Vucic on the Law on Expropriation: We are looking for a suitable solution (Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated today that a way is being sought to repeal the complete Law on Expropriation, adjusting it with the Constitution. He said that it was clear to him that no agreement could be reached in the next ten months on what the law should look like.
“Let all those who think what it should look like agree in the future. It is our job to see that the law be excluded from legal transactions and look for a way to adjust it with the Constitution of Serbia,” Vucic told reporters after visiting the final works on the construction of the BW Terraces building and on the facade of the Belgrade Tower. Asked whether they are discussing changing the part of the law that refers to payment and whether the market value will be paid only to those whose property is registered, Vucic said that such solutions are not sought because, as he says, it is impossible to achieve agreement. “How can we pay for illegal facilities? We are not looking for such solutions, because it is impossible to agree on that. When the times come when impossible solutions become normal, then it is better not to talk about it,” Vucic said, reiterating that by Thursday at the latest, he will come out with a solution. He announced that a decision will be made on Thursday on how much money will be allocated for environmental protection, which, he says, is very important.
Anti-corruption Council: Law on Expropriation violates people’s rights (Beta/N1/RTS)
The Anti-Corruption Council said on Monday the Law on Amendments to the Law on Expropriation, which Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic had not yet signed, had solutions to the detriment of Serbia’s people, and that the proposed changes were made exclusively to suit big capital. Vucic promised changes to the Law passed by the parliament and said if a deal were possible, the changes would be adopted before the end of the year. If not, it would be annulled, and the old version would be back in force. The Council elaborated that the provisions of that law essentially violated fundamental human rights, such as the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property and its legal security and provided the possibility of systemic corruption on a large scale. The Council added that before adopting the proposed amendments to the Law on Expropriation, there was no public debate. It also said that the proposed changes were made quickly and damaged human rights ignoring the Constitutional rights. The Council said that “the proposed legal solution de facto meant that any foreign economic entity, i.e. a company with which Serbia concluded an interstate agreement, can become a beneficiary of expropriation if the government previously determines that there is a public interest in such a project”. It added that “the proposed amendments stipulated that the subject of expropriation might be public property, natural resources, goods of general interest and goods in general use, which was determined to be in public ownership, items used by the Serbian authorities and organizations founded by Serbia, autonomous province and units of local self-governments”.
EU: Belgrade, Pristina not ready for dialogue at this time (RFE/Beta)
European Union spokesman Peter Stano has said that there was no readiness at this time on the part of Belgrade or Pristina for constructive engagement in the dialogue on normalization of relations. Stano said in a written statement that the precondition for the next meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti was their readiness to agree on specific results for the benefit of the people, Radio Free Europe reported on Monday. Stano noted that recent contact by EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell and diplomatic efforts by EU special representative to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak had shown that that readiness did not exist at this time. In November, Borrell suggested the possibility of a new meeting between Vucic and Kurti in Brussels, and Lajcak recently visited Belgrade and Pristina in connection with that. RFE sources said Lajcak had returned very discouraged after speaking with Vucic and Kurti. Kurti is slated to meet with senior EU officials, including Borrell, in Brussels, on Tuesday, in a last-ditch attempt to organize a senior-level round of the dialog this year.
Flags of the KLA and Albania hoisted in north Kosovska Mitrovica (Tanjug/RTV/RTS/B92)
On Monday night, in north Kosovska Mitrovica, in the ethnically mixed settlement Bosnjacka mahala, the flags of Albania and the terrorist organization KLA were hoisted, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija stated. The statement points out that this is a “deliberate, dangerous provocation aimed at provoking an unbalanced reaction of the Serb people in the north of the province, who suffered severely at the hands of KLA terrorists”. The Office for Kosovo and Metohija believes that, although the perpetrator is hidden, the celebration of the terrorist KLA has its recognizable signature and “leads all the way to the authorities in Pristina”. The statement estimates that Albin Kurti‘s obvious intention is to raise tensions in the north of Kosovo and Metohija again, provoke incidents and thus try to collect some political points. It is also stated that “the fact that Kurti is not welcome in Serb communities in Kosovo and Metohija, and the north of the province is his daily obsession, cannot be compensated by such actions and hoisting the flags of terrorist organizations in Serb communities”. “It is clear that Kurti is obviously not interested in dialogue and normalization of relations, but he is interested in a new flare-up of tensions through which he once again shows his true face as an extremist, disguised as a politician,” the Office for Kosovo and Metohija concluded.
NATO official: Serbia is a valued and longstanding partner of the Alliance (Beta)
NATO deputy assistant secretary general for Political Affairs and Security Policy Javier Colomina Piriz has said that Serbia is a valued and longstanding partner of the Alliance and that more should be done to ensure a better understanding of Serbia’s citizens of the cooperation between the two sided. In an interview to Beta ahead of his visit to Belgrade, Colomina Piriz has said that “NATO fully respects Serbia’s stated policy of military neutrality” and that “it is entirely up to Serbia to decide what kind of relations it wants to have with the Alliance”. “Serbia and NATO have been partners for 15 years, during which time our partnership has grown considerably. On the other side, it is not always apparent that citizens of Serbia are really aware of the level of cooperation between their country and NATO, and how much we have achieved together. Public diplomacy is therefore a field where there is also work to do, for the benefit of both Serbia and NATO,” said Colomina Piriz, who starts his two-day visit to Belgrade on 7 December. Colomina Piriz, who was in September appointed NATO deputy assistant secretary-general for Political Affairs and Security Policy and secretary general’s special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, has said that the partnership between Serbia and NATO is “strong and rests on solid grounds,” adding that “Serbia cooperates with the Alliance on many different levels, and across political, military and scientific domains”. The Spanish diplomat has also said that Serbia is a valued and longstanding partner of the Alliance, since 2006, when it joined NATO Partnership for Peace Program. “Overall, the current level of cooperation is intensive and mutually beneficial and it is shaped in a way that helps to best address Serbia’s needs, with Serbia setting the pace and scope of our support activities,” he said.
Environmentalists maintain initial demands (Beta)
The Alliance of Environmental Organizations of Serbia (SEOS), one of the organizers of road blockages across Serbia, said on Monday that until further notice the Alliance would maintain its initial demand, namely, that the new referendum and expropriation acts be withdrawn. “We believe that new demands would lead to a loss of focus, opening room for new demands and eventually dissipating the energy of the people and undermining the justified revolt based on clear goals,” the SEOS said in a press release. The Alliance was clear that since its inception the organization had been fighting against a lithium mine near Loznica, articulating its demands accordingly. “As the citizens living in the regions directly threatened by lithium mining, we are calling upon all the people who can sympathize with our struggle and demands to join us next Saturday in spontaneous protests and barricades, to protect our country against destruction together, for us and for the generations to come,” the Alliance said in the call.
Kusturica: Known elements in the protests since the fall of Milosevic (Novosti)
Rio Tinto has proven to be a company that is stronger than the state. Countries in Latin America were falling, they were doing what they wanted in Australia and my experience shows that everything that is happening has gone too far, and that the only way to prevent these colonial invaders is to unite peoples and states in the fight against that monster. This is what the celebrated director Emir Kusturica told Novosti, commenting on the tensions caused by Saturday protests and blockades throughout Serbia. He says that “once you let Rio Tinto start the research it is as if you let a military force into the yard”, but at the same time he wonders why the protests that are happening today “did not gain momentum this summer”: “The answer is, of course, political. Elections are approaching, and then inserts from our reality are inserted into one good intention, and then a general complication arises, so the question arises as to who will protect us better from Rio Tinto: whether those who aspire to take power through ecology or the current authorities.” Kusturica emphasizes that he is “firmly convinced that political power should be fought for by all legal means, but here all those elements known to us since the fall of Milosevic’s rule obviously intersect”: “So non-governmental organizations managed by the Rockefeller family want to protect us from Rio Tinto, and I suppose they would also like to expel the Chinese from here, so a logical question arises: how can we believe that Rockefeller finances the expulsion or stopping of Rio Tinto in Serbia. As those in the South would say – I don’t believe in that.” The legendary director reminds, however, that since the First Serbian Uprising, which was authentic, “no coup has existed in our history that was not carried out by the intelligence services of the Western powers, concluding with the one on 5 October”. “And another suspicion and repetition – we can hardly believe that Rockefeller is financing some of the initiators of this blockade of Serbia whereby there is a sense for a healthy life of Serbs, and it should be the most important one for the state and the people.”
Serbia to open Cluster 4 in EU accession talks on 14 December (Tanjug)
All EU member states on Tuesday gave their consent for Serbia to open Cluster 4 (Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity) in its EU accession talks at a 14 December intergovernmental conference in Brussels, Tanjug learns. The consent for opening all four chapters of Cluster 4 next week was reached within the Council of the EU working party on enlargement and is to be officially confirmed at a meeting of EU ambassadors. As part of Cluster 4, Serbia will open talks on transport policy, energy and trans-European networks, as well as a chapter on the environment and climate change. The EU-Serbia intergovernmental conference is due to be attended by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and EU Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic.
Backwash in B&H over support of Croats to suspension of Inzko’s law (Politika, by Mladen Kremenovic)
If there was a domestic law that would deal objectively with dignity of war victims (similar to the one “illegally” imposed by Valentin Inzko) would such a law be applied primarily on Serb officials or would it also treat the thesis such as the one presented by Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) who claimed that the Muslim army did not leave behind mass graves and camps, Politika writes. Dzaferovic presented this statement recently in Jablanica and both Serbs and Croats interpreted it as “a textbook example” of denial of obvious crimes and sufferings. “Apart from Dodik, who denies the qualification for Srebrenica, Dzaferovic too should be charged as well as Sarajevo Mayor Benjamina Karic, who, on the occasion of unveiling of the Kazani monument, first prevented the label on the monument to mention that it was the Serbs who were killed there and then she even stated that the glorious Army of the Republic of B&H did not commit any crimes,” President of the Main Board of the Croat People’s Assembly Bozo Ljubic said. Inzko’s decision to impose prohibition of genocide denial has been triggering controversies for months and well-informed circles even claimed that Inzko did not have the approval for this move not only of Russia and China, but also of some important western countries. With regard to this, US Special Representative for the Electoral Reform in B&H Matthew Palmer stated several days ago that “proclaiming one type of speech as illegal is not an instrument at the disposal of America”. “USA has a different legal tradition when compared to Europe. The 1st amendment rights are deeply rooted in our political culture. The antidote for genocide denial is not to proclaim it as illegal but to tell the truth,” Palmer told TV N1. SDA’s Semsudin Mehmedovic assessed that everything indicates that international representatives, Belgrade and Zagreb were preparing a new name for Srebrenica such as ‘moderate genocide’ or ‘local genocide’ and he noted that he is afraid that there are preparations for abolition of Inzko’s law and adoption of similar solutions in the B&H parliament.
London attacking RS through Dayton 2 (Novosti, by D. Milinkovic, S. Misljenovic)
Novosti’s collocutors claim that the main reason behind stronger interest of the UK in the Western Balkans, i.e. primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), is the intention of London to weaken and ultimately abolish the RS and also to “push out” Russia from the region. According to information from diplomatic circles, the main task of newly-appointed UK Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Stuart Peach will be to give support to “illegally appointed High Representative” Christian Schmidt and to ‘discipline’ the Republika Srpska (RS) and Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik. “Only two days after this personnel solution, members of the UK parliament proposed holding of a peace conference on B&H, so called Dayton 2. They explained this proposal with their concern because ‘the Western Balkans is faced with the biggest threat to its stability and safety in the past two decades, because of which it is necessary to act as soon as possible to protect peace but also promote Euro-Atlantic integration in this region’”, the daily noted and added that “on top of all of this, there was also an idea to deploy an additional battalion of British troops to Bosnia”. Historian Srdjan Graovac from the Center for Social Stability told Novosti that he has no dilemma that the latest UK moves are a part of a wider plans of political West for B&H and he argued that both the USA and UK want to realize their interests in B&H, “weaken the RS and push out Russians. The UK also has a special neo-colonial sentiment because it wants to impose itself as an important player at the world political scene now that it exited the EU”. Commenting on the idea on Dayton 2, Graovac said that this only confirms that the West wants the next year to be crucial for solving of the issue of B&H and he added that, in case new talks took place, Russia and China should be included in those as well. Dean of the Faculty for Security from Banja Luka Slobodan Zupljanin too argued that the UK is trying to improve its strategic position in the region following Brexit, and it intends to do so “at the expense of the RS and Serbia”. Zupljanin claimed that the UK is bothered with Serb policies which have the clear goal – “strengthening of Serb national being both in Serbia and in the RS” and he concluded by saying: “Serbs represent the main problem for the UK because they have two states in the Balkans. The attempt to carry out destabilization is underway. Hence loud messages coming from the UK on unpacking of the Dayton Peace Agreement. This would mean the end of the RS,” Zupljanin concluded.
Dodik says that RS is against abolition of ethnic prefix in election for members of Presidency; Dodik: If foreigners interfere in work of B&H CEC, elections might not be held in territory of RS (RTRS)
Commenting on possible changes of electoral legislation in B&H, member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated that the minimum the RS is prepared for in this regard is that ethnic prefixes concerning election of members of B&H Presidency will not be erased and abolition of voting via mail. Dodik added that everything else as well as possible interference of foreigners in the election process might lead to preventing implementation of elections in 2022 on the territory of the RS. The reporter noted that recent talks between Bosniak and Croat politicians with the US and the EU diplomats on electoral changes failed to achieve any results. According to RTRS, Bosniak concept of civic state stands in opposition to demand of Croats concerning election of legitimate Croat member of B&H Presidency. Reporter commented that the RS has a clear stance that a member of the Presidency from the rank of Serbs will be elected in the RS. The RS also proposes that candidates from the RS would be candidates from the rank of Serb and Others. The reporter commented that this would enable implementation of the ECHR’s ruling in Sejdic-Finci case. Dodik underlined that B&H would be a normal country if Croats elect their representative, Serb their representative and Muslims their representative so that these representatives can pass decisions without interference of foreigners. The reporter wondered whether this can happen, considering the fact the international factor is starting to more frequently observe B&H as country of citizens, without constituent peoples and even entities. Dodik deems that in such situation Bosniaks will prevent Croats to enjoy their rights and they will elect their Zeljko Komsic again. “This could result in boycott of elections by Croats. If foreigners interfere in work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H, the RS might fail to do the same,” said Dodik. He went on to saying that the opposition in the RS might accept to participate in such elections, adding that they would not. Representatives of opposition parties say that Dodik is afraid he will lose power and this is the reason to announce boycott of elections. Dodik warned that in case of foreign intervention in the election process, the RS would prevent holding of elections on its territory. University professor from Banja Luka Vlade Simovic stated that if any imposing of solutions happens, it is completely legitimate for the RS not to accept imposed solutions. Dodik also stated that there cannot be amending of the Election Law of B&H unless it stipulates abolition of voting via mail, because it is a source of political corruption.
Dodik suggests that absentee voting by mail should be abolished; SDS, DNS and PDP agree (Glas Srpske)
B&H Presidency member and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik proposed that absentee voting by mail should be abolished since it leaves a lot of room for manipulation. Leaders of the opposition parties agree with Dodik. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic stated that SDS has been advocating abolition of voting by mail for a long time. Instead, citizens who are not in the country on the election day should be allowed to vote in embassies and consular offices. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic said that PDP has been mentioning this issue in all recent talks about electoral reform, also demanding abolition of voting by mail. He noted that voting by mail leaves room for all kinds of manipulation and fraud. He underlined that in the last local election, absentee votes sent by mail decided the results of election in Derventa. Borenovic said that he is surprised to see SNSD advocating for abolition of voting by mail, since this party benefited from the practice in the past. Commenting recent tour of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic in major centers of diaspora where he called on Bosniaks to register for absentee voting in the RS, Borenovic said that SDA always relies on votes of the diaspora. DNS leader Nenad Nesic stated that DNS also supports Dodik’s idea because absentee votes are often traded, and underlined that they can have a significant impact on election results.
Dodik announces potential support to HDZ B&H in boycotting of elections; Opposition in RS: Dodik again violates agreements reached with all political parties in RS (BN TV)
Milorad Dodik has announced potential support to HDZ B&H in boycotting of the 2022 General Elections, and, according to the RS opposition, Dodik has once again violated the agreement reached with all political parties in the RS. BN TV reports that President of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) Zeljko Bakalar said such announcements are not the boycott, but political ideas leading towards institutional obstruction of the electoral process, and reminded of issues during the preparation phase of the last electoral process, that was successfully finalized with the support of the international community. BNTV reports that Dodik has also withdrawn from the agreement on election of the B&H Presidency member from the RS, and reminds that the political parties in the RS have reached an agreement in relation to the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision in the Sejdic-Finci case, i.e. one B&H Presidency member from the RS would be elected directly on the whole RS’ territory, without ethnic prefix. Commenting on this, Dodik said: “The RS has ended its definition of that potential solution. Ethnic prefix must remain, and I think that Croats are proposing good solution.” According to the opposition, Dodik speaks only on behalf of SNSD. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said: “We do not support it. We did not talk with Dodik about it. It is his autonomous decision. We know how much he talks about unity. The assumption is that it is a part of favors to HDZ, and that it is more important for him than a unified voice from the RS.” DNS leader Nenad Nesic said Dodik was afraid of losing power, due to which he announced boycotting the elections. “Not foreigners but voters from the RS vote! Foreigners do not count the votes, but members of polling station committees do that, appointed by political parties! The one who loves their RS and respects its people would never lead it to the status of North Korea, but would congratulate the winner, and withdraw to the opposition with dignity,” Nesic was quoted as saying. Sarovic said the elections would be held, even though the law was in favor of SNSD. “It encourages rigging, abuse, corruption, retailoring the will of the citizens, everything we drew attention to. But, regardless of that, the boycott will bring us nothing. It can only leave Dodik in power, I presume that is his goal. Like, he will prevent the elections by not allowing them to be held in cultural centers or schools. On whose behalf is he saying that? He cannot say it on behalf of any other institution, he can only say it on behalf of SNSD, and if he can prevent something via SNSD, that is up to him, but he knows what that means. He cannot do it on behalf of the whole Republic and he should stop with such representation that is not in line with the law or the Constitution,” said Sarovic. The reporter notes that positions of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) members after the recent meeting with representatives of the EU and the US confirm that Dodik is speaking without consultations with coalition partners and members of his political party. Deputy Chair of the IAWG Sredoje Novic (SNSD) said: “It is not disputable if the elections will be held or not. With or without amending the Election Law, I think the elections will be held”. IAWG member Nenad Stevandic (United Srpska) said for the media: “I can personally say we all advocate holding of the elections, because only in the countries where there is peace, where there is prosperity, and where people trust in elections, there is future. Therefore, elections are something that cannot be postponed”. The reporter concludes by saying that the only thing Dodik and the opposition in the RS agree on is voting via mail that, according to them, has become the subject of political trade and crime. RS MP Nebojsa Vukanovic said that schools and other public institutions do not belong to SNSD, but to all citizens of the RS. “This would represent violation of the law and a criminal offense,” explained Vukanovic.
Borenovic on Dodik’s claim that RS authorities might boycott elections (O Kanal)
PDP leader Branislav Borenovic commented on the recent statements by Milorad Dodik. Dodik said that it is possible that the RS authorities will boycott elections in 2022. Borenovic said that SNSD and Dodik will lose the next elections and will become a thing of the past. Borenovic said this is the key reason why Dodik behaves in such a way and seeks an excuse for, as Borenovic said, his personal frustrations. Borenovic added that Dodik talks about foreigners and he must be seeing their apparitions, because Dodik cooperated very well with them, especially in during the period of former High Representative to B&H Paddy Ashdown and former Head of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Banja Luka Graham Day. According to Borenovic, SNSD’s departure from the political scene would be salvation for the RS so it can finally become better, attract investments and fight corruption. Borenovic also said Dodik clearly favors HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and his political party over the RS, because “it is clear we have a position agreed years ago. I have a feeling that due to HDZ and SNSD’s caprices, Dodik is ignoring the position of the RS and is becoming the agent of Croat political interests, which is absolutely unacceptable. This again shows political frustration of the ruling SNSD that clearly does everything in the interest of HDZ, and that they are not interested in the RS and the status of the Serb people”. Borenovic underlined that he believes that Dodik “got completely lost” in his attempts to create a constant crisis. Deputy Chair of SDS-PDP-DNS Caucus Mira Pekic (PDP) said that boycott is a major topic and noted that it is too early to even speak about it knowing that the reform of the Law on Elections of B&H still has not come in force. Pekic also denied claimed that foreigners are interfering with the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H. “The work and functioning of B&H CEC has been regulated by the Law on Elections of B&H and there is no possibility for foreigners’ interference and we, the MPs, have to adopt the budget so that B&H CEC would have preconditions for preparation of elections,” Pekic said. Pekic also reminded that PDP has been warning for years about problems related to voting and “bringing in ballots in sacks”.
SDA: Dodik’s threats to prevent next general elections from taking place show solely his fear of electoral will of dissatisfied citizens in RS and increasingly certain loss of power (Nova BH)
SDA stated on Monday that Milorad Dodik‘s threats to prevent the next general elections from taking place show solely his fear of the electoral will of dissatisfied RS citizens and an increasingly certain loss of power. SDA stressed that the general elections in B&H must be held in October 2022. “If SNSD or any other political party does not want to participate in the general elections, then it will be their choice that no one can deny them. This will certainly not prevent other parties from participating in the general elections,” SDA stated in a press release. SDA Vice President Adil Osmanovic commented that foreigners have never interfered in the election process in B&H but they only had the role of transparency observers, stressing that it is nothing new for Dodik to violate the law and the Constitution of B&H because he avoids sanctions.
Covic visits Brussels and meets MEPs; He warns B&H is heading into even deeper crisis over electoral reform (Dnevni avaz)
Speaker of B&H House of Peoples and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic stated on Monday in Brussels that if the agreement on electoral reform is not reached by the end of this year, B&H could get into even deeper crisis, as there would be no conditions for implementation of elections. Daily reads that he met several officials in Brussels, discussing the situation in B&H. Covic met with European Parliament’s Rapporteur for B&H, EPP’s Paulo Rangel, as well as EPP’s MEP and Chair of Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) David McAllister.
Kovacevic: RS and Serbia will face many challenges, they must show strength, unity and stability (Nezavisne)
Milorad Dodik’s advisor Radovan Kovacevic stated that it is obvious that Serbia and the RS will be facing many challenges, and that the only way to respond is to be show strength, unity and stability. He underlined that the RS and Serbia can only be strong if they are stable and united. Commenting the recent sudden increase in interest of the international community in the Western Balkan region, Kovacevic said that the main motive behind this interest is to deprive Serbs of their rights in Kosovo and in B&H. He underlined that those who advocate a new Dayton Agreement in reality want to build B&H without Serbs and Croats. He underlined that such ideas will never be accepted.
Sulic: Collegium to schedule special session on Tuesday (ATV)
Deputy speaker of the RS parliament Denis Sulic said on Monday that on Tuesday, the Collegium of the RS parliament is expected to schedule a special session on return of competences transferred to the level of B&H. The RS parliament previously received materials for the special session and MPs are expected to discuss five items on the agenda.
Our Party and SBB representatives leave meeting dedicated to unblocking of FB&H due to failure of SDA to send its political representative (N1)
A meeting to resolve political blockade of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) was supposed to be held in premises of the FB&H Parliament on Monday on the ground of the last week’s initiative of the US and the EU diplomats Matthew Palmer and Angelina Eichhorst respectively. Representatives of Our Party and SBB B&H left the meeting. SBB B&H’s MP in the FB&H House of Representatives (HoR) Sanela Prasovic-Gadzo wrote on her Facebook account that they did it because SDA failed to send its political representatives. Gadzo explained that political representatives of the opposition and HDZ B&H attended the meeting, while there was no political representative of SDA. Our Party’s Sabina Cudic stated that there was no representative of SDA but one civil servant who claimed to be there on behalf of SDA. She reminded that no representative of SDA took part in the meeting to unblock the FB&H that was held last Thursday. Representative in the FB&H House of Representatives (HoR) Sanela Prasovic-Gadzo (SBB B&H) said that an SDA representative did not show up and that when she asked why SDA representative is not present, Secretary of the FB&H House of Peoples Izmir Hadziabdic replied and said he is attending the meeting on behalf of SDA as an expert for constitutional issues. According to Prasovic-Gadzo, she said that a civil servant must not act as a representative of any political party and that SBB B&H will not take part in that “because the aim is to steal time from the citizens”. “That is why I left the meeting” said Prasovic-Gadzo, stressing that SDA has been manipulating with other political parties and citizens for a long period of time like this.
Secession will be ‘on hold’ for six months because he needs funds (Dnevni list/Der Standard)
Austria’s Der Standard, namely its journalist Adelheid Wolfl wrote an analysis about the situation in B&H, revealing the strategy of the authorities in Banja Luka led by Milorad Dodik and revealing the role of their allies from Budapest. The analysis also notes that the UK is against the EU’s policy towards B&H and that European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Varhelyi, a politician from Viktor Orban’s stable, is playing an important part. According to Der Standard, Dodik should suspend his plan about secession of the RS by returning to the joint institutions for six months. Reportedly, there is a plan prepared by Commissioner Varhelyi, which contains three items. Item number one is about solving the issue of the state property in cooperation with the US and the OHR. Next item on the agenda would be dealing with the issue of amendments to the Criminal Code of B&H, which were imposed by Valentin Inzko, which would be done in the parliament of B&H. and the third item is the constitutional and electoral reform. Referring to unnamed diplomats, Wolfl writes that the RS wants to make sure it gets 90% of the state property that is on the territory of the RS, which includes forests and military facilities as well. Furthermore, Der Standard writes that the diplomats are claiming that the six-month month-long secession suspension would give Dodik time to get the state property and change the law that bans denial of war crimes. In this context Der Standard carried an unnamed European diplomat who said “of course, nobody thinks that the RS will stop threatening with secession when they get the state property” and who added that many people in the international community believe Dodik and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic should be given something, the latter getting the Law on Elections he wants. Der Standard went on to say that Dodik urgently needs money so he could pay interest rate on bonds he sold in April on the London stock exchange. Wolfl concluded by saying that Dodik needs forests and other real estate as guarantees/collaterals.
Elections in three municipalities: Neither DPS will easily return to power, nor will ruling parties easily keep it (CdM)
For parties, after elections, the glass is always half full, not half empty. But… call it whatever you want – you’re half a glass short. The half-empty glass is a perfect metaphor for the results of all parties in the local elections held in Cetinje, Mojkovac and Petnjica. Everyone has won something in those elections, but everyone lacked something after those elections. In Petnjica, the DPS won 17 seats, the Bosniak Party 6, the Justice and Reconciliation Party 3, the SD 2, the Democrats 2 and the SDP 1. In Mojkovac, the united opposition (DPS-SD-LP) has won 14 seats. Coalition for the Future of Mojkovac 8, Democrats 4, URA 2, We Won’t Give Up On Mojkovac 2, United Montenegro 2 seats. In Cetinje, DPS will have 14 councilors, SDP 8 seats, URA 4, Democrats 3, Old Guard of LSCG 3, SD-LP coalition 1. Cetinje parliament consists of 33 councilors. The DPS has won the most votes, but not the absolute majority they hoped for. That party, in fact, lost a significant part of the voters in all three municipalities. In summary, the results of the elections in Cetinje, Mojkovac and Petnjica say: neither the DPS will return to power as quickly and easily as they thought, nor will the ruling power keep the power routinely as they thought. Montenegro needs real, profound change. The question is: do political parties have enough wisdom and strength for them.
The opposition has a majority in Cetinje, ready to negotiate (RTCG)
The President of the parliament and Democratic Montenegro Aleksa Becic believes that the government in Mojkovac will be formed quickly. He says that the Democrats are ready for talks on forming a government in Cetinje, where, as he points out, the citizens gave their votes to the previous opposition to lead the Capital. Becic reminds that in Mojkovac the majority of 17 seats were won by the previous opposition in that city, while the DPS won 14 seats. “I believe that the quick and easy formation of the government, which we witnessed in Niksic, will happen in Mojkovac as well,” Becic said at a press conference. As for Cetinje, he says that the four lists, which were in opposition, won a convincing majority. “Four council seats were won by four opposition clubs, the Democrats, GP URA, Stara Garda and SDP. So, the answer of the citizens of Cetinje, even after all the events, was completely clear. The DPS has experienced a big decline in Cetinje,” said Becic at the press conference in the Assembly on the occasion of the official visit of the President of the Estonian Parliament Juri Ratas. He points out that, if everyone sticks to what they represented in the Parliament for four years, and that is that Cetinje needs a change, it will be easy, as he points out, to respect the will. “Because the citizens, with the seal and confirmation of the election results, gave the strength for opposition to be the new government in Cetinje. I see no reason not to be like that,” said Becic. Becic stated that, of course, negotiations on the formation of the government in Cetinje have not started yet. “But of course, we are completely ready to realize the electoral will of the citizens of Cetinje and for the current opposition to take over power in Cetinje,” Becic said. He states that he is very satisfied with the results of the elections in three municipalities.
URA: Without us, there is no new government in Mojkovac (RTCG)
“URA won twice as many votes in the elections in Mojkovac as in 2020and without us there is no new government in that city, while we won 4 mandates in Cetinje, in conditions of unprecedented public lynching, chases and propaganda,” the party said after the elections. They thanked the citizens for resisting the pressures and attempts to discredit URA for more than a year, continuously. “Women and man of Cetinje, thank you for your courage, audacity and defiance in the most difficult conditions of one election game. Women and man of Mojkovac, twice as many votes for URA in the environment that has been a stronghold of the DPS for 16 years. You are carrying the idea of civil and European Montenegro in the north,” the GP URA told the citizens of these two municipalities. They are convinced that their steps are safe and the direction is clear, and they are, they point out, civil, just and European Montenegro. “We know that we will get more and more support along the way. And that is why Montenegro can,” they concluded in a statement.
Escobar welcomes the “flexibility” of the government in Skopje, but… Now is not the time to travel to Sofia (Libertas)
US Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Gabriel Escobar clarified his statement after Monday’s meeting with Minister Bujar Osmani, in which he welcomed “Macedonia’s readiness for flexibility.” “What I mean by that is we are supportive of every effort that you have made to do what’s necessary to start you the process. You have made reforms, you have signaled that you intend to do everything necessary and this government has expressed strong support, a strong strategic vision to be a member of the EU and we continue to support that,” Escobar said. He said that he would not visit Sofia on this occasion. “I do not rule out the possibility at some point to visit other parts of Europe where there are important issues to discuss,” Escobar diplomatically answered the journalistic interest in whether he is going from Skopje to Sofia. Escobar said that on the issue of unblocking Macedonia’s European integration, Washington is in constant communication with all its European allies. “I would start with the message that Northern Macedonia deserves to be part of the European Union. You are culturally, historically and, more intensely, economically part of Europe. You should have a place at the table. Additionally, you have completed some good reforms that qualify you to start the process. We work closely with our European partners, all our European partners, to ensure that this happens very quickly. We have hoped and still hope that you can start intergovernmental conferences this year. If not this year, then as soon as next year. So, the answer is yes, we are in constant communication with all our European partners on this issue.” “After Skopje, I am leaving for Bosnia, where the Conference on Peace Implementation will be held. Then I will go to Tirana where I will send signals again for our support for EU membership and then I will go to London to meet with the new British Special Representative for the Western Balkans, who is summoning the foreign ministers of the Western Balkans to map out how our cooperation in the region will function in the future. All these are examples of positive development in the region. We hope that Macedonia will be a full partner and will help us make progress.”
Zaev’s coalition partners dissatisfied with his deal with Gashi, but are unlikely to rock the boat (Republika)
Following their meeting with PM Zoran Zaev, several of his smaller coalition partners expressed reservations about his plan to include Afrim Gashi’s Alternative party in the government, for a high price of three Government departments. The move is about to put the number of ethnic Macedonians and Albanians in the government at near even footing, which is unprecedented increase in the political power of the Albanian bloc, and to reopen several highly emotional and ethnically fraught cases of terrorism, murder and insurrection. Zaev’s coalition partners Pavle Trajanov and Tito Petkovski criticized the move, but indicated that they will continue to support the coalition. LDP and DOM seem more prepared to rebel against Zaev. Trajanov said that with the Alternative party on board, and with the addition of the one “kidnapped” BESA member of parliament, the government will have 64 seats and will be able to survive the defection of some coalition partners. There can be no discussion about the Alternative demand to amnesty cases such as Divo Naselje (the 2016 Albanian attack on Kumanovo) which is terrorism, and the Monster trial (the 2012 Islamist murder of five ethnic Macedonians by Albanian Islamists) which was already tried twice. The government must not be a factor of destabilization. I fear it will negatively reflect inter-ethnic relations, Trajanov said. He has one seat in parliament and the government would survive his defection, but not if it is coupled with defection from LDP and DOM, who have three seats, and have expressed their dissatisfaction with Zaev when they launched separate campaigns for the local elections in October. Tito Petkovski from the NDSP party (two seats in parliament) said that what the Alternative party wants from the coalition is a lot. Alternative used the moment when the government needed its votes to come out with its maximum demands. This is not protecting the interests of the state, but putting partisan interests first for political profit and for a large share of the government, Petkovski said, but added that he doesn’t “think that we need to plunge the country into early elections. It is good that we are expanding the majority by four seats. I think it will be a decent majority”.
Nikoloski urges the opening of EU accession talks for Macedonia during meetings in Paris (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski, who is visiting Paris, met with Silvan Gioge, deputy director for European Affairs in the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Nikoloski urged for the need to finally allow Macedonia to open its EU accession talks. This is something that the citizens of Macedonia deserve, and the citizens of Macedonia should not be held hostage to Zoran Zaev’s failures, Nikoloski told Gioge during their meeting. Nikoloski pointed to the fact that under Zaev, Macedonia ranks 111th in the world in fighting corruption, its worst result ever, and said that it is “mired in Zaev’s corruption”. VMRO-DPMNE is a serious partner, that is prepared to discuss all the key issues, such as the rule of law, economic freedoms and the integration of Macedonia in the EU, Nikoloski told the French official, per the party’s press release. Nikoloski is in Paris for a number of meeting with French diplomats and officials.
Varhelyi warns delays in EU accession of Macedonia and Albania affect trust in EU (Republika)
European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi warned that the delays in EU integration of Macedonia and Albania are influencing trust in the EU in the Western Balkan region. Varhelyi spoke virtually at the Sofia Forum for the Western Balkans – the event was held in Bulgaria, the country that is blocking Macedonia, and with it also Albania, from opening their EU accession talks. Varhelyi said that the EU should treat the Western Balkan countries not as candidates, but as EU member states, and noted that the EU will invest 30 billion EUR in the region next year, which amounts to a third of the region’s GDP. Western Balkans are integral part of Europe and need to be involved in our discussions on the future of Europe. It’s our common future. And EU enlargement is a win-win geopolitical investment in peace, stability, prosperity, democratic world, Varhelyi tweeted out while also attending the Conference of the Future of Europe in Budapest. Macedonia is hoping that the coming new government in Bulgaria will be able to lift the veto, but it could come at a high price, as Bulgaria demands major concessions from Macedonia in the area of national identity and history.
US Embassy reacts on Escobar’s visit to Tirana (ADN)
The US Embassy in Tirana has unveiled the agenda of Gabriel Escobar, Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, who will visit Tirana in two days. He will meet with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Democratic Party Chairman Lulzim Basha and Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka. According to the US Embassy he will confirm US support for democracy in Albania, as well as the fight against corruption and efforts to undermine democracy in the Western Balkans. “On 9 December, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar will pay his first visit to Albania, with the aim of deepening our close friendship supported in common democratic values. Escobar will meet with Prime Minister Rama, Foreign Minister Xhacka, Democratic Party Chairman Basha and other leaders to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Albania’s democracy, EU integration, stronger defense cooperation and opportunities for trade and investment. As stated in President Biden‘s Executive Orders, Escobar will also discuss the United States’ commitment to fighting corruption, impunity and efforts to undermine democracy in the Western Balkans,” says the Embassy. Escobar’s visit to Tirana coincides with two days before the National Assembly convened by former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, declared non grata by the US a few months ago. DP leader Lulzim Basha has decided to suspend Berisha from the Democratic Party until the full clarification of this issue for which the former DP leader has opened a trial in a court in Paris.
Mazi: There is still hope for holding the first Intergovernmental Conference (Radio Tirana)
The chief negotiator for European integration Zef Mazi gave an exclusive interview on the eve of the closing of the Slovenian presidency and regarding the possibility of opening the Intergovernmental Conference by the end of this year. “We are practically at a critical stage for the EU and for us. It is imperative that the enlargement process continue, without slowing down and without stopping. I say this because it seems that this process has lost its political dynamism. It must be resumed, especially now, on the eve of the adoption of the negotiating framework and the decision, hopefully, to hold the first Intergovernmental Conference, with the new methodology. The European Commission, institutionally, wrote in the report Albania 2021 that it has met all the requirements for holding this conference this year. The Slovenian Presidency is doing everything it can. The Enlargement and General Policy Groups in Brussels are working on the draft statement for the Council meeting on 16-17 December. The Slovenian Presidency is working to include the conference in the draft conclusions of the Council. There is still hope. Slovenia will work until 23.59 minutes on 31 December 2021. Work carries on. Through daily contacts I follow the progress of things. There is still hope not to go empty-handed at the end-of-year holidays. Let’s see,” Mazi said.