Podgorica and intervene, so that the weapons could be transported by sea. The Montenegrin defense minister’s answer was such that Serbia was forced to pay for air transportation, and the cost of this was exorbitant,” he said, adding that the armaments eventually reached Serbia as NATO states agreed to allow Russian planes use their air space. The Montenegrin Ministry of Defense denied the Serbian Ambassador’s statement. “It is important tonote that the Ministry of Defense is not authorised to make decisions like these independently, because itis only one of the institutions that give their opinions on official requests. It is also true that no such request was sent in writing to the Montenegrin defense ministry, which would have been a basis forgiving its opinion,” the ministry said in a press release.
Neu: Serbs can never be victims (Novosti, by Ivana Stanojevic)
Member of German Bundestag Alexander Neu told the daily that only Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians are allowed to be victims of the past wars in former Yugoslavia, while Serbs are never allowed to be victims and they are always depicted as criminals. According to him, this is how Serbs are being punished for refusing NATO membership. Neu noted that the West ignored thousands of Serb refugees who were expelled from their homes in Croatia during the operation ‘Oluja’, but now the West is again interested in the Balkans because Russia, China and Turkey are expanding their influence in the region. According to him, Germany always saw Balkans as German area of influence, but Russia has similar views too. Illustrating the double standards of the West, Neu mentioned the example of Srebrenica which the West wants to depict as a place of genocide, but completely ignores the fact that many of the killed persons were combatants and not civilians. “Regarding Srebrenica, I cannot say if it was genocide, war crime or something else. It is however known that not all persons killed there were civilians but also Bosniak fighters who were killed in combat, and that is being hidden,” said Neu. He added that one thousand Serbs were killed by Muslim army in 1992, which is a fact that is being ignored. According to Neu, Serbia can expect other forms of punishment for its refusal to join NATO.
Turks get weapon for Albanians in B&H (Novosti)
Novosti learns from B&H security services that together with the B&H Ministry of Defense and local dealers, Turks dealing with weapon trafficking have been intensively working in Sarajevo lately on details of a contract on purchase of huge amount weapons and ammunition aimed for Kosovo security forces. The daily added that Turkey has been mentioned as a formal buyer in all documents although the final user are Kosovo security forces. Military analyst Ljuban Karan stated that in case they fail to obtain some false attributes for the fake state of Kosovo, “so-called” security structures of Kosovo will decide to have some sort of intervention. Maria Zakharova from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also spoke about this issue and she said that German producers deliver huge amounts of weapons to Kosovo.
EU officials confirm that Resolution proposed by Russia and China to UN SC will not change agenda of the EU for B&H (FTV)
The resolution that was proposed by Russia and China to the UN Security Council (UN SC) and which brings the proposal on closing down the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in B&H, will not change the agenda of the EU for B&H, the EU officials said. The EU officials count on OHR’s continuous work on Agenda ‘5 + 2’, which was adopted in 2008, because program for closing down the OHR in B&H has not been fulfilled yet. It was emphasized that the EU is looking forward to having good cooperation with Christian Schmidt, which the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC SB) appointed to the post of the new international community’s High Representative (HR) in B&H. Schmidt is set to assume this post on 1 August.
Russia and China propose that mandate of Schmidt ends in 2022; Izetbegovic: Proposal of Russia and China will not be accepted; Other reactions (Hayat)
Hayat commented that it seems the OHR will stay in B&H for long time, because conditions to close it have not been met yet. Despite to this, Russia and China proposed a resolution concerning High Representative in B&H that will be proposed to the UN SC for adoption. Among other things, this resolution stipulates that the mandate of new High Representative Christian Schmidt ends in July 2022 and that the High Representative will not be allowed to use Bonn Powers. China and Russia claim that B&H no longer needs the OHR because political progress in this country has been achieved. Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic said that the proposal of two members of the UN SC will not be accepted, adding that it is just political message. He reminded that there are ‘5+2’ conditions that need to be met in order to close the OHR. He added that he was surprised China joined Russia in this case. He wondered why someone would insist on closing of the OHR in the period when there are secession threats in B&H and the OHR is only thing preventing it from happening. According to Hayat, Schmidt’s powers will be wider. Former member of B&H Presidency Haris Silajdzic stated that he has been attempting to understand the stance of China in regards to abovementioned issue in the context of complex geopolitical coordination between China and Russia.
Cvijanovic says attempts to appoint new HR are not in line with procedures, she sees Russian-Chinese draft resolution on abolition of HR’s powers as chance (RTRS)
In an interview to Radio RS, RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic (SNSD) stated that the dialogue is the only way to resolve problems in B&H, adding that any kind of interfering by foreigners who impose solutions is intolerable and unsustainable. She reminded that attempts to appoint Christian Schmidt as the new HR are not in line with procedures, stressing that she sees the draft resolution on abolition of HR’s powers that was submitted to the UN Security Council member states by China and Russia as a chance. Cvijanovic stated that the Russian-Chinese proposal would be an attempt to save credibility of the foreign factor in B&H, noting that representatives of the international community in B&H are not the only ones who contributed to poor political situation in B&H, but local political actors from B&H are also accountable. She said that it is unclear why the RS opposition and Bosniak political representatives have not appointed their members to a team for talks with the Federation of B&H (FB&H) on B&H’s future. According to Cvijanovic, Bosniak political representatives refuse to take part in the dialogue on B&H’s future, but the ruling structures from the RS keep conveying a message that they do not see the RS as an interim solution but as a permanent category and therefore the FB&H officials should accept the dialogue with them.
Hartmann: B&H’s road to EU will close OHR; Austria’s interest in B&H and region is strong (Nezavisne)
The road to the EU means the road to closing down of the OHR, Austrian Ambassador to B&H Ulrike Hartmann said in an interview for the daily, reminding that 5+2 agenda is a condition for the OHR closure. “It is realistic to expect that the High Representative will work devotedly with local authorities in terms of meeting those five goals and two objectives,” she said. Asked to comment on the appointment of new High Representative Christian Schmidt and what is Austria’s stance, the ambassador said that all members of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) want to see B&H as a normal country which no longer needs a High Representative. “What Austria wants and we have support of everyone else for that, is that B&H becomes an EU member state. The road to the EU will now be intensified. We expect a close cooperation and support of the new High Representative” she said, adding that the road to the EU will also mean the road to the closure of the OHR, but that this is not a process that will happen overnight.
Asked if compromise on the matters such as the OHR, NATO and others is possible in B&H, Hartmann replied that the only path to that is pressure of citizens, who would openly tell the politicians what matters to them. “Democracy is functioning with compromises,” she said. She also noted that B&H is a country with specific structure and it needs compromises, which is crucial. Commenting on the author’s remark that many citizens of B&H are searching for ways to leave the country and go abroad, including in Austria, the ambassador said this was a big problem and that this is one more reason for the politicians to show they are willing to make compromises. Asked why Austria is so strongly advocating B&H’s EU membership and if this is an interest or altruism, Hartmann said it was both. “Of course, we have an interest in that. Geography cannot be changed. The EU border is directly leaning on B&H’s border and our border is very close,” she explained, noting that even Austria was slightly affected by the conflicts of the 1990s or with the issue of migrations. “Stability in B&H and the Balkans is our biggest interest. And besides, this is Europe, you are Europe” she stressed. The ambassador noted that all conditions for the membership still have to be met and that it is not realistic to expect the membership candidate status to be confirmed without that. As for the EU-US cooperation, Hartmann said this was nothing new but that the cooperation has been intensified which she assessed as positive. “It should be clear to local politicians that there are common interests, international standards. We understand the complex past and relations in this country but it is unacceptable that some are making use of that as an excuse to ask for exceptions for B&H,” she stressed. The ambassador also said that, when it comes to the Election Law or B&H or the Constitution, there are standards that cannot be ignored and that changes to the Election Law are partly technical but also very important because they guarantee fair elections. Asked how is Austria using its influence, considering the fact that current HR and EU Special Representative in B&H are both Austrians, Hartmann replied that they are not acting here by orders of Austria but in accordance with their mandates. However, she said, it is not a coincidence that they both come from Austria, which is close to B&H not only geographically but also historically and culturally. “Simply put, the Western Balkans is an important subject in Austria and priority of our foreign policy” she said, adding that the diplomats performing these two duties are not only experts in their fields but they also know the region and the country very well.
Tegeltija: There is absolutely insufficient EU interest when it comes to enlargement (RTRS)
Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija stated on Friday that “there is absolutely insufficient interest of the EU when it comes to the enlargement”, adding that EU and B&H’s assessments of how much has been done on the European path often do not match. He reminded that once it became clear that B&H will meet conditions to get the EU candidate status, amending the Election Law of B&H emerged as an additional condition. According to Tegeltija, B&H does not lag behind North Macedonia and Serbia on the EU path. He said that it is okay that the EU says that it is not ready for the enlargement for now, but B&H is ready to continue working on reforms through many legal solutions at the level of entities and the B&H CoM. Tegeltija concluded that B&H does not work on these reforms for the sake of the EU, but for the sake of B&H citizens.
Dodik: New US Ambassador needs to respect Dayton Peace Accords (ATV)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik commented the nomination of Michael Murphy as a new US Ambassador to B&H. ATV reminds that Murphy was nominated by US President Joe Biden. Murphy is currently serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Murphy previously served as a Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Kosovo. He served as a political counselor at the US Embassy in B&H in the period 2006-2009. Dodik underlined that he remembers Murphy from the period when this diplomat was serving at the US Embassy in Sarajevo. “I think the situation has significantly changed compared to what he is used to,” said Dodik. He added that Murphy should be aware this is not 2005 or 2008, this is 2021 when the letter of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) needs to be respected. The Chairman of B&H Presidency went on to saying that they will try to form relations that will be full of understanding if it is possible. Dodik stressed that the fact Murphy was in B&H and then worked in Pristina gives some new dimensions to the entire situation. According to Dodik, US embassies in Sarajevo and Pristina have been generating activities that were not in interest of Serb people. Reporter noted that it is still not clear when Murphy will replace Ambassador Eric Nelson, because he should be appointed by the US Senate and summer recession of the Senate will start in two weeks. Dodik stated that the appointment of the new US Ambassador to B&H is the matter of the USA, but that he needs to know that the DPA needs to be respected. He added that Murphy is obliged to implement the interests of the USA in B&H and they have their own interests. Dodik also said that he was informed about the nomination two months ago, but the situation has changed compared to “prior habits of Murphy”. “This is not 2005, nor 2008. This is 2021 in which the letter of the Dayton must be absolutely respected, as well as our policy. We do not accept the appointment of the High Representative (Christian Schmidt) without the decision of the UN Security Council. If they make efforts to do that, they will have to face our will that we do not accept that, do not talk institutionally or have any cooperation. If they consider they should address that, they should do it, but, in any case, we will try to have relations full of understanding, if possible”.
B&H CC rejects Dodik’s motion for disputing Law on B&H Flag, partly grants motion of 24 B&H MPs regarding ‘Buk Bijela’ (Nova BH)
The Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H rejected on Friday a motion that Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik filed against the Law on the Flag of B&H, which was amended back in 2004. Namely, Dodik requested constitutional review of the Law on the B&H Flag, as his stance was that the law is unconstitutional due to the fact that it has never been confirmed by the B&H Presidency. However, the CC concluded that this is not the case. In addition, the B&H CC partly granted the motion filed by 24 MPs in the B&H parliament, who requested from the CC to rule on the RS government’s decision on awarding concession for construction of the hydropower plant Buk Bijela. The 24 MPs in the B&H Parliament warned that the RS government violated the state property rights of B&H as it awarded concession on the state property to build this hydropower plant as a joint project of the RS and Serbia. In its ruling, the CC concluded that the Commission for Concessions of B&H is required to resolve all disputable issues between B&H and the RS in the case of the project of building ‘Buk Bijela’ within three months. While authorities in the RS perceived the decision on the hydropower plant as no obstacle to continuing with construction works on ‘Buk Bijela’, officials in the Federation of B&H and the 24 MPs, who filed the motion, consider that no construction works should take place until the Commission for Concessions reaches a solution. The 24 MPs who submitted a request to the Court on this issue were guided by an earlier decision of the B&H CC, according to which riverbeds and waters were marked as a public good, i.e. state property. They say they fulfilled their goal – for a state body to make a decision on the fate of the construction of the hydroelectric power plants. “We expect the RS Government to accept the decision of the Constitutional Court of B&H and open talks with the Commission as soon as possible,” said Head of the SDA Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) Adil Osmanovic. Commenting on B&H CC’s ruling regarding hydropower plants, member of the SDA Presidency Dzevad Mahmutovic who participated in preparation of the motion for assessment of constitutionality of the agreement signed between the RS and Serbia on joint construction of hydropower plants on the Drina River, said that he is very satisfied with such a decision and that it is very important that B&H CC recognized the dispute in the first place.
Dodik announces lawsuits against judges of B&H CC for violation of B&H Constitution and misuse of office; Other reactions (ATV)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that it is clear that the B&H Constitutional Court (B&H CC) is a political and not judiciary institution. He stated this after his appeal filed with the B&H CC was rejected. Dodik announced that a lawsuit against the judges of the B&H CC is one of the ways in which the interests of the RS and B&H Constitution can be protected. The reporter reminded that Dodik filed a motion regarding the changes to the B&H Law on Flag, which was adopted by the B&H parliament, but not confirmed by the B&H Presidency. Professor of constitutional law Sinisa Karan said that it is hard to believe that the B&H CC recognizes the laws imposed by the High Representative as valid, when he is not recognized by the B&H Constitution as a legislative authority. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that the B&H CC sets categories which they deem as allegedly protected and through which they protect B&H and adopt decisions in accordance with this. She added that when decisions are adopted, which are unacceptable to Serbs, they are expected to accept them. Cvijanovic assessed that they are waiting for the people to get bored from opposing such decisions and added that they will not get bored. Dodik announced that he will file a lawsuit against all B&H CC judges for the violation of the B&H Constitution and misuse of office and competences. The B&H CC decided that the appeal filed by MPs in the B&H Parliament from the Federation of B&H regarding the agreement on the construction of three hydro power plants in Drina is in accordance with the B&H Constitution. This was deemed as another attempt to take away competences of the RS.
Hadziabdic: B&H CEC prepared document with series of improvements to B&H Election Law (Fena/Dnevni list)
In an interview to Fena, member of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) Irena Hadziabdic said that in line with legal competencies, the B&H CEC prepared a detailed document which contains series of improvements of the Election Law in normative- technical sense, but which partially gets into more complex, but not political issues. Stressing that the document is still in a working version and will be finalized only after receiving comments and suggestions to the text, Hadziabdic noted that they find the comment of Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to be especially important to them, being that the B&H CEC mostly relied on their recommendations. “Our goal was to eliminate pressure over the voters, secure impartial election administration, transparency of financing, sanctions for violation proportional to defection effect,” said Hadziabdic. Speaking about impartial election administration, Hadziabdic said that they most of all dealt with election committees and appointment of their members, which is the process that needs to be depoliticized. “We have made two proposals. We deem that members of election committees need to be appointed far earlier, in the non-election year, they require lot of work, education, so we would get professional composition with least as possible politics in election committees,” said Hadziabdic. She added that the only way is not to appoint a president and vice- presidents of the committees from the political parties. As for voters’ lists, the B&H CEC would like for them to be published at least twice during the non-election year, so the voters could verify their status, as well as the status of their deceased relatives. When it comes to financing of elections, Hadziabdic said that regular elections are one of the main international standards. “In line with our Election Law, elections have to take place every four years. Nobody has right nor anyone can extend anyone’s mandate, especially if we are talking about elected officials in direct elections or cut down that mandate. There are certain provisions for executive power, which are unfortunately abundantly used in B&H, so the authorities are not formed for years. These are not natural situations,” said Hadziabdic. She reminded of the practice of budget adoption in B&H, which has impact to organization of elections. In the end, Hadziabdic noted that the B&H CEC has no right to submit proposal of laws to B&H Parliament and can only submit initiatives. “Even though B&H CEC members are not part of Inter-Agency Working Group for electoral reform, nobody can prevent us to do our job,” ends Hadziabdic.
There will be no progress in terms of talks Law on Elections, Constitution of B&H until second half of September at least (Dnevni list)
Writing about the issues of changes and amendments to the Law on Elections of B&H and limited changes to the Constitution of B&H, daily notes that the changes/amendments did not happen in the first half of the year, which was a deadline set by HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic. According to the author, this story is very much dead right now, stressing that it is difficult to expect any step forward even about smaller political issues during the month of August given that a summer break is about to happen in both the US and the EU, as well as in B&H, when all political activities are down to minimum. That is why, continues the daily, one can expect any kind of serious talks in second half of September or October, which is why if there is any political agreement, its implementation could happen in November or December. To back its claims up, daily reads there are announcements that US Special Representative for Western Balkans Matthew Palmer and Managing Director for Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey at the European External Action Service (EEAS) Angelina Eichhorst should visit B&H again in September or October.
Komsic: I will put forward my candidacy for B&H Presidency member in the next elections if current situation does not change; Croatian policy towards B&H is senseless (FTV)
A session of the B&H Presidency was held on Friday. In eight months of him being the B&H Presidency Chairman, Milorad Dodik was often criticized for not holding regular sessions. Only two regular sessions, including the one held on Friday, were held in that period of time. As of 20 July, Zeljko Komsic will assume the rotating post of the Presidency Chairman. In an interview for Fena news agency, Komsic announced he plans to put forward his candidacy at the 2022 General Elections for another mandate as the Croat member of the B&H Presidency. He said he wants all people in B&H to live a normal life and to be equal in every way. He said he would only give up on his candidacy if he saw that things in B&H have improved and that people were given all the rights and all the conditions for normal life, for them to feel comfortable and good in all parts of the country. He emphasized that he has been fighting for these goals during 30 years of his political career. Komsic said that he will insist on holding regular Presidency sessions as soon as he assumes the rotating post of the B&H Presidency Chairman on 20 July. He emphasized that in the past eight months, only urgent and telephone sessions were held. In order for problems to be solved, we must hold regular sessions – Komsic concludes.
Trivic: Cvijanovic defends Dodik’s idea about merging functions of RS President and Serb member of B&H Presidency without supporting arguments (BN TV)
PDP Vice-President and representative in the RS parliament Jelena Trivic criticized SNSD Vice-President and RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic on Saturday for her support to SNSD leader and Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik’s idea about merging the functions of the RS President and the Serb member of the B&H Presidency. In her comment, Trivic said that Cvijanovic – who served as the minister and the Prime Minister in the RS government in the past and is currently the RS President – has shown the willingness to defend her “political party boss” with claims lacking any supporting arguments, as well as political illiteracy. According to Trivic, it is particularly concerning that the RS President is defending this idea, when she lost the direct elections for the Serb member of the Presidency in the past. “Furthermore, Mrs. Cvijanovic said that, in this way, the RS would have someone to participate in processes related to international representation, foreign policy, defense policy, etc. I would not want to make insinuations, but this sounds as if, with Dodik as the current Presidency member, there is no one to represent the RS in those processes”, the PDP Vice-President assessed. The PDP Vice-President noted that “it is scandalous” for the RS President to state that an institution of the RS would automatically become an institution of B&H in that respect. She concluded that this idea is absurd and undermines the RS and its institutions.
Cvijanovic responds to Trivic’s accusing her of political illiteracy (RTRS)
RTRS reported about new reactions to the idea of leader of SNSD and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik on merging of positions of a Serb member of B&H Presidency and RS President. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic (SNSD) stated that this would mean that the institution of the RS President would have additional competence in defining of foreign policy and the issue from the defense area, while PDP’s Jelena Trivic argued that this humiliates the RS. According to Trivic, this idea is pointless and a constitutional change is necessary in order to make it applicable in practice. In her opinion, Cvijanovic defends ideas of Dodik but without any arguments because in this way she shows that she is “politically illiterate”. Cvijanovic reacted by saying that “political illiteracy of Jelena Trivic is stunning. As a representative, she should read conclusions of the RS parliament even when she did not vote for them. There is no conclusion that speaks about a peaceful dissolution but about future of B&H. It is natural to delegate this topic to the other entity and to the constituent peoples, like it is natural that a representative in the assembly in which she receives a salary, knows what kind of conclusions this institution is reaching.” Cvijanovic also said that what is unnatural is that the party of Trivic, PDP, absolutely agrees with leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic – who hates the RS and everything that is non-Bosniak’s – about any topic in any kind of circumstances. Cvijanovic added: “First, I said that the constitutional change according to which the RS President would perform the position of a member of the B&H Presidency will not happen because Bosniak politicians would never accept this because they know what Trivic does not know.” Cvijanovic explained that she is talking about direct representation of the first RS institution in state affairs, i.e. in joint institutions of B&H, while Trivic is talking about direct election of two candidates for two positions. In her opinion, this is not humiliation of the RS but obtaining additional competences and strengthening of the institution of the RS President.
Govedarica: Idea about merging functions of RS President and Serb member of B&H Presidency perfidiously aims to improve Dodik’s rating (BN TV)
Member of the SDS Presidency Vukota Govedarica commented on Saturday on Chairman and Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik’s idea about merging the functions of the RS President and the Serb member of the B&H Presidency. Govedarica assessed that this idea “perfidiously aims” to improve Dodik’s rating, which the SDS Presidency member claims to be very bad and to conceal “the reality that Dodik is SNSD’s biggest weakness”. Govedarica noted that there is general impression that the RS opposition’s victory in the local elections in Banja Luka is a clear indicator that the public perceives Dodik as the election loser and that they are fed up with “his self-will”. Govedarica was quoted as saying: “The statement of (RS President) Zeljka Cvijanovic that the amendments to the Election Law should enable merging of functions of the RS President and the Serb member of the B&H Presidency is debatable on multiple levels. I consider that this Dodik’s idea, which Cvijanovic unequivocally supports, is not intended for practical implementation but rather aims to create a fake image that Dodik is the only certain winner of the next elections”.
Dodik on Djukanovic’s statements in Slovakia: Djukanovic is personal towards SPC because it is one of the reasons he lost power (ATV)
Statements of Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic presented at forum on Western Balkans recently held in Slovakia sparked harsh reactions. Among other things, Djukanovic said that Serbia has been causing instability in the region, adding that Russia is supporting it in this regard. He also stated that Serb Orthodox Church (SPC) has been carrying out clerical fascism. Djukanovic accused Serbia of trying to present protection of interests of Serbs in Montenegro as a legitimate goal. He underlined that amending of Montenegro Law on Freedom of Religion came in the wrong period adding that SPC used its resources to manipulate with this issue and to present it as a tool to achieve Greater Serbia interests. The President of Montenegro underlined that Montenegro is testifying deformity where SPC became a political actor and carrier of retrograde ideology. Democratic Front in Montenegro reacted to abovementioned claims and said that Djukanovic was the biggest Serb, Russophile and believer for as long as it was suitable for him. DF’s Andrija Mandic underlined that the struggle of Serbs in Montenegro would be much more difficult if they could not rely on Serbia and the RS. Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik also reacted to Djukanovic’s statements. Dodik said that Djukanovic is conducting the policy of defamation, adding that he has been presenting himself as a supreme interpreter of all developments despite of the fact that he has been best known over last several years as someone depriving Montenegro citizens of fundamental human rights. He went on to saying that the President of Montenegro is personal towards SPC, because he lost power due to an inappropriate conflict with SPC. Dodik claims that Djukanovic lost power because he has been attempting to make Serbs change their identity. The Chairman of the B&H Presidency concluded that it is legitimate for Serbia as a serious country to preserve interests of all Serbs in the region. “Is completely that legitimate that Serbia, as a serious state, protects interests of all Serbs in the region”. Dodik commended moves carried out by Serbia and its President Aleksandar Vucic, arguing that they harm nobody.
Covic: 2022 elections cannot take place if there were no changes to B&H Election Law (Vecernji list)
HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic is convinced that the talks on changes to B&H Election Law will result in a solution adding that this job must be done during this, non-election year. Asked what is the reason for such optimism, Covic said that his optimism is the result of the talks with many international institutions and talks with B&H politicians. He also said that their proposal of changes to B&H Election Law precisely and simply defines to adjust the Election Law, with minimal interventions with regard to the Constitution of B&H, in a way that all three constituent peoples elect their member of the B&H Presidency and their Caucus in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) House of Peoples, without any sort of discrimination. Asked if the Croat stances on legitimate representation have understanding of the international representatives, Covic said that all IC representatives that he has talked to understand that B&H’s ground are three constituent peoples and ‘Others’, who declare themselves as such “but there are only about 3% of them according to the latest census”. Covic also noted that no one from the IC brings in question the need that constituent peoples are appropriately present in the authority. Asked if there is change in the US policy towards B&H after a new US President Joe Biden was elected, Covic said: “It is too early to make assessments… I am convinced that everything that the US does now, it does it in a constructive way together with all of us. To what extent this process will get dynamics in B&H probably mostly depends on us” He added that the leading people of the new US administration have made it clear that “we” in B&H must pass solutions, that “we” must reach agreements and compromises and that they are partners who will help us. Covic added that he fully supports this stance. As for the coming of new High Representative Christian Schmidt, Covic said that it is crucial that he has support of Germany. He added that he talked with Schmidt in Dubrovnik recently and they stated that they want to be partners and look for solutions for the future of B&H. Covic said that the role of the OHR will go in direction of transformation of its position when B&H gets the status of the EU candidate. Covic also noted that Croatia can help a lot so that Croats win their rights. He added that neither Croatian President Zoran Milanovic nor Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic deal with internal issues in B&H adding that they are European leaders and politicians who want that B&H functions. Asked about harsh reactions of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic to the recent visit of Milanovic, Covic said: “I am surprised with such statements. Izetbegovic must understand that B&H as a state and Bosniak people do not have a bigger friend than Croatia is” Covic said that diplomatic engagement and lobbying of Croatian officials in the EU and NATO institutions means a lot for Croats in B&H. Covic concluded that 2022 elections cannot take place if there were no changes to B&H Election Law. Covic also noted that 97% of elections at all authority levels are conducted according to the civic principle. As for accusations that he is “a Russian player” Covic said: “In a long run I only see the Euro-Atlantic path of B&H and there is no other perspective…We want to have friends in Russia, China and Turkey but our path is European one and this is imperative that we shall not give up on.” According to Covic, he has had excellent cooperation with SNSD leader Milorad Dodik for many years although they disagree on some issues. He added that he wishes to have the same cooperation with Bosniak colleagues. He also said that he will do his best that cooperation with Bosniaks is at sincere and brotherly level and this will be one of his priorities as long as he is engaged in politics. He believes that in the European future of B&H adding that a lot depends on us when this path is in question.
Biden on meeting with Merkel: We also talked about importance of further integration of Western Balkans in European institutions (Jutarnji list)
Jutarnji list reports on the meeting of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Joe Biden. Speaking about this meeting, Biden said: “We are united in dedication to deal with many problems such as corruption and fake populism in our countries, in the EU and in the EU candidate countries or anywhere in the world.” The daily noted that there is also the Western Balkans adding that Biden confirms the political platform published last week, whose propriety is the strike at corruption forces in the society in order to encourage political changes. Biden also said: “We also talked about the importance of further integration of the Western Balkans in European institutions”. Nezavisne novine reported on the meeting and the author comments that our region has always been a subject of talks of Merkel and Biden. According to the author, this illustrates that the Western Balkans has become again one of more important, world, geo-political issues. A daily’s source close to the US foreign policy establishment stated that Merkel earned credit with Biden when she refused many times to sign a direct trade agreement with the USA, that former US President Donald Trump insisted on. The article reads that even before Biden’s victory Merkel asked from the USA to cede to Europe the European neighborhood including the Western Balkans and Biden agreed with this under condition that Germany preserves its harsh attitude towards Russia after which the idea on a new, German High Representative emerged and the US support to ‘Mini Schengen’. The daily learns that Merkel also talked about the support to the new HR with Russian President Vladimir Putin but he told her to discuss this matter with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Political analyst Tanja Topic says that the dedication of the USA and Germany to the Western Balkans is reflected in the US support to new HR Christian Schmidt, as well as in the announcement that the USA could sanction corrupted B&H officials. She noted that the societies in the region are faced with erosion and that collapse threatens them if they do not get help from aside. She concluded that this care of Washington shows that intentions of these countries are much more serious than some hope for.
Djukanovic: There are attempts to revive 1990s’ nationalist policies in region, Serb Orthodox Church bears responsibility for genocide in Srebrenica (GLOBSEC)
Addressing the conference of the global think-tank GLOBSEC on the topic ‘Western Balkans: The Key Puzzle Piece of the European Security’, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic touched upon the situation in the Western Balkan region, including B&H. Djukanovic warned that nowadays there are attempts to revive the 1990s’ nationalist policies of creating ‘Greater Croatia’, ‘Greater Serbia’, and ‘Greater Albania’. “When we observe how Serbia treats the region, that role is potentially destructive, because Serbia has gone back to the policies from the early 1990s. Serbia is there to preserve interests of Serbs living across the region. That is the same mistake that (former Serbian President) Slobodan Milosevic made in the 1990s, and we know what happened in B&H, and what later happened in The Hague”, the Montenegrin President said. The Montenegrin President also criticized the Serb Orthodox Church, accusing it of, among other things, responsibility for the genocide in Srebrenica. He referred to the church as “a dangerous tool in the hands of retrograde nationalism”, concluding: “We need to direct political responsibility and attention to them (the church), if we want to eliminate destructive forces, which threaten peace and stability in the Western Balkans.”
Korcok: Djukanovic is fighting for Montenegro (CdM)
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is fighting for Montenegro and it’s clear that he represents a guarantee of Montenegro’s EU aspirations and undoubtedly sees its future in the EU, Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korcok said. According to the office of the President of Montenegro, Djukanovic was a guest at a lunch organized in his honor by Korcok himself. The Minister welcomed Djukanovic and voiced his satisfaction over the opportunity to continue with their recent talks from Podgorica. They also had a long conversation concerning the situation in the EU, Korcok added. Djukanovic thanked for the warm welcome and initiative for the visit, pointing out to the importance of the talks in Bratislava in the year marking 15 years of independence and diplomatic relations between the two countries, but also in terms of a continuous exchange of views with friends at a time important for defining further support of Slovakia to Montenegro and the Western Balkans.
EC warned: Maritime border dispute between Montenegro and Albania still pending (Dan)
The European Commission (EC) has warned that the maritime demarcation issue between Montenegro and Albania hasn’t been solved yet. This information was noted in the latest EC progress report on Montenegro, thus confirming that the dispute with Croatia over the Prevlaka peninsula near Dubrovnik is not the only open issue the official Podgorica should deal with, writes Dan daily. “The relations with Albania remain good along with slight improvements in infrastructure and cross-border cooperation. The maritime border dispute between the two countries is still pending. The first meeting of the Interstate Commission for Water Management was held in September 2019” the EC noted. As for bilateral relations, the report suggests, a series of high-level visits was held between Montenegro and other countries in the enlargement process as well as the neighboring EU member states.
Abazovic-Rama meeting: Let’s not change boundaries, let them be invisible (RTCG)
During a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said it was our duty to “take a step forward”. “Our duty is to take a step forward, because our countries have a huge tourist potential. Let’s not change the borders, let’s make them invisible,” Abazovic said after meeting with Rama, at whose invitation he is staying in Tirana.
In a conversation with Rama, Abazovic stated that the overall interstate relations are very good, based on the principles of friendship and cooperation, strengthened by the partnership in the Alliance and common goals at the regional level and the European perspective. He emphasized the need to strengthen economic relations, implement joint projects and valorize numerous potentials, which is a significant space for further cooperation. The Albanian Prime Minister said that both countries have a clear vision of a European and prosperous future, which they have shown with their full membership in NATO and their efforts to be part of the EU. Abazovic and Rama agreed that a joint project to build a bridge on Bojana, between Stoja and Velipoja, would greatly contribute to people’s mobility and attract foreign investors in the attractive area.
Abazovic in the parliament of Albania: We want to promote a policy of peace and cooperation in the region (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)
Montenegro wants the best possible relations in the neighborhood, to continue to promote the policy of peace and cooperation, but also to take concrete steps, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic after a meeting with Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party in the Parliament of Albania Taulant Balla. Abazovic pointed out that Montenegro and Albania are facing similar challenges today, through their full membership in NATO and the desire to be part of the EU. Speaking about the improvement of relations, Abazovic pointed out that infrastructure projects are extremely important for connecting the citizens of the two countries. In that sense, Abazovic emphasized the importance of building a joint bridge between Stoj and Velipoje, but also the potential of the Blue Corridor for connecting the countries of the Western Balkans.
Abazovic meets with President Meta (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)
Overall bilateral relations in the Balkans should be given new energy and additional impetus, with a completely different approach, free from the burden of the past, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic after a meeting with President of the Republic of Albania Ilir Meta.
Abazovic stated that the two countries are characterized by a good neighborly policy, oriented towards the European perspective of the Western Balkans. In that sense, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that Montenegro, as the country that has advanced the most in the EU negotiation process, is ready to provide expert, technical and any other type of assistance to Albania in achieving the goals from the European agenda. Abazovic pointed out that Montenegro’s efforts are aimed at further progress in the field of rule of law, as the backbone of the negotiation chapter, and that certain results have been achieved in that sense, but that greater determination of all competent institutions is needed in the coming period. Abazovic expressed great satisfaction with the current tourist season, emphasizing that it exceeds all expectations.
Abazovic meets with opposition leader in Albania: Region needs to change its image (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)
The region needs permanent communication in order to change its image in the future, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic at a meeting with Chairman of the Democratic Party of Albania and opposition leader Lulzim Basha. Chairman of the Democratic Party Basha spoke about the current political situation in Albania, the parliamentary elections held in April this year and the biggest problems facing Albania at the moment. Basha used the opportunity to congratulate Deputy Prime Minister Abazovic on returning the property and olive groves to the old owners in Valdanos Bay.
Deputy PM of Montenegro on official visit in Albania (ADN)
Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic is paying an official visit to Tirana. The number two of the Montenegrin government, Abazovic, the first official visit after taking office, was received by the head of state Ilir Meta, and the prime minister Edi Rama. In the meeting with Meta it was emphasized that the partnership in NATO should inspire closer and closer relations between the two countries. According to the number one of the Albanian state, the two Governments have all the possibilities to model this cooperation in conveying the best values of the Alliance. Meta also called for a more inclusive and fair representation of Albanians in the central and local institutions of Montenegro. The meeting paid attention to some concrete projects in support of areas where Albanians live, such as: the soon opening of the Border Crossing Point in Grabon, the possibility of cooperation for the opening of the Border Crossing Point Skejë – Zogaj, the reconstruction of the burned school in the village of Dacaj in Rozhaja, the bridge over the river Buna and the employment of Albanians in central and local institutions.