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Belgrade Media Report 7 October

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic, Tanin: UNMIK presence important for stability (Tanjug/RTV)
Vucic: We will continue dialogue with Pristina, Community to be first topic (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Dacic with Godfrey: Relations following an upward trend (RTS/Tanjug)
Path to Europe like Djekna from TV series (Novosti)
Selakovic: Non-Aligned Movement meeting next week in Belgrade (TV Pink/Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Komsic takes part in EU-Western Balkans summit (BHT1)
Komsic: Objectively Western Balkans countries are not ready to become full members of the EU at this time (FTV)
RS is paying Dodik’s caprice (Oslobodjenje)
Montenegro

Epilogue of meeting with Krivokapic (CdM)
Abazovic, Peleshi: Policy of peace and cooperation needs to be promoted (gov.me)
Djukanovic on Pandora Papers: I did nothing illegal; this is another contrived affair for domestic political needs (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia

Pendarovski: It is good that the EU keeps our country’s issue in focus (MIA)
Zaev suffers another EU fiasco as Bulgaria actually hardens its positions after the meeting mediated by Merkel and Macron (Republika)
Zaev: The steps taken by Radev are an insult to the Macedonian citizens, he didn’t understand Merkel and Macron’s message (Republika)
Mickoski: It is disappointing that the EU is becoming a more distant goal with Zaev, spreading fake news for 5 years (TV Kanal 5)
Albania

Rama in Slovenia: I have lost confidence that Bulgaria will overcame the stalemate (Radio Tirana)
Meta: The messages from the EU summit are encouraging (Radio Tirana)
Justice Reform/ Minister Manja pledged support for his Kosovar homologue (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic, Tanin: UNMIK presence important for stability (Tanjug/RTV)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Zahir Tanin, who is also the Head of the UN mission in Kosovo and Metohija (UNMIK), agreed today that UNMIK’s presence was important for maintaining stability in the southern province, while Vucic asked Tanin to use his influence to warn Pristina that its unilateral and provocative measures were escalating tensions and threatening peace and stability in the region.Vucic emphasized the importance of communication with UNMIK and added that Serbia is always ready to make additional efforts in order to further develop models of exchange of opinions with the UN Mission in Kosovo and Metohija. In that context, UNMIK Head Zahir Tanin thanked Vucic for finding time for telephone contacts in the difficult conditions during the pandemic in connection with the current events in the southern Serbian province. Vucic emphasized that the last move of Pristina and the deployment of ROSU members at the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossings represents a new provocative and unilateral measure after the attempt to form the so-called army of Kosovo and the introduction of taxes on Serbian goods, which causes great concern for Serbia for the future of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. The President emphasized that Serbia, as always, will continue its efforts to preserve peace and stability, but that the situation also depends on the Pristina side, which should refrain from constant unilateral moves that significantly deteriorate the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic pointed out that regular contacts with UNMIK representatives are important for Serbia because of keeping continuity of examining the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as because of regular informing about the political and security situation, which is subject to unnecessary raising of tensions due to Pristina’s moves. “The presence of the UN, i.e. UNMIK, as well as other international missions in Kosovo and Metohija, is more than necessary as a guarantee of the security of the Serb people,” said Vucic, adding that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is and should be the legal framework for the international security presence in Kosovo and Metohija. The UNMIK Head emphasized that the mandate of UNMIK and KFOR was clear, and that the scope and role of these missions were precisely defined and that both former and current UN Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon and Antonio Guterres were firmly committed from the beginning in implementing the assigned missions in accordance with all decisions of the United Nations. President Vucic asked the UNMIK Head Tanin to use his influence and warn Pristina that, with its unilateral and provocative measures, it is increasing tensions and endangering peace and stability in the region. He voiced concern over the growing number of incidents and reiterated that Serbia is committed to improving regional cooperation, and has not violated any provision of the Brussels agreement, Resolution 1244 or the Military-Technical Agreement, or CEFTA. The interlocutors agreed that the presence of the UN Mission was very important for maintaining stability in Kosovo and Metohija, both through the consistent implementation of UN Resolution 1244, and through the commitment to implement the agreements reached within the Brussels dialogue. The UNMIK Head pointed out the necessity of continuing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the importance of all efforts in the direction of constructive regional cooperation.

 

Vucic: We will continue dialogue with Pristina, Community to be first topic (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday the Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina would be continued but that the establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities must be its first topic. “Of course we will continue the dialogue, but the Community of Serb Municipalities must be the first topic, just like an EU statement has said,” Vucic told reporters at the EU-Western Balkans summit at Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia. Asked about an initiative to lower mobile roaming charges between the Western Balkans and the EU – announced as a topic of the summit a few days ago – Vucic responded that his meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi earlier in the day had not addressed the subject and that they had discussed Serbia’s EU path and the opening of clusters in the accession talks.

Vucic said he had thanked the EU for the enormous amounts of money and major investments in Serbia, as well as for everything it was doing to support the country. He said the messages of recent visits to Belgrade by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had been good and positive. He said he expected Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and several other European leaders to visit Belgrade by the end of the year.

“All I heard over the course of these two days – today at this summit and yesterday at the European People’s Party summit – is that an enlargement perspective does exist, but that not all member states have the same appetite for enlargement of the union,” he also said. “But everyone listened to the main actors closely, and they understand that there are strategic EU interests in the territory of the region,” Vucic said. At the Brdo near Kranj summit, a declaration reaffirming the EU’s “unequivocal support” for the European perspective of the Western Balkans was adopted, while the EPP adopted a declaration urging an acceleration of EU accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro based on their respective merits in meeting the accession criteria and in line with the principles of a revised enlargement methodology.

Vucic: Greece to continue to support Serbia’s territorial integrity

Vucic said after meeting with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday that Athens would continue to support Serbia’s territorial integrity. Vucic and Mitsotakis met during the EU-Western Balkans summit at Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia. “Greece will continue to support Serbia’s territorial integrity, it will continue to encourage Serbia and help it on the European path. They, as he (Mitsotakis) told me, will continue to support an integral Serbia,” Vucic explained at a press conference. Vucic said he had also had conversations with the PMs of Spain and Slovakia, the President of Romania and other officials of countries that do not recognize the so-called Kosovo. The Serbian President noted that he had had a long conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Albin Kurti, the PM of the provisional Pristina authorities. Vucic said the meeting with Kurti had addressed recognition of diplomas. “Let’s not go into details – you know all the differences between us, and the harmonization process will be continued in the period to come,” he told reporters. Vucic said he had also spoken with the PMs of Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as with many other European leaders. He also spoke with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic about bilateral relations. Vucic also spoke about the meeting with Plenkovic, as well as about the thesis that Serbia allegedly considers the Croatian language to be only one of the names for Serbian. “It’s about how the division of languages was done by SANU. And there was no Croatian language in that division. I didn’t want to talk about it, we would like Serbs to have the same rights as Croats have in Serbia. If we made a mistake, we will see to that. We talked about missing persons and it is important that we start to address this issue urgently.” Vucic added that he had also spoken with the PMs of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama, and noted that the discussions with them would be continued.

Vucic: We are ready to fully implement Washington agreement

Vucic said on Wednesday Belgrade was ready to fully implement the Washington agreement, but that the document had been pronounced dead by Pristina. “Pristina has pronounced the Washington agreement dead. As far as I am concerned, we are ready to implement all of it,” Vucic told a press conference after the EU-Western Balkans summit. Responding to reporters’ questions, he said the agreement signed by Belgrade differed from the one signed by Pristina in one point only – relations with Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem. “We are fully ready to respect everything else, except that Pristina has said the Washington agreement is no longer valid for them,” Vucic concluded.

Brdo Declaration backs European perspective of W. Balkans

The leaders of the EU adopted on Wednesday, in consultation with Western Balkan leaders, a declaration reaffirming the EU’s “unequivocal support” for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. “The EU reconfirms its commitment to the enlargement process and its decisions taken thereon, based upon credible reforms by partners, fair and rigorous conditionality and the principle of own merits. We will further intensify our joint engagement to take forward the region’s political, economic and social transformation, while acknowledging the progress made by the Western Balkans,” said the first point of the declaration, adopted at the EU-Western Balkans summit at Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia. “We also recall the importance that the EU can maintain and deepen its own development, ensuring its capacity to integrate new members,” the document said. “The EU is by far the region’s closest partner, main investor and principal donor. The unprecedented scale and range of this support must be fully recognized and conveyed by the partners in their public debate and communication,” it also said. The EU said it fully supported the Western Balkans partners’ “reaffirmed commitment to inclusive regional cooperation and strengthening good neighborly relations.” Point 6, which deals with the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, said the two sides were expected to make concrete progress and normalize their relations. “We fully support the efforts of the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues and expect concrete progress by the two Parties on the full normalization of relations between them, which is critical for the stability and development of the whole region and to ensure that they can continue on their respective European paths.” “The EU welcomes the restated commitment of the Western Balkans partners to the primacy of democracy, fundamental rights and values and the rule of law, and to sustaining efforts in the fight against corruption and organised crime, support for good governance, human rights, gender equality and the rights of persons belonging to minorities,” the declaration said. “An empowered civil society and independent and pluralistic media are crucial components of any democratic system and we welcome and support the role they play in the Western Balkans,” the EU also noted. The declaration said an EU economic and investment plan would mobilize some “30 billion Euros for the region over the next seven years, comprised of 9 billion Euros in grant funding and 20 billion Euros in investments, leveraged by the new Western Balkans Guarantee Facility.” “The EU will continue to support inclusive regional cooperation. Further and decisive efforts by the Western Balkans leaders are needed to deliver on their commitment to establish a Common Regional Market, as agreed at the Berlin Process Summit in Sofia in 2020,” the declaration noted, also welcoming a road map on gradual lowering of mobile roaming charges between the EU and the Western Balkans. “Sustainable transport is a cornerstone of the economic and social integration of the EU and the Western Balkans. It is a priority to further develop the transport connectivity – within the region and with the EU, to improve the efficiency and safety of transport services, and to achieve the objectives of green and sustainable mobility, particularly with regard to rail and inland waterways connectivity,” the declaration also said.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen: EU not complete without WB region

EC President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that the EU is not complete without the region of the Western Balkans, noting that the EC will use all mechanisms to improve the enlargement process and integration of the region into the EU. Von der Leyen stressed that this is without a doubt a strategic goal, but that reforms are necessary for that. “It is clear that our partners in the Western Balkans are undertaking important reforms. I am not saying that they are already there, but it is obvious that progress has been made. If you look back, a lot has changed for the better. Now, it is important to maintain that course in key areas such as judiciary, fight against corruption and organized crime, freedom of media and economic reforms,” von der Leyen underlined. According to von der Leyen, the economic and investment plan goes hand in hand with the Berlin Process and is crucial for the development and deeper integration of the common European market. “That will be as useful for the Western Balkans as the single market is for the EU, so we are now focused on developing that common regional market,” von der Leyen said. Vucic said that he is satisfied with the fact that the presidents and prime ministers of the EU countries talked with the leaders of the region for four hours about the future of the Western Balkans, thanking on behalf of Serbia for the support and assistance, numerous investments, and money that EU taxpayers invest in Serbia.

Michel: Summit is confirmation of European prospects for WB region

President of the European Council Charles Michel stressed that the meeting in Brdo near Kranj is confirmation of the European prospects for the region of the Western Balkans, adding that the EU plans to invest 30 billion Euros in the region. “We have clarified what the common priorities are, including reforms and disputes which are an important topic,” Michel said. French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that he is for giving the countries in the region certain integration prospects but on a short-term level. Macron sees a problem in the unacceptably slow reform process in the Western Balkan countries. The EC President did not talk about concrete dates for accession, but this matter was commented by German Chancellor Merkel. She said there is a geostrategic goal for the Western Balkans countries to join the EU, but Merkel does not support any setting of deadlines as that puts pressure onto the EU – regardless if the conditions were fulfilled by the countries, or not. She said she believes more in making good on promises, adding that when all conditions are fulfilled, the accession will happen. Macron said that the Western Balkans countries are the “heart of Europe” and that they would become the “pillar of its stability” if they joined the EU.

Borrell: EU not complete without WB

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter prior to the EU-Western Balkans Summit that it is necessary to maintain a credible enlargement process. “The EU is not complete without the Western Balkans. It is time we come together and unite in building a stronger Europe. Today’s EU-Western Balkans Summit gives this clear perspective,” wrote Borrell.

 

Dacic with Godfrey: Relations following an upward trend (RTS/Tanjug)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic met today with US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey. Responding to Ambassador Godfrey’s queries, Dacic informed the guest about the activities of the parliament which began its regular autumn session this week. He especially focused on the ongoing process of constitutional reforms to be implemented in the coming period. The officials agreed that the relations between the two countries are following an upward trend and discussed the possibility of advancement of cooperation between the parliament and the US Congress.

 

Path to Europe like Djekna from TV series (Novosti, by S. Rovcanin-Tomkovic)

Commenting on the EU Summit in Slovenia, Novosti reports that “the carrot has never been further away”, knowing that a declaration was adopted to confirm the readiness to integrate the region in the EU, but nobody knows when it will happen. Novosti learned that France, Netherlands and Denmark opposed the proposal of Slovenia to include the year 2030 in the declaration as the year by which the integration should be carried out so “we got yet another document full of phrases in which everyone is called to commitment and dedication to democracy, partners are called to ‘credible reforms’, with an emphasis on ‘strengthening of integration and capacities of absorption of new members’ by the EU itself”.

Selakovic: Non-Aligned Movement meeting next week in Belgrade (TV Pink/Beta)

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Wednesday that more than 100 foreign delegations, including about 40 foreign ministers, applied to participate in the gathering on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement, to be held early next week in Belgrade. “This will certainly be one of the largest multilateral gatherings in Europe this year,” Selakovic told TV Pink, adding that it speaks to our country’s reputation. As he said, the strategic and essential goal of Serbia is EU membership, but Serbia is not renouncing its traditional friends, and “these are not only Russia and China, but also members of the Non-Aligned Movement”, Beta reports. He explained that this movement is today being connected with two things – Josip Broz Tito, because of everything that Yugoslavia did to help liberation movements, decolonization, peaceful coexistence. Another notion that Non-Aligned countries are linked to, said Selakovic, is Belgrade, which for many nations is a kind of “a window to the free world” which is evidenced in the extremely large number of participants despite difficult travel conditions due to the Covid pandemic. “Today, Serbia is a serious, sovereign country, where decisions are not made by foreign ambassadors and emissaries. We are taking into account not only our own interests but also those of other countries,” said Selakovic, mentioning also the Open Balkans initiative.

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Komsic takes part in EU-Western Balkans summit (BHT1)

 

B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic took part in the EU-Western Balkans summit which was held in Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia, on Wednesday. BHT1 stressed that a large part of Komsic’s address at the summit concerned the EU and steps that the EU member states need to undertake in the case of the Western Balkans. Komsic stressed that the process of enlargement to the Western Balkans makes sense only if the Western Balkans takes over European achievements and values, adding that the EU institutions should work on that in the future. Komsic noted that there was talk of B&H at the summit, but that no concrete details were discussed. Komsic pointed out that he managed to exchange a few words with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Namely, Komsic and Plenkovic briefly discussed the issue of changes to the B&H Election Law. Komsic said that he got the official position of Croatia, which has long been known, and that is that Croatia supports the principle of constituent status of peoples in B&H. Komsic stressed that there is reason for mild optimism following Wednesday’s summit given that the term enlargement process remained part of the official documents of the EU. “There were interesting discussions, interesting positions. There were also harsher tones, especially between Albania and Bulgaria, all because of the status of North Macedonia. But, nevertheless, it was ultimately rounded with the story related to this type of declaration in which the word enlargement remains. The process goes on. An entire economic investment program has been provided and it should be implemented within the framework of the Berlin Process, as an initiative, with an assistance package of some 30 billion Euros of which 9 billion are supposed to be grants, while 21 billion Euros are funds that are conditioned. I believe that we in the Western Balkans in general, B&H included of course, after everything that we had an opportunity to see in and around the EU in recent years can have a kind of mild optimism,” Komsic underlined.

Komsic: Objectively Western Balkans countries are not ready to become full members of the EU at this time (FTV)

Komsic was a guest for FTV via video link from Ljubljana. Komsic discussed the declaration adopted at the EU-Western Balkans Summit, Open Balkans initiative, postponed military exercise with Serbia and possible sanctions for RS. Considering that EU enlargement was retained as official EU policy, Komsic was asked what does this mean for B&H. Komsic said that there have been no precise deadlines so far. According to Komsic, Slovenia asked for a deadline of about ten years for all Western Balkans countries to join the EU, but that most countries did not support it and some countries strongly opposed the whole accession. Komsic said that when looking through the eyes of those from the EU this is a middle ground, and even though the deadline was not set, the commitment remained. Komsic added that objectively the Western Balkans countries are not ready to become full members of the EU at this time, and one thing is what they would like and the other is what is realistic. Komsic was asked what did it mean that the Open Balkans initiative was not mentioned. Komsic commented: “You will not hear that they directly oppose the idea of the Open Balkan because you cannot resist the idea of regional cooperation. But the Berlin Process is something that is taking place under the auspices of the EU, something that was created by a joint effort of both the EU and the countries of the Western Balkans. Through the Berlin Process, you are actually tying the countries of the Western Balkans to the EU, while the Open Balkans would be something that is an original domestic initiative, but without any connection to the EU. The difference between the Open Balkans and the Berlin Process is that the Open Balkan carries zero euros, and the Berlin Process carries 30 billion Euros”. Regarding the messages of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Komsic said that he saw Vucic’s statement that Zagreb and Belgrade agree 90 percent when it comes to B&H. “I can say that both Milosevic and Tudjman 90 percent agreed when it comes to B&H, so we know what that led to. There is a question of which 10 percent they disagree about. It seems that B&H, although we thought that time had passed, has been the main dish on the menu of Zagreb and Belgrade for the third decade. This is certainly not something that is good for us in B&H, but it is not good for either Zagreb or Belgrade.”

RS is paying Dodik’s caprice (Oslobodjenje, by Matea Jerkovic)

The daily reads that Member of the European Parliament Tineke Strik (Group of the Greens), along with Dietmar Koster (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) and Clemen Groselj (Renew Europe) sent on Monday an open letter to EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi asking him to deny use of IPA III funds for the RS. They expressed concerns because of the current situation in B&H, especially in terms of boycott of state institutions by side of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and other political actors from the RS. “Threats of the member of B&H Presidency from rank of Serb people with the RS secession, forming of the RS army, strengthening of RS police forces with military equipment and abolition of state institutions, present a direct and unquestionable threat to democracy and peace in B&H”, reads the letter. Strik underlined that “undemocratic boycott of state institutions undermines rule of the law in B&H and causes complete halt in process of country’s accession to the EU”. In statement to the daily, Koster said that in their letter they asked for launching of the conditioning mechanism because if breaching of rule of the law. “I decided to sign the letter, because I want to make it clear that we do not support decision of RS political leadership to boycott the work in main state institutions because of the Law Banning Genocide Denial”. Groselj explained that the new regulation enables conditioning in order to achieve goals. “We deems that activities of member of B&H Presidency from the RS and RS alone, are in collision with goals of the EU policy, which are clearly reflected in 14 items which are condition for B&H accession to the EU,” said Groselj. German MEP Erik Marquardt (Group of the Greens/ European Free Alliance) stressed that the EU is sending money so the country would get harmonized with EU standards. “If RS stakeholders are blocking such progress, then we cannot continue to send funds and act as if everything is normal,” said Marquardt.

 

Epilogue of meeting with Krivokapic (CdM)

Wednesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and leaders of the parliamentary majority on the government reshuffle has ended without a unified position. The Prime Minister and 38 MPs support the entry of politicians into the government, while URA insists that there be only experts in the government. Krivokapic has proposed that the reshuffled government have 16 ministries and 3 DPMs. They have agreed to give opinions and suggestions by 8 October and to try to harmonize a common position by 10 October. “Krivokapic has proposed that whatever the parliamentary majority agrees with is acceptable to him. The agreement is not acceptable to URA at this time,” one of the DF leaders Andrija Mandic has said after the meeting. The DNP leader and one of the DF leaders Milan Knezevic has said that there are 38 MPs on one side, and URA on the other. “It seems to me that there is no way out of this situation,” Knezevic has added. After the meeting, the URA deputy leader Milos Konatar has told the journalists that two different approaches have crystallized. After the meeting, the Secretary General of the Democrats Boris Bogdanovic has said – a new phase, a new step forward. Bogdanovic has pointed out that he believes that other colleagues will understand that this is not a fight for positions, but for stabilizing the situation in the country.

Abazovic, Peleshi: Policy of peace and cooperation needs to be promoted (gov.me)

We want to promote the policy of peace and cooperation between the two countries and beyond, but also to make a personal contribution to improving the situation in the Balkans, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic at a meeting with Minister of Defense of the Republic of Albania Niko Peleshi. Congratulating Minister Peleshi on his appointment, DPM Abazović pointed out that the relations between the two countries are very good, and that they are based on the principles of friendship and cooperation, strengthened by NATO partnership, common goals in regional policy and the European perspective. Minister of Defense of the Republic of Albania Niko Peleshi emphasized that the size of the states in the system of collective security is not important, but their commitment and readiness to contribute to the security system is important.

Peleshi emphasized Albania’s unequivocal commitment to a stable region of the Western Balkans, proven through significant cooperation with NATO in many areas. The meeting noted that Montenegro and Albania have developed, constructive political and practical cooperation within NATO, as well as regional security initiatives. The two officials agreed that relations between Montenegro and Albania are characterized by good neighborly and friendly cooperation and that the two countries achieve continuous political dialogue by participating in numerous regional organizations and initiatives.

Djukanovic on Pandora Papers: I did nothing illegal; this is another contrived affair for domestic political needs (RTCG)

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic says he has done nothing illegal when he founded the company outside of Montenegro in 2012 and calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the whole case. He points out that neither he nor his son Blazo has ever done and “we will certainly not do anything to the detriment of the state of Montenegro”, unlike those who are trying to launch an affair and who, as he emphasizes, are trying to nail him to the pillar of shame without argument. In Slovenia, where the EU-Western Balkans Summit is being held, he has responded to the allegations of international researchers about the Pandora Papers case. “I would not have anything new to add to that topic, in relation to what I said to the team of investigative journalists, which dealt with that topic, and what my Cabinet announced after this, another in a series of affairs, was launched. In my opinion, this is another construction, another contrived affair, which should serve domestic political needs and which will surely, very quickly, lead to the collapse of the authority of its authors and which will lead to their complete disgrace,” Djukanovic said in Kranj. He has stressed that he does not link his legal actions to state positions. Djukanovic also points out that he has showed his attitude towards the state in “years of fighting for it and building institutions”. “When I would get rid of state positions, which I tried many times and strongly wanted, I did not ask the state to extend my right to any salary, but when I left office I concluded my employment with the state, and I took care to provide my existence. Those who have not earned a single cent in their lives, have no right to suggest what I should do and how I should behave,” Djukanovic stressed.

 

Pendarovski: It is good that the EU keeps our country’s issue in focus (MIA)

It is good that the European Union is trying to focus again on the Western Balkans and at the same time keep our issue in focus, said President Stevo Pendarovski in an interview with MIA regarding the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Brdo near Kranj in Slovenia. In this case, it is not about a special initiative, it is about a regular meeting of the Western Balkan countries with the member states of the European Union, which has been a practice for years, says Pendarovski.

He adds that there are several initiatives within that Summit from friendly countries of the Western Balkans, which, according to him, are trying to create an environment for a breakthrough in the dispute with Bulgaria. We have met all the conditions long time ago, Bulgaria’s blockade was a shocker. It practically gave the green light last year at the March Council of the EU and later began to set these additional conditions, said Pendarovski.

Zaev suffers another EU fiasco as Bulgaria actually hardens its positions after the meeting mediated by Merkel and Macron (Republika)

Following his meeting with Zoran Zaev, that was mediated by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev reiterated his hardline position that Bulgaria will continue to block Macedonia from openings its EU accession talks. Radev said that Macedonia must do away with its “Macedonianness” if it wants the green light from Bulgaria – this would mean thorough rewriting of Macedonian history and redefining of Macedonian national identity to subvert it to the Bulgarian identity. The essence of the problem is the systemic de-Bulgarization and the years of destruction of the Bulgarian cultural and historic heritage in that country, Radev declared after the meeting, announcing that the Bulgarian “no” remains in place”.

With Bulgaria in pre-election campaign mode, Zaev’s meeting with Radev likely made things worse, despite the involvement of the powerful mediators. Zaev and Radev held two mediated meetings in Slovenia, with Merkel and Macron and another with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi. Radev cited the recent removal of a monument in Bulgarian language at the site of a minor battle in Macedonia, that was erected by Bulgarian officials during the First World War, as a provocation from Zaev’s part. He also named the issuing of about 120,000 Bulgarian dual citizenships to Macedonian citizens, which generally require that the applicant declares that his family was of Bulgarian origin. A vast majority of these applicants use the Bulgarian passport for easier access to the EU labor market, and leave the Balkans altogether, but Bulgaria now wants the census in Macedonia to reflect this number. The unwillingness of Macedonians who hold dual citizenships to declare their Bulgarian origin in the census is taken as proof that these people are being threatened by the Macedonian authorities.

Zaev: The steps taken by Radev are an insult to the Macedonian citizens, he didn’t understand Merkel and Macron’s message (Republika)

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, following the EU-Western Balkans Summit that took place in Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia, said that the steps and blockades taken by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev are an insult to Macedonian citizens. Zaev said that after the Summit it was clear that only Bulgaria was opposed to our country’s EU integration, and that he was not sure that Radev understood the message from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. We have another strong confirmation that only one EU member state opposes our integration and the start of EU accession negotiations. Unfortunately, to my great disappointment and to all our citizens, the blockade comes from our neighbor Bulgaria. The messages from President Macron and Chancellor Merkel are clear: One needs to look to the future, not dig into the past to find solutions. But, unfortunately, I am not sure that President Radev understood that message. The steps and blockades that Radev is taking on behalf of Bulgaria are an insult to the Macedonian citizens. The Macedonian people with all their peacefulness cannot justify the blockades. My people gave me a mandate to create solutions, but they did not give me a mandate to justify policies from the last century, said Zaev. In the statement, the Prime Minister stressed that there is no member state that has any remarks on our country’s reforms and that our EU integration progress should primarily depend on domestic reforms related to achieving European standards, and not on bilateral issues. He also sent a message that they are ready for talks with Sofia, but not about the Macedonian identity.

Mickoski: It is disappointing that the EU is becoming a more distant goal with Zaev, spreading fake news for 5 years (TV Kanal 5)

“It is important to say that Tuesday’s Summit of the European People’s Party dedicated to the Western Balkans is very important for the region. Because we have clear and unequivocal support from the largest political family in the EP for full integration of the region in the EU, and we as VMRO-DPMNE of course have clear and unequivocal support for the next local elections,” Hristijan Mickoski, VMRO-DPMNE, leader told TV Kanal 5. Mickoski added that two influential EU member states were against setting a date or year by which the Western Balkans joint the EU. “What may be disappointing is that I learned there personally from the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Mr. Janez Jansa, who said at the meeting that it was essentially necessary to define it and he proposed to set a date, ie a year until which we would be fully integrated in the Western Balkans, and that is the year 2030. Two influential member states were against setting a deadline until 2030 for the integration of the Western Balkan countries in the EU,” explained Mickoski. Mickoski pointed out that this is disappointing for him personally. “But what is also disappointing for me is that practically all those lies that we have been living for 52 months, five years since SDSM and Zoran Zaev came to power in Macedonia. We have all witnessed that their political functioning was based on fake news, all these 52 months. There is nothing, at least for now, of European education, European health, as he called the European dream. Instead, we will have to deal with corruption and crime, which are the biggest problem in our society,” explained Mickoski.

 

Rama in Slovenia: I have lost confidence that Bulgaria will overcame the stalemate (Radio Tirana)

As he had previously stated that he did not hope that the EU-Western Balkans summit in Brdo, Slovenia, would bring any change for the integration of the Western Balkans, Prime Minister Edi Rama, even during his speech at the summit, said that he had lost confidence that Bulgaria will overcome the stalemate with North Macedonia, which is also holding Albania hostage to EU integration. While considering the word ‘enlargement’ as an echo of the past, Rama says that it is painful for Albanians that the EU still can not keep its promises. “Albanians are the most pro-EU community around, due to a special past of harsh isolation from the Imperialist West and the Soviet Social-Imperialist East. After the fall of communism, they can finally freely choose for the first time in their history who to associate with and they have chosen the EU. It is quite painful for them to hear from the EU again and again that, yes, of course, Albania has done its homework, but unfortunately the EU they adore is not able to fulfill its promises. I regret to say that I have lost faith that Bulgaria will be able to overcome the stalemate soon, because they seem trapped by the fire they lit to warm their voters with flames from the glorious past. For such voters it may not matter that they have taken hostage two states, which in all opinions are innocent and compatible. But it should matter to the EU that it is losing face in front of the people of the six Western Balkan countries. “Until now, I can hope that this meaningless blockage will not become a recurring event,” said Rama.

Meta: The messages from the EU summit are encouraging (Radio Tirana)

The President of Albania Ilir Meta says that today’s messages at the EU-Western Balkans summit are encouraging.  President Meta emphasizes that he is grateful for the political support and comprehensive assistance that the EU continues to give to Albania and the entire region.

Meta writes that regional cooperation should be comprehensive and focus on implementing the commitments that are made. The President adds that defiance of these commitments and the parcelization of the region counteract more useless artificial divisions and conflicts, and run counter to the European path of our countries. In his speech, the president underlined that the Economic Investment Plan should be used to the maximum to recover the economy. ‘Today’s messages from the EU-Western Balkans Summit are encouraging. The European perspective of the region is realized through credible reforms, which are based on the European principles and values ​​of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. Grateful for the political support and comprehensive assistance that the European Union continues to provide to Albania and our entire region, as the first and natural economic partner, remaining fully in line with the common strategic goal of enlargement. The Economic Investment Plan and the New Innovation Agenda should be used to the maximum to revive the economy and curb the country’s further dramatic depopulation. Regional cooperation should be comprehensive and focused on implementing the commitments made. Breaking these commitments and parceling the region counter products more useless artificial divisions and conflicts, and runs counter to the European path of our countries. Welcoming the Slovenian Presidency of the EU and all other member states for the development of this special Summit for the Western Balkans, I reiterate the importance of the rapid start of accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of Northern Macedonia and the liberalization as soon as possible. visas with Kosovo, a promise that requires urgent implementation,” writes Meta.

Justice Reform/ Minister Manja pledged support for his Kosovar homologue (Radio Tirana)

The Minister of Justice Ulsi Manja received today at the Ministry of Justice, his Kosovo counterpart Albulena Haxhiu. He said that Justice Reform and challenges in the justice system in Albania and Kosovo were the main topics we discussed together. “In this meeting, I stressed that the Justice Reform has detached the influence of politics and every actor by ensuring that judges and prosecutors as well as new institutions work independently and are protected by law.

“We also discussed the exchange of experience as well as the achievements and challenges faced by the systems in both countries when Justice Reform and the continuation of the Vetting process remain priorities,” he said. Manja also assured his counterpart of the full support and willingness to provide Albania’s capacities and practices in the most important reform in the country, that of Justice, for the weight of justice and the overall legal framework for mutual cooperation, including education of magistrates as part of efforts to approximate legislation and European integration.

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Belgrade Media Report 20 January 2022

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