Protests in over 50 Serbian cities, incidents in some (Beta)
Thousands of people took to the streets across Serbia blocking main traffic arteries and bridges in over 50 cities including the capital Belgrade for two hours, in protest over a Rio Tinto mining company project and new legislation on expropriation and referendums. The Get Going for Change initiative (Kreni-promeni) and the movement gathered around the Green Uprising called for the demonstrations. There were incidents in some cities during the protests, caused by groups of young men believed to be sports hooligans, with Novi Sad seeing the highest number of injuries. The most severe incident was a 100-person free-for-all in Novi Sad that broke out after some 20 young men emerged from a convoy of cars and clashed with the protesters. A number of people came out of the brawl with lighter injuries, while the men who started the mass fight fled the scene, only to return in greater numbers some ten minutes later and cause a new incident. Unidentified men assaulted FoNet news agency reporter Davor Lukac as he was photographing a dozen illegally parked cars near a gas station in New Belgrade while doing an on the scene report on the roadblocks. In New York, several dozen Serbian expatriates assembled in front of the seat of the U.N. in support of the environmental protests in Serbia. One of their banners read ‘Rio Tinto scram from the Drina (river), Progressives (party), scram from power’.
Stefanovic: Djilas tries to regain power by paralyzing life (N1/Beta)
Blocking the roads’ motorways, bridges and paralyzing life in Belgrade and other cities is not a way to express any opinion, but a gross violation of the majority of people’s rights, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic has said about thousands of demonstrators who have blocked the country on Saturday, adding the people suffer while Dragan Djilas and alike try to, contrary to the people’s will, cause instability and get back to power at any cost. Saturday’s protest against the laws on referendum and expropriation the environmentalists say are passed to enable Rio Tinto lithium mining in western Serbia has gathered many more demonstrators than a week ago but no one addressed the crowds. Unlike last Saturday, only sporadic incidents happened during the protests in dozens of Serbia’s places. The organizers announced new protests next Saturday. “They have already shown that nothing is sacred to them and that they are ready for everything. And I see the known ‘friends of Serbia’ in the region applauding them today. While Djilas is blocking Serbia, branding it as a neo-fascist country and calling for chaos in the streets, Aleksandar Vucic is with people in Loznica. Those are the same people who Djilas heads blockades in Belgrade for,” Stefanovic said in a written statement. Djilas and other opposition leaders supported the protests but said had nothing to do with its organization. People that talked to N1 said they were not politically motivated to protest. Stefanovic added that “today’s blockades clearly showed the overwhelming majority in Serbia doesn’t support Djilas’s policy and such acts which can only harm our people and country.” Uniformed police officers were not present during the protests, while N1 reporters and activists said they saw many plainclothes policemen and several drones flying over protesters in Belgrade. About 50 members of the Movement of Faith, Hope, Love from northern Kosovo blocked the administrative crossing of Merdare at noon on Saturday. The head of that movement Nemanja Sarovic told Beta that the citizens blocked the crossing of Merdare because of the laws on referendum and expropriation and the arrival of Rio Tinto company, but also because of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic’s policy towards Kosovo and Metohija and implementation of Brussels agreements. He added that the citizens on Merdare blocked the traffic in both directions and that the protests would last until Aleksandar Vucic left power.
Attorneys stage protest in front of Serbian presidency building
A group of attorneys gathered on Saturday in front of the Serbian presidency building, raising voice against expropriation law and law on referendum and people’s initiative. Attorney Miroslav Zivkovic earlier said that they were protesting against a “criminal stand” of judge Dragisa Slijepcevic and the city department of the Supreme Court of Cassation regarding the loan processing charges, but that the now they are also protesting against the Law on Expropriation and the Law on Referendum and People’s Initiative. He said that the attorneys are taking the side of the people who protested against those laws and added that the protests must stop the implementation of the laws that are harmful for citizens in any way.
Vucic says law on Expropriation will be amended (Beta/B92/RTS/RTV)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he would propose to the cabinet that it create amendments to the law on expropriation. “Since the law on expropriation is constitutional, I would sign it, but let us first draw up new legislation to amend that law and let it be sent to the parliament for urgent review, so we can adopt it before the New Year,” Vucic said, adding that he would discuss this with the cabinet on Monday. Vucic said he had visited the village of Gornje Nedeljice to hear out the problems of locals and examine solutions, and to discuss the problems surrounding the announced opening of a lithium mine by the Rio Tinto company in particular. Vucic said he intended to ask the Serbian cabinet to set up a Green Fund for western Serbia, which only the people would decide on, and not the state. The president of Serbia said that this fund would probably become operational as early as Jan. 1 and that ten million euros would be earmarked for it.
Brnabic: Protests have nothing to do with laws, but with politics (Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Friday reiterated that Serbia’s referendum and expropriation laws had not been written for mining giant Rio Tinto and that protests over the two laws had nothing to with the legislation itself, but with politics. What the protest organizers have been saying about those laws is a ‘brutal lie’, rather than half-information or incorrect information, Brnabic said in a statement to Tanjug. She noted that all laws must be in line with the constitution and that a referendum and popular initiative law had had to be amended to bring it to compliance with the present Constitution, amended in 2006, when President Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbian Progressive Party were not in power. She explained that, under Article 203 of the Constitution, a constitutional amendment is approved in a referendum if the majority of voters who turn out in that referendum vote for the amendment. Previously, under a 1994 law, a referendum was valid in case the majority of citizens with the right to vote cast their votes in the referendum.
Brnabic: Demands of protest organizers unconstitutional (Tanjug/Politika)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic reiterated on Sunday that the protests, which were held in Serbia yesterday and last weekend, have nothing to do with ecology and assessed that the demands of the protest organizers are unconstitutional. In a press statement after the promotion of the new green.gov.rs portal in the Office for IT and eGovernment, Brnabic said that one of the demands was to withdraw the Law on Referendum and explained that it was being changed to bring it in line with the current 2006 Constitution. The 2006 Constitution does not provide a threshold for a referendum, and the 1994 Referendum Law does provide a threshold, we only harmonize the Law with the Constitution. This protest demands that I do not respect the Constitution and the laws of our country, she explained. She added that she is on the side of the rule of law, that as Prime Minister she will continue to respect the Constitution and the laws of her country and that she will not allow that to change, even if a million people go to the streets. When it comes to the second request of the protest – withdrawal of the Law on Expropriation, Brnabic said that the amendments to that law will be found at the session of the government of Serbia on Thursday, adding that the President of Serbia gave an order to extend certain deadlines. We will see what else is problematic, with the fact that when the law was in the public domain, the organizations that complain today did not participate in it, she noted. According to her, the conversation between President Vucic and the residents of the village of Gornje Nedeljice showed their fear due to the possible opening of the mine, but the President also assured them that the mine will not open without an environmental impact study and that citizens will decide whether be open or not. Brnabic stated that Rio Tinto has been in Serbia for 18 years, that it came to the time of the previous government, which enabled the investigative right of that company. Nothing will happen until we see the environmental impact assessment. However, in order to enable that study, we must change the Law on Mining, concluded Brnabic.
Drecun: Goal is to seize north of Kosovo by force (RTS)
Regarding the decision of the President of the provisional institutions of Pristina Vjosa Osmani, to appoint Baskim Jashari as the new Commander of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), the Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told the morning press review of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that what is known about him is exclusively negative. “It should be known that he belongs to an organized criminal clan. His uncle is Adem Jashari, who was killed in clashes with our security forces, but it is especially interesting that Baskim Jashari was one of the zone commanders in the so-called Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) since 2003. and that he was suspected of some criminal activities at that time,” Drecun points out. He states that in the strictly confidential White Book of KFOR and NATO on organized crime in Kosovo and Metohija, Jashari is linked to drug and arm smuggling, racketeering and organizing prostitution. “It is very problematic for such a person to arrive at the helm of their so-called future army,” Drecun emphasizes. He says that Bashkim’s brother Sahit Jashari was one of the commanders of the so-called police units that committed gravest crimes during the conflicts in Kosovo and Metohija in 1998 and 1999.
KSF has operative plans for incursion into Kosovo
Drecun points out that the provisional institutions in Pristina are trying to create an image of the KSF as a kind of multiethnic formation, and at the same time bring to the helm a man who is ready to do everything against the interests of the Serb people. The KSF is a continuation of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), under another name. After the arrival of international forces, there was an obligation under Resolution 1244 to demobilize the KLA. Instead, they merely changed 5,000 members into the uniforms of the KPC, which was organized in the same way as the KLA, in the same areas of responsibility. The successor to the KPC is actually the KSF,” Drecun explains. He says that after the appointment of Jashari, it is clear that Albin Kurti cannot get out of the cloak of the KLA criminal organization and that he needs an obedient man to carry out the activities he plans in the coming period, especially in the north of Kosovo and Metohija. “They are working intensively on arming the KSF, which they are turning into a Kosovo army according to a ten-year plan. They have very active operational plans for action and incursion of that formation into northern Kosovo. Their only goal is to try to seize northern Kosovo by force,” Drecun said.
The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic has assessed that the fact that Albin Kurti is forced to wait in front of Washington’s door, doesn’t mean that he will get a US visa faster if he attacks Belgrade and President Aleksandar Vucic because of cooperation with Russia. “Our reputation in the international arena is built by the credible and responsible policy of President Vucic and cannot be shaken by anything, least of all by Kurti’s commissioned interviews and political pamphlet,” Petkovic said in a press release. Petkovic added that only in a parallel reality in which Albin Kurti lives is it possible to accuse Belgrade of exporting instability to the region, because he is the one who violates the hard-won peace in Kosovo and Metohija with his unilateral, violent actions and inflammatory statements. “Unlike Pristina, which exports a policy of terrorism, instability and saber rattling to the region, Belgrade has donated thousands of vaccines and tests against Covid 19 to the region, repeatedly standing in solidarity with its neighbors in emergencies, with active participation in the Open Balkans initiative, the goal of which is to connect together,” Petkovic added. According to him, there is no doubt that in Kurti’s monologue there is no place for forming the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), nor for talks on normalization of relations and issues of interest to the people in Kosovo and Metohija, but there is for threats of war and armored vehicles he wants to send to Serb areas. “It is certainly not a way to please his foreign sponsors, because if he listens carefully – there are more and more voices telling Kurti that he has spent all his credit and that it is time to start implementing the signed agreements,” concluded Petkovic.
Schieb: Our position on Kosovo remains unchanged (Politika)
German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb told Politika on Sunday that everything agreed on during the dialogue in Brussels must be implemented, noting that this applied both to the Community of Serb Municipalities and the issue of energy. “Both sides must do their part, and all remaining unresolved issues must be solved, too,” Schieb said on the subject of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. According to him, “the goal is a comprehensive agreement that will, of course, then be implemented, so that all citizens of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity, can live in peace and prosperity in their homeland”. Asked whether there would be changes to Germany’s foreign policy toward Serbia after the change of German’s foreign minister, the Ambassador said the “fundamental principles of policy will remain the same, like support to the European Union accession process and support for the necessary reforms”. “Our position on Kosovo will also remain unchanged,” Schieb said.
Dodik says Putin confirmed Russia would not support appointment of HR Schmidt at UN SC; Bosniaks want to maintain current election system, while Croats are determined not to be outvoted again (FTV/RTRS)
After returning from Moscow, Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik held a press conference to inform about details from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he also referred to negotiations on the B&H Election Law, the UK Parliament session and the meeting of the NATO Ministers in Riga. Dodik said “I need to say I was impressed how well informed he is. He confirmed there would be no support to the appointment of the High Representative (Christian Schmidt) in the Security Council (UN SC), so what Schmidt is talking is absolutely not true, and he is encouraging himself in that regard. Russia is of view that local actors need to take over destiny and political processes here, and Russia has no intention and it is not interfering in internal issues here in B&H as is done by some others, through direct interference of their services and recently via increasing number of special envoys,” said Dodik. Dodik clearly stated his opinion, i.e. the mandate should belong to a political party, voting in absence should be eliminated, and amendments to the B&H Election Law related to the B&H Presidency should be in accordance with the B&H Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). “I partially witnessed some talks. I think that talks between Bosniaks and Croats, with the mediation of the international community are full of dishonest relations, false representation, complaining without a desire for realistic observation. Muslims, via (SDA leader) Bakir Izetbegovic, want to maintain the current system, to elect the ones they want in the form of Zeljko Komsic or someone similar, and I, of course, see a great determination of Croats not to accept to be outvoted, that in the same way more mandates are stolen from them,” said Dodik. Dodik also commented on the recent conference of the NATO Ministers held in Riga, where the situation in B&H was also discussed, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern over Dodik’s inflammatory rhetoric. Dodik rejected Stoltenberg’s observations, and also criticized UK Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Stuart Peach, because, as Dodik said, he does not believe in good intentions of the British. Dodik said that special envoys sent to B&H by foreign countries need to have a minimum of moral dignity. He commented on the appointment of UK Special Envoy to B&H Stuart Peach, who is also a NATO official. Dodik said that Peach does not have moral dignity, since he commanded NATO forces during two acts of aggression against Serbs in B&H and in Kosovo, where children were killed. He said that he knows what to say to Peach if he ever meets him and he will tell him that his moral dignity is zero due to this and the bad experience of Serbs with NATO. Dodik said that the UK wishes for Peach to force democracy onto them after they failed to do so with bombs. He stressed that the situation in B&H is absurd given that Christian Schmidt is falsely representing himself as a High Representative. Dodik announced that the RS will sue Schmidt in Germany. He stressed that they did not give up on the session of the RS parliament where competences taken away from the RS will be discussed. Dodik believes that this session will prove that the RS authorities wish for all decisions to be made in accordance with the constitution. He also met with representatives of ‘Gazprom’ in Moscow. It was agreed that the price of natural gas delivered for the RS from Russia remains the same and the construction of gas power plants was announced. Dodik explained that the plan is to construct two such plants and by the time they finished the RS will use four times as much gas as they are suing now. He stressed that the gas prices they are currently paying to Russia will remain in place until 31 May. Dodik said that the RS will have a budget and economic program for 2022 very soon.
EGP supports European perspective of B&H, calls on EU for sanctions against Dodik (BHT1)
The European Green Party (EGP) supported the European perspective of B&H and its development as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and a civic state in a resolution adopted during the 34th Council. The resolution reads that the EU should urge all actors in the country – especially the RS political leadership – to contribute to full respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. The EGP called on the EU to introduce sanctions against member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and others responsible for the current political crisis in B&H. The resolution also reminded that the Dayton established a special responsibility of the international community and warned of the influence of Serbia on relations in the region.
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic welcomed the resolution of the Council of European Green Parties. He welcomed the support in the organization of B&H as a civic and multi-ethnic state. Komsic assessed this as an encouraging message before the fight for equal rights of all citizens in B&H. Dodik’s advisor Radovan Kovacevic said that it would be wise for members of the EGP to listen to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Peter Szijjarto who said that the easiest thing to do is to talk about sanctions, but one needs to hear arguments of all sides in B&H. “The RS has the strongest argument and it is based on the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and Constitution of B&H. I am not sure if the Green would object or call to imposing of sanctions against someone in their respective countries who fight for protection of the Constitution,” Kovacevic argued and added that such resolutions, which are one-sided and not based on information from B&H, will certainly not help solve the crisis in B&H but might even deepen it. SNSD’s Sanja Vulic said that the RS never “gave much importance to what individuals, who are at the level of statistical error like the Green, might say. All of their decisions and resolutions will not be able to help them because the RS, luckily, has friends in its mother country Serbia and big powers such as Russia and China. Serbs are protecting Dayton B&H and B&H of all citizens”.
Roth: Germany will discuss sanctions for B&H officials (N1)
B&H officials will begin a new round of negotiations about the election reform soon, while tensions between B&H leaders are at a high level. Many in B&H welcomed the resolution of the Green Parties in the EU which demand the implementation of European sanctions against Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. German Minister for Europe Michael Roth said that destructive policies and blockades are unacceptable. He stressed that Germany will not watch this unfold with hands crossed. Roth visited B&H last week. He added that during his meetings it was highlighted that blockades need to be stopped. Roth highlighted that the EU has all options on the table, including sanctions and they will not target only Dodik. Roth stated that B&H needs an inclusive Election Law which will give equally strong voice to all citizens and be based on the one person-one vote principle. In order to prevent outvoting, different regions would also have a vote, explained Roth. Speaking about possible sanctions, Roth said that they would not only target Dodik, but also others who abuse the political crisis in order to raise tensions and gain personal profit. He underlined that decisions need to be made by institutions, and not by entities or ethnic groups. He also emphasized that B&H needs courageous politicians. He expressed support to High Representative Christian Schmidt.
Softic: There are two possible outcomes of the crisis – disappearance of B&H or disappearance of RS (Dnevni list)
SDA Vice President Safet Softic stated there are two radical outcomes of the current political crisis. Either B&H will disappear, or another radical outcome not many people are talking about, namely disappearance of the RS. According to Softic, “patriotic forces in B&H, not only in SDA, are strong and stronger than those who attack them” which is why “we are closer to the latter outcome”. Softic went on to say that the masks have fallen both in B&H and its neighborhood, also saying that “if they continue doing what they are doing, there is a bigger chance they will lose that entity than taking down the state”. In addition, Softic said that SDA is “the most important historical project of this people”.
Cvijanovic: Inzko is trigger for crisis in B&H, not RS (RTRS)
RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic gave an interview to Srna on Sunday. She assessed that the main reason for the failures in B&H is that the concept of multi-ethnicity was severely misused by SDA and other Bosniak parties in B&H. Cvijanovic said that public functions are being privatized and the rights of others are being usurped. She said that the Office of the High Representative (OHR) encourages Bosniaks to not have dialogue and instead of that, B&H is a country where leaders are fighting and they are being appointed by the neighborhood.
Cvijanovic said that the blaming of the RS for the blockade on institutions is ungrounded and the trigger for the crisis in B&H is former High Representative Valentin Inzko and not the RS. She said that any law imposed by Inzko would cause the same reaction and the reports presented in the UN Security Council (UNSC) were fabricated in order to paint a false image of the situation. Cvijanovic said that Inzko’s reports rarely discussed the different treatment of returnees in both entities, as well as the security situation. Cvijanovic added that SDA was encouraged by the OHR not to participate in dialogue but to wait for solutions provided by OHR and the B&H Constitutional Court (B&H CC). Cvijanovic commented on the behavior of Bosniak politicians, saying that ministers like B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic avoid meeting B&H ambassadors in countries she visits if they are Serbs. She added that foreign visits are agreed upon in foreign embassies in Sarajevo. Cvijanovic stressed that many things given to the RS through the B&H Constitution were taken away. She commented on recent visits of foreign officials to B&H and their statements about the crisis, saying that threats will not help B&H.
Cvijanovic said that sanctions did not help and they will not help with the situation. She added that B&H citizens need to decide on the way B&H will be organized and certain countries in the EU are decentralized and protect collectivity. Cvijanovic said that due to the threats that B&H will not become an EU member if it does not become a civic country, the chances for the EU membership are slim. She stressed that this says more about the EU than about B&H.
Cvijanovic commented on the most recent verdict issued by the B&H CC regarding religious freedoms in the Armed Forces of B&H (AFBiH), saying that this concept is doomed and the other two peoples will not allow to turn a professional army into a religious one. Cvijanovic also said in the interview that everyone likes to talk about B&H, while there is a very little number of those who want to learn about B&H or to analyze. She emphasized that things have been unsettled in this country in continuity, while problems and discontent have been accumulated. Asked why B&H is incapable to solve its problems through internal talks, Cvijanovic said that “political Sarajevo” does not want it.
Dacic says imposing any solutions to detriment of Serbia and Serb people is unacceptable (ATV)
ATV carries that commenting on the recent appointment of UK Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Stuart Peach, speaker of the Serbian parliament Ivica Dacic said it should be clear to everyone that imposing any solutions to the detriment of Serbia and the Serb people in general is not acceptable. Dacic said there were many envoys, but few results and that the problem was “the Balkans’ gunpowder barrel is always ignited by someone outside” and that humiliation of the Serb people “has crossed every line”.
Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said in an interview for RTRS that if there are any foreign interventions in B&H, there are mechanisms in place so that elections in the RS do not take place. He stressed that Russia does not want to impose its own solutions to B&H but for an agreement to be reached between people and leaders in B&H. Dodik believes that the meddling of foreigners into the election process in B&H is not excluded. He said that vote-by-mail needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to changes to the B&H Election Law, since many election frauds are committed this way. Dodik announced that if the international community decides to change the election will of citizens in B&H, the RS will have an answer and they can prevent conducting of elections in this entity. Dodik stressed that Croats might choose to boycott the elections. “Perhaps the opposition from the RS will agree to participate, but we would not. We can prevent the elections from being carried out here. Regardless of the fact that the CEC might call it, it is enough that we deny them the access to our public institutions – such as schools and culture institutes – and that our municipalities do not form the local election commissions,” he stated. Dodik said that only Putin and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic understand what is happening in B&H “whilst everyone else are enemies of Serbs and work exclusively in interest of Muslims”. In addition, Dodik expressed gratitude to Milanovic because he (Milanovic) spoke about the High Representative’s authorities as ‘deception’.
Covic informs HNS about talks on changes of electoral legislation: Croats have a clear position that will not be adjusted to anyone (Hayat)
The Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) of B&H held a session in Mostar on Friday on the latest electoral reform negotiations in B&H. The HNS B&H expressed support to the HDZ B&H-led negotiating team to continue talks on amendments to the Election Law of B&H by the end of the year and insisting on the legitimate representation. The HNS B&H also reminded of the obligation to implement an agreement on amendments to the Election Law of B&H that was signed in Mostar in June 2020. The HNS also stated that the constituent status of the peoples and the bases of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) were preserved during negotiations on the B&H Election Law. According to parties in the HNS, terms of the constituent peoples should not be erased from the Constitution in terms of any institutions including the B&H Presidency. The HNS expressed their gratitude to US and EU officials on their efforts invested in the negotiations that will continue in the mid of December. According to President of the HNS Dragan Covic, if it was not for the effort of US and EU officials, there would be no negotiations at all. According to the reporter, the HNS said that there is still optimism to change the B&H Election Law but this must happen by the end of Covic said that Croats have a clear position that they will not adjust or justify to anyone. “As for the national or ethnic sign or prefix, we are ready to delete all prefixes from the Constitution, but we are not ready to delete the name of the constituent peoples. The name ‘Croat’ cannot be deleted from the Constitution, regardless of whether it is the Presidency, the House of Peoples or other institutions. There is no elimination of the constituent status from the Constitution,” Covic stated after the session of the HNS B&H Presidency. He reported that the talks on the Election Law focused on four key issues, i.e. models for elections to the B&H Presidency and the Houses of Peoples on B&H and the Federation of B&H (FB&H) levels, and the integrity of the election process, i.e. conditional and technical issues such as polling stations, funding and the like. He added that the process of talks has been brought to an end because it was previously agreed that negotiations must end in a non-election year. He says at least five models for the B&H Presidency are being discussed. “In all models, we have preserved the constituent status of the peoples, i.e. the foundations of the Dayton Agreement, and if limited amendments to the Constitution are needed for the needs of the Election Law, we are ready to do so. I still have strong optimism about this process, despite the fact that few still believe in it,” Covic underlined. He emphasized that Croats must be ensured that they elect their own representatives, which Covic said was supported by “the majority of pro-Bosnian parties with which talks were held”. Asked whether he expects elections next year to be held, he said that if the end of the negotiations is positive, he will call a session of the HNS B&H to prepare for the elections. If the negotiations have a negative outcome, he says, he will still hold the HNS session, and they will form a common position of Croats on further action. Covic said that the goal is to work intensively with partners, namely the US administration and the European Union, to preserve B&H. He believes that the country is more exposed in the political, economic and security sense than ever, and that the only way out of that is the Euro-Atlantic path. He pointed out the fact that party negotiations would not have taken place without the partners from the European Union and the American administration. “For a year and a half, Mister Izetbegovic’s and the SDA’s tactics have been to avoid talks, avoid an agreement and maintain the status quo,” Covic concluded.
Stewart reflects on debate about B&H and conclusions adopted by UK House of Commons (Face TV)
Guests of Face TV were members of the UK Parliament Bob Stewart and Alicia Kearns and member of the Croatian parliament Sandra Bencic. Asked about recent debate on B&H in the UK House of Commons and the UK’s increased engagement in B&H, Stewart said that he is unaware of how the public in the RS reacted to the debate in the House of Commons but four out of seven conclusions were adopted upon his proposal, in particular to express full support to the preservation of the DPA and full support to the work of the HR, to call on the international community to organize another international conference about what needs to be done with B&H and to call on the UK government to be prepared to deploy the British Armed Forces to the areas in B&H where support to peace is needed. According to Stewart, his engagement with the UN missions and time spent in B&H during the war has taught him two lessons, namely expecting to solve all problems with political agreement is a mistake and the situation in B&H cannot be improved without engagement of the international community. He called on the international community to act urgently and organize an international conference or a meeting where the UN, the EU, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, representatives of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats be the main actors and engage in talks. He revealed that he spoke to the UK’s foreign minister (Elizabeth Truss) immediately after the debate and urged her to start working on organization of such conference immediately because the UK’s engagement in B&H throughout, efforts to end violence during the last war and lives of British soldiers who died during the war allow the UK the right to lead attempts and efforts to preserve the DPA or perhaps reach what is commonly referred to as ‘Dayton 2’. He clarified that this does not necessarily mean another incarnation of the DPA but rather a completely new agreement because federal arrangement and politics in B&H as a whole are faulty and it is impossible to lead the country forward with the head of state is replaced by the Presidency consisting of three members. He claims that irrespective of ethnicity, the youth in B&H do not want to fight or leave their homeland in search of prosperity but to live in peace and ensure bright future for their children. He pointed out that “uber-nationalism” is uncommon for the youth in B&H but too many of them are leaving B&H because they are in despair and B&H is losing its brightest and the most talented individuals. He stressed that signing an agreement on prevention of B&H’s dissolution, further divisions and secession should be the first thing to do. He deems that furthermore it is necessary to establish a system of the authorities where all peoples and ethnic groups have the right to elect their political representatives in democratic elections but in no way to the detriment of others or any section of the society. He underlined that he does not know if cantons or entities will be abolished and it is not up to him to decide but it is important to prevent domination of any constituent peoples or ethnic group over others regardless of the structure of population. As to the appointment of Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach as the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Stewart argued that the appointment of such high-ranking and vastly experienced military official shows how much the UK is concerned about the situation in B&H. He claims that he way extremely glad to hear about Stuart’s appointment and expects this to be spur more diplomatic activities aimed at prevention of armed conflicts. He stressed that the international community must not sit on its hands and watch the situation in B&H as it deteriorates to the point where armed conflicts are unavoidable. He stated that Russia is no longer benign and passive and it is meddling more and more with the issues in the region, mainly through Serbia. He warned that according to certain sources, Russia seems to be sending weapons to the RS and this is very bad. He pointed out that the situation is very complicated but the international community must find a way to prevent any form of violence and armed conflict because the DPA was not meant to solve political problems but to end the war in B&H. He emphasized that he does not know if this information about Russia sending weapons to the RS is actually true because he heard this from another member of the UH parliament. He said that no one will benefit from renewed armed conflicts but strong support incites political leaders such as Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik to make provocative statements to invoke fears which eventually turn into violence and conflict. Stewart noted that the RS officials are making such statements and the UK wants this to stop before anyone else starts doing the same. Asked about recent debate on B&H in the UK House of Commons and the UK’s increased engagement in B&H, Kearns said that remarks made by Dodik, in particular when he described the debate as a group of grannies gathering in the UK Parliament to discuss the situation in B&H, is an indicator that she is doing her job right because Dodik surely listened carefully to what was said during the debate and he realizes how B&H has a friend in the UK parliament whose support for the people in B&H is unanimous. She claims that Dodik can say whatever he wants but he clearly got the message from the UK parliament. She stressed that Dodik and Russian President Vladimir Putin wish for B&H citizens to feel isolated and ignored by the UK and other countries in the West but this is not the case and they have a duty to stand by their friends in B&H. She emphasized that members of the UK Parliament spoke in one voice and spoke their mind in no uncertain terms. She deems that Dodik’s narrative relies on divisions and hate but he realizes he is in a weak position to bargain and avoids dialogue with anyone. She pointed out that Dodik’s refusal to talk to UK officials such as newly appointed UK Prime Minister’s Envoy to the Western Balkans Stuart Peach and generally strong resistance to the UK’s engagement in B&H is probably due to Dodik’s own fears as well as fears of Putin and Russia because Putin does not want the UK to be strong and he wants to destabilize the Western Balkans in order to hide what is going on in Ukraine. She added that both Dodik and Putin do not want the UK or B&H to be strong but they will have to get used to this whether they like it or not because the UK always stands with its friends and B&H is most certainly among those friends. She underlined that more than 2,500 automatic rifles were delivered to the RS in the past two and half years and delivery of weapons systems from Russia and elsewhere to the RS, as well as to Serbia, is concerning. She stated that Putin admitted to Russia is considering possibility to conduct certain military operations in the RS and “there is no doubt that Putin has been reinforcing unhealthy forces in the RS”. She explained that the reason why the UK Parliament spoke out loud about the situation in B&H is because the UK does not want to see return to hate, violence and bloodshed in B&H. She stressed that conflicts are not inevitable and no one wants them but there should be absolutely no doubt as to whether or not the UK government will act if needed because it surely will. She said that the UK is closely monitoring the situation in B&H and it will do whatever it has to do to help while she personally will try to bring in more UK officials to NATO HQ in Brussels and make sure that sanctions are imposed against all those who undermine the DPA and the HR. She added that the UK stands firmly with the HR and provides all the support the HR needs. She explained that she is not in favor of what is commonly referred to as ‘Dayton 2’ but electoral reform is very much needed in order to ensure the 2022 general elections are held as planned and she and other members of the UK’s parliamentary group for relations with B&H are working on this. She deems that unpacking of the DPA and working to improve it is next to impossible but she is very much interested in what B&H citizens think and want for B&H. She stressed that what she hears from B&H citizens at this point is to have the DPA protected, to prevent any attempt to undermine the HR and to conduct electoral and constitutional reforms needed to ensure the highest possible level of freedom, equality and safety. As to somewhat unexpected appointment of Peach as the Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Kearns stated that Peach will represent the UK’s interests in NATO and act as eyes and ears for the UK government as he will speak to all sides in B&H. She pointed out that the UK’s goal is to stop B&H from moving any closer to conflicts and to support B&H’s stability, which is exactly what Peach will be working on. She underlined that Peach’s appointment shows how UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is aware that the Western Balkans needed reassurances about the UK’s support to entire region. Furthermore, Kearns argued that Peach’s appointment is a signal to B&H citizens that the UK is still present and doing what it is obliged to do but it is also a message to Dodik, Putin or anyone else who is actively working on destabilization and undermining of B&H as a state, mainly that the UK will not hesitate to send its officials who know what they are doing, have exceptional diplomatic skills and who excel when sensitive situations need to be addressed. She said that she will wait for the UK government to announced its next steps but the UK’s increased diplomatic activities in recent period send out a clear message and she will continue to speak out about the situation in B&H in the UK Parliament because voice of certain B&H citizens cannot be heard while others who are worried about what might happen in B&H have to be reassured that there are people like herself to speak on their behalf. Kearns noted that it is time for diplomatic activities and if this has to be done by her and others who Dodik consider to be old grannies, so be it.
At the OSCE Ministerial Council in Stockholm, B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic spoke of the current crisis in B&H and reasons behind it. At the beginning of her speech, Turkovic referred to the statement made by Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. She said she agrees with Lavrov when he says: “Let us be honest”. “I agree. Let us. Honesty forces us to state that high-ranking member of the government of B&H and the leader of the largest party in one of B&H’s entities, is effectively calling for secession of that entity. He has particularly announced plans to withdraw from the B&H Armed Forces, to take over the state facilities on territory of the entity, and to establish the entity’s own army. This move would affectively destroy years of progress in the area of defense reform of B&H,” Turkovic warned. She said she does not need to remind members of the OSCE Ministerial Council that similar rhetoric in B&H in the past resulted in more than 100,000 deaths in this country during the war. She says majority of those victims were innocent civilians. “Europe said – Never again – after the Holocaust. Yet, less than fifty years later, we witnessed a genocide in the heart of Europe,” Turkovic stressed. She said Holocaust and genocide deniers, those that celebrate convicted war criminals, right-wing extremists and nationalists – are people ready to take what is not theirs. Turkovic said this depicts the political situation in B&H, which calls for special attention and concrete actions – in order to prevent any bad scenarios.
Schmidt urges B&H parliament to adopt law on state property (BHT1)
HR Christian Schmidt has called for formation of an expert group to work on drafting the law on state and military property. In a letter addressed to the Collegiums of the House of Peoples (HoP) and the House of Representatives (HoR) of B&H, Schmidt stated that the working group on this topic should consist of an adequate number of parliamentarians, and representatives of relevant institutions at the state and entity level, as well as domestic and international independent experts, including representatives of the European Union. “The OHR will provide the B&H parliament with a list of state and entity institutions, as well as relevant independent experts. I expect that the parliament of B&H will convene a session of the working group as soon as possible,” the High Representative stated in the letter.
HNP President Vukadin: Croat federal unit would lead to civic B&H (Vecernji list)
Vecernji list carried an interview with President of Croat National Movement (HNP) and member of HNS (Croat People’s Assembly) leadership Ivan Vukadin in which he talked about issued pertaining to changes to the electoral legislation. Among other issues, Vukadin said Croats find erasing of ethnic prefixes and redefinition of role of the House of Peoples unacceptable, stressing that in that way the original Dayton agreement would be violated. Asked what would happen if the Law on Elections is not changed and what the HNS’ reply would be in that case, Vukadin replied by saying that the Bosniak political cards are playing the card that the talk fail, after which they would use the Central Election Commission of B&H to impose their agenda. And the HNS will know how to respond to that challenge too,” added Vukadin. Asked if that means (establishing of) the Croat federal unit, Vukadin said it is HNP’s political program, stressing that in order to have equality and legitimate representation of peoples, “there needs to be federalization of B&H” arguing it would be a path to a civic state. “The one man-one vote principle would apply in all three units,” added Vukadin.
Croatian President Milanovic: Court is not the Holy Scripture (HRT1)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic stated on Friday that some people from SDA in B&H) have been saying all the time that Croatia is aggressor and that former Croatian officials, namely President Franjo Tudjman and Minister of Defense Gojko Susak are equal to Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. He explained that member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic has been saying that, adding that later he came to Vukovar as if nothing happened. Milanovic stressed that he never invited Dzaferovic to visit Vukovar and would never be accompanied by such people. Milanovic went on to saying that what he said is thousands of times more balanced. The President of Croatia reminded that he had said that Srebrenica is not same as holocaust and same as Jasenovac. “It is crime with elements of genocide, it was established by court”, but that the “court is not the Holy Scripture”. “Five thousand, or eight thousand, and 80,000 people is not the same thing. It is not the same, as something happens in two days, and then they try to mask it, and other things happen in a continuous and systemic way. It is not the same when it happens in gas chambers, or it is done by machetes. So, there are differences,” the Croatian President emphasized. Dzaferovic said that statements of Milanovic concerning Srebrenica genocide are below level of serious statesmen behavior. Dzaferovic stressed that the attempt of Milanovic’s shameful comments on Srebrenica genocide aimed to minimize this atrocity, is to ease justified condemnation and despise of European, Croatian and B&H public towards SNSD and HDZ B&H after they attempted to dispute the law banning denial of genocide. Dzaferovic called on Milanovic to work on solving of open issues with B&H, in line with international law, and to relaxation of relations between Croatia and B&H. That kind of approach will help with solving internal issues within B&H, reads a statement from Dzaferovic’s Office.
Hodzic: Milanovic crossed the red line with Srebrenica statement (Hina)
The chairman of the Bosniak ethnic minority council in Croatia Armin Hodzic said on Sunday that President Zoran Milanovic‘s recent statement on the 1995 Srebrenica genocide crossed the line no one should cross. “This kind of bargaining with genocide remembrance … is unacceptable regardless of which side it comes from. Milanovic has crossed the red line,” Hodzic told a press conference in Zagreb. Hodzic criticized Milanovic for downplaying the scale of the genocide, committed by Bosnian Serb forces against Bosnian Muslims in the Srebrenica area of eastern Bosnia during the war in July 1995. Hodzic said it was unacceptable that Milanovic referred to the genocide as “a grave crime with elements of genocide”, especially after international courts described it as an act of genocide. Milanovic downplayed the court judgments by saying that no court is the Holy Scripture, Hodzic said, wondering what sort of message that was to Croatian citizens. Hodzic said that the most appalling part of Milanovic’s statement was that “not all victims are the same.” Does that mean that Catholic or Muslim victims are more or less worthy than other victims? he wondered. Hodzic recalled that 8,500 civilians had been killed in Srebrenica over a period of three days and that 1,200 were still unaccounted for. “There has been no such rhetoric in Croatia until now. It seems that we have entered a new dimension,” he said, stressing that “no one, least of all people in high office such as the President of the Republic, should go below certain civilizational values.” Hodzic said that the continuity of Milanovic’s public statements showed his prejudice against Bosniaks. “That’s a kind of organic primitivism. He regards Bosniaks as people who are only fit to work on building sites and make cevapi (grilled minced-meat fingers). His view that the victims of the Srebrenica genocide are less worthy than the victims of some other genocides and war crimes is based on that kind of attitude.” He said that the purpose of such statements by Milanovic was to win over Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik “so that he would not stand in the way of amending the electoral law or achieving any other political goals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” “Milanovic is Dodik’s closest pal today,” Hodzic said.
Local elections in Montenegro (RTCG)
The result of yesterday’s local elections in Cetnje for political analyst Srdjan Peric is the most interesting. In his opinion, there is the essential winner of the SDP, who, according to Peric, has an excellent negotiating position for the formation of the government in that city. He points out that this can be reflected at the state level as well. “DPS has a bad coalition potential, SDP as a desirable partner of all other entities in Cetinje, for sure, can ask for much more than what is strength in the elections. They have a strong election result but can further strengthen it in negotiations,” said Peric. “On a symbolic level, this is a municipality that had a burden primarily due to the events in early September and no one knew how it would be reflected in the election result. On the other hand, I am sure the DPS expected a better result. It is interesting that the Old Guard has always sympathies for initiatives that are directly from the citizens, they have grown by one term, which shows that they have a certain foundation,” said Peric in the morning program of RTCG, commenting on yesterday’s local elections in three municipalities. When it comes to forming the government on Cetnje, if none of the partners, the Old Guard, the Democrats and Ura, go to the DPS, that creates an excellent negotiating position for the SDP and it can be reflected at the state level for several reasons. they can have an excellent negotiating position if they go with the DPS but then permanently opt for cooperation with the DPS and then do not see the possibility of further developing their strategic position, and on the other hand they can play more openly and potentially, what “It is happening in Cetinje, and they are linking the negotiations with the events at the state level. They have experience in politics and they know how much the negotiating potential of that position is,” Peric points out. According to Peric, a change of government has taken place in Mojkovac, and the DPS is going into opposition after a long rule of the city. Peric does not expect a turnaround during the negotiations, but believes that the government from the state level will be the government in Mojkovac as well. “This will also raise the issue of ideologically diverse potential coalition partners at the state level, albeit to a lesser extent. Ideological differences can be a problem during negotiations, albeit much less than at the state level,” Peric said. The fact that DF in Mojkoc proclaimed the mayor for Peric is the imposition of its solution. “Obviously, we want to appoint a person from the list that is within the framework of what is assumed to be the new majority to be the mayor, to reach an agreement on who the personal solution is, we will see how others will react” Peric said. In Petnjica, he adds, the DPS still has a strong foothold. He finds the growth of the Justice and Reconciliation Party interesting. “Other decision-makers will also be within the DPS, because they can form the government themselves,” Peric said.
Becic’s party: We will not overthrow government, we are in favor of an agreement (RTCG)
Democratic Montenegro will not overthrow the government, because it is our duty to the citizens to preserve the electoral will by which the citizens unequivocally demanded changes, said Aleksa Becic‘s party. “We repeat very clearly and decisively that the deputies of Democratic Montenegro will not vote no confidence in the current government. Regardless of the fact that many things could and had to be done better and faster in the first year of this government, Democrats will not overthrow the government. It is worse to preserve the electoral will by which the citizens unequivocally demanded changes,” the Democrats said. Instead of destroying and collecting cheap political points by causing tensions and crises, as they said, the Democrats have been advocating from the beginning for an agreement within the parliamentary majority that would give the Montenegrin government stability and momentum to tackle all issues of importance to society. “As the Montenegrin public knows, the President of the parliament Aleksa Becic has scheduled the fifth session of the Second Regular Autumn Session this year, which will begin on Monday, 13 December, and which will decide on some of the most important issues for the future of our society. Democratic Montenegro, as a party aimed at social justice states in which every citizen has equal opportunities, has proposed a series of laws aimed at raising the standards and quality of life of citizens, which we expect to be supported by all members of the Montenegrin Parliament,” they state from this party.
Intergovernmental conference with Montenegro on 13 December (RTCG)
The Council of the European Union (EU) adopted the EU Common Position on holding an intergovernmental conference with Montenegro on 13 December in Brussels. The conference will be held at the ministerial level. Brussels emphasizes that progress in the implementation of reforms will be discussed with Montenegro which opened all negotiating chapters. The EU’s position is that progress in Chapters 23 and 24 will determine the further pace of negotiations with Montenegro, and that there will be no closure of other chapters before the provisional benchmarks in these areas are met. The Slovenian presidency of the EU Council told RTCG earlier that the overall accession process would be considered during the Intergovernmental Conference with Montenegro. “As envisaged by the revised methodology, the Intergovernmental Conference with Montenegro will provide a forum for political dialogue on the reform process. It will also take into account the overall accession process and set plans for next year,” said the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council. They emphasize that the Western Balkans and enlargement are priorities of the Slovenian presidency. The previous Intergovernmental Conference with Montenegro was held on 22 June in Luxembourg.
Alternative decides to join the government (Republika)
Orhan Murtezani, spokesperson for the Alternative party, told a news conference tonight that the party decided to join the current parliamentary majority and the government. This is the decision from the meeting of the Central Council of Alternative, made after three meetings of Alternative leader, Afrim Gashi with the resigned Prime Minister and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, where they discussed Alternative’s participation in the government and their four MPs supporting the parliamentary majority. Murtezani informed that all agreed points will be officially signed by the two leaders of the parties, Zaev and Gashi. With the agreement between Zoran Zaev and Afrim Gashi on Alternative joining he Government and the parliamentary majority, according to unofficial information, Alternative will get three ministerial posts – Health Ministry, Information Ministry, Diaspora Ministry, and three deputy ministers – Culture Ministry, Agriculture Ministry and Transport or Finance Ministry, and a deputy speaker of the Parliament. Alternative will also get about forty directors and positions on the boards of state institutions. With the new distribution of positions, Alternative gets more positions from the parties of Goran Milevski, Pavle Trajanov, Enes Ibrahim, Ljubco Georgievski and Maja Moracanin together.
LDP and DOM: We will see if the agreement with Alternative is acceptable to us (Republika)
The Liberal Democratic Party expects Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to inform all coalition partners about the agreement with Alternative so that they can decide whether it is acceptable to them or not. “There was no need to make these theaters for a month and focus the public because the country has a strong challenge in December, and that is the beginning of negotiations and the whole energy of political actors should be directed to solving this problem which will mean a better standard of living of the citizens instead of dealing with the government positions that are obviously agreed. We expect Prime Minister Zaev to inform the public and us as coalition parties so that we know what kind of new government we are entering, whether it is acceptable for the LDP or not. Of course, this is our joint decision with DOM,” said the leader of LDP Goran Milevski. LDP and DOM have three MPs and one ministerial post in the government.
Pendarovski-Escobar meeting: Strong and continuous support from the US in achieving strategic goals of our country (Republika)
President Stevo Pendarovski met Monday Gabriel Escobar, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and Western Balkans Special Representative.
At the meeting, views were exchanged on the overall bilateral relations between the Republic of Macedonia and the United States, as well as on the situation in the region. President Pendarovski assessed that the two countries continuously nurture a productive political dialogue and expressed confidence that bilateral relations will continue to develop with even stronger dynamics. President Pendarovski stressed the importance of strong and continuous support from the United States in achieving the strategic goals of our country, since the declaration of independence until today. Regarding the country’s EU bid, President Pendarovski reaffirmed the expectation for the start of accession negotiations, emphasizing that the unblocking of the integration process will have a positive impact on the overall stability and development of the region. In this context, President Pendarovski thanked the US administration, and personally the United States Deputy Assistant Secretary, for their support in addressing the need for regional progress towards the EU. At the meeting, President Pendarovski stressed the commitment of the Republic of Macedonia, as the newest member of NATO, to contribute to the collective security and defense of the values of the Euro-Atlantic community. President Pendarovski thanked for the invitation to participate in the virtual Summit for Democracy, organized by US President Joe Biden, which will be held on 9-10 December 2021.
USA-Albania cooperation in the field of defense (Radio Tirana)
The US Ambassador to Tirana Yuri Kim visited the European Command and the US Army in Europe and Africa this week. During this visit, Kim was accompanied by the Chief of the Albanian General Staff, Major General, Bajram Begaj and the Commander of the Albanian Land Forces Brig. General Arben Kingji, Defense Attaché to Albania, US Navy Commander David Millner, and US Army Lt. Col. Erol Munir of the Office of Defense Cooperation. Walking in the footsteps of the Defender Europe 2021 exercise, Ambassador Kim and Chief of Staff Begaj met with the Commander of the United States Army in Europe and Africa, General Cavoli, in Wiesbaden, and the Deputy Commander of the European Command, LTG Howard, in Stuttgart.
Emphasizing defense cooperation between the United States and Albania, they discussed steps to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Albania, improve capabilities, and ensure preparedness and interoperability.
Rama in the USA: “Automation Alley”, interest for investments in Albania (Radio Tirana)
During his stay in the USA, Prime Minister Edi Rama visited the premises of the organization “Automation Alley”, Detroit Michigan, with representatives of the American automotive industry, interested in investing in Albania. “Today we were welcomed in” Automation Alley “by a group of representatives of this well-known world of American automotive industries where we talked about the opportunities offered by Albania and where we found interest to hear more” said Prime Minister Rama about this visit. In the end, we agreed that a mission of “Automation Alley” will come to Albania to look closely and better understand everything that is happening with the “Open Balkans” and the transformation of the market into a free and fair market, which gives Albania a much more favorable position for foreign investment “. The Director of International Business Services and Global Strategic Partnership Noel Nevshehir said that “I visited Albania before in 1984. Albanians are the warmest and friendliest people you can meet in this world and I have traveled to more than 84 places, but Albanians are very wonderful. We are fortunate that here in Michigan, we have a community of 120,000 Albanians, many of whom are friends and collaborators.” “I want Albania to know that we value our friendship with mutual benefits between the two countries. We here at “Automation Alley” in the state of Michigan will work to start organizing a trade mission in Albania and we look forward to coming to take advantage of the friendship and warmth that the country has to offer. We are lucky that America has such a good friend in Albania and I look forward to seeing you all when I come to Albania next year myself,” said Nevshehir.