Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania sign three documents for better regional cooperation (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama signed three documents in Skopje on Thursday, which will facilitate trade in the region and enable a single labour market, as well as mutual assistance in emergency situations. The leaders of the three countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in facilitating import, export and movement of goods in the Western Balkans, and a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in free access to the labor market in the Western Balkans at the regional economic forum, within the Mini Schengen initiative, and the Agreement on Cooperation in Disaster Protection in the Western Balkans. The first memorandum will increase and improve economic cooperation, simplify the procedures related to import, export and movement of goods. The purpose of the Disaster Protection Cooperation Agreement is for the Contracting Parties, in accordance with their available capacities, to assist each other in the event of a disaster and when the requesting Contracting Party is unable to deal with the consequences of the disaster using its own resources. The Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Free Access to the Labor Market aims to simplify the procedures for all contracting parties to obtain work permits for citizens of each of the three countries, as well as to use the obtained work permits in the territory of any of them. It was announced at this gathering that the new name of the Mini Schengen initiative will be Open Balkans.
Vucic: Kurti is wrong, but I have nothing against it (Tanjug/B92/Politika/RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at the Great Regional Economic Forum in Skopje that he was sorry that some in the region were against the Open Balkans initiative, because they would like to remain stuck in the 1990s and within closed borders. “They choose not to cooperate with each other. But that is their choice, and ours is cooperation, openness and progress. But everyone has the right to choose their future,” Vucic said, addressing the media from Serbia in Skopje. He pointed out that he was very satisfied with what was done today in Skopje. “We have built the future. In a year and a half, we will have the strength to open our borders, and whoever goes to the sea to Greece, I mean ordinary citizens, will have one crossing, if they go to Albania, none, and if they go to North Macedonia, no crossing. This is a huge saving for trucks and everyone in export business,” said Vucic. “I think that Rama is doing good things for his people, and the fact that Kurti does not understand that and thinks that it is time to close the space with chauvinistic messages, threats and blackmail… I think he is very wrong, but I have nothing against that,” said Vucic. The representative of the Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje) in Albania Boiken Abazi criticized the participation of Prime Minister Edi Rama in the Forum for Regional Cooperation in Skopje. He said that Rama was working in accordance with Serbia’s expansionist plans. Former FBI agent and Nonverbal Communications Expert Joe Navarro also conducted an analysis of President Vucic’s non-verbal communication and his behavior. The President was asked to comment on that. “I didn’t know they are dealing with it, if you look at the video, you will see that I didn’t make any bad facial expressions. I’m not pretty, nor do I expect it to be a plus for me,” said Vucic. “They want Serbs who are loyal to Pristina, but those Serbs must not listen to Belgrade,” said Vucic regarding the author’s text by Keith Clarenberg for Russia Today in which she reveals that Great Britain is participating in the project “Strengthening Positive Peace in Kosovo and Serbia”, worth 5 million pounds, and whose goal is to increase the support of Serbs to the government in Pristina between 2020 and 2022. “They have been doing it for a long time. We have the introduction of young Serbs into the Kosovo army, their KSF. And with different types of pressure, donations,” he said. Vucic said that Pristina would like the Serb List and Belgrade not to exist in Kosovo. “They will say that Serbs are fine, but only those loyal to Pristina, and those who are inclined towards Belgrade are not fine. They do it in different ways, and that is the meaning of the idea of Albin Kurti, who said that he did not want the Serb List, who wants Rada Trajkovic and Petkovic. But the problem is that they could not get even two percent of the votes,” he explained. He also stated that Dusan Batakovic’s book talks about that, and that by looking at the Austro-Hungarian archives he can see how in 1899/1900 they kept our abbots in certain monasteries under the control of their services. “They will try everything. That is not the case today. Our monks and priests behave extraordinarily in Kosovo and Metohija… That is their intention, as they have always brought to the Drina all those who would oppose the idea of Serbian rapprochement or unification. These are policies that last,” Vucic emphasizes. He says that it is possible to fight against that only with national unity, joint efforts. However, he pointed out that it is not always easy to react when money comes from outside. “How is it for the parties that did not receive millions of Euros from outside to fight against those that receive such funds, and who do not say whose interests they are protecting. They are investing money, because they want to secure an independent Kosovo, for Serbs to be weaker,” he said. “We are small and weak, and they are a real empire, but as they say in Vranje: ‘It’s the 88th minute, Zare enters, it is not known who will win… it is ours to fight, we will fight and we will win’,” Vucic concluded.
Vucic: Belgrade expects Berlin’s support in dialogue with Pristina (Beta/RTV)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday that Serbia expected Germany’s constructive support of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations and a compromise that would satisfy both sides and enable lasting stability in the region. In a meeting with Miguel Berger, German State Secretary at the Foreign Office, Vucic reiterated that EU full membership remains Serbia’s ultimate foreign policy goal and its strategic commitment, adding the German support was crucial on that road. Vucic and Berger discussed bilateral relations and economic cooperation, the President’s office said in a statement. “Germany is one of Serbia’s most significant economic partner and one of the largest investors in the country,” Vucic said, adding Serbia was interested in further increase of the cooperation.
Cadez: Economies got strong political support (FoNet)
The President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Marko Cadez said on Thursday that the Western Balkan economies have been given strong political support to build a region without barriers, excessive administration and delays at the borders. Speaking at the business forum in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje, Cadez said that the three agreements signed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama will promote trade, enable the forming of a single labor market and provide for mutual aid in emergency situations. He said that the important thing is to talk about economic cooperation, make money and see some tangible results. According to Cadez, the goal is to avoid border delays, make companies more competitive in both the region and the European Union, simplify procedures for work permits and acknowledge qualifications to help with worker mobility and stop the brain drain.
Dveri: Union with Montenegro, RS in Serbia’s interest (Beta)
The movement Dveri said on Thursday that a union with Montenegro and the Republika Srpska (RS) was in Serbia’s interest, not a union with Albania. “While our compatriots in the RS are being declared a genocidal people and threatened with lengthy prison sentences, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic continues riding for a fall in cooperation between countries and the creation of a ‘freedom movement’ with countries that are not our natural allies in any sense,” the movement said in a statement. It added that “any form of establishing interstate cooperation with Albania and North Macedonia, which the people have not had their say about in a referendum, is assisting a Greater Albania project which Serbia has no use for either economically or politically speaking”. The movement said that the project for interstate cooperation with Albania and North Macedonia threatened the safety of Serbs everywhere in the region “moreover because the Washington agreement plans for the inclusion of the false state of Kosovo in this project”.
EC denies access to document about non-paper on Western Balkan borders (Beta/APA/N1)
The European Council (EC) has definitively denied the request for access to the document about the alleged Slovenian non-paper about the changing of borders in the Western Balkans, N1 Slovenia reported on its portal on 29 July. “The requested document covers a very sensitive topic and its publishing would have a clear and direct influence on the EU’s relations with the neighborhood, thus undermining the public interest in international relations,” the EC stated in the reply to the Austrian agency APA. Because of this assessment and the relevant legal regulations, there is nothing else but to refuse the publishing of the document, despite the central importance of media freedom, the EC decided. The alleged Slovenian non-paper caused great commotion in the Western Balkans and Slovenia in mid-April, because the document proposed the changing of borders in the region, or the completion of the break-up of Yugoslavia which, among other things, included ideas about the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the unification of Kosovo and Albania.
B&H CoM’s session cancelled due to Serb political representatives’ boycott (O kanal)
The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) was scheduled to hold a session on Thursday, but its session has been cancelled due to the Serb political representatives’ boycott of work of the B&H institutions following the outgoing High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko’s decision to impose amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H. The session was cancelled by Chairman of the CoM Zoran Tegeltija (SNSD), who complied with the conclusions of RS-based political parties that there are no conditions for work of Serb representatives in the institutions as long as the imposed decision is in force. Reacting to the cancellation of the session, B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic expressed expectation that everyone will show responsibility and schedule new sessions as soon as possible, due to the need to deal with numerous pandemic-related issues and reforms awaiting implementation. She warned that paid leave with the aim of political blockade is not stipulated by law. Turkovic also wrote that the legislation “does not envisage paid leave aimed at implementing political blockades” and that the absence from work must be approved, otherwise “legal consequences ensue”. Turkovic noted that receiving salaries from the public funds while not working is not acceptable anywhere in the world. In her opinion, the ministers will either work and be paid for it, or be absence due to political blockade but without receiving salaries. “There is also a possibility to consequently lose the job,” she added. B&H Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic said that blockade of institutions “never ended well for the RS and it won’t this time either.” Commenting Turkovic’s reaction, B&H Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Stasa Kosarac (SNSD) stated that Turkovic is the last one who has the right to speak about absence from work and respecting the law in B&H. He said that Turkovic comes to B&H CoM’s session only upon the order of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, adding that her threats are noting but empty stories. According to Kosarac, Turkovic should get informed about the method of appointment and removal of B&H CoM ministers, as ministers and their deputies from the RS are accountable for their work only to the RS institutions and citizens. SNSD delegate in B&H House of Peoples (HoP) Dusanka Majkic told the daily that Turkovic is an “example of arrogance and lack of respect for the duties in her work, prescribed by law.” She also said that Turkovic’s referring to law is “hypocritical” because she is bypassing law quite often. Majkic also said it took Turkovic two years to appear before the Parliament of B&H and that she has the least right to teach anyone about law.
EU officials from Brussels warn that blockade of B&H institutions is unacceptable (AJB)
Representative of the EU conveyed message that revisionism and denial of the genocide are in opposition to fundamental values of the EU. They expect B&H to overcome war legacy and they expect politicians to invest effort to implement reforms beneficial for citizens. Spokesperson for the EU stated that the EU calls on political representatives to abstain from non-constructive actions and statements that might jeopardize functioning of judicial and political institutions in B&H. It was added that threats of boycott and blockades are unacceptable. The EU representative underlined that good functioning of institutions of is of key importance for progress in regards to the EU reforms. It was concluded that competent institutions are expected to cooperate with the OHR and new HR.
B&H institutions faced with blockade as RS representatives in B&H institutions continue to boycott their work; Izetbegovic comment on current situation (N1)
B&H institutions are currently faced with blockade as the RS representatives in B&H institutions continued to boycott their work through the sessions of B&H CoM and B&H HoP, which is why both sessions were postponed on Thursday. The boycott of B&H institutions comes after Valentin Inzko imposed a decision banning the genocide denial and glorification of war criminals in B&H, which came into effect on Wednesday. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic also commented on the current situation in B&H by saying that the time is needed for the situation to relax a bit in the upcoming month. He added that everyone will be much smarter in September. Izetbegovic stated that talks with Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik as suggested by HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic make no sense at the moment. He said that the special session of the RS parliament scheduled for Friday represents a childish reaction of the RS, stressing that he is sure that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is behind unification of the opposition and ruling structures in the RS regardless of his latest comments calling for dialogue with Bosniak people. Izetbegovic noted that it is impossible to ban people from saying that the genocide happened and that the RS was created by ethnical cleaning and devastations, or to ban scientists to deal with this matter and politicians to speak the truth. However, he stressed that there is no room for offenses as no nation or entity should be called a genocide-like nation or entity.
Sarovic: Srebrenica should be place of reconciliation, we will never be opposition to RS (Dnevni list)
SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said that “we will always be opposition to this kind of authority, but never to the RS and its interests”. Sarovic stressed that 25 years after signing of the Dayton agreement, laws in B&H can only be adopted by elected representatives and not by one man. The SDS leader reiterated that the outgoing HR, by using the Bonn powers, has created a chaotic atmosphere that somebody can use to radicalize the situation and as a justification for future moves that will be detrimental to the RS, which is something SDS will decisively stand against. He went on to say that part of responsibility for the current crisis lies with the current authorities in the RS, which have been leading the RS into economic and political abyss for the last 15 years. Sarovic also underlined that Srebrenica must not be subject to manipulations and argument for accusations against the RS and the Serb people, instead it should be the place for reconciliation between the two peoples.
Stevandic says survey on 10,000 citizens of RS show that 95.7 percent of them do not support HR’s decision (RTRS)
‘United Srpska’ leader Nenad Stevandic stated on Thursday that unity demonstrated after Valentin Inzko imposed the law banning the genocide denial is an absolute representation of the RS peoples’ will. He added that the RS fights for equal treatment of all victims and that all citizens in B&H have the right to their personal stance on all events. Stevandic reminded of a survey conducted among nearly 10,000 citizens of the RS, of whom 95.7 percent do not support the HR’s decision and 89.8 percent are ready for public protests against application of the HR’s decision.
Inzko says reactions from RS to his decision to prohibit genocide denial were even milder than expected (Dnevni list)
HR Valentin Inzko said that it was correct to impose the prohibition of genocide denial in B&H and he expressed his concern with the situation in the country. In this context, Inzko called citizens to use their vote in elections and make an influence. Inzko noted that his conscience is clear and that he acted both in line with his own conscience and in line with the fact that the EU concluded back in 2008 already that each country should adopt measures to punish those who bring in question the verdicts for war crimes rendered by international courts. Inzko also said that he was not surprised or worried with reactions from the RS because, as he said, politicians from the RS often use boycotts, blockades and threats with secession but none of this is realized in the end. “It is high time problems in B&H were solved faster, including the issue of changes to the Election Law of B&H,” Inzko said and noted that it is necessary to abolish discrimination of citizens in the election process. Inzko also conveyed a message to B&H citizens by saying that they should take a look at what happened in elections in Croatia and to think about how Tomislav Tomasevic, who expressed his readiness to change things, was elected as Zagreb Mayor. In the end, Inzko said that he would recommend his successor Christian Schmidt to focus all of his efforts on strengthening of the rule of law. Inzko assessed that reactions of politicians from the RS to his decision to prohibit genocide denial were even milder than expected. Asked whether he expects to see a blockade of the work of B&H institutions, Inzko said that any activity of political parties that would block institutions would be a step in a wrong direction and a bad favor to citizens. Asked whether he was worried with the statements of political representatives of the RS, who claimed that he is the most responsible for the political chaos in B&H, Inzko said that the tactic of domestic politicians to use the High Representative as “a scape goat” is well known.
Covic: Inzko came to B&H as friend yet he is leaving as someone who significantly set back projects in B&H (FTV)
Addressing a press conference in Sarajevo on Thursday, HDZ B&H leader and deputy speaker of the B&H HoP Dragan Covic commented the current political situation in B&H with the focus on the decision of outgoing HR Valentin Inzko. Covic stated that Inzko came to B&H as a friend yet he is leaving as “someone who has significantly set back projects in B&H” adding that this statement is not connected to the latest decision. However, when it comes to the decision, Covic said that it is disputable due to the fact that it has been imposed. With regard to the fact that Serb political representatives in B&H are boycotting work of the B&H institutions due to the HR’s decision, Covic noted that no side is responsible for the blockade. However, he believes that a solution lies in agreement of all three sides in B&H. “I expect that friends from the international community will help us, but we are required to pass our own decisions,” he added. In addition, Covic commented on the upcoming arrival of newly-appointed HR Christian Schmidt, where he expressed expectation that he will have good cooperation with Schmidt. Covic further confirmed that he held “four productive meetings” this Thursday where the discussion was focused on the European path of B&H and amending of the Election Law. “Not much time is left”, Covic commented on the issue of the Election Law. Our desire is that the OHR is closed down as soon as the requirements for that are met, and that the B&H authorities take over the responsibility for our work. I would like the friends from abroad to think in a similar way, including when issuing specific decisions.” Covic confirmed on Thursday that he met with several representatives of the international community in B&H in the past days to discuss the changes to the B&H Election Law. He said that he talked to EU Special Representative Johann Sattler about changes to the B&H Election Law which will enable the protection of equality of all people and the political stability in B&H.
Dodik: I am willing to resign from post of B&H Presidency member but I demand that new Serb member is not elected (Nova BH/ATV)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated on Thursday that he is ready to resign from this post, but he demanded that a new Serb member of the B&H Presidency is not elected afterwards. He highlighted that this was a proposition he made to the representatives of the RS parties during a joint meeting on Monday and it will be discussed during Friday’s special session of the RS parliament. Dodik said that the non-election of a new Serb member would show the boycott of the Serb people. He stressed that they will do everything to oppose the attempt for an entire people to be qualified as genocidal. In addition, Dodik expressed belief that no Serb judicial official in the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H and the Court of B&H will agree to participate in “this prosecution of Serbs”. Hayat– reported that on Wednesday, Dodik reported himself on Wednesday evening to the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H, and on Thursday, Dodik called on all Serbs to report themselves to the B&H Prosecutor’s Office. He also emphasized that the RS police received orders to protect and defend citizens from any attacks or attempts for their arrest. The B&H Presidency member said the RS police will prevent any attempts of making arrests of citizens that are found in violation of law imposed by Inzko. Once again, he reiterated on Thursday that decision of Valentin Inzko was unacceptable, and that it was not in line with the B&H Constitution or the law. “Now we have a ‘hunt’, done by Bosniaks, Muslims, and they are reporting Serbs to courts, which reminds us of some past times when, in these parts, people were tried and sued by a Qadi,” Dodik said during a press conference. In an interview for ATV, Dodik said that the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) will be protecting all citizens in case the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) of B&H conducts any activities in regards to implementation of Inzko’s decision. Dodik also stated that in case SIPA or the Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA) of B&H resume with similar activities, next decision of the RS authorities will be banishing of these agencies from territory of this entity and consequently they will be prevented from acting in institutional way. At the press conference held on Thursday Dodik said he is prepared to submit resignation to post of member of B&H Presidency, but only if new Serb member of B&H Presidency will not be elected. Dodik added that before special session of the RS parliament he will meet with political leaders to inform them about some of his proposals. Talking about his announcement that the RS MoI will protect citizens of the RS in case of apprehension attempts due to denial of the genocide, Dodik stressed that special telephone line will be opened so that citizens can call in case of problems related to abovementioned issue. “The RS police is working on details and will be prepared to protect everyone in this regard”, explained Dodik. According to Dodik, rejecting HR’s decision represents civilizational issue and he is glad that representatives of all political parties in the RS have unified stance that they will act together when it comes to adoption of the two laws that will be on the agenda of the special session on Friday, as well as unified stance regarding their joint political activity.
Dodik causes uproar with statements about police and acting against SIPA (Nova BH)
Nova BH analyzed the conflict that has been ongoing in B&H between Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and Valentin Inzko and the crisis which has been caused in B&H due to the recent decision of Inzko. Dodik recently stated that the RS police will protect RS citizens from the SIPA in case they are processed for violating the law. He also issued a verbal recommendation to the Director of SIPA Darko Culum to reject orders from the B&H Prosecutor’s Office. Independent delegate in the B&H parliament Zlatko Miletic said that the behavior of Dodik needs to be placed under investigation of the B&H Prosecutor’s Office. He stressed that such behavior can be assessed as an attack against the constitutional order of B&H, as well as an armed rebellion. Retired police officer Dragan Miokovic said that the silence of Culum is concerning and he hopes that the Director is smart enough not to act in accordance with the orders of Dodik. Miokovic explained that in order for SIPA to reject a request of the B&H Prosecutor’s Office, one needs to put their signature on this decision. Federation of B&H (FB&H) Minister of Interior Aljosa Campara said that no director or police officer is foolish enough to agree to certain things that would be illegal and incriminate them. Former B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic stated that B&H is in a state of chaos and competences can be given to police agencies only through the law, and not verbal orders. Dodik called on all citizens to inform the police about any information they have on the movement of SIPA. The ‘Bosnian Party’ filed a report against Dodik, citing that he is inciting RS citizens against official personnel.
RS government approves two law proposals ahead of RS parliament session (BN TV/BHT1)
The RS government determined that proposal of Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code of the RS and proposal of law on non-implementation of decision of Valentin Inzko were in line with the Constitution, the legal system and rules for drafting laws and other decrees in the RS. These two law proposals should be reviewed by the RS parliament during a special session on Friday. BHT1 reports that amendments to the RS Criminal Code envisage prison sentence in the duration up to 15 years for reputational damage to the RS or the peoples who live on its territory. RS deputy speaker Milan Petkovic explained for BHT1 that every qualification of the RS and Serbs as genocidal will be considers a criminal offence, not only in the RS, but elsewhere. “This means that if someone, theoretically speaking, commits this offence in Sarajevo, Belgrade or New York, an investigation will be launched against them, the Prosecutor’s Office will investigate, gather evidence, and that persons will be invited. If they do not have place of residence in the RS, they will be invited via request letter, potentially extradition, if the investigation is continued in the Prosecutor’s Office,’’ said Petkovic. BHT1 reports that political officials in the RS were given unanimous support on Thursday by the intellectual community in the RS, war veterans’ associations, and priory by the Association of Journalists in the RS, and the citizens who had signed the petition for rejecting Inzko’s decision. The reporter comments it is easy to predict the outcome of the special session that will be held on Friday and will be closed for the public. The RS-based political parties, both from the ruling majority and the opposition, have already reached a joint stance that they will refuse to officially meet with Christian Schmidt once he assumes the post of the HR in B&H in August, as they consider him to be an illegitimate HR. The initiative on rejection of meetings with Schmidt was presented by DNS at the Monday’s meeting of RS-based parties’ leaders in Banja Luka and other parties accepted it.
DEMOS leader and RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic confirmed that, according to the conclusions of RS’ political representatives, there will be no official meetings with Schmidt. United Srpska leader Nenad Stevandic stated that he will adhere to the agreement of RS-based parties on not meeting with Schmidt. RS SDS Caucus’ representative Nebojsa Vukanovic raised a question of why the RSNA’s session is closed for public. Vukanovic assessed that closing the session for public is shameful. Vukanovic believes that one of the reasons for holding the session in this manner lies in fear that his participation in the discussion might lead to an unwanted direction. “The citizens need to know what we are discussing,” Vukanovic pointed out. With regard to the announcement of RS’ political representatives that they will not be officially meeting with Schmidt, Vukanovic presented an opinion that “it is only a matter of day when Dodik will meet with the new HR”.
Dzaferovic says facts established by courts cannot be punishable under any law (BHT1)
Commenting the amendments to the RS Criminal Code that will be discussed by the RS parliament on Friday, member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said that presenting facts established by international and local courts’ judgements cannot be punishable under any law, including the entity law. Dzaferovic stated that the RS does not have competence to adopt a decision if a part of the B&H Criminal Code will be implemented on its territory or not.
Ahmetovic: RS is genocidal trophy which lives on (Oslobodjenje)
The daily carried an interview with leader of initiative ‘My Address: Srebrenica’ Sadik Ahmetovic. He welcomed the decision of Valentin Inzko to enact amendments to B&H Criminal Code sanctioning denial of genocide and glorification of war criminals, noting that B&H parliament would have never passed such laws because of the RS representatives who still hold on to heritage of former RS President Radovan Karadzic. Ahmetovic said that because of the situation in B&H judiciary, he does not expect the amendments to be implemented immediately, but he believes that in the future, genocide deniers will be prosecuted.
Commenting the reactions of B&H Presidency member Milorad Dodik and other RS representatives to Inzko’s decision, Ahmetovic said that Dodik’s reaction was expected, and he is somewhat surprised by the fact that the opposition parties supported him. He noted that he is more surprised by the disbelief of some Sarajevo-based parties which see Banja Luka Mayor Drasko Stanivukovic as a representative of a different policy, which is not true. Ahmetovic underlined that court verdicts are clear, and individuals from the RS political and military leadership were found guilty of genocide. The result of their work is the entity of the RS which lives on. He noted that the political project of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Karadzic was not subject to any trial only because ICTY dealt with individuals and not political projects. “The genocidal trophy lives on in the same form as it was at the time when genocide was committed and it is not our disgrace, it is the disgrace of the present world which silently observes violation of human rights, persecution of genocide victims which has never stopped since July 1995. Both Milorad Dodik and the opposition want the genocidal trophy for themselves, therefore the creators of the Dayton Peace Agreement must do something to correct the injustice against our country,” said Ahmetovic. Asked to comment the fact that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic seems to observe the situation from the sidelines, Ahmetovic said that Vucic is never on the sidelines, and his policies are the factor of instability in the entire region. He underlined that Vucic has not changed since the time when he demanded death of “100 Muslims for every Serb killed”, and that his statements about cooperation with Bosniaks are just empty words meant for the ears of Brussels and Washington. Commenting the decision of the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) disciplinary commission to remove Gordana Tadic from post of B&H Chief Prosecutor, Ahmetovic said that Tadic completely suspended all processing of war crimes. He described her removal as a small step for HJPC, but a giant leap for justice in B&H. He underlined that it is now very important that HJPC appoints a new Chief Prosecutor who will be competent, free of political influence and capable of restoring trust in the judicial system.
Borenovic: Opposition does not wish to be part of SNSD-led government (BN TV)
In his reaction to statement made by SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, in which he said he would like for the opposition to be part of the RS government, PDP leader Branislav Borenovic said the opposition is not interested in being part of a government formed around Dodik and his SNSD. If we ought to form a new government, then we would form it without Dodik, Borenovic emphasized. Borenovic said that the opposition only cares about protection of interests of the RS and its citizens. Borenovic told BN TV that he spoke over the phone on Wednesday with Dodik. We spoke of several current topics, Borenovic explains. “First, he complained to me and said he has some issues with his teeth, and, of course, I wished him good luck and said I hope he will resolve this soon. Secondly, he thanked me for coming to the meeting, for my firm stance – which I once again repeated had nothing to do with him or his party, but exclusively with the extremely poor decision of Inzko, which is quite harmful for the RS and our people; and I said I would always act in line with my feelings, and of course in line with the stances that I advocate, and will always advocate,” Borenovic underlines. The PDP leader said the third thing they spoke about was Dodik’s proposal and need for creating a government which would include opposition representatives as well. Borenovic said he ignored this idea and told Dodik that that is a “failed idea” which would not be implementable. Dodik also invited Borenovic to lunch on Friday after the special session of the RS parliament. Borenovic said all representatives of parliamentary parties were called to this lunch, but he sees no point in once again holding a meeting or discussion on topics that were already discussed on Monday. “All in all, nothing special; nor will there be such a government, nor will there be a lunch”, Borenovic concluded. He added that PDP will insist on resolving the issue created over Inzko’s imposed law. He said this matter will only be resolved through talks and willingness to compromise. In conclusion of his statement for BN TV, Borenovic confirmed that PDP remains an opposition party in the RS and it will strongly react to any “anomalies in the society”, it will fight against corruption, crime, nepotism, indebtedness that is harmful for the RS, non-transparent spending of public funds, and any other things that are harmful for the RS and its progress. Leader of United Srpska Nenad Stevandic said that one should not easily reject the idea on a government of national unity and added: “I am already in the government of national unity and I have nothing to say on this topic. This is something opposition colleagues should present their stance on, they need to understand the situation we are currently in”. DNS leader Nenad Nesic said that his party has no intention to participate “in talks on distribution of chairs” and he argued that the RS has much more important issues to deal with. “My desire was to reach unity when it comes to protection of interests of the RS and not to discuss unity in distribution of chairs and functions,” Nesic added. Chair of the RS SDS Caucus Miladin Stanic recently announced that he will leave SDS should this party decide to enter the government of national unity together with SNSD. Chairman of SDS Main Board Milan Milicevic commented the latest events in the RS and said that safeguarding of the entity does not require a joint (RS) government with SNSD. Instead, noted Milicevic, people who have together with Dodik brought the country to verge of economic and demographic collapse should resign. Milicevic stressed that joining one such government would be equal to betraying their own people.
Impact of HR’s decision on judiciary, journalists, security agencies (FTV/BHT1)
FTV analyzed how the decision of Valentin Inzko will be implemented by police and judiciary in terms of arrest and prosecution of deniers of genocide. Namely, speaker of the Srebrenica Municipal Assembly Camil Durakovic (My Address: Srebrenica) already filed a report against RTRS journalist Branimir Djuricic for denial of genocide while Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik claims he filed a report against himself due to the same reason. Durakovic reported Djuricic for denying genocide on his social media accounts. In a video statement to FTV, Durakovic explained that he now expects the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H to act upon his report. Durakovic noted that Djuricic made conscious provocations, following entry of Inzko’s decision into force. In addition, Dodik announced that the RS police will prevent the SIPA of B&H from carrying out activities on the RS territory. Commenting on the latest announcements of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency, B&H Minister of Security Selmo Cikotic noted that such announcements are politicking, which requires timely reaction. FB&H Minister of Interior Aljosa Campara referred to Dodik’s announcements as “frivolous and stupid”, adding that they lack legal grounds. The reporter comments that the B&H Prosecutor’s Office will have a lot of work in regard to deciding what constitutes criminal offence. BHT1 reports that the starting point for this is Article 145a of the B&H Criminal Code, which the imposed amendments are based on, against a group, or a group member in a way that could incite violence or hatred. Prosecutors within the B&H Prosecutor’s Office working on general crime will be in charge of these cases. According to experts, this means that expressed opinions or positions do not have elements of criminal offence, but can have the said elements if they lead to insults and inciting and spreading hatred, and the opinion or a position must be expressed with intent. The reporter comments it is difficult to know what ‘with intent’ means, i.e. if there was intention to incite hatred and violence. BHT1 reports that prosecutors and judges will freely interpret if such statements constitute criminal offence and support it with statements of witnesses. Due to all this, media workers wonder if it can affect media reporting. Commenting on this the Association BH Journalists Secretary-General Borka Rudic said: “There should be no hysteria in regard to the adoption of the law banning the genocide denial, or potentially the law by the RS parliament, because the politicians are now trying to attack journalists and to transfer the burden of the implementation of either of the laws to journalists who, in the past, denied the genocide, or used phrases insulting for the RS much less”. The Association of Journalists in the RS has called for all its members, the journalist communities in the RS and the FB&H to “without fear of return of verbal offence, continue to report on all occurrences in the society in accordance with their conscience and in line with professional standards. In regard to the decision imposed by outgoing High Representative Valentin Inzko, the Association of Journalists in the RS has stated that the RS Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and that the constitutional freedoms cannot be taken away of limited, and are exercised directly in accordance with the Constitution”. Associations of journalists at the level of B&H remained silent on the law imposed by the HR and the report filed against Djuricic. Journalists and legal experts from the RS and Serbia warned that the law imposed by the HR affects the freedom of speech. President of the RS Journalists’ Association Danijel Simic commented that the case of RTRS journalist Djuricic shows that the imposed law has a goal to spread fear in the public. Representatives of the Journalist Association of Serbia stated that the report filed against Djuricic will make the imposed law meaningless, warning that the freedom of speech cannot be affected and the imposed decision of the HR represents attack on democracy in its original form. Jurists from the RS deem that the HR’s decision is not in line with the Constitution of B&H and the European Convention on Human Rights.
HR’s decision to impose law banning genocide denial causes confusion in B&H judiciary (RTRS)
Valentin Inzko’s decision to impose the law banning the genocide denial, which came in effect as of Wednesday, has caused confusion in B&H judiciary. Hearing in the trial for war crimes committed in Vlasenica was postponed before the Court of B&H on Wednesday after defense attorneys argued that they are not sure whether they could incriminate themselves by defending their clients, since the law banning the genocide denial came into effect on Wednesday. RTRS reminded that due to fear of self-incrimination amid the ban on the freedom of speech and public opinion imposed by the HR, defense attorneys do not want to work while judges and prosecutors are also faced with uncertainties in their work. Reporter noted that this deprives war crimes indictees of the right to just trial, which is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Declaration. Attorneys from the RS argued that normatively, the imposed forms of criminal offense through amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H are quite inexplicit and there are several such examples, concluding that such examples are left to be interpreted randomly by individual, judges, prosecutors and attorneys – although the jurisprudence defines quite the opposite. According to attorney Toma Fila who has rich experience in criminal law, including war crimes, the RS attorneys should not go to courtrooms as the method of imposing the law amendments by force does not guarantee constitutionality or legality, while inexactness exposes them to criminal prosecution. Reporter also noted that Inzko’s inquisition has also greatly limited professional scientific conferences at which various forms of war crimes are being disputed with arguments, as well as the use of findings of international experts confirmed by evidence.
Grlic-Radman: Everyone ‘can be happy’ with Peljesac Bridge, including B&H (Hina)
Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Thursday that “everyone can be happy” about the Peljesac Bridge, including B&H. “Everyone can be happy, including neighboring countries and B&H. The bridge has its standards, innocent passage for all ships,” Grlic-Radman told reporters on Thursday. He added that the Peljesac Bridge is a “grandiose and major project in the spirit of modern sovereignty and a strategic national interest.”
Krivokapic: Staying in the Prime Minister armchair it not my interest (RTCG)
Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic told the DPS and DF to submit a request for a vote of no confidence in the government, because, as he added, he is the least interested in staying in the Prime Minister chair. Democratic Party of Socialists – Liberal Party MP, Danijel Zivkovic, asked the Prime Minister when he would raise the issue of trust in the government he heads, having in mind that he lost the trust of the parliamentary majority. Zivkovic said in the parliament that Montenegro is in a deep crisis of the executive and legislative power. Zivkovic also stated that Krivokapic has only 14 votes of support in the parliament. “Today, you are the illegitimate Prime Minister of Montenegro,” Zivkovic told Krivokapic. Krivokapic replied in the parliament that he did not betray the idea “for the future of Montenegro” with which he ran in the elections last year. “Whoever betrayed it, let him be responsible for that,” Krivokapic said, adding that the idea of a better Montenegro leads this government. “Only something that someone projected and conducted in advance could happen with you, there is no more dictation. Freedom and democracy rule here. You are used to the dictatorial regime,” Krivokapic said, adding that freedom and democracy had returned. He stated that he is not interested in popularity.
Janjic: I expect DF to stage political rebellion and overthrow the government (Dnevne novine)
“After the parliamentary election held on 30 August last year, Montenegro has stepped into a phase of political instability. No one has enough courage and support to impose their views, which in itself is not so bad, but no one has enough support to state and carry out what a country needs,” a foreign policy analyst from Belgrade, a founder and president of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, Dusan Janjic, says in an interview for Dnevne novine daily. The purpose of this interview was the recent one he gave for the Croatian ‘Sedmica’ when he sent a quite upsetting message, noting that if Belgrade doesn’t stop with running their campaign, the region is going to slide into an armed conflict, and Montenegro would not be able to avoid it either. According to him, “the critical level of instability” will happen over the most sensitive issue – identity. “This issue has to be solved if they want stability.” He expects the political rebellion of Andrija Mandic and the Democratic Front, DF, that is, the overthrow of the government they themselves formed.
“Open Balkans” aims to contribute positively to the common future of citizens and the entire Western Balkans (Republika)
In a joint statement after Thursday’s meeting in Skopje, the Prime Ministers of Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, stressed that the announced “Open Balkans” initiative aims to positively contribute to a common future of citizens and the entire Western Balkans. During the forum, they signed three agreements in relation to joint response to natural and other disasters, introduction of single work permit in the three countries and assistance for smooth flow of goods. Zaev, Rama and Vucic said they would ask their ministries to work together on a system for sharing information on value-added tax- consistent with systems used in the EU – so that trucks are not stopped at borders within the Balkans. They also announced that they would convene a meeting to find investment funds that would promote regional integration and co-operation. Our goal is zero border wait time, regional businesspeople told the political leaders, Zaev, Rama and Vucic, on Thursday in Skopje. The business community at the economic panel of the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation in Skopje also called for the introduction of single work permit. Without zero waiting time we cannot be competitors in the EU. On the other hand, almost 40 percent of companies complain of problems finding a skilled workforce in their own system. Therefore, not only work permit procedures should be simplified, but a single work permit should be introduced. So, we are asking for zero border wait time and a single work permit, said the businesspeople. According to them, a perspective must be created for young people to look for jobs at home, in the region, instead of going abroad.
Mickoski: Mini Schengen can’t be an alternative to EU integration (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski said that any form of regional cooperation is welcome, but that Zoran Zaev’s Mini Schengen initiative can’t be an alternative to Macedonia’s full EU membership. “Macedonia should open its EU accession talks this year. We have deserved it ten years ago, when we met all criteria. Unfortunately, due to artificial obstacles, it didn’t happen,” Mickoski said. According to VMRO-DPMNE, Mini Schengen is poor substitute to actual EU integration, a process which has remained stuck despite major concessions made towards Greece and, to a lesser extent, Bulgaria.
Macedonian parliament adopts the VMRO proposed resolution that draws red lines in the negotiations with Bulgaria (Republika)
The Macedonian parliament voted to adopt the resolution proposed by VMRO-DPMNE, on the future conduct of the negotiations with Bulgaria. The resolution draws red lines that will bind this and future governments, as Bulgaria makes demands aimed at Macedonian history and national identity. “The Macedonian language is unique and different from the other languages. The Macedonian nation has a culture and a history it can be proud of and we will not let anyone dispute that. Long live Macedonia,” said VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski, as he announced the outcome of the vote. VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski welcomed the vote in the parliament and the adoption of the resolution he proposed. The resolution is a response to the declaration of the Bulgarian parliament, and it draws red lines that the Macedonian government will not cross in its negotiations with Bulgaria. “VMRO-DPMNE welcomes the acceptance of our resolution. We are satisfied that it was adopted in the form that it was proposed by our group in parliament. I note that the text is based on scientific foundations and arguments,” Mickoski said. Zaev’s SDSM party initially rejected the resolution, then accepted it but slowed its adoption until it inserted the imposed name “North Macedonia” in it.
“We are grateful to the parties that supported it sincerely, and those who were perhaps less sincere. We are rational. We know that the word of this government won’t last for five minutes. But we believe that since the resolution is an act of our highest democratic body, it can’t and must not be broken. It is binding for this and for any future government and President,” Mickoski said. The Bulgarian parliament adopted a declaration in 2019 which calls on the government to demand major concessions from Macedonia in the area of its national identity and history, and to block the opening of EU accession talks unless Macedonia agrees. “It is time that we make wise decisions and to protect the Macedonian national interests. Macedonia must learn how to build national consensus, and stop being dependent on the ignorance of some who create new disputes, trade with our identity, our historic periods, our heroes, language…,” Mickoski said.
OPEN BALKANS: no borders between three countries as early as 2023 (Tirana Times)
The Skopje Economic Forum once again highlighted the enormous potential that regional cooperation and free trade has for economic growth of all the countries if they move forward guaranteeing the basic freedoms. Albanian PM Edi Rama was quoted saying that “according to expert studies if full free trade standards are achieved the economy growth potential is up to 6.7 percent, hence why should countries deprive themselves of this opportunity.” The Economic Forum for regional cooperation convened in Skopje on the 28 of July gathering once again the proponents of the so called mini-Schengen initiative: Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Serbian president Alexander Vucic and Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev.
A new title was unveiled for the initiative whose ‘mini-Schengen’ moniker has been often criticized. The new name is going to be Open Balkans -signaling to international investors and business that the region is open to all. The Forum is also attended by 300 companies form all the three countries signaling the importance of the business community in this cooperation. Serbian President Vucic unveiled a grand goal of this platform saying that “in 2023 there shall be no borders between these three countries and one could travel from Belgrade to Tirana and Durres with no interruptions whatsoever.” Rama reiterated the fact that the door was open to other countries highlighting on the other side that no country would be held back by the skepticism or hesitation of another. Both Rama and Vucic reiterated that past animosities should not become permanent obstacles for the future. Rama was very critical not only of Kosovo for not partaking but also of other countries such as Montenegro and Bosnia for not recognizing the benefits in term of solving joint challenges. Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti, which has openly defied this mechanism in the past continued the boycott. Experts warn that Kosovo, by self-isolating like this, is missing out on an opportunity for positive developments in the realm of investments and trade. Kurti has presented in the past another platform-called SEFTA, modeled after CEFTA and being according to him more in line with the Berlin process. It has received no endorsement so far. A more detailed and concrete plan of measures that would facilitate transport trade and exchanges is expected to be unveiled in the Skopje Forum on its second day, 29 July with some of the points being a gradual easing of travel restrictions, faster “green lanes” at borders, reduced waiting times and easier access to work permits. Other aspirations include cooperation in the energy sector and in the green transition. All three leaders of the region repeated their frustration with the delays in the integration process. This difficult context is especially dire for the situation of North Macedonia whose PM said that now more than ever citizens feel betrayed and they need to see practical benefits in order to continue supporting this process. Rama on the other side used his well-known metaphors of the process resembling the famous play “Waiting for Godot”.
Economic Forum/ Vucic: “On 1 January 2023 we will have no borders” (Radio Tirana)
From the Economic Forum for Regional Cooperation, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic said that with this initiative, the countries aim to look to the future and leave behind the past. Vucic stated that this initiative, called Open Balkan focuses on the development in many aspects of all the countries. When we started this initiative, all three of us thought it would be a good thing that would change things in the Balkans, for the things that we found shortcomings in another and found reasons for disagreement, Albania and Serbia do not have such close relations but we decided to we look to the future and think and we must leave something to those who come after us, our children, we have established a sincere trust between us, in the sense of development, but we are not naive to think that someone will work for our own good, therefore we must prove that we are to decide for ourselves and get improved not to expect that somewhere someone will guide us and work for us. So, we have to work on our own, yesterday we reached an agreement, what Rama and Zaev proposed we accepted and vice versa. The proposal is for the common interest without anything secret, it is said that Serbia gains more from this but it is not true. Free movement for example is good for everyone. Goods, trucks, you will have 6-9 percent lower costs because there is no stopping at the borders and this is not easy to do, now we have to look at the approaches regarding VAT, but this is a salvation for our economies. Now how are we going to attract big investors, if we do not do these things, we can open factories in Kukes, Macedonia, Serbia. Edi mentioned a proposal to talk about cargo transport, to connect it with one place, we do not have a port such as Durres. We can do something big so we need to set up a board to deal with these. We will give the maximum, build mutual trust, to bring results and if we do these on 1 January 2023, we will have no borders, you will leave Belgrade for Tirana and you will not stop. Lastly, we talked to the representatives of the chambers of commerce, about an initiative to have exemptions for transport for trains, roads, hotels, that if you are from these three countries you have an exemption of 3-5 or 10 percent, for people to save some money. Now we will see if we are at the right level for this. We must put aside unfriendly relationships, we must determine our future,” Vucic said.
Balkans Schengen, DP’s Chair: Hypocrisy must end for free movement to work (ADN)
Hypocrisy must be brought to an end so that free movement can work in the Western Balkans region, underlined Thursday the Chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) Lulzim Basha as he stated that meeting between leaders that are held very often produce only publicity. Before the cameras, Basha noted that the leaders must work for the elimination of threat to peace and stability in the region, as well as mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia. Free movement is a goal and requirement of all integration processes, including the countries of the Western Balkans, the opposition leader added. “I think meetings are happening so often, I do not know what they are producing, other than photos. For free movement in the region to work, we must end hypocrisy, work urgently to eliminate the last threat to peace and stability in the region, the mutual recognition of Kosovo and Serbia. Free movement is a goal and requirement of all integration processes, including the countries of the Western Balkans. That they have the desire and protagonism to go out in these hot summer days to take pictures is not a big surprise to me, but they must save us the repetition of a watched movie that is not producing anything good for the citizens, but is turning into an alibi for the stagnation of objectives that each of them must have in the region. The Democratic Party supports the dialogue between the two republics, but we have left no dilemma for the conclusion of this dialogue, which should be mutual recognition. We are happy that the US and the EU are clear on this goal,” said DP’s Chair among others.
Basha’s statement came while Prime Minister Edi Rama was on a working visit to North Macedonia, after together with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev took a walk on the streets of Skopje towards the city center. However, the Albanian Head of Government’s visit to Skopje was 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”, part of which Kosovo refused to be.
Mini-Schengen, SMI accuses premier of selling Albania and hating Kosovo (ADN)
Prime Minister Edi Rama has sold Albania and hates Kosovo as a “hostage” of political and economic bargains with Serbia, declared Thursday the Vice Chairman of Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) Petrit Vasili. SMI’s official also harshly criticized PM Rama for saying that “When the earthquake hit Albania, it was the search and rescue forces from the regional forces that arrived in Albania, it was also those from Serbia and North Macedonia” as he reminded that Kosovo’s forces were the first ones to arrive in Albania and save tens of quake-affected. Moreover, Vasili said that the “Mini-Shchengen” term is fake and the real term is “New Yugoslavia”, and the Head of Albanian government treats his country like merchandise while betraying Kosovo like no one ever before has. “Rama sells Albania and hates Kosovo, as a hostage of political and electoral bargains with Serbia! Rama finally sealed the hatred towards Kosovo and for that only one phrase he said was enough. Everyone has in mind the immediate arrival of the Kosovo Special Forces, which saved dozens of lives by bringing even the dogs, that discovered the people under the rubble. This is a fact and the gratitude of the Albanians is eternal, while Rama attributes it to Serbia because he loves Serbia and has submitted to it while he hates Kosovo,” said Vasili.