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Belgrade Media Report 1 December

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic attends United Russia conference, thanks Putin (Tanjug/RTS)
Dacic calls referendum on constitutional amendments for 16 January (Tanjug/RTS/RTV/Beta/Politika/Novosti)
Selakovic: Serbia fosters friendly relations with African states (Tanjug/RTV)
Selakovic meets with Agius, Brammertz (Tanjug/Politika)
New KSF commander is a cousin of Adem Jashari, one of the founders of the terrorist KLA (Novosti/Tanjug/Indeks Online)
Stefanovic: I do not expect essential change of policy conducted by Pristina institutions (RTV/Kosovo Online)
Romanian Embassy condemns hate speech against Romanian minority in Serbia (Beta/Politika)
Romanian MEP: Insults to Serbia’s politician sad, shame for state (Nova/N1)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik: I will inform Putin about initiative to return RS competencies (RTRS/ATV)
Schmidt: I was told I have support of Moscow; I have support of Vucic and Plenkovic (Oslobodjenje)
Palmer and Eichhorst meet with leaders of HDZ B&H and SDA; Radoncic: Both Izetbegovic and Covic are showing full readiness and will for reaching compromise solution (AJB/BHT1)
Palmer, Eichhorst meet Komsic; Komsic not optimistic about reaching of agreement (Nova BH)
US Embassy comments talks on electoral reform (Dnevni avaz)
Komsic, Dzaferovic meet Kalabukhov who informs them about Russian response to their letter: Russia supports sovereignty, territorial integrity of B&H (BHT1)
Borrell: Enough of past, reforms are priority (N1)
Stoltenberg: NATO concerned over rhetoric in B&H (BHT1)
Banozic meets Covic; Banozic: HDZ in B&H advocates equality of all peoples and they are heading in this direction when it comes to changes to B&H Election Law (BHT1)
Tegeltija meets Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon; Tegeltija: It is necessary to immediately abolish Inzko’s decision regarding genocide denial (RTRS)
Bosniak delegates in B&H HoP vote against conclusions proposed by Serb Caucus (EuroBlic)
Komsic on B&H HoP’s session: HDZ B&H ranked itself among those who deny genocide (N1)
DF Presidency: Concessions to Dodik and Covic lead to undermining of state institutions (Oslobodjene)
Borenovic: We will not follow Dodik’s political conformism (Dnevni list)
Croatia

Serbia continues to block efforts to find missing persons from the Homeland War (HRT)
Netherlands refusing to confirm Croatia’s admission to Schengen (Vecernji List)
Montenegro

Krivokapic meets with Director for the Western Balkans in the German Foreign Office (Office of the Prime Minister)
German companies show increased interest in investing in Montenegro (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)
Republic of North Macedonia

Ahmeti does not “accept” Zaev’s resignation until March (Sloboden pecat)
Grubi: Alternative is welcome in the government (Alsat TV)
Radev-Zaev: Dialogue at high level crucial for building trust, solving disputes (MIA)
Serbian government approves opening of Macedonian consulate (MIA)
Albania

Bulgaria proposed start of EU negotiations for Albania, President welcomes decision (ADN)
Former Velipoja mayor and MP gunned down (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic attends United Russia conference, thanks Putin (Tanjug/RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday attended via a video link the conference Global Challenges of the 21st Century: Interparty Dimension, hosted by Russia’s ruling party United Russia. In a post on his Instagram account, Vucic thanked the party for giving him the honor of attending the conference. “Many thanks to President Putin, who has always stood with Serbia and the Serbs in the toughest of times. Long live the Serbian-Russian friendship,” Vucic added. In a keynote speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said interparty dialogue between countries was an important component of international relations as it helped to find ways of confronting the threats and challenges of today. The conference – one of the events commemorating the 20th anniversary of United Russia – is being attended by several other heads of state and government, as well as by dozens of leaders of influential political parties.

Dacic calls referendum on constitutional amendments for 16 January (Tanjug/RTS/RTV/Beta/Politika/Novosti)

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic on Tuesday evening called a referendum on constitutional amendments for 16 January. Dacic called a referendum to confirm the Act amending the Constitution of Serbia, after the end of a special session of the parliament. At that session, the Draft Act amending the Constitution of Serbia, the Draft Constitutional Law for implementing the Act amending the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and the Draft Decision on calling a national referendum to confirm the Act amending the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia were adopted. At the referendum on constitutional changes, the citizens will vote on the question: “Do you support confirming the act on changing the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia?”. During the parliamentary debate, Justice Minister Maja Popovic said constitutional amendments related to the judiciary were a precondition for further reforms of the legal system that would, among other things, ensure more positive assessments of Serbia’s progress in the EU integration process. Dacic said that voters will be asked whether they want to confirm the changes to the Serbian constitution. “Because of all the lies that have been published in recent months, I want to say that the referendum has nothing to do with the preamble. Our stand is completely clear – Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia – nor with various other issues which are being made political and are used to brutally violate the law and constitution when it comes to protests and road blocks,” he said adding that the amendments are only about the judiciary and rule of law. The preamble to the Serbian constitution states that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia. He said that if the amendments are approved at the referendum “it will be a big step forward on Serbia’s road to the EU and in terms of the reforms being implemented”.

Selakovic: Serbia fosters friendly relations with African states (Tanjug/RTV)

Serbia has fostered friendly relations with African countries since the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Wednesday in a video address at the closing ceremony of the Biennale of Luanda – Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace. He said he was pleased Serbia had been given an opportunity to present its culture and heritage at the Biennale through virtual exhibitions. “The Republic of Serbia has always attached great importance to the contribution of art, culture and heritage to sustainable peace, as well as to the engagement of young people in conflict prevention and sustainable development, which are the central topics of this year’s Biennale. We support the activities and work done by UNESCO, an international organization that is marking 75 years of existence this year, and within which we have achieved exceptional results by joining forces,” Selakovic said. “At the same time, we are aware of the fact that there are numerous challenges ahead of us. We would like to draw attention to only some of them, such as the politicization of cultural heritage and historical revisionism, carried out through education policies, which are tendencies threatening to slow down and compromise the work of UNESCO, which we must not allow,” he said. “These challenges have been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and dramatic battles are being fought in other fields as well. The issue of unequal access to vaccines only goes to show that there are still differences between certain countries,” Selakovic said. “Therefore, the Republic of Serbia, having fostered friendly relations with the countries of the African continent since the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement, endeavors to help its traditional friends by supporting them in the fight against the pandemic,” he said. “That is why we selflessly provided vaccine donations within the scope of our capacities to those who needed them the most,” the Minister said. “On the other hand, we will continue to foster friendly relations with African countries, especially through the awarding of scholarships within the World in Serbia program, because young people, as actors of social transformation, are bridges that connect people,” he noted.

Selakovic meets with Agius, Brammertz (Tanjug/Politika)

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic held separate meetings with the president and the chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), Carmel Agius and Serge Brammertz, in The Hague on Tuesday. Selakovic noted the significance of discussions about Serbia’s cooperation with the IRMCT, in particular in light of the upcoming 13 December UN Security Council debate on Agius’s and Brammertz’s semi-annual reports. “Thus far, Serbia’s commitment to prosecuting war crimes has been reflected in years of efforts to bring to justice all those responsible for war crimes by prosecuting the perpetrators before domestic judicial authorities, as well as through cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia,” Selakovic said. He noted that the Serbian government had adopted on 14 October a five-year national strategy on prosecuting war crimes as a strategic document in the field. Selakovic concluded that Serbia was looking to the future and to cooperation, and noted that better regional cooperation, in particular when it comes to war crimes indictments, would help reconciliation in the region.

New KSF commander is a cousin of Adem Jashari, one of the founders of the terrorist KLA (Novosti/Tanjug/Indeks Online)

Colonel General Rahman Rama has resigned as commander of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), Indeks Online reported, and the president of the illegitimately proclaimed Kosovo Vjosa Osmani appointed Major General Bashkim Jashari as the new KSF commander. Bashkim Jashari is the son of Rifat Jashari, the son of Rifat Jashari, the brother of Adem Jashari, the founder of the KLA, who even before the start of the conflict in Kosovo led a group that carried out attacks against Serbian security forces, reports Tanjug. According to their presidency, the appointment was made in line with the Law on Kosovo Security Force, at the proposal of the Minister of Defense and the recommendation of the prime minister of so-called Kosovo. Prior to the appointment of the new KSF commander, Osmani issued a decree dismissing the current KSF commander, Colonel General Rahman Rama, who had previously resigned.

Stefanovic: I do not expect essential change of policy conducted by Pristina institutions (RTV/Kosovo Online)

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told Kosovo Online that he does not expect any personnel solutions that will make a substantial change in the policy pursued by the provisional Pristina institutions. “First of all, on the basis of United Nations Resolution 1244, there is no possibility of forming any so-called Kosovo army, nor are they legitimate, nor in any legally established way, bodies or institutions. This is what is important for our international partners to know. So, regardless of whether they participate in the work of the provisional Pristina institutions in any way or support them, they must know that this must be done in a legal way, in accordance with international law and United Nations Resolution 1244,” said Stefanovic, who attended on Tuesday together with the Prime Minister Ana Brnabic the ceremony marking the centenary of the founding of the state Stud Farm “Karadjordjevo”. Stefanovic points out that that is why the personnel decisions of the provisional Pristina bodies, especially related to the so-called army and their institutions, are not considered important, because he does not expect to pursue any different policy than the one they have pursued so far. “Unfortunately, it is a warning that Serbs are endangered and that senseless, dangerous and adventurous actions with weapons over the past few months threaten to destabilize the entire Balkans. That says a lot about the frivolity and, of course, the bad intention that the provisional Pristina institutions have towards the north of Kosovo and Metohija, towards the Serbs, but it also seems to me towards the lives of all people living on the territory of our southern province,” Stefanovic said.

Romanian Embassy condemns hate speech against Romanian minority in Serbia (Beta/Politika)

The Romanian Embassy in Belgrade on Tuesday condemned hate speech against the Romanian minority in Serbia, media manipulation of a person belonging to the Romanian community for political purposes and the spread of false news about Serbia’s citizens of Romanian nationality by classifying them as “national enemies”. According to a statement published on the Romanian Embassy’s Facebook page, the statements such as the one presented by director Dragoslav Bokan on Monday, “undermine the principles of good coexistence and contribution of the Romanian minority to the cultural wealth and socio-economic development of the Serbian state.” “Such a gesture against the community that has shown loyalty to the Serbian state and has contributed to the atmosphere of inter-ethnic cohabitation in the Republic of Serbia could overshadow the relationship of friendship between Romania and Serbia, which has always linked the two ethnic communities living in the two countries,” the statement said. The Romanian Embassy in Belgrade expressed its regret over “the fact that a TV station with national coverage has aired such statements, without sanctioning ethnicity-based attacks on a person.” Bokan insulted the deputy leader of the Freedom and Justice Party Marinika Tepic regarding her national background and proclaimed her “a national enemy.” The National Organization of Romanians in Serbia said that it regrets the fact that the Romanian national holiday was being observed in an atmosphere marked by the “shameful words against the Romanian national minority”.

Romanian MEP: Insults to Serbia’s politician sad, shame for state (Nova/N1)

The member of the European Parliament from Romania Vlad Gheorghe told Nova.rs late on Tuesday it was sad to see politicians in Serbia attacked based on ethnic criteria on a TV with national frequencies and added the government should treat the insults against the Romanian people with the utmost seriousness. Commenting on a former member of the ‘White Eagles’ paramilitary unit from the 1990 wars in ex-Yugoslavia Dragoljub Bokan’s statement about Marinika Tepic, an opposition politician in Serbia of the Romanian roots, Gheorghe joined many politicians in Serbia who condemned the insults and demanded the authorities to react. Romanian MEP from the European liberals (‘Let’s Renew Europe’) said he hoped that Serbia would condemn the statement as a country that wanted to join the European Union. “If there were once problems between Romania and Serbia, they were generated by undemocratic regimes, and not by honest citizens who respect the law and maintain good relations with their neighbors,” he said. Gheorghe added that “it is sad to see that this kind of hate speech based on ethnicity is still present in the public sphere, in Serbia or anywhere in Europe. Those are not just insults to politicians, women or ethnic minorities, but a serious attack on democratic values, social peace and the rule of law. It is shameful to see such a discourse publicly promoted. We hope that this incident will be legally and publicly condemned, as it should be in a country that is ready to be part of the EU and share its values”. Commenting on the media in Serbia, Gheorghe said that unfortunately, I am well aware that in Serbia, as in other countries in the region, large media funds and ownership of institutions lack transparency or are politically dependent. That affects the function of journalists as democratic guardians and the right to freedom of speech press. “These are aspects that should be addressed in the right way because they endanger Serbia’s path towards a European future,” he added.

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Dodik: I will inform Putin about initiative to return RS competencies (RTRS/ATV

 

Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency, Milorad Dodik, travelled to Moscow where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. One of the topics of their talks will be construction of a gas pipeline from Raca towards Banja Luka. During his visit to Moscow, Dodik said he would also discuss economic matters with Putin. He says he will talk about the gas pipeline with Putin, but also with leading officials of Gazprom. In a statement for RTRS, Dodik emphasized that Repblika Srpska (RS) officials, through their diplomatic activities, are trying to break the stereotype, which has been present in B&H for very long, and it talks about “one universal culprit”. “We are not here to fulfill their wishes; we are here to fulfill tendencies and wishes of the people that elected us. I was not elected to be a coward. I was elected to be a president” Dodik said, adding that being elected the president means he must do things as all other presidents do. He added that he does not do anything that is not in line with his work and voters’ expectations. “I protect the interests of those that elected me. And, interests of the RS and the Serb people here is for the Dayton Peace Agreement to be implemented, and the letter of Constitution, Annex 4 of the Dayton Peace Agreement. I believe that is legitimate. And that does not have violent tendencies, or something that would represent some kind of revolution”, Dodik underlines. Dodik said that he will inform Putin about the initiative to return competencies. Dodik also said that he will meet with the representatives of Gazprom to discuss gas delivery with a better price than those in Europe that went over USD 1,000 per 1,000 cubic meters. “I believe that for our needs, as much as we have gas, and for the needs of the later construction of the gas pipeline, the construction of two gas power plants, we will reach that agreement and that we will preserve this price for this period as Serbia did.” Dodik claimed that they will also find Putin’s understanding just like President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic did.

Ahead of his trip, Dodik also stated that there will be no decision making in B&H institutions until the former High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko’s law is withdrawn. Dodik will convey in Russia that RS representatives will not give up on returning the competencies that were taken away from the RS. Dodik claims that this is not a revolution in B&H but that it is about protecting the Constitution and the rights of the RS. Dodik said that these rights are taken away by unrecognized foreigners in B&H. Dodik stated “how can someone accept to come to B&H and say that they are a High Representative without being appointed by the UN Security Council”.

 

Schmidt: I was told I have support of Moscow; I have support of Vucic and Plenkovic (Oslobodjenje

The daily carries a lengthy, two-page interview with High Representative Christian Schmidt. At the beginning of the interview author asks Schmidt how can we discuss economy and initiatives such as Open Balkans when we are faced with the possibility of war. “It is my task to prevent further developing of the crisis. This is why I need support of the international community. I think I have it, minus one,” said Schmidt. To author’s remark that Schmidt is speaking about Russia, but asks what about China or Visegrad Group, Schmidt answers that China is not a signatory of the Dayton Peace Agreement and when it comes to Visegrad Group, he had good consultations with Czech side. “I think that the European Union also has responsibility and will have it even more”, said Schmidt saying that he believes that the EU will take the responsibility. Schmidt noted that within the Peace Implementation Council (PIC), there is an idea that it is possible to simply cross from Dayton to Brussels phase, “but I think it is necessary to discuss exactly what this transfer looks like”. “I am thinking about those intermediate steps that need to be made. About little steps,” said Schmidt. He argues that he would also like to see more visible activities of the European Union, not only because of economy, but also because of the rule of law, which HR Schmidt underlines as very important and reminds of ‘Priebe’s Report’ for the European Commission, which is now nothing but a dead letter. In this regard, Schmidt called on everyone to start working on independent judiciary, fight against corruption and legal security. “This is why I say that I cannot take personally Mr. Dodik’s talk about the High Representative, but if the attacks for instance, refer to the Constitutional Court, I think this is difficult to tolerate. The ground of coexistence is the common right and since we abolished the absolutism, I do not know that any of the leaders is above the law”, said Schmidt. As for relations of neighbors towards B&H, Schmidt said that he has a feeling that none of the neighbors want to question territorial integrity of B&H and noted that he has support of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Asked about the fact that ahead of his departure to Russia, Dodik once again stated that the HR and OHR do not exist, HR Schmidt said that he was raised in European way, to be polite and he is not used to hear this many insults and therefore does not want to elaborate anything to Dodik. Schmidt wonders what is Dodik’s goal, adding that he is here to discuss the improvements and asks if Dodik ever heard him saying anything against the RS, or has he ever tried to talk to him about possible changes to the Constitution. “What kind of strategy is this? Blockade and insults- these are signs of weakness,” said Schmidt. Author noted that Dodik announced that he will present all open issues to Russian President Vladimir Putin and he called on Schmidt to annul the Amendments to B&H Criminal Code, which introduce ban of genocide denial and HR Schmidt said that he already said that he believes that it would be prudent for the parliament of B&H to deal with this, adding that he is used for things to be discussed in a calm, sober and structured manner and not series of insults against everyone, underlining that protection of memory of victims and protection of their dignity is crucial. “What concerns me the most is that we failed to offer the possibility to younger generation of reconciliation over graves, reconciliation despite the graves. When Dodik discusses this issue with Mr. Putin, I am certain that he will hear from Putin how intensive is the cooperation between Russian Federation and Germany despite the graves of fallen victims. And just because of some inappropriate and unkind statements, I do not want to address this to Dodik, but I want to tell all other citizens of B&H that to me, as a German, it is clear what kind of responsibility Germans have regarding this. This is why I am ready to discuss many things in a reasonable manner,” said Schmidt. Schmidt added that he had a long talk with Vucic about Jasenovac and Kragujevac, arguing that Vucic has ugly experiences in his own family. “Respect towards the dead should not allow for the dead to be a topic of political debate. This is perhaps a level that Dodik does not understand. However, I can tell him that all politicians are responsible to achieve the result that things that happened turn as if they had not happened at all. It is our responsibility to prevent for younger generation ending up in a similar catastrophe. And if you discuss this issue in this way, then you will come to understand that code ‘Inzko’s Law’ is not sufficient at all. Here, I am calling for a dialogue,” said Schmidt. To author’s question whether he calls for talks on judgements of The Hague Tribunal, Schmidt said that this is not the case, but he will present his proposals to the Parliament of B&H adding that he deems that civil society should also deal with this issue and the OSCE can be of assistance as well. Schmidt underlined that this is something that needs to be discussed and solved within B&H and while he does not have reserves to change or adjust the Law, this is something that needs to come from within B&H. Author underlined that the problem is the fact that courts’ judgements are commented and not implemented, saying that she is talking about judgements of European Court of Human Rights, which if were implemented and not discussed would result in change of Election Law by now. He underlined that Sejdic-Finci judgement and recommendations of the Venice Commission have to become parts of Election Law. “And I think that Mrs. Eichhorst and Mr. Palmer deem they are the ones who need to assist for something to be done, which is why I can only swish them the best in their work. However, I think that besides the so-called technical corrections and those proposals of the Venice Commission, as well as judgements of ECHR, there is no long-term solutions. And B&H is risking for this issue to be on the agenda of Council of Europe”, said Schmidt. Author underlines that it is clear that HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic is not accepting the implementation of European judgements, just as everyone is clear that Dodik has been working on this project since 2010 and asks if HR believes Dodik when he says that he has allies in Brussels. “Look, I was also told that Moscow supports me. However, this should not be mixed with the political position. As someone who knows Dodik for years, here is the mild note for the international community: even if it is allowed in the Balkans to have ups and downs in the rhetoric little stronger then somewhere else, it is necessary to have enough sensibility to understand that politics is created behind the rhetoric. I do not know if this sensibility existed in last ten years. The international community is reactive and if there are no reports that there is not only smoke, but also the fie in a region, then the international community simply remove it from the map of crisis points. However, this is superficial. This is why I wrote such drastic report for the UN. Political blockade simply leads the country into the major crisis and we cannot act as if it is necessary to be polite to Dodik and ask him what would he like next. This will not solve anything and it can only open his appetite to ask for more. In the opposite case, there is also the need to take Dodik’s nose and say- what is the problem now? In what part the RS feels neglected in comparison to the Federation of B&H (FB&H) in the state?,” said Schmidt. He noted that he deems that his task is not only to solve current blockades, but also prevent the future ones and when asked if there will be sanctions against Dodik, Schmidt said that he believes that Dodik was given too much space and he is flattered by being center of attention. He argues that Dodik is very eloquent, but wonders when was the last time he gave an interview about economic development. Schmidt noted that things are same in the RS and young people are leaving and argues that political representatives in the RS have opportunity to act in this regard. Schmidt briefly commented situation in the region and underlined the importance of Berlin Process. In this regard, Schmidt also noted that it is necessary to work on the initiative Open Balkans, underlining the importance of regional connectivity.

 

Palmer and Eichhorst meet with leaders of HDZ B&H and SDA; Radoncic: Both Izetbegovic and Covic are showing full readiness and will for reaching compromise solution (AJB/BHT1

 

On the second day of his visit to B&H, US Special Envoy for Electoral Reform, Matthew Palmer, held another round of meetings with leaders of B&H political parties. On Tuesday morning, Palmer held talks with leaders of SDA and HDZ B&H, Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic respectively, and those talks were also attended by SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic.

After Monday talks, Izetbegovic said amendments to the B&H Election Law must be resolved regarding the FB&H and the B&H Presidency. He also said members of the pro-Bosnian bloc will not accept any unilateral solutions. In his comment on Tuesday, Radoncic said he would not like to sound like a pessimist, but stances of Bosniak and Croat leaders have not been brought closer. He pointed out to the complicated situation in the FB&H, saying such difficult topics cannot be solved overnight. Radoncic emphasized the important thing, which is that both Izetbegovic and Covic are showing full readiness and will for reaching a compromise solution.

The meeting lasted six hours and the party leaders did not wish to reveal details on Tuesday afternoon. Radoncic stressed that it would be better if this process of negotiations were led in the B&H Parliament. Both Izetbegovic and Covic only confirmed that the new meeting brought nothing new to the talks. Covic and Izetbegovic said that nothing concrete was agreed upon. Radoncic stated that compromise is still far away. When it comes the election of the members of B&H Presidency, Radoncic said that he still advocates the indirect manner of the elections, to be conducted within the Parliament, which would relax the whole situation according to Radoncic, and allusions to a third entity would be lost. Radoncic said that both SDA and HDZ B&H will give their support to technical changes of the B&H Election Law and if the Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik does not agree to them, it would mean that Dodik is behind election thefts that happened during previous elections.

Palmer, Eichhorst meet Komsic; Komsic not optimistic about reaching of agreement (Nova BH

Matthew Palmer and Angelina Eichhorst continued negotiations on the electoral reform with political leaders in B&H, in Sarajevo on Tuesday. They met with B&H Presidency Chairman and DF leader Zeljko Komsic, who told reporters after the meeting that they discussed a number of topics, but that the focus was on the constitutional reforms and amendments to the Election Law of B&H. He said that he doubts that an agreement on this issue will be reached by spring 2022. Komsic said that Palmer did not bring any papers or finished models for the election reform and it is clear that the goal of the negotiations is to erase ethnic prefixes for the election of the B&H Presidency members. He added that the B&H House of People (B&H HoP) was a topic of discussion as well in order to enable the Others to be represented in this institution. Komsic believes that this is not a bad approach, but everyone is avoiding the discussion about the implementation of the rulings of the European Court for Human Rights. Komsic a said that there is not a lot of optimism that there will be a solution by New Year or by March 2022, which was set as a new deadline by Palmer. “The intervention in the Constitution that actually destroys such system of state organization, it even encroaches on basic social settings of how B&H society functions. Of course, I would like that the most, because it absolutely coincides with the policy and idea, I believe in. However, we will not receive support of the foreigners in this case. They insist on the Presidency, the state HoP in terms of erasing the ethnic determinant, and insist on changes to the Election Law in the sense that we no longer have ‘thieving elections’. In front of me, they do not touch on the story of constituencies, but they know (my) position on how constituencies should be organized in B&H, we have already talked about it countless times. The principle of unequal value of the vote cannot be introduced, we simply cannot agree to it because then it is meaningless. If we went that way and introduced that variant, the unequal values of the vote, which would lead to ethnic restriction, i.e. territorialization of the ethnic principle and everything we have in B&H, we would only give the opponents of this country a political and legal basis to continue dividing and (they) would have a better position than they have now”. (Komsic was presumably answering the question of N1 whether the DF will insist on the Zornic ruling) Komsic said that he did not see any paper that many were speculating about and said that there is insisting on implementation of only one ruling, which is the one from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the Sejdic-Finci case. When he was asked about the other rulings, Komsic said that rulings such as the one about Azra Zornic would be a deeper intervention in the B&H Constitution and that this is just not realistic at the moment regardless of Komsic’s wishes. Komsic said that the meeting did not discuss behavior of SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. According to the daily, Komsic answered a journalist’s question who wanted to know if there will be sanctions against Dodik to which Komsic replied he is not the right address for the question, that Dodik is already on the US’ black list and that he does not know what is being prepared. Komsic went on to say that European sanctions would hurt Dodik more, especially the circle of people around him who are Dodik’s political and material support.

 

US Embassy comments talks on electoral reform (Dnevni avaz

 

The US Embassy to B&H issued a statement on Tuesday night, publishing it on their official Twitter. “US Special Envoy for Electoral Reform, Matthew Palmer and Director for Western Balkans and Turkey of European External Action Service, Angelina Eichhorst continued discussions with political parties today and outlined minimum electoral transparency measures that must be part of any reform package. ODIHR recommendations must be implemented, including removal of discriminatory language, greater oversight of election administration, and protections against vote theft,” reads the statement.

Komsic, Dzaferovic meet Kalabukhov who informs them about Russian response to their letter: Russia supports sovereignty, territorial integrity of B&H (BHT1

Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic met Russian Ambassador to B&H Igor Kalabukhov in Sarajevo on Tuesday. On this occasion, Kalabukhov presented a Russian response to the letter that Komsic and Dzaferovic sent a month ago to Russian President Vladimir Putin related to the current crisis in B&H. During the meeting, Kalabukhov said that the Russian Federation fully supports sovereignty and the territorial integrity of B&H, the Dayton Peace Agreement and respects each solution reached within B&H. During the meeting, Komsic and Dzaferovic stressed that blockade of work of institutions of B&H represent anti-Dayton and anti-democratic act and go to detriment of all citizens and stability of the state.

Borrell: Enough of past, reforms are priority (N1

 

EU High Representative Josep Borrell gave an exclusive commentary for N1. Borrell was quoted as saying: “Enough of the past, reforms are a priority. B&H fills the front pages for completely wrong reasons. Instead of celebrating achievements on its path to the EU, news about B&H return to the past. A political crisis caused by threats to undo 26 years of peace and progress could take away B&H’s potential. The EU stands by a sovereign B&H and by all B&H citizens who are tired of corruption and who demand the responsibility of their leaders to create a better future.”

Stoltenberg: NATO concerned over rhetoric in B&H (BHT1

 

A summit of the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs has begun in Riga on Monday. According to BHT1, B&H is supposed to be one of the topics of the summit and a discussion on the situation in B&H is on the Wednesday’s agenda. Ahead of the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented on the situation in B&H and he said that NATO is concerned about the inflammatory rhetoric of member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, but also about attempts to undermine multi-ethnicity of institutions especially the B&H Armed Forces (AF). BHT1 noted that at this moment, military actions of Russia on the border with Ukraine are what is the biggest concern of NATO and NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs will pay special attention to this issue during the summit. According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, NATO is monitoring the situation in the Western Balkans with special attention. Blinken stated that they are committed to full realization of the strategic concept adopted at the previous summit, adding that they will work on this in the upcoming days and months. Blinken announced that a lot of job is yet to be done in the upcoming days starting with control of weapons, challenges in the Western Balkans and concerning activities of Russia on the border with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Ukraine is the red line for Russia adding that Russia will be forced to react if NATO crosses the red line in this area. Putin expressed hope that this will not happen and that the reason and responsibility will prevail. Asked to comment on political tensions in B&H and what would be the “red line” for NATO to act regarding the separatist rhetoric that comes from the RS, Stoltenberg recalled that NATO is already strongly present in the region, particularly in Kosovo and B&H. “Of course, we are concerned about the increased tensions we see. Therefore, we welcome that NATO and the EU are working very closely together in the region, both in Kosovo but also in B&H,” he stressed. We continue to support all efforts to reduce tensions, and to continue to provide support to the capacity building for B&H, Stoltenberg said.

Banozic meets Covic; Banozic: HDZ in B&H advocates equality of all peoples and they are heading in this direction when it comes to changes to B&H Election Law (BHT1

During his visit to B&H, Croatian Minister of Defense Mario Banozic met the leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic on Tuesday. According to BHT1, focus of their conversation was the B&H Election Law. Banozic underlined that HDZ in B&H advocates equality of all peoples and they are heading in this direction when it comes to changes to the B&H Election Law so that Croats have their representatives in the B&H Presidency and in all high-level bodies.

Tegeltija meets Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon; Tegeltija: It is necessary to immediately abolish Inzko’s decision regarding genocide denial (RTRS

 

During his conversation with Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, British Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, Chairman of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) Zoran Tegeltija stated that it is necessary to immediately abolish the imposed decision of former High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko regarding genocide denial and thus create a precondition for normal functioning of all institutions. Tegeltija informed Ahmad about the political situation in B&H and emphasized that introducing sanctions against anyone in B&H is unnecessary and that internal dialogue should be encouraged between political representatives in order to overcome the current situation to the benefit of everyone in B&H.

Bosniak delegates in B&H HoP vote against conclusions proposed by Serb Caucus (EuroBlic

 

The Serb Caucus in the House of Peoples (HoP) of B&H proposed the adoption of several conclusions, including the one that said: “B&H HoP supports the initiative of the RS parliament on holding talks and dialogue between the RS and the FB&H as well as between the three constituent people – Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks on possible solutions for B&H and calls them to a comprehensive dialogue on the current situation in B&H and possible solutions related to the future of the RS and the FB&H.” However, Bosniak delegates and Zlatko Miletic (DF) from the Croat Caucus did not support the conclusion, because of which it was not adopted and it was sent for harmonization at the Collegium of B&H HoP and voting will take place in the second round. Delegate of the Serb Caucus Dusanka Majkic said that there was no explanation as to why Bosniak delegates opposed the adoption of the conclusion. Majkic added that everyone, including Bosniak delegates, were saying during the session that the country needs dialogue: “After that, they showed how much they want dialogue when it was time to vote.” Majkic claimed that Bosniak delegates only expect foreigners to impose everything that suits them and create a state that would suit their needs: “Unitary, if possible, so that they can get rid of Serbs and Croats. Therefore, that is the goal.” Majkic concluded by saying that Bosniaks will not have seven votes in the second round to stop the adoption of the conclusion. The daily reminded that delegate Denis Becirovic said during the session that the urgent session of B&H HoP can be both a call to dialogue and readiness to have dialogue and he added that the OHR and Constitutional Court of B&H are a part of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Deputy speaker of B&H HoP Nikola Spiric said at the session that it would be good for everyone to learn the lesson and realize that dialogue cannot be avoided. Spiric added that, unfortunately, there is a big distrust in B&H and that Bosniaks trust more to the international community than to Serbs and Croats with whom they are supposed to secure coexistence in B&H. Speaker of B&H HoP Dragan Covic said that three different sides are the reality of B&H and added: “I have always been saying that only constitutional patriotism makes sense.” Apart from the mentioned conclusions, another four conclusions were forwarded to the Collegium for harmonization. The first conclusion said that former HR Valentin Inzko did not have the authority to impose the decision on changes to the Criminal Code of B&H, the second conclusion called to revoking of those changes, the third conclusion argued that the Constitutional Court of B&H is making decisions opposite to the Constitution and the fourth conclusion claimed that the Constitution of B&H did not give the right to property to the state of B&H nor it gave it the competencies to regulate the ownership on the state property. The daily noted that the conclusions were supported by Croat delegates in B&H HoP Covic, Marina Pendes and Lidija Bradara. Majkic argued that the OHR is the culprit for the crisis in B&H and added that the way out of the crisis can be “revoking of the law imposed by Inzko and departure of foreign judges from the Constitutional Court of B&H”. Majkic also blamed domestic politicians, especially SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, who showed no understanding for dialogue and talks. Majkic argued that the moves and behavior of Bosniak parties make it obvious that “they are not even hiding anymore that their goal is to turn B&H into an Islamic state”.

Komsic on B&H HoP’s session: HDZ B&H ranked itself among those who deny genocide (N1

 

Croat member and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic commented on Monday’s session of B&H HoP, namely the way HDZ B&H voted on the SNSD’s conclusion about annulling the law imposed by former High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko. Komsic commented that this was a political failure and that HDZ B&H ranked itself among those who deny genocide. On the other hand, Radoncic said that this was about a political game. Radoncic claims that he has information from his sources in HDZ B&H that their delegates supported SNSD’s conclusion because it will not pass in the B&H HoP. Radoncic added that HDZ B&H wanted to enable SNSD to be a part of the solution in B&H in this way.

DF Presidency: Concessions to Dodik and Covic lead to undermining of state institutions (Oslobodjene

DF Presidency issued a statement on Tuesday which reads that every form of concessions to HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik will lead to undermining of the state and its institutions. The statement reads that DF will use all political and democratic tools not to allow these concessions. “The best illustration of destructive and anti-civilization activities of Covic and Dodik is voting in House of Peoples of B&H parliament on the issue banning the genocide denial,” reads the statement. DF Presidency stressed they support changes of Constitution and Election Law in line with judgements of European Court of Human Rights.

Borenovic: We will not follow Dodik’s political conformism (Dnevni list

PDP leader Branislav Borenovic stated that PDP will always have its position when it comes to unilateral and imposed decisions of the HR, arguing that PDP will not follow Milorad Dodik’s political conformism and his risky initiatives that could have dangerous political, economic, demographic and security consequences on the RS. When it comes to the level of B&H, Borenovic said the energy should be focused on resolving the issue of imposition of Inzko’s decision (imposition of amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H), which requires an active role of the local political structures and new HR Christian Schmidt to suspend the said decision, so the decision-making process returns to a normal framework. As for announcements regarding special session of the RS parliament regarding return of competences, Borenovic said it was originally said the session would deal with 140 new laws, which in the meantime disappeared and turned into a couple of information.

 

Serbia continues to block efforts to find missing persons from the Homeland War (HRT

The Parliamentary Committee for War Veterans held a thematic session on Tuesday to address the problem of people still listed as missing from the Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) war of aggression in the 1990’s. Addressing reporters after the committee’s session on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said that results since assuming office, the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has achieved significant results: “I would remind you that this government, starting with the previous mandate in 2016 and up to today, has found and exhumed the mortal remains of 144 victims. That we have identified 197 bodies, and just a few days ago we found a mass grave with at least eleven mortal remains in the Bobota area of Vukovar-Srijem County.” He conceded however, that Serbia continues to flagrantly block the process of uncovering the final resting places of Croatian civilians and soldiers killed by Serb paramilitary and JNA forces and left in shallow or mass graves: “We have run up against some problems, primarily in terms of a lack of cooperation from Serbia in terms of making available information about the fate of missing persons. And the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has made public all of the efforts Croatia has made in terms of pressuring Serbia to cooperate.” Croatia is still searching for 1 853 people listed as missing from the Serb and Yugoslav People’s Army war of aggression in the 1990’s. Ljiljana Alvir from the Association of Detained and Missing Croatian Veterans: “The tempo itself is not satisfactory when we consider that thirty years have passed and family members are dying before finding out the truth about their loved ones. But the effort being invested by the ministry and all those working on this issue, meaning what we see on a daily basis, is satisfactory.”

Netherlands refusing to confirm Croatia’s admission to Schengen (Vecernji List

The Netherlands does not want to consent to Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area of passport-free movement because it has a caretaker government, the Vecernji List daily says in its Tuesday issue. The Slovenian EU Presidency has put conclusions on Croatia’s readiness to join the Schengen area on the tentative agenda of the next meeting of EU ministers of the interior but the daily has learned from unofficial sources that the Netherlands is signaling that it may not be ready to support a decision to that effect. The conclusions in question do not constitute a final decision on Croatia’s admission to Schengen but are the penultimate step. With the conclusions in question, the Council of the EU confirms in writing what the European Commission has already stated, namely that Croatia has met all the technical requirements for entry to the passport-free travel area. The final political decision is yet to be made. It will be a special decision of the Council, adopted after the Council consults with the European Parliament. That political decision, however, cannot be made if the conclusions have not been adopted. The Slovenian government plans to have this done before the end of its presidency on 31 December, when EU presidency is taken over by France. However, according to unofficial sources, at a meeting of the COREPER (Permanent Representatives Committee), the Netherlands expressed reservations on the matter even before a more detailed debate has been launched. Its representatives justified this with the fact that the Netherlands currently has a caretaker government, which is why it would prefer not having to make a decision on such a sensitive matter. The Dutch went to the polls in March this year and negotiations on a new ruling coalition are still underway. This is a record long period of talks on government formation in the history of Dutch democracy. A Dutch source confirmed that the country’s position on the expansion of the Schengen area had always been one of the more critical and cautious, notably regarding respect for fundamental rights at the borders that should become the new external borders of the Schengen area. Asked about the country’s current position on the specific issue of conclusions that would be adopted in December and confirm Croatia’s readiness to join the Schengen area, the source said that there is no final position and that it is still being worked on, the daily said.

Another source, familiar with closed-door talks in the Council of the EU, has said that the Dutch are showing good will and sincerely want to help and cooperate with the Slovenian Presidency to reach a consensus on the adoption of the conclusions, the daily says.

 

Krivokapic meets with Director for the Western Balkans in the German Foreign Office (Office of the Prime Minister

 

Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic met with Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, EFTA States, OSCE and Council of Europe in the German Federal Foreign Office Susanne Schutz.

Prime Minister Krivokapic said that the Government wants to join the European Union at an accelerated pace. EU membership is our strategic goal, on which Montenegro consistently works and invests maximum efforts, the Prime Minister pointed out. The Prime Minister thanked Director Schutz for the continuous support that Germany provides to Montenegro on its European path. Prime Minister Krivokapic said that the Government is committed to reforms in the area of the rule of law, emphasizing that the special focus is on achieving concrete results in the fight against organized crime and corruption. PM Krivokapic also informed his interlocutor about the reform programmes of the Government, emphasizing that the Government’s goal is to grow democracy, civic and ecological Montenegro through economic development. Director Schutz said that she was happy that Montenegro is the most advanced country in the EU accession negotiations. She pointed out that Germany is closely monitoring the development of the situation in all countries of the Western Balkans, emphasizing that additional efforts are necessary in order to speed up its progress on EU path. We want Montenegro to stay on the Euro-Atlantic path, and we hope that it will make rapid progress, because that is important, both for your country and for the region, Schutz said.

German companies show increased interest in investing in Montenegro (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Montenegro sees Germany as one of the most important foreign partners, especially in the area of EU integration, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic after a meeting with Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, EFTA States, OSCE and Council of Europe in the German Foreign Office Susanne Schutz and German Ambassador to Montenegro Robert Weber.

The officials agreed that European integration must be cohesive idea of all relevant political subjects and expressed satisfaction that the vast majority of citizens support the accession of Montenegro to the European Union. The meeting emphasized the need to strengthen the rule of law as one of the main preconditions for further economic development. Furthermore, the increased interest of German companies in investing in Montenegro was stressed, which shows the growth of trust in the institutions.

 

Ahmeti does not “accept” Zaev’s resignation until March (Sloboden pecat

Zoran Zaev should be Prime Minister because he has major matters to resolve. The hopes are that we will get a date on 14 December, and the first intergovernmental conference will be held by March, with which Macedonia and Albania will start accession negotiations with the European Union, a senior DUI official told “Sloboden pecat”. DUI leader Ali Ahmeti does not allow Zoran Zaev to resign from the post of Prime Minister, at least not until March next year, a senior DUI official told Sloboden Pecat. Zaev, on the other hand, who left the leadership position in SDSM, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations with Alternative for joining the government and the European summit in Brussels, is determined to activate his resignation as Prime Minister in December, claims a senior official from the Prime Minister’s Office. According to the extremely opposing moods of Zaev and Ahmeti there is still a period of talks between them, as government partners, about the timing for effectuating the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Grubi: Alternative is welcome in the government (Alsat TV

First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi, talking about the future of the government on Alsat TV said that DUI and SDSM have an agreement to lead the country for four years. The local elections are not related to the central government, and the ruling majority is stable, says Grubi, who adds that many steps have been taken to move the country forward, and PM Zoran Zaev was the key man who promoted Macedonia’s European perspective. According to Grubi, Alternative is welcome in the government because it was already part of a fruitful and productive coalition with SDSM and DUI, and the party has similar views as government partners, among which the most important is its desire for European integration of the country.

Radev-Zaev: Dialogue at high level crucial for building trust, solving disputes (MIA

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev held a phone call on Tuesday with Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev during which they agreed that dialogue at high level is crucial for building trust and solving disputes between the two countries, Radev’s office said in a press release. Radev and Zaev, as stated in the press release, discussed aspects of bilateral relations between the two countries, effective respect for the rights of people who openly declare themselves as Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as its European perspective, MIA reports from Sofia.

Serbian government approves opening of Macedonian consulate (MIA

The Serbian government approved at its latest session the opening of a Consulate of Macedonia in Serbia. The decision was published in the Serbian Official GazetteMIA reports from Belgrade. The headquarters of the Consulate of the Republic of Macedonia will be in Cajetina. Consent is given for opening a Consulate of the Republic of Macedonia in the Republic of Serbia, headed by an honorary consul, based in Cajetina and a consular area that covers the territory of the administrative district of Zlatibor Administrative District, the decision of the Serbian government states.

 

Bulgaria proposed start of EU negotiations for Albania, President welcomes decision (ADN

Albanian President Ilir Meta welcomes the position of Bulgaria, which has proposed to start the negotiations of Albania’s membership in the EU as soon as possible. Through a social media status, the president writes that he supports and encourages every step aimed at European integration. Meta is also convinced that Northern Macedonia has made tremendous progress, both in implementing reforms and reaching a historic agreement like the one in Prespa. “I welcome the position of Bulgaria, which proposes the start of Albania’s membership negotiations with the European Union as soon as possible. The progress of each country on the basis of individual merit has been one of the key principles adopted at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003. I will continue to support and encourage every step that leads us as soon as possible towards European membership, in fulfilment of our national strategic objective. I also remain convinced that Northern Macedonia has made tremendous progress either in implementing reforms or reaching a historic agreement like the one in Prespa. I applaud the dignified attitude of the Macedonian authorities to continue unwavering in the pro-European course of reforms that serve the citizens and the aspiration for EU membership,” said Meta.

Former Velipoja mayor and MP gunned down (Tirana Times

Pashko Ujka, a former member of the Albanian parliament who also served as mayor of Velipoja from 2011 to 2015, has been killed — shot in the back by a gunman using a silencer.

He was shot Monday evening in an ambush near his home in downtown Shkoder. A statement by local police noted that 64-year-old Ujka was wounded in the shootout and sent to the Regional Hospital of Shkoder, where he succumbed to his wounds several hours later. Police and prosecution officials were on the scene investigating the circumstances of the assassination. Criminal experts told the local press there are suspicions related to Ujka’s duty as mayor of Velipoja back in the 2011-2015 period. Velipoja has a lot of property conflicts, particularly because it administered one of the country’s largest seaside tourist areas and beaches.  Ujka was a member of the Christian Democratic movement, which has straddled Albania’s political divide, forming coalitions with both the right and the left and created a myriad of small parties.  Ujka won the Velipoja mayoral seat as a representative of the Christian Democratic Party (DPK), a part of the coalition Alliance for the Future, led by the Socialist Party. He managed to defeat incumbent Nikolle Marku, a representative of the Democratic Party. During the 2005-2009 legislature, Ujka was a PDK MP and chairman of its parliamentary group, part of the coalition with the Democratic Party.  He entered the 2009 elections as part of the Christian Democratic Party led by Nikolle Lesi.

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Belgrade Media Report 19 January 2022

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