If we succeed, from 1 January 2023, no borders for Serbian citizens – Open Balkans (Tanjug/B92/RTS)
A regional economic forum is being held in Skopje within the Mini Schengen initiative, where the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is participating. The Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama, are also taking part in the forum. Vucic was first handed letters of thanks for his help in the fight against coronavirus and donations of vaccines to North Macedonia. He thanked them and then announced the big plans that North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia have. “What we are doing in Skopje, Tirana and in Belgrade are great things. If we succeed, it will be a huge success, and if we fail – at least it will be known that someone tried. In the next year, we want to achieve that at least in three countries we can enter without borders, for trucks driving from Skopje to Belgrade or Tirana to pass without stopping, without anyone asking them anything, while others will have to stop for a while,” Vucic said.
He emphasized that the three countries should show that they are no longer minors and that they do not have to serve anyone except the people. He also said that most companies came to the economic forum from Serbia – 217, which shows how much interest there is in Serbia for cooperation in the region.
Important to show that we are able to make our own decisions
“When we started with this initiative, it seemed to all three that it was something good, something that was changing things in the Balkans. We decided to turn our heads from the past to the future,” said Vucic. He added that sincere trust has developed in the last two years. “It is important for us to show to the people of our countries that we are able to make decisions on our own and improve the lives of citizens, to be on the European path but not to wait for someone to lead and guide us, but to work in the interest of our citizens,” Vucic said. He pointed out that if the three countries manage to enable them to pass through without borders in a year and a half, it will be a historic achievement. “There is no stopping, whatever you sell or buy. There is a lot to do there, but it is the only way out for our economies,” he added. He pointed out that there is a problem with the lack of labor force in a part of Serbia, and that Albania and North Macedonia can help provide qualified staff. “We have countless opportunities. Our three countries will end the year with a total of 76 billion Euros of total GDP. That is less than Slovakia. And we can surpass them in five, six years and completely change the balance of power. We can be a development machinery and the machinery of growth of this part of Europe,” said Vucic.
He adds that this shows that the past can be left behind and the future can be seen, and that everyone can only benefit from this, and no one can be harmed. “Of course, there will always be opponents who do not think about the economy in the long run, but only about the next close elections. I know that not many in the world are thrilled because the steering wheel is not in their hands, but in the hands of our three countries. Our citizens are wondering: Why would we wait for alms when we are able to make big profits?,” he pointed out, adding that the three countries can cooperate in all areas. “Zoran Zaev spoke about the green agenda. All would like us to be energy insecure, so that we would have to import both electricity and energy in the next 50 and 100 years. Our job is for our experts to sit down and see how we can provide for ourselves. Rama suggested that we talk about how and in what way we could manage cargo traffic, terrain traffic, because if you do something for only one country, and you don’t have a port like, say, Durres, then it is meaningless,” Vucic said. He added that all three countries would do their best to overcome the weaknesses of the administrations. “If we are able to do that, on 1 January 2023 – we have no borders between our countries. We have them, but there are no borders for our citizens. You go from Belgrade to Tirana and no one stops you anywhere, and vice versa, thus increasing security of our citizens,” Vucic pointed out. The President pointed out another thing as especially important. “We have already talked about it with the representatives of our Chamber of Commerce, and I mean with the representatives of the Macedonian and Albanian Chambers of Commerce, we will embark on concrete initiatives to provide benefits for the citizens of our three countries. These include discounts on tickets, tolls, and if for some reason, the Europe won’t let us do that, we will find another way. We will talk about discounts in restaurants, hotels and everywhere we will find the possibility that if you are from one of these three countries, you have a discount of three, five, 10 or more percent and then people will be able to feel from their own experience why it is good for them,” Vucic explained. In response to the statement of the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Marko Cadez, on building trust in the region, and through this initiative, Vucic pointed out that trust, reliability and loyalty are the most important and should serve as a mutual support. “It shows that we can be more helpful to each other, in the way we expect support from everyone else. We should not forget the help of the first neighbors, and we seem to undermine trust, we lose hope in each other. We need to overcome that, to believe in our own capacities, to become reliable partners and to trust each other,” said Vucic. He added that the public administration must transfer that trust to the citizens. “I believe that the citizens have started to get to know each other better. Earlier, we found enough excuses to insult each other, and we did not find ways to cooperate, but only how to achieve political points. Today we do not care about that, but about the common future and results,” Vucic pointed out. He invited others from the region to join, if they wish, stating that they would be welcome everywhere. “Serbs who visited Albania and who are still on the Albanian coast feel safer after today’s meeting. We must send such messages to the people. I am a strong supporter of this initiative and I believe that those who inherit it will continue, because this is not an initiative for a few politicians, but for the benefit of the citizens,” Vucic pointed out. The leaders of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania also signed three co-operation agreements. These are the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Facilitating the Import, Export and Movement of Goods in the Western Balkans, the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Relation to Free Access to the Labor Market in the Western Balkans and the Agreement on Cooperation in Disaster Protection in the Western Balkans. It was also announced that the new name of the initiative, formerly known as Mini Schengen would be Open Balkans. “We do not have an easy road ahead of us, we have to work hard and convince our people to be diligent. If we do all that, then one day from Tirana to Belgrade, if we only go by highways without stopping, we have made a huge success,” Vucic pointed out. He thanked Zaev and Rama for their cooperation and mutual efforts directed at this regional initiative.
Whoever thinks decisions can be imposed, does no good to anyone (RTS/Tanjug)
Asked about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and Republika Srpska (RS), and whether he spoke with Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik today, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said: “I did not hear from Dodik today. We talked yesterday, but we will see each other on 4 August, we will receive the RS leadership in Belgrade, before marking the anniversary of ‘Storm’ in Busija,” Vucic said in Skopje. He said that the one who thought that decisions could be imposed, and be directed against the interests of one people, does not seem to have brought good to any of the peoples, no matter how it may seem to someone. “We will talk and I hope that people in B&H and the RS will find a rational way to overcome the current problems, I believe in that. So we can preserve peace,” Vucic said.
Serbia-US friendship & alliance in 140 years of diplomatic relations (FoNet/N1)
US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey said on Wednesday that for him, the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Serbia and the United States represents a solid foundation of common interests and mutual respect. Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic agreed, saying the two countries have a rich tradition of friendship and alliance. Addressing the presentation of the special edition of “Volunteer Herald – Serbs and Americans, 140 years later” in the Serbian parliament, Godfrey recalled that relations between the two countries were based on the values of the alliance in both world wars and that now they shared a common vision of Serbia’s future as a part of a community of free European nations. “US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken understands the importance of our bilateral relations,” Godfrey said, adding Washington was firmly committed to the Western Balkans. He reiterated he was impressed with the economic progress of Serbia, in which American technical assistance also played a role.
Dacic said the US and Serbia would mark the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.
“We have had setbacks in the long history of cooperation, but our obligation to our ancestors is to nurture positive examples in collaboration. That is an even more outstanding obligation towards our descendants,” Dacic said. He added that as the foreign minister and prime minister, he had insisted on a unique thing in the history of mutual relations – when the flag of Serbia was flying at the White House in 1918. That is a fact that was little known or even less talked about, Dacic has said, adding that only two nations in history have had that honor, Serbian and French.
“We strengthened our friendship in the World War II, but we also share the civilizational values of freedom, cooperation, anti-fascism and democracy in peace, as the foundations of cooperation in the modern world,” he added.
Petkovic: We will ask for additional security for Dragic Gasic (RTS/Tanjug)
A team of lawyers hired by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija will request additional security for Serb returnee Dragica Gasic and her apartment, urging an investigation as soon as possible, after her apartment was broken into, ransacked and stolen from, the Head of the Office Petar Petkovic wrote on Twitter. “What kind of safety is provided to Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija by international missions and what is their role, when Djakovica Municipality bans replacement of a simple door that we acquired? Dragica’s safety is directly in your hands,” he wrote, calling out UNMIK Kosovo, EULEX Kosovo, KFOR, Miroslav Lajcak and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.
He stressed that the latest events, including the burglary of the apartment, directly endangered her life and safety in Djakovica. “As before, we will procure a new camera, new furniture, food, as well as the necessary insulin therapy for the courageous Dragica,” Petkovic said. He warned that there is no longer a door to her apartment that she can lock, which makes her an easy target for all extremists. Petkovic stressed that Pristina has been silent for almost two months regarding the ordeal the woman has been going through.
HR explains he waited for final verdicts to Karadzic and Mladic after which he informed PIC about intention to impose the law (O Kanal)
Guest of the central news was High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko, who commented on his latest decision enacting the amendments to the B&H Criminal Code sanctioning the glorification of war criminals convicted by final and binding judgments and the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity, as well as on reactions to this law and new HR Christian Schmidt. Asked to say why he decided to use Bonn powers at the end of his term, Inzko said that he first waited for the final verdict in the case of Radovan Karadzic that was rendered in March 2019, after which he requested for the plaque with Karadzic’s name on it installed on the building of the Student Dorms in Pale to be removed. He added that he also had to wait for the final verdict in the case of Ratko Mladic that was rendered in June 2021, reminding that few weeks later he has informed the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) on his intention to impose the law banning the genocide denial. Commenting on his expectations from the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H in terms of sanctioning high-ranking officials as genocide deniers given the latest removal of Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H Gordana Tadic from post, he said that he expects that there will be several cases of glorification of war criminals or genocide denial at first and that he hopes that such cases will not be so frequent later on. Inzko reminded that he learned that posters of Ratko Mladic posted in Srebrenica were removed and that mural in Foca dedicated to Mladic was painted over with yellow paint, stressing that he is glad for that. According to Inzko, the law banning the genocide denial is not just something imposed by the HR but it is part of European legacy, and the 2008 decision passed at the EU level is binding for all countries and it also bans the genocide denial and trivializing war crimes. Asked to comment on the announced session of the RS parliament that will discuss on Friday amendments to the Criminal Code of the RS that are against the HR’s decision, Inzko said that he still had no chance to see the amendments so he cannot comment on this issue. Asked to comment on the latest petition against the HR’s decision organized in the RS and the fact that genocide deniers are trying to hide themselves behind people, Inzko stated that this is wrong because Serbs are not bad people. He added that his decision is not aimed against any of the peoples but the goal is to start changing the way of thinking, noting that there are no bad people or such a thing as collective guilt, but that only individuals are to be blamed and truth needs to be faced. Inzko called on all people who could possibly sign the petition or those with critics or rhetoric of conflict to refrain from such rhetoric. He reminded that even Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic spoke about Srebrenica victims with respect while commenting on the decision to impose the law banning the genocide denial. Inzko stressed that although Vucic opposed the use of the Bonn powers, he spoke about the necessity for Serbs and Bosniaks to have better cooperation. Commenting on reactions in the RS to his decision, Inzko said that he was surprised by reaction of SDS leader Mirko Sarovic, reminding that his decision has returned him to political life. He also said that the reaction of SNSD leader Milorad Dodik speaks more of himself. Inzko stressed that ordinary people and businessmen across B&H cities cooperate normally in everyday life and they do not care about ethnicity or entity, but politicians are the ones who make tensions and stressed differences between peoples. Asked to comment on the new HR Christian Schmidt, Inzko said that Schmidt is very experienced politician with over 30 years of experience and that Vucic is also aware of that, adding that the two of them are friends and they respect each other. He noted that based on mutual trust between Vucic and Schmidt, a good cooperation between Serbia and B&H, as well as between Vucic and Schmidt can be expected. Inzko also stressed that this will have positive influence on Banja Luka. Inzko stated that Western powers should approach the reconciliation process in politically divided B&H in a new, stronger way in order to prevent political leaders in B&H to destroy this country. Inzko added that theoretical approach of the international community adopted more than a decade ago to promote local autonomy failed to achieve unity in B&H. He added that part of reason for it is the fact political leaders in B&H are dishonest. Inzko stressed that over last 12 years, the international community has been attempting to have more of local ownership in B&H. Outgoing High Representative stated that this is good principle because it was functional in the Baltic, adding that it was dysfunctional in B&H. Inzko went on to saying that he was forced to defend state institutions, adding that one of these institutions was state itself, because it was constantly under attack; there were secession threats, talks on peaceful dissolution etc. Inzko also said that people have been leaving B&H due to three reasons: lack of jobs, political instability and lack of justice. High Representative Inzko believes his successor Schmidt will definitely have bigger support than he had. He added that some good messages conveyed recently by the US, the UK and NATO will definitely be helpful for Schmidt. Inzko said that he decided to enact the amendments to the Criminal Code on the anniversary of death of Hatidza Mehmedovic, one of the mothers of Srebrenica, because she said that Potocari should be the place of forgiveness and reconciliation. Inzko said that he does not expect the situation to escalate because there are no problems among citizens.
Zvizdic welcomes amendments to Criminal Code: B&H joined group of civilized countries (Oslobodjenje)
B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) speaker Denis Zvizdic welcomed the publishing of amendments to B&H Criminal Code sanctioning genocide denial and glorification of war criminals in B&H Official Gazette. According to Zvizdic, B&H has become member of the group of civilized countries where denial of holocaust, genocide and war crimes is prohibited. He noted that this group includes countries such as Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, but also Slovenia and Croatia.
Marinkovic-Lepic: Inzko’s decision is not aimed against Serb people (Oslobodjenje)
The daily carried an interview with member of the B&H HoR Mirjana Marinkovic-Lepic (Our Party – NS). Asked if the decision of Valentin Inzko to enact amendments to B&H Criminal Code sanctioning genocide denial will make the work more difficult for the new HR Christian Schmidt, Marinkovic-Lepic stated that Schmidt will start his work in B&H under very difficult circumstances. However, Inzko’s decision is welcome because of justice for victims and their families. Marinkovic-Lepic noted that Inzko’s decision might have had different consequences if it was adopted earlier. Speaking about the meeting of leaders of the RS parties which followed Inzko’s decision, Marinkovic-Lepic said that the conclusions adopted in the meeting will only further raise tensions. She noted that the RS parties are constantly trying to convince citizens of the RS that Inzko’s decision is aimed against the RS and that the RS needs to be defended from something, which is not true. She underlined that genocide was not committed by the Serb people, but by individuals, and added that she as a Serb does not feel endangered by the new amendments to Criminal Code in any way.
Serbian parliamentary majority assesses that Inzko’s decision raised tensions in B&H, but that RS will have Serbia’s support (Glas Srpske)
The parliamentary majority in the Serbian parliament assessed that the decision of outgoing HR Valentin Inzko to ban “denial of genocide and glorification of war criminals” raised tensions in B&H, but that the RS will have the support of Serbia. Deputy speaker of the Serbian parliament and MP of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Vladimir Orlic said that Inzko’s imposed decision cannot be a good solution and assessed that it is natural and logical that there are reactions in the RS. “What is quite certain is that the RS will have the support of Serbia, as it has had so far. Serbia will continue to support the RS in the economic, but also in every other sense,” Orlic underlined. Orlic stressed that Serbia will certainly call for seriousness, assessing that any imposition and forcing people to respect something by force has never brought anything good. “Therefore, this decision, which stirred the spirits and raised tensions in B&H, cannot either, which was to be expected. He (Inzko) was aware that this would happen, as were those who welcome the decree,” Orlic concluded.
Prosecutor’s Office of B&H confirms some cases related to Inzko’s decision on amendments to B&H Criminal Code have already been formed (Nova BH)
Nova BH analyzed how the decision of outgoing HR Valentin Inzko on introduction of amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H on banning of the denial of genocide and the glorification of war criminals and their crimes – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide – will be implemented in practice. Namely, the decision officially entered force on Wednesday, and the judiciary in B&H is obliged to ensure its implementation. The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H issued a statement, confirming that they already received several reports of violations of the amendments to the Criminal Code introduced by the HR and they are already working on some of them. “After the HR published his decision last Friday, we started receiving reports. They came from several citizens. Some cases have already been formed”, the statement reads. However, the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H did not provide details on who filed the report, against whom it was filed, and how many reports they received so far. Member of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H Suad Arnautovic commented on the practical way in which this decision will be applied in the CEC. Arnautovic specified that the CEC will have to establish the mechanism to follow which officials are under prosecution for the criminal offenses defined in the given amendments. Arnautovic stressed that this is particularly important for the election process, in case some officials are convicted based on final verdicts. Attorney Asim Crnalic told that there is a question of whether representatives in the RS parliament, members of the B&H parliament, members of the B&H Presidency, and members of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) will be protected by their immunity if they make statements, violating these amendments, during sessions. Crnalic concluded that no one is allowed to violate the law, even if they are at the parliament building, while the immunity only protects them from being held criminally liable until they leave the building. The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H has already opened several cases in regards to genocide denial, based on reports from several citizens, confirmed Spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H Boris Grubesic. “After the HR announced the decision on Friday, we have already started receiving reports from citizens in the days that followed, so some cases have already been formed,” Grubesic said. The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H announced earlier that the cases would also follow the announcements and public presentation of the views of individuals, groups or associations in which genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in B&H are denied.
Dodik confirms he filed report with Prosecutor’s Office of B&H against himself (Nezavisne)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik on Wednesday filed a report against himself with the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H and he explained that he decided to do so in order to lift the burden off of “Muslims who might be exposed to pressures and requests by their political leaders”. Dodik stated that those leaders have “heated feelings” towards Serbs as well as stances full of hatred to have them file a criminal report against him. “In order to avoid overheated emotions and basic instincts from Sarajevo’s stifling political kitchen, which produces hate towards Serbs on a daily basis, I decided to file a report against myself,” Dodik said.
Dodik: RS MoI will be instructed to protect RS citizens from SIPA, OSA and arrests (ATV)
Milorad Dodik commented the recently imposed amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H and the reactions of the RS politicians that followed. Dodik said that RS citizens can report any attempts of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) on conducting activities on the RS territory in regards to the genocide denial reports. He added that the RS Ministry of Interior (RS MoI) will protect and aid all citizens that report such activities. “I will be the one that will pledge to protect every citizen, and I call all citizens in the RS to report any potential activities of SIPA, or the Intelligence Agency (Intelligence-Security Agency of B&H, OSA B&H), they should inform the police, and we will have a special telephone number ready, and we will protect those people”, Dodik emphasized. When asked how the RS MoI will protect and defend the citizens from SIPA trying to arrest them, Dodik said that they will use the “physical approach” and prevent any such arrests from taking place. “I will be the one who will make the effort to protect every citizen and I call for all people in the RS to inform the competent police about all potential information they have on activities of the SIPA and (Intelligence and Security Agency) OSA. We will open a special line in the RS in which we will protect those people. Our police have already been ordered to protect and defend our people, whatever that means,” said Dodik. Asked by a journalist in what way the police are to protect the people, Dodik said: “In a physical way. If someone tries to make arrests, the RS Police will prevent that”.
RS parliament to discuss amendments to RS Criminal Code sanctioning persons who show public disrespect for RS, and Law on non-implementation of decision by Inzko (RTRS/ATV)
The RS representatives of parliamentary parties have agreed the amendments to the RS Criminal Code and referred it to the RS parliament that is expected to discuss it on Friday. RTRS reports that all ten RS caucuses supported the proposed amendments to the RS Criminal Code and the Law on non-implementing decision of the HR, defined by legal experts after joint agreement of political parties’ leaders. Amendments to the RS Criminal Code have introduced for the first time the criminal offence damage of reputation of the RS and its peoples. “Those who publicly insults, shows contempt, or gross disparagement for the RS, its flag, coat of arms, emblem or anthem, shall be sentenced to prison in the duration up to three years. If the offence referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article is committed in a manner that the RS is labelled as aggressor or genocidal, or its peoples are labeled as aggressors or genocidal, the offender shall be sentenced to prison in the duration from six months to five years. If the offence referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article is committed by an official or by a responsible person, or a person in government institutions or a body financed from the public budget, they shall be sentenced to prison in the duration from two to ten years. If the offences referred to in paragraphs 1 to 3 of this Article are committed with the aim to change constitutional organization of the RS, its territorial integrity or independence, the offender shall be sentenced to prison in the duration from three to 15 years,” reads Article 1 of the RS Criminal Code. RTRS reports that the RS parliament will also discuss the law on non-implementation of decision of HR. Article 1 of the Law reads as follows: “The decision of the HR according to which the amendments to the B&H Criminal Code is adopted, shall not be implemented on the RS territory’’. Article 2 of the Law reads as follows: “Relevant authorities from the RS shall not cooperate with the relevant authorities of B&H in regard to the implementation of the HR referred to in Article 1 of this Law”. Commenting this, RS parliament deputy speaker and member of the expert legal team who prepared the text Milan Petkovic said: “This means that any RS citizen who potentially commits this criminal offence can be prosecuted, arrested, interviewed and potentially ordered detention measure”. RTRS reports that Petkovic expects the ‘Together for B&H’ representatives at the RS parliament to invoke the protection of national interest, noting that none of the two laws refer to the protection of the rights of Serbs, but to the protection of the RS. Professor of the Constitutional Law Milan Blagojevic welcomed the united response, but suggested the change in the title of the Law. “Our Law should include that the last decision of the OHR is annulled, because the OHR does not have the competence to issue or impose laws here”. Human Rights Ombudsman of B&H Ljubinko Mitrovic said he is not sure how Inzko’s decision will affect the protection of freedoms. “We have had great problems in succeeding, with great pressure and the support from the international community to finally get rid of the verbal offence, that a person is not held liable for the freedom of expression or what they say. I fear this, particularly in the context of inability of a person, if we consistently follow these norms, to not only speak, but also to write or think even”. Mitrovic said that the amendments are broad allowing room to free interpretation by prosecutors, and does not allow the possibility of appeal. All RS politicians say they will insist on these amendments and their unity will persevere in this fight for the RS and the citizens of this entity. ATV learns that Washington and Brussels do not support Inzko “in his violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement”, and many people are optimistic and believe this means the outgoing HR’s decision might be withdrawn. RS officials plan to hold several meetings prior to the special RS parliament session. They say they have a prepared answer to Inzko’s imposed decision, and they plan to protect the RS and its citizens. Besides these two law proposals, the RS politicians decided to boycott work in the joint institutions of B&H until the problem is resolved.
Dodik proposed formation of RS government of National Unity, but got rejected by opposition (Oslobodjenje/BN TV)
Oslobodjenje reports that during a recently held meeting of leaders of Serb parties from the RS, which was dedicated to imposition of amendments to the B&H Criminal Code by Valentin Inzko, there were talks about formation of the RS Government of National Unity. Namely, BN TV has learned from participants of the meeting that initiator of the idea was SNSD President Milorad Dodik, whose idea is that presidents of the parties join one such government, and in that case, he would be prepared to resign from the Presidency of B&H. According to Dodik, that government would withdraw the RS’ consent for the Indirect Taxation Authority and military and security structures of B&H. Article further reads that SDS President Mirko Sarovic said it is an issue for a wider debate, whilst PDP President Branislav Borenovic did not fully declare himself. DNS President Nenad Nesic said DNS would not take part in it because they want unity in terms of protecting interests of the RS, and not unity in terms of distribution of positions.
Crnadak: After our appeals Dodik gave up on several radical proposals, such as banning SIPA from working in RS (Dnevni list)
PDP Vice President (VP) Igor Crnadak said that the reaction of the RS-based political parties to decision of the HR was a normal reaction to an unnecessary and completely pointless decision. According to Crnadak, the HR’s decision was wrong and detrimental on several levels because it ties hand of politicians in B&H who want to solve problems through dialogue. According to the PDP VP, the HR’s decision is strong wind in the sail of the populists who function best when there is a conflict and crisis. “And that is what Inzko has delivered and that is why we have this situation,” added Crnadak. Commenting on the ongoing petitions in the RS, Crnadak called it a party activity of SNSD. He went on to say that the PDP has in last several days played a reasonable and stabilizing role, and that he is glad that Dodik, after PDP’s appeals, gave up on very radical proposals that could have led to big dangers, conflicts and even bloodshed, such as proposal on banning the SIPA from working in the RS. Crnadak further noted there is a proposal to adopt a law on Friday, which would ban calling the RS and the Serb people genocidal, arguing it is PDP’s proposal.
Sarovic says all should jointly participate in protection of RS’ interests (RTRS)
SDS leader Mirko Sarovic stated that, after the last decision by Valentin Inzko, it has become clear the political crisis will last for a longer period of time, due to which “smart moves must be made’’ and all should jointly participate in the process of protection of the RS’ interests. Sarovic stressed that all those who attack the integrity of the RS, insult or humiliate it will be sanctioned. RTRS reports that Sarovic told the SDS members it would have been unacceptable if SDS had not accepted to participate in talks with the ruling coalition. “We will sanction all those that attack the integrity of the RS, belittling and humiliating it. That will be a wise response, in line with the law, and maybe those that today gloat over this situation that the RS is faced with will realize that this is not a path towards a better future in B&H,” Sarovic was quoted as saying. “It was decided, at our initiative, to change the Criminal Code of RS, to punish violations of the RS’ reputation”.
Dodik says over 40,000 RS citizens signed petition against Inzko’s decision (ATV)
Signing of the petition against imposed decision of HR Valentin Inzko continues across the RS. Citizens emphasize that they do not accept this decision and do not wish their freedom of speech to be limited. Milorad Dodik confirmed for ATV that this petition was, so far, signed by over 40,000 citizens in the RS. Many Doboj residents signed it, including Doboj Mayor Boris Jerinic. Jerinic said the decision was unacceptable and the least he could do to oppose it was to sign this petition alongside other RS citizens. He said all citizens must stand united and support this initiative. Head of Petrovo Municipality Ozren Petrovic also signed the petition and said he is glad to see “Serb unity” in this matter. He is sure that RS officials will have a good strategy for opposing this decision, and their response will be in line with the needs and interests of all RS citizens. Representatives of the veterans’ associations also supported the petition. They are deeply dissatisfied with Inzko’s decision and say the goal of that decision was to “satanize the Serb people”. Petar Tubic of the Doboj Veterans’ Association says that Inzko was supposed to perform a role of adviser in B&H, and he became a legislator. Tubic points that such thing does not exist anywhere else in the world. Dusan Dujkovic of the Petrovo Veterans’ Association pointed out that he does not allow anyone to order him around or limit his rights. Citizens that signed the petition told ATV that they want to send a clear message that Serbs are not “genocidal” and that they do not accept Inzko’s imposed decisions.
Novakovic-Bursac says if Inzko already dared to pass laws, then let him interfere in everything else; Osmanovic says if blockade of institutions by representatives, delegates and ministers from RS continues, that would mean serious violation of Constitution, Dayton Agreement and law (Nezavisne)
The daily carries that blockade of the B&H institutions, if extended to September, could lead to suspension of payment of salaries in the B&H institutions considering that budget of the B&H institutions for 2021 has not been adopted and that decision on temporary financing adopted by the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) is valid until September. The daily further notes that there is also a possibility of blockade of the election process in B&H given that 2022 is an election year. According to the daily, while representatives of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) see that as violation of the Constitution and the law, the RS representatives are telling them to address the OHR which imposed amendments to the B&H Criminal Code and that the OHR can impose the budget and the rest in the same way, given that it took over the competences of the B&H parliament. Head of SNSD Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac told the daily that she does not know how the system of financing in the B&H institutions functions in the technical sense, that she is not acquainted with the details and that all questions about the budget and the elections should be addressed to the OHR and HR Valentin Inzko himself. “If he had already dared to pass laws, then let him interfere in everything else and whoever supports adoption of laws by the HR, it means that they support protectorate and we will not be a part of that. The question of the meaning of participation in parliament arises if others have powers,” Novakovic-Bursac underlined. PDP MP in the B&H HoR Mira Pekic told the daily that representatives from the RS are fully aware of their obligations and all laws which are in procedure and that the budget of joint institutions has not been adopted yet, stressing that this is a political story and that coalition partners should be asked why the budget was not adopted in December last year. “We are aware of our obligations, but imposition of any laws or any solutions by the High Representative is reason enough for us from the RS to not take part in decision-making and make the decision we made. On the other hand, there is the question of if the High Representative imposed amendments to one law, he can also impose the law on budget, the election law and everything else,” Pekic underlined. Head of SDA Caucus in the B&H HoR Adil Osmanovic told the daily that it is ungrateful to speculate, but that if the blockade of institutions by representatives, delegates and ministers from the RS continues, that would mean serious violation of the Constitution, the Dayton Agreement and the law. “When it comes to the failure to adopt the budget, you know that we should have adopted the budget in December last year, but the CoM, unfortunately, with its inaction, led us to adopting the budget mid this year,” Osmanovic underlined. Osmanovic stressed that there cannot be a blockade of the 2022 elections and that the authorities in B&H should try to implement the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court of B&H, noting that if that is not achieved, there is the applicable Election Law of B&H under which elections have been held so far. Head of SDP B&H Caucus in the B&H HoR Sasa Magazinovic told the daily that he believes the election process in B&H cannot be called into question with these blockades and that “it is just one of the strategies.” “I believe that ministers from the RS will come to the session of the CoM and adopt the decision on temporary financing, and after Milorad Dodik, the leader of SNSD, first came to work in the B&H Presidency, and he previously said he would not,” Magazinovic pointed out.
Kalabukhov: Russia can in no way be considered threat to B&H, because it is committed to all-round development of equal and mutually beneficial relations with B&H (Glas Srpske)
In an interview for the daily and in response to the claims of outgoing HR Valentin Inzko that growing influence of Russia and China in B&H is noticeable, that “there is not a lot of time” and that the EU should intervene more strongly to suppress that influence, Russian Ambassador to B&H Igor Kalabukhov stated that the HR is the person who focuses the efforts of the entire international community, including Russia and China, but that unfortunately, in past years, the HR began seeing himself not as a mediator in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), but as implementer of exclusively “European idea” which allegedly has a problem with “malignant forces”. Asked to comment on Inzko’s invitation to the EU to become engaged more strongly in B&H only because of strengthening of the influence of Russia and China, Kalabukhov stressed that determining priorities of foreign policy is exclusive competence of B&H, and not of the HR or his office. “Russia can in no way be considered a “threat” to B&H, because it is committed to the all-round development of equal and mutually beneficial relations with B&H. Contrary to that, those who are categorically imposing development guidelines on it, interfering in internal political processes represent a threat. Moreover, with their irresponsible action, they are undermining the dialogue of constituent peoples, which is the only basis for establishing a climate of stability and reconciliation in B&H,” Kalabukhov underlined.
Peljesac Bridge joined together (Hina)
The Peljesac Bridge was fully joined together on Wednesday night, with the installation of the last, 165th segment of its steel span, and it now stretches from the village of Komarna on the coast to Brijesta on the peninsula of Peljesac. The 2,440-metre bridge has 13 spans, of which five central spans are each 285 meters long, six 33-metre-high centrally installed pylons made of reinforced concrete, and two lanes, plus a hard shoulder for bridge maintenance. The last segment that was installed on Wednesday night is 18 meters long, and attending the event were Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic, Dubrovnik-Neretva County head Nikola Dobroslavic, and the CEO of the Hrvatske Ceste road operator, Josip Skoric. Crowds gathered along the coast, as well as on boats at sea, to watch the joining of the bridge, which was followed by a long firework display. “The Peljesac Bridge is a fascinating strategic achievement of the Croatian people and the government that will serve generations to come, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday night. “This is a project that connects, it does not divide.”
Montenegro needs compromise (Pobjeda)
In an interview for Pobjeda, MP and spokesperson of the Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, Milos Nikolic, assesses that Montenegro needs a compromise right now, and it’s to be reached by the agreement of all political subjects, that is, the ruling majority and opposition. Asked whether he expects that Aleksa Becic is going to invite them for negotiations over appointments in the prosecution in August, Nikolic says that “a new round of talks between the government and opposition is scheduled for the first week of August”. He believes they could find a solution for overcoming the current situation. On the DPS’ initiation of voter distrust of the government, he says that they’re monitoring the current situation and crisis the parliamentary majority is coping with but still don’t know what exactly to do. The DPS, according to him, has several possible options and is ready to respond to all scenarios that may occur. It’s likely, Nikolic claims, that the tenure of this incompetent clero-nationalist government is about to end and that Montenegro will return to its values and its road – European road.
Zaev: Balkans is our common European home (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hosted Wednesday Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who will participate in the main panel of the Regional Economic Forum set to be held tomorrow in Skopje. “This afternoon I welcomed Serbian President Vucic and Albanian Prime Minister Rama, after which we strolled along the new Skopje riverside walk, hosted by Mayor Silegov. We also talked to the citizens in the center of Skopje, as an announcement of the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation which is being held for the first time in… Macedonia, as well as the opening of new perspectives for our connection” wrote Prime Minister Zaev on Facebook. The Balkans, he writes, is our common European home in which we support each other and in which we improve relations. Our view is forward, towards a better tomorrow, towards economic growth and development, towards prosperity for our peoples, Zaev wrote on Facebook. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic criticized the way Bulgaria treats Macedonia, as it claims the Macedonian national identity, and blocks Macedonia from opening its EU accession talks. Vucic contrasted this with what he said is Serbia’s hands-off treatment of Macedonia. “We ask nothing from the Macedonian citizens and the Macedonian people, other than friendship and brotherhood. We don’t want your territory, we don’t claim your language. It’s not ours, it’s yours. We just want to have the closest and best possible relations,” Vucic said. Serbia and Bulgaria fought a number of wars over Macedonia and still maintain a rivalry over who will exert greater influence over the country. Some in Bulgaria have warned that their blockade of Macedonia’s EU accession talks is pushing the country toward the Mini Schengen initiative, which is dominated by Serbia and Albania.
MPs to discuss Resolution on red lines in negotiations with Bulgaria (Republika)
MPs are set to discuss Thursday the resolution for determining the Macedonian state positions in the context of the blockades on EU path, submitted by VMRO-DPMNE. Due to the fact that the Resolution of the opposition party is addressed to the parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, SDSM submitted an amendment to add the country’s new constitutional name in the content of the Resolution. The position of SDSM is that the essence of the Resolution on the red lines with Bulgaria is completely acceptable without any interventions, but omitting “North” in the name of the country would be a violation of the Constitution. According to VMRO-DPMNE, the resolution will show unity around the red lines in the negotiations with Bulgaria. The “Resolution” is expected to pass without much debate as it is acceptable to all political parties in parliament. The Resolution will be supported by the Levica, DOM, DS, LDP. The Alliance and Alternative announced that they will state their position at the session when the resolution will be discussed.
Election code changes stuck in parliament committee (Republika)
The parliament Committee on political systems will discuss its next steps today as it is discussing changes on the electoral system ahead of the municipal elections. A new attempt to introduce open lists is being made – this will allow voters to pick a party but also an individual member from that party’s list, who would then be able to leapfrog other candidates. But the proposal is stuck due to the introduction of 500 amendments from the populist Levica party, as it demands a lower threshold for small parties that want to compete. This is a way to filibuster legislation that Levica often uses. The parties will try to adopt the changes until the end of the month, but the outcome is uncertain.
Rama meets with Zaev, here is the agenda of the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama arrived in Skopje for the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation to be held today. This forum is divided into three parts. Speech of 3 leaders, economic discussions and the signing ceremony of three new agreements. N. Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Rama will sign two memoranda and an interstate agreement aimed at facilitating the movement of people and simplifying formalities related to the import, export and movement of goods, co-operation between customs and other competent authorities. Zaev, Rama and Vucic will present a political and economic vision for an integrated region. The Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans will include more than 300 companies from North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia Hercegovina, as well as other regional businesses. Kosovo does not participate in this meeting. The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti will not attend the Skopje Economic Forum on Thursday, based on Kosovo Government Office’s announcement. “Our views on the idea of Novi Sad, the so-called ‘Minishengen’, are already known. This initiative does not have our approval”, stressed the Kosovo Prime Minister Office. According to the announcement of the PM Edi Rama’s Office, the head of Government’s visit to Skopje is part of the Economic Forum in the framework of “United Balkans”, which will probably be the new name of what is known so far as “Minishengen”, or “Balkans Schengen”.
OSCE-ODIHR final report/ US Embassy: We urge all relevant institutions to review the final report and its recommendations (Radio Tirana)
The US Embassy in Tirana has reacted after the publication of the final OSCE-ODIHR report on the April 25 elections in Albania. “We take note of ODIHR Final Report on the 25 April parliamentary elections, which builds on the preliminary report of 26 April,” the response said. The US Embassy says that after this report, the relevant institutions should review it and its recommendations “to further improve the elections in Albania”. “We take note of ODIHR’s Final Report on the 25 April parliamentary elections, which builds on the preliminary report of 26 April. We urge all relevant institutions to review the final report and its recommendations to further improve Albania’s elections,” reads the statement of the US Embassy. Head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Ilirjan Celibashi has urged Wednesday the government and the opposition to address the remarks and recommendations of OSCE/ ODIHR’s final report on the general 25 April 2021, elections in a complete and prompt manner. CEC’s Head considered the conclusions of the OSCE/ ODIHR report as positive and emphasized that the review of the expertise and findings of the institution he represents on possible legal changes is useful for the reform process recommended by the OSCE/ ODIHR. “The very positive assessments regarding the administration of the electoral process by the CEC in the final OSCE / ODIHR report are encouragement for further improvement. The CEC urges the government and the opposition to address the remarks and recommendations of this report in a comprehensive and prompt manner. A review of the CEC’s expertise and findings on possible legal changes is useful for the reform process recommended by the OSCE/ ODIHR”, tweeted Celibashi. On Monday, the OSCE/ODIHR made public its final report on the parliamentary elections that were held on 25 April 2021 in Albania, where it has recommended that “the state should guarantee the right to a free and secret choice”, as well as “any form of pressure to disclose whether and how people voted should be prevented”. Among the recommendations in the OSCE’s report was that the law enforcement agencies must intensify efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute cases of vote-rigging and that “citizens should be encouraged to report and provide evidence of any vote-buying or pressure”. In addition, the report underlined that the Albanian authorities should ensure the security of citizens’ personal data and that the institutions must investigate and sanction any violation impacting public confidence in the election process. Personal data fueled fierce controversies between the ruling majority and opposition just before the elections, as the Lapsi.al online media exposed an alleged scandal claiming that the ruling Socialist Party (SP) had in possession the personal data of all voters in the capital Tirana, and was using it for purposes of 25 April elections. In an exclusive piece, the media claimed it has obtained an electronic file used by the PS, containing all information of roughly 910.000 Tirana residents aged 19 to 99, with personal data found only with state institutions that are obliged by law to secure their privacy.
US Embassy on the side of the Supreme Court: Reduce the backlog of High Court cases, Albanians waiting for justice! We support the Reform (Radio Tirana)
Ben Rockwell, Director of International Drugs and Law Enforcement, met with the Acting Chairman of the Supreme Court, Judge Sokol Sadushi, to discuss the United States government’s support for justice reform in Albania, including the task of fundamental issues of reducing the backlog of High Court cases and preventing their recurrence. The meeting was announced by the US Embassy in Albania, which states that it supports the Supreme Court to address backlog cases, which have a serious impact on the lives of Albanian citizens awaiting justice. “Through its implementing partner, the East West Management Institute, the United States Embassy supports the Supreme Court’s efforts to address backlog cases, which have a serious impact on the lives of Albanian citizens awaiting justice. The project on Backlog and Efficient Judicial Processes in the High Court has assisted the Court in developing and implementing measures for more efficient review of cases. Rockwell and Sadushi also discussed issues such as limited work space, lack of support staff in the courts. Rockwell agreed that there is an urgent need for the High Judicial Council and the Supreme Court to work with the government to address this issue,” the Embassy said in a statement.