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Belgrade Media Report 4 August 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wedne​sday 4 August 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Imposed decisions are never good, all three peoples in B&H must agree with all decisions (RTS)
Stefanovic: Operation Storm not an operation to liberate, but shameful expulsion of Serbs (FoNet)
Vulin: Operation Storm was biggest ethnic cleansing since WWII (Beta)
Vulin says FBI not involved in breaking up crime group (N1)
Stefanovic denies saying FBI helped in bringing down crime clan (N1/B92)
Popovic: The plan is to weaken us (Novosti)
Tegeltija: Moves of RS were extorted (Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Schmidt meets B&H Presidency members, Dodik fails to attend the meeting; Schmidt: We will return B&H to international agenda (O Kanal)
Dodik: B&H does not have High Representative (RTRS)
Sarovic welcomes Schmidt’s decision to look for compromise (RTRS)
Kalabukhov: Russia advocates respect for norms of international law and absence of consent of UN SC to Schmidt’s appointment deprives him of necessary legitimacy to be HR in B&H (BHT1/Srna)
Starovic says Schmidt’s thanks to Inzko for imposing of prohibition of genocide denial was not friendly gesture (Srna/Glas Srpske)
Linta: Certain Western power centers are responsible for crisis in B&H because they supported Inzko’s decision and Schmidt’s appointment (Nezavisne)
Tabakovic: Bosniak Caucus does not believe RS CC will grant its motion regarding RS parliament’s conclusions on Inzko’s decision (Hayat)
Petkovic says only Constitutional Court of RS can examine legality of law adopted by RS parlaiment on non-implementation of Inzko’s prohibition of genocide denial (Srna/Nezavisne)
Vulic: Izetbegovic is leading retaliatory policy aimed against RS and Serbs (Glas Srpske)
Cikotic: SIPA is active all over B&H, will continue its work in interest of all citizens of B&H (Dnevni list)
HNS on SDA’s conclusions: 18 unitary demands for continuation of discrimination, for taking control over judiciary and for elimination of non-Bosniaks from all elements of B&H society (Dnevni list)
Izetbegovic says SDA will not one-sidedly accommodate proposals of HDZ B&H, reminds SDA too has its own demands (Dnevni list)
HNC Assembly adopts amendments to HNC Constitution on constituency of Serb people and Bosnian language (N1)
Schmidt welcomes decision of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton to amend Constitution to recognize equality of Serb people and Bosnian language (FTV)
It is still unclear if Open Balkans initiative will be accepted by all countries in the region (Nezavisne)
Kosarac: Open Balkans initiative is opportunity for prosperity of entire region (Glas Srpske)
Croatia

Grlic Radman: High Representative in B&H remnant of past (Hina/FAZ)
Bosniak wartime internees resent Milanovic’s decision to decorate HVO units (Hina)
Montenegro

Krivokapic and Rama open joint border crossing between Montenegro and Albania (Gov. Press Service)
Republic of North Macedonia

Serbia sends four helicopters to extinguish fires in parts of the country; Serbian Interior Minister Vulin visits fire-hit municipality (Republika)
Albania

Rama: Open Balkans is a comprehensive initiative that targets all countries in the region (Radio Tirana)
Grenell: Kosovo was wrong for not taking part in the Open Balkans. I support Rama’s vision for the Balkans. I love Albania and I invite US investors in the country (Radio Tirana/News24)

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LOCAL PRESS 

Vucic: Imposed decisions are never good, all three peoples in B&H must agree with all decisions (RTS

The imposed decisions of the former High Representative Valentin Inzko are never good, the decisions must be in agreement with all three peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), said President Aleksandar Vucic after the meeting with the leadership of the Republika Srpska (RS). Vucic said that Serbia had expressed a desire that the Dayton Agreement is respected and to preserve peace in the region. According to him, Serbia respects the territorial integrity of B&H, but also the RS. Vucic also said that the meeting with the RS leadership would be followed by a meeting with representatives of opposition parties from the RS, as well as opposition parties from Serbia, who wanted to talk to the authorities, but did not ask for the presence of foreigners.

Stefanovic: Operation Storm not an operation to liberate, but shameful expulsion of Serbs (FoNet

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic spoke out on Wednesday against the celebration of the anniversary of the last big war-time military operation in Croatia, saying that marking the anniversary of “brutal ethnic cleansing” is unacceptable. Stefanovic said that operation Storm was “a crime and brutal ethnic cleansing”, adding that church services are served for the victims of the operation in Serbia. “Just as the WW II Jasenovac concentration camp was not a labor camp but a death camp, Storm was not an operation to liberate but a shameful expulsion of the Serb people from their centuries old homes in Croatia,” a statement quoted him as saying. He said that some 250,000 Croatian citizens were expelled, refugee columns were bombed, the elderly and sick were killed, properties burned, adding that the fates of thousands of missing Serbs remains unknown. Stefanovic said that the current Serbian authorities would not remain silent about the horrors committed against the Serb people like earlier governments did. “Serbia is grieving loudly and not allowing them to forget that Storm was shameful and certainly the greatest act of ethnic cleansing in Europe after WW II,” he said.

Vulin: Operation Storm was biggest ethnic cleansing since WWII (Beta)  

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Tuesday that Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995 was the biggest ethnic cleansing committed after the World War II, which, as he said, nobody has been held to account for to this day. He said that Serbia, led by Aleksandar Vucic, will never forget this crime against the Serbs, or stop insisting on justice and punishment for criminals. “A strong and stable Serbia stands with all fellow Serbs, wherever they may live. Storm will never be repeated and the Serb people will never again leave their homes, their birth place, in (refugee) columns,” Vulin stated after the meeting with the president of the Coordination of Associations of Refugees and the Missing Milan Zunic. Vulin added that the 250,000 expelled, murdered and missing Serbs during and after Storm obliged that, despite pressures, Serbia must call this operation of the Croatian military and police by its true name – a crime and an ethnic cleansing.

Vulin says FBI not involved in breaking up crime group (N1

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin told Belgrade police chiefs that only Serbian law enforcement agencies were involved in investigating and arresting the Belivuk organized crime group, denying claims of FBI involvement. “The FBI did not take part in breaking up that gang and I won’t allow the demeaning of the efforts of the Serbian police,” Vulin told the heads of the Belgrade Criminal Police Department.

Stefanovic denies saying FBI helped in bringing down crime clan (N1/B92

In an additional explanation of his statement, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic denied on Tuesday he credited the FBI with helping Belgrade security services bring down a criminal organization led by Veljko Belivuk. Stefanovic’s denial came after President Aleksandar Vucic and Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said the FBI did not have any role in the investigation against the group led by Veljko Belivuk, indicted with the most heinous crimes, including first-degree murders, drug and arms trafficking, kidnapping, rape and grinding people.

Vucic said Stefanovic probably made a mistake, as some media did as well. He vehemently rebuffed any foreign, including the FBI, involvement in the case in which the two accused linked him and Vulin to their crime clan. On Tuesday, he said some media close to the government and other close to the opposition rewrote and interpreted the statement as it suited them, not as it was sad. He added he filed suits against all media, which linked him to Belivuk using the most brutal lies, endangering me, my family and children, and imposing a huge damage on the country.

Stefanovic mentioned the talks he had with FBI Director Christopher Wray back in 2019 about the importance of cutting off the encrypted communication of criminal organizations and preventing the abuse of technology in committing a crime. Stefanovic, who then was the Interior Minister, said the discussion focused on using the Sky phones. The pro-government tabloids accused him of using such a phone, thus being linked to Belivuk’s group. Stefanovic said he mentioned the FBI only in the context of deciphering the encrypted communication via the Sky application. That helped in gathering evidence against Belivuk and his group. “Both our and the foreign services which helped us know who has used Sky phones, what proves I haven’t used it.” He added he had never said the FBI took part in the investigation against Belivuk and his group. “Some media close to the government constructed my statement to fit their agenda of several months of a negative campaign against me, and the opposition and the media close to it distorted the same statement in a way that fits into their futile fight against President Vucic and our party,” Stefanovic said in a written statement. Then he listed what he said was the truth.

– I have never seen or heard from Belivuk and members of his criminal group, nor in any way had contacts with these criminals;

– I have never used a phone with the Sky app;

– I did not protect anyone in the Interior Ministry, and the investigation against Belivuk and his group began at the time when I was the Minister.

“The only country that is important to me is my country, Serbia, and international police cooperation is an important segment of the fight against all types of organised crime. It does not represent behind-the-scenes talks but takes place according to clearly defined protocols and rules for that cooperation,” Stefanovic added. He said that Vucic has my resignation at all times. “I would never endanger President Vucic nor the policy of this country, which we have been building together for years. I have said many times and I will always repeat, that I hold this responsible post because President Vucic trusts me now, as many times before and that there is no incriminating evidence against the President because he is a man who often fights for Serbia. As for my dismissal, neither the opposition nor some passionate pro-government media should worry about it. That is exclusively a matter for President Vucic, and he has my resignation at all times if he thinks it is important that I leave this position. Whether I am a minister or not, I will fight in the same way and with the same zeal to continue the policy that President Vucic and the (Serbian Progressive Party) SNS have been pursuing for ten years. At the same time, I will never keep silent about lies and brutal attacks on me,” said Stefanovic. Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Tuesday that he officially addressed the US Embassy to Serbia, seeking an answer whether the FBI has had any operation in the investigation into the Belivuk group. “I officially addressed the Embassy of the United States of America to ask them to forward it to the FBI to answer if they have any operational activity or knowledge, unknown to our Interior Ministry, in the investigation of the group,” Vulin told TV B92.

Popovic: The plan is to weaken us (Novosti)

The Serbs will never accept decisions of international representatives that proclaim the Serb people as genocidal, Serbian Minister of Innovations and Technological Development Nenad Popovic stated on Tuesday. Popovic assessed that the only goal of such decisions is to weaken the Serb people in the Balkans, destroy Dayton RS and “drown it” into centralized B&H in which, as he put it, the Serb people would be a minority without any political significance. “Those who are making such decisions against the Serbs want to bring entire B&H three decades back, to new divisions and conflicts, instead of talking about future and true reconciliation of Serbs and Bosniaks.”

Tegeltija: Moves of RS were extorted (Politika, by D. Stanisic)

Bakir Izetbegovic’s SDA called new High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt to react and put out of force two laws which the RS parliament adopted in response to the decision of former High Representative Valentin Inzko to impose prohibition of genocide denial, Politika writes. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik’s Legal Advisor Milan Tegeltija told Politika that SDA behaves “as if it owns B&H and if it issues orders to the Office of the High Representative (OHR), Constitutional Court and judiciary at the level of B&H”. Tegeltija argued that, if the HR really has an unlimited power to impose laws, then he might adopt laws as soon as tomorrow by which he would abolish the RS Police, the RS Ministry of Finance, the RS government and RS citizenship as well as impose a law on a government of B&H by which all competencies would be transferred onto the level of B&H. “If we accept such interpretation, then a single signature of that clerk would be standing between the existence and disappearance of the RS. This is exactly what the RS cannot and must not accept and that is why it was backed against a wall so all of its moves have been or will be extorted, both as a reaction and as a defense,” Tegeltija said. Tegeltija said that the RS neither signed capitulation nor accepted occupation authorities, but it signed a peace agreement with terms and guarantors. Tegeltija reminded that Russia, as one of official guarantors of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), warned that the OHR had no authority to impose laws and that Schmidt has no legitimacy. “Therefore, the statement of the Embassy of Russia to B&H that the OHR is an obstacle on the path to development of B&H and its insisting on OHR’s unconditional shutting down had a special formally-legal importance,” Tegeltija noted.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Schmidt meets B&H Presidency members, Dodik fails to attend the meeting; Schmidt: We will return B&H to international agenda (O Kanal 

 

The new HR to B&H Christian Schmidt held his first official meeting with two members of the B&H Presidency, the Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and the Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic. The Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik did not attend the meeting as he had announced earlier. After the meeting, Schmidt said he will use all his power to pull B&H towards the EU, but that it is necessary to create dialogue before that and normal conditions. Schmidt said he took over his post with the goal of helping the citizens of B&H. Schmidt claims that, on the path of fulfilling his goals, he can count on the support of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) and close cooperation with the EU and the US. Schmidt was quoted as saying: “With the help of the international community (IC), we will return B&H to the international agenda. We will work together on fulfilling 14 priorities for B&H’s accession to the EU. There will also be work done one the 5+2 (agenda). I will specifically work on it and especially on protecting the territorial integrity of B&H”. Schmidt expressed regret that the meeting was not attended by all three members of the B&H Presidency. Schmidt was quoted as saying: “Last week, I was notified that on August 3, all three members of the B&H Presidency will be here and that after that there will be no dialogue. Now I hope it will be the other way around. I am not here to watch and wait. I am here to be active and I you can be sure I will be”. Dzaferovic and Komsic said that the most important thing for B&H is to continue its path to the EU, which is why it is necessary for the B&H institutions to function. Dzaferovic said he expects Schmidt to fully fulfill the obligations set out in Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Dzaferovic stated: “No one has the right to obstruct and boycott the work of B&H institutions. The obligation of functioning of B&H institutions and participation in the work of all of us in the functioning of B&H institutions is the Dayton (Peace Agreement) obligation. Dayton is not a buffet to take from it what is favorable and discard what is not favorable. Dayton must be implemented in full”. Dzaferovic said he thinks it is not good that Dodik did not come to the meeting. Dzaferovic pointed out: “I think that Mr. Dodik made a great mistake”. Dzaferovic called on Dodik and others who are blocking the work of the B&H institutions to stop doing that, in the interest of those who they claim to represent as well as in their own interest, because nothing will be achieved by that. Dodik did not attend the meeting because the RS politicians do not accept the manner in which Schmidt was appointed as the new HR. They believe that Schmidt is an illegal HR because his appointment was not confirmed by the UN Security Council. Schmidt stated on Tuesday that B&H politicians cannot expect someone to come from the outside and perform a miracle. Schmidt said all of them need to think how they can make a contribution. Schmidt, Komsic and Dzaferovic agreed that all authority levels in B&H need to participate in creating a better ambience for living in B&H. Schmidt said that he will work in line with the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) and the Constitution of B&H and that he sees the B&H Presidency and the state institutions as his first partner in that. “I will perform by duty with firm determination to help the people of this country,” the newly-appointed HR noted. Schmidt announced that he will continue talks with everyone, regardless of the current circumstances, and he believes in a constructive dialogue. As Schmidt emphasized, it is not only on the IC to make B&H move forward, it is also on all authority levels in B&H to go in that direction. “One cannot expect someone from the outside to come and make a miracle happen,” he said. In terms of Dodik’s absence, Schmidt emphasized that he had received confirmation that Dodik would be at the meeting and then continue the boycott. Schmidt believes that Dodik will in fact decide, with other political representatives from the RS, that they will quit the boycott and continue work in the joint institutions of B&H.  

 

Dodik: B&H does not have High Representative (RTRS 

 

The new HR to B&H Christian Schmidt held his first official meeting with two members of the B&H Presidency, the Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic and the Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic. After the meeting, Schmidt said: “I took office with the firm will to help the people of this country. I will use all my strength, and not only my own, but also the strength of the international community and my influence to achieve that. I count on political support of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) that appointed me”. RTRS reports, that commenting on this, Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik wondered what support Schmidt was referring to, when even the PIC was not unanimous in regard to his appointment, particularly talking into account that Schmidt’s alleged appointment was not approved by the United Nations Security Council (UN SC). In an interview for RTRS, Dodik said: “It is false representation and abuse of everything. In the form of the HR, he will not be welcomed by anyone, in the Republika Srpska (RS) Government, in the Assembly (RS National Assembly, by RS President (Zeljka Cvijanovic), by MPs, by Chairperson of the B&H Council of Ministers (Zoran Tegeltija), by the Serb member of the B&H Presidency, nor by Speakers of the B&H House of Representatives and the B&H House of Peoples, nor by Heads of Caucuses from the ranks of Serb people”. The reporter comments that Dzaferovic reiterated the statements given by SDA leader Izetbegovic in the past period, and was particularly hurt by Dodik’s absence. After the meeting, Dzaferovic said: “I invite him to, in the interest of those for whom he says he represents, and in his own interest, and all others who block the work of the B&H institutions, to urgently stop with that, because no one will achieve anything with that”. Commenting on this, Dodik said: “We have nothing to do with that anymore. We have not left the bodies of B&H. We said we would not decide on the bodies of B&H, that we would be there, because you have a situation in the Presidency that, if I am not there as the Serb member of the B&H Presidency, they can adopt a decision in accordance with the Rules of Procedure. I must be there to invoke (protection of) vital (national) interest”. Dodik also said he would invoke protection of vital national interest to prove to those in Sarajevo who do not believe, that the RS parliament is the place where decisions are made, not the B&H Presidency. Dodik said that “B&H has no High Representative” and that Christian Schmidt is “falsely presenting himself”, which is why Dodik decided not to attend Tuesday’s meeting at the B&H Presidency building. Dodik said that Schmidt needs to “properly identify himself” in order for RS political representatives to be able to cooperate with him. Dodik said that if Schmidt said he was, for example, an envoy of the US and Germany, then that would be clear, and cooperation with him would be possible. “You are not a High Representative. That is that. When I get the first call, I will say to Schmidt – ‘Please identify yourself’. Identify yourself. I am an elected Serb member of the B&H Presidency; here you have the confirmation of the Election Commission, which says I was elected. How were you elected?” Dodik asks, and adds that he is not obliged to meet with someone that was not elected in a legal way.   

  

Sarovic welcomes Schmidt’s decision to look for compromise (RTRS 

  

SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said that if new HR in B&H Christian Schmidt starts looking for solutions through new imposed decisions, it will be a downfall, in which everyone will lose. RTRS reports that Sarovic is of the view that based on Schmidt’s latest statements, it is clear that the dialogue will be the means for his work, which is insisted on by Serb representatives. Sarovic welcomed Schmidt’s decision to look for a compromise and said that the progress cannot be made, until local authorities agree on big issues. Sarovic also said that the RS representatives have legitimate right not to participate in the decision-making process, but he noted that they come to work and are present in the institutions’ building. Sarovic underlined that RS’ representatives will decide when it is more useful for the Serb people that they vote on the decisions and when they should refrain from participating in the process. He also considers that Schmidt should be cautious, due to awareness that he lacks the consent of UN SC for his mandate.  

  

Kalabukhov: Russia advocates respect for norms of international law and absence of consent of UN SC to Schmidt’s appointment deprives him of necessary legitimacy to be HR in B&H (BHT1/Srna 

  

In an interview for Srna, Russian Ambassador to B&H Igor Kalabukhov stated that Russia advocates respect for the norms of international law and that the absence of the consent of the UN Security Council (UN SC) to the appointment of Christian Schmidt deprives him of the necessary legitimacy to be the HR in B&H. In the context of destabilization, Kalabukhov pointed out the imposition of amendments to the B&H Criminal Code which, among other things, prohibit and punish the denial of genocide. “This has already had such an impact on the state that even the most perceptive analysts do not see ways to solve it and they claim that the most heated crisis in the post-Dayton period has emerged,” Kalabukhov was quoted as saying. Asked if B&H is an international protectorate, Kalabukhov answered that, unfortunately, the actual situation was such that some countries, hiding behind the cloak of the “international community”, were trying to serve their selfish interests in B&H. “Some countries, hiding behind the IC, are trying to realize their selfish interests in B&H. At the same time, they openly manipulate with the public opinion, intentionally lead towards destabilization of the situation in the country, in order to play on unresolved issues, with mutual concern and fears. Russia advocates respect of the international law standards, not the fabrication of mythical rules, relying on those that some want to use to rule the world,” Kalabukhov was quoted as saying. The reporter comments that Kalabukhov was clear that contrary to international law and common sense, western countries behind the Schmidt project, under excuse of fulfilling utopian European conditions are trying to revive the Office of High Representative (OHR) in B&H, that has lost its value long time ago. Kalabukhov also said it is contrary to hypocritical statements regarding the support to sovereignty of B&H “while they are doing everything to keep the country without sovereignty for as long as possible” due to which Russia is analyzing the current situation and will make new decisions. Asked if the appointment of Schmidt represents an attempt of the Western partners to isolate Russian influence in the Balkans, Kalabukhov stated that the opposite happens more often. According to him, the more attempts of isolation there are, the stronger Russian influence grows.  

  

Starovic says Schmidt’s thanks to Inzko for imposing of prohibition of genocide denial was not friendly gesture (Srna/Glas Srpske 

 

Secretary of State with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nemanja Starovic said that the situation in B&H cannot be and will not be sustainable for a long period of time, but it is important not to allow any kind of escalation. Starovic also assessed that the fact illegally appointed HR Christian Schmidt thanked his predecessor Valentin Inzko for imposing the law on prohibition of genocide denial cannot be assessed as a friendly gesture. Starovic added that it is still too early to say whether Schmidt came as a friend, as he claimed, and he added that Serbia will define its stance on his activities based on a report which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced he will ask for the first time from the HR.  

  

Linta: Certain Western power centers are responsible for crisis in B&H because they supported Inzko’s decision and Schmidt’s appointment (Nezavisne 

  

President of the Union of Serbs from the Region Miodrag Linta stated that certain Western power centers bear the main responsibility for one of the greatest political crises in B&H after the war because they supported the “undemocratic and anti-civilizational” decision of Valentin Inzko to impose amendments to B&H Criminal Code, as well as the illegal appointment of Christian Schmidt. According to Linta, certain western power centers are constantly trying to impose the attribute of a genocidal people on Serbs, although historical facts show beyond any doubt that Serbs are the only people which suffered genocide in the 20th century, namely in the Nazi ‘Croat Independent State’ during the World War II.  

  

Tabakovic: Bosniak Caucus does not believe RS CC will grant its motion regarding RS parliament’s conclusions on Inzko’s decision (Hayat 

  

Head of the Bosniak Caucus in the RS Council of Peoples (CoP) Alija Tabakovic, on the occasion of announcement that the Bosniak Caucus in the RS CoP will invoke the mechanism for protection of vital national interest (VNI) pertaining to the last two legislative solutions that the RS parliament adopted, asked to elaborate on the Bosniak Caucus’ upcoming move, Tabakovic confirmed that the Bosniak Caucus will meet on Thursday to discuss it and to submit the motion to the Constitutional Court (CC) of the RS for assessment of constitutionality of these legislative solutions. According to Tabakovic, the Bosniak Caucus actually does not believe that the RS CC will grant its motion, so it is ready to further file motion to the B&H CC. Tabakovic presented an opinion that the RS CC is mainly under the control of SNSD and its leader Milorad Dodik while the B&H CC is not under political influence. Speaking about the two legislative solutions that the RS parliament adopted response to Inzko’s decision, Tabakovic assessed that the law regarding non-implementation of the decision on banning the denial of genocide is even more serious and might be considered “a coup”. The Bosniak Caucus Head further noted: “By this solution, the RS authorities prohibit the relevant state institutions from taking action in nearly 50% of the territory of B&H.” He warned that there might come to clash between the RS police and the state agencies’ members and he fears of bloodshed among their personnel if such scenario happens. In addition, Tabakovic disagreed with the RS-based political parties’ conclusion that Inzko’s decision imposes collective responsibility for genocide onto Serb people. “On multiple occasions, Bosniaks have pointed to the fact that we do not consider the entire Serb people responsible for the genocide. Only individuals from rank of Serb people are responsible”, he stressed. Asked if he expects that the OHR and the international community should react to the RS parliament’s conclusions and put them out of force, Tabakovic said that he expects that Christian Schmidt will react. “I am glad that Mr. Schmidt congratulated Mr. Inzko on passing the law on banning the genocide denial. That is a clear message that imposing this law was not Inzko’s self-will but rather that there has been a wider consensus of the international community,” he added. Tabakovic pointed out that the law has already yield results in terms of reducing the genocide denial cases, despite the fact that “there are always nationalists who are capable of doing anything”. He welcomed the statement of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, who said that Inzko’s decision has relieved the Serb people of burden of collective responsibility, and concluded that there are honest, ordinary citizens among Serb people who would want to distance themselves from the crimes in question, but they fear of the scrutiny.  

  

Petkovic says only Constitutional Court of RS can examine legality of law adopted by RS parlaiment on non-implementation of Inzko’s prohibition of genocide denial (Srna/Nezavisne 

 

RS deputy speaker Milan Petkovic said that only the RS Constitutional Court can examine the legality of the Law on Non-implementation of the Decision of High Representative Valentin Inzko related to the Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H. “I deem that the Constitutional Court cannot find anything illegal in this context, because the documents were adopted by the RS parliament which is a legal and legitimate body of the RS,” Petkovic told Srna following calls of SDA to OHR to put out of force the law adopted by the RS parliament. Petkovic argued that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic “has been trying to please the High Representative for years” in order to achieve his own goals, including the abolition of the RS as the most dangerous of the goals. He also said that he has no doubt that the Bosniak Caucus in the RS Council of Peoples will do its best to try to dispute the law adopted by the RS parliament.  

  

Vulic: Izetbegovic is leading retaliatory policy aimed against RS and Serbs (Glas Srpske 

 

Member of the B&H House of Representatives Sanja Vulic (SNSD) stated that SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic is leading a retaliatory policy with the goal of destruction of the RS and the Serb people “from which he himself originates”, and creation of a unitary B&H. Commenting Izetbegovic’s call to RS politicians to give up on the blockade of work of B&H institutions and his statement that Milorad Dodik has been occupying the political space in B&H for more than a decade, Vulic said that Dodik is the one who is elected by people and whom people trust.  

  

Cikotic: SIPA is active all over B&H, will continue its work in interest of all citizens of B&H (Dnevni list 

 

B&H Minister of Security Selmo Cikotic said that currently there are policies on the scene that are in favor of continuation of war with other means, stressing that the state is far more prepared for complex situation that this current situation, after the High Representative imposed amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H. According to Cikotic, the essence of politics is to look for solutions rather than cause conflicts. Commenting announcement of Milorad Dodik that the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI) will prevent the SIPA from arresting people in the RS, who do not abide by the Criminal Code of B&H, Minister Cikotic said the SIPA is active all over B&H and that he does not have a dilemma that SIPA will continue to constructively do its job in the interest of all citizens of B&H. He added by saying that we have a problem of political nature, that the RS is in a serious conflict with the international community and values of justice, freedom and peace.  

 

HNS on SDA’s conclusions: 18 unitary demands for continuation of discrimination, for taking control over judiciary and for elimination of non-Bosniaks from all elements of B&H society (Dnevni list 

 

The Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) has reacted to conclusions of the SDA Presidency adopted on Monday saying that this is about 18 unitary demands for continuation of discrimination, for taking control over judiciary and for elimination of non-Bosniaks from all elements of the society in B&H. The HNS rejects efforts of SDA to eliminate the Mostar Agreement from all future talks, the Agreement that the SDA President exactly signed in June last year. The HNS also argues that the proposal of changes of the Constitution and the Election Law of B&H submitted by SDA is the proposal which absolutely does not resolve a single open, political issue and it additionally creates the frameworks for creation of mono-ethnic Bosniak, political and institutional discrimination and domination. It was stressed: “We are expecting strong involvement and maximal seriousness at this urgent time, if SDA representatives are truly serious political officials.” The HNS welcomes the calls for strengthening the representation democracy, whose ground in the HNS’s opinion is reflected in the legitimate political representation as an expression of the political will in accordance with the B&H Constitution. The HNS clearly condemned constant pressures on the judiciary system that “a deep state, created in para-intelligence and political, Bosniak circles, exert by attacking the work of the Chief Prosecutor”.    

  

Izetbegovic says SDA will not one-sidedly accommodate proposals of HDZ B&H, reminds SDA too has its own demands (Dnevni list 

 

SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic stated that he thinks it is possible to come up with a solution for changes to the Election Law of B&H that will be acceptable for everyone. Izetbegovic reminded that there are demands of HDZ B&H on one side and demands of SDA which aim to protect multi-ethnic parties and civic principle in B&H. “I expect civic, left-oriented political parties to join and not only wait for SDA and HDZ B&H to make a proposal which they could then jointly bring in question,” Izetbegovic said. Izetbegovic noted that there are both demands and frustration of Croats related to the election of a member of the Presidency of B&H “but a solution can be found for this through implementation of the Sejdic-Finci ruling”. On the other hand, Izetbegovic added, “we too are frustrated and have our own demands having in mind the situation that has existed in the Federation of B&H (FB&H) for three years already – HDZ B&H is deciding that we shall not have what both the Constitution and laws guarantee to us, i.e. new Government, filled seats in the Constitutional Court of the FB&H etc. We will not agree and one-sidedly accommodate proposals of HDZ B&H without making a certain balance in terms of removal of asymmetry in competencies and functioning of the House of Peoples of the FB&H and RS Council of Peoples. The only level of authorities in B&H where a government is appointed by a house of peoples as well is the FB&H”.  

  

HNC Assembly adopts amendments to HNC Constitution on constituency of Serb people and Bosnian language (N1 

 

At its session held on Monday, the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC) Assembly adopted amendments to the HNC Constitution, according to which Serbs are recognized as constituent people in the canton. N1 reports that the HNC adopted six amendments related to the status of Serb people, their participation in the decision-making process, equal use of the language and alphabet, with 26 votes in support and one against, this implementing the judgement by the B&H Constitutional Court, and harmonizing the legal framework with the relevant Federation of B&H (FB&H) laws. N1 reminds that the initiative for amendments of the HNC Constitution was launched by HDZ Caucus at the HNC Assembly two months ago, which was at the time called “politicking and play for the public” by SDA Caucus at the HNC Assembly, because it included only partial changes, ignoring the fact that according to the HNC Constitution, Bosnian language is called Bosniak language. After the session, deputy speaker of the HNC Assembly Tomislav Martinovic said for the media: “This is a continuation of our consistent policy directed towards all constituent peoples being equal in all parts of B&H’’. Martinovic added that amendments include all issues related to the constituency of peoples and language and alphabets, “thus, we did not leave anything undefined. However, our recommendation would be to continue with the concept of amending the Constitution”. N1 reminds that representatives from the ranks of Serb people at the HNC Assembly fought for years for recognition of Cyrillic as equal alphabet. In 2016, representative at the HNC Assembly Vesna Saradzic presented the initiative for amending the Constitution. Commenting on this, Saradzic said for the media that Bosniak Caucus at the HNC Assembly did the same, “and we consolidated the amendments, you know what happened afterwards, resulting in the judgement by the Constitutional Court in 2018”. Commenting on the adoption of amendments, deputy speaker of the Mostar City Council Velibor Milivojevic said this would allow Serb people “access to cantonal institutions, cantonal government, jobs, specific projects, everything that constitutes the need of ordinary Serb citizens, which will allow the positive voice to be heard and to have more understanding”. Dusan Golo from the Coordination of Serbs in Mostar reminded that over 70 young people with university degrees are currently registered with the Public Employment Service, noting “if the decision was to be implemented partially at least, I guarantee, there would be no unemployed Serbs in this canton. However, from my experience, which is not insignificant, I think it will remain a status quo”. N1 reports that adoption of the amendments will also change the Croat version of the HNC Constitution, according to which, the name Bosniak language will be replaced by Bosnian language.  

  

Schmidt welcomes decision of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton to amend Constitution to recognize equality of Serb people and Bosnian language (FTV 

 

Christian Schmidt welcomed the decision of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNC) Assembly to amend the HNC Constitution to recognize the equality of the Serb people, the official status of the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet in HNC, as well as the Bosnian language. FTV carried a statement issued by Schmidt which reads: “I stand for equality of all regardless of their ethnic, religious or any other affiliation. Our common goal must be to keep young, dedicated and hardworking people from B&H in this country”. HR Schmidt welcomes decision of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton to amend Constitution to recognize equality of Serb people and Bosnian language. “The HNC Assembly finally took positive steps towards implementing the 2018 Judgement of the FB&H Constitutional Court. I stand for equality of all regardless of their ethnic, religious, or any other background. The HNC authorities should continue with these positive steps and address the remaining aspects of the Constitutional Court judgement, and the Posavina Canton Assembly should adopt similar pending amendments, while West Herzegovina Canton, which partially harmonized its constitution, should complete the task.”  

  

It is still unclear if Open Balkans initiative will be accepted by all countries in the region (Nezavisne 

 

The initiative for creation of common regional market, unofficially known as Mini Schengen and officially named Open Balkans still has not received full support of all countries in the region, mainly because there is fear that it could replace the EU integration process, reports the daily. Unnamed EU diplomat told the daily several weeks ago that Brussels is still waiting to see in which direction the Open Balkans initiative will move before making a judgement, and noted that the initiative should facilitate the EU integration process and not represent a project for only several countries of the region. Also, within the EU’s internal discussions on the future of the Union, there are different opinions on the destiny of the Western Balkan countries. Some member states like Austria want to include Western Balkan countries as observes in the discussions about the future of the EU. Other countries believe that the EU project should take a different direction and move away from fundamental human rights and liberties ideas, and focus on economic integration of nation states which would hold most powers in their individual hands. Also, according to the daily’s unnamed sources, Germany has high hopes that the initiative for creation of common market in the Balkans will accelerate the EU integration process. A key moment will be the EU-Western Balkans Summit which will be hosted by Slovenia in Brdo kod Kranja on October 6. Until then, Germany wants to see the issue of diploma recognition and employment in the region solved, which would be the first step towards a common market. According to a German diplomatic source, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would like the common Balkan market to be one of her main foreign policy achievements before she retires. The Open Balkans initiative was accepted by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia, but B&H, Kosovo and Montenegro are expected to join the initiative too. B&H has not done this yet because of its internal dysfunctionality. Allegedly, one of the main tasks of new HR Christian Schmidt will be to help B&H join the regional initiative. Kosovo has not joined the initiative because of disputes between Belgrade and Pristina, and Montenegro hopes to be the next EU member and believes that this goal will be achieved faster if the country does not join the Open Balkans initiative. State Secretary in Serbian Foreign Affairs Ministry Nemanja Starovic stated that he expects all countries in the region to join the initiative when they see its benefits. He underlined that the initiative is not contrary to the EU integration process. An unnamed Regional Cooperation Council official told the daily that other countries in the region will have no choice but to join the Open Balkans initiative, which is a purely economic project. The EU Delegation to B&H told the daily that the entire region needs to focus on further expansion of economic integration based on the EU rules and standards, which is how the countries and their economies can come closer to the internal EU market. “The initiative for establishing of common regional market of Western Balkans, as stipulated at the Sofia Summit within the Berlin Process, offers a road map in this joint endeavor and it can help the region become more attractive for investments,” the EU Delegation stated.  

 

Kosarac: Open Balkans initiative is opportunity for prosperity of entire region (Glas Srpske 

 

B&H Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Minister Stasa Kosarac stated that the regional initiative for common market Open Balkans represents an opportunity for prosperity of the entire region and represents a stable basis for attracting new investments, higher economic growth and reduction of unemployment rate. He emphasized that joining the initiative would allow B&H access to the regional economic zone with facilitated trade and easier movement of goods, services, people and capital among the countries of the region. He underlined that this is also one of the fundamental values of the EU. Kosarac said that B&H has not yet joined the Open Balkans initiative because of obstructions coming from some political structures in the Federation of B&H (FB&H). “It is an inexplicable policy because of which, unfortunately, businesses and business community from both the RS and FB&H are suffering,” Kosarac noted. He welcomed the willingness of B Milorad Dodik to discuss the initiative with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He concluded that the initiative is complementary to the existing regional initiatives, and it can contribute to the economic growth.  

 

Grlic Radman: High Representative in B&H remnant of past (Hina/FAZ 

  

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said in an interview with the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) daily on Tuesday that the post of the High Representative in B&H was a remnant of the past which was also proof of the lack of democracy in that country. “As a relic of the immediate post-war period, the post of the High Representative is today a manifestation of the lack of democracy in the political life of that country,” said Gordan Grlic Radman. “B&H is not a place for experiment. I say that not only as the Croatian Foreign Minister but as someone who was born in B&H and whose family comes from there,” said Grlic Radman, referring to the so-called “Bonn Powers” which allow the High Representative to remove politicians and pass and repeal laws by decree. Grlic Radman expressed reservations about the recent decision of High Representative Valentin Inzko to pass a law punishing the denial of genocide. “The High Representative has the right to use the Bonn powers but their application represents a democratic deficit which is not in accordance with B&H’s European ambitions,” Grlic Radman said. He also said that changing B&H’s Constitution through decrees was no solution. Grlic Radman also thinks that centralist tendencies of some Bosniak politicians are not a solution either. Croatia’s Foreign Minister said that Zagreb had been observing the “open practice” of excluding Croats from the political decision-making process for years. When electing the members of the tripartite Presidency, a part of Bosniaks choose a candidate who is only seemingly a Croat candidate but in reality, supports Bosniak interests, said Grlic Radman. He said that Croatia had been advocating for years a reform of the election law, which would, for instance, through the reorganization of electoral units make it impossible for Croats in B&H to be overvoted when electing members of the presidency and the parliament.  

According to Grlic Radman, that is a question of Croats electing their own representative and no longer being overvoted, not of creating a third entity, in addition to Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of B&H (FB&H). He stressed there was growing support for such an approach in the EU and expressed optimism about Christian Schmidt’s term of office. “We look forward to cooperating with Christian Schmidt and we are certain that together with the EU and the U.S. he will encourage legitimate representatives of the constituent peoples to reach a compromise,” Grlic Radman said. Grlic Radman said that Croatia wants a stable, prosperous, peaceful and sovereign B&H, which contributes to stability in south-east Europe. He added by saying that, unfortunately, the process of the EU enlargement is generally halted, that one should never underestimate sensitive balance and complicated history of B&H and that B&H is no place for experiment. Grlic Radman went on to say that the Croats in B&H want full institutional and political equality with other two constituent peoples i.e. Bosniaks and Serbs, stressing it is not about privileges but about principles regulated in the Dayton agreement and the Constitution. Asked what is not functioning in B&H, the Croatian FM said that certain forces in the country believe they could turn the FB&H into a centralized and Bosniak entity, stressing that the Croats are denied the right to elect their representatives into the Presidency of B&H and partly to the (FB&H) House of Peoples, which is happening because part of Bosniaks “do not vote for their own candidates in the elections, but for an alleged Croat candidate who actually represents Bosniak interests”. In this context Grlic Radman it would be like, in Germany, numerically superior Bavaria elected their representatives into the Bundesrat and also representatives from Berlin into the Bundesrat. “It would happen that representatives from Berlin in the Bundesrat would not be elected by citizens of Berlin but by voters from Bavaria,” added the FM. Asked what solution he is proposing, Grlic Radman said that making of a stable and fair Law on Elections would be the best solution. “We are referring to the fundamental Dayton principles, but we do not want to interfere in the details. It must be solved in B&H. It is only important that Croats elect their representatives and that they are not outvoted in the process,” said Grlic Radman.  

  

Bosniak wartime internees resent Milanovic’s decision to decorate HVO units (Hina 

  

An association of wartime internees from Stolac, a town in southern Herzegovina, on Tuesday expressed disappointment that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic would decorate members of two units of the Bosnian Croat Defence Council (HVO), holding them responsible for crimes against Bosniaks.  According to media reports in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), along with members of Croatian Army units, Milanovic will decorate, on the occasion of Victory Day, members of the HVO Military Police and the “Ludvig Pavlovic” special purposes unit, who participated in operations to liberate Western Bosnia and Croatia in 1994 and 1995. The association of Bosniak wartime internees said the units in question carried out ethnic cleansing against and interned Bosniaks in Stolac, noting that thousands of Bosniaks from that town and central Bosnia ended up in prison camps. Hundreds of them were killed and Bosniak houses and other property were burned, the association said. A former commander of the HVO Military Police, Valentin Coric, was sentenced by the Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to 16 years in prison for crimes against Bosniaks, including those in Stolac, in a trial of six Bosnian Croat officials. None of the commanders of the special operations unit “Ludvig Pavlovic” has been prosecuted for the alleged war crimes. Some Bosniak wartime internees and politicians accuse this unit of persecution and internment of Bosniaks in 1993. In 2020, too, Bosniak associations and officials protested against Milanovic’s decision to decorate several HVO units.  

 

Krivokapic and Rama open joint border crossing between Montenegro and Albania (Gov. Press Service 

  

Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania Edi Rama opened a joint border crossing, Zatrijebacka Cijevna – Grabon between Montenegro and the Republic of Albania in the presence of Hermann Spitz, Charge d’Affaires of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. The border crossing was built in 2017 with the support of the EU within the IPA cross-border cooperation program Montenegro – Republic of Albania aimed at connecting Podgorica and Gusinje through the territory of the Republic of Albania. The construction works cost about 720,000 Euros, of which the EU provided almost half a million Euros. The opening of the joint border crossing with the Republic of Albania is aimed at the comprehensive valorization of tourist and economic resources of both countries. By joint implementation of border procedures by the police and customs of Montenegro and the Republic of Albania, the crossing of the state border will be simplified and accelerated by the principle of one stop, resources will be used more rationally, transport costs will be reduced in the spirit of CONNECTA Transport Community Project implementation, cooperation between border services will be improved, while all forms of cross-border crime will be more effectively prevented and detected. Montenegro now has three joint border crossings, two with the Republic of Albania and one with Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely: Sukobin – Muricani, opened in 2009 and Vracenovici-Deleusa, opened in 2020. The government owes special gratitude to the EU for its assistance and support in the construction of border infrastructure, achieving partnership, mutual trust and joint responsibility for border security, as a condition of internal security and part of the overall security system of the country. The ceremony was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, Minister of the Interior Sergej Sekulovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs Djordje Radulovic, Acting Director of the Police Directorate Zoran Brdjanin, Acting Director of the Revenue and Customs Administration Aleksandar Damjanovic, Minister of the Interior of Albania Bledi Çuci, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to Montenegro Ridi Kurtezi, Albanian State Police General Director Ardi Veliu, and General Director of Customs Genti Gazheli 

 

Serbia sends four helicopters to extinguish fires in parts of the country; Serbian Interior Minister Vulin visits fire-hit municipality (Republika 

  

Serbia sent four helicopters to extinguish fires in parts of the country, Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski informed the public on Tuesday. “They sent us four helicopters to extinguish the fires, which will join our two helicopters. We’ll do the best we can to put out raging blazes across the country,” Spasovski wrote calling Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin “our dear friend.” Spasovski thanked Serbia, which, as he said, again proved to be a good neighbor, extending a hand when it is most difficult for us, as well as to Minister Vulin personally for the visit, support and assistance to the Republic of Macedonia, to our citizens – especially significant when a person in distress is not left alone. That is why our friends are with us, that is why we are with our citizens, wrote Spasovski in the statement. Spasovski and his Serbian counterpart Vulin visited Tuesday Staro Nagoricane, a municipality in the northern part of the country, where a wildfire has been put under control and efforts are under way to prevent it from spreading. Vulin said that Serbia sent four helicopters to Macedonia, and if the situation worsens, he added, they are ready to intervene with their people and equipment wherever necessary. Only a few days after the Summit in Skopje, where our leaders expressed the need of all peoples in the Balkans to be closer to each other and through all forms of cooperation to really create an Open Balkans, today shows how important and necessary it is, said Vulin, adding that after the conversation with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic immediately issued an order to help the citizens of Macedonia, regardless of the fact that the problem with the fires is still present in their country as well.  

 

Rama: Open Balkans is a comprehensive initiative that targets all countries in the region (Radio Tirana 

  

The Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama has stated that the Open Balkans is a comprehensive initiative that targets all countries in the region. According to him, it is not a new invention, but simply a process within Berlin process for the people of the Western Balkans to feel free. He added that the initiative is not exclusive and the initiative should include Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We do not need to invent anything new, to make the region respect the 4 freedoms. The main target of the initiative we have taken in the framework of the Berlin process, which is a comprehensive and non-exclusive initiative is for the entire region of Kosovo, B&H, for the people to feel free and move freely. Entrepreneurs feel the same dignity as in the EU. You all have to wait,” said Rama.  

  

Grenell: Kosovo was wrong for not taking part in the Open Balkans. I support Rama’s vision for the Balkans. I love Albania and I invite US investors in the country (Radio Tirana/News24 

  

Following his visit to Serbia, former president Donald Trump’s envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Richard Grenell chose to visit Albania. “We are looking for opportunities to invest through foreign investment in the Balkans, but more specifically in Albania and the Albanian coast is wonderful, it is the ideal place. Prestige Resort is truly amazing, a fantastic place compared to the rest of the world. The fact that I am here at this resort is an honor for me. I like the sea more, it is perfect, I myself come from Los Angeles, so I live near the sea, but here the sea is extremely beautiful. I love Albanians, I love Albanian cuisine, it is wonderful. We just came here and we will enjoy this until next week,” Grenell said. In an exclusive interview with News24, Richard Grenell explained why he returned to the Balkans after leaving the top duty in the Trump administration. Grenell said he was promoting foreign investment and economic co-operation in the region, as the only way to guarantee well-being for all citizens, but especially to provide more employment opportunities for the younger generation. “President Trump’s vision for the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, had to do with job creation, with the economy, the idea was for the Balkan region to move forward. We’ve talked about politics for decades, but there was not much progress when we were just sitting at the table and just discussing politics, so it was our desire to move it forward further by talking about economic development, talking about employment of youth, here we have seen recently, the agreement to normalize economic relations made possible by the Trump administration was very fruitful. But what we want to see, is the continuation of that investment, that’s why I’m here. I no longer work for the government. I am in the private sector, and we are looking at opportunities to create a private sector for foreign investment in the Balkans. We are here to see different projects, to better understand if you have an investor, we must bring in foreign investments said Grenell. As a diplomat who oversaw the progress of the Kosovo-Serbia talks, Grenell also comments on Kosovo’s decision to be outside the “Open Balkan” initiative, as the Balkan Minishengen is named. For him, Albin Kurti’s decision is simply wrong. “I think he should be part of a wider Balkan dialogue, and he is not doing that. It is a big mistake. I think that the people of Kosovo deserve to have jobs, but without being part of this discussion, they will not be able to be part of the normalization of economic relations in the Balkans, nor of discussions,” Grenell said. But he calls Edi Rama a visionary, who has shown leadership in this initiative that, according to him, will create more jobs for Albanians and not only, but for the entire Balkans. “It is extremely important to have this leadership, Rama sees clearly that economic development, and the rejection of that policy, looks young people that expect to have jobs, they want to see that new industries are coming to their country, and I think that the vision that Prime Minister Edi Rama has, is a very good vision for the people, it means a better life for many Albanians, and of course throughout the Balkans,” said Grenell. The American diplomat is spending the hot days of this August in our country and has chosen to taste the pearls of the Albanian coast.  

 

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Belgrade Media Report 28 September 2021

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