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Belgrade Media Report 28 July

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LOCAL PRESS

Stefanovic: Grateful for Indonesia’s consistent stand on Kosovo and Metohija (Novosti)
Economic cooperation between Serbia, Azerbaijan to be upgraded to higher level (RTS/Tanjug)
Dacic: Inzko’s decision is aimed against interests of Serb people (TV Pink/Tanjug)
Fabrizi on Serbia’s path to EU: It takes time (RTS/B92)
Lompar: Government has created monstrous concoction of elitism, primitivism; the national facade serves to abandon national interests step by step (Beta)
It takes three for happiness in B&H (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H Criminal Code amendments published in B&H Official Gazette (Nova BH)
B&H HoR’s session cancelled due to Serb representatives’ boycott of work of state institutions (Nova BH)
OHR comments blockade of B&H institutions (Nova BH)
Komsic: I understand difficult emotions that hit parties from RS because some of their basic ideas are defeated (Hayat)
Dodik will not attend sessions of B&H Presidency (RTRS)
Niksic asks Inzko to suspend salaries for RS representatives who boycott state institutions (Dnevni avaz)
RS parliament set to hold special session (Nova BH/RTRS)
Inzko: RS representatives will start work in B&H institutions soon (AJB)
US Embassy in B&H says US fully supports essential role and mandate of OHR and looks forward to working with new HR Christian Schmidt (FTV)
Croatia

Plenkovic: Croatia will do everything to help B&H (HRT)
New location announced for Operation Storm celebrations (HRT)
Plenkovic: Not all cabinet members will go to Knin this year (Hina)
Montenegro

DPS and SDP: Two extraordinary own goals (CdM)
SDP and URA silent about the Serbian World in Tivat (Gradski portal)
Meeting of ruling majority unlikely to happen until mid-August (Dan)
Republic of North Macedonia

Rift between VMRO and Levica grows wider (Republika)
Zaev denies claims from Sofia that he is violating the rights of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia (Republika)
Government meets to prepare the events marking the Ohrid Framework Treaty (Republika)
Meeting of the three Mini Schengen countries in Skopje (Republika)
Albania

Ruci received the Ambassador of Kosovo: Albania is by your side to face today’s and future challenges; the EU is the only destination (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Stefanovic: Grateful for Indonesia’s consistent position on Kosovo and Metohija (Novosti

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic met on Tuesday with the delegation representing the Indonesian Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency, led by Lieutenant General Joni Supriyanto, the Head of the Agency. Stefanovic said that Serbia was grateful to Indonesia for its support and consistent position regarding the non-recognition of the so-called Kosovo. He expressed hope that military scientific and military-technical cooperation would continue, and invited Indonesian side to visit the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Belgrade, as well as the “Partner” Weapons and Military Equipment Fair in early October in order to jointly develop new technologies. General Supriyanto conveyed the Indonesian Defense Minister’s cordial greetings to Stefanovic and emphasized his desire to improve military-technological cooperation. At the end of the meeting, the Head of the Indonesian Armed Forces Strategic Intelligence Agency expressed hope that Minister Stefanovic would visit Indonesia. General Supriyanto thanked the Director of the Military Intelligence Agency, Brigadier General Zoran Stojkovic, for the warm welcome. The meeting, which was held in the Old General Staff’s Small War Hall, was also attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Mochammad Chandra Widya Yudha.

Economic cooperation between Serbia, Azerbaijan to be upgraded to higher level (RTS/Tanjug

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Economic Cooperation and Trade, co-chaired by Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic and the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Azerbaijan Sahil Babayev was held on the third day of Selakovic’s official visit to Azerbaijan. After the meeting, Selakovic pointed out that bilateral political relations and strategic partnership are at a very high level, and especially underlined that the excellent friendly relations between the two presidents make a significant contribution to such cooperation. He said that the main conclusion of the sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee is that it is necessary to raise the level of economic cooperation and trade exchange to the level at which our political relations are. Babayev and I have shown readiness to give a new quality in the work of the Intergovernmental Committee, we want to identify additional areas in which we can have good cooperation and achieve good results, said Selakovic and added that he talked with Babayev about President Aliyev’s visit to Belgrade in October. Selakovic pointed out that economic cooperation and trade tend to grow, that they are still at a modest level, and that additional efforts are needed to intensify them.

He also said that Minister Babayev informed him about the donation of Azerbaijan, which will be implemented in the next period, but that the public will be informed about it by the two presidents during the visit in October. Babayev pointed out that he agreed with Selakovic that the political relations between the two countries are at the highest level and that it is necessary for economic cooperation to reach that level. Also, Babayev sent an invitation to Serbian companies to take part in the reconstruction in the post-conflict areas in Azerbaijan.

Dacic: Inzko’s decision is aimed against interests of Serb people (TV Pink/Tanjug)

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic said that decision of outgoing High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko to impose amendments to the law, by which denial of genocide is punishable, is unnecessary and is targeted against interests of the Serb people. According to Dacic, the move in question is not good, but irritating and causes divisions. He further noted that this establishes that the Serb people is genocidal, which is not true.  Dacic said he expected the inter-party dialogue on improving the electoral process to resume by the end of the week, noting that the dialogue “has been entering the phase” when certain agreements could be reached. Dacic told TV Pink that his statement referred to the dialogue with the opposition without international mediation, adding that “no one can tell” whether the possible agreements would be in line with someone’s expectations. Dacic also said that the dialogue on improvements to the electoral process had been conducted on two tracks. As for the track B dialogue with the opposition, mediated by MEPs, participants “should provide some proposals by 1 September,” according to Dacic. Dacic also noted that the election laws had not been changed since 2000, adding that the goal of the inter-party dialogue was to return politics to where it belonged, the institutions.

Fabrizi on Serbia’s path to EU: It takes time (RTS/B92

Outgoing EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi stated on Tuesday that no new chapter in the accession negotiations with the EU has been opened in a year and a half due to the pandemic. He added that the reason for that was the change in methodology, pointing out that he was convinced that Serbia would move forward by the end of the year. Fabrizi told RTS that he believes that the new clusters will be opened, reminding that Belgrade received an incentive for that at the last intergovernmental conference in Luxembourg. “At the conference in June, we see a positive message – reforms are starting again, Serbia is strengthening the dynamics of reforms and that new clusters should be opened by the end of the year. That is an opportunity, we should focus on that,” Fabrizi said. Speaking about the criticism of the part concerning the reforms in the rule of law, judiciary, freedom of the media and the fight against organized crime and corruption, Fabrizi notes that these are fundamental, priority things. “They are the most difficult to achieve, so it takes time. The new enlargement methodology provides an opportunity to speed it up a bit and make it easier because it is easier to monitor progress through clusters,” Fabrizi said, adding that he was convinced that progress in the second half would be more tangible and will be seen in the Commission’s report. Fabrizi reiterates that dialogue with Pristina is a key element for Serbia’s EU accession, emphasizing that Brussels is doing everything to make it a success.

“The last round of dialogue was perhaps the most difficult of all. The two sides must be committed to it. Dialogue is a key element for the stability of the region and Serbia’s EU accession. There is great interest in the dialogue succeeding, and the EU is doing its best to achieve it”, Fabrizi points out. Responding to criticism that the conditions for joining the EU seem like a moving target, Fabrizi claims that the conditions in Brussels are stable and do not change, and that at this moment there is enough clarity in Serbia’s European path. “It is known what this is about – dialogue with Pristina, rule of law, economic reforms, public procurement, subsidies, state aid are things that need to be worked on. Member countries said at the intergovernmental conference that no new clusters have been opened yet, but that things are moving in a positive direction,” Fabrizi explains. Fabrizi considers the inter-party dialogue on election conditions, which is mediated by the members of the European Parliament, to be good. “I expect concrete ideas to be presented at the next meeting in September in order to reach an agreement on some points,” Fabrizi said. He also pointed out that small Schengen is important, primarily due to the free regional flow of goods and the abolition of roaming. “The process of joining the EU greatly facilitates the possibility for Brussels to deal with the entire area of ​​the Western Balkans and for everything to be in line with European standards,” Fabrizi concluded.

Lompar: Government has created monstrous concoction of elitism, primitivism; the national facade serves to abandon national interests step by step (Beta)   

Milo Lompar, a professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Philology, said on Tuesday that all levels of government in Serbia were connected by a network of corruption that was eating away at society and attacking any sense of solidarity. In an interview with Beta, Lompar said that today

Serbia was only a democratic country governed by rule of law on paper. “In the real sense, a civilizational regression is at work: the opposition has been expelled from the parliamentary and public space, and the judiciary is following the decisions of the executive authorities in important contents. We remember the shameful decision of the Constitutional Court to declare its incompetence regarding the Brussels agreement,” the professor assessed. He added that the media are mostly under the control of the government, “except for some that are under the control of Western factors”. Asked how he saw the authorities’ results in the past ten years, Lompar stressed that, in a national sense, the government had committed political treason, while as for the media, it had created a homogeneous public mind and destroyed all of the levels of civilized communication. “In a cultural sense, it has created a monstrous concoction of elitism and primitivism. I do not believe its economic pronouncements, like I do not accept its cash gifts. What makes this government special is a simulacrum: the national facade serves to abandon national interests step by step,” the professor said. He said that the main speaker of the ruling simulacrum was Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. “The range of his statements from national to anti-national carries over to all levels of government, because everyone repeats them. This kind of social pathology destroys the public’s power of reasoning. Without reasoning, there is no possibility for democracy,” Lompar underscored. Asked how he assesses the attitude of the current government towards Kosovo and Metohija and what the final outcome he expects, the professor said that the government, with the Brussels and Washington agreements, did everything it could. “They said: I will not give Gazivode and – they gave. They said: there are war criminals in the Kosovo government, and they entered into a coalition with them. Now they are only left with agreeing with Kosovo’s place in the UN. The main obstacle here is the Russian veto,” said Lompar. He added that if Russia gives up that veto, guided by its deals and interests, the government in Serbia will get a perfect alibi for that act. “As this does not seem likely now, it seems that Western factors are trying to gradually change the ambience around this decision: for all EU members to recognize illegal and NATO territory separated from Serbia and to secure a place in UNESCO and Interpol. The new ambience should provide a new decision,” the professor said.

It takes three for happiness in B&H (Politika, by Dusanka Stanisic)

Following Monday’s meeting of Serb leaders on Valentin Inzko’s decision to prohibit genocide denial, leader of Independent Bloc Senad Sepic expressed his regret that the Republika Srpska (RS) “spoke in a single voice” on this occasion and noted that “it is a pity that the RS opposition allowed itself to be used as a life belt for saving of Dodik’s regime”. However, Sepic admitted that it would have been best for everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) had the law been adopted in the parliament of B&H. “Obviously, we need the international tutorship for matters which represent the basic principles and values of democracy and modern society,” Sepic said. SDP B&H leader Nermin Niksic too expressed his regret and said: “It was proven again that there are no differences between the ruling and so-called opposition parties in the RS when it comes to their stance on B&H institutions,” Niksic stated.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

B&H Criminal Code amendments published in B&H Official Gazette (Nova BH 

 

The decision of outgoing HR Valentin Inzko on introduction of amendments to the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) on banning the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals and their crimes – genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity – was published in the Official Gazette of B&H on Tuesday. This means that the decision will enter force on Wednesday, a day after the publication in the Official Gazette. Among other things, the amendments stipulate prison sentences for the denial of genocide ranging between six months to five years in prison.  

  

B&H HoR’s session cancelled due to Serb representatives’ boycott of work of state institutions (Nova BH 

  

The B&H House of Representatives (HoR) was scheduled to hold a session on Tuesday, but the session was cancelled due to absence of Serb representatives in the HoR. Namely, Serb representatives both from the ruling majority and the opposition did not attend the session, in compliance with the Monday’s conclusions of the RS-based political parties’ leaders, who agreed that political representatives of Serb people and the RS will not participate in work and decision-making in the B&H institutions. The reason for boycotting work of the B&H institutions lies in their rejection of outgoing Valentin Inzko’s decision to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H on banning the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals and their crimes – genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The RS-based parties concluded that, with the imposed decision of the HR, there are no conditions for work of the Serb representatives in the B&H institutions. The session of the HoR will thus be rescheduled for September, following collective leave that will take place in August. SDA’s representative in the B&H HoR Adil Osmanovic stated that there is room to come to an agreement, and he expressed hope that the situation will be resolved by September. “I expect that, by then, our colleagues from the entity of the RS will return to participate in work of the B&H parliament in full capacity,” Osmanovic added. SDP B&H’s representative in the B&H HoR Sasa Magazinovic noted that it is concerning that these representatives do not want to show up to work “just because they are banned from denying genocide”. Magazinovic finds it problematic that the reason for the boycott lies in “the ban on their repeated re-digging of mass graves with their words”. Our Party (NS’) representative in the B&H HoR Predrag Kojovic explained that the Extended Collegium of the B&H HoR agreed to reschedule the session for the beginning of September. On the other hand, SNSD’s Nebojsa Radmanovic, who is deputy speaker of the B&H HoR, was in his Cabinet in the parliament but he complied with the RS-based parties’ decision and did not go to the assembly hall. Radmanovic noted that this is the right decision, assessing that it is important to remain united against “major, wrong decisions made by people from the outside”. SDS leader and representative in the B&H HoR Mirko Sarovic was also in the parliament building but refused to attend the session. Sarovic noted that the Serb representatives will be in the parliament, but the decision-making will be problematic. According to Sarovic, all representatives who show up at the parliament should receive the salaries they are entitled to. “There are no dilemmas about that”, he stressed. PDP leader and representative in the B&H HoR Branislav Borenovic sarcastically said that Inzko has several more days left to take away the Serb representatives’ salaries, ban them from working, impose a budget or some laws, and then to go home. Borenovic accused Inzko of causing complete chaos in B&H. SNSD representative in B&H HoR Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac stated that the RS representative were forced to react the way they did and anyone who imposed decisions rather than those made by elected officials and the citizens is actually ruining B&H. DF representative in B&H HoR Dzenan Djonlagic said that it was sad to see the situation developing as it did because this was an opportunity to make a step forward in B&H. The reporter stressed that upcoming session of the House of Peoples of B&H (B&H HoP) will not be held as well. The reporter noted that adoption of the 2021 budget, amendments to the law on excises, proposal of the law on prevention of conflict of interests and many other important documents are put on hold indefinitely. Speaker of the B&H HoP and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic explained that the HoP Collegium reached a decision to cancel the planned session, because holding it in absence of Serb delegates would be a waste of time and money. When it comes to journalists’ question about his opinion on how far the Serb political representatives are willing to go with the blockade, Izetbegovic replied that he still has not met with SNSD leader Milorad Dodik to talk about this, but he did not provide any indications that the meeting could take place soon. Izetbegovic assessed that there should be no support for heightening of tensions. “We should not add oil to fire. We should allow for the situation to calm down. The HR will stay, and the Bonn powers will remain. The institutions will start working again, the sooner – the better”, the HoP speaker underscored. He expressed hope that there will be more mutual understanding in B&H in the future, in order to be able to turn B&H into a country that will no longer require the HR. He believes that will be possible once the B&H authorities are able to lead the country responsibly and efficiently, alone.  Commenting on the amendments that the outgoing High Representative Inzko imposed, Izetbegovic said that “part of the international community (IC) did not support it, there were pressures on Mr. Inzko not to do this”, but he thinks that these things must simply be done. Izetbegovic added: “We did not have the strength, primarily Serb representatives to do this thing on our own. We tried it several times. This must be done. B&H cannot move forward, it cannot be a civilized country with such retrograde relations. Actually, Mr. Inzko helped us all including Serb representatives.”  

 

OHR comments blockade of B&H institutions (Nova BH 

 

Failure to hold the sessions of both Houses of the B&H parliament, which were expected to take place this week, indicates that adoption of the 2021 budget of B&H institutions and international obligations will remain on hold for the duration of the newly-emerged political crisis. In a statement from the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the OHR warned that whoever paralyzes the institutions of B&H is doing a disservice to the citizens. The OHR called on everyone to unblock this process, reminding that the 2021 state budget should have been adopted at the end of 2020.  

  

Komsic: I understand difficult emotions that hit parties from RS because some of their basic ideas are defeated (Hayat 

 

Member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic reacted on Tuesday to the latest developments in the RS and the meeting of political parties held on Monday. Komsic said: “I understand difficult emotions that hit the bloc of political parties from the RS because some of their basic ideas were defeated. Those who lose, have the right to be angry. They will stop being angry sooner or later. This will be alright.”  

  

Dodik will not attend sessions of B&H Presidency (RTRS 

 

Spokesperson for SNSD Radovan Kovacevic denied claims of Sarajevo-based media that member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik will attend meeting between members of B&H Presidency and Christian Schmidt. Kovacevic emphasized that agreement reached on Monday by the RS parliamentary parties is of extreme importance for Dodik and SNSD, adding that this agreement will be respected. The agreement reached between all RS parties on Monday will be respected and it is very important to Dodik, said Kovacevic. Dodik also announced that he would not participate in the work of the B&H Presidency.  

  

Niksic asks Inzko to suspend salaries for RS representatives who boycott state institutions (Dnevni avaz 

 

SDP leader Nermin Niksic addressed a letter to Valentin Inzko, asking him to suspend salary payments to all the RS representatives who refuse to participate in work of B&H institutions. “I call on High Representative to pass the decision suspending payment of salaries and contributions to all elected, appointed and employed officials in B&H institutions at all levels who decide to deliberately boycott their work duties, because such approach is preventing functioning of the institutions of the system,” Niksic wrote in his letter.  

  

RS parliament set to hold special session (Nova BH/RTRS 

 

The Collegium of the RS parliament scheduled a special session for Friday to discuss two legislative solutions in response to outgoing HR Valentin Inzko’s decision to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H on banning the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals. The agenda of the session, which will be closed for public – under the explanation that it should not serve for scoring political points, includes the proposal of the law on non-implementation of the HR’s decision on introduction of amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H, as well as the proposal of amendments to the Criminal Code of the RS (both in urgent procedure). These two law proposals are based on the conclusions, which the RS-based political parties reached at Monday’s meeting in Banja Luka. The first law proposal related to non-implementation of the HR’s decision means that the amendments to the Criminal Code imposed by Inzko would not be implemented in the RS, while the second law proposal refers to amendments to the criminal legislation of the RS. According to certain information, there is a proposal to define that referring to the RS as a genocidal creation is a criminal offense. Following the RSNA Collegium’s session, RS officials commented for media on whether they will be meeting with the newly-appointed HR Christian Schmidt once he arrives. RS speaker and DEMOS leader Nedeljko Cubrilovic said that RS’ political representatives will not be meeting with Schmidt officially, but further assessments will be made when it comes to unofficial meeting. “You cannot avoid meeting with the man if you see him in a café”, he added. RS deputy speaker and United Srpska Vice-President Milan Petkovic noted that the outgoing HR’s decision is “an anti-civilizational act and a violation of international law”. According to Petkovic, it is disputable that B&H is still called a democratic state even though laws are being imposed. RS SNSD’s representative Dusica Solaja pointed out that “many things will be clearer to the public” after the RS parliament’s session on Friday. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic suggested that the amendments to the Criminal Code of the RS should ban calling the RS a genocidal creation. Head of the RS PDP Caucus Perica Bundalo noted that, in his opinion, it will be impossible to avoid any sort of communication with Schmidt. “However, we have a clear stance about imposing of decisions and cooperation” Bundalo added. Head of the RS SDS Caucus Miladin Stanic commented on the possibility of meeting with Schmidt, by saying: “Officially, we should stick to the conclusions. As a man, I think we should talk to everyone.” RS SDS’ representative Ivanka Markovic noted that she finds use of the term genocidal to refer to Serb people and the RS as an insult. Markovic stressed that it is also an insult to refer to the RS as “the smaller entity”. RTRS noted that the RS parliament will also discuss proposal of two regulations. One of these regulations is amendment to the Criminal Code of the RS that stipulates sanctions against those describing the RS as genocidal creation or describing Serbs as genocidal people. Other is law proposed by the United Srpska that pronounces latest decision of Inzko invalid in territory of the RS. RTRS said that their proposal stipulates Inzko’s decision will not be implemented in territory of the RS and competent institutions of the RS will not cooperate with competent institutions of B&H in regards to Inzko’s decision.  RS heads of caucuses underlined that the RS needs unity. They agreed that Friday session will be closed for the public, in order to avoid possible attempt of anyone to misuse it for personal promotion. Bundalo said that political parties in the RS should adopt principle to reach internal agreement before providing necessary response in situations like current one. Reporter noted that legal experts participate in creation of abovementioned regulations. One of them is university professor and SDS’ MP Markovic, who stated that text of proposed laws will be in line with European standards. Asked whether these laws will violate freedom of speech, Markovic said that criminal codes of countries like Slovenia and Croatia have incriminations about violation of reputation of state or peoples.  

 

Inzko: RS representatives will start work in B&H institutions soon (AJB 

 

Outgoing HR Valentin Inzko, asked to comment on reactions from the RS to his decision, said that it is best to ask RS politicians about their reactions and he does not know what will follow in the upcoming days. He added that the reactions were expected and some are less harsh than they expected. Inzko believes that representatives of the RS in B&H institutions will return to work very soon, maybe even during the discussion on the adoption of the budget of B&H for 2021.   

Inzko commended Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for his measured reaction and his call for cooperation between Serbs and Bosniaks. Asked whether good relations between countries are not more important than relations between people, Inzko said that relations need to be on a good and high level, especially on high diplomatic levels. Asked about his opinion on the behavior of the RS opposition in regards to the issue, Inzko said that he is surprised, primarily by President of SDS Mirko Sarovic. He reminded that at the beginning of his mandate, some 40 politicians were on certain lists and he cleaned up this list in the first year or two after his arrival. Inzko stressed that one of those politicians was Sarovic and he expected a different relation. He highlighted that the goal of the law is to move forward and deal with the past. Inzko commented on criticism for his late reactions to the glorification of war criminals, saying that former RS president and convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic was officially convicted for genocide in March of 2019 and he could not have requested the removal of the plaque honoring him in pale before. He added that he had to wait for the second instance verdict against general of the RS Army and convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic in June of 2021. Inzko said that as soon as Mladic was convicted, he informed the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) about his plans to impose amendments. Asked about the support of the international community for his decision, Inzko said that everyone opposed the glorification of war criminals, but some countries had reservations towards the usage of Bonn Powers and advocated the solution to be found domestically in B&H. He stressed that he saw no other possibility because his conscience implored him to do it and they waited for 10 years for the domestic solution to be found.   

Inzko stated that HDZ B&H’s Borjana Kristo stated that it was a shame that B&H politicians did not adopt the amendments themselves and reminded that her party voted against the adoption of such a law in the B&H parliament. He added that it was not him who declared who committed crimes and where, but it was international courts who did this and he turned these decisions into the law. Asked about criticism regarding the fact that he did not use Bonn Powers during his mandate, Inzko said that every citizen in B&H has the opportunity to elect someone else and make a choice at every election, but they decided to choose the same political actors for 10 years and more. Reporter commented on the fact that the international community has a certain responsibility towards B&H, to which Inzko replied that B&H politicians have responsibility as well. He stated that the great contradiction lies in the fact that B&H wishes to join the EU, while at the same time citizens and some politicians demand the intervention of the international community in B&H. Asked about his communication with new High Representative Christian Schmidt and whether he has recommendations for him, Inzko said that during his mandate the principle was to apply less of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) and more of Brussel politics. He added that the 12 years of his mandate were the years of domestic solutions and that he received the so-called “5+2 Plan” which proposed the soon closing of the OHR. Inzko stressed that the three priorities he has for Schmidt are all Rule of Law. He added that he will highlight the need to maintain strict control over the work and appointment of new judges and prosecutors. Inzko said that the OHR conducted a research of the public opinion on the B&H judiciary and the results will be published in several days. He stressed that the opinion of around 1,500 citizens who answered this inquiry were devastatingly bad. Asked about how the recent decisions made by RS representatives will affect their relations with Schmidt, Inzko said that he is certain the RS will cooperate with Schmidt and he has information that Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik will attend the first meeting of B&H Presidency members with Schmidt. He assessed that Schmidt will respect all presidency members and he will expect them to show respect to him as well. Inzko said that the argument that Schmidt’s mandate is not legitimate is not valid, since he himself had the mandate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and he was criticized that he was doing illegal business. He added that the mandate of the UNSC is not necessary for the HR and previous HR Christian Schwarz-Schilling did not have one, but he was still invited to present his reports twice every year to the UN. Asked whether it is time for B&H to be returned to the list of priorities of the international community, Inzko said that he agrees and he reminded that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it is necessary to move the issue of B&H to a higher position. He reminded that US President Joe Biden was very interested in the issue of B&H in 1992 and 1993 and the combination of him and Brussels will be a good combination for B&H. Inzko stressed that the Western Balkans are important to the EU because of security as well. Western powers, and especially the EU, should approach the reconciliation process in B&H in a new, stronger way, Inzko said. He explained that the approach taken by the international community over the last decade was wrong. “The international community’s stance has failed to produce the desired unity in the country, in part because B&H’s political leaders are not honest,” Inzko assessed.  

  

US Embassy in B&H says US fully supports essential role and mandate of OHR and looks forward to working with new HR Christian Schmidt (FTV 

 

The United States fully supports the essential role and mandate of the OHR, and looks forward to working with incoming HR Christian Schmidt, the US Embassy’s Public Relations Office in B&H said after recent decisions by the RS politicians, which were made in response to decision made by Valentin Inzko. “The perpetrators of crimes are individuals, not the society or the community as a whole. Respect for all victims, as a matter of universally accepted human rights, and a refusal to politicize suffering, will contribute to the reconciliation needed for B&H to move forward,” reads the statement of the US Embassy’s Public Relations Office. The US Embassy also noted that political and religious leaders, as well as education workers and media, have the responsibility to carry out constructive dialogues based on trust, respect and dignity. The US Embassy added that focusing on economic, anti-corruption and reforms in field of rule of law, which will bring more prosperity and progress on B&H’s European path, represent the best way in which politicians can serve their voters. Finally, the US Embassy noted that shutting down of the OHR is not defined by dates, but by fulfillment of criteria that are complementary with securing functionality and stability.  

 

Plenkovic: Croatia will do everything to help B&H (HRT 

 

HRT reported that the situation related to the boycott of institutions in B&H sparked comments and reactions in the region. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that Croatia will do everything to help B&H, adding: “There are many open issues that they always encounter. I believe that the tensions will calm down.” Plenkovic reiterated Croatia’s support to the integral B&H without any possibility of secession.  

  

New location announced for Operation Storm celebrations (HRT 

  

The 26th anniversary of Operation Storm will be organized in accordance with epidemiological measures and the central celebration will be held at the football stadium in Knin, while the ceremonial part will take place at the Knin Fortress, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said on Tuesday. Based on guidance from the Croatian Public Health Institute on compliance with coronavirus restrictions, it has been assessed that the Knin stadium is the best place to organize a dignified commemoration of this important date in our recent history while respecting the epidemiological measures, Medved told a press conference after a meeting of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and relevant cabinet ministers with representatives of the association of retired Croatian army generals. Pavao Miljavac, President of the Croatian Generals Association, said that holding the celebrations at the stadium was a good idea due to the ample space available in order to maintain proper social distancing. “This is a good decision and we support it,” he concluded. Before the commemoration, senior state officials will lay wreaths in front of the monument to the casualties and the 1991-1995 Homeland War. Operation Storm, which culminated with the liberation of Knin on 5 August 1995, recaptured a third of Croatian territory occupied by rebel Serbs.  

 

Plenkovic: Not all cabinet members will go to Knin this year (Hina 

 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that not all members of his cabinet would be attending the commemoration of Victory Day and Day of Homeland Thanksgiving in Knin this year, but added that everyone would be invited for the opening of Peljesac Bridge. “This year not all members of the cabinet will go to Knin. We will see who will. Last year was a round anniversary, the 25th, which was important. It isn’t necessary for the entire cabinet to be there this year,” Plenkovic told reporters when asked if Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic would attend as a representative of the Serb minority. “We will see. It is possible that he won’t be there, we won’t insist,” added Plenkovic after a meeting of the presidency and national council of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). He underscored that last year was the right moment for Milosevic to go to Knin because he had been appointed as deputy prime minister and because it was the 25th anniversary. Asked whether that meant that there won’t be a joint commemoration for the victims in Varivode and Grubori, Plenkovic reiterated that that was a gesture last year and everything that needed to be done last year was done. With reference to the joining of the Peljesac Bridge, Plenkovic underlined that this was an important strategic project and that everyone should be gathered around it regardless of who proposed its construction first.  

What is important is that the document approving the funds for its construction was crucial and that was done four years ago. “With that Croatia will resolve an issue that has been present for more than 300 years and next year we will all be able to travel to Dubrovnik through Croatian territory,” he underscored, adding that everyone will be invited for the opening of the bridge.  

 

DPS and SDP: Two extraordinary own goals (CdM 

  

Resolution of the Montenegrin parliament has prohibited public denial of the Srebrenica genocide. The Montenegrin political caste received applause from the so-called international community for that. Abazovic wandered around Sarajevo and Srebrenica like a peacock, accompanied by about twenty ravens from the National Security Agency, ANB. Becic delivered a historically stupid and stupidly insidious speech. And Djukanovic carried the coffin of a murdered Srebrenica man – he is so sorry that at the time of the genocide, he was on, as it’s euphemistically said today, the “wrong side of history”. In practice, that resolution is a bad, very bad joke causing deep depression instead laugh. Not only there are no sanctions for denying the genocide: mayor or Niksic denied it, and the Democrats refused to deprive him of their political support for mocking the resolution they themselves had voted for. But in Montenegro, as of today, it’s undesirable to witness about the Srebrenica genocide in practice. After the announcement that the brilliant “Quo Vadis, Aida?” movie, directed by Jasmila Zbanic, will be screened at the Green Montenegro International Film Festival in the town of Zabljak, the Mayor of Zabljak, decided to censor the movie about the genocide in Srebrenica. It was not an autocratic gesture, but he did it in a subtle way, almost democratically… “Reactions that the movie triggered made us recommend the organizer to reconsider showing the movie and instead find an adequate replacement that will have the artistic reach required by the character of the festival,” said the host of Zabljak, Veselin Vukicevic. But wait… Vukicevic is a member of the DPS that’s in power in Zabljak. Which means that the DPS in Niksic urges dismissal of Kovacevic for denying the Srebrenica genocide, while their sheriff in Zabljak censors the movie about the genocide that tells the truth in an artistic and superior way. Did Djukanovic visit Srebrenica so that the DPS official now prohibits screening of the most accurate movie about Srebrenica? In addition, was the SDP of the 90s an anti-war party only to be able to secure a majority in Tivat today for a brutal rerun of the 1990s in the summerhouse of Buca-Lukovic? It’s the unlikely story. What has happened then? Houston, we’ve had a problem – a famous quote says. What now? Will the DPS distance itself from an unprecedented, shameless, truly cavernous attempt at censorship? Will the SDP continue to fight against Greater Serbia nationalism, except where they are holding it in power in order to be able to carry out party positioning? That’s not enough. With the own goals scored by the parties of the sovereigntist bloc in Zabljak and Tivat, every fight against the new government is in vain and leads first to well-deserved ridicule, then to a heavy, even heavier defeat. Things are quite simple: if the DPS and SDP care about authenticity more than thin air, they should dismiss Vukicevic and overthrow the government in Tivat.  

  

SDP and URA silent about the Serbian World in Tivat (Gradski portal 

  

A range of nationalist songs, cheering for Kosovo, displaying flags with four ‘fire striker’ shapes and mass violation of the epidemiological measures – this all happened at the “humanitarian” concert in the town of Tivat, organized by the Brotherhood of Serbian Youth. And while the public reacted strongly after seeing the scenes, the local government, backed by the SDP and URA, remained silent, reports the Gradski portal. President of the Croatian Civic Initiative, Adrijan Vuksanovic, says that Boka residents were upset to see last night’s “Greater Serbia performance in Tivat”. He’s worried about the silence of the Civic Movement URA and the SDP, adding that both parties used to criticize representatives of minority nations for making up the coalition with the DPS. However, the political observer, Srdjan Vukadinovic, assesses that the SDP, even though in power in Tivat, could not prevent the last night’s gathering. “The SDP is a weak coalition partner, just like the SD, because both have only two councilors. They are not strong enough to stop these situations,” he says. According to him, the main culprit is the Civic Movement URA which made this all possible. The SDP MP Draginja Vuksanovic and their spokesperson Mirko Stanic didn’t want to comment on an outpouring of nationalism from the gathering.  

  

Meeting of ruling majority unlikely to happen until mid-August (Dan 

  

Continuation of the dialogue among the leaders of the parliamentary majority about overcoming the current political crisis is unlikely to happen until the end of the month, and according to Dan daily, it won’t happen until mid-August either. Following the latest meeting held on 19 July, when everyone declared whether they were for the new government or reconstruction of the existing one, it was noted that new meeting should not be scheduled until the largest parties reach an agreement among themselves, and then they should sit and talk. However, since then, members of the leading parties have rather exchanged words than reconciliation messages.  

 

Rift between VMRO and Levica grows wider (Republika 

  

Relations between the conservative VMRO-DPMNE and the left-wing populist Levica party deteriorated further over the past few days. Levica launched a social media campaign against VMRO, as it tries to position itself as the main defender of Macedonian national identity. It cited attempts by the PM Zoran Zaev government to adopt an extremely lax citizenship law that would allow Albanians with few ties to the country to gain citizenship, as well as the demand from one of Zaev’s Albanian coalition partners BESA to add the ethnic designation in the identity cards as evidence of the “defacing of the Macedonian nation”. But instead of training fire on Zaev and SDSM, Levica is just as likely to accuse VMRO over these proposals, insisting that it is only the two Levica members of parliament who are causing ruckus in Parliament over this – despite the fact that often the two parties ultimately join forces to block Zaev’s legislative proposals. VMRO-DPMNE is mildly supportive of the second law, as it would allow not just Albanians but also Macedonians to state their ethnicity in the identity cards – a move that Greece strongly opposes and that could cause cracks in Zaev’s coalition with BESA – potentially even destabilizing his government. VMRO MP Brane Petrusevski, who was the target of unseemly comments from a semi-official social media account of Levica’s leader Dimitar Apasiev, reminded the populist party of its support for Zaev’s Colored Revolution and the Special Prosecutor’s Office – two key instruments that were used to remove VMRO from power and to install Zaev, who is now imposing a name and identity change on the Macedonians. Apasiev was an adviser in the criminal SPO office, he advised prosecutor Katica Janeva and stood side by side with Zaev. He now portrays himself as Che Guevara, but Levica actually works to divide the opposition camp and with that – help Zaev, Petrusevski said.  

  

Zaev denies claims from Sofia that he is violating the rights of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia (Republika 

  

PM Zoran Zaev insisted that Macedonia respects the rights of the Bulgarians – reacting to an issue that is becoming the latest obstacle to the opening of EU accession talks. An annoyed sounding Zaev responded to comments from Bulgarian President Rumen Radev who alleged that Macedonia is violating the rights of the ethnic Bulgarians. In the past years, Zoran Zaev attended many more events organized by Bulgarian associations than Macedonian or Albanian associations, Zaev said, referring to himself in the third person. “We raised a monument to Colonel Karvanliev with Bulgarian flags. The Macedonian flag is also there. We showed our respect because they are our neighbors but also there are our citizens who self-identify as Bulgarians”. He added that the government can’t keep raising hopes of the citizens for the opening of accession talks. Bulgaria called on Zaev to amend the Constitution and list the Bulgarian community in the Preamble, where ethnic minorities are named along with the Macedonian nation. Some in Bulgaria are critical of the idea, insisting that the Bulgarian community should not be listed among the minorities, but that efforts should continue to be made to blur the difference between Macedonians and Bulgarians. Zaev accepted the demand, but has adopted a negotiating tactic to insist that this will be done only as Macedonia is on the verge of joining the EU.  

  

Government meets to prepare the events marking the Ohrid Framework Treaty (Republika 

  

PM Zoran Zaev’s ministers met for a special government session to discuss the 20th anniversary of the Ohrid Framework Treaty. The treaty was signed between the Macedonian parties, with the US, NATO and EU as observers, to put an end to the 2001 civil war. Zaev insisted that the treaty “showed that we all want to live together, in unity”. The war was sparked by Albanian nationalist from the UCK movement, built up during the 1999 Kosovo war. Their leader Ali Ahmeti moved into politics and since 2001 became an indispensable part of nearly all Macedonian governments. The government plans to hold events through different cities leading up to 13 August, when the treaty was signed, when some of the US and European diplomats who were involved in the treaty will gather for a conference organized by Columbia University.  

  

Meeting of the three Mini Schengen countries in Skopje (Republika 

  

The leaders of Albania and Serbia, Edi Rama and Aleksandar Vucic, will be in Skopje on Friday and Saturday, for a meeting of the Mini Schengen initiative. The controversial initiative, for which the involved parties insist will not become a “consolation prize” for the stalled EU membership perspective, should be open to other countries from the region but most are wary of being dominated by Serbia or Albania. The meeting that starts today is expected to bring together hundreds of businessmen from the region, who will look into networking between the three countries.  

 

Ruci received the Ambassador of Kosovo: Albania is by your side to face today’s and future challenges; the EU is the only destination (Radio Tirana 

  

The Speaker of the Assembly, Gramoz Ruci, received the Ambassador of Kosovo Nait Hasani on the occasion of the end of his mission in Albania. Ruci thanked Hasani for his contribution to strengthening and expanding cooperation between Albania and Kosovo. Ruci underlined that “Albania, as so far, will be in support of Kosovo, to face today’s and future challenges. The European Union is the only future destination of Kosovo and Serbia. It is very promising that the US and the EU share the same views on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Kosovo has all the reasons and opportunities to be a more reliable partner than Serbia in relation to the US and the EU. Therefore, it is necessary to unify the political and national positions of all institutions, political forces and public voices, national and international, of Kosovo and for Kosovo, as well as for the dialogue with Serbia.” Hasani thanked Ruci for the political, institutional and personal support for the challenges that Kosovo faces today and expressed his conviction that in the future Albania and the Albanian parliament will be on Kosovo’s side to face these challenges.  

 

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Belgrade Media Reprot 22 October 2021

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