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Belgrade Media Report 18 October 2021

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 18 October 2021

LOCAL PRESS

Selakovic: UNMIK necessary, balance of responsibility artificial (Tanjug/RTS)
Selakovic: Guterres shares position of UNMIK Head on Pristina’s actions (RTS)
Brnabic: Finding compromise solution to Kosovo in Serbia’s interest (Novosti)
Vucic: I want close relations with UK, but I’m nobody’s fool (TV Prva/Beta)
Serb List declares election victory in Kosovo’s Serb-majority municipalities (N1)
Brnabic sends congratulatory letter to Serb List (RTS)
Drecun: Serbs told Kurti at the elections that there is nothing from the false state of Kosovo (RTS)
Petkovic congratulates Serb List (RTS/Tanjug)
Ambassador: Serbia values highly Holy See’s stance on Kosovo (Politika/Beta)
Positive opinion of Venice Commission for changes to Constitution (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

B&H Presidency meets Linhard; Dodik: B&H is stable in terms of security, but will never be united (ATV)
Dodik: RS has right to its own army; I would not sacrifice peace for the RS (RTRS)
Dodik: Proposal of Izetbegovic to add Jasenovac to imposed law is humiliating (ATV)
Dodik and Izetbegovic rule out possibility of their meeting (ATV)
Komsic and Dzaferovic label Dodik’s announcements as adventurism (ATV)
SDA Presidency convenes in Banja Luka; Izetbegovic: It is up to OHR to react to current situation (Nova BH)
SDS Main Board: SDS to attend special RS parliament session if scheduled, but will not follow Dodik’s initiatives and policies (BN TV)
Borenovic: We have to say we are fed up of Bakir’s motions before B&H CC, we are fed up of Dodik’s false referendums, we are fed up of imposed Inzko’s laws and we are fed up and had enough with Covic’s frustrations (Oslobodjenje)
State prosecutor Pasic asks for case to be formed against Dodik over threats to B&H (N1)
EUFOR: Entities cannot unilaterally withdraw from state institutions (Dnevni avaz)
Escobar: We will be working to isolate those who do not want inclusive and democratic Western Balkans (FTV)
Radoncic dismisses possibility of armed conflicts as highly unlikely (Face TV)
Sarovic: I truly believe how Dodik is biggest danger to RS and B&H (Face TV)
Turkovic meets Linhart, Turkovic says Austria and Minister Linhart understand current challenges that B&H and the region face (Hayat)
TV/ATV)
Montenegro

Nikolic: Government in Montenegro on the verge of collapse (CdM)
Djukanovic: Government dysfunctional and needs to be replaced (CdM)
Kentera: Montenegro mustn’t be governed by Serbia, Russia or China… (CdM)
Rising Reinke: Stay true to vision of secure, democratic, multiethnic Montenegro (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Mickoski declares a major victory for VMRO-DPMNE (Republika)
Zaev blames his minor partners for the defeat, insists that his coalition will survive (Republika)
BESA’s Kasami says he is in the lead in the race in Tetovo, as he heads to a run-off against Teuta Arifi (Republika)
Albania

Open Balkans finalized/The Rama-Vucic-Zaev agreement becomes official (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

Selakovic: UNMIK necessary, balance of responsibility artificial (Tanjug/RTS)

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic told the UN Security Council on Friday that Serbia’s position is that the UN mission in Kosovo and Metohija (UNMIK) must be kept in an undiminished scope in order to build and maintain lasting peace, stability and security in the province. “We hold the position that the international presence in Kosovo and Metohija, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is still necessary. In addition to UNMIK, the presence of KFOR as the main guarantor of security and EULEX, due to its engagement in the field of the rule of law, is also important. I would like to emphasize once again that Serbia fully supports respect for international law, comprehensive implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and activities of UNMIK in an undiminished scope and with adequate financial resources, so that the Mission fulfills the mandate entrusted to it under the Resolution,” Selakovic said at a UN SC session on UNMIK. “As a state committed to the respect for international law and a member of the United Nations, Serbia opposes any attempt at establishing an artificial balance between the parties in the dialogue, as well as the relativization of responsibility for unilateral acts. It is with indignation that we reject all attempts to, by calling for the so-called ‘reciprocity’ and ‘recognition’, in fact, block the dialogue and divert attention from the fact that the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina are not implementing the agreements and fulfilling obligations undertaken in the framework of the EU-facilitated dialogue,” he said. “We note with concern that even eight years after reaching the Brussels agreement, the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities has not been initiated, although Belgrade has fulfilled all its obligations under that agreement,” Selakovic said. “Deep regret and concerns are raised by the fact that the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija in the past period has been marked by an increasing number of various ethnically motivated attacks and incidents targeting Serbs, which was also stated in the Report; that the provisional institutions of self-government (PISG) in Pristina continue to take unilateral steps and refuse to implement the agreements reached in the Brussels dialogue; and that institutional discrimination against Serbs, attacks on the sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the undermining of the economic sustainability of Serb communities in the Province have continued,” he noted. Selakovic also addressed events that do not fall within the reporting period covered by the UN Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of UNMIK, in order to have everyone understand how dramatic the situation on the ground has been and how serious the consequences of Pristina’s unilateral actions can be. He said the latest violent incursion of the so-called ROSU units into the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, on 13 October, is the ninth incursion of its kind. “Tear gas, shock bombs and unbridled violence are becoming a matter of everyday life for Serbs in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, and that must be stopped immediately,” Selakovic added. “The false excuse for the latest unilateral action, as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell called it, was the fight against organized crime and smuggling. Serbia is strongly against organized crime and smuggling, but the members of the UN SC should know that such an important and general global goal, which we all share, was cynically used for an armed attack on unarmed civilians, which began with an automatic rifle raid of pharmacies in which patients of Serbian and other nationalities are supplied with vitally important medicines,” he said. “Only a few days earlier, another provocation on the part of Pristina led to a dangerous crisis, when personnel of the so-called ROSU unit, armed with long firearms and reinforced with armored vehicles, were deployed to administrative crossings between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija – Brnjak and Jarinje – in order to remove Serbian license plates and replace them with temporary ones, thus violently preventing the free movement of citizens,” he said. “It is obvious that with such moves Pristina aims to erase the 10 years of dialogue, which is the only way to resolve open issues. These provocations once again demonstrate that the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina, not only do not intend to implement everything agreed in the Brussels dialogue, but that their goal is to completely deny dialogue as a means of resolving problems,” the Minister said. “An effective response to Pristina’s lack of credibility and their dangerous play with fire, which could have unforeseeable consequences, cannot be provided by calling on ‘both sides’ for constructiveness and restraint, which has long been a manner in public communication of some important factors in the international community. There is only one source of destabilization, it has a name – and that is the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina – and after the events of 13 October, it is clear that it can and needs to be stopped by urgent and decisive action of the international community. It is now quite obvious that these are no longer sporadic and isolated provocations by Pristina, but that this is an organized campaign of ethnically motivated violence and discrimination against Serbs,” Selakovic said. “In the period from March to September this year, which is covered in the latest Report, close to 100 ethnically motivated attacks were carried out against Serbs, their private property, religious and cultural heritage sites. The increase in the frequency of attacks was accompanied by the strengthening of the intensity of ethnically motivated violence, which more and more often targets children, the elderly, women, the few returnees present there, as well as churches and other property of the Serbian Orthodox Church,” Selakovic said.

Selakovic: Guterres shares position of UNMIK Head on Pristina’s actions (RTS)

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic met in New York with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He pointed out that the UN Secretary-General showed extremely great interest in the events in our region, as well as that Guterres’ reaction to the latest events in Kosovo and Metohija is the same as that of UNMIK Head Zahir Tanin. “We talked about the session of the UN Security Council and the report of the Secretary-General on the UNMIK Mission and its activities over the previous six months, from March to September, where we received assurances that the UNMIK Mission will continue to act impartially in accordance with the mandate it was given and entrusted in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” said Selakovic. According to him, he informed the UN Secretary-General about the results of economic and social reforms in Serbia, as well as President Vucic’s initiative Open Balkans, which was recognized as a chance for the region by the prime ministers of Northern Macedonia and Albania. Selakovic added that Guterres welcomed the initiative. Selakovic said that Guterres was especially interested in the events in B&H and that he emphasized the need for greater and more intensive cooperation between Serbia and Croatia, in order to stabilize our region as much as possible.

Brnabic: Finding compromise solution to Kosovo in Serbia’s interest (Novosti)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic expressed her belief that a historic agreement between Serbs and Albanians is possible, emphasizing that it requires brave leaders with a vision, such as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. In an interview for the Saturday edition of Vecernje Novosti, Brnabic said that she, as Prime Minister, would not sign the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, adding that there are various pressures on Serbia, but that Vucic cannot be given ultimatums and served solutions. She explained that at this stage, the EU and the US did not say that there would be no EU membership without the recognition of Kosovo, but that there would be no membership without a long-term solution to the Kosovo issue. Brnabic pointed out that Serbia is committed to resolving the frozen conflict and that the interest of our country is peace and stability, as well as joining the EU. Finding a compromise that would ensure sustainable peace and stability and our European path are in Serbia’s interest, because they will ensure that we continue to strengthen economically, she said. She assessed that there are no leaders in Pristina with vision and courage, which is why it is possible that we will miss the historic chance that will not appear to us again for a long time, but that she hopes that it will not happen.

Vucic: I want close relations with UK, but I’m nobody’s fool (TV Prva/Beta)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday lambasted the United Kingdom and other Western countries, accusing them of always supporting Kosovo Albanians against Serbs. Vucic told TV Prva that the Kosovo Albanians did not design a recent Kosovo police action in northern Kosovo on their own, which resulted in clashes with Serbs in Kosovska Mitrovica. “Great Britain went out of its way to say it supports all of it. They will support anything that is against Serbs and Serbia. Only with your (British) support can the Albanians violate the Brussels agreement. You are the ones giving them that power,” Vucic said. He said he wanted the closest ties with the UK, but would not allow himself to be made a fool of by claims that the recent Kosovo police operation was geared toward fighting crime. “I will again stand for friendship with Great Britain, but I will stand for my right to speak my mind to them,” Vucic added.

Serb List declares election victory in Kosovo’s Serb-majority municipalities (N1)

According to the first exit poll results of local elections in Kosovo, in 11 municipalities mayors will be elected in the second round, while in the Serb-majority municipalities the Serb List declared its victory. The Serb List called on the citizens to go to the polls as en masse as possible. The decision was made, Serb List Head Goran Rakic said on Saturday, after difficult talks with President Aleksandar Vucic, who was ready to hear and listen to them. “We made the decision to go to the polls tomorrow because we want to show that we are not the ones who do not respect the Brussels agreement. There is always someone who wants to accuse us or the Serbian government of not respecting that agreement.” “I call on the citizens to go to the polls as en masse as possible. I will not say who to vote for because of the pre-election silence, but the people know very well who deserves their vote,” Rakic said. “If talks on the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities do not begin in November, I am informing all relevant factors in Pristina, Belgrade and Brussels that we will leave all Pristina institutions at all levels in the north and resign.”

Brnabic sends congratulatory letter to Serb List (RTS)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic congratulated the Serb List on the victory in yesterday’s local elections in Kosovo and Metohija in all ten municipalities with a Serb majority. “The Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija have once again shown what unity, faith and courage mean. Despite all the pressures and attacks they are exposed to on a daily basis, they have remained consistent in their policy of peace. Democratic and smart politics have won. I congratulate the Serb List and the entire Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija on dignity, courage and persistence. Your politics and your strength are the guideline for all of us on how to fight for one’s country,” reads Brnabic’s congratulatory letter.

Drecun: Serbs told Kurti at the elections that there is nothing from the false state of Kosovo (RTS)

The Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija understood the seriousness of the situation and the intentions of Pristina, and by going to the local elections en masse, they showed that they will fight for their survival and that they will lead that fight in coordination with Belgrade. Drecun points out that the local elections in Kosovo and Metohija showed almost complete unity of the Serb people and determination to oppose Pristina, unilateral moves, violence and ethnically motivated attacks. “Through the municipalities, the state of Serbia’s assistance to the Serb people is being realized, and we will not give up on the request to form the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). It is important that the Serb List, as it did, keeps power in all municipalities that are envisaged to be part of the ZSO,” he explains. He believes that the large turnout had sent a very clear message from the north to Albin Kurti that these are Serb municipalities where, as he says, “there is nothing from the false state of Kosovo”. “Those municipalities in the north are very important as logistical support for opposing unilateral actions of Pristina. When you look at all the results, you see that the elections were very important and that the victory of the Serb List is something that promises that the Serbs will manage to survive,” Drecun said. Drecun states that he is worried about the data which show that Pristina has intensified police and intelligence work in the north of Kosovo and Metohija with the goal of registering the bearers of the last protests, when many Serbs were wounded, with the intention of arresting them. “It is possible that they have the intelligence support of KFOR members because they are, as they say, intelligence-wise present in the north, which means that they have formed an intelligence battalion with about thirty British intelligence officers and they certainly collect that information and there is reasonable doubt that they can they share them with Pristina,” Drecun said. He points out that there would be a new destabilization in Kosovo and Metohija if Pristina decided to take a new step – arresting protesters. “I think this is a very clear message to Kurti from the Serbs, especially in the north, not to try any action because they will face very strong resistance from the Serb people,” he underlines. He believes that Albin Kurti’s “Self-Determination” experienced a debacle in the elections, although in the second round, his candidates may manage to come to power in a larger number of municipalities than before. “In the first round, the Albanians clearly told him that he did not do anything of what he promised and that the story with the intentional increase of tensions towards the Serb people did not pass,” Drecun opines. Drecun believes that Kurti is trying to show with incidents that he has political control in the north and that he can intrude whenever he wants, with whatever forces he wants and do whatever he wants. “He is thus preventing the resumption of the dialogue and achievement of any progress. It seems to me that these activities are coordinated with some leading Western countries,” Drecun states. He says that by appointing Christopher Hill as the US Ambassador to Serbia, the Biden administration is showing that it attaches more importance to the Western Balkans than what has been interpreted so far, and that the US Embassy in Belgrade will be a regional center for key issues. He emphasizes that he is worried that Hill is the successor of Richard Holbrooke’s “bulldozer diplomacy”, which does not show much tolerance for Serbia’s interests. “The statement of Edi Rama, who said for the first time that he wants unification of Kosovo and Albania, is of particular concern, and is certainly related to the US policy and the policy of some other Western countries. Someone encouraged him and some developments encourage Albanians to go further to aggravate the situation,” says Drecun. He points out that Pristina, in addition to all calls for dialogue and agreement, is opting for another path – incidents, violence, advocacy of a greater Albania and the expectation that some great power will solve things the way they would like – for Belgrade to recognize Kosovo, which, he assures, will never happen.

Petkovic congratulates Serb List (RTS/Tanjug)

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic has congratulated the Serb List on a landslide win in Sunday’s local elections in Kosovo and Metohija. In a post on his Facebook profile, Petkovic wrote it was a “victory of our people, as well as of the policy led by President Aleksandar Vucic”. “Once again, we have shown and proved that we are the strongest in the toughest of times and when we are under the greatest pressure! This support and trust obligate us to work and build even more,” Petkovic added.

Ambassador: Serbia values highly Holy See’s stance on Kosovo (Politika/Beta)

Serbian Ambassador to the Vatican Sima Avramovic has stated that Serbia holds great appreciation for the fact that the Holy See “does not recognize the so-called independence of Kosovo” and added that he hoped the Vatican would adhere to this position. “It is essential to bear in mind that our joint interest is the preservation of Christian heritage, Christian values, and even the survival of Christianity itself. We must use every opportunity to speak of just how threatened [the Serbian] people and the Serbian cultural legacy in Kosovo and Metohija are,” Avramovic told Politika and reminded that said cultural legacy is a part of Christian and European tradition as a whole. The Ambassador also stated that “the relations between Serbia and the Holy See are quite good and fair, but there is still significant room for improvement.” According to him, “aside from furthering political cooperation there is much space for collaboration in the areas of culture, research science and education”. Asked to what extent the Pope’s potential visit to Serbia would be a political and to what extent an ecclesiastical matter – given that the Pope is both a head of state and the leader of the Roman Catholic Church – Avramovic responded that the issue was “without a doubt delicate for both the state and the Church”. “Our state has made its stance abundantly clear through President Vucic’s often repeated statement that he would like to see such a visit,” Avramovic elaborated. Avramovic further added that the Serbian Orthodox Church has very good relations with the Roman Catholic Church, which “were particularly developed by His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije during his tenure as metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana”.

Positive opinion of Venice Commission for changes to Constitution (Tanjug)

Serbian Justice Minister Maja Popovic participated on Friday in the 128th plenary session of the Venice Commission, at which a positive opinion was adopted on the Draft Law amending the Constitution and the Draft Constitutional Law for its implementation. By obtaining a positive opinion, great progress has been made in meeting the obligations of the Revised Action Plan for Chapter 23 – Justice and Fundamental Rights. The team of the Justice Ministry was praised by the leadership and other members of the Venice Commission for the steps taken in the constitutional reform in terms of accepting the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The changes to the Constitution for which a positive opinion was obtained are aimed at strengthening the independence of courts and the independence of public prosecutor’s offices, which will enable greater legal security, and thus the Republic of Serbia will become more attractive for foreign investments, which will improve citizens’ living standards. The session was also attended by Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic and the President of the Serbian parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Issues and Legislation Jelena Zaric Kovacevic, according to a statement from the Ministry of Justice.

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H Presidency meets Linhard; Dodik: B&H is stable in terms of security, but will never be united (ATV

 

Members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency met with Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs Michael Linhart in Sarajevo on Friday. Following the meeting, Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that B&H is stable in terms of security, but that will never be united. Dodik announced that by the end of the month, the Republika Srpska (RS) will ban the work of the B&H Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA) in the RS and form its own intelligence agency, reach a decision on the disposal of its property and withdraw consent for the B&H Armed Forces (AF). Dodik sent a message that there is no cause for concern in B/H due to the announced decisions of the RS. Reporters from the Federation of B&H (FB&H) asked Dodik whether he thinks that he will be arrested and Dodik responded by saying that he does not think that at all. “Arrest. I feel so relaxed that I am inviting you to come to my cabinet on Monday so that we could sign together, here in your Presidency” Dodik said. Asked which song will be played, Dodik said: “Alija is gone”, referring to Alija Izetbegovic, the first President of the B&H Presidency and father of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic. Dodik underlined that the RS has no intention of undermining territorial integrity of BiH, but that it has the intention of restoring sovereignty given to the RS by the Constitution and the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA).  Linhart briefly stated that Austria sees unity and sovereignty of B&H as a prerequisite for stability of the entire region. Dodik responded to that by saying that it is his obligation to fight for the interests of the RS without endangering others. “There is no one crazy in the RS, there is no one deranged as they wish to portray here, nor is there anyone who does not understand that this is a delicate moment, but our decisions cannot be a reason for those who claim that there will be a conflict, a war. Why would there be? We will not go to war,” Dodik pointed out. “I am glad that the new Foreign Minister can see for himself what the situation is. From talking about the European path of B&H and the implementation of the 14 priorities, we came to the situation, and I said that to the Minister, to talk about security, integrity and sovereignty of B&H,” said Croat member of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic. Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said Dodik reiterated at the meeting everything he has been saying in the past days. “I think Mr. Dodik’s actions are futile, and cannot bring results he is expecting, but lead as all together to some form of destabilization. I use this this opportunity to call on him to finally stop that, to come here in the Presidency”.

Dodik: RS has right to its own army; I would not sacrifice peace for the RS (RTRS

 

Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that only malicious people fabricate a story that there will be a war in B&H and that there is no reason to worry, even though B&H has never been stable. Dodik was quoted as saying: “No one here potentiates any conflict nor war”. Dodik repeated that the RS authorities will do everything in a legitimate and completely legal and constitutional way, added the reporter. Dodik said it is obvious that those in Sarajevo are trying to impose the perception of conflicts. Dodik stated: “a completely legal and constitutional process that the RS is trying to do and will do. Nothing else is challenged. Obviously, those in the FB&H’s Sarajevo manage to impose that perception of something. I absolutely think there is no fear in that regard”. Dodik emphasized that the RS authorities do not want any destabilization, that the RS is not creating a secession project and is instead behaving constitutionally. Dodik stated: “We will continue to work as we planned. By the 20th we will have all the laws in order, on the 25th we will come out with that, on the 26th we will schedule the (RS) parliament which will pass conclusions and laws, and set up a completely new, i.e. old constitutional system. If the B&H Constitution was a sufficient guarantee for Serbs to accept and renounce independent RS, because we had it, to be in an arrangement called the B&H Constitution, then why that same constitution now would not serve as a basis to get rid of illegality and unconstitutional behavior.” Asked to comment on the statement of SDS leader Mirko Sarovic that SDS is also in favor of returning competencies to the RS, but through the B&H parliament, Dodik said that he could not be more surprised by Sarovic’s words. Dodik commented: “The weak Mirko Sarovic is now trying to throw a story about the people in the RS. I am not against it either. But he knows, and I as I know, as the public knows, nothing will come out of it. Should we wait 100 years, while in the meantime the B&H Constitutional Court with three foreigners, an Albanian, a German and I do not know who is the third, and two Muslims, always has the majority to do all this to us? So we will try again to go down to (B&H) parliament to ask (leader of SDA Izetbegovic) Bakir.” Dodik claims that Izetbegovic is now scared, that he walks around Banja Luka, sends messages and asks to meet with some of them while saying ‘The RS is not a problem’. Dodik stated: “The RS is not a problem. When you disenfranchised it, of course it is not a problem. The RS has the right to its powers and will take it”. Dodik noted that it should be clear to everyone that issues need to be resolved politically, but he also noted that this region, especially B&H, has always been boiling, and that someone is trying to add even more temperature than it really is there. Dodik stated that the RS is stable and that in the second quarter of 2021 it achieved a growth of domestic product of 10 percent, that the RS maintains all functions and budget stability, and that it has the largest number of employees historically. Dodik does not give up on returning B&H to what he called the “factory settings”. He stated that activities the RS plans to implement in the upcoming period have political and legal character and that there is no situation in which he would sacrifice peace for the RS. He concluded that the RS has the right to its competences and will take them.

Dodik: Proposal of Izetbegovic to add Jasenovac to imposed law is humiliating (ATV

Milorad Dodik said on Saturday that the proposal of President of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic to add the negation of crimes in Jasenovac to the law imposed by former High Representative Valentin Inzko is scandalous and humiliating. Izetbegovic said on Friday that in order to withdraw the imposed law, the B&H Parliament would have to adopt it first. He proposed as compromise to add amendments about Jasenovac instead of withdrawing the law and promised support from Bosniak MPs. Dodik said that Jasenovac is a place of suffering that is above all other interests and that it is pathetic that Izetbegovic thought that Jasenovac can be a topic of political negotiations. Dodik added that the fact that Izetbegovic trades Srebrenica needs to be judged by the public in the Federation of B&H. He further stated that Serbs do not need a law to know what happened in Jasenovac.

Dodik and Izetbegovic rule out possibility of their meeting (ATV

 

Milorad Dodik said on Friday that the RS is a free and multiethnic country and I do not know why SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic would not stay in it. “Unlike Izetbegovic, I could not gather in Sarajevo for example as many Serbs in one meeting as he can gather Bosniaks in the RS, because there are no Serbs there, which again speaks of the character of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) and its capital after the war in the 1990s,” Dodik was quoted as saying. Dodik said this when asked to comment on Izetbegovic’s visit to Banja Luka where session of the SDA Presidency took place. Meanwhile, as far as Izetbegovic is concerned, after Friday’s statements of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency, the previously announced meeting between Dodik and him will not happen. “We have called on the High Representative to fulfill his obligations, to react within his mandate. His obligation is daily monitoring of implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords and of course reaction to situations like the one we are living in right now. His indecision and silence in this regard further encourages secessionist policies and could lead to destabilization of the country,” Izetbegovic underlined. Commenting on the possibility of a meeting among B&H leaders, Dodik said that his previous invitation to Izetbegovic is not valid anymore and there can be no agreement with Izetbegovic. He added that Izetbegovic whines at meetings and is concerned about what his opposition will say. Dodik stated that Izetbegovic wants to keep what the international community secured them with violence. Izetbegovic himself said on Friday that everyone is surprised by the events of the past month and the way Dodik communicates is odd. He added that following certain statements of Dodik, the door for dialogue is closed now.

Komsic and Dzaferovic label Dodik’s announcements as adventurism (ATV

 

Bosniak and Croat member of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic respectively, labeled Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik announcements as adventurism. Komsic stressed that he will wait to see whether the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H will react. “If the Prosecutor’s Office does not react, then it is my obligation (to file a criminal report against Dodik),” Komsic underlined. Komsic assessed that such rhetoric will lead to Dodik’s prosecution, on charges of bringing down the constitutional system of B&H. According to Komsic, Dodik’s rhetoric points to political madness. Komsic added that such madness will stop when Dodik “comes to his senses, takes the right kind of therapy, or when he is stopped”. Dzaferovic also reacted to Dodik’s statements, and called on the Serb member to start doing his job and focus on overall social reforms and economic development. Dzaferovic warned that, with the current approach, Dodik only causes damage to both himself and the entity he claims to be representing. Dzaferovic was offended by Dodik’s use of the term Muslims instead of Bosniaks, and stressed that “reducing one whole people onto the level of a religious group” is offensive and a violation of the Constitution as well as the Dayton Peace Accords. Dzaferovic concluded that, if such behavior continues, it is HR Christians Schmidt’s obligation to protect the Constitution, territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H. He was quoted as saying: “I call everyone in B&H to reason. All of this is leading to where none of us wants to go. B&H will be defended. It existed even before the Dayton Agreement.”

SDA Presidency convenes in Banja Luka; Izetbegovic: It is up to OHR to react to current situation (Nova BH

 

The SDA Presidency convened in Banja Luka on Friday. President of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic met with members of SDA from the RS. He said that the meetings were agreed beforehand and that their visit to Banja Luka has nothing to do with the current political situation. It was announced that the officials will discuss all relevant political topics in B&H. Commenting on the current situation, Izetbegovic said that now it is time for the Office of the High Representative (OHR) to react. He said that the OHR needs to monitor the situation on a daily basis and cannot allow deepening of the crisis. Izetbegovic called on B&H institutions to react to the attacks against the constitutional organization of B&H. He said that he is ready to calm down the situation, and that no one will call for the abolition of the RS but they will also not allow the secession of it. Izetbegovic said that current policies are leading B&H into a crisis, uncertain scenarios and conflict. The SDA leader said that they want to invite forces in the RS to stop these policies for the better good of all citizens. Izetbegovic said that B&H has walked the path towards stabilization for a long time, and that peace cannot be endangered with secessionist rhetoric. He said relations in B&H need to be relaxed and “we must turn to the future, not the past”. Izetbegovic underlined that the RS will not be abolished, but that there will also be no secession of the RS from B&H. Main topic of Friday’s session of the SDA Presidency was current political situation in B&H and blockade of work in the joint institutions. Izetbegovic also commented the decree of RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic, which was published in the Official Gazette of the RS. Through this decree, the amendments made to the B&H Criminal Code by Valentin Inzko, will not be valid in the RS. With changes made to the Criminal Code of B&H, all those that deny genocide and other war crimes in B&H will be sanctioned and criminally persecuted. Izetbegovic emphasized that he would not call the RS “genocidal”, because it is a part of B&H, and he will also not call Serbs “genocidal”, but he will use that word for all those that were convicted of genocide. The SDA leader said if the OHR does not react to Cvijanovic’s decree, he will then submit a motion with the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H. “So today we have decided to call on the responsible forces, primarily in the RS, to adopt the democratic capacity in this entity and to stop these policies, for our common good, because things can go in an uncontrolled direction. We also called on the High Representative (Christian Schmidt) to fulfill his obligations, to react within his mandate. His obligation is to monitor the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords on a daily basis,” Izetbegovic said during a press conference. After the SDA Presidency session, Izetbegovic held a working meeting with SDA representatives in institutions of the RS. At that meeting, they talked about aid for Bosniak returnees to the RS, as well as about joint participation of pro-Bosnian parties in the next elections. The SDA Presidency touched on Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik’s attacks on the international community, which characterized the messages he sent from Istocno Sarajevo on Thursday. Izetbegovic said that political leaders in B&H should come to agreements, and behave in a mature and responsible manner. Asked by the media if that is possible without what Dodik calls “tutors from the international community”, Izetbegovic replied that it is possible to do that without tutors. However, Izetbegovic remarked that “tutors” are necessary if the RS authorities consider it acceptable to award orders of merit to convicted war criminals, deny genocide, “or build a church in someone’s courtyard”. The reporter noted that according to SDA leader, the original Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) is not acceptable, because the original purpose of it was “to enable patient to survive”, adding that all of its upgrades are aimed to improve the situation. SDA Presidency also adopted conclusion calling for dialogue in B&H. However, Izetbegovic said that after recent statements of Dodik, such dialogue with him is not possible. Asked to comment the fact some believe recent developments will lead to abolition of the RS, while others think it will secede from B&H, Izetbegovic said that none of this will happen. He added that it would be much better for citizens if economic topics were in focus and not tensions and politics.

SDS Main Board: SDS to attend special RS parliament session if scheduled, but will not follow Dodik’s initiatives and policies (BN TV

At its session held in Istocno Sarajevo on Saturday, the SDS Main Board adopted conclusion that SDS would attend the RS parliament special session if scheduled, but it will not follow Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik’s initiatives and policies.

BN TV reports that SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said after the session that SDS advocates bringing the competences back to the RS, but in the same way they were transferred to B&H. “We know that majority of competences were transferred by voting, both in the RSNA and in the B&H Parliament, primarily with votes of SNSD and the ruling structures. We are for the original Dayton (Peace Accords), but all initiatives must be implemented peacefully, without any attempts to destabilize and call into question peace and stability in B&H,” said Sarovic. He added that Dodik and SNSD’s policy is “the greatest threat to peace and stability in B&H, but also to the RS and its Dayton position”. BN TV reports that Sarovic also said that all initiatives to bring the competences back to the RS are legal, but the issue is how to implement that, and that SDS, when the time comes, will present its proposals. Sarovic called on Dodik to meet with SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic “and reach agreement on bringing the competences back to the RS. We will contribute by voting for bringing them back, we do not oppose that, and we absolutely support it, because it is part of our program. But we need to say, that needs to be done peacefully and without violence”. BN TV reports that Sarovic also said that all those calling for war and violence should be penalized. “We are in deep crisis. The crisis can become even worse, and everyone should be aware of that. We, in SDS, are aware of that, we will criticize everyone, and the guilty parties are not on one side. The guilty parties are in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar and anywhere else. We will name them, because peace and stability in this country are priority” said Sarovic. He added there are people in the Federation of B&H and the RS respectively, who want the crisis to continue in 2022, “so that they, due to the crisis, could win new mandates.”

Borenovic: We have to say we are fed up of Bakir’s motions before B&H CC, we are fed up of Dodik’s false referendums, we are fed up of imposed Inzko’s laws and we are fed up and had enough with Covic’s frustrations (Oslobodjenje

Oslobodjenje carries interview with PDP leader Branislav Borenovic who said at the very beginning that he cannot accept isolation, sanctions and dictatorship, stressing that people need to be clearly said where all this is going and things need to be named their real names: “There is no more need for balancing things. No need to pay attention about every spoken word. We have people who want conflict and tensions and we have people who want peace and stability. We are two different worlds”. He argues that in the world where Milorad Dodik, Dragan Covic, Bakir Izetbegovic and part of the international community are living, everything is working in favor of returning us 20 years back and this is the world that we do not want to live in. Borenovic argues that things that are happening in Europe have to start happening here and raises the example of recent developments in Austria, stressing that because of this 90% of politicians in B&H would get billion years of prison, but in B&H it became a regular occurrence in B&H to sell medical equipment to citizens at unrealistic prices. He wonders why Dodik has not prevented this: “Why, if he is such a hot shot, he has not withdrawn consent to this scandalous and shameful spending of people’s budget. We have to say: We are fed up of Bakir’s motions before Constitutional Court and we are fed up of Dodik’s false referendums, we are fed up of imposed Inzko’s laws and we are fed up and had enough with Covic’s frustrations”. Asked how will they execute this, Borenovic noted that they will do this through direct messages and clear contact with people and by refusing to be anyone’s pendant and will not be those who will sell their face because of some posts. Stressing that not all politicians are the same, Borenovic answers author’s remark that he sounds bitter: “Naturally. All of this is raising my anger. Inzko’s law is the biggest slap in the face to reasonable politicians in B&H. With the ridiculous decision he said: I am punishing reasonable politicians who have spent years trying to build cooperation bridges. This is a gift to retrograde ruling political elites. They are using it skillfully. Most of all, I am bitter that after this much time we got the imposed law, of the sensitive content which in fact should have been ‘our domestic product’. There is no piety for any of the victims, unless all the peoples stand behind this. Everything else is absurd.” Asked if he supports Dodik’s announcements of returning competencies to the RS, Borenovic said that Dodik had a chance to do this in 2019, but instead he agreed NATO path, he agreed forming of B&H Council of Ministers and distribution of funds. Wondering why he did not agree this with his partners then, Borenovic noted that he deems that Dodik is doing all that to save himself, as it is clear that he has no interest in the RS. “He is playing an amateur game of poker where his stake is the RS. Nobody normal will support this. And we have internationally recognized legitimacy of the RS with clearly defined competencies in sectors of the police, taxes, healthcare, education, culture, agriculture, in which there is no decision in B&H without us in sectors of foreign affairs, defense, indirect taxes, foreign trade. Many decentralized parts of the world could only wish such constitutional position and Dodik is toying with this,” said Borenovic. To author’s remark that if the opposition would vote against withdrawing of consent to forming of state institutions, Borenovic noted that there are no issues with indirect taxes, arguing that nothing in this sector can happen without RS Finance Minister and wonders if this means that Dodik is incompetent to protect RS interests in institutions where his people are sitting, wondering if this is the case why Dodik is not bothered by decision of RS Finance Minister to provide BAM 100 million for building of ITA B&H.

State prosecutor Pasic asks for case to be formed against Dodik over threats to B&H (N1

N1 investigates if a case will be formed by the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H against Milorad Dodik due to his recent statements in the media. State prosecutor Dzermin Pasic initiated the procedure for forming the case, but Dodik’s advisers say that he cannot be held responsible as he has the immunity. Pasic asked for urgent formation of case against Dodik due to Dodik’s recent media statements in which he threatened B&H’s territorial integrity and the top institutions in the country. Pasic told N1 that the official duty of a prosecutor is to react in such situations. “A prosecutor cannot form a case on his own, given the determined procedure for forming and signing of cases via the TCMS (system), but reaction of the Prosecution must come due to existence of grounds for suspicion on criminal offense from Chapter 16 of the Criminal Code of B&H,” Pasic explained for N1. Chapter 16 of the Criminal Code of B&H speaks of the offenses and deeds against territorial integrity. Amongst other things, it also speaks of attacks against the constitutional order, endangering the territorial integrity, undermining military or defensive power, armed rebellion, illegal formation of military forces – which carry prison sentences of up to 10 years. Dodik’s adviser on legal matters Milan Tegeltija said that Dodik cannot be held accountable for such offenses due to the post he currently assumes in the B&H Presidency – which gives him the immunity. “Any attempt at his arrest, while he is obliged to stay in Sarajevo due to work obligations, would be perceived as a severe violation of the Dayton (agreement), and it would bring B&H to unforeseen developments,” Tegeltija wrote on his Twitter account.

Commenting on the initiative of state prosecutor Pasic for urgent forming of a case against Dodik, due to alleged threats to territorial integrity of B&H, Dodik said that besides them working in unconstitutional institutions, those judges and prosecutors have never complained about the fact that they were working based on SDA’s orders. Dodik said that prosecutors should not have waited for opinion of the SDA Presidency before forming cases against him. “What can I do? People in Sarajevo do not have anything else to keep them entertained – instead of playing with marbles, they do foolish things. What should we do? Let them continue,” Dodik told reporters.

EUFOR: Entities cannot unilaterally withdraw from state institutions (Dnevni avaz

 

Following the announcement of SNSD leader Milorad Dodik of ‘independent RS within Dayton B&H’ and the Decree on non-application of amendments to B&H Criminal Code in the territory of the RS, the EUFOR told the daily that EUFOR fully supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H. “The EU supports territorial integrity and sovereignty of B&H, including its current administrative structure. Based on this, the country’s application for EU membership was considered and accepted. The constitutional framework of B&H does not provide a legal basis for entities to unilaterally withdraw from the established state institutions, nor does it prohibit application of B&H legislation at the entity level,” EUFOR stated. EUFOR also emphasized that the continuation of blockade of B&H institutions, complete absence of constructive dialogue and use of inflammatory rhetoric are not productive, and they only lead to instability and delays of necessary reforms. EUFOR warned that all of this is slowing down B&H’s progress on the path to EU and regressing 26 years of reforms.

Escobar: We will be working to isolate those who do not want inclusive and democratic Western Balkans (FTV

US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar stated that cornerstone of the US’ policy in B&H is the support to the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), territorial integrity and reforms necessary for the EU integration of B&H. Escobar added that the US resumes to provide support to dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, underlining that this is the only path towards solution. According to Escobar, no one will prevent them in this, including their biggest political rival Russia. Escobar stated that they have a lot of tools for providing response to Russia, and that every response of the US will be political and diplomatic. He went on to say that the US will be working to isolate those who do not want inclusive and democratically oriented Western Balkans. The reporter noted that influence of Russia in countries of the region is evident, although it is not transparent. Its influence is visible in actions of Serb politicians in B&H, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro that are in opposition to the goal of the West to preserve existing borders of B&H, independence of Kosovo and stability of Montenegro. Consequently, all those who have been working in line with Russian plan could experience sanctions. Regardless to this, leaders from nationalistic options fail to change their policies.

Radoncic dismisses possibility of armed conflicts as highly unlikely (Face TV

SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic, asked about member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik’s intentions to withdraw the RS’ consent for the formation of the B&H AF and other state institutions and possible secession of the RS from B&H, said that possibility of armed conflicts in B&H is highly unlikely although B&H is facing enormous challenges as Dodik continues with his very aggressive policy. He deems that there is no need to stoke fear among the citizens because neither Dodik nor anyone else in B&H has the capacity to wage another war but peace must be above everything else whatsoever. Radoncic stressed that Dodik “is playing a type of political Russian roulette” and it would be unrealistic to expect that Dodik’s dreams will come true. He claims that as far as B&H’s existence is concerned, “we are all Alija (Izetbegovic) but we are not Bakir Izetbegovic and we are not Milorad Dodik” meaning that no one is willing to risk the lives of the citizens and their children. Radoncic noted that he personally is trying to get maximum results from non-confrontational policy. He reminded that once competences are transferred to the state level they can only be restored to lower levels through strict procedure in the parliament of B&H, which will not happen with competences transferred from the RS to B&H. He advised Dodik to learn from example of former HDZ B&H leader and Croat member of the Presidency of B&H Ante Jelavic who once tried to install some type of Croat self-rule and secede Croat component from the Armed Forces of B&H only for the whole idea to fall apart and Jelavic basically became a fugitive and a criminal as B&H judiciary moved for his prosecution. He singled out non-confrontational policy of Bosniaks, responsible approach and conduct of the opposition in the RS and reaction or lack thereof from the international community as three crucial points, further elaborating that Izetbegovic should stop calling for abolition of the RS and labeling it a genocidal creation, the opposition in the RS should be commended for acting responsibly and rejecting Dodik’s separatism while the international community should stop encouraging Dodik with its inaction. Radoncic underlined that Bosniaks are determined to never again be the victims of aggression and genocide and it would be wrong to think that armed conflicts in one part of the Balkans will not spread to the rest of the region. He stated that he trusts the new US administration the most and it already formed a strong team for the Western Balkans which includes newly appointed US Special Representative for Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar and newly appointed US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill. Radoncic deems that the US already invested far too much in B&H to easily allow someone like Dodik to tear everything apart while Dodik’s expectations that Russia will go to war with the US and NATO because of his dreams and ambitions are nothing more than crazy illusion. Radoncic further noted that vast majority of Serbs in the state institutions and agencies, such as the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council of B&H (HJPC), the Court of B&H and Prosecutor’s Office of B&H and the State Investigation and Protection Agency of B&H (SIPA), are unwilling to quit their jobs and follow Dodik into an adventure. He went on to criticize Izetbegovic for deliberately withholding information about what would later turn out to be failed attempt of revision of B&H’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia, allowing SNSD and HDZ B&H to both get four posts in the House of Peoples of B&H, instructing elected state officials from SDA to criticize SDA’s coalition partners in public, adding that HDZ B&H would completely take over the Federation of B&H (FB&H) government and chaos would ensue in case ministers from SBB B&H step down. However, he said that Izetbegovic is not the leader of Bosniaks but he needs help from SBB B&H, DF and all other Bosniak parties in order to stand his ground in a game of chess against Dodik and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic. According to Radoncic, the US sanctions are not particularly detrimental to the RS political leaders and may even be counterproductive as they uphold false perception of sanctioned leaders as Russia’s actors while the EU sanctions would be far more effective because sanctioned individuals would not be able to travel to European countries. He pointed out that the formation of the Greater Serbia, the Greater Croatia and the Greater Albania, with the former two including parts of B&H, is complicated and improbable because Bosniaks paid a high price to establish themselves as peoples and a political factor in the Balkans and they cannot be left without their own state. He further stated that he is not sure if there will be spectacular arrests in Dodik’s case but relevant state institutions and state judiciary must react to any attempt to ruin B&H’s constitutional arrangement, just as they did in Jelavic’s case. Radoncic also said that he expects the international community, starting with the Office of High Representative (OHR) to the EU and NATO, to show historic responsibility for B&H and the Balkans because the policy of inaction is very dangerous and not in the best interest of anyone.  Nevertheless, he stressed that Bosniaks will know how to defend the state if needed but he would like to have calming influence on the citizens because he does not expect such scenario. Radoncic underlined that Dodik childishly expects to deploy the police alongside the Inter-Entity Boundary Line and allow unrestricted movement in order to avoid conflicts but if this does happen there will be armed conflicts, which is why Dodik will not do this whatsoever. Radoncic noted that by saying the Bonn powers are best left in a drawer and unused, HR Christian Schmidt probably meant for the time being and the Bonn powers remain at Schmidt’s disposal at any given moment but he will definitely have to use them if Dodik is not restrained and stopped on time.

Sarovic: I truly believe how Dodik is biggest danger to RS and B&H (Face TV

 

SDS President Mirko Sarovic, commenting on member of Milorad Dodik’s intentions to withdraw the RS’ consent for the formation of the B&H Armed Forces (AF) and other state institutions and possible secession of the RS from B&H, said that he truly believes how Dodik is the biggest danger to the RS and B&H and the opposition should take distance from his adventurous and hazardous policy. He claims that Dodik is “gambling with the status of the RS” but the effects of Dodik’s policy and actions will not be limited to the RS. He underlined that many are fed up with Dodik and his policy and the discontent will surely continue to grow but the RS does not need more bad reputation and more opponents. He stressed that Dodik now has multiple options and no one knows which one of them is Dodik’s primary option but a new political agreement proposed by Dodik would represent unpacking of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), which is one of the worst proposals ever because it can only be detrimental to the RS regardless of what is agreed in the end. Sarovic reminded that Dodik was initially proposing peaceful dissolution of B&H and later started advocating unpacking of the DPA before returning to peaceful dissolution, adding that more recently Dodik came out with something he describes as an independent RS within B&H which is unheard of. He deems that such proposal will inevitably lead to unpacking of the DPA and Dodik and SNSD do not have the capacity to carry it out until the end. Sarovic revealed that political structures are divided over whether Dodik is bluffing as he always did in the past or not. He also reminded that competences transferred from the RS to B&H can only be restored through strict procedure in the parliament of B&H, meaning that SNSD has to engage in talks with its partners from the FB&H and reach consensus before the parliament of B&H can move to adopt official decisions. The SDS President explained that whatever conclusions or decisions are adopted by the RS parliament, nothing will change because state-level law and decisions adopted by the parliament of B&H will remain in effect and Dodik will need support of two-thirds of the parliament of B&H in order to change this. According to Sarovic, the opposition in the RS was fair when calling on Dodik to talk to SDA and HDZ B&H as SNSD’s main partners and agree on restoring the RS’ competences since SNSD is the most responsible for transfer of the RS’ competences in the first place. He pointed out that the opposition will vote in favor of any proposal to restore the RS’ competences but Dodik knows he cannot persuade SDA and HDZ B&H to accept this. Sarovic stressed that as far as the opposition in the RS is concerned, no one in the RS has the right or consent to do anything to risk peace and security in the RS and B&H and the opposition expects everyone to act reasonably. The SDS leader clarified that the opposition is not against withdrawal of the RS’ consent for the formation of the state institutions, such as the SIPA, the OSA or the Constitutional Court of B&H, but this has to be done peacefully, legally and through existing procedures. He argued that at this moment, the RS is better off not having its status linked in any way to the status of Kosovo but Dodik may have his own motives for doing so and perhaps Dodik knows his demise will be inevitable if he loses the 2022 elections. Sarovic claims that Dodik’s plan is probably to continue with controlled crisis and maintain relatively high tensions until the 2022 elections as this is likely to keep Dodik’s electorate united. Sarovic said that his sources informed him how Dodik asked Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov if Russia will support his actions but Lavrov refused to answer and point-blank told Dodik to move on to the next topic. Sarovic added that Russia is far too serious to make such promises easily, especially not to someone like Dodik, but no one is actually interested in turning the RS into a new case that requires deliberation of others. He disagreed with claims that Dodik is working for the US and said that Dodik became a problem for those who are friendly towards the RS, including Serbia. Sarovic stressed that it is unclear whether or not Dodik has a backup plan but the opposition is against anything that may result in civil disobedience, unrest and violence, i.e., attempt to prevent the state institutions from acting on the RS territory. The SDS President claims that High Representative Christian Schmidt is not to blame for anything and he found himself in very difficult position by coming to B&H few days after Valentin Inzko’s decision to ban genocide denial while Schmidt’s legitimacy is in question because his appointment was not confirmed by the UN Security Council. Sarovic further noted that Russia and China may be looking to use this as a leverage and agree to acknowledge Schmidt as the HR in exchange for certain concessions related to other decisions of the UNSC.

Turkovic meets Linhart, Turkovic says Austria and Minister Linhart understand current challenges that B&H and the region face (Hayat

 

Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs Michael Linhart met B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic. Addressing the media after their meeting, Turkovic confirmed that Austria and Minister Linhart understand the current challenges that B&H and the region face and support their European path. “We are aware that crises like the current one have devastating effects on economy and perception of youth,” Turkovic said and expressed concern over the departure of youth from B&H who leave their homeland in pursuit of stability and security elsewhere. Linhart said that stability and security are very important. Linhart confirmed for the media that he discussed with Turkovic the further improvement of relations between Austria and B&H, and underscored that Austria sees B&H in the EU. The Austrian Minister pointed out that this visit is a sign of Austria’s certainty that the project of the EU is incomplete without the EU enlargement on the Western Balkans. Linhart said that he sees B&H and the Western Balkans in the EU without internal political turmoil. “Austria sees unity and sovereignty of B&H as an indispensable prerequisite for the security and stability of the entire region. For us, this is an issue beyond discussion,” Linhart underlined. Linhart and Turkovic discussed the current political situation in B&H and the region, as well as the European integration. Turkovic stated Austria plays and important role in regard to the EUFOR Operation Althea. Addressing the media after the meeting, Turkovic said: “In regard to defense, the role of Austria is very important. Austria gives the highest number of soldiers within the Operation Althea. It is important the EUFOR’s mandate in B&H is extended. It is crucial for security and stability of B&H, and the whole region.” Linhart underlined Austria views integrity and sovereignty of B&H as an important precondition for the security in the region and that without the Western Balkans and B&H’s membership, the European Union (EU) is not complete. “We, as Europe, need to extend our hand to B&H and the region more strongly. We should be the partners to connecting powers and be reliable supporters to what is leading B&H forward on its path to the EU,” said Linhart.

Patriarch Porfirije ends visit to Sarajevo, Istocno Sarajevo, calls for peace, unity (BN TV/ATV

 

Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church Porfirije ended his visit to Sarajevo and Istocno Sarajevo on Sunday. On Sunday morning, Porfirije served a religious service in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos and Metropolitan of the Dabar-Bosnia Hrizostom and many bishops attended the event. Later during the day, Porfirije and other bishops walked through the Old Town of Sarajevo all the way to the Old Orthodox Church in the Bascarsija district. Late on Sunday afternoon, Porfirije visited Istocno Sarajevo. Porfirije, Hrizostom and many bishops visited the city administration in Istocno Sarajevo where city officials and many citizens welcomed them. Porfirije called for peace and unity and added that he has a special bond with this area bearing in mind that he comes from this region. Porfirije met with Istocno Sarajevo Mayor, Ljubisa Cosic, and the heads of six municipalities in Istocno Sarajevo. After that he walked towards the Square of the Republic of Serbia, where he was met by many citizens and the faithful. Porfirije thanked Istocno Sarajevo residents for their welcome, their respect and love. During meeting with local authorities, Porfirije emphasized the need for unity and preservation of the Serb people. He added that his main task, as a priest, is to pray for peace – amongst people and nations of the world. “That peace, that must be known, will never be achieved if we first do not achieve peace within ourselves” Porfirije concluded. Metropolitan Hrizostom of Dabar-Bosnia accompanied Porfirije during his visit to B&H. Hrizostom is marking his 50 years of monastic and 30 years of episcopal service. He thanked the Serbian Patriarch for this visit and said this sends a strong message about unity within the Serbian Orthodox Church. Mayor Cosic said the Patriarch’s visit is a new hope that things in the region will change, and that all people will be able to live in peace and harmony. Porfirije walked through Istocno Sarajevo and then addressed the citizens at location where a new cathedral will be built. Porfirije said this cathedral must be a place of gathering, a place of worship and a place of good energy. Citizens told ATV they are honored by Porfirije’s visit and they will always listen to his wise advice. While leaving Istocno Sarajevo, Porfirije promised to come again, saying Sarajevo and Istocno Sarajevo are close to his heart, and he always comes here filled with joy and love. Porfirije travelled to Jahorina Mountain on Sunday, where he met with Milorad Dodik. Porfirije blessed the location where a church will be built, and Dodik expressed his support to this project which will be implemented at Poljice.

 

Nikolic: Government in Montenegro on the verge of collapse (CdM

In an interview for the CDM portal, a member of the Democratic Party of Socialists’ (DPS) presidency and their MP Andrija Nikolic was adamant – Montenegro government is on the verge of collapse. According to him, Montenegro has been blocked for a year already, and an extraordinary election is the most realistic option for overcoming the crisis. On the statement of the US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Gabriel Escobar, that the latest NATO Summit had unofficially concluded it was dangerous to share all the information with the new government in Podgorica, Nikolic says it shouldn’t be surprising, as the international partners of Montenegro recognize the character of this government and warn it for getting far away from the European and Euro-Atlantic values. Commenting on a slowdown in the enlargement policy and its impact on the Balkans, he said: “The EU enlargement to the countries of the Western Balkans par excellence is a security issue for the region. If, even after the formation of the new government in Germany, and the upcoming presidential elections in France, there’s no agreement within the EU on starting negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, the enlargement policy and membership prospects of the WB will definitely be jeopardized, with possible far-reaching consequences for the stability of both the region and Europe, as we’ve learned that the Balkans doesn’t know how to take care of its own security.” As for the state of play in Montenegro in terms of politics, Nikolic notes that “Montenegro has been shaken by the most serious political and social crisis since the restoration of independence”.  He continues: “Since May this year, that is, since the dismissal of the Justice Minister, Vladimir Leposavic, and the adoption of the Srebrenica genocide resolution, the government has no support in the parliaments and lost any legitimacy. The country has been blocked for six months. It’s why it’d be best to have the extraordinary election in order to get out of the crisis.”

Djukanovic: Government dysfunctional and needs to be replaced (CdM

 

“The stability of Montenegro can be strengthened only through the process of European integration, but the problem is when you receive scant messages from partner institutions that are a serious blurring of the European perspective, which gives wings to dormant nationalism from ‘95, which has never given up,” Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has stated at the 2BS Forum, with the message that Montenegro became independent in order to be a member of the EU and NATO. He has said that the current government of Montenegro is dysfunctional and should be removed, because, as he adds, its term is the decline of Montenegro. President Djukanovic and the DPS leader stresses that the latest survey has showed that the DPS has the support ranging from 35.1% to 39.5%. He has recalled that only two large Russian investments were carried out in Montenegro, of which only one was successful. He has added that Montenegro had its own state policy and that Russia did not influence it, because Montenegro pursued a policy based on the law of a sovereign state. “Montenegro has not introduced Russian capital into its system. That is not true,” he has stated. Speaking about the lack of interest from Europe, Djukanovic has added that the Chinese capital in the construction of the Montenegrin highway is a consequence of the fact that there was no support for that project from Europe. According to him, it is obvious that now some are trying to do what they failed to do in the early 1990s. “We can see that they are returning to the idea that three homogeneous, separate and enlarged states should be created in the Western Balkans, which should happen to the detriment of Montenegro, B&H and North Macedonia,” Djukanovic has said. He has pointed out that the presence of third countries opened the door to growing nationalism to the extent that today we are talking about the formation of great nationalist state creations, nationally and religiously homogeneous, which should be created at the expense of North Macedonia, Montenegro and B&H. Claiming that he has never asked for the countries of the region to be admitted to the EU before the criteria are met, he says that he has asked for integration not to be stopped because the countries in the Balkans cannot provide stability on their own. Speaking about the current government of Montenegro, Djukanovic points out that its constituents are in fact “infantry of Greater Serbian nationalism”. “A smaller stream flows into a larger one, and that is why the strategy of state policy cannot be determined by a smaller but by a larger coalition. The Government is dysfunctional and should be removed because its mandate is the decline of Montenegro. I see a way out through a better understanding of pro-European forces, and the only way out of this situation is through new elections,” Djukanovic has explained. When it comes to divisions, Djukanovic believes that all modern political societies are divided, starting with the American one. Support for the DPS is growing, I would not underestimate our coalition potential “The Democratic Party of Socialists is a serious party. I would not underestimate our coalition potential. The latest survey has showed that we have the support ranging from 35.1% to 39.5%. It seems that we made good moves at the Congress and that it has affected the public’s support for the DPS. Everything we have done during these years will be valued by the political public,” Djukanovic has pointed out. He notes that the perception that there was a conflict between the state and the church is wrong. “This is not about endangering the faith, but about abusing the church as the only remaining mechanism of Greater Serbia politics,” Djukanovic has said. He has added that he is not afraid of division in society and that he believes that he can still contribute to creating better politics in Montenegro.

Kentera: Montenegro mustn’t be governed by Serbia, Russia or China… (CdM

“Montenegro cannot and must not allow Serbia, Russia, China or any other country to govern our country, a member of NATO,” said at the opening the 11th 2BS Forum Savo Kentera, President of the Atlantic Alliance of Montenegro. Kentera said that this is no longer just about us, but about the entire Alliance and the protection of its interests, as well as the protection of the national interests of each NATO member state. “What is happening in Montenegro today, tomorrow may be a pattern according to which any NATO member state can be presented as a factor of instability and division within the NATO alliance. This is not and cannot be of interest to anyone within the Alliance,” he warned. As he said, the most glaring example of the violation of good relations in the Balkans is reflected in the attitude of Serbia towards Montenegro. He also assessed that this time it is done with sophisticated methods, wrapped under the cloak of democracy and protection of Serbs in the region.

Rising Reinke: Stay true to vision of secure, democratic, multiethnic Montenegro (CdM

The United States is fully aware of foreign influences that are actively trying to destabilize Montenegro’s progress and distract it from the Euro-Atlantic path, said US Ambassador Judy Rising Reinke at the opening of the 11th 2BS forum organized by the Atlantic Alliance of Montenegro. She said that the United States encourages political leaders to do everything in their power to unite around democratic values, which include multiculturalism and tolerance, as well as to support a sovereign, united Montenegro that all citizens feel as their home. Rising Reinke said she was concerned about the degree and visibility of divisions in our society.

 

Mickoski declares a major victory for VMRO-DPMNE (Republika

VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski addressed supporters in the party office in Skopje, as news continued to pour in about victories across the country in the local elections.

He declared that VMRO won outright in 20 municipalities, including major wins such as Kisela Voda, Butel and Gazi Baba in Skopje, the cities of Prilep, Stip and Veles, as well as a number of smaller cities and rural municipalities. Other major wins are on the horizon, Mickoski added, insisting that once all the results are in, VMRO could carry Aerodrom and Gjorce Petrov in Skopje, as well as Bitola and Ohrid in the first round. We won in Kisela Voda 2:1. We won in Butel, Gazi Baba, Gjorce Petrov, we have the city hall in Veles… We go to a run off in Centar and Karpos, Mickoski declared the list of successes, some very improbable like denying SDSM an outright win in the center of Skopje. A second round will be fought against SDSM in Kocani, Makedonska Kamenica, Probistip, Kratovo, Radovis, Demir Kapija, Resen, and a number of rural municipalities. The opposition party also leads in the ethnically mixed city of Kicevo, and will face an Albanian opponent there. We enter the second round as the stronger party in 20 municipalities, Mickoski said, as his supporters chanted “all of Skopje is a VMRO city”. In the race for the capital Skopje, Mickoski said that the VMRO supported candidate Danela Arsovska leads the SDSM candidate Petre Silegov by 2,750 votes, and that VMRO will have majority in the Skopje City Council by significant 50,000 votes.

Zaev blames his minor partners for the defeat, insists that his coalition will survive (Republika

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev addressed the public at 1 in the morning, after a brutal election day for his SDSM party. Flanked by his government Ministers, instead of the mayoral candidates, Zaev declared that his party won or has a lead in 30 municipalities in the second round, and insisted that he will fight to maintain his coalition despite the major defeat. SDSM won or is winning in Strumica, Centar, Karpos, Shuto Orizari, Resen, Valandovo…, Zaev said, with the thin list quickly descending to small and rural municipalities, while VMRO-DPMNE raked in important wins during the day. When asked about this discrepancy, Zaev insisted that for him, victory will be measured in the number of mayoral and council seats – not in the size of the municipalities each party has won. SDSM already lost many of the major urban centers, and it’s unlikely it will secure a majority even with rural municipalities in the second round. Zaev then turned to blame his coalition partners for splintering the SDSM vote – Zaev lost two small coalition partners, LDP and DOM, who are about to cost Zaev a possible win in Bitola, and did some damage in Radovis and Gevgelija, but there is little evidence that these coalition defections are costing him much elsewhere. Zaev also glossed over the fact that VMRO lost far more votes to populist candidates who won’t make it into the second round. Zaev specifically called on DOM and LPD, who he continuously blamed for the outcome of the vote, and on the other coalition parties, to join with SDSM in the local councils, once they are formed, and more importantly, insisted that his coalition will survive on the central level. Zaev only has a two seat majority in the parliament, and losing any of his numerous coalition partners in the aftermath of the election drubbing could easily cost him his government. We have a big obligation before the voters and we will not allow anybody to take our country back. In order to preserve the security of the Macedonian future, I call on all our supporters to come out and vote in the second round. The message of our people is clear – both where we won and where we didn’t win. The people want more results and more work. We will deliver those results, but that is possible only with forward looking local authorities. The fight continues because the evil threatens us, Zaev said darkly. He did not directly answer to questions from the Albanian language press that his coalition faces possible new divisions over the race in Tetovo, where two of his key coalition partners – DUI and BESA – will face a major fight that could further sour relations within the coalition.

BESA’s Kasami says he is in the lead in the race in Tetovo, as he heads to a run-off against Teuta Arifi (Republika

The BESA party is celebrating the reported lead its leader Bilal Kasami has over the incumbent Tetovo Mayor Teuta Arifi. Kasami and Arifi will head to a run-off that will likely complicate relations in Zaev’s coalition, where they are both crucial members. Kasami’s claim that he is in the lead was disputed by DUI leader Ali Ahmeti, who insists that Arifi is in the lead. The vote in Tetovo was affected by the devastating hospital fire on September 8th that killed 14 patients and their family members. The horrific deaths face heavy on the SDSM – DUI parties, whose officials were in charge both of the construction of the improvised Covid hospital and of its management.

Run-off in Struga between the DUI and Albanian opposition candidates (Republika

The mayoral race in Struga will go to a run-off between the incumbent Mayor Ramiz Merko from DUI and his main challenger Idri Istrefi from the Alliance of Albanians and Alternative parties. Merko insists that he is in the lead by 2,000 votes. Istrefi replied that he will continue to seek the support of all citizens of Struga. The DUI candidate will count on the votes of ethnic Macedonians – SDSM voters, while Istrefi will turn to the VMRO-DPMNE supporters, to shore up his original base of support.

 

Open Balkans finalized/The Rama-Vucic-Zaev agreement becomes official (Radio Tirana

The Open Balkan initiative, criticized by the Albanian opposition and Kosovo politics, is finalized with a signed document. The head of the Albanian government Edi Rama, the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev have signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation, which has been published in detail in the Official Gazette. The memorandum envisages the strengthening of relations between the 3 countries, especially in the field of imports, exports and movement of goods, in order to eliminate obstacles in mutual trade. Under the agreement, the 3 states will reduce controls, formalities and the number of documents required, promoting cost reduction and speed in the customs clearance procedure. “The customs authorities of the Parties shall cooperate in order to provide the conditions for the simplification of the transit procedure between them, as far as possible,” said the agreement, which promotes the increase of the circulation of food and industrial goods. The Memorandum will remain in force indefinitely, while the first paragraph states that the 3 initiators will keep open the invitation for their counterparts from Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to become part of the Open Balkan, to improve the lives of all citizens of the region.

Objectives of the Memorandum:

a) increase and strengthen economic cooperation between the parties.

b) simplification of procedures related to imports, exports and movement of goods.

c) exchange of data between customs authorities and other authorities.

d) promoting, through the expansion of mutual trade, the harmonious development of economic relations between the parties.

e) gradual elimination of barriers to trade in goods.

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Belgrade Media Report 07 December 2021

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