Dacic: Greece giving assurances it will not recognize Kosovo (Tanjug)
Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic, who is on a visit to Athens for a Council of Europe conference of parliament speakers, held bilateral meetings with his Greek counterpart Konstantinos Tasoulas, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos II and the leader of the opposition, former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who all confirmed Greece will not recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. “Government representatives – the parliament speaker – as well as the leader of the opposition and the archbishop all said the same – that Greece will not recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. Our job is to keep that topic active all the time and ask that kind of question because it is of great significance to us,” Dacic said. “In an open conversation, Archbishop Ieronymos told me that he considers Kosovo Polje (Field), which is what Kosovo and Metohija is referred to in Greece, to be as important to the Serbs as the Acropolis is to the Greeks,” said Dacic. He said the archbishop had given him assurances that the stance of the Greek Orthodox Church on the Kosovo and Metohija issue was very stable.
Petkovic: Bislimi’s statement that it would not form ZSO is height of irresponsibility (Beta/Tanjug/RTV/RTS)
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic assessed on Thursday that the statement of Pristina’s negotiator Besnik Bislimi – that Kosovo would not form the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) – was the height of irresponsibility and cynicism and was directly undermining the resumption of the dialogue with Belgrade. “We therefore ask the EU, as the mediator in the dialogue and the guarantor for the implementation of agreements, to react to such dangerous messages from Pristina about the violation of the agreement and the ZSO. That represents a flagrant undermining of any future dialogue and agreement, and the blackmail and unilateral statement signed by Bislimi help neither the normalization of relations, nor the search for a compromise solution,” Petkovic declared in a written statement. Petkovic assessed that Belgrade had demonstrated an entirely constructive approach to the dialogue and commitment to honor the agreements reached, but that a complete absence of any willingness to talk is coming from the other side of the negotiation table. “And there will be talks on the ZSO in the next round of dialogue, as the EU has clearly pointed out. That is why it would be much more expedient for Pristina and Bislimi to prepare well for talks on forming the ZSO, instead of making threats. Belgrade is not to blame for Albin Kurti’s failure to win a majority in any municipality in Kosovo and Metohija, and he cannot hide his disastrous results by attacking the Serb people, official Belgrade and the Serb List,” concludes Petkovic.
Starovic on resumption of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue: We are approaching the moment of truth (RTS)
The State Secretary of the Serbian Foreign Ministry Nemanja Starovic told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the Pristina administration is openly throwing a glove in the face of Belgrade and European mediators, which is why he believes that the “moment of truth” is approaching, when a clear answer will have to be given as to whether the Brussels agreement in force or not. “However, we had the opportunity to see and hear yesterday the position of Pristina, which is well known to us and which is an expression of complete absence of desire for any compromise,” Starovic points out. He says that the previous Pristina administrations also refused to implement the obligations assumed by signing the Brussels agreement, but that they asked for some justifications for that, while Albin Kurti, with his associates, says very clearly and openly that he does not want to implement the Brussels agreement, explaining that members of previous administrations signed it. “In this way, they are very openly throwing a glove in the face, not only of official Belgrade, but also of European mediators. That is why I believe that in the next few months we are approaching the so-called moment of truth, when a clear answer will have to be given as to whether the Brussels the agreement is in force or not,” Starovic emphasizes. He points out that Serbia must receive very clear guarantees that the Brussels agreement will be fully implemented, which, as he says, would be the best possible outcome. “If we do not receive such guarantees from European mediators, I am afraid that we will have to return in numerous segments to the time before the Brussels agreement was signed in 2013, which would not be good,” Starovic warns. He emphasizes that even the Albanian voters in the local elections in Kosovo and Metohija showed what they think about the policy of Albin Kurti, because, as he states, he lost close to 300,000 votes. “There is a danger in all this, and in accordance with folk wisdom, that the beast is the most dangerous when it is wounded, so that is why we have a high dose of caution when it comes to future moves by Albin Kurti and the Pristina administration. I am afraid that we will be witnessing Pristina’s attempts to destabilize the situation on the ground, according to a well-tested recipe,” Starovic said. He says that the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities is an urgent need for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and he hopes that reason will prevail in the EU.
Giaufret: EC report on Serbia cautiously optimistic (N1)
The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Emanuele Giaufret said on Thursday that the European Commission’s latest yearly report on Serbia’s progress in the European integration process was cautiously optimistic due to the fact that a number of reforms had been carried out, but that there was plenty still to be done. “The report stresses everything that needs to be done, especially in the areas of rule of law, fighting corruption and organized crime, judicial independence, freedom of the media. There is still a lot of work left to be done but the report concludes there is a renewed devotion in Serbia to different chapters. An example is the improvement of judicial independence through constitutional reforms,” Giaufret told TV N1.
Giaufret also said that Serbia was working on applying a number of measures agreed in the EU-mediated inter-party dialogue and that it was taking steps toward realizing the recommendations given by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). He added that the theme of corruption was being dealt with by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and that a code of conduct for MPs had been adopted. “A certain number of reforms have been carried out, some processes need to be wrapped up and entirely implemented and this is the essence of what it says in the report. The fact is that steps have been taken in a good direction, the report provides an honest assessment of what has been done and where the government needs to shift its focus to,” he said, adding that the process of joining the EU was the Serbian government’s strategic goal and added that mutually approaching each other was a shared strategic interest.
Biden is raising Balkans wall for Russia and China (Novosti, by D. Milinkovic)
Novosti claims that the new US administration is returning “in grand style” to the Western Balkans with an intention to “stay there in order to establish a front against Russia and China there” but also take over the control when it comes to solving the Kosovo issue and all other issues, primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). Novosti’s collocutors noted that the latest moves made by US President Joseph Biden’s administration clearly indicate that this is the case, knowing that “Clinton’s ‘hawks’, who have years of experience in dealing with crises in the Western Balkans, are returning to the region”. The daily also noted that it became clear who will take control in this area following last week’s meeting of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington: “The EU showed on several occasions that it is unable to carry out alone what has been declared as the interest of western political sphere, so Americans are taking over the control again”. Predrag Rajic from the Center for Social Stability said that a greater engagement of USA in this region was expected and argued that Serbia was prepared for this. “The key goals of Washington here are to reduce the influence of Moscow and Beijing and, on the other hand, secure stability,” Rajic said and argued that Americans are aware of the fact that Serbia is the center of the region and that they will not be able to accomplish their goals unless at least minimum of Serbia’s national interests are fulfilled. Former Serbian diplomat Zoran Milivojevic has no doubt that the US will be fully engaged in the Western Balkans and he noted that the US will mostly be interested in solving the Kosovo issue and the situation in B&H: “There is a so-called political line of fire in this area between the West and East, i.e. USA on one side and Russia and China on the other side.”
Schmidt claims Dodik’s actions are serious attack on integrity of B&H (AJB/N1)
In Brussels, the High Representative to B&H Christian Schmidt commented on current political developments in B&H. He called the adoption of the Law on Medicines and Medical Devices of the Republika Srpska (RS) in the RS parliament and the announcement of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik about withdrawing consent to form a number of B&H institutions a political game and an attack on the state of B&H. Schmidt was quoted as saying: “Why shall the people and their health be part of the political game. I am very strict and I must say that this will not end like this.” Schmidt said he believes that the politicians would have to give answers to important questions of the citizens. Schmidt was quoted as saying: “Every politician, including those who voted for this law in the RS, should answer to the people. Is there any advantage in destroying the established structure for checking the quality of medicines? No.”
Schmidt reminded Dodik that Dodik’s party SNSD was the one to give consent for forming the B&H Armed Forces, the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), the SIPA, the B&H Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA), the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) and that withdrawal from these agreements and announcement of the annulment of a number of B&H laws means an attack on the state. Schmidt was quoted as saying: “This is a very serious attack on the integrity of the state of B&H because he agreed to it and it is part of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). To be clear, the rights of the RS as an entity within B&H are not in question, but the arguments that the rights of the RS must be defended by violating the constitutional rights of the state are completely wrong.” Schmidt will present his observations on the current political situation in B&H to the UN Security Council in his first report, which will be presented at the Council session scheduled for early November. N1 reported that Schmidt actually reacted to the RS parliament’s new law, but he did not announce any concrete steps. In a statement issued on Thursday, the HR said that “this is a very serious attack on integrity of the state of B&H and its organization within the DPA”. He stressed that no one disputes the right of the RS as an entity within B&H to realize its rights, but that argument that it is necessary to violate the constitutional rights of the state of B&H in order to protect the RS’ rights is absolutely wrong.
Dzaferovic: We need to be prepared to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H by all possible and available means (FTV)
Member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic, asked whether stability and security of B&H have been jeopardized by recent activities of the RS authorities at helm with Milorad Dodik concerning restoring of competences from B&H to the RS level, replied affirmatively, adding that whoever obstructs institutions of B&H and threatens with dissolution jeopardizes stability and security in B&H. Asked whether citizens have reason to feel fear because war has been mentioned more frequently, Dzaferovic said that this situation must not be underestimated, adding that it is necessary to conduct detailed analysis and that it is necessary to apply wise approach to all challenges ahead. “We need decisiveness to protect state of B&H and its institutions,” explained member of B&H Presidency from rank of Bosniaks. Dzaferovic stated that he believes existing crisis will end after member of B&H Presidency Dodik leaves political scene. He stressed that besides competent B&H institutions, the international community should react to Dodik’s activities. Dzaferovic explained that the international community is sui generis institution of B&H, because B&H functions in line with the Dayton Peace Accords and the High Representative is part of this agreement. Asked whether B&H institutions should have reacted by now, Dzaferovic replied positively, adding that Dodik went too far and no politician should be allowed to do so. He reminded that few years ago after current convocation of B&H Presidency was established, Dodik attempted to “make circus”, adding that for more than a year Dodik had been blocking adoption of the Annual National Plan (ANP) and sending it to NATO HQ in Brussels. Dzaferovic went on to saying that member of the Presidency Dodik has blocked earlier the Presidency on two occasions and that he decided to block all B&H institutions after former High Representative Valentin Inzko imposed law banning denial of genocide. “He should have been stopped at beginning,” he underlined. Asked which institution was supposed to stop Dodik, Dzaferovic explained that the international community had the necessary mechanisms to do it and it failed to use them, adding that it can be understood from recent reactions of the IC that they realize how serious the problem is. He stressed that Dodik wants to do things in line with his demands, adding that things can be solved exclusively in legal way. Dzaferovic emphasized that all those refusing to work legally should be removed from political scene. He said that the international community has been failing to help B&H to become country that can function without it. He went on to saying that domestic institutions are also partially responsible for the current situation, adding that many criminal reports have been submitted against Dodik and B&H prosecution failed to react properly. Dzaferovic explained that one situation in which B&H Prosecutor’s Office should have reacted was when illegal referendum (on Day of the RS) was organized in the RS. He stated that criminal reports were submitted against Dodik for denial of genocide, adding that failure to react brought B&H to situation where peace and stability are at risk. “It is necessary to react against Dodik for welfare of everyone in B&H”, said member of B&H Presidency from rank of Bosniak people, adding that it can be done through acting of B&H institutions and the international community. Asked whether he believes that B&H Prosecutor’s Office has not reacted so far because Gordana Tadic was at helm of this institution, Dzaferovic stressed that B&H Prosecutor’s Office did not react when it was supposed to do it. Asked whether Dodik should be removed in this way, member of B&H Presidency stated that Dodik definitely needs to leave political scene, adding that he appealed to Schmidt to remove Dodik when he was blocking work of B&H Presidency. “I said back then that High Representative needs to react and help B&H to unblock its institutions,” explained Dzaferovic. He went on to saying that the IC has been expressing higher level of concern now, adding that he hopes that those who should react will do it and understand what Dodik is trying to pull B&H in. Asked about rather passive role Schmidt had until Thursday when he finally reacted, member of B&H Presidency Dzaferovic underlined that he believes High Representative will react when he assesses that it is necessary to protect sovereignty of B&H. Asked whether sovereignty of B&H has been jeopardized, Dzaferovic replied affirmatively. He stressed that the RS parliament adopted on Wednesday a law that directly obstructs work of B&H institutions and puts citizens in risk, primarily those in the RS. “I believe that it is time for High Representative to react, put this law out of force and impose sanctions against those who participated in it,” said Dzaferovic. Asked to comment appeal of members of the European Parliament (EP) to use Bonn Powers, Dzaferovic stated that this mechanism is at disposal to High Representative. He added that it was wrong decision of the IC not to use this mechanism in previous period, although goal of this decision was to enable B&H institutions to start functioning. Dzaferovic went on to saying that retrograde forces in B&H misinterpreted this signal and started with applying retrograde policies. Member of B&H Presidency reiterated that the IC should react and not let B&H to resume sliding towards instability. Asked whether Dodik is prepared to declare independence of the RS if there is no reaction of the international community, Dzaferovic said that he believes Dodik is prepared for it. He emphasized that Dodik should leave political scene, because he pushes everyone in B&H to serious danger, including those he allegedly represents. Dzaferovic explained that this is why the opposition in the RS has been opposing Dodik. He expressed hope that the international community will react, adding that regardless to it, Dodik will face failure in attempt to fulfill his intentions. Dzaferovic also expressed hope there will be no war in B&H and that competent institutions in B&H and the international community will be wise enough to prevent possibility of such scenario. “We need to be prepared to defend sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H by all possible and available means,” stressed Dzaferovic, adding that Dodik is not powerful enough to destroy B&H. He went on to saying that it is better for everyone in B&H to focus to some normal things, including reforms, the EU path and NATO path, to help returnees. “This country has potential to provide normal life to its citizens,” stated member of B&H Presidency from rank of Bosniak people. The reporter stated that Dodik has been claiming he will have international support if the RS decides to choose path of independence, adding that some MEPs warned that Russian President would recognize the RS as independent country. Dzaferovic underlined that he cannot understand how Dodik and his followers cannot realize one thing: NATO has been present in B&H since 1995. He added that while NATO is there in B&H and in countries around B&H, Russia is far. Dzaferovic explained that it would be illusory to expect support of Russia as Dodik believes he could get. He went on to saying that Russia has been using some politicians as their pawns for some strategic reasons. Asked whether Dodik still has support of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, especially in context of recent Vucic’s statement that some will attempt to abolish the RS, member of B&H Presidency Dzaferovic stressed that no one has been attempting to abolish the RS, adding that those respecting the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) also respect internal structure of B&H that includes entities. Dzaferovic underlined that he believes it is time for Vucic to condemn Dodik‘s behavior and to distance from him. He added that if Vucic respects the DPA, he should publicly call on Dodik to end his activities. Asked whether it means if Vucic fails to do so he is holding Dodik’s side, Dzaferovic said that in such situation there would be ground for doubt. He emphasized that Serbian President needs to convey clear message that will not need additional interpretation. Asked about his Thursday talk with Escobar, Dzaferovic said that the US is biggest partner of B&H, adding that Escobar underlined that the US supports sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H and that reduction of capacities of the state is unacceptable. He added that the US will support B&H and help it to overcome current situation, underlining that pro-Bosnian politicians must no fall for Dodik’s provocations.
SDA sets deadline to HR to annul RS parliament’s new law by 28 October (N1)
Reacting to the new law on medicines and medicinal devices of the RS, SDA set a deadline to the HR to annul this decision by 28 October when the RS parliament’s session on new unconstitutional laws was scheduled to take place. SDA stated on Thursday that adopted Law on Medicines and Medical Devices of the RS represents a direct attack on the Constitution of B&H. SDA stressed that given that the entity law envisages for its implementation to begin in six months, which prolongs the possible reaction of the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H, the only instance that can react in a timely manner is the OHR. SDA reminded that the OHR, in a similar situation, by the decision of former High Representative (HR) Wolfgang Petritsch, on 1 October 1999, annulled five unconstitutional laws by which the RS parliament tried to appropriate the right to decide on the application of applicable state laws. SDA called on Schmidt to annul the adopted Law on Medicines and Medical Devices by 28 October. “This will prevent the disastrous effect of this, but also other announced laws. Otherwise, the High Representative himself will be responsible for the consequences,” SDA stated in a press release. SDA underlined that the RS authorities are heading in one-way direction, adding that issue of competences has been solved long time ago. Leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic stressed that the Constitution of B&H is clear and that restoring of transfer of competences requires agreement of two entities and decision in the parliament of B&H. He added that consequently, restoring of competences to the RS is not possible. It was also stated from SDA that they have prepared response to activities of the RS leadership, adding that they are waiting for reaction of the High Representative in B&H.
MEPs send letter to Borrell and Schmidt, request reaction against Dodik’s activities; Serbia a common denominator in all the tensions (FTV)
At the plenary session of the European Parliament (EP) dedicated to the recently held EU-Western Balkans Summit, some MEPs stated that policies of ruling authorities in the RS might jeopardize stability in entire Western Balkans. Eight MEPs sent a letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and High Representative Christian Schmidt calling on them to react and stop Milorad Dodik. They expressed concern with recent developments in B&H and with steps that lead towards secession of the RS, underlining that it jeopardizes peace in entire region. They called for action and applying of Bonn Powers. MEPs warned of increase of tensions due to an unconstitutional and illegitimate attempt to block work of all institutions at the state level as well as to withdraw from B&H institutions. Some MEPs accused Dodik of being responsible for this situation. MEP Michael Gahler (EPP) stated that recent concrete steps towards secession of the RS conducted by nationalistic leadership led by Dodik should turn on all alarms. Gahler emphasized that violent move of the RS against the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) was announced for next week. Gahler added that this activity has potential to interrupt a peaceful process in the Western Balkans. Gahler underlined that the OHR and the EU need to use their influence and Bonn Powers to bring nationalistic leadership of the RS to sense. He stressed that if Dodik is allowed to declare independence of the RS, the Russian President will recognize it to pay back for Kosovo. Gahler believes that it is possible Russia has been preparing for this. “We cannot allow this to happen, we need to react properly and on time,” stated Gahler. Tineke Strik (Green/EFA Group) said that they see a big crisis in B&H with potential to escalate even into a possible civil war. She underlined that the RS has been threatening to leave B&H institutions. Strik emphasized that the first step was made when the law to establish entity agency for medicaments was adopted on Wednesday. “It threatens stability in the region and to destroy the DPA and return B&H to the past. I wonder whether High Representative and the European Commission (EC) understand this threat,” wondered MEP Strik. She reminded that Borrell and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on all sides to respect institutions and not to react to Dodik who plays with fire. Abovementioned MEPs called on all representatives of the EU to pass a joint decision declaring recent activities of the RS illegal and to use all instruments to preserve territorial integrity and peace in B&H. Strik stressed that the RS MPs should be warned about consequences of their decisions before they pass them. Reporter noted that MEPs also discussed the EU enlargement, as well as a recent report of the EC on the EU accession progress of the Western Balkans. Countries aspiring to become part of the EU bloc were criticized for insufficient effort. MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel said that the approach of the EU towards the Western Balkans should be changed. When talking about B&H, several MEPs from Croatia emphasized that the Election Law of B&H reflect an unequal approach of the international community towards three constituent peoples in B&H. During the session, Croatian MEPs also raised their voice and they argued that the EU is not committed enough to enlargement of the Western Balkans, but the majority agreed that without realization of reforms, doors of the EU should remain closed for the countries. Some openly admitted that they are against the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans and French MEP Dominique Bilde said that 59 percent of French people are against the enlargement because among other things, the Western Balkan countries are lagging behind other EU member states. Croatian MEP Ladislav Ilcic warned of the need to preserve equality of the constituent peoples in B&H. MEP Valter Flego pointed out that the EU has been declaratively advocating enlargement to the Western Balkans, but that it has not made a step forward in the past ten years. Flego warned that counties in the region did not do their part of the work either. “Instability is growing and it is growing very dangerously. Unfortunately. That is why we must finally realize that we need each other and let the unfortunate status quo end as soon as possible because there is no strong Union without enlargement to the Western Balkans,” Flego underlined. The MEPs accused Serbia of being a common denominator in all the tensions as an originator and supporter of the so-called Serb world. In their letter, the MEPs accused the RS and Serbia of the current political crisis in B&H and instable situation in the region.
Cerimagic says responsibility of Serbia and Croatia for current crisis and processes in B&H very significant (N1)
The official Belgrade and Zagreb express concern over the current political situation in B&H, but they stress that they do not want to interfere in B&H’s internal issues. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has confirmed that the situation in B&H is being monitored with special attention in Brussels, while Croatian Foreign Minister Goran Grlic Radman has said that Croatia is especially concerned over the political situation in B&H “where instead of reaching consensus on the electoral reform, there is escalation of political conflicts and institutions are paralyzed”. According to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia has special relations with the RS in line with the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA). He stressed that he respects the RS leadership and he does not want to say anything against them, the same as he does not say anything against the Bosniak and Croat leaderships. Commenting on the issue, Kosovo lawyer Azem Vllasi said that nationalism of the so-called greater Serbia has never given up on ideas on territorial enlargement, reminding of plans to integrate Montenegro with Serbia, to take at least one part of northern Kosovo for Serbia and to annex the RS to greater Serbia. He emphasized that it is high time for the EU and US to get actively involved and prevent Belgrade from processes against Kosovo, B&H and Montenegro. According to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, Serbia undermines sovereignty of its neighboring countries based on a fake premise that Serbs’ rights are endangered. Analyst of the European Stability Initiative Adi Cerimagic commented that the EU must correct Serbia’s attitude towards B&H and encourage its positive action in B&H. He assessed that responsibility of Serbia and Croatia for the current crisis and processes in B&H is certainly very significant and their responsibility can be possibly positive or negative.
RS representatives reacts to letter of MEPs saying that they will not give in to blackmails (RTRS)
RTRS reported that eight members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have sent a letter to Christian Schmidt and Josep Borrell, calling for use of Bonn Powers due to the current developments in B&H and steps that lead to RS’ secession and endanger peace in the region as a whole. The RS representatives reacted by saying that they will not give in to blackmails, asking if the situation in B&H is tense how come that there are no warnings for Sarajevo over its saber-rattling. Radovan Kovacevic, the advisor to the Serb member of B&H Presidency, stated that people led by Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik who advocate preservation of the constitutional organization, return to constitutional organization and persistent compliance with the Constitution of B&H and the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) are accused of violation of the DPA and endangering peace and stability, while saber-rattlers and foreigners who unlawfully impose laws and pass certain decision at the Constitutional Court of B&H without any constitutional basis do not threat peace and stability.
Dodik says US Embassy in Sarajevo represents epicenter of instability in B&H (RTRS)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated on Thursday that the US Embassy in Sarajevo represents an epicenter of instability in B&H, adding that this is visible also in a way how Christian Schmidt is treated. Dodik said that according to Annex 10 of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), Schmidt is not the HR for B&H but he is privately in B&H, assessing that it would be good for everyone in B&H that the US Embassy stops with threats and preaching on constitutionality and violation of the DPA. “In Balkan vocabulary, their threats are bullying. The whole time their activities support Muslim projects in B&H, and they falsely represent themselves as they make a functional state, while in fact they work for Muslims and support the creation of their Muslim state,” Dodik emphasized. According to Dodik, “their stories are yet another proof that they are in fact the Constitutional Court of B&H, together with those who massively, persistently and cynically violated the DPA while constantly threatening with force and sanctions”. Dodik stated: “We see that every individual, i.e. member of the Assembly, has started to be threatened and this is a new practice. This has not happened so far. He allegedly calls on individual representatives of the National Assembly to fulfill some obligations in accordance with the Constitution. Well, that is what we do, the B&H Constitution. Healthcare and health area regulation is the sole responsibility of the entities”.
Cubrilovic: RS parliament special session on return of competences to RS will be held at beginning of November (ATV)
A special session of the RS parliament, at which representatives will discuss the return of the revoked competencies of the RS, should be held in early November, according to RS parliament speaker Nedeljko Cubrilovic. Cubrilovic said that the RS does not want conflicts nor war, but that the RS does not give up on its rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Cubrilovic mentioned that the RS insists on respecting the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and that is why the RS demands the return of competencies and the annulment of 140 laws passed by the High Representatives. According to Cubrilovic, the special session is an opportunity for the RS to reach conclusions through a constructive discussion that will enable the return of all revoked competencies.
Escobar stresses there is no constitutional possibility for RS’ secession (N1)
US Special for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar held on Thursday separate talks with B&H Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic (DF) and B&H Presidency member Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA). Escobar told Komsic that there is no possibility for Republika Srpska (RS) to secede, condemning the steps that lead to escalation that were announced by Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. He supported stances on institutional response to the crisis through judiciary. Komsic informed Escobar about “new provocation” of Dodik in the form of police exercise the RS Interior Ministry will organize in Mrkonjic Grad and on the Jahorina Mount on Friday. During the conversation with Komsic, Escobar expressed full support to sovereignty and the territorial integrity of B&H. Komsic said that he will not fall for Dodik’s provocations and that he strictly insists only on institutional response and work of the Prosecutor’s Office of B&H. Escobar and Dzaferovic discussed the current political crisis caused by decisions of the RS authorities and concluded that there is no constitutional manner in which entities could withdraw from B&H institutions through unilateral actions, stressing the need for preservation of peace and stability. Komsic and Escobar discussed the EU integration process. Escobar stated that EU integration of Western Balkan countries should be completed as soon as possible because people from the Balkans have cultural and economic ties with Europe.
Nelson: Do not fall for provocations (Oslobodjenje)
US Ambassador to B&H Eric Nelson met with B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic on Thursday and stressed that all attempts to undermine the achieved progress and reforms in B&H are absolutely inacceptable. Nelson underlined that USA remain dedicated to sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H, adding that attempts to undermine achieved progress and reforms are completely unacceptable. Ambassador noted that further development and strengthening of functionality of B&H institutions, based on the peace from Dayton Peace Agreement, are the best guarantee of security and path towards prosperity for everyone in B&H. Nelson noted that USA carefully monitor the situation and noted that it is necessary not to fall for provocation which would lead to further destabilization.
Sattler and UN’s Jenca discuss current situation in B&H (Dnevni avaz)
The Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler met on Thursday with the UN Assistant Secretary General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenca. “Good discussion with Jenca on current political situation in B&H as well as on our excellent cooperation on many joint projects and initiatives, including on supporting dialogue and trust-building. These are now more important than ever.” Sattler wrote on his Twitter.
Picula: Partnership relation between Washington and Brussels would foremost help B&H get out of crisis (Vecernji list)
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Croatia Tonino Picula (SDP Croatia) asked to comment on the progress report (2021 Enlargement Package), especially about Serbia’s progress and whether the report corresponds to the situation on the ground, replied by saying, among other issues, that the enlargement policy is stagnating, that the policy reached its peak in 2004 when 10 new members joined the EU and that it is hard to believe that a new ‘big bang’ of the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans will happen in the near future. According to him, biggest part of the EU has no desire for new members because it is yet to identify efficient and common answers to a series of problems. On the other hand, added Picula, candidate countries and potential candidates from the Western Balkans are obviously going through internal turbulences, which are made worse by the pandemic. “Serbia, as the biggest of the countries, deserves a special attention in the analysis of the situation because it is often exporting its internal controversies and unresolved issue of democratic transition, thus destabilizing the region,” added Picula. Asked to comment on the work of European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi who is, according to the daily, very open, just like Hungary, in supporting Serbia’s accession to the EU, Picula said that the Commissioner must be a representative of core EU values and a capable operative who searches for solutions to problems in countries that are in the accession process. Picula added by saying the Commissioner must not have a different agenda than the one agreed within the EU institutions and must not favor governments, which are not prepared to abide standards of the rule of law, freedom of media and fight against organized crime and corruption. Picula went on to say that Commissioner Varhelyi has been exposed to criticism that he has double standards towards certain countries, and that he got a feeling during discussion in the EP that he (Varhelyi) did not clear the doubts. Asked how big the US’ influence in the region is and whether the US has the capacity and the will to deal with the Western Balkans, Picula said despite the fact US is focused on internal issues and the foreign policy focusing on China, appointments of some officials who should deal with mediating on south-east Europe are ‘encouraging’. According to Picula, he believes that a partnership relation between Washington and Brussels would foremost help Bosnia and Herzegovina get out of crisis and in restoring dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
Johansson: Borders need protection, but violence is unacceptable (Hina)
The external borders of the EU need to be protected, but without violence and by respecting human rights, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said in the European Parliament on Wednesday, in reference to recently published footage of police violence on the Croatia-Bosnia border. “Violence at our borders is never acceptable. Especially if it is structural and organized. We must protect our EU external borders, while upholding fundamental rights. And it’s possible to do both,” Johansson said during a debate on violent push-backs of migrants on what EU refers to as “external borders” i.e. borders between EU and non-EU countries. Earlier this month, several European media outlets published footage of violent push-backs of migrants, taken in a forested area on the Croatian border with neighboring B&H, in which men in unmarked uniforms can be seen beating up migrants. Croatia is on the so-called Balkan Route frequented by migrants mostly originating from Middle Eastern countries, who often cross the border from northeast B&H into Croatia in the hopes of traveling further west to reaching Slovenia, the closest country in the EU’s passport-free travel Schengen Area, and onward to other western European countries. Although many human rights organizations active in the area have been warning for years about the border violence and illegal push-backs into B&H at the hands of Croatian police, the country’s authorities have consistently denied that any such practice occurs. EU rules ban wholesale expel of migrants caught on the border without allowing them to formally apply for asylum. Similar footage made by investigative reporters was also shot on the border of Romania – where border police were seen chasing migrants back into Serbia – and Greece. Shortly after the footage was made public, Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic confirmed that the masked men shown in the footage have been identified as Croatian police officers, with three policemen later suspended from duty. The latest evidence, published by Amsterdam-based investigative news organization, Lighthouse Reports, suggests that all three countries take part in a systematic “violent campaign” to deny migrants access to asylum. On Wednesday, Johansson said that she had talked with the Croatian, Greek, and Romanian interior ministers. “The Croatian minister (Bozinovic) announced an investigation. Since then, Croatia’s national chief of police said that three policemen involved in violent push-backs will face disciplinary proceedings. And I received assurances that any necessary follow-up action will be taken” Croatian state agency Hina quoted Johansson as saying. “It is the duty of national authorities to investigate allegations and follow-up any wrongdoing,” she added.
Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar, who serves in the cabinet of right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa, said that “effective control of the external borders is key to preventing security risks, illegal border crossing, and possible migratory pressure.” Slovenia currently holds the rotating six-month Presidency of the EU. “All tools need to be used to monitor who enters the EU… Push-backs must not be allowed on EU soil,” Logar added. n the ensuing debate, MEPs from Social Democrat, Green, and Liberal parties slammed the European Commission for not doing more to protect human rights of migrants. “Children are freezing and dying at Europe’s borders and your greatest concern is border protection and Schengen,” Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie Veld said. German Social Democrat MEO Birgit Sippel said that “a systematic attack on human rights is taking place at the EU’s external borders” and called the footage “a scandal for the EU.” On Wednesday, Sippel, together with MEPs Iratxe Garcia and Simona Bonafe – the top two leaders of the center-left S&D bloc which includes 146 out of 705 MEPs – signed a letter sent to the Head of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen expressing concern about the “highly alarming systematic nature of push-backs of vulnerable people, often involving violence”. The letter pointed out that such practices are “especially alarming” in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, the EU’s border between Poland and Belarus, and on the Western Balkan route. “It is also alarming that the latest investigations suggest that parts of the material used to carry out push-backs are seemingly paid for with EU money. This includes approximately €177 million that have been granted to Croatia for ‘migration management’ between 2014 and today,” they added. Sippel, Garcia, and Bonafe said that merely asking EU member countries to investigate push-backs themselves is not enough, calling on the European Commission to launch infringement procedures against Poland, Greece, and Croatia. On the other hand, right-wing MEPs criticized the European Commission for not being strict enough, calling for the putting up of a razor fence at EU’s external borders. “I haven’t heard anyone complain about security checks in the European Parliament. Why wouldn’t we better protect Europe with razor wire and armed personnel to ensure security?” asked Danish MEP Petar Kofod, a member of the right-wing Identity and Democracy group which controls 71 MEPs.
Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (EPP/HDZ) said that human trafficking is one of the most profitable criminal activities and “an instrument of perfidious pressure on Europe.” “The EU urgently needs a common response in which the policy of preventing illegal migration has no alternative… However, there is no room for violence against migrants in Europe, and any individual violation of human rights – especially human rights of the most vulnerable groups – is totally unacceptable,” Ressler – a member of PM Andrej Plenkovic’s ruling conservative party, HDZ, said. Ressler said that Croatia, “with a modernized police force and without erecting razor fences, is performing its legal obligation and duty to protect its own border and the border of the EU.” Suncana Glavak (EPP/HDZ) said that the Croatian police are doing “an excellent job” in protecting the territory of Croatia and the EU. She pointed out that Croatia has so far arrested over 3,000 traffickers at the border and prevented 30,000 attempts at crossing its border illegally, probably citing interior ministry’s figures. “Dear colleagues, Croatia is guarding your border too, the border of the EU, in a legal way,” she added.
President of the UN General Assembly hosts Abazovic and Radulovic in New York (Gov. Press service)
Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and Minister of Foreign Affairs Djordje Radulovic met with President of the United Nations General Assembly Abdulla Shahid in New York. Montenegro will continue to contribute to the maintenance of international peace. Together, we are strengthening the cosmopolitan spirit of the global community, said Abazovic. Abazovic pointed out that the core values of the UN have historically been incorporated into Montenegrin society, which today cherishes the values of a multicultural, multiethnic and multi-confessional community. The government of Montenegro is committed to the core values of the UN and respect for the Charter and international obligations, achieving the goals defined in Agenda 2030, as the main guidelines for international action and cooperation of Montenegro with the UN system, said Foreign Minister Djordje Radulovic. Radulovic pointed out that Montenegro continues to work with great intensity on improving and supporting the integration of the human rights dimension into all aspects of the UN’s work. Small countries can do a lot to improve the situation around the world. Our commitment is to give people hope that we can build a better tomorrow in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental protection. No one is safe until everyone is safe. We need to work together and share common and successful stories, said Shahid.
Radulovic: US has sent clear messages of support to Montenegro (Gov. Press service)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Djordje Radulovic said that the Montenegrin delegation received two clear messages during its several-day visit to the United States. The message of support to the government of Montenegro in its efforts to continue country’s Euro-Atlantic path and to become the first next member of the EU, but also to all those progressive forces that pursue such policy, said the Minister. He added that regardless of the liberal interpretation of certain media, which state that Montenegro does not enjoy the trust of our most important ally, partner and friend the United States, our presence here shows that there is full trust between Montenegro and the United States. What worries us all as citizens is the fact that organized crime and corruption pose a threat to the security of a country as much as extremism and radicalism. In that sense, American officials welcomed the vision of the government of Montenegro to fight against this. There is no strong Montenegro without its strong institutions, institutions that will not depend on any individual, institutions that will not depend on political changes, said Radulovic. He emphasized that only by building strong institutions, we can build a strong Montenegro, which will become the first next member of the EU.
Zaev: 31 October crucial for me, no one is eternal, but that does not mean new parliamentary elections (Libertas/TV 21)
The Prime Minister and leader of SDSM Zoran Zaev says that the second round of local elections on 31 October for him is a bet of all or nothing. “The decision is made and the citizens should know. This is not a threat, this is an honest sharing of feelings. I said no one has been appointed and guaranteed by his father or the party that he will be there and there, only the people and the state are important, everything else is temporary,” said Zaev on TV 21. He says that the parliamentary majority is stable. According to him, the leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski cannot attract a new majority. “I and the government led by me do not think there should be parliamentary elections. Mickoski, cannot attract a new majority because he does not offer anything better. At the moment when he will offer something better, then everything is open and that is democracy,” said Zaev.
Mickoski: The new future is within reach, only one more step is needed – 31 October (Republika)
The new future is within reach. Only one more step is needed. Another important move, and that is 31 October. Your vote has the power, you are the power of Macedonia, and we are your voice in the institutions that we will change and that is why we are one step closer to the new future, said VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski at Thursday’s meeting with citizens. Mickoski added that the new future is not only written in the program of VMRO-DPMNE but a bulwark, a fortress of principles and morals that we want to introduce in Macedonian politics.
The new future is not just a dream we have been dreaming of, that energy for what we have always wanted to do in our country, and has not always been hindered by corrupt politicians. The new future is not only written in our program, but also our bulwark, our fortress of principles and morals that we want to bring into Macedonian politics. The new future is a time when we need to change the image of politicians in Macedonia. Let’s put an end to the betrayed expectations, he said. The new future is a new time where the people must begin to strengthen economically. To have more money for the people, more support for the farmers. Farmers are the huge force of that silent majority that I talk about all the time. It is time for the state to return to these people who have always been loyal to our Macedonia, he added.
Kim: Accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia should start without delay (Radio Tirana)
US Ambassador in Tirana Yuri Kim supports the integration of Albania and North Macedonia in the European Union, while emphasizing that the negotiation process should start without delay. Ambassador Kim shares a joint statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, stating that the countries of the Western Balkans belong to the EU. USA and EU agree WB region belongs in EU & accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia should start without delay. EU accession, a stated priority for the whole Western Balkans, helps consolidate democratic institutions, protect fundamental rights and advance rule of law.
German MPs: We encourage positive decision-making for the integration of Albania (Radio Tirana)
A delegation of the German Bundestag met in Tirana with the socialist MP Taulant Balla, with whom they talked about the intensification of relations between the two countries. At the end of this meeting, the German deputies expressed their support for Albania in the process of membership in the European Union. The Bundestag delegation praised the return of the opposition to the Assembly and stressed that the work of parliament will be crucial on the path to European integration. “The Social Democratic Party (German) will cooperate to encourage positive decision-making for Albania, for European integration. We welcome the progress that Albania has made in particular in relation to Justice Reform which was a condition of the EU and we are pleased to see the new Parliament, the position and the opposition that must work together to create strong institutions. We are always pleased that we will continue the cooperation between the sister socialist factions. The work of the parliament is very important in the period to come, especially for EU integration, and we are pleased that the SP will continue their work in this 4-year period. We are convinced that the integration process is important. Integration means that Albania will have developed the part of the economy and will have achieved standards that will be for the benefit of society,” said the German MPs.