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Belgrade Media Report 15 September

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Merkel’s visit is stimulus for work on rule of law (Beta)
Serbia and Republika Srpska mark the Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag (RTS)
Stefanovic: Serbia sees its future in the European Union (Tanjug)
Serbia’s FM happy with Serbia-NATO dialogue (Beta)
Several opposition parties forward draft agreement on election process to MEPs (Beta)
Sasa Jankovic: They advised me to get closer to Vucic (Danas, Nova S)
Vucic: These are ambassadors, I know who they are (B92)
Serbian Interior Minister Vulin calls Komsic and Dzaferovic hypocrites and Vranj a war criminal (N1)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues travel warning for B&H citizens going to Serbia (Hayat)
RS officials claim that warning of B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempt to relativize crimes and undermine Serbia’s reputation (RTRS)
Tegeltija and Chancellor Merkel discuss RS’ rejection of Schmidt as new HR and Election Law of B&H (BHT1)
Tegeltija: Merkel’s visit to the region confirms that Western Balkans remains important both for Germany and the EU (RTRS)
Komsic, Chancellor Merkel supported Serbia’s President Vucic’s policy (N1)
HR Schmidt meets Komsic; Komsic says he disagreed with HR about solutions regarding changes to B&H Election Law (Hayat)
HR Schmidt: EU and international community will gladly help B&H politicians find joint solution, but responsibility lies on elected reps of political parties, peoples in B&H (BHT1)
SDA sends letter to OHR, EUD/EUSR and PIC Ambassadors: Representatives of international institutions in B&H, before publicly presenting their stances, should get familiar with facts and indicators (N1)
Petritsch: B&H is in biggest crisis so far and if next elections in B&H fail due to boycott of Serbs and Croats, that would be de facto end of B&H (RTRS)
Marking Serb Unity Day starts with formal ceremony in Banja Luka, central event to take place in Belgrade (RTRS)

Croatia
MP Bacic: Vucic’s call for Serbs to fly flags is ‘a provocation’ (Hina)
Pupovac: We’ll do everything so relations in Croatia are ‘not disrupted’ (Hina)

Montenegro

Merkel: Montenegro most advanced EU candidate in Western Balkans (RTCG)
Krivokapic on the status of the Cetinje monastery: “Attack on property” (CDM)
Djukanovic calls for local elections in Mojkovac, Petnjica and Cetinje on 5 December (CDM)

North Macedonia
Zaev talked to Merkel about the need to unblock Macedonia’s EU path (Republika)
Merkel expresses sorrow Macedonia was not allowed to open its EU talks, says Europe is held hostage to nationalism (Republika)

Albania

In farewell visit to the region, Merkel focuses on progress, but says ‘impatience and frustration’ with EU is understandable (Tirana Times)
“Open Balkans”: Merkel message from Tirana: I welcome the initiative, I invite other countries to join (Radio Tirana)
President Ilir Meta decrees the government “Rama 3” (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: Merkel’s visit is stimulus for work on rule of law (Beta)

 

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sept. 14 that the respect showed by outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to Belgrade was yet another stimulus for Serbia to show success also in the areas where it had so far been insufficiently successful, such as the 

rule of law and certain regional issues. “When you see such a power showing respect for a 

small country, then you can say that you are happy. I am happy and proud. It is a stimulus to continue work with dedication and show success also in the areas where we have not been successful or have been insufficiently successful. In the rule of law and certain regional matters” Vucic told reporters outside Palace of Serbia. 

 

Vucic further said that Merkel’s visit had provoked some personal feelings, explaining that in 

cooperation with her, he had been through a lot. “We have been through a lot together, some hard times, and I have learned much from her, I have seen a lot and I have come to understand many things differently. I am thankful to her for everything and I was sad to see her leave as I do not know when we will again have an opportunity to host her” Vucic said. 

 

Serbia and Republika Srpska mark the Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag (RTS)

Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS) are celebrating a joint holiday – the Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and the National Flag. The holiday has been celebrated since last year. 

The Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and the National Flag will be marked throughout Serbia and the RS, and citizens are invited to display the flag at their homes. The date of September 15 was chosen because on that day, 103 years ago, the Thessaloniki front was broken through in the First World War. Throughout Serbia, RS, Serbian communities in Kosovo and Metohija, the streets are decorated with flags. In Belgrade, prominent buildings will be illuminated with the colors of the flag – Ada Bridge, Branko’s Bridge, Albania Palace. 

 

The central manifestation will be held on Savki Square in Belgrade, near the monument to Stefan Nemanja. The essence of the manifestation in Belgrade is, as announced, a reminder of the great military leaders of our people. The official start of the ceremony will be marked by an honorary artillery fire from Kalemegdan at 5:30 p.m. The plan is for several columns to pass through the streets of Belgrade. One will start from Vojvode Vuka Park, and the other from the monument to Njegos on the Plateau in front of the Faculty of Philosophy. Those two columns will unite at the monument to Prince Mihailo on the Republic Square, and then continue towards Slavija. On Slavija Square, the column from the city center will meet another, third column, which starts from the monument to Karadjordje in the park in front of the Temple of Saint Sava. 

 

In addition to the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, the Patriarch of Porphyry and the Serbian member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), Milorad Dodik, will address the ceremony on Sava Square. 

 

As part of the celebration of the Day of National Unity, the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Army will organize a display of weapons and military equipment in Usce. Visitors will be able to see more than 130 combat and non-combat systems, as well as numerous weapons and military equipment. Also, the thematic exhibition of the Military Museum on the occasion of the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki Front will be shown, as well as weapons and uniforms from the Balkans and the First World War. 

 

Today, the Parliament of RS will adopt the Law on the Protection of the Cyrillic Alphabet at a special session. The text of the law is almost identical to that of the Serbian Parliament. The decision to celebrate the joint holiday was made in August last year at a meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and representatives of RS. 

 

Stefanovic: Serbia sees its future in the European Union (Tanjug)

At the meeting in Austria, the Minister of Defense, Nebojsa Stefanovic, said that Serbia sees its future in the European Union, and that full membership in the EU is the foreign policy goal of our country, the Ministry announced. 

 

Speaking at the Conference of Defense Ministers “Graz Format” in Krems, he said that the process of European integration is one of the key catalysts of social and economic development, which also contributes to the overall improvement of national security and defense. Stefanovic thanked the Austrian Ministry of Defense and Minister Claudia Tanner for the warm welcome and continuous support that Austria, as a member of the European Union, provides to the countries of the region. “I want to thank you for constantly showing new energy, showing constant attention and always supporting all initiatives whose goal is for the countries of our region to be full members of the European Union” said Stefanovic. 

 

Negotiations on joining the European Union with all countries in the region are a key thing, he pointed out, both for security and for the Serbian economy. Stefanovic pointed out that there are many modern security threats, most of which have a transnational character and impose the need for cooperation of all countries in the region, Europe and the world. 

 

“It is not possible to give a comprehensive response to hybrid threats, terrorism, religious extremism, and especially challenges such as the Covid pandemic and migration, through the isolated appearance of one or a group of states, and therefore Serbia recognizes the importance of a multilateral format based on the principles of constructive dialogue, capacity building, trust and bringing the region closer to European integration” the defense minister said. 

 

He assessed that the process of European integration, in addition to the fact that it represents one of the key catalysts of social and economic development, contributes to the overall improvement of national security and defense. As a candidate country for EU membership, Serbia has harmonized certain aspects of the National Security Strategy and the Defense Strategy of the Republic of Serbia with the Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. He referred to the fact that next year marks the 10th anniversary of the first sending of members of the Ministry of Defense of Serbia to peacekeeping missions and operations under the auspices of the EU, adding that the Serbian army participated in six different missions. “Today, Serbia is participating in three EU missions and operations, and by the end of this year, we will be among the founders of the Multinational Helicopter Training Center, based in Sintra, Portugal” Stefanovic said. 

 

It was announced that Serbia’s cooperation with the EU is reflected in the participation of Serbian representatives at meetings of the EU Military Committee, Conferences for Generating EU Forces, as well as at meetings of the Coordination Conference and the EU Battlegroups in Brussels. 

 

Among the important projects that have contributed to regional cooperation, Minister Stefanovic pointed out the establishment and functioning of the Balkan Military Medical Forces, which have achieved full operational capability during Serbia’s mandate. 

 

The European Union without the Western Balkans remains unfinished 

 

The Minister expressed hope that Austria would support Serbia and call on other countries to support our country on the path to European integration, and that the ministry would follow EU decisions which strengthen its security and defense dimension through various integration processes and initiatives. He reminded that Serbia is establishing more and more intensive cooperation in all aspects with the countries of the region, in order to build economically strong states, which are quality places for the life of citizens. 

 

“The initiative of President Aleksandar Vucic, together with the leaders of the countries of our region for the Open Balkans, represents an excellent example of an initiative and a serious incentive in the further economic development of our region” the minister said. 

 

The Minister of Defense of the Republic of Austria, Claudia Tanner, emphasized that the European Union without the Western Balkans remains unfinished and concluded that Austria will strive for the continuation of European integration in the future, while the forms of cooperation agreed by the ministers today will support resilience in the Western Balkans. 

 

The Ministers of Defense of Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia signed a Joint Declaration, which gave impetus to cooperation and dialogue in the field of security and defense for the coming period. 

 

Serbia’s FM happy with Serbia-NATO dialogue (Beta)

 

In a meeting with Italian Army Brigadier General Tommaso Vitale, the chief of the NATO 

Military Liaison Office in Belgrade, on Sept. 14, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said he was happy with mutual understanding and regular dialogue between Serbia and NATO. Selakovic said that Serbia was interested in improving partnership and practical cooperation and continuing political dialogue in all domains of mutual interest, according to a release from the Foreign Ministry. He stressed that a special contribution to this partnership was given by a personal relationship between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Selakovic expressed gratitude for NATO’s position of respecting Serbia’s military neutrality. Selakovic and Vitale noted that late this year it would be 15 years since Serbia joined NATO Partnership for Peace Program, saying they were ready to mark the jubilee appropriately. 

 

Several opposition parties forward draft agreement on election process to MEPs (Beta)

 

Several opposition parties and movements on Sept. 14 agreed on a final version of an agreement of the inter-party dialogue participants and forwarded it to the representatives of the European Parliament with expectations from them to “take a clear position” on the submitted proposals and say whether they considered the text an appropriate way to solve the problems cited in the draft working document. “Based on your position we will decide on future steps in relation to the second round of the interparty dialogue and your arrival scheduled for Sept. 17,” says the letter to the MEPs. The draft agreement, inter alia, proposes setting up a Public Information Coordinating Body to ensure equal access to media outlets, pluralism in the media, professional standards, and ethical principles. The signatories are the Freedom and Justice Party, the Democratic Party, the Free Citizens Movement, political movement Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own, Together for Serbia, and the Movement for Change. 

 

Sasa Jankovic: They advised me to get closer to Vucic (Danas, Nova S)

 

Sasa Jankovic, a former ombudsman and presidential candidate from the last elections, told that he was advised to do against Aleksandar Vucic, as well as what was, in his opinion, happening in the opposition, in a podcast for the Nova.rs portal. 

 

“Political strategists, ambassadors, quasi-friends” Everyone told me the same thing. You and Vucic are the same age, you even know each other, he respects you, you should be great with him, so you can get under his skin and turn everything around at one point. 

 

That is how you win power. It was absolutely beneath my honor to take that into consideration. Should I sit with someone and plot how to become a caliph instead of a caliph? That’s ugly. It also happened to me to be asked: If you don’t want to be with Vucic, who could you be with from the SNS. In case Vucic’s heart fails… What can a person answer to that? Let’s pretend I didn’t hear that, because if I accept that I heard what you said, we can never talk again. Regardless of the fact that this man did the worst things in my life, what would I be if I thought about him like that? It can’t be like that” said Sasa Jankovic, adding that he is sure that this did not happen only to him, but that it is more of a common thing on our political scene. 

 

“I stopped talking about the people in power a long time ago. It is clear what I think about them. While I was in Vienna, a situation happened where the president of a political party, which was on my side, lied about something. Then I called the vice president of his party who told me – Well, Sasha, of course he lied. Is it possible that you did not record it?” Jankovic recalled. “So, I need to record conversations with my closest associates so that I can go out to the media tomorrow and say that they are lying, so that these people on the other side can enjoy how the opposition is like this or like that. What would that look like? Tomorrow we are supposed to take over and share the power together? Like that? It is easy for me to say that this government is not good. But if I have to take responsibility with someone who is ready for such things, I don’t want that. Either we will do it properly and turn Serbia in a different direction, or thank you very much. If I can’t beat them, I don’t even have to join them. And I think it can be won, because a much larger number of people see everything we are talking about today” the former ombudsman states. 

 

Jankovic confirmed that he is in no way interested in engaging in politics, that he likes the fact that he is the owner of his life again and that he does not always have to respond to media calls. He said that he follows political events a little, but that when he chooses whom he will give his trust to, on the opposition scene, he only looks at the extent to which someone is ready not to succumb to pressure and not to cross the line of ethics and responsibility in his political activities, regardless of how fierce they are. “There is no point in replacing one sociopathic government with another” Jankovic pointed out, adding that “once that line is crossed, all boundaries are lost.” 

 

Vucic: These are ambassadors, I know who they are (B92)

 

President Aleksandar Vucic commented on the threats of Prime Minister of the so-called Kosovo on the introduction of reciprocity measures. Vucic said that it is important to preserve safety of the people in Kosovo and Metohija, respecting the Brussels Agreement. He stated that the verdict against Ivan Teodosijevic is also in focus. “We cannot influence irrational moves in any way, it’s impossible” Vucic said after the display of weapons and military equipment in Usce. 

 

President of Serbia said that he listened to Sasa Jankovic last night and stated that he was grateful for that gesture and thought that he “did not lie”. “It is important that Jankovic said that they were ambassadors, not lower ranked officials, but direct representatives of the states. I think I know who they are” President of Serbia explained. Vucic says that he does not think that they wanted to kill him, but, as he claims” someone delivered his cardiovascular medical record to them”. “But it is not terrible to die, we will all die. His statement is very important for the history of Serbia. It will be written in about 10, 20 or 50 years. As far as I am concerned, while I am in this position, I will pursue a policy of independent, free Serbia, and taking into account only our interests. You always have to pay a certain price for such a policy. All together, opposition leaders do not have as many as negative announcements as I do. That is what it looks like in a dictatorship” he said. Vucic said that no one can beat the results of a hard work, adding that many go to foreign embassies out of vanity. “I’m sure it’s not an isolated case, but there are dozens of such people. There are people in my party who have only positive announcements, according to the research we did. But no one will vote for them. People are interested in content, not in self-promotion” he said. 

 

Serbian Interior Minister Vulin calls Komsic and Dzaferovic hypocrites and Vranj a war criminal (N1)

After the Serbian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) rejected to come to the B&H Presidency building for a consultation – based on the request of B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic – during which they were supposed to discuss arrest of B&H national, Edin Vranj, in Serbia, the situation was further complicated. Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin called Komsic and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, hypocrites, and he said Edin Vranj was a war criminal. “In Serbia, the Prosecution works in line with the law and the Ministry of Interior works in line with the Prosecution’s orders and there is no politics in that, and there will never be. Because that is like that; Serbia is a state, and why does even (Kosovo President) Vjosa Osmani, as a leader of an unrecognized territory, says that B&H is a ‘non-functional state’, that is something that Komsic and Dzaferovic need to explain to themselves and the citizens of B&H” said Vulin in part of an official statement issued on the Serbian Interior Ministry’s website. Vulin also wrote that for the past 30 years, Bosniaks have been “living off the fact that they play the victim”. Vulin called the aggression on B&H a civil war. According to Vulin’s press release, no one in B&H cares about victims and “the war criminal Edin Vranj was arrested”.  

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina 

 

B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues travel warning for B&H citizens going to Serbia (Hayat)

On Tuesday afternoon, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning to all citizens regarding trips to Serbia, emphasizing that those that were part of the defense of B&H during the war – in any form – should avoid travelling to Serbia, as they might get arrested. Hayat reminds that B&H and Serbia have signed an international cooperation agreement. Lawyer Vlado Adamovic explains that this agreement does not refer to cases of war crimes. For that, there is another agreement between the prosecutor’s offices of the two countries. Through this agreement, work of the prosecutor’s offices is supposed to be simplified and they are supposed to inform one another about planned and implemented activities. However, it seems this cooperation is not functioning well in the recent period. Adamovic added that citizens that are accused of war crimes are not extradited due to constitutional prohibitions. Serbia was obliged to submit a list of all people from B&H that are accused of war crimes. This list would be made based on criminal complaints. On the other hand, the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H was supposed to send a list to Serbia on all persons against whom investigations have been suspended. B&H prosecution said that people that Serbia arrests at border crossing were available to B&H bodies at all times and they would have responded to a call from the B&H judicial institutions regarding some cases and investigations. In Vranj’s case, and many other before, an omission was made. Adamovic said data was supposed to be exchanged between Serbia and B&H, but in the case of Edin Vranj, that was not done. 

 

RS officials claim that warning of B&H Ministry of Foreign Affairs is attempt to relativize crimes and undermine Serbia’s reputation (RTRS)

 

After the Higher Court in Belgrade ordered one-month detention for Edin Vranj, who is being brought in connection with war crimes against Serb prisoners of war in Gorazde, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning, as it stated, to all B&H defenders not to travel to Serbia. Officials from Republika Srpska (RS) claim that this is an attempt to relativize crimes and undermine Serbia’s reputation. RTRS stressed that political Sarajevo is not giving up on supporting Vranj, noting that B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic and two members of the Presidency of B&H, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic, are in the forefront of mostly scandalous and unconstitutional actions.  

 

RTRS stressed that the case of war crimes suspect Vranj pushed the faltering B&H diplomacy into collapse. RTRS noted that instead of diplomatic and constitutional correspondence, Komsic invited the Serbian Ambassador to B&H to a meeting in the B&H Presidency, while Turkovic independently sent a piece of paper called a protest note to Belgrade and invited the B&H Ambassador to Serbia for urgent consultations in Sarajevo.  

 

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik called this “a caricature of state, diplomacy, and foreign policy.” “If the man took part in that, then a court should say whether he is guilty or not, and not Komsic and Dzaferovic. The two of them do everything that this here falls apart” Dodik underlined. Meanwhile, Komsic met with “German diplomat” Christian Schmidt in Sarajevo on Tuesday morning. Komsic stressed that he and Schmidt discussed all current issues in B&H and the region. Komsic disappointedly admitted that he and Schmidt did not understand each other very well. “I can say that we did not really agree on some of the things we were talking about” Komsic told the media.  

 

Komsic and Schmidt do not see eye to eye when it comes to Vranj’s arrest, the Berlin Process, ‘Mini Schengen’ and the election legislation, but that the list of Komsic’s disagreement with the Dayton Constitution, institutional competences and international conventions is much longer.  

 

RTRS noted that Komsic would like to abolish the constituent status of peoples guaranteed by the Constitution, adding that Komsic would also like to ban Serbs from building a memorial center in Donja Gradina or the hydroelectric power plant ‘Buk Bijela’ on the Drina River. Komsic is also not hiding his hatred towards the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), but that he overdid himself with the Vranj case and the latest scandal. RTRS stressed that disorganization of the B&H diplomacy is seriously threatening the relations in the region and analysts believe that all of this shows essential and unsolvable dysfunction of the state of B&H. Historian and publicist Srdja Trifkovic stressed that this only points to the fact that B&H is exclusively surviving by the will of outside factors and that the moment the outside factor is no longer interested in B&H’s preservation at any cost, B&H will end the same way as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  

 

Tegeltija and Chancellor Merkel discuss RS’ rejection of Schmidt as new HR and Election Law of B&H (BHT1)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman Zoran Tegeltija met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Tirana on Tuesday. They discussed Republika Srpska (RS)’ rejection of Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative and amending the Election Law of B&H as the main topics Tegeltija opened during the meeting. Tegeltija expressed B&H’s commitment to the EU path and the improvement of regional cooperation. He informed Merkel on the current political situation in B&H and said that the common goal is to shorten a marathon-long time framework for archiving progress in the EU enlargement and accession process. Merkel voiced understanding for different stances in B&H and expressed support to Schmidt. Tegeltija assessed that initiation of the Berlin Process at the Western Balkans has created a new atmosphere, and new possibilities for cooperation were opened. Tegeltija also said that the EU enlargement on the Western Balkans is a two-way process and there is a need for a new impulse for the accession and enlargement process. Tegeltija assured Merkel that B&H is dedicated to the EU path and the improvement of regional cooperation. He added that it would be beneficial for B&H if Germany continued to be the main carrier of the Berlin Process. 

 

Tegeltija: Merkel’s visit to the region confirms that Western Balkans remains important both for Germany and the EU (RTRS)

 

Following a joint meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held bilateral meetings with all leaders from the Western Balkans region, including Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) CoM Zoran Tegeltija. In an exclusive interview for RTRS after his meeting with Merkel, Tegeltija revealed that he and the German Chancellor discussed, among other things, the position of Christian Schmidt and changes to the B&H Election Law which, as Tegeltija said, are two things which there is no consensus on in B&H.  

 

Tegeltija said that Merkel’s visit to the region confirms that the Western Balkans remains important both for Germany and the EU. Tegeltija stressed that a new impetus is needed both from the EU in the enlargement process and in the accession process by candidate countries. Asked whether he acquainted Merkel with the turbulent political situation in B&H and the fact that the RS and two members of the UN Security Council (UN SC), including Russia and China, do not recognize Schmidt as the High Representative (HR) in B&H, Tegeltija said that Merkel is well-informed about all problems. Tegeltija stressed that officials from Republika Srpska (RS) believe that Schmidt was not appointed in an appropriate way. “We still believe that it is necessary to take advantage of all opportunities to make sure Mr. Schmidt gets an adequate mandate as intended, i.e. to get that support in the Security Council. Despite the fact that the two great powers are against this manner of appointment, we believe that with agreements and definition of the mandate of this High Representative, as well as the Office, an acceptable solution should be found which would redefine the position of the OHR in Sarajevo. Mrs. Merkel has a somewhat different opinion, but she is for defining a way where everyone would be certain that Mr. Schmidt will not behave at the end or at the beginning of his mandate the way Valentin Inzko behaved” Tegeltija underlined, adding that Inzko caused a problem for everyone in B&H by imposing a law at the end of his mandate.  

 

As for the changes to the B&H Election Law, Tegeltija said that he reiterated that “we accept the verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which say that it is necessary to change the manner of election in the B&H Presidency to enable ‘The Others’ to run in the elections.” “My position is that this is an issue of relations within the Federation of B&H (FB&H), between the Bosniaks and Croats. The RS has had a harmonized position when it comes to the election of the B&H Presidency for years and we will continue to advocate that position” Tegeltija emphasized. He stressed that in order to come to an agreement on changes to the B&H Election Law, much greater engagement of the international community is needed in order to come up with an acceptable solution to avoid a situation in which one people elects representatives of another people.  

 

Asked whether Merkel and he discussed the ‘Open Balkans’ initiative, Tegeltija said that Merkel advocated the issue of the ‘Open Balkans’, noting that two-thirds of B&H accepts that concept. Tegeltija stressed that the ‘Open Balkan’ process is no substitute for the process of enlargement of the EU. “But it is an opportunity to achieve certain things through the system of the so-called ‘Open Balkans’ until you become a full member of the EU. The Presidency at one point reached a decision to accept that system, but this changed later on. I will continue to advocate through the CoM that it is necessary for B&H to join this project because, if nothing else, it will help the citizens” Tegeltija concluded.  

Komsic, Chancellor Merkel supported Serbia’s President Vucic’s policy (N1)  

 

Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency, said on Tuesday the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic’s policy by paying a visit to Belgrade and added that “Serbia cannot be made the boss in the Balkans.” He echoed the words of Serbia’s opposition, which accused Merkel of supporting dictatorship in the country for the last nine years. Komsic insisted that all the countries should be treated equally. “I don’t know why the German Chancellor chose such a format of the meeting. She went to Vucic to support him again. We see it as a bad move sending bad signals, but that is what it is” Komsic told reporters after talks with the B&H High Representative Christian Schmidt in Sarajevo. 

 

Komsic added he could not see other reason why Merkel did it and said that Tuesday’s talks with Western Balkans countries’ prime ministers were only “a compensation for the meeting with Vucic.” Komsic said, “one expects that such a serious country like Germany and such a serious person like Merkel are well informed and so difficult to be presented with a wrong picture.” 

 

He then questioned Berlin’s policy aim. “If the aim is to make Serbia a regional boss, that won’t work. I told that to Schmidt. We can be equal and talk on that basis only. No more bosses in the Balkans” Komsic said. “I have no dilemma that institutions in Berlin lack some information, the only question is what the goal of that policy is. If the goal is to turn Serbia into a regional boss, that will not happen” said Komsic. 

HR Schmidt meets Komsic; Komsic says he disagreed with HR about solutions regarding changes to B&H Election Law (Hayat)

Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Zeljko Komsic met with High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt in the Presidency building in Sarajevo on Tuesday. The two spoke of the Election Law of B&H. Komsic said that he believes Schmidt prefers the solution provided through the ‘Fuele’ model (former Czech diplomat Stefan Fuele), which is dangerous for the future of B&H because it is a form of creating some kind of ethnic territories. But this matter will certainly be discussed in the future, Komsic said.  

 

The two officials also talked about implementation of rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the strained relations between B&H and Serbia – connected to non-selective arrests of B&H nationals and the fact that Serbia does not extradite war criminals. After the meeting, Komsic said that he believes that Schmidt still does not have a complete image of the current situation in B&H. “We want to live as countries of the European Union live – based on those principles and those values. First of all, we all said this was our official policy, accepting the 14 priorities from the Opinion of the European Commission (EC); that implies, that equals, what applies in Germany, applies in B&H as well. At this moment, we do not have that, but we are fighting to reach that” said Komsic, adding that he expects people that come from developed EU countries to understand this situation in B&H and have an understanding of the work that needs to be done.  

 

“My impression is that he (the HR) prefers the solutions from the Fule model which, in my opinion, is again unacceptable and leads to further ethnical territorialization of constituencies which might seem harmless to some, but to me it seems very dangerous for the future of B&H. It is a kind of creation of ethnic territories” Komsic said, adding that he insisted on all five verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), not only on ‘Sejdic-Finci’ judgement. “I also insisted on the opinion of the European Commission (EC) and the fourteen priorities. In my opinion, those are matters that we should discuss with the representatives of the international community” Komsic underlined. 

 

HR Schmidt: EU and international community will gladly help B&H politicians find joint solution, but responsibility lies on elected reps of political parties, peoples in B&H (BHT1)

In an interview to BHT, High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt stated that in order to resolve all key problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), including the blockade of B&H institutions’ work and agreement on amending the Election Law of B&H, it is necessary that politicians do not give up on talks even in difficult situations when joint solution is not close. He added that the EU and the international community will gladly help B&H politicians find a joint solution, but responsibility lies on elected representatives of political parties and peoples in B&H. Commenting on critics that he has taken HDZ B&H’s side in his perception of amendments to the Election Law of B&H, Schmidt said that he is impressed with how many “mind readers” there are in the region, as he actually has no hidden thoughts on which media reported lately. He stressed that it is much more useful to work on solutions and amendments to the Election Law of B&H, which among other things need to include the fight against election frauds, compliance with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), etc. 

 

SDA sends letter to OHR, EUD/EUSR and PIC Ambassadors: Representatives of international institutions in B&H, before publicly presenting their stances, should get familiar with facts and indicators (N1)

SDA sent a letter to the OHR because, as they stated, representatives of HDZ Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and most notably representatives of the state institutions of Republic of Croatia, frequently launch groundless claims about discrimination and majorization of Croats in B&H in regards to their political representation and necessity to change the Election Law so that Croats would “feel represented”.  

 

The same letter was also sent to the EU Delegation and the EU Special Representative (EUD/EUSR) in B&H and Ambassadors of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC). SDA warned that it is concerning that such claims, easily and without getting to know the real situation, are accepted in part of the diplomatic circles. SDA deems that representatives of the international institutions in B&H, before publicly presenting their stances, should get familiar with the facts and indicators, easily accessible to the entire public. Neither the OHR nor HDZ B&H have reacted to SDA’s letter. However, HDZ B&H has announced a session of its Presidency at which changes to the B&H Election Law will be discussed. 

 

Petritsch: B&H is in biggest crisis so far and if next elections in B&H fail due to boycott of Serbs and Croats, that would be de facto end of B&H (RTRS)

In an interview for the Vienna-based daily Die Presse, former High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch stated that no foreign intervention for the creation of a state and its institutions may last longer than ten, twelve years at most. Petritsch drew a direct parallel between the US intervention in Afghanistan and Western engineering in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), concluding that both have failed in a similar way. Petritsch stressed that the long-standing institution of the High Representative in B&H has meanwhile become counterproductive. Petritsch especially criticized former High Representative Valentin Inzko, because before his departure from B&H, he imposed a law banning the denial of genocide in Srebrenica. According to Petritsch, this established a double negative effect, i.e. nothing was achieved for the victims and the Serb boycott of B&H institutions paralyzed B&H. He noted that B&H is currently in the biggest crisis so far and that if the next elections in B&H fail due to the boycott of Serbs and Croats, that would be de facto the end of B&H. 

 

Marking Serb Unity Day starts with formal ceremony in Banja Luka, central event to take place in Belgrade (RTRS)

Marking of September 15 – the Day of Serb Unity, Freedom and National Flag – started in Republika Srpska (RS) with a formal academy held in Banja Luka on Tuesday evening. Participants of the formal academy in Banja Luka stated that September 15 is a symbol of struggle of the Serb people for freedom.  

 

RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that September 15, the joint holiday of the RS and Serbia, is essential and that “regardless of the senseless obstructions from Sarajevo”, the RS and Serbia will continue to implement all joint projects in the RS, stressing that no one will be asked for their opinion when it comes to the construction of memorial in Donja Gradina which was announced by the RS and Serbia. “Today, when we talk about unity in the RS, we do not mean single-mindedness, nor one-sidedness, but gathering with the goal of protecting vital national interests of our republic. An important step in preserving our identity will be the adoption of the Law on the Protection, Preservation and Use of the Serbian Language and the Cyrillic Alphabet in the Parliaments of Serbia and the RS. Protection of identity is our common interest and our inalienable right that we exercise without the intention of endangering or damaging anyone. On the contrary, we want peace, stability and prosperity, both for our citizens and for everyone else in the region” Cvijanovic underlined.  

 

Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik also addressed the academy in Banja Luka, pointing out that September 15 is symbolically important and that it speaks about a great victory of the Serb people in World War One. Dodik stressed that September 15 is proof of the struggle of the Serb people for freedom “which the Serb people always won but never kept to itself, but shared with others.” Dodik stated that “Serbia will always be our inspiration and desire for that unity, support and assistance.”  

 

On behalf of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Darija Kisic-Tepavcevic addressed the academy in Banja Luka. Kisic-Tepavcevic said that no one will ever be able to undermine the unity of the Serb people. Kisic-Tepavcevic conveyed Vucic’s desire for the Serb people in B&H to persevere in the struggle to preserve its identity and to continue to implement key infrastructure projects because they are guarantee of survival of the Serb people in the area. “The Serb people is one and indivisible, our past, present and future are the same” Kisic-Tepavcevic emphasized.  

 

Earlier in the day, Kisic-Tepavcevic met with the senior officials of the RS, including Cvijanovic, Dodik and RS Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic. The RS officials and Kisic-Tepavcevic, among other things, discussed the continuation of implementation of already agreed infrastructure projects. The central event of the Day of Serb Unity, Freedom and National Flag will take place in Belgrade on Wednesday.  

 

Russian Ambassador to B&H Igor Kalabukhov was among the special guests at the ceremony. Dodik specified that the values of Serb people include history, Serbian language, Cyrillic script, and the Patron Saint’s Day and all Serbs “no matter where they live” not only in the RS and Serbia, share them. 

 

Croatia 

 

MP Bacic: Vucic’s call for Serbs to fly flags is ‘a provocation’ (Hina)

 

Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) whip Branko Bacic said on Tuesday that the call by Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic to “Serbs in all Serb lands” to hang out their Serb flags on 15 September, wherever they may be, is inappropriate, unacceptable and a provocation. 

“I consider that to be a provocation and inappropriate, all the more so, because it is in violation of the law,” Bacic told reporters in the Croatian Parliament, citing the Public Law and Order Act which says that displaying other countries’ flags is not allowed. 

 

“I expect that our fellow citizens and members of the Serb community in Croatia will respect its laws” said Bacic, underscoring that it is inappropriate and unacceptable for the “president of Serbia to call on citizens of Croatia, notably members of the Serb community in Croatia, to hang out Serbian flags in Croatia on 15 September.” 

 

Asked if the police would monitor that, Bacic said that the Croatian police perform their duties according to the law and that he believes that this will be the case tomorrow too. “It is not particularly hard to check if someone has displayed the flag of another country in their window” said Bacic. 

 

He rejected claims from the opposition that the government should have reacted more sharply to Vucic’s call and that it did not do so because of the cooperation with its coalition partner, the Independent Serb Democratic Party (SDSS). 

 

He underlined that HDZ is cooperating properly with its coalition partners. “The ruling majority is stable but that does not mean that we will pass over this kind of call, merely because we are in a coalition with members of national minorities” he said. 

 

Bacic would not comment on a statement by SDSS MP Milorad Pupovac that all Serb minority institutions should hang out the Serbian flag alongside the Croatian flag and that he saw Vucic’s call as an encouragement and not as an imposition. 

 

Pupovac: We’ll do everything so relations in Croatia are ‘not disrupted’ (Hina)

 

Croatian Serb MP Milorad Pupovac said on Tuesday that regardless of expectations, he would do everything so that 15 September, which Serbia marks as Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag Day, did not disrupt relations either in Croatia or between Croatia and Serbia. Pupovac, leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party and the Serb National Council (SNV), held a press conference on the occasion of said day, for which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic proposed that Serbs around the world display Serbia’s national flag. 

 

Pupovac said any show of connection with the mother country and its holidays, which he said were also important for the national minority outside the mother country, should occur in line with the law of the country they lived in. “That applies to the Serb community in Croatia and to Croatia in relation to the Serb community.” He said it was important to remove all misconceptions about that because Croatia had a law stipulating that other countries’ flags could be used only for official or business purposes. 

 

Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia must respect their laws 

 

“It’s of great importance that we all understand that it’s imperative for Serbs in Croatia to respect Croatia’s laws and for Croats to respect Serbia’s laws” Pupovac said, adding that this also applied to other minorities in the two countries as well as foreign nationals. 

 

That should be distinguished from the use of flags which national minorities in Croatia use as their own official flags, recognized by the National Minorities Council, he said, adding that this recognition was based on the constitutional law on the rights of national minorities and the use by local government statutes. Pupovac said the Serb community in Croatia had the national flag of Serbs as its official flag and that, just as the Croatian and European flags, it was constantly on display at official SNV premises which, he added, were also premises for public events. Those flags will be displayed tomorrow just as they are today, he said. 

 

“The difference is only in that in some municipalities and towns, those flags are displayed on the front of buildings housing Serb institutions… That shouldn’t bother or scare anyone.” Where that is not the case, it is up to the SNV to create the necessary prerequisites, together with the authorities, Pupovac said. 

 

Population census should be conducted with maximum tolerance 

 

Pupovac went on to say that the SNV’s priority now was for the ongoing population census to be conducted “with maximum tolerance and feeling of freedom” so that people could declare their ethnicity, faith and language. 

 

The goal is to nurture the spirit of tolerance and to work daily so that it is not undermined, which did take place last week, he said. That happened because “disputes over the instalment of a metropolitan bishop spilled over from Montenegro into Croatia, spreading as anti-orthodox and anti-Serb sentiment, and there have been no adequate reaction or concern from those who should have seen to that.” Pupovac said he did not hold public policy, whether media, state or party, responsible for more attention being paid to inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in another country than in one’s own. “We are not and will not be like that, and regardless of various expectations, we will do everything so that tomorrow doesn’t disrupt relations in Croatia or those between Croatia and Serbia” Pupovac said. 

 

Montenegro 

 

Merkel: Montenegro most advanced EU candidate in Western Balkans (RTCG)

 

Montenegro is the most advanced country in the Western Balkans as a candidate for the full European Union membership, the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Montenegro’s Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and other regional leaders in Tirana on Tuesday. According to Podgorica’s Government statement, during the second day of Merkel’s farewell tour of the Balkans, the main topics in the talks were regional cooperation and mechanisms for its improvement.  

 

The statement added that the need for further work on the Berlin Process as one of the most important diplomatic initiatives since 2014, attributed to Merkel and aiming at the European Union enlargement, was underlined. The Western Balkans countries are expected to commit to internal reform processes so that the EU integration can proceed faster and more intensively, Montenegrin Government said. It quoted Krivokapic as thanking Merkel for her recognition of his government’s reforms and its European commitment. 

 

Krivokapic on the status of the Cetinje monastery: “Attack on property” (CDM)

Prime Minister of Montenegro, Zdravko Krivokapic, announced his surprise that the status of Cetinje Monastery changes due to someone’s personal attitude. Krivokapic said that the state, which should be serious, respecting law and order, must correct all those mistakes. The attack on the property, as he said, began with the formation of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. 

 

“Someone did it on purpose, and some people who did it are not alive today, so we cannot conduct proceedings against those people, but we can correct the injustice” Krivokapic told reporters in Tirana. He pointed out that no decision can be unconstitutional, illegal and to the detriment of anyone. 

 

“You know that in the history of Montenegro there are so-called land grants, from Crnojevic onwards, which speak about whose property the Cetinje Monastery is. I don’t know if the decision was made, but it would be illegal, unconstitutional and in some way a formal decision that would cause further divisions. No decision can be unconstitutional, illegal and to anyone’s detriment. The attack on the property started with the formation of the so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church, whose only goal was not to establish faith, but to return the property so that it could be used either by the state or that non-governmental organization”, Krivokapic said. He added that property and the right of ownership is the most important determinant of the Montenegrin Constitution. “Someone deliberately made a game here where in one period of time he even erased what was ‘state property’, not to mention other abuses where in 2005, by one decision, he destroyed all property, both state and private, and those which belonged to the monastery are attributed to the Capital” PM said. “We have suffered a lot of injustice, and in order for justice to win, the rule of law must come to life, and that cannot happen if the institutions of the judicial system are locked” Krivokapic said. 

 

Djukanovic calls for local elections in Mojkovac, Petnjica and Cetinje on 5 December (CDM)

 

President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, has made decision to call for election of councilors in the Mojkovac, Petnjica and Cetinje municipal assemblies. The elections will be held on 5 December 2021. 

 

North Macedonia 

 

Zaev talked to Merkel about the need to unblock Macedonia’s EU path (Republika)

 

PM Zoran Zaev had a meeting with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Tirana, after which his office said that the Chancellor agreed that Macedonia should be allowed to continue with its EU integration. During her remarks, Merkel blamed nationalism in Bulgaria for blocking Macedonia, as well as Albania. 

 

“We need to resolve the political obstacles as soon as possible and to integrate Macedonia in the EU. We are completing our homework successfully, but that doesn’t mean we stop there. We fight every day for a better tomorrow for our citizens” Zaev told Merkel, per his press office. Zaev told Merkel that Macedonia continues to promote a proposal from Portugal, during its presidency of the European Council, a proposal that Bulgaria already rejected. It calls for the two countries to issue separate, non-identical statements on the origin of the Macedonian nation and language, and to move the process of examining Macedonia’s compliance with Bulgarian demands to a format where the veto power would not be used as frequently as it is now. He also promoted the Open Balkan – Mini Schengen initiative to better integrate the economies of Macedonia, Albania and Serbia, which is somehow supposed to compensate for the loss of opportunities caused by the EU blockade. 

 

Merkel expresses sorrow Macedonia was not allowed to open its EU talks, says Europe is held hostage to nationalism (Republika)

 

During her meeting with Balkan leaders in Tirana, Albania, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel again expressed her sorrow that Macedonia and Albania were not allowed to open their EU accession talks. Merkel said that the two countries met the criteria to open the accession talks, but that the Bulgarian veto stopped them. She blamed nationalists in Bulgaria, insisting that in some countries, nationalists affect the decision making even of more moderate governments, adding that the EU is held hostage to nationalism. Merkel is on a farewell tour of the Balkans, during which she visited Serbia and Albania. She skipped Macedonia, but Macedonian officials were invited to join other Balkan leaders in Tirana. 

 

Albania 

 

In farewell visit to the region, Merkel focuses on progress, but says ‘impatience and frustration’ with EU is understandable (Tirana Times)

 

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down as leader of Germany after 16 years, she made a farewell visit to Albania to meet with leaders of the six Western Balkan countries to discuss EU integration. In her meetings and a press conference, Chancellor Merkel focused on the progress the region had made and Germany’s role as a promoter of EU integration for the Western Balkans, but also admitted that the “impatience and frustration” many in the region feel with the slow pace of EU membership processes is understandable. 

 

Chancellor Merkel first held a one-on-one meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, followed by a bilateral meeting between the two state delegations. She then led a mini-summit of prime ministers from Western Balkan states.  

 

The German Chancellor said Albania and North Macedonia have met the conditions to start membership negotiations, but it was unfortunate that Bulgaria’s veto meant that the negotiations were not opened. “Germany has promised that we will close this process, because a lot of energy has been spent on it. When the fulfillment of the conditions is ascertained, there is no reason why the opening of negotiations should be postponed,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Rama. “The EU must keep its promises to the Western Balkans, and I understand the impatience and frustration in the region with the delays in opening negotiations.” 

 

Merkel became the initiator of the Berlin Process seven years ago, in August 2014, which involved the six countries of the Western Balkans in an effort to help integration efforts. The Berlin Process aims to normalize and revitalize the region’s infrastructure, economy and youth exchanges as well as improve security and reconciliation processes. “The Berlin Process does not replace the process of membership in the European Union” she added. “Membership negotiations are taking place for each country.” As part of the Berlin Process, the six Western Balkan countries agreed in November last year to create a Common Regional Market, which Merkel urged that all countries increase efforts to implement. 

 

In addition, three countries – Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia- have joined in the Open Balkan Initiative (previously known as “mini-Schengen”), pushing tighter regional integration. But the other three countries in the region have refused to join seeing it as an unneeded parallel process.  The links between the Berlin Process and the Open Balkan Initiative were a point on which Prime Minister Rama spoke at length, noting the Open Balkan Initiative does not replace the Berlin Process.  

 

“The Open Balkan is the offspring of the Berlin Process, it is not an alternative to the Berlin Process, nor is it an initiative in contradiction with the Berlin Process. Open Balkan is, no more and no less, a mechanism to accelerate the Berlin Process” Rama said. The Open Balkan Initiative has opened a rift between Kosovo and Albania, with Rama slamming Kosovo’s government during the press conference with Merkel, over what he said was refusal to join Open Balkan based on “conspiracy theories.” However, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said at a press conference that the Berlin Process is wide and deep enough that there is no need for other alternatives. 

 

“Open Balkans”: Merkel message from Tirana: I welcome the initiative, I invite other countries to join (Radio Tirana)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has supported the “Open Balkans” initiative, calling it a co-operation that strengthens the Berlin Process initiated by her. “Dear Edi Rama, I would like to thank you in the role of the Prime Minister that in the first part of the day we were able to hold a bilateral meeting. Relations with Albania are very good, we can expand our cooperation. I would like to congratulate Albania on its efforts in recent years to reconstruct its justice system. North Macedonia and Albania have met the conditions to start membership negotiations. We have also promised that we will be close to this process as much has been invested in it. 

 

As part of the lunch with all the heads of government of the Western Balkans, I had the pleasure that for the idea of ​​2014, cooperation has turned out to be powerful. 

 

Much has changed between countries and peoples. Heads of government meet regularly and normally with each other which has not been the case. All cooperation in some dimensions is consolidated. We talked about infrastructure projects. We talked about starting the works for the peace highway. Another topic was that at the moment that the countries of this region will join the EU, they will also have the obligations for the climate, the conditions that had to be changed in the region. 

 

There are many opportunities for regional cooperation. I support the regional common market project, 4 agreements. Some countries have not yet joined, today we have agreed that the more we cooperate in this context the stronger the Berlin process will be. “This process does not replace EU membership.” 

 

President Ilir Meta decrees the government “Rama 3” (Radio Tirana)

 

President Ilir Meta has decreed the government “Rama 3” and has sent the decree to the Albanian Parliament. The head of state’s decision comes a day after the General Prosecutor’s Office responded to the President regarding the verification of the new cabinet ministers. 

 

What does the law provide, the procedures for the new government? 

 

According to Article 96, the President of the Republic, at the beginning of the legislature, appoints the Prime Minister with the proposal of the party or coalition that has the majority in parliament. Since the SP has the only votes, the other points of this article do not apply in this case. Then, according to Article 97, within 10 days the mandated Prime Minister presents to the Assembly the governing program and the names of the new cabinet. Article 98 provides that after approval by parliament the new government goes for decree within 7 days to the President of the Republic. Article 99 obliges the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and ministers to swear in to the President, before officially taking office. 

 

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