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Belgrade Media Report 19 October

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Pristina experienced political defeat; new police actions possible (Tanjug/RTV)
Vucic: We can do much together with Hungary (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Petkovic: Serb List leaving Pristina institutions in north of the province if ZSO is not formed (NSPM/Tanjug/N1)
EC to recommend opening of two clusters with Serbia (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Dacic: Opposition to propose representative for media monitoring bodies (Beta/Tanjug/RTS)
Venice Commission praises Serbia’s constitutional amendments (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

RS government holds special session and discusses decisions on returning competencies to RS (N1/BNTV)
Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms case against Dodik (Nova BH)
US Embassy: US ready to use sanctions against those who undermine Dayton Peace Agreement; UK Embassy: UK uses sanctions when and where it considers it to be most effective (Hayat)
Dodik votes against all items discussed at session of Presidency (ATV)
SDA: Laws and decisions passed by B&H parliament can only be changed by B&H parliament; Dodik is endangering peace and stability (Nezavisne)
Mothers of Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa’ appeal to international institutions to stop Dodik’s violation on UN Genocide Convention (Dnevni list)
Covic, Izetbegovic meet Covic: Our joint priority is to stabilize political situation in B&H ASAP (N1)
FAC holds session to discuss Borrell’s report on situation in Western Balkans: Serious concern over situations in B&H, Kosovo expressed (N1)
EU Foreign Affairs Council extends EUFOR mission in B&H (FTV/Nova BH)
Croatia

Grlic Radman: Croatia has support for stance on B&H and W. Balkans (Hina)
Montenegro

Minority government backed by DPS and DF a way out of political crisis (Pobjeda)
Abazovic and Radulovic pay a working visit to Washington D.C. (Gov. Press office)
Protest in Podgorica (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

SEC: VMRO-DPMNE won 22, SDSM 9, DUI 3 mayors (Republika)
Zaev one day after the first round of local elections: Now the most important thing is unification (Republika)
Ahmeti thanks voters: I will never disappoint you (Republika)
OSCE/ODIHR: Local elections showed the need for substantial law reform (Republika)
Albania

Albania-Kosovo set up a joint Secretariat for the implementation of agreements between them (Radio Tirana)
Basha reveals details from meeting with Kosovo Deputy PM (ADN)
European Integration/Commission publishes progress report on Albania and other aspiring countries (Radio Tirana)
Soreca-Ibrahimaj: Essential to redouble efforts to move the reform agenda forward and improve the business climate in Albania (Radio Tirana)
Slovenian Ambassador from Korca: Albania has done everything necessary to open negotiations (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Pristina experienced political defeat; new police actions possible (Tanjug/RTV)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday said new actions by Kosovo police forces were possible following a political defeat suffered by Pristina, and added that Serbia would be ready for that. “I hope reason and a rational approach will prevail among some of the people in Pristina, although it is difficult to count on that after the political defeat they have suffered, and I am afraid they will again seek a way out of the uncomfortable situation they are in,” Vucic told reporters in Aleksinac, southern Serbia. He noted that Belgrade must be prepared for this as Pristina had said several times it had no intention of meeting its commitments from the Brussels agreement and establishing a Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). “We will wait to see what Europe will say. Like the citizens of Serbia, I have had enough of all kinds of hypocrisy coming from the outside as well as from Pristina – I do not know what to add to all that,” Vucic said. Responding to a conclusion that each election process in Kosovo and Metohija brings up the narrative that the state is forcing the Serbs to go to the polls, he said that the state never forced anybody. “We never forced anyone, except that I thought it was better to turn out than not to turn out. I didn’t hide it, and I said it publicly. We attack Pristina for not fulfilling the Brussels agreement, and then are we supposed not to fulfill it ourselves. How then can we go out in front of anyone and ask for the formation of the ZSO,” he explained. He pointed out that people in Serb communities went to the polls in incomparably larger numbers, on average 60 percent, while in Albanian-majority places the turnout was 40 percent. “That speaks to the motivation of the people, and about who was motivated the most,” he underlined.

Vucic: We can do much together with Hungary (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Monday said Serbia and Hungary were able to do many things together, just like they had done in terms of ensuring gas supplies, and noted that a stronger Serbia meant a stronger Hungary, and vice versa. Vucic was speaking in Horgos, northern Serbia, at a ceremony marking the start of a reconstruction and modernization of a Subotica-Szeged rail line. The ceremony was also attended by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “Who dares, wins,” Vucic said in Hungarian in a speech to local residents. “That is a characteristic of everything Orban has done in the relations with Serbia, and I am grateful to the Hungarian Prime Minister for creating the conditions for completely new relations with much courage and the right vision for political relations between the Hungarians and the Serbs,” Vucic said. “We believe a stronger, more powerful Serbia will mean a stronger and more powerful Hungary, just as we are certain that a strong, powerful Hungary means a strong, powerful Serbia,” Vucic said. That has never been the case throughout our joint history, and I am happy and proud I can say something like that in Horgos today, Vucic said. “Everything we are building shows to what extent we can achieve better results together,” Vucic noted. He said the works on the rail line were due to be completed in November 2022.

Orban: EU border should be much further down south

Orban said on Monday in Horgos that the EU border should be much further down south and that Serbian citizens should long ago have been allowed to cross into Hungary and the EU without passports. Addressing a ceremony marking the start of works to rebuild and modernize a rail line from Subotica to Szeged, Orban noted that the ceremony was taking place at the Schengen border, but that the EU external border should not be where it now was. “We all know well that Serbia is the gateway to the Balkans and a key state for European security. It is true, and we know, that Serbia has been ready to join the EU for years now,” Orban said. He noted that the question of whether Serbia wanted to join the EU – and whether it would have anyone or anything to join – was now slowly emerging.

Petkovic: Serb List leaving Pristina institutions in north of the province if ZSO is not formed (NSPM/Tanjug/N1)

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic stated on Monday that the convincing victory of the Serb List at the local elections in Kosovo and Metohija showed how important it is for the Serb people to be united. Petkovic added that the election results should be analyzed in the international community, especially those who supported the Prime Minister of the provisional institutions Albin Kurti in, as he put it, “an action of terror” against Serbs in the north. “As strong and convincing as the victory of the Serb List and the Serb people in yesterday’s elections, let everyone know that there will also be a strong response if the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) is not formed and if institutional concrete steps are not taken, starting with the first meeting in Brussels in November, which should be exclusively dedicated to discussing the implementation of what was agreed in 2013,” Petkovic said at a press conference. If the ZSO is not formed, Petkovic added, the answer will be that “the Serb List and the Serb people will leave all Pristina institutions in the north of the province”. “That’s what everyone needs to know very well,” said Petkovic.

EC to recommend opening of two clusters with Serbia (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)

In its annual report on Serbia, the European Commission will recommend the opening of Cluster 3 (Competitiveness and Growth) and Cluster 4 (Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity) in Serbia’s EU accession talks, Tanjug learns. In the report, to be presented in Strasbourg on Tuesday, the EC notes progress made by Serbia in aligning with EU benchmarks, in particular in the taxation policy and the energy sector. The report, seen by Tanjug, also notes “limited progress” in the public administration reform, the judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organized crime and in the media sphere.

Dacic: Opposition to propose representative for media monitoring bodies (Beta/Tanjug/RTS)

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic called on Monday representatives of the opposition, regardless of whether they participated in the EU-mediated or unmediated dialogue with the government, to put forward candidates for an interim media monitoring body, stressing that the body should be formed as soon as possible. After an online meeting with European Parliament members who facilitated the inter-party dialog with some opposition parties, Dacic said he had briefed them on the steps state agencies had taken to put into practice the agreed-upon proposals to improve election conditions. “State agencies will fulfill everything that was agreed and that the Euro-parliamentarians asked for,” Dacic told reporters. Speaking of fulfillment of agreements, Dacic said the opposition’s candidates for members of the interim media monitoring body would be presented to the Ministry of Culture. He invited the Justice and Freedom Party and the People’s Party to put forward their candidates, even though they had stated earlier they would not take part.

Venice Commission praises Serbia’s constitutional amendments (Beta)

The Council of Europe’s Venice Commission praised as welcome the initiative by Serbian authorities to bring the 2006 Constitution in line with European and international standards, though only in the area of justice, while stressing that the opposition in the parliament should continue to take part in the constitutional reform process. In its opinion on the draft constitutional amendments dealing with justice, the Venice Commission said that there was room for improvement of the content, especially in relation to the appointment and members of the High Judicial Council and High Council of Prosecutors. “In comparison to the situation in 2018, there currently appears to be the necessary political momentum in Serbia to achieve a satisfactory result,” the Venice Commission said in its opinion. The document noted that the process of public consultation on the draft amendments could be characterized as sufficiently inclusive and transparent. However, in the current political context in Serbia, namely, the one-party majority in the parliament and no opposition in the legislature, there is a strong need for all institutional stakeholders and all political forces in Serbia to adopt an inclusive approach with a view to lending the constitutional reform as broad a legitimacy as possible, the opinion reads further, stressing that the Venice Commission urges the Serbian authorities to continue to actively seek the participation and involvement of the opposition.

REGIONAL PRESS

 

RS government holds special session and discusses decisions on returning competencies to RS (N1/BNTV)

 

The Republika Srpska (RS) government held the 29th special sessions on Monday and discussed the constitutional position of the RS and return of competences. The RS government tasked expert teams to prepare proposal of laws by 28 October regarding constitutional protection of rights of the RS guaranteed in the Dayton that the RS parliament will discuss soon. The reporter noted that the RS parliament Collegium is scheduled to hold a session on Tuesday (today). RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic, RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic and Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik attended the session. According to N1, all this scared some people in the RS while the opposition criticized Dodik, part of the ruling officials approved his moves. Cvijanovic said that “they are legalists.” Cvijanovic stated: “We are no rebels or revolutionaries. We want to stay committed to respecting the Constitution and the Annex 4.” In her opinion, it would be better if peoples in B&H were reaching agreements and if there were less imposed laws, adding that talk is a recipe for success. According to Cvijanovic, there is chronic lack of trust in B&H. Cvijanovic also stated: “Violent change of the Dayton, violent taking of competences from the RS, violent imposing of the will of one (side) to the other two (sides); this is obvious in B&H. Therefore, there is no talk about a conflict here. There is no talk about any war. There is no talk about any kind of provocations. We are people who solve our problems and what are our plans only in a parliament via democratic procedures and democratic means. We are not those who threaten with howitzers, we are not the ones who talk about deployment of some forces. Others are doing this. Therefore, they are the ones who should get the attention. As far as our concern, the parliament is a place where all our political problems are being solved and this is how we will solve them.” N1 reported that the opposition in the RS raised its voice and leader of SDS Mirko Sarovic convened a meeting in Istocno Sarajevo on Tuesday to say “No” to policy of SNSD and its leader that is according to Sarovic, devastating for the RS. The opposition will also meet in order to discuss the issue of elections in Prijedor scheduled for 12 December and in order to point out that their requests presented during the protest on 2 October were not met. Dodik emphasized that all competences of the RS will be restored, including armed forces, judiciary, security agencies etc. He believes that not later than end of October, all necessary laws will be prepared and then it will be decided about the RS parliament session at which these laws will be discussed. Dodik stressed that he is aware it will not be possible to immediately start with implementation of all laws. During the session, the RS Minister of Interior Dragan Lukac stated his views which opposed Dodik’s views, noted the presenter. The session discussed the materials for a special session, at which Dodik announced the withdrawal of consent for the establishment of B&H institutions, as well as a set of new laws that will repeal legal solutions on the B&H Armed Forces, the B&H Intelligence-Security Agency, the B&H Indirect Taxation Authority, the B&H Medicines Agency and others. Lukac said that it is not good, because the price will be paid by the citizens. Lukac was quoted as saying: “Citizens will be left without documents, they will not be able to travel, registrations will not be valid. Do you know what problems you will cause with this”? Lukac also said that all those decisions would fall at the B&H Constitutional Court and that there could be unforeseeable consequences for the citizens and the RS. According to BN TV sources, Dodik was not satisfied with Lukac’s discussion, so he told him not to talk or obstruct those processes. The RS Minister of Energy Petar Djokic said that everything should be thought about and said not to hurry, but to analyze it well. Dodik announced that among the first decisions, an intelligence service will be formed, which will be called the Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order of the RS.

 

Prosecutor’s Office of B&H forms case against Dodik (Nova BH)

 

The Prosecutor’s Office of B&H confirmed on Monday that it has formed a case against Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. However, the statement issued by the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H was brief and it did not specify whether the case refers to suspicion that he committed a criminal offense against integrity of B&H, which includes undermining of constitutional order and of the armed forces. The statement only reads that the case was formed upon several reports against Dodik, and that the last one was received precisely on Monday. Namely, 14 prosecutors endorsed the initiative of B&H Prosecutor Dzermin Pasic, who requested forming of a case against Dodik precisely for undermining integrity of B&H, its constitutional order and its armed forces. It remains unclear whether the formed case refers to this. Following the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H to form a case against Dodik, Croat member of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic said that an institutional reply to Dodik’s announced moves is required. “If one violates the law or the Constitution, then institutions in charge of protection of the Constitution and laws must react. In case this cannot be done or turns out to be impossible, there are other options but one does not discuss those options in such public manner” Komsic added. Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic said that there will have to be a stronger and more serious reaction of the international community, which has the mandate to assist.

US Embassy: US ready to use sanctions against those who undermine Dayton Peace Agreement; UK Embassy: UK uses sanctions when and where it considers it to be most effective (Hayat)

 

The US Embassy to B&H issued a statement which reads: “The US is prepared to use all available sanctions against those who undermine or facilitate the undermining of the Dayton Peace Agreement, but they are not a substitute for the responsibility of all B&H leaders to reject destabilizing action and instead work through B&H institutions to improve functionality.” The UK does not hesitate from possible sanctions either, noted the reporter. The UK Embassy to B&H pointed out that their goal is a stable, prosperous and inclusive B&H. The UK Embassy to B&H issued a statement which reads: “There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric that encourages divisions because it only makes this goal impossible. Such rhetoric distracts from the real challenges communities across B&H face – corruption, limited economic opportunities, and low quality public administration. The United Kingdom uses sanctions when and where it considers it to be most effective and based on evidence.”

Dodik votes against all items discussed at session of Presidency (ATV)

 

At Monday’s session of the B&H Presidency member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik voted against all items of the agenda. The reporter noted that the RS parliament will be deciding about all items that were for the second time on the agenda of B&H Presidency’s session, because Dodik voted against them for second time. In his statement for media Dodik said that he was surprised that the proposal of the agreement between B&H and the Islamic Community in B&H (IZ B&H) was included in the agenda. Dodik deems that there is an attempt to impose IZ B&H as dominant religious community in B&H through this agreement. He believes that members of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic included this item in the agenda of Monday session because “after 13 or 15 years” they discovered that IZ B&H is native, while the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the Vatican are foreign subjects. “It implies Orthodox and Catholic faithful ones, i.e. Serbs and Croats are foreigners here,” explained Dodik. Upon Dodik’s initiative, abovementioned item was removed from the agenda.  At the press conference held in Istocno Sarajevo Dodik apologized to media for being forced to wait in park near the Presidency. He also stated that his goal is restore rights of the RS by using political means. “If I need to sacrifice anything, I will sacrifice myself on this path,” stressed Dodik. Most of the discussion between Presidency members focused on a part of the contract that refers to Friday prayers of Muslim believers. Friday prayers, called ‘dzuma’, would be held during work time – and Muslim workers would be allowed to leave work to attend prayers. Komsic said the Presidency members did not make this up – this is something that Islam asks of the faithful. Dodik emphasized that he has nothing against religious practice, or against Muslims in B&H, but he says it is unacceptable to allow Muslim believers to leave work during ‘dzuma’, and for their employer to be obliged to pay these work hours in full. According to the reporter, other two Presidency members Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic tried to innovate the procedure and to exclude the parliament of B&H from giving its consent for similar acts with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Dodik argued that he is unwilling to accept any kind of a discrimination adding that this proposal is full of discrimination and especially Komsic’s and Dzaferovic’s explanation that this is domicile religious community while others are foreigners and that “one day, they should leave from here”. Dodik said: “This is another plot aimed to humiliate and discriminate others.” Dodik underlined that this kind of a stance is not directed against Muslims and the Muslim community as the agreement is necessary but in an equal way with the other religious communities that can practice religion in their homes and not in public like the agreement aims.

SDA: Laws and decisions passed by B&H parliament can only be changed by B&H parliament; Dodik is endangering peace and stability (Nezavisne)

SDA stated that the insisting on return to the original Dayton Peace Accords and the way the RS plans to do that are unconstitutional, and they represent an attack against the constitutional-legal order of B&H. SDA stated that laws and decisions on establishing of state institutions were passed by B&H Parliament, and they can only be changed by B&H parliament. SDA noted that any unilateral attempt to out these laws out of force by entity parliament and threats of prohibition of activities of state institutions in the territory of RS represent a harsh violation of the Dayton Peace Accords and a threat to peace and stability in the region. According to SDA, SNSD leader and B&H Presidency member Milorad Dodik will endanger peace, stability and the RS itself with his adventurous policy and attempts at creating entity para-institutions. SDA noted that the RS exists only based on B&H Constitution. Head of SDA Caucus in B&H House of Representatives Adil Osmanovic stated that Dodik’s statements where he threatens with confrontation with NATO and 1992 scenario, show that Dodik is a warmonger and politician with dangerous intentions. He stressed that in this situation, Dodik is the only politician who openly spreads ethnic hatred, presenting insults almost on daily base, as well as racist statements about Bosniaks.

Mothers of Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa’ appeal to international institutions to stop Dodik’s violation on UN Genocide Convention (Dnevni list)

 

The association of victims and witnesses of genocide ‘Movement of Mothers of Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa’ have appealed to the international institutions to stop member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik in violation of the Genocide Convention adopted by the United Nations, arguing that Dodik’s statements cause possibility of conflict and repeat of genocide. The association reminded that they sent UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu and prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan a report back in August of 2021 because of endangering of peace and violation of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The association underlined that they especially appeal to RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic, who is following in footsteps of a war criminal, namely speaker of the parliament of the ‘so-called’ Serb Republic in B&H Momcilo Krajisnik. According to the association, Krajisnik is the only convicted war criminal in history of international law, who served as parliament speaker.

Covic, Izetbegovic meet Covic: Our joint priority is to stabilize political situation in B&H ASAP (N1)

 

Leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic met leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic on Monday. Following the meeting, Covic wrote on Twitter that “stabilization of the political situation in B&H as soon as possible, removal of all forms of inequality, construction and speeding up the European path and the European integration, preservation of peace and enhanced dialogue are our joint priorities”.

FAC holds session to discuss Borrell’s report on situation in Western Balkans: Serious concern over situations in B&H, Kosovo expressed (N1)

 

The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) held a session on Monday and discussed a report of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell on the situation in the Western Balkans in the light of his recent talks with leaders from this area. According to diplomatic sources, the latest events in the north Kosovo have sparked serious concern in the EU. According to N1, European officials requested from leaders in B&H to give up on inflammatory rhetoric of divisions including calling of the territorial integrity of B&H into question. European officials called on the leaders to – instead of deepening the political crisis and blockade of institutions – that they condemned, jointly meet the 14 priorities that the EU set two years ago. The reporter noted that this sums up the conclusions of the European council on the situation in B&H adopted during the session of the FAC. EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs pointed out to deterioration of primarily the political situation in B&H but also to paralyzed institutions. The reporter noted that they are concerned due to escalation of conflicts in B&H and they find the situation very serious. According to N1, Austria and Hungary – along with Croatia – are the most concerned for the situation in B&H but they also share the concern of other countries primarily Spain and Bulgaria due to the Belgrade-Pristina relations which is why they underlined the need for continuation of the dialogue.

Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlic- Radman said that this is close neighborhood in which the flame was ignited 30 years ago and which led to tragic events from which Europe still did not recover, adding that this is a big warning that such situation should not happen again. “Namely, instead of reaching key consensus on the election reform, political conflict has escalated and institutions have been paralyzed. I want to emphasize the importance of equality of the three constituent peoples as the key for functionality, stability, and the EU path” Grlic Radman concluded. Grlic Radman expressed concern over the most recent turn of events in B&H, primarily due to the lack of consensus regarding the reform of the B&H Election Law.

Addressing a press conference, Borrell underlined that the situation at the border between Kosovo and Serbia is difficult and he called for continuation of the dialogue. According to announcements, the European council is scheduled to discuss the Western Balkans as a whole on 15 November. B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic expressed support for the conclusions of the Council which were adopted on Monday.

EU Foreign Affairs Council extends EUFOR mission in B&H (FTV/Nova BH)

 

The EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday adopted conclusions reaffirming, among other things, support for the continuation of the EUFOR mission in B&H. At its session in Brussels, the Council emphasized its commitment to the European perspective of B&H as a single, united and sovereign country. It is added that the Council welcomes the continued implementation of Operation Althea, whose basic mandate is to support the B&H authorities in maintaining security. Nova BH reported that official continuation of the EUFOR Althea requires a decision of the UN Security Council (UN SC) where Russia and China have lately been opposing the moves and decisions of the West in B&H, such as appointment of Christian Schmidt as the High Representative (HR).

 

Grlic Radman: Croatia has support for stance on B&H and W. Balkans (Hina)

 

Croatia has received support from a large number of EU member states for its position that it is necessary to conduct an election legislation reform in B&H to eliminate all kinds of discrimination, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Monday. “I received support from a large number of EU member states,” Grlic Radman said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. The ministers discussed the situation in the Western Balkans and the European prospects of that area. Grlic Radman said that he had expressed concern about the situation in the region and in B&H due to the blockade of institutions and absence of a consensus to change election legislation that would remove all inequalities and discrimination that have been existing and thus enable all the three constituent peoples to exercise the same rights according to the Dayton peace accord. “That can be achieved if political leaders in B&H truly agree and this appeal is directed to them to cease paralyzing institutions and to resume negotiations and come to an agreement,” underscored Grlic Radman, adding that he had received a lot of support for that stance. “Croatia shares the longest border with B&H is the most qualified to speak about that because it has direct experience and our position has received a good response,” he added. Grlic Radman expressed concern over the incidents in Montenegro and recent unrest on the border between Serbia and Kosovo. “I received support from the EU, that it is necessary to dedicate more attention to that part of Europe. Conflicts in that area 30 years ago are a warning that that must not recur. The EU has to dedicate more attention with regard to the influence of third countries and pay more attention to the European prospects of those countries,” concluded Minister Grlic Radman.

 

Minority government backed by DPS and DF a way out of political crisis (Pobjeda)

A minority government of limited duration and clear goals, made up of parties of democratic, civic and European orientation, and supported by DPS and DF, is a solution that needs to be discussed, says Kenana Strujic Harbic, a Bosniak party MP, in an interview for Pobjeda. She points out that the government, which her party would support, would deal with the lives of citizens, EU integration, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and the preparation of new elections. Bosniak Party did not receive an invitation to a meeting on the government reshuffle, and that speaks volumes about the seriousness of the idea of including legitimate representatives of minority peoples in the government, she explains. We are always for conversation and dialogue, provided that we always stand firm in our ideological and political positions and always listen to our people, she adds and stresses that they do not see that this government has the capacity to lead Montenegro to the EU and to provide Montenegro with a civic concept and democracy. “Representatives of minority peoples are underrepresented in the current government. I think it is clear that this is a typical revanchist and nationalist policy pursued by the current government towards minorities. This is, after all, in line with what is the ideology of a great deal of the government. What is surprising, at least because of the declarative civic orientation, is that URA and Democrats support something like that,” Strujic Harbic says.

Abazovic and Radulovic pay a working visit to Washington D.C. (Gov. Press office)

Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and Minister of Foreign Affairs Djordje Radulovic are paying a working visit to the United States of America, where they will have several separate meetings in the State Department. The Montenegrin delegation will have a meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary overseeing policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. Abazovic and Radulovic will also meet with United States Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Jessica Stern, as well as representatives of the National Security Council (NSC) Shanthi Kalathil, Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights, and Robin Brooks, Director for Balkans and Central Europe.

 

Protest in Podgorica (CdM)

In Podgorica, in front of the government building, a peaceful protest rally was held due to, as the organizers say, repression and torture of the residents of Cetinje, and the re-registration of the Cetinje Monastery in the name of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral. Activist Aleksandar Sasa Zakovic said that “the omissions of the police in Cetinje were numerous, and the primary one is that they actually acted towards the citizens there on the basis of deception and manipulation by PM Zdravko Krivokapic”. “The police were unlawfully and disproportionately used for coercion against protesters in Cetinje who objected the policy of assimilation, hatred and denial of identity” he pointed out. “A government that becomes a threat to human rights is doomed to failure,” Zekovic stressed.

 

SEC: VMRO-DPMNE won 22, SDSM 9, DUI 3 mayors (Republika)

According to processed data, mayors have been elected in 34 municipalities across Macedonia. Of these, VMRO-DPMNE’s candidates won in 22 municipalities, SDSM’s in nine and DUI’s in three, State Election Commission (SEC) president Aleksandar Dastevski said during a press briefing on Monday evening. The deadlines for complaints are now running, and the final results for 80 municipalities and the City of Skopje will be announced after the completion of the complaint procedure. Dastevski said that according to the vote count, Timco Mucunski and Aleksandar Stojkoski from VMRO-DPMNE are the new mayors of the Skopje municipalities of Aerodrom and Gjorce Petrov. Based on this information, it can be concluded that after the first round, six Skopje municipalities received mayors, and second round will be held in the other four. Earlier, based on already processed data, it was announced that the new mayor of Butel is Darko Kostovski from VMRO-DPMNE, in Gazi Baba his fellow party member Boban Stefanovski, in Kisela Voda – Orce Gjorgjievski from the same party, and in Saraj was re-elected Blerim Bexheti from DUI. In the second round, a battle will be fought for Karpos, Centar, Cair and Suto Orizari.

Zaev one day after the first round of local elections: Now the most important thing is unification (Republika)

SDSM President and Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev posted on Facebook a day after the first round of local elections in which the government did much worse than expected, and the opposition VMRO DPMNE declared victory in 21 municipalities in Macedonia. According to the current data of the State Election Commission, 33 municipalities received mayors in the first round. According to the results, twenty-one mayoral seats have so far been secured by VMRO-DPMNE, 9 by SDSM, and three by DUI. The second round of elections will be held on 31 October. The citizens sent a message and we must listen to that message, understand it and act upon it. The people want to see better results, because the evil threatens us. We are the fight against evil. All of us, each of us. The citizens demand our mobilization and they will get our mobilization. The citizens want the country and the municipalities to move forward and we must do our best for that to happen. We are entering the second round and fighting for every single city and the direction of our country. Now the most important thing is unification, Zaev wrote on Facebook.

Ahmeti thanks voters: I will never disappoint you (Republika)

The President of the Democratic Union for Integration Ali Ahmeti thanked all citizens for their support in Sunday’s local elections where it was once again proved that the Democratic Union for Integration is the largest Albanian political force in the country. We won together this time too and I am very grateful for the contribution of each of you during the campaign and the election process. DUI is yours, it is a national project where we all have a share and I promise you that I will never disappoint you. The responsibility you give me with your trust is a blessing and an incentive to do even more, even better. We are together on this path, and together we will take every step with all citizens. This victory is yours, for all citizens, said Ahmeti.

OSCE/ODIHR: Local elections showed the need for substantial law reform (Republika)

Macedonia’s 17 October local elections were competitive and fundamental freedoms were widely respected, but numerous shortcomings in the legal framework underscore the need for a comprehensive reform, the head of ODIHR’s election observation mission Tana de Zulueta told a press conference on Monday. Regarding the introduction of biometric voter identification system for these elections, observers assessed that it was a positive measure to prevent fraud, but lacked a pilot project or comprehensive testing. Frequent problems with identification devices were noted on election day. The opening and voting process was assessed positively throughout the country, but problems such as group voting were noted, as well as procedural errors in counting and summarizing the results, observers said. The remark regarding the changes in the electoral legal framework is that they were adopted only one month before the elections without public debate and consultation which is not in line with international good practice. Regarding the campaign rhetoric, it was noted that despite the active and generally peaceful election campaign, the question-based debates were affected by the growing negative rhetoric that was particularly directed at the candidates. Gender equality and women’s rights were largely absent from party campaigns in which women were also underrepresented. Although about 45 percent of councilor lists were women, only eight percent of mayoral candidates were women candidates. Observers also noted isolated cases of intimidation of candidates, as well as allegations of pressure on candidates to withdraw and a case of vote-buying. The ODIHR’s election observation mission in the country started its work on 7 September with a team of 16 experts and a total of 165 observers from 29 countries.

 

Albania-Kosovo set up a joint Secretariat for the implementation of agreements between them (Radio Tirana)

Albania-Kosovo cooperation will be deepened in all areas and Albania has been and will continue to be the strongest advocate for Kosovo to the international community. This was emphasized by the two Foreign Ministers, that of Albania Olta Xhacka and that of Kosovo Donika Gervalla, who is on a one-day visit to Tirana. The two ministers agreed that Albania and Kosovo should set up a joint Secretariat, which will serve to implement the agreements that have been signed so far and will be made in the future. Albania and Kosovo will also have joint diplomatic points in some areas such as Africa and Asia, while there will be cooperation between diplomats in existing embassies. Xhacka said that Albania’s priority is Kosovo’s membership in regional initiatives and international organizations, while adding that the dialogue agreement with Serbia should bring mutual recognition between the two countries and Kosovo’s membership in the UN and the EU. “We talked about fulfilling the tasks left by the meeting of the two prime ministers RamaKurti on 27 September, where a joint Secretariat will be established as an operational structure and will be an efficient mechanism for following and implementing the agreements signed so far and that will be signed in the future. There will be an increase in joint diplomacy in areas such as Africa and Asia and a combination of the work of Albanian and Kosovo diplomats in existing embassies. “We have been the most uncompromising lawyer for Kosovo, we will raise our voice for it and we have openly lobbied and criticized the injustice done to Kosovo by Brussels for not liberalizing visas,” said Xhacka. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, Donika Gervalla said that Kosovo and Albania have a cooperation in all areas and will come to strengthen it even more. She said that Kosovo is oriented towards the EU and NATO and is skeptical of competing concepts towards the EU, while calling for the aggressive language of Serbia, the whole region should be more coordinated so as not to jeopardize stability. “We will make a good balance of our cooperation and a clear strategy of where we want to see Kosovo and Albania in the future. We must be careful to strengthen this fragile peace we have in the region and work together to ensure that stability is not compromised. Kosovo has a clear orientation towards the EU and NATO and is skeptical of competing concepts towards the EU,” said Gervalla. Also, the two ministers decided to promote the photo competition “Colors of Albanians” where it will be opened in November in Albania and then will continue in Kosovo.

Basha reveals details from meeting with Kosovo Deputy PM (ADN)

 

The Chairman of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha received Monday Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo Donika Gervalla. Basha congratulated Mrs. Gervalla for holding model elections in Kosovo, a lesson of democracy for Albania as well. Basha and Mrs. Gervalla shared the same views on the importance of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, the need not to threaten the territorial and state integrity of the Republic of Kosovo, the political unity with which Kosovo should be represented in this dialogue. Closing the dialogue with respective recognition is in the interest of the whole region. The first contribution that the EU can make to the dialogue is to convince the 5 member states to recognize Kosovo. The leader of the Democrats stressed that Albania cannot have a higher interest than Kosovo’s interests in regional relations. As recent developments have shown, Novi Sad’s initiative is conceived as a make-up of Serbia’s image, while Belgrade, as evidenced by the events of recent weeks, is not separated from the ghosts of the past by bringing back platforms like that of the Serbian World. The Presevo Valley, address passivity and discrimination against Albanians were also discussed. Mr. Basha reiterated his position that Albania should strongly protect and support the interests of Albanians in the Presevo Valley and Serbia.

European Integration/Commission publishes progress report on Albania and other aspiring countries (Radio Tirana)

The European Commission is expected to publish the progress reports for each country of the Western Balkans region and Turkey on the path of European integration reforms, after the meeting of the College of this institution. Initially, the Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi will present a summary of the country reports to the members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, meeting in Strasbourg. The reports will then be presented at a press conference by Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi. The progress reports contain details of the integration reform process in each area of ​​the European journey of the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The report on Albania and other countries recognizes the problems of each country, but without using harsh language regarding the main concerns of member states on key issues such as democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and values ​​of the European Union. Avoiding the use of harsh language is done with the aim of encouraging countries aspiring to join the European Union like Albania not to be discouraged and to slow down the pace of integration reforms in a context aggravated by the pandemic and the greater influence they aim to exercise other actors in the region. In the reports on Albania and North Macedonia, the European Commission adheres to the position that Albania and North Macedonia are ready for the official opening of membership negotiations in the European Union and that the first intergovernmental conference with both countries should be held as soon as possible.  During the EU-Western Balkans summit, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen referred to an opportunity to hold the first intergovernmental conference with both countries in December. However, this can only happen if the Bulgarian and North Macedonian authorities agree on a roadmap for resolving the bilateral stalemate between the two countries over issues of history, identity and language. Meanwhile, ABC has learned that there are some member states that are still hesitant to open membership negotiations with Albania after getting acquainted with the final report on the general elections of 25 April in Albania, problems with the rule of law and freedom of the media. But these countries will not prevent the official opening of negotiations with Albania if the problem between Bulgaria and North Macedonia is resolved, as the country has already lost a long time since gaining candidate status in June 2014. But they will be strict during the accession negotiation process. This means that Albania will find it very difficult to advance in this process if it does not carry out real reforms.

 

Soreca-Ibrahimaj: Essential to redouble efforts to move the reform agenda forward and improve the business climate in Albania (Radio Tirana)

EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca held a meeting with the new Minister of Finance Delina Ibrahimaj, whom he asked to redouble his efforts to advance reforms and improve the business climate in Albania. Another important point of discussion was the fight against money laundering, but also other “messages” from the EU. “The first official meeting today with the newly appointed Minister of Finance and Economy Delina Ibrahimaj. While Albania is showing the first signs of recovery, it is essential to redouble efforts to move the reform agenda forward and improve the business climate in Albania. I encouraged the Minister to have a high focus on anti-money laundering actions, a crucial priority in the EU accession process. It is essential to meet the commitments for macro-financial assistance of 180 million euros, and to fully play the main role of the Ministry in budget support and donor coordination,” he said.

Slovenian Ambassador from Korca: Albania has done everything necessary to open negotiations (Radio Tirana)

The Ambassador of Slovenia Peter Japelj from Korca has shown the importance of holding the Summit for the Western Balkans. He said that there will be investments in the economy, where billions of lek will be invested in infrastructure, to make people’s living better. “The summit was a success even though it was a bit complex this year. The statements were coordinated between 27 members. In the end, what matters is that everyone came out with a joint statement. There was a strong message for the countries of the Western Balkans, we are support it and we see that the future of these countries is with us, and sooner or later they will be part of the EU. But there were other important messages for continued cooperation in the short and long term. “There were joint calls for investments in the economy, there will be billions of lek for the infrastructure of the Western Balkans that will make the lives of people here bette,r” said Japelj. Among other things, the ambassador said that Albania has done everything necessary to open negotiations, while adding that the obstacle is between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, while Albania has no connection in between.

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Belgrade Media Report 07 December 2021

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