Government protests harshly over ban on Petkovic’s entry to Kosovo (Novosti/Politika/Tanjug)
The Serbian government is protesting in the harshest terms over the scandalous behavior of the interim institutions of authority in Pristina, which have prohibited on Thursday again the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic from entering the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic underlined that this is the fifth time that Petkovic is not allowed to enter the territory of our southern province. What is most bizarre in this situation is that this prohibition takes place just a few days after the EU explicitly called on Pristina to respect the agreements signed and let Petkovic visit Kosovo and Metohija, she stated.
She pointed out that such an overbearing and uncivilized behavior of the provisional institutions in Pristina, which is being repeated over and over again, no longer leads anywhere. I am asking the EU and the international community – until when it will be like this? For how much longer do you intend to tolerate such behavior? How many more rapporteurs for Kosovo and Metohija will be deaf and blind to the violation of basic human rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija in the 21st century, while at the same time dealing with all kinds of stuff in central Serbia – from mining to ladybugs, Brnabic asked. She explained that Petar Petkovic duly reported his visit and that he wanted to visit the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, students of the Orthodox Seminary in Prizren and returnees in the village of Novake. When someone in 2021 does not let you visit students and people who returned to their homes and deliver aid to underprivileged families, I cannot avoid asking myself what is there left to discuss? I request from the EU to take a clear stance on such behavior of Pristina and finally let us know whether the goal of the dialogue is the normalization of relations and enabling normal life for all citizens of Kosovo and Metohija, or whether the talks are the goal in itself, in which one side respects all agreements, whereas the other does everything to avoid fulfilling the obligations that arise from the agreements it accepted, Brnabic stated.
Brnabic in parliament: We expect opening of chapters by year’s end; Fifty-seven percent of Serbian citizens support EU membership (Tanjug/Politika)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated on Thursday that Serbia can be satisfied with the Report of the European Commission (EC) on our country’s progress in 2021 and that for the first time since 2016 there is a positive narrative regarding Serbia’s reforms in the field of the rule of law. Speaking at the Serbian parliament, which is currently discussing the above-mentioned Report, Brnabic said that progress was also noted in the field of the freedom of expression and the media, which is also important because the government has worked a lot on that issue. As for the economy, Serbia has a good report and praise, she said and added that stability and fast recovery come at a time when we are still fighting the coronavirus pandemic. According to her, the state also worked on reforms in the field of the rule of law, on the recommendations of GRECO and the fight against organized crime. She stated that the EC recommended EU Member States that Serbia open both clusters (3 and 4) and added that Serbia is working directly with the Member States in order to get the necessary support and open at least one or two clusters by the end of the year, at the intergovernmental conference. She explained that the EC Report has been presented to all relevant organizations and associations and underlined that the government communicates with all actors in society in a transparent way. The next step are the changes to the Constitution in the field of the judiciary, Brnabic said, adding that the referendum on that matter is scheduled for 16 January and until then, the government will explain to citizens what the referendum is about and why these reforms are important. She said that the support of Serbian citizens to the EU membership currently stands at 57 percent.
Selakovic voices concern over security situation in Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/Beta)
In a speech at the 28th OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Stockholm, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic on Thursday voiced concern over the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija. OSCE continues to play a major role in the Southeast Europe region when it comes to strengthening democratic capacities and supporting further reforms in the region, as well as to strengthening cooperation and, at the same time, stability in that part of Europe, he said. Over the past two decades, Serbia has made full use of OSCE expert support in the process of comprehensive reforms in society, and it also cooperates with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and Metohija, the most visible status-neutral international presence in the Serbian province, he said.
He noted that Serbia was committed to European integration and regional cooperation through concrete economic and infrastructure projects. It is only through cooperation with neighbors and a readiness to take everyone’s interests into account that sustainable solutions to problems in the region can be achieved, he said. On the other hand, I would like to express deep concern and regret over the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija this year, marked by an increased number of ethnically motivated attacks and incidents targeting members of the Serb community, as well as by institutional discrimination, attacks on religious buildings of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the undermining of the economic sustainability of the Serb community in the province, he said. Selakovic said that, despite the efforts Belgrade had invested in the dialogue process and in meeting commitments from the Brussels agreement, the Pristina politicians had to date shown no readiness to meet their own commitments. Instead, they make unilateral moves and insist on their agenda of the so-called statehood and, for over eight years now, they have been refusing to meet the commitment to establish a Community of Serb Municipalities, which the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija sees as a guarantee of its survival in the province, Selakovic warned. Selakovic declared that multilateralism should be the most important instrument for removing or reducing security risks. He said that they should be prepared to compromise in removing or, at least, reducing security risks, and that multilateralism should be the most important instrument in such efforts. “With the outbreak of new and deterioration of existing conflicts, and the constant emerging of additional challenges, the situation is becoming more complex. Despite the years of our efforts, the further widening of the gap, the lack of political will and openness for joining a constructive and comprehensive dialogue, continue to undermine the foundations on which this organization is built,” Selakovic said. While recollecting that the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act was approaching, Selakovic pointed out that it should be remembered that this document had laid, during the Cold War period, the ten basic principles for regulating relations among states, and had thus made the world a better and safer place.
Selakovic with Lavrov on relations between Serbia and Russia (RTS/Politika/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic on Thursday met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Stockholm.
Selakovic noted that he was pleased to say the Serbia-Russia relations were extremely good, highly developed and notably strengthened by a strategic partnership, and added that the two countries and nations were connected by a historical friendship and close, brotherly ties.
He said regular high- and top-level meetings greatly contributed to the dynamic political cooperation, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Selakovic said the excellent relationship between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian President Vladimir Putin made a major contribution to bilateral cooperation. Selakovic reiterated the gratitude to Russia for its firm and consistent stance on Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as for its strong support to Serbia in international organizations. Selakovic briefed Lavrov on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija and the position of Serbs in the province. They also discussed the situation in the region.
Good cooperation between Serbia, ODIHR (RTV/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic met on the second day of the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Stockholm with Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) Matteo Mecacci. Selakovic said that Serbia sees the ODIHR as an institution of exceptional importance, which has been assisting the OSCE participating states in the implementation of their obligations in the field of human dimension for three decades. He pointed out that the ODIHR’s support to our country was valuable during the years of comprehensive reforms, especially in the area of strengthening democratic institutions and election observation. The ODIHR has been observing the elections in Serbia for many years and this cooperation has contributed to the improvement of the electoral system in our country, said the head of Serbian diplomacy, adding that Serbia established a Working Group for Cooperation with the OSCE and ODIHR in 2019, it is stated in the announcement of the Serbian Foreign Ministry.
Vulin with Shoygu: Serbia buying additional “pantsirs” (Beta/Politika)
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin announced in Moscow on thursday that a representative office of the Russian Defense Ministry would soon be opened in Belgrade, and that Serbia would purchase new Russian Pantsir anti-aircraft defense systems. During the meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Vulin stated that the office would open very soon and that only technical issues remain, the Russian Defense Ministry has stated. Vulin also announced the acquisition of new anti-aircraft defense systems of Russian origin, the statement reads. “We received the Kornet. We obtained tanks, armored vehicles, and we are buying new Pantsirs,” Vulin stated. Shoigu said that cooperation between Russia and Serbia has been dynamic and broad in recent years. “Our countries’ Presidents have agreed on the further development of bilateral cooperation in various fields, including defense,” Shoigu said, as quoted in the statement.
Duarte Pacheco: Only together can countries cope with problems (Beta/Politika/RTV)
Inter-parliamentary Union president Duarte Pacheco said in the Serbian parliament on Thursday that only together could countries cope with global issues. No single country can cope with the challenges alone, especially when it faces global problems like climate change, states of emergency, economic crises, sustainable development, terrorism, Pacheco told MPs on the 130th anniversary of Serbia’s membership in the IPU. “The noninvolvement of the public and wrongful notions of politics today lead to rising mistrust in democratic institutions like parliament, and that this in turn undermines peace, democracy and the rule of law. Because of this, parliaments need to play a central role as representative, effective and strong institutions. From the degrading of democratic rule, to economic inequality, there is an obvious need for the voice of parliament to pave the way to progress on the national, regional and international levels,” the IPU president said. The IPU, as a global organization of national parliaments, Pacheco stressed, is a very important organization because politicians and their personal contacts are of immense importance to solving problems. He said that today democracy, peace and development were threatened in many parts of the world.
Right bloc at elections, Bosko Obradovic presidential candidate (RTS/Tanjug)
Representatives of eight organizations of the right political spectrum signed on Thursday an agreement in Belgrade on joint participation in the elections on 3 April next year, according to which the joint presidential candidate will be the leader of Dveri Bosko Obradovic. Agreement on cooperation and formation of the so-called of the patriotic bloc under the slogan – “Novi ljudi za promenu sistema” (“New people to change the system”), signed by Dveri, Srpska monarhisticka stranka Srpska sloga (Serbian Monarchist Party Serbian Unity), Drzavotvorni pokret Srbije (Statehood Movement of Serbia), Uspravna Srbija (Upright Serbia), Nova snaga Srbije (New Power of Serbia), Pirotska nova snaga (Pirot New Power), Glas naroda (Voice of the People) and the organization “Svi protiv Rio Tinta” (“All Against Rio Tinto”). Bosko Obradovic said that the gathering of the organizations that signed the agreement will not lead to the dispersing of almost 20 percent of “patriotic votes”, because, he claims, the citizens now have a third opposition column that will run in the elections. Obradovic sees support for the third bloc among the citizens who boycotted last year’s elections, those who participated in them, but also, as he says, among the disappointed voters of the government. Obradovic pointed out that the patriotic bloc includes people who are new and uncompromised, or who have left an example behind by performing public functions. He stated that the goals of the old political agenda remained, which, he added, were anti-globalization and libertarian and concerned the fight against our country’s entry into NATO, the EU, against covid passes, mandatory vaccination, entry of illegal migrants into Serbia and against the independence of Kosovo and Metohija.
The signed agreement envisions eight principles, including the accountability of public authorities who have violated the law, the fight against crime and corruption, media freedom, justice, elections, protection of family and family values, domestic economic interests, decentralization, environmental protection and support for the Serbian Orthodox Church and others religious communities to preserve traditional values.
Construction works begin on Nis-Merdare motorway (Tanjug/Politika)
The construction works on the first section of the E80 Nis-Merdare motorway were ceremonially launched in Merosina, southern Serbia, on Thursday. The ceremony was also attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who said the 76.3 km motorway would be a lifeline for Prokuplje, Kursumlija and Blace and that a section to Prokuplje was due to be completed in about two and a half years. “This is a very poor region… It is very important that we will build a motorway here,” he said, adding that the route would provide a better transport link to Pristina and Gracanica. Noting that the motorway would be a major step forward for Serbia, Vucic thanked the EU for providing financial assistance for the project. “We know how to respect the money we get for free – the 40 million Euros gifted to us by the EU for this section alone. Many thanks to all EU taxpayers,” he said. EU Delegation head Emanuele Giaufret, Serbian Minister of Construction Tomislav Momirovic, Corridors of Serbia Director Aleksandar Antic and Roads of Serbia Director Zoran Drobnjak were also in attendance. The construction works on the first section form Nis to Plocnik are estimated to be worth 225 million Euros, with 185 million Euros secured from EIB and EBRD loans.
European Commission denies inviting Tanjug to join European Newsdesk (Raskrinkavanje/N1)
Sources in the European Commission told Raskrinkavanje portal on Thursday that the EC did not select the pro-regime Tanjug news agency for the European Newsdesk. The European Commission said earlier this week that it would help set up a European Newsdesk with a number of national news agencies, including the recently privatized Tanjug which was supposed to have been shut down under a government decree several years ago. Tanjug continued operating with state funding and was heavily criticized for its biased reporting before the name brand was sold to a private company with close ties to the authorities. The Raskrinkavanje portal was told by the sources that the European Commission had nothing to do with the selection of news agencies to from the European Newsdesk. “Some news agencies decide to put forward a joint proposal and included partners that they believed were relevant to get EU support,” the sources said adding that the decision was a private initiative. The European Newsdesk will get some 1.8 million Euros a year. The proposal is to include Tanjug as well as DPA, AFP, ANSA, APA, Belga, EFE, Europa Press, TASR, STA, Agerpres, FENA, MIA, ATA and HINA. The sources said that the EC invited proposals and offered financial aid to promote reporting on European affairs in different languages. The news agencies that applied said they would abide by the editorial policy of the European Newsdesk to guarantee independent and unbiased reporting with no influence from third parties. The German DPA news agency said that the European Newsdesk will have standards which participating agencies have to to follow, adding that they can be expelled from the project. “We are convinced at this time, six months before the project begins, that Tanjug will abide by these principles,” DPA sources told Raskrinkavanje.
Dodik meets Putin in Moscow; Dodik: Only legally appointed HR can have the support and the legitimacy in B&H; The important thing is that the RS has Russia’s support and understanding (ATV)
Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik met with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Thursday. Dodik confirmed for ATV that they discussed all topics important for the Republika Srpska (RS). Dodik says that they conveyed to Putin the RS’ stance that only legally appointed High Representative in B&H can have support and legitimacy in B&H. Dodik added that Putin agreed with this assessment. Dodik also informed the Russian President about the attempt of taking away RS’ property, which is not in line with the Dayton Peace Agreement. In an interview for ATV’s central news, Dodik commented the results of his meeting with Putin. He assessed the meeting as very pleasant and very useful. Dodik said all important topics were discussed, with a special emphasis on cooperation between the RS and Russia. “We are honored to have the Russian Federation’s attention at this level, and for the fact that we can discuss, in a very sincere way, all economic, political, and any other matters” Dodik pointed out. He noticed that Putin was very well informed about all the details regarding the current situation in B&H, RS’ position in this country, and the problems that need to be resolved. For that reason, Dodik says he was able to talk about very concrete matters with Putin, as the Russian President has good insight into the current situation in B&H. Dodik thanked Putin for Russia’s continuous support for the RS during the coronavirus pandemic. When it comes to economic matters, Dodik and Putin mostly focused on construction of a gas pipeline from Bijeljina to Banja Luka. “Tomorrow, we will definitely confirm this during talks with Gazprom,” Dodik informed. Putin gave full support to this major project. Dodik and Putin discussed cooperation in the field of culture, as well as cooperation in many other fields. During discussion on political matters, Putin expressed full support to the Dayton Peace Agreement, saying that Russia has many objections to the ways in which this agreement is violated in B&H. Putin emphasized that the High Representative in B&H does not exist, as such appointment was not verified in the UN Security Council (UN SC). Putin confirmed that Russia will continue to present such stance, and work in the UN SC to once again place this matter on the daily agenda of the next sessions. “That is important for us in light of the many s,peculations, of all sorts” Dodik says, adding that this refutes the story of Christian Schmidt, by which he claims that he was legally appointed to the post of the High Representative (HR). Dodik underlines that any HR can have support and legitimacy in B&H if he is appointed through legal procedures and confirmed in the UN SC. “President Putin absolutely agreed with that. He believes we should return to respect for the international law. The Russian Federation supports the Dayton Peace Agreement, the fact that B&H is made out of two entities and three constituent peoples, that the RS has its rights,” Dodik stated. He emphasized that this meeting was a perfect opportunity for discussion on economic and financial support, for many projects that Russia and the RS implement together. Dodik informed that on Thursday, the RS authorities signed an agreement, enabling Russian state-controlled oil company Zarubezhneft to open its facilities in Nevesinje Municipality. Dodik said the RS could benefit from Russia, learn from its experiences and follow its successful models – especially in the field of education, the fiscal system, “and all that belongs to us”. Dodik and Putin had a one-on-one meeting, and all other members of the RS delegation, as well as Putin’s staff, and interpreters, had to be in a separate room and under the same strict rules. Dodik says that Putin did not fail him, as he has never done this in the past as well, and Dodik was very grateful to the Russian President for agreeing to hold this meeting. “I must admit, I am very fond of him,” Dodik says, and continues: “I am not there just in the capacity as Milorad Dodik, I am also a representative of a small community – called the RS, and that a large Russia, in the form of President Putin, has given attention to our problems – that is certainly something that everyone should consider as impressive.” Dodik underlines that he did speak with Putin about the RS and Serbs, but he did not place blame on anyone in B&H, as that is not his style. He says he also addressed the proposals on how B&H could become a more functional state, the best solution being the return to the original Dayton Agreement. “It seems to me that there is understanding in the Russian Federation for that,” he says. Dodik assessed that such B&H would be able to certainly survive for a couple of more decades, and it would be able to have stability and full functionality. “Attempts that we see in B&H, in which we see that the Dayton Agreement is desecrated, lead to its endangerment”, Dodik says, adding that Russia understands these matters, and Putin will never be heard saying something bad about B&H. Putin said that all people in B&H must be respected, that respect must be shown to the two entities and the three constituent peoples. “And that is something that we completely share with him,” Dodik said. Dodik believes that officials from the Western countries of the world want different things for B&H. He says this could be seen in the story on erasing ethnic prefixes. That would be like one day I decided that I would no longer be a Serb, Dodik says. “Of course, no one can say that, Croats cannot say that as well, and I do not believe that Bosniaks would be able to say that,” Dodik stated. He believes elements on the constituent status of peoples in B&H cannot change, as this is unacceptable. Dodik said that he is criticized from many sides but still he believes all those that create ideas in B&H – which they know will not be implementable or viable, know that they are losing their strength and that they will actually have to return to “reality” and only offer or support solutions they know can work in B&H and make it functional. At the end of the interview, ATV informs that Dodik will travel to Sankt Petersburg on Friday morning, where he will meet leading officials of ‘Gazprom’ company, and they will talk about construction of gas pipeline from Raca to Banja Luka. The gas pipeline should follow the route of highway that will be constructed from Bijeljina to Banja Luka.
Four-day talks on changes of electoral legislation mediated by Palmer and Eichhorst end, no solution agreed (BHT1)
Four-day talks between US Special Envoy on Electoral Reform in B&H Matthew Palmer and European External Action Service (EEAS) Director for Western Europe, Western Balkans and Turkey Angelina Eichhorst with B&H politicians on changes of electoral legislation in B&H ended on Thursday. Although some expected collocutors to reach an agreement on models of election of members of the B&H Presidency and delegates in the Federation of B&H House of Peoples (HoP), it has not happened. Leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic underlined that if an agreement is not reached by the end of 2021, it will not take place at all. HDZ B&H also rejected claims that talks were aimed to suit demands of this party. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic stated that opposition parties from the FB&H and the RS should be included in talks and that future negotiations on changes of electoral legislation will be in that format. Izetbegovic criticized international partners on Thursday for negotiating with SDA and HDZ B&H from the very beginning, and not enough with the opposition and other parties, calling this a strategic mistake. After numerous accusations that foreigners are most in favor of HDZ B&H, Izetbegovic explained that foreign officials insist that the issue of electing a member of the B&H Presidency is resolved in such a way that Croats in B&H play a crucial role in relation to one of the three. “However, at the same time they insist on deleting the prefixes, which Mr. Covic refuses, that even constituencies cannot have any ethnic determinant, criteria,” Izetbegovic said. Covic, on the other hand, said that foreigners are not in favor of HDZ B&H, stressing that a lot was on the table, but that nothing was agreed upon. SBB B&H’s Sanela Prasovic-Gadzo said that talks on the reform of the B&H electoral legislation will continue on Monday, and then on 7 December. “However, what is important is that one is sweeping under the rug the fact that the stalemate we have in the FB&H since the 2018 has been caused by inability of SDA and HDZ B&H to come to an agreement,” Prasovic-Gadzo emphasized. DF’s Milan Dunovic stated that representatives of the international community talked about variable electorate, adding that it is equal to digital electorate, which is further equal to the third entity. Dunovic added that this is unacceptable for DF, because it represents segregation of citizens on the ground of ethnic principle. Our Party’s Sabina Cudic stressed that this is an ad hoc meeting and that it is evidence that dysfunctionality of the FB&H has been managed to be imposed as an important topic.
Izetbegovic on electoral reform negotiations (FTV)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, commenting on the latest negotiations on the electoral reform in B&H in which he participated as well, said that small progress has been achieved over the past four day of negotiations under the patronage of the international community. He said that he believes that the annulment of ethnic prefixes when it comes to the election of B&H Presidency members was agreed on, as well as the principle that it will not be possible to create any constituencies based on ethnic criteria, that there will be no asymmetric solutions in this regard and that mechanism to unblock processes in the FB&H will be created. According to Izetbegovic, unless some hardline stances of the Croat People’s Assembly of B&H or HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic undermine this – the agreement on the aforementioned principles is almost reached. He explained that HDZ B&H was decisively opposing these proposals at the beginning of talks, which is why he still fears that Covic might convene a session of the HNS during the upcoming weekend in order to annul this agreement. Izetbegovic warned that in that case the latest negotiations on the electoral reform in B&H would be a failure, noting that this must not happen as representatives of the international community from Washington and Brussels do not deserve such a slap in the face. He expressed hope that the Croat side will not annul the progress achieved during the negotiations. As for speculations that Matthew Palmer and Angelina Eichhorst have taken HDZ B&H and Covic’s side during the negotiations, Izetbegovic said that they wanted to address only the election of B&H Presidency members and to postpone SDA’s request regarding the obvious flagrant obstructions in the FB&H for some other time, which he decisively rejected. However, Izetbegovic added Covic did not like talks on the model and principles based on which the issue of election of B&H Presidency members will be resolved, as experts from the Venice Commission, Palmer and Eichhorst clearly supported the proposal that stipulates the annulment of ethnic prefixes, no ethnic-based constituencies, among other things.
According to Izetbegovic, model that would be acceptable for HDZ B&H to agree on annulment of ethnic prefixes in the election of B&H Presidency members is the Fuele model, which guarantees all what Covic insists on – the Croat member of B&H Presidency who is elected by Croat majority. He assessed that HDZ B&H and Covic himself prefer the position with 100 percent guarantees where no risks are allowed which has destroyed previous rounds of talks, adding that it is impossible to guarantee something with 100 percent certainty. According to Izetbegovic, stance of the Venice Commission is very clear – no constituencies can be formed based on ethnic criteria, but it seems that Covic ignores this stance. As for stances of other political parties regarding the electoral reform, Izetbegovic stated that representatives of the international community have made mistake for not including other political parties in the negotiations from the very beginning. He reminded that he insisted in the past year that the process of negotiations on election law amendments must include representatives of all parliamentary parties in B&H, as well as that attempts to work through a reduced model that includes only HDZ B&H and SDA is undoubtedly destined to be a failure and leads to various spins, fabrications by other political parties that are not included in the process and cannot wait to welcome any possible failure. He also reminded that he asked pro-Bosnian parties or the so-called left-wing parties to hold a meeting with SDA in order to define a joint model of the electoral reform, but unfortunately they have never accepted any talks with SDA because they actually just wait for Covic and him to propose some model they would destroy and use as an excuse to get political scores for the election year. Izetbegovic assessed that the entire format of talks on the electoral reform set by representatives of the international community is not good as it makes room for various interpretations and ideas. Izetbegovic stated that he himself insisted on indirect model or the so-called April Package as everyone supported this package fifteen years ago. He added that RS representatives reject this model without firm explanation, but he expressed belief that there is room to persuade the RS political parties, primarily SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, to accept this model. Izetbegovic explained that he insists on this because then the left-wing parties will have an obligation to support the model, they already supported 15 years ago. According to Izetbegovic, the other two models on the table include the direct model that will be acceptable only if each vote is equally worth and a model based on the US’ electoral model that stipulates certain number of electors from cantons who then elect B&H Presidency members. He assessed that he did not quite understand the US’ model but that his first impression is that it is rather awkward and rough model.
Dodik: Political representatives of RS are not participating in negotiations of political parties from FB&H (RTRS)
Milorad Dodik stated on Thursday that the RS political representatives are not participating in the negotiations of political parties from the Federation of B&H that have been taking place in recent days. “SNSD, and I guess other parties from the RS, will have something to say especially about the House of Peoples (HoP) in the FB&H, which cannot be discussed by professional Serbs like Milan Dunovic and others who joined the process by presenting themselves as Serbs,” Dodik was quoted as saying.
Roth: Sanctions for those responsible for boycott of the state (Dnevni avaz)
German Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth paid a two-day, farewell visit to B&H and stressed that the situation in B&H is very serious and a threat to stability of the country, underlining that destructive policy, the policy of secession, boycott, blockade of institutions is unacceptable. Roth stressed that those who deal with this, are committing a sin towards the future of the country and prospects of the country and its EU path. “And neither the EU nor Germany will be looking at that peacefully. I made that clear in my talks, without any misunderstandings” said Roth. He underlined that the EU has all the options at its disposal, all instruments are on the table, including sanctions: “The sanctions are one of the options. I am sad that we are currently in a situation that this needs to be discussed. When it comes to the sanctions, this is not about a single person, individual, but about the system. The RS citizens do not need to pay the price of that, but sanctions need to refer to those who want and who are responsible for the boycott of the state and who are asking for secession. This is not about sanctioning the society, but to sanction the individuals for instance to freeze their assets.” Roth added that the EU sanctions require agreement, which is not easy to achieve, but instruments exist in the EU and they are used regularly. Commenting the issue of electoral reform, Roth said they support those who are making huge effort and working on this: “We closely cooperate with the USA.” He added that German expertise is at the disposal and underlined that during their talks, this matter was truly put as a priority. The Minister underlined that issue of electoral reform is not easy anywhere, stressing that the last electoral reform in Germany was painful and controversial. However, he underlined that they hope compromise will be reached soon, adding that there are too many red lines in B&H and not enough readiness for compromise. Commenting the issue of denying of genocide in Srebrenica, Roth said that he “treats this with a kind of restrain and reserve” arguing that this was also a painful process in Germany, which has not been completed to this day. Roth underlined that the state needs to send the signal that glorification of war criminals and genocide denial is unacceptable. Asked about his meeting with High Representative Christian Schmidt and whether Germany will demand him to take stricter stance and asked to comment Milorad Dodik’s stance towards Schmidt, Roth underlined that HR is one of guarantees of stability of this country and appeals to everyone to assist HR’s work. “As for his mandate, he can implement it in the dialogue. What I would like to advise is to hold the talks, the dialogue with the HR and if possible, to support him as much is possible” said Roth.
UK parliament discusses situation in B&H (BHT1)
The United Kingdom (UK) parliament discussed the situation in B&H on Thursday. MPs talked for some 2.5 hours about main problems in B&H and most of them described leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik as the most responsible one for the current situation. They called for stopping of genocide denial campaign and for expressing full support to High Representative Christian Schmidt. The UK part of NATO in B&H was requested to become more engaged and Russia was described as the most responsible for the lack of progress in B&H. The discussion on B&H in the UK Parliament was initiated by Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for B&H and member of Conservative Party Alice Kearns. At the beginning of her address, MP Kearns stated that hatred, divisions and fear have been growing in the Balkans and that conflict is closer than ever before. She added that the conflicts need to be prevented and that peace and security in B&H are imperative. Kearns underlined that Dodik has been publicly saying that he does not support the Office of High Representative (OHR), he threatened with withdrawing of the RS from state institutions, B&H Armed Forces, judiciary and police. She added that in the meantime Dodik increased military spending. Kearns called on countries gathered around G-7 and the UN to engage in solving of the crisis in B&H. Kearns asked the UK part of NATO in BiH to engage more. MP David Wayne (Labor Party) expressed discontent the UK was not more pro-active in B&H, adding that some things can change. Wayne underlined that it is necessary to start thinking about the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) that has an important role, adding that it is inadequate to improve the situation in B&H. He stressed that it is necessary to start thinking about how to modify this agreement and also about Dayton 2. Representative of Conservative Party Bob Stuart, who visited B&H during the war, stated that B&H is important for the UK, and wondered what will happen with some 1.8 million people if Croats and Serbs divide this country among themselves. MP Tony Lloyd emphasized that the world lost interest in Balkans, adding that 10 years passed since the UK paid attention to B&H. Lloyd underlined that it is necessary to provide a long-term strategy for B&H. At the end of the discussion Kearns thanked MPs for speaking in a single voice about B&H. MPs in the UK Parliament expressed clear support to the DPA and High Representatives. They commended the appointment of Stewart Peach as the UK’s Special Envoy for the Western Balkans. Kearns believes that B&H’s membership in NATO could contribute to solving the crisis but that this is exactly what worries Russia the most as a country that, together with China and Serbia, support Dodik. Kearns said that all people have the obligation to support peace, adding that lost lives cannot be forgotten, and that diplomacy must know the difference between the two. The UK MPs called for sanctions to be imposed against Dodik due to his secessionist rhetoric. “Dodik must learn that B&H also has friends. Nobody is more committed to stability in B&H than the United Kingdom. We must use the deterrence diplomacy in order to demonstrate our determination in stopping an autocrat from making a ‘playground’ in our neighborhood,” Kearns pointed out. She asked the UK government to urge Serbia to stop saying it supports stability in B&H while still giving support to Dodik. “We must strongly involve in the Western Balkans and give them assurance that our focus in the region is firm,” Kearns emphasized. The conclusion of the House of Commons was that the UK will support territorial integrity of B&H, peace and stability in that country, as well as show support to the role and the institution of the High Representative. The MPs concluded that B&H finds itself in the biggest political crisis in past three decades and that conflicts are a real possibility if viable solutions are not found. AJB learns that Schmidt attended the session of the UK parliament’s House of Commons on Thursday.
Turkovic in Stockholm at OSCE Ministerial Council session (Oslobodjenje/O Kanal)
B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic is in Stockholm at the annual OSCE Ministerial Council session in Stockholm. Turkovic said that she had the opportunity to have a series of bilateral meetings with European Foreign Ministers who all aware of how important it is for B&H to return to the path of reform. Turkovic met with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in Stockholm on Thursday. They stressed that bilateral relations between the two countries are very good, with clear intention to improve these relations especially in the field of economy. They also discussed the current situation in B&H and the region. Turkovic underlined that all OSCE members support stabilization, territorial integrity and functionality of B&H and its Dayton framework, and they demand unblocking of state institutions. She noted that with this level of attention, it is possible to turn things around. Turkovic also welcomed the appointment of Sir Stuat Peach as new UK Special Envoy for Western Balkans.
Komsic and Dzaferovic discuss situation in B&H with Gonzales (BHT1)
Members of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic respectively met on Thursday with State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain Juan Gonzales. The main topic of these meetings was situation in B&H. Komsic expressed concern due to destabilizing activities coming from the RS. He expressed hope that escalation of political conflicts will not occur because it could reflect on the entire region and Europe. Dzaferovic informed Gonzales about the current security crisis in B&H caused by threats and unilateral activities of the RS authorities against the DPA and state institutions. Gonzales underlined that he is aware how serious the situation is and that he is certain that B&H will become a member of the EU and NATO.
Izetbegovic: International community needs to take stricter measures against Dodik instead of just putting him on blacklists of US Department of State (FTV/BBC)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, commenting on Milorad Dodik’s rhetoric and actions and how far he is ready to go when it comes to transfer of competences to the RS level, Izetbegovic said that the international community needs to take stricter measures against Dodik instead of just putting him on blacklists of the US Department of State. He reminded that he told BBC on Wednesday that sanctions against Dodik needs to be very strict and painful as he endangers peace, stability and progress in B&H, noting that the international community in B&H has been idle regarding sanctions for Dodik’s activities for the past decade. Izetbegovic reminded that in the past decade Dodik and SNSD have passed certain decisions and made steps that were al ignored by the international community, but now is the high time to finally impose concrete sanctions. He assessed that Dodik will build the entire pre-election campaign for the 2022 general elections based on his current rhetoric and force the RS opposition to cooperate with him under excuse of protecting the RS interests. However, the fact that Serbs in the RS will not follow Dodik’s actions and rhetoric is the most optimistic, as they do not opt for war and they live in difficult economic situation in the RS where there are no investments. Izetbegovic concluded that it would be good to resolve the Croat issue in B&H and resolve mutual disputes with the official Zagreb, in order to be able, jointly with the EU and US, to put pressure on forces led by Dodik and thus avoid damage inflicted to B&H due to irresponsible policy of Dodik, who involves retrograde forces in the Balkans with an aim to undermine B&H.
Dodik: B&H has problem with Greater Muslim nationalism, whose main ideologue is Izetbegovic (Srna/RTRS)
Milorad Dodik stated on Thursday that B&H has a problem with Greater Muslim nationalism whose main ideologue, according to him, is Bakir Izetbegovic. “The story of a functioning B&H is just a cover for the creation of a Muslim state in the Balkans, and all those who disagree with that should be punished. That is why Bakir Izetbegovic calls on the United States to use something more convincing against the RS than sanctions,” Dodik said in a statement to Srna news agency when asked to comment on Izetbegovic’s statement for BBC that sanctions against Dodik are not enough and that something more and more painful must be done. Dodik asked if Izetbegovic has military intervention in mind and if he thinks that he would discipline Serbs in that way. “The call for intervention against the RS is proof that Muslims do not want dialogue or an agreement. That should be clear to everyone involved in this crisis,” Dodik said.
B&H CC gives more time to Joint Concessions Commission to resolve case related to construction of hydroelectric power plants on Drina River: B&H CC rejects request of Campara re Dodik (N1)
The Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H began on Thursday its 124th plenary session at which it considered motions for review of constitutionality and appeals. The B&H CC decided to extend the deadline for an additional six months for the Joint Concessions Commission to resolve the case related to the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River. Namely, the B&H CC has given additional time to the Joint Concessions Commission to resolve the dispute between the state of B&H and the RS regarding the concessions for the construction of three hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River, including ‘Buk Bijela’, ‘Paunci’ and ‘Foca’, which are being built in cooperation between ‘Elektroprivreda RS’ and ‘Elektroprivreda Srbije’. The B&H CC has also asked the Court of B&H to declare on the administrative dispute that already exists. N1 reminded that the Joint Concessions Commission, which should have resolved the dispute regarding the concessions for the construction of three hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River, is composed of members of the B&H Concessions Commission, which is incomplete, and members of the RS Concessions Commission. One of the members of the Joint Concessions Commission initiated an administrative dispute before the Court of B&H, claiming that the Joint Concessions Commission lacks ethnic, territorial and legal capacity for resolving such a dispute and that the Court of B&H needs to make a decision on whether the Joint Commission can resolve the dispute regarding the concessions for the construction of three hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River. Dzevad Mahmutovic, one of the 24 MPs of the B&H Parliament whose request was discussed by the B&H CC, said that he expected such a decision given the political atmosphere in BiH. Mahmutovic stressed that there were two possible solutions; for the B&H CC to annul the concessions for the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River in accordance with the request of the MPs or to give additional time to the Joint Concessions Commission to reach a decision on the dispute between the state of B&H and the RS. “None of the 24 MPs are against investments in B&H, against the construction of hydroelectric power plants on the Drina River, but within the framework of the Constitution and the laws that apply in B&H” Mahmutovic underlined. Representative in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Sasa Magazinovic said that Dodik pulled the moves during the mandate in 2010-2014 in the direction of making a law on B&H level, which them right, as Magazinovic said, that only the state can make decisions on state property. Magazinovic added that the Constitutional Court already made similar decisions on several occasions so far. The B&H CC discussed a motion submitted by Aljosa Compare to launch procedure to declare temporary incapability of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik to perform this duty and rejected it. It was explained that this issue is not part of jurisdictions of B&H CC. Reporter noted that judge Ledi Bianku started working as a new member of B&H CC on Thursday. This judge was appointed by the ECHR.
B&H CC partially upholds Izetbegovic’s motion allowing members of B&H AF to wear beards (ATV)
At Thursday’s session, the CC B&H ruled that soldiers of the Armed Forces (AF) of B&H have the right to wear beards while in uniform, and that the ban on wearing them violates their right to privacy and freedom of religion. The B&H CC decided on the basis of a request from Bakir Izetbegovic, Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (B&H HoP), for review of the constitutionality of Article 12, paragraphs 2 and 4, of the Rules of Service in the B&H AF. The Court found that the disputed provisions of the cited rules are not in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of B&H and the European Convention on Human Rights. “Following its case law in case U 8/17, the Constitutional Court concluded in this case that the absolute ban on wearing a beard to soldiers of the Armed Forces of B&H while in service and uniform violated the right to privacy and the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution of B&H and the European Convention” the B&H CC announced. Deputy Minister of Defense of B&H Mirko Okolic stated that Izetbegovic’s catastrophic motion is another own goal to the B&H AF and the B&H Ministry of Defense, “after the own goal scored by unilaterally canceling the military exercise with the Serbian Army.” Okolic reminded that professional military service is optional and that anyone who wants to work in the Armed Forces has to respect the rules without exception. Deputy Chair of the Joint Commission for Defense and Security of the B&H Parliament Dusanka Majkic said that “seeing in barracks men with beards and women with hijab who practice their religion in this way in such a constellation and in this kind of B&H is impossible.” “That is why what the RS is doing has sense, to put the issue of initiating the termination of the agreement related to the Armed Forces on the agenda,” Majkic underlined. RTRS stressed that only a couple of weeks ago, two members of the B&H Presidency “elected by Bosniaks”, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komsic, unsuccessfully tried to push through an agreement with the Islamic Community of B&H outside parliamentary procedure. RTRS emphasized that the agreement with the Islamic Community of B&H allows everything that is not allowed under the agreements with other religious communities in B&H. Therefore, RTRS wondered whether there is any dilemma as to what kind of civic B&H Sarajevo wants. Security expert Dzevad Galijasevic assessed that Izetbegovic’s motion is in line with SDA’s policy “to aggressively work on development of the society in B&H in spirit of Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamic Declaration” and he also argued that this illustrates the situation in Sarajevo “which represents the biggest and most radical Islamic metropolis in Europe” and where there are currently more Arabs than Serbs and Croats combined. Galijasevic told the daily that Izetbegovic, by filing the motion, sent the message that he wants to form “a Muslim army, and this also means that he support dissolution of the Armed Forces of B&H” so he directly and publicly supported the initiative of the RS to form its own armed forces as well.
Reactions in Croatia, B&H to voting of Croat delegates in B&H HoP to annul decision of Inzko banning genocide denial (Nova BH/N1)
Nova BH reported about reactions in Croatia and in B&H after Croat delegates in the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) supported Serb delegates in the request to annul the decision of Valentin Inzko banning genocide denial. According to Nova BH, some media in Croatia criticized leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic. Members of the Croatian Parliament also discussed Covic’s move and during the discussion, MP Sandra Bencic condemned this move and asked which side will take those who justify genocides. The reporter noted that Covic said on Thursday that he does not owe any explanation about this, while it seems that leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and leader of SBB B&H Fahrudin Radoncic will not let this go so easily. Covic publicly apologized if votes of members of his party offended anyone. “A big part of people, like Mister Radoncic, Mister Izetbegovic, were present when we talked about that with representatives of international institutions yesterday. When I told them that was the last time during which I would be part of a process of helping something in B&H, and that I paid such a price. So, I hope, and this law was not adopted, anyways; those were conclusions and not laws; and if someone was hurt by this, I am very sorry”, Covic told reporters. The Croat National Council (HNV) called on HDZ B&H not to side with those who glorify war crimes. President of Croatia Zoran Milanovic stated: “There is genocide and genocides. There is genocide against Jewish people. There is genocide in Rwanda. There is genocide in Srebrenica, that is, one event is defined as genocide, and genocide has a very wide range. There are genocides in the Second World War, there is Jasenovac. So not everything is the same as not every victim is the same. That story that every victim is the same, now way. You do not want every victim to be the same. There is a gradation. It is a matter of civic responsibility and courage to dare to enter that gradation. Not everything is the same. I do not think it was a smart decision, a justified decision by Inzko. Those powers of the High Representative are a fraud. They go beyond Dayton and it is a form of colonial rule. We can see how much good it has brought to B&H after 25 years. Only the bad.” Milanovic called on HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik not to deny genocide in Srebrenica because they will again be portrayed as fascist that they are not despite all their flaws. Milanovic again said that Dodik is not the biggest, but the smallest problem in B&H.
Borrell op-ed: B&H citizens are tired of corruption, while B&H is falling behind rest of the Balkans; EU supports sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H and EUFOR will continue its mandate (Jutarnji list)
EU High Representative Josep Borrell penned an editorial for the daily, arguing that B&H is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons and instead of celebrating significant progress on its path to the EU, news from B&H are returning to the past. Article reads that political crisis threatens the potentials of B&H. Author underlines that leadership of the ruling coalition in the RS “dances on the edge” and threatens with actions which undermine economic and healthcare interests in the RS and the Dayton Peace Agreement. At the same time, politicians in the FB&H maintain the status quo, by blocking progress and they play games instead of making progress in distribution of authorities and functioning of the institutions. “EU stands by single, sovereign B&H and by all B&H citizens, who are tired of corruption and who expect their leaders to take over responsibility for creating of better future. European vision for B&H and Western Balkans offers the vision of prosperity and security, founded on rule of the law and free movement of goods, capital, people and services. Vision of B&H which is firmly rooted within the EU. Enough of the past, European future is much more appealing” comments Borrell. EUHR noted that B&H citizens are united in desire for economic growth, better healthcare, better education and they want to enjoy their ethnic, religious, cultural and civic identity regardless where they live and not to have this identity being an obstacle in employment or any of spheres of life. “They want EU standards and EU membership” reads article. Borrell comments that Western Balkans in overall, experiences economic growth without precedent, but B&H is falling behind and it is not well prepared for using the advantages of economic integration. He goes on and comments that attempts to restore competencies over medicines, armed forces, VAT or other centralized functions, create the instability and return B&H backward. Borrell comments that RS citizens can lose more than ever and poses question whether all the concerns, presented by the RS parties are unjustified and answers they are not on their own. Borrell underlines the lack of the state-level law on state property, which prevents full protection and functional use of public land by side of entities. Also, Borrell comments, decision of the former High Representative Valentin Inzko to use Bonn powers and criminalize genocide denial, is not the matter of collective guilt or attacks on the RS, but it regards the dignity of victims. “Place for discussion on such issues is Parliament of B&H”, noted Borrell stating that instead focusing on unilateral measures, officials should focus on reconciliation, building of trust and respect between communities. “As for the OHR, European Union maintains the stance that the goal is to hand over supervision to B&H citizens through responsible institutions. We agree on the issue of ‘5+2’ Agenda as condition for closing down of the OHR, but they have not been met yet. Current activities simply postpone completing of international surveillance,” comments the article. EUHR underlined that those who are loudest in appeals for closing down of the OHR, are the same ones who most of all contribute the necessity of its presence. Borrell comments that political solutions are not spent yet and argues that it is necessary to avoid further escalation and it is necessary to return to constructive processes of reaching of decisions in B&H institutions. However, author argues that B&H cannot achieve its full potential, because there is no readiness to reach compromises between coalition partners, SDA, SNSD, HDZ B&H and DF. Therefore, Borrell noted that constitutional and electoral reform is an urgent priority, arguing that this is not about removing of concept of constituent peoples or their rights, but abut securing of rights for everyone. EUHR noted that EU, together with the US is working to enable talks and their expert teams, led by US Special Envoy for Electoral Reform in B&H Matthew Palmer and European External Action Service (EEAS) Managing Director for Europe Angelina Eichhorst and the respective Ambassadors, who are talking with B&H officials in order to improve functionality of managing, especially in the FB&H. In conclusion, Borrell noted that EU will continue to support sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H and EUFOR will continue to fulfill its mandate and secure maintaining of safe environment for all BIH citizens. “Better future for all in B&H demands construction not destruction. Politics of fear is loser’s strategy. It is time to return to the table, for leaders of both entities to find consensus and solution for better future of all citizens in B&H,” ends Borrell.
Initiative for removal of government will have support of parliament (RTCG)
The opposition’s initiative to remove the government will have the necessary majority in the parliament, said the deputy of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Danijel Zivkovic.
“Over two thirds of the ruling majority said that this government has no support. We are a serious political entity and do not doubt that when we take a certain job it will be successful. I claim that the initiative will have the required majority,” Zivkovic said. He also said that the DPS does not deal with arbitrariness or superficially look at the situation, and added that the initiative, which is in the parliamentary procedure, came about through a serious consideration of the results of the work of the government and the ruling majority. Zivkovic said at a press conference on the occasion of 12 months of work of the government of Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic that this government wasted the time of the citizens. “During this year everyone had the opportunity to see how it had a detrimental effect on the health, economic and security system of Montenegro and on the international reputation of our country,” Zivkovic said. He assessed that the Government, as he said, stopped the process of EU integration through its behavior, the behavior of its Prime Minister and ministers. “Today, a professor of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering without legitimacy is sitting in the government building, outgoing Prime Minister and fictitious ministers, and only they do not understand the reality, and that is that they can no longer be in those positions and that this government has lost essential support in the parliament of Montenegro,” said Zivkovic. He pointed out that the bad results are best seen in the security sector. “Unfortunately, the security sector can no longer guarantee peace and stability in Montenegro. We see how the leaders of this sector behave. They do not talk to each other and everyone tries to be the boss. When we see appointments in the ANB and the Police Directorate, when we see compromising of the security services and the fears expressed by international partners, that speaks volumes about the situation in the sector,” Zivkovic added.
Bilcik: Tensions in political establishment spill over into divisions in society
The Chairman of the European Parliament delegation in the Parliamentary Committee of the European Union and Montenegro on Stabilization and Association (POSP) Vladimir Bilcik, says that the elections held on 30 August and the peaceful transition of power that followed showed political maturity, but also, he adds, everyone had high expectations. “That divisions and differences will be put aside in order to fulfill the European agenda. The same political maturity will now be needed to reach a consensus on EU reforms. And it is imperative to achieve reforms in key areas such as electoral and judicial reforms. Unfortunately, the boycott of the Parliament by both the opposition and the authorities in various periods last year led to delays,” he has said at the POSP meeting.
Abazovic: Open Balkans idea has been rather poorly communicated from start, region needs trust (CdM)
“The Open Balkans idea has been rather poorly communicated from the start. The region needs trust, and it is impossible to build if we see hostility in everything”, said Montenegrin DPM Dritan Abazovic, who participated in the Seesox conference (South East European Studies at Oxford) held on Open Balkans and/or European Union. Speaking about the attitude of Montenegro towards regional initiatives, Abazovic stated that our state strongly supports any kind of improvement of cooperation. “For us, the EU is the main priority and the final stop on the reform path. If we look at the Open Balkans as an alternative to the EU, then we are not in favor of that, but I am not sure that this initiative is in conflict with European integration. On the contrary, any kind of deeper cooperation would lead to faster reforms. The goal is to work on reconciliation, but also on improving the standard of living. The two most important ‘pillars’ of the region’s transformation are the rule of law and the economy,” Abazovic said.
Krivokapic meets with Tegeltija (Office of the Prime Minister)
Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic met with Chairman of the Council of Ministers of B&H Zoran Tegeltija on the sidelines of the Summit of the Heads of Government of the Central European Initiative. Prime Minister Krivokapic pointed out that he was pleased to meet again with Chairman Tegeltija, emphasizing the friendly relations between the two countries and that it was necessary to work on improving all areas of mutual interest. The Prime Minister assessed that a stable and secure region is a precondition for the prosperity of all its countries, and good neighborly relations and European integration are key to economic and infrastructural development. The Prime Minister emphasized that the improvement of the traffic infrastructure is of special interest for Montenegro, which is a precondition for increasing the flow of people, as well as for the overall economic cooperation. Prime Minister Krivokapic also announced that they were encouraged by the announcements that the works on the Scepan polje – Foca road will begin soon. Chairman Tegeltija said that there is room for further development and improvement of bilateral cooperation and emphasized that it is of special importance to continue cooperation on improving communication ties between the two countries in order to increase trade and facilitate travel of citizens. Chairman Tegeltija said that there is a need to enable better living conditions in both countries, and that can only be achieved through continuous dialogue, improving infrastructure and strengthening economic cooperation. In this regard, he expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Krivokapic for the invitation to attend the CEI Summit in Budva.
Early parliamentary elections may be held this spring (Alsat TV)
The leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski said late Thursday on Alsat TV that it is necessary to have early parliamentary elections, emphasizing that the current government lacks credibility. He says that his party and the coalition, are ready to immediately start that process for snap parliamentary elections. “Realistically we are ready to immediately start that process of preparation for early elections because at the moment we have a government that lacks credibility and because there is frustration among the majority of citizens because they are not properly represented in the government. And here when I say the majority not to be misunderstood and quoted, I do not mean only the Macedonians because the majority of citizens in these local words voted for VMRO-DPMNE and the coalition led by VMRO-DPMNE, and that includes Macedonians and Albanians and Roma and Turks, Bosniaks and Serbs and Vlachs and others,” said Mickoski.
Siljanovska: A government without 61 MPs has no legitimacy” (TV Kanal 5)
MP Gordana Siljanovska Davkova said Thursday on TV Kanal 5, that legally the government is obliged to prove at any time that it has a majority of 61 MPs, otherwise it is not legitimate. The government must prove at any moment that it has a majority of 61 MPs, because otherwise it is not legitimate, this is called “Interregnum” in science, that is how we teach students, says Siljanovska. Regarding the announced resignation of PM Zoran Zaev, she pointed out that there is no such institute in the constitutional and parliamentary law that “one will resign”, the resignation is given and you leave, because it is a personal and moral right, there is no revocable resignation, it is unknown, what is happening now is not a democratic process because the government has no legitimacy because it did not show it, explained Siljanovska.
Kovacevski: I do not mind Zaev remaining Prime Minister until the political crisis is resolved (Republika)
“Reports that we have discussed cabinet posts or names with Alternative is speculation. We have not come to this point, we are discussing responsibilities in the government,” says Deputy-Finance Minister and candidate for SDSM leader Dimitar Kovacevski. Announcing his resignation, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he would remain Prime Minister until a parliamentary majority was stabilized or formed that would successfully deal with the pandemic, energy crisis and EU processes. I would not link his stay with a certain date, as long as these processes are ongoing, added Kovacevski. I don’t mind Zaev remaining Prime Minister, until the situation in the country stabilizes.
Dimitrov: In order not to be disappointed, let us not expect an unblocking in December (Nezavisen vesnik/TV Klan)
In order not to be disappointed, it is better not to expect a good outcome, but we must continue to work, said Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov about the expectations and announcements in December to unblock the accession talks of Northern Macedonia with the EU at a meeting of the General Affairs Council of the EC. “It is our responsibility to appeal to the citizens that it is better to be surprised by a good outcome, than to be disappointed by a bad outcome. Given the short period, we have only a few days until the General Affairs Council (GAK), 14 December, I think it is extremely irresponsible to create any expectations then. The form, the maintenance of the Council is less important. If we manage to reach a dignified, European solution, because the issue has started to hurt so much, that everyone, including the Slovenian presidency, will probably have the will to schedule an extraordinary GAK. We must not, after all the experience we have, tie ourselves to dates. I think that the signals from Sofia indicate that they expect a process in bilateral relations that will help close the issue step by step. The parliament will obviously still have a role in them, such are the announcements,” Dimitrov said in a conversation with TV Klan Makedonija. According to Dimitrov, it is now important to hold a meeting with the new government in Sofia, which will give further directions for overcoming the bilateral dispute. “It is very important for us, especially for the people, but also for all others in the region who saw hope in these decisive steps we have taken in recent years to finally start accession negotiations with the EU, it is very important to have something . It will depend on this bilateral communication with Bulgaria, but also on the mood of the third parties, who have a stake, who are vicious. Because this issue has become European, it is not just a bilateral issue, because it affects the EU policies towards the region. In that sense, there is a real context to reach something, we must strive for a real breakthrough,” said Dimitrov.
VMRO-DPMNE will not respect a unilateral agreement signed with Zaev, Mickoski tells Sofia (TV Alsat)
The leader of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski sent a message on TV Alsat to the Bulgarian President and government that they will not respect a possible agreement to be signed by PM Zoran Zaev. “My message to both Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and the Bulgarian government is that the new VMRO-DPMNE government does not intend to respect the unilateral agreement signed by a political escapee like Zoran Zaev. Because he neither participates nor knows what it is like. They should know that we do not intend to respect it,” Mickoski said.
Spasovski meets EU officials in Brdo near Kranj (Republika)
Country’s progress in implementing recommendations from the joint action plan in the fight against terrorism has been very positive, with significant results achieved in 2020 when a terrorist organization was busted and a large amount of weapons, ammunition and explosives was seized, Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski told ministerial forum EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs in Slovenia’s Brdo near Kranj on Thursday.
During the forum, Spasovski had bilateral meetings with EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Ilkka Salmi, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and European Asylum Support Office’s (EASO) Nina Gregori. As the Ministry of Interior informed, the meetings welcomed the achievements during 2020/2021 in terms of 11 final verdicts in the field of fight against terrorism, which sentenced 11 people to prison, as well as the solidarity responsibility of Macedonia, as NATO member state, to be actively involved in the international community’s commitment to protecting civilians at risk in Afghanistan, who have been involved in democratic change in the country and have worked with international organizations and agencies. Minister Spasovski stressed the great importance of the support of friends, institutions and member states of the EU in meeting the priorities in this area.
Radev and Macron talked about Macedonia in Strasbourg (Nezavisen vesnik)
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev spoke in Strasbourg with French President Emmanuel Macron, the press service of the Bulgarian president said. Topics of conversation were issues related to Bulgaria and France, such as Bulgaria’s entry into Schengen and North Macedonia’s European perspective. Radev pointed out that Bulgaria expects concrete results in the dialogue with the Republic of Northern Macedonia, which will guarantee European values in respecting human rights and stopping hate speech.
MP urges Rama to resign after failing with Open Balkans (ADN)
MP of Democratic Party (DP) Tritan Shehu has demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama as according to him the Premier has failed with the ‘Open Balkan’ initiative. From the Postrium of the assembly, where Shehu had summoned PM Rama in an interpellation regarding this issue, the Democratic MP described the Open Balkans as a dangerous project and asked the Prime Minister to resign. “I would like to ask for your resignation. You have suffered a major political failure with the Open Balkans. I ask you to do what North Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev did a while ago. I urge you to give up such projects that look far east. Vucic is his master’s spokesman, do not become the spokesman’s spokesman. Albania has only one European future. I will tell you something, it is true that black shadows are flying today in our region, there are dangerous projects of fragmentation and they are in the dark. So, I say be careful! We must be very clear that Albania has only one future that of the EU. This is sanctioned with the touches of Brussels and those with the seal of Vucic. This contradicts our interests, Mr. Prime Minister. Look at what is happening in Ukraine these days. We must be completely aligned with the west,” said Shehu. According to Shehu, Open Balkans initiative was drafted in the offices of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and aims to create a greater Serbia. According to the MP, the result of the elections in Macedonia, as well as President Vucic’s meeting with his counterpart Rusian President Vladimir Putin is an indicator of Serbia’s objectives in the region and also an indicator of the failure of the Open Balkans. “There is no better way than this to destroy community initiatives for our region. You were so involved in this project that the parliament in Serbia you were greeted with long applause a few days ago. This initiative was not prepared either in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or in the offices of the Socialist Party, or through political dialogue, or with the international factor, it was built on the basis of nationalism, with the geopolitical vision of Serbia. In fact, it is mounted as a common building with Serbian ideas. We are dealing with an overlap of the two projects, that of Greater Serbia over a new Yugoslavia. Mr. Prime Minister, you became a supporter of this initiative. Time gave it a dangerous color, not only for Pristina but with the opening of history with the ‘digestion’ of Kosovo. Mr. Prime Minister, you were involved in a dangerous and unfeasible project. Involved in an initiative with an unequal Kosovo. I think that a good setting for this initiative was given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, that the damage is great. Why does the Open Balkans work in the face of Balkan Schengen? This initiative could have no other end but its failure. As can be seen from the result of the elections in North Macedonia from the meeting in Novi Sad and from the recent abandonment of President Vucic to your conference, leaving you alone. As part of the Eurasian Union, he preferred Moscow and Putin, from where he returned with guarantees against Kosovo and the region and returned with great military promises,” said Shehu.
Rama: Open Balkans creates new opportunities for the business (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama stated in the Assembly that the Open Balkans is a mechanism to bring the Berlin process to life and to accelerate the integration process. In the interpellation requested by the Democratic Party MP, Tritan Shehu, Prime Minister Rama said that “I believe that on topics of common public or national interest is never enough to discuss and above all we have the duty together all political forces to do more to listen to each other”. “The Open Balkans is not a replacement, nor an alienation, nor a transformation into something else of the Berlin process or the process of Albania’s European integration. The Open Balkans is a mechanism to bring the Berlin process to life and to accelerate the integration process, which practically addresses the need to transform the remaining milestones on paper of the Berlin process into kilometers made together towards the realization of the vision of this process. as well as addressing the direct needs of the citizens and producers, processors or traders of this country,” underlined Rama.
The head of government said that specifically Albania has 371 exporters in North Macedonia and 165 in Serbia. “Since the essence of this debate is Serbia, I am giving you another piece of information that may help you elaborate the idea and illustrate the need for this mechanism. Out of 165 Albanian exporters in Serbia, 57 of them are exporters of fruits and vegetables, who are currently in activity for years, regardless of what we are discussing and what is the political picture that is often raised hastily and not infrequently wrong hypotheses about it, opposing the expansion of regional cooperation,” Rama noted.
President Meta seeks separation of Albania from N. Macedonia for EU talks (ADN)
President of the Republic Ilir Meta has insisted that Albania should be separated from North Macedonia in the EU integration process, as the official Sofia is blocking Tirana with its veto against Skopje. The Head of State said that his Bulgarian counterpart had told him that their veto had nothing to do with Albania, but only with Skopje. “First of all, if it comes to individual merits, I am sorry to say, North Macedonia has completed them on time and it is light years ahead of us and we took it in our necks that we wanted to hold local elections as if we did these stories with the reform in justice and both sides are responsible, the government and the opposition with the games they played. We did everything to disrupt the opening of negotiations in October while Macedonia had made an extraordinary process while North Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev resigned and went to the polls not to open negotiations. While we also destroyed a 5 June deal for 10 days. We are a totally captured state. They also had a prosecutor who had posed as the heroine of anti-corruption, but when the facts came out, she went to jail. Because the powers have not been seized there. They have a problem with Bulgaria. I talked to the current president of Bulgaria, he called me and told me that we have nothing to do with you, we have it with them. We for you, etc., etc. Bulgaria has a problem with North Macedonia and is putting pressure and I do not agree. We are so late if Bulgaria does not remove it, we move forward. We are so far behind that it is a very alarming situation,” said President Meta.
Venice Commission, in favor of extending the vetting deadline! (Radio Tirana)
The Venice Commission sent the preliminary opinion to the Albanian Parliament after sending some questions related to the constitutional change for the extension of the term of the vetting bodies in justice. The preliminary draft opinion states that: “The Venice Commission is of the opinion that the extension of the mandate of the KPC and KP is in line with the standards.”
This is the essence of the opinion that justifies the request initiated by the socialist parliamentary group two months ago. The final Opinion on this issue will be adopted at the plenary session of the Venice Commission on 10 December. It was the chairwoman of the parliamentary committee on laws, Klotilda Bushka, who asked for an opinion from Venice, where some questions were sent. The legislative council and the law commission have already concluded hearings with constitutional and civil society experts on this constitutional change. This constitutional change also requires the votes of the opposition, which did not participate in the discussions.