Vucic: It is clear Pristina wants no dialogue with us (Tanjug/Politika)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday noted that it could officially be said that Pristina wanted no dialogue with Belgrade at all. Vucic was responding to a reporter’s question about an upcoming round of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Commenting on a statement by EU spokesperson Peter Stano, who has said the two sides had insufficient faith and interest in dialogue, Vucic said the citizens must be told that Serbia wanted dialogue while it was completely clear that Pristina did not want it. “We are ready to sign an agreement on missing persons. We want results. But I can officially say that Pristina does not want to talk to us at all,” Vucic noted. He said Pristina had trampled underfoot all agreements with representatives of the international community on permitting official visits under the Brussels agreement.
Borrell: No readiness for high-level meeting at this point (Tanjug)
EU foreign policy and security chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday said there was no readiness for a new high-level meeting in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue at this point. Borrell was speaking at a press conference in Brussels after meeting with the Prime Minister of the provisional Pristina authorities Albin Kurti. “We have made it very clear after the two meetings this year that the precondition for the next one is a readiness of both parties to agree on concrete results,” Borrell said, adding that It would be ‘completely useless’ to call another meeting if the condition was not met. “My recent outreach ant the shuttle diplomacy by the EU Special Representative Lajcak – whom I have to thank for his tireless work – have shown that, to my understanding, there is no such readiness at this point,” Borrell said in response to a reporter’s question if a new high-level meeting would be held by the end of the year. “But the year is still not over and we will continue doing everything we can to try to have such a meeting if we can ensure there is going to be some outcome,” he added. He also said the establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija was a part of the Brussels agreement. “This agreement was concluded in good faith by all parties involved and we expect all agreements to be respected and fully implemented by both parties,” Borrell said, adding that “addressing the needs of the Serb community is an important element of the full normalization process”.
Brnabic: Opening of Cluster 4 big step forward, recognition for Serbia (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated in Nis on Tuesday that the decision of EU Member States to approve the opening of Cluster 4 – Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity – in Serbia’s accession negotiations with the EU is a big step forward and expressed her hope that this decision will become official at the Intergovernmental conference with the EU next week.
This is a big and important thing, a good result and a recognition for everything we have done, especially in the field of the rule of law, said Brnabic in Nis, where she took part in the event “Dialogue with the Youth”, organized by the National Youth Council of Serbia. She added that Serbia hoped to open two clusters, Cluster 3 too, but pointed out that opening one cluster, according to the old methodology, means opening four chapters. Cluster 4 is the most important and the most topical at the moment as it deals with the Green Agenda and environmental protection, she stated. She added that the Ministry of Finance is currently making changes to the Law on Expropriation to have them ready for government’s session on Thursday and reiterated that this law has nothing to do with the project of Rio Tinto or any other individual project. It is important to talk with the National Convention on the EU and all others who had comments or objections to this law and try to change it in line with the instructions given by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Brnabic underlined.
Stefanovic: Women must be an important part of our defense systems (Tanjug/Politika)
Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic stated on Tuesday at a press conference in Budva that Serbia and other states of the Western Balkans want to become EU members first and foremost in order to reach standards that guarantee a better quality of life for citizens.
Stefanovic attended a ministerial roundtable meeting dedicated to the position of women in armed forces in the Western Balkans. He said that regional cooperation is very important to us and that we are trying to achieve with all countries from this part of Europe such a level of communication and cooperation that is in the best interest of our armies and states. The topic of gender equality plays an important role in that. Women must be an important part of our defense systems and their participation must not be formal and at the level of pure statistics, but essential, Stefanovic underlined. The Joint Declaration on Support to Gender Equality in the Reform of the Defense Sector in the Western Balkans was signed at this event, at which Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina took part. The signatories agreed to cooperate on concrete activities and projects of common interest regarding the promotion of diversity and the principle of gender equality.
SPC responds to Viola von Cramon: SPS exists in Germany (Politika)
The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) exists in Germany, as part of one, indivisible autocephalous Serbian Patriarchate, reads the response from the SPC Patriarchate on the occasion of the statement of Viola von Cramon, a member of the European Parliament from the Greens, that the SPC does not exist, but autonomous dioceses. “We have received many strong protests and expressions of discontent over yesterday’s announcement by German politician Viola von Cramon, given after a conversation with the Bishop of Dusseldorf kyr Grigorije, that there is no SPC in Germany, and we are obliged to, for the sake of truth, issue the following statement: The SPC exists in Germany, as part of the one, indivisible autocephalous Serbian Patriarchate. The Constitution and Statutes of the SPC are valid in the territory of Germany as anywhere else in the area of her canonical jurisdiction, and all church–hierarchical bodies are obliged to be governed by them. On the basis of the Constitution of the SPC, the competent church authorities appoint and dismiss the administrations of all bodies and organs, and the Holy Assembly of Bishops appoints and, if necessary, relieves the diocesan bishop,” reads the press release.
DJB: Opposition to join campaign to overthrow changes to the Constitution in a referendum (Politika/Beta)
The Enough is Enough Movement (DJB) – Sovereignists called on the opposition on Monday to join an active campaign to overthrow the proposed changes to the Constitution in a referendum scheduled for 16 January next year. DJB said in a statement that the text of the Information on the Act on Changing the Constitution was discussed at the recent session of the Republic Election Commission (RIK), which should serve as a basis for the public to understand the topic to be voted on in the referendum on changing the Constitution. Despite the fact that Article 26 of the Law on Referendum clearly stipulates that this text must contain objective information on the issue and that it faithfully and equally reflects the views of the parties advocating different answers to the referendum question, RIK members adopted the proposed version which contains exclusively affirmative information,” stated DJB. The statement emphasized that DJB-Sovereignists and Zavetnici voted against. “Having in mind the public interest in objectively informing the public and regulations, representatives of the DJB-Sovereignist in the RIK, warned colleagues that the text is not in accordance with the Law on Referendum and suggested that the text be returned for revision before adoption,” DJB reported. This party points out that the text contains exclusively affirmative information, while not a single sentence reflects the views of those who advocate a negative response to the referendum. They emphasized that “the text does not even contain the opinion of the President of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, who has publicly spoken out against the proposed changes to the Constitution”. “When the RIK President put for voting this proposal of DJB to return the text for amendment, only DJB, Zavetnici and Dveri voted for, and after the proposal of that incomplete and illegal decision was put for voting, only DJB-Sovereignists and Zavetnici voted against,” reads the statement. It was stated that “all other opposition representatives voted for, including the Movement for the Renewal of the Kingdom of Serbia (POKS), the Radicals, Tadic’s (members of the Social Democratic Party) and, unfortunately, Dveri.” “POKS and the Radicals are obviously faking their opposition to the constitutional changes, while we believe that for Dveri at issue is a mistake of their RIK member, which, we hope, will not happen again,” said DJB. DJB-Sovereignists stated that they once again call on all opposition representatives not to “push their heads into sand before the announced desecration of the Serbian Constitution”, but to join an active campaign to overthrow the proposed changes to the Constitution in a referendum scheduled for 16 January next year. It was emphasized that the announced changes are taking away the entire judicial branch of power from people’s sovereignty, and in the name of independence from politics, it brings them into a dependent position from nepotism and big capital. It points out that the government is vulnerable in the referendum on 16 January, and emphasizes that victory at the referendum will prepare the ground for victory in the elections. “It is incomprehensible that any truly opposition political option intends to boycott a referendum in which it is easier to beat the authorities, but go to the polls where it is much harder to do so,” the statement said.
Sir Stuart Peach comes in peace (Politika)
The author Orhan Dragas comments the appointment of Sir Stuart Peach to the post of UK Special Envoy for Western Balkans, noting that when the appointment was announced, many believers in the myth that the British are responsible for all historical problems of Serbs immediately concluded that Peach is coming to finish off the Serbs. Their fears were only highlighted by the fact that Peach is a high-ranking military official. The author claims that although such fears and conspiracy theories might seem excessive, they are not far from the truth. However, notes Dragas, Serbia needs to leave aside the historical narrative aside and try to understand what is really happening on the global scene at the moment. According to Dragas, the appointment of UK Special Envoy should come as no surprise, since UK has been trying to reposition itself ever since the Brexit. Western Balkans and Serbia are part of the new ‘Global Britain’ strategy. Peach had an impressive career in the military and diplomacy with focus on ties with NATO, and UK President Boris Johnson probably could not find a stronger candidate for the post of Special Envoy, notes Dragas. According to Dragas, Peach’s tasks are clearly outlined in the strategic document of the UK government published this year – ‘Global Britain in Competitive Age – The Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy’. According to this document, the UK wants to integrate all its resources in order to keep its dominant role globally now that it is no longer part of the EU. The fact that the UK is sending one of its best to the Balkans how important the region is for UK’s interests. The primary goal believes Dragas, will be preservation of stability. Dragas also reminds that Peach as significant experience in negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, and notes that the biggest progress in the dialogue was reached when the EU foreign policy was steered by UK officials – former EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and her counsellor Robert Cooper. The appointment of Peach as well as EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak and US Special Envoy Gabriel Escobar indicates that the international community is determined to finish the job in the Balkans. However, notes Dragas, Serbia should be optimistic about this, because as the strongest and richest national in the region, Serbia also wants to resolve the status quo and find long-term solutions which will be result of a compromise and which will allow Serbia to move away from the post-conflict regimes. “General Peach is coming as part of that common mission and he should get all the support he needs. We already know from the myths of folk singers which are passed from generation to generation what is the alternative,” concludes Dragas.
Escobar meets Tegeltija; Tegetlija: Annulment of decision banning genocide denial would create preconditions for normal functioning of all institutions (RTRS)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) Chairman Zoran Tegeltija met with US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, in Sarajevo on Tuesday. Tegeltija stated that threatening with sanctions or imposing sanctions against anyone in B&H does not contribute to resolution of the current situation in B&H. He stressed that annulment of the decision banning genocide denial in B&H that was imposed by former High Representative Valentin Inzko would create preconditions for normal functioning of all institutions and stress the need for dialogue and an agreement between political representatives in B&H. Escobar will meet B&H Presidency members on Wednesday.
Escobar talks to media in B&H, he underlines issue of corruption as biggest problem in B&H; He argues that sanctions will not solve problems and that best sanctions are those coming from voters (Dnevni avaz)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar is paying a visit to B&H this week and on Tuesday he met with media representatives in B&H, during which he spoke about goals of his visit and noted that situation in B&H deeply concerns the US Administration. Escobar noted that this is his third visit to B&H in last two months and during these visits he got to see the extent of B&H crisis and not only political crisis, but the long-term crisis. “When it comes to the Western Balkans and part of the Western Balkans which is not part of the EU, we are witnessing the phenomenal economic growth. Economies of Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo have been developing at exceptionally high rate. Western Balkans already presents the fastest growing region in Europe,” said Escobar, underlining that B&H, unfortunately, is not part of this story. “Economy in B&H barely registered growth in the last year and COVID-19 is not the reason. It barely fought the inflation. Economy has been growing a quarter of growth rate in Kosovo. Youth brain drain is ten times higher than in North Macedonia or Serbia. While other countries are making progress in fight against corruption, corruption here has worsened. According to ‘Transparency International’ only Belarus and Azerbaijan are worse than B&H. Therefore, the true problem of B&H is deeply rooted corruption,” said Escobar. He noted that the US Administration is primarily focused on issue of the corruption in B&H, adding that this is the true goal they are focused on and what they want to achieve when they are working on creating of sustainable state. Stressing that he is ready to act as a partner to any local politicians ready to fight the corruption: “On the contrary, we will do that alone. I am asking all the politicians whom I am meeting to be part of the solution or we will see them as part of the problem.” A journalist asked about resistance towards initiative Open Balkans in B&H, Kosovo and Montenegro, and Escobar underlined that the US supports this initiative, as well every opportunity for regional economic integration, which includes Open Balkans as well as Berlin Process, Common Regional Marketa and CEFTA. Speaking about connections between Republika Srpska (RS) authorities with Moscow, Escobar noted that Milorad Dodik turned towards Moscow to protect his capital. “Dodik is turning towards Russia to protect his money. The same person who complains about Bonn powers is the person who used Bonn powers for his own benefit. His career started with removal of radical individuals and allowing him to take over control over RS authority,” said Escobar. When it comes to possibility of introducing of US sanctions against those undermining Dayton Peace Agreement, Escobar noted that sanctions are on the table, but this is not a primary tool that US wants to use in order to solve the problems. “The truth is, sanctions exist, but this is not primary mechanism to achieve reforms in this country. Reality is that even sanctions will not bring the healing and solve the problem here. What you need is rule of the law, what you need are limited constitutional reforms and strong institutions,” said Escobar. Escobar noted that it is time for change of the generations on the political scene in B&H, stressing once again that every businessman, young person or representative of civil sector will say that the corruption is the biggest problem here. He noted that many people in B&H do not vote and they wonder who will convey message that B&H wants to join the rest of the region and Europe and this will not be possible with politicians who do not share the vision. Hence, he believes that B&H will experience replacement of generation of politicians, arguing that it is not possible to continue with the same leaders who started the war 30 years ago. “If voters continue to support the people who are deeply rooted in the corruption then even the sanctions cannot help. If people continue to enable election system to be manipulated or refuse to participate in voting process, this will lead us nowhere. We want to be partners with people, with citizens and sanctions are possibility, but I do not want anyone to think that B&H, or even the RS will be sanctioned. Sanctions will be against individuals and companies who are corrupt, but this is not the way to achieve results in fight against corruption, because this truly needs to be responsibility of leaders and public who is voting,” said Escobar.
Asked about electoral reform, Escobar noted that the idea of electoral reform is to make the country more functional, adding that his colleague Matthew Palmer and his EU associate Angelina Eichhorst are dealing with this. He underlined that politicians have to become more responsible and institutions need to be more efficient and B&H has to function more as a state. “We need to find political consensus regarding the electoral reforms in order to satisfy the EU recommendations, demands of process of integration in the EU and in order to achieve global standards of functionality. This is not about credibility of international community, but credibility of political leaders. We need to keep politicians responsible not only via the pressure of the international community, but through pressure of voters. We hope that the international community, in partnership with B&H citizens, can achieve success in this,” said Escobar. Asked if this is one of the reasons B&H is not invited to ‘Democracy Forum’ hosted by President Joe Biden, Escobar noted that it is: “Dysfunctionality of central institutions prevents you to have single voice at this summit. Second thing, not much of success was made in fight against corruption and strengthening of democracy.” Asked about his earlier statements when he said that he talked to RS opposition representatives and they do not support Dodik, Escobar noted that this is not about Dodik. He underlined that he held series of phone talks with opposition, civil society, business persons and youth, conveying a message that they are searching for partners who want B&H to succeed. He noted that he told opposition representatives that Dodik is following a path of destruction and should not get support. Escobar who was asked, among other issues, on the daily’s remark that part of politicians and public in B&H want to erase the constituent peoples through reforms, which would be, in the daily’s opinion, a dangerous adventure. Escobar replied by saying that we must stop looking at B&H as some sort of exception in the world, stressing that “you are Europeans, culturally speaking you are Europeans, historically speaking”. Escobar further stated he will not go into details regarding the electoral reform, instead he will repeat what he said in Zagreb. Namely, that B&H must be a place where everyone is welcome, the Bosniaks, the Croats, the Serbs, the Roma and anyone else who considers him/herself citizen of B&H. Asked to comment on the question/remark that prior to his last visit, he talked to the opposition parties, which he tried to convince not to follow Milorad Dodik’s policy, Escobar said he told the opposition parties that the path Dodik has taken, namely the RS leaving the central institutions, is a destructive move that should not be supported. “I give these messages to everyone. Not only in Banja Luka but here in Sarajevo too” added Escobar. Asked if there is any politician in B&H who advocates armed conflict as way to solve problems, Escobar said: “I do not think. It would be irresponsible.” Escobar said that there is no RS Army and that the United States supports implementation of peace. Escobar underlined that formation of the RS army would only lead to escalation which, according to him, would not be supported by any country in the region. Escobar noted that the B&H Armed Forces (AF) have to meet the needs of all and that one should fight for the Armed Forces to be capable.
Becirovic: Sanctions will ensue soon by US, EU, Germany and UK (Nova BH)
Nova BH reports that it is expected the PIC will discuss potential sanctions at its two-day session. Commenting on the announced sanctions, Director of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) Zijad Becirovic said: “There is no coincidence in politics, particularly when it is the matter of such big things, big events. Sanctions will ensue, they are already present, but they will be intensive very soon, in the square between the US, the European Union (EU), Federal Republic of Germany and the UK. The US sanctions announced by US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar, will be comprehensive, systemic sanctions, not directed towards only one individual, but towards all those who are part of the chain that allows him political, corruptive and all other activities, so it will be reflected on business activities of many companies.” Nova BH reminds that the US is expected to publish this week a sanction list for foreign government officials linked to corruption and violation of human rights.
PIC SB Political Directors begin two-day session in Sarajevo (Hayat)
The two-day session of the political directors of member countries of the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council (SB PIC) began on Tuesday. The main topic will be the current political situation in B&H and the meeting will be attended by High Representative Christian Schmidt, as well as US Special Representative for Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar. All member countries of the PIC except Russia expressed support for Christian Schmidt. The last meeting of this body was held in November, when it expressed support to mandate of High Representative Schmidt and underlined that rhetoric or acts that lead to destabilization and divisions, including undermining of state institutions and reforms need to end. Russia did not agree with this statement. When it comes to the session of the PIC, the basic topic of the session was the current political situation in B&H, primarily about the blockade of B&H institutions, noted the reporter. It is expected this issue will be discussed during the two-day session of PIC and many expect a lot from the conclusions of PIC with different views, added the reporter. The former Vice President of SNSD Drago Kalabic said that a turbulent period will follow after PIC adopts its conclusions. A press conference is planned for Wednesday where PIC conclusions will be presented, added the reporter.
Zvizdic at Forum in Washington: Peace and prosperity in B&H mean peace and prosperity in the Western Balkans and Europe (Dnevni list)
Speaker of the B&H House of Representatives Denis Zvizdic took part in the Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum held in Washington on Tuesday and that Zvizidc assessed that the world today is a global community connected in many ways. Among other issues, Zvizdic said the current Coronavirus pandemic is teaching us there are not isolated communities. Speaker Zvizdic informed participants of the Forum about the security situation in B&H, stressing it is a security issue for the Western Balkans, South-East Europe and for the US. He further noted that “multi-ethnicity is B&H’s true code”, coexistence in which different cultures, religions and policies can be together. Zvizdic expressed regret that the Dayton agreement and its key annex, the Constitution of B&H, have been seriously endangered lately with blockade of institutions of B&H and secession threats coming from the RS officials. According to Zvizdic, there are activities that suspend state laws, which is in his opinion the undermining of constitutional-legal system of the state of B&H. “In any democratic state it is unthinkable, and that is what is happening in B&H. Because dissolution and destruction of B&H and undermining of the Dayton agreement mean opening the Pandora’s box, not only in B&H but in entire Balkans, as well as in Europe. Because no ‘peaceful dissolution of B&H’ is possible – everyone who seriously deals with the issue of B&H and Western Balkans knows that,” said Zvizdic.
Covic describes talks in Brussels as successful (FTV)
Leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic said that the Election Law is a symbolic but very important thing in the relations between Croats and Bosniaks that they want to finish because it is the basis for the return of trust between the two peoples. He described the talks he had on Monday in Brussels as very successful, as he managed to raise the interest of the leadership and Members of the European Parliament in the situation in B&H, and especially in the reform of the Election Law. A new round of talks will follow next week, mediated by the US Special Envoy for Western Balkans Matthew Palmer and the Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Angelina Eichhorst. Covic was quoted as saying: “Then these talks should be brought to an end, at least in those models that concern the Presidency and the House of Peoples and the credibility of the election process, i.e. technical changes to the Election Law. I believe in the possibility of an agreement, but we need to understand what the priorities are and what concessions we need to make to each other to make them in line with the Constitution, and to relax relations in B&H.”
RS opposition comments on upcoming special session of RS parliament (BHT1)
The Collegium of the RS parliament held a session on Tuesday and decided that a special session of the RS parliament on the return of competences transferred from the RS to the B&H level will take place on Friday, 10 December. Representatives of the opposition parties in the RS stated that they will not boycott the special session. However, representatives of the opposition parties have a number of questions. SDS RS MP Nedeljko Glamocak said that he did not get concrete answers to these questions from the advisers of the Serb member of the B&H Presidency. “I see that they do not have answers to these questions which is why I am increasingly convinced that this is another deceit by SNSD, a political farce centered primarily on the upcoming election year and the upcoming general elections,” Glamocak emphasized. Glamocak assessed that the RS government does not have true intention to return the RS’ competences but it only plays games. PDP representatives stated that PDP will advocate a position on the preservation of the constitutional and legal position of the RS. PDP RS MP Perica Bundalo stressed that PDP believes that one should return competences that can realistically be restored. “And that, in any case, is neither the army nor the indirect taxation authority,” Bundalo underlined. Bundalo said: “There are many open questions before the RS parliament and the public, i.e. primarily, why instead of 140 announced laws, this special session ended up with four information documents and one declaration. As we heard last night and in the past days from the highest-ranking officials in the RS, the goal seems to be only to open relevant discussions, as it was said”. Bundalo stated that this will be very important event in the post-Dayton history of B&H and the RS itself and that representatives in the RS parliament have great responsibility. He announced that high-ranking bodies of PDP will pass a decision on the vote of PDP representatives at the special session in the next two days.
Representatives of Troika from FB&H and representatives of opposition parties from RS point out that holding of elections in 2022 is unquestionable (BHT1)
Representatives of the Troika from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FB&H), consisting of SDP B&H, Our Party and People and Justice, met with representatives of the opposition parties from Republika Srpska (RS), including SDS, PDP and DNS, in Sarajevo on Tuesday. Meeting participants pointed out that holding of elections in 2022 is unquestionable and that together they will insist on transparent and fair elections. Meeting participants underlined that threats by the ruling parties, HDZ B&H and SNSD, of non-holding of elections are unacceptable and called on all relevant B&H and international institutions to provide technological support for the elections which, as they said, will prevent election theft. They especially emphasized that B&H has only two options – a conflict offered by the ruling coalition SNSD, SDA and HDZ B&H or co-operation and mutual respect with respect for the current B&H’s constitutional framework. The representatives of six opposition parties emphasized that they are jointly oriented towards B&H’s progress on its economic path and the path to the EU.
DNS’ Aleksandar Glavas, SDS leader Mirko Sarovic and PDP leader Branislav Borenovic attended the meeting on behalf of the RS opposition. Besides Glavas, Sarovic, Borenovic the meeting was attended by NS’ delegation Edin Forto, Sabina Cudic, Predrag Kojovic, SDP’s Nermin Niksic and Denis Becirovic and NiP leader Elmedin Konakovic.
Despite all threats, 2022 General Election will be held although some parties might decide to boycott it (Nezavisne)
Although there has been a lot of talk about the possibility that the 2022 General Election will not take place at all, the daily concludes that the election will be held even if the Election Law is not amended, although some political parties might decide to boycott the election. HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic who visited Brussels and met with several members of European Parliament earlier this week stated that there will be no conditions to hold the election unless the Election Law is amended. He warned that the situation in entire B&H will be like it used to be in Mostar where elections could not be held for 12 years. However, he also said that progress is possible with a little good will, and that a solution will probably be reached next week, at the next round of talks facilitated by EU and US officials. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic responded by saying that Croats are frustrated because they cannot elect their member of B&H Presidency, which is understandable. However, he also underlined that HDZ B&H must stop blocking the functioning of the FB&H. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik also announced the possibility of RS political parties boycotting the next election if the international community interferes in the election process. However, the RS opposition parties rejected this possibility. Opposition parties from both entities – SDP, NiP, ‘Our Party’, SDS, PDP and DNS – met on Tuesday. Their representatives stated after the meeting that they will insist on the election next year, and underlined that the election must be fair and transparent. They dismissed HDZ B&H and SNSD’s threats of boycott as unacceptable. Political analyst Vojislav Saric stated that it is difficult to predict the future course of negotiations on Election Law reform. However, he noted, everything will depend on relations between Bosniak and Croat parties in the FB&H. Savic expects that Bosniak parties will have to make a lot of concessions, because the Croats side obviously successfully lobbied for protection of the constituent status. He also noted that the Serb side will surely not accept any solutions imposed from the outside. Political analyst Tanja Topic stated that the election will surely be held, because such degradation of democracy in case of cancelling would not be tolerated. “There must be a red line somewhere for the toying with citizens and their rights, the only question is whether the party chieftains are aware that the patience of the international actors is running out”, Topic noted. In her opinion, the electoral reform will not be result of internal consensus, but of international pressure.
Izetbegovic, Croatian President Milanovic exchange mutual accusations (N1)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic should think before he comments on the situation B&H, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said referring to Milanovic’s latest statements on “different types of genocide”. Izetbegovic stressed that genocide in Srebrenica should not be relativized. Commenting on Izetbegovic’s statements, Milanovic stated on Tuesday that Izetbegovic has no interest in him being wiser, adding that Izetbegovic as great reconciliatory and “Hasan Aga” (a character from the Bosnian oral ballad ‘Hasanaginica’) defends Bosniak member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic who was a sponsor of Mujaheddins in Zenica and Kakanj. Milanovic again spoke about the genocide in Srebrenica and said that Holocaust, Jasenovac and Srebrenica cannot be equalized. Milanovic also commented Izetbegovic’s statement for N1 who said it would be better for Milanovic to think before speaking. “And then Mr. Bakir incites the UDBA (Yugoslavian State Security Administration) member from Zenica (Note: referring to Dzaferovic as spy) against me. There are always some people who will shout and insult. And I am not the problem, but they insult Croatia. And then he, a great statesman, tells me I should be smarter. Where is his interest if I am smarter?’’ When corrected by a journalist Izetbegovic’s statement was not exactly in that manner, Milanovic said that was even worse, meaning Izetbegovic’s referred to him as if he was not thinking at all, noting “I think about Bakir as well, and I have opinion about him”. “If everything is genocide, we must find another name for what the Nazis and the German machinery did to the Jews in World War II,” Milanovic said. Milanovic tried to explain his statement, stressing that “gentlemen from Sarajevo are bidding with victims.” Victims’ associations from B&H and certain B&H politicians have reacted to Milanovic’s latest statement. Izetbegovic stated that Milanovic should “think before he speaks” and that he should not insult victims and their families.
Milanovic says Dzaferovic was sponsor of Mujaheddins in Zenica and Kakanj, who came to Vukovar to provoke Serbs (HRT1/N1)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday that member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic is a sponsor of mujaheddins who came to Vukovar to provoke Serbs. Milanovic underlined that Dzaferovic is a prewar officer of a secret state security service of Yugoslavia (UDBA) from Zenica, who was bringing mujaheddins to B&H. The President of Croatia also described President of Bosniak National Council (BNV) in Croatia Armin Hodzic as “croaking magpie.” Milanovic also stated that Hodzic is falsely presenting himself as representative of Bosniak minority in Croatia, after Hodzic warned that a president of a country that is a member of the EU should not minimize victims and Srebrenica genocide. Milanovic underlined that Srebrenica is big tragedy, adding that no one will “close his mouth” when he talks about things that are of joint interest and are burdening region. He stressed that the verdict of a court in regards to Srebrenica genocide represents political qualification, adding that if it is right qualification, it is necessary to find a new name for what Nazis did. Milanovic underlined that after saying that Croatia organized a criminal enterprise in B&H, Dzaferovic came to Croatia and expected warm welcome. Milanovic stressed that Dzaferovic, who was sponsor of mujaheddins in Zenica and Kakanj, came to Vukovar to provoke Serbs and not to pay honor to Croatian victims. Milanovic responded on Tuesday to the criticism regarding his earlier statements on Srebrenica genocide, mentioning the court’s judgments. “Do those judgments represent the manifesto of destiny I need to abide by? No. I discuss them. I was in Srebrenica. I do not see that some people come to the places of suffering of another people,” said Milanovic. He also commented on insinuations that one people is genocidal, noting that “the way it bothers me when it is done to Croats, the same way it bothers me when it is done to Serbs”.
Grlic-Radman: Srebrenica genocide is indisputable (Hina)
“Genocide was indisputably committed in Srebrenica and the number of victims if not crucial for such a crime,” Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Tuesday, commenting on President Zoran Milanovic‘s controversial statements about the wartime massacre of Bosniaks. Milanovic said that genocide was committed in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serbs killed 8,000 Bosniaks in 1995, but that a new name had to be invented then for worse crimes such as the Holocaust. The President’s statement was strongly criticized by Bosniaks in Croatia and Bosniak politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who accused him of insulting the victims. “Genocide has no level or gradation to estimate the number of victims. Every genocide is genocide. One does not question the number of victims in a genocide, so we too condemned the Srebrenica genocide. That’s indisputable,” Grlic-Radman told the press. Asked if a street in Zagreb should be named after Aleksandra Zec, a 12-year girl of Serb ethnicity killed together with her parents by Croatian reserve policeman in 1991, the minister said it was up to the City Assembly. “Croatia condemns every crime, regardless of who committed it, and every perpetrator should answer for it.” He dismissed the initiative of the Social Democratic Party’s Zagreb branch to restore the Marshal Tito Square name. “I’m against it. Tito is on the list of those who breached international law and committed war crimes. He is responsible for the biggest crimes that happened in the war and the post-war period. And in the totalitarian communist system, countless Croats were killed. The break-up of the former artificial entity says everything.”
Milanovic: Zec family case ‘dreadful’ but there are more dreadful war stories (Hina)
President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday that the December 1991 murder of the 12-year-old Serb girl Aleksandra Zec and her parents in Zagreb was “a dreadful story,” but that there were “more dreadful stories and crimes perpetrated by the other side in the war,” state agency Hina reported. During his visit to the town of Valpovo, the President was asked about the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the murder of the Zec family in Zagreb later in the day and whether Croatia had taken the proper attitude to that case. Milanovic said that the two surviving members of the family had been invited to the government when he had been prime minister and that they had been paid damages. “What else should be done,” he wondered, underscoring that he did not belittle anybody’s death. Two surviving family members, Dusan and Gordana Zec, were paid one-off compensation in 2004. Members of a special police unit under Tomislav Mercep came to the home of the Zec family in Zagreb’s Tresnjevka neighborhood shortly after 11 pm on 7 December 1991 and shot dead 38-year-old Mihajlo Zec as he tried to escape. Marija and Aleksandra (12), who witnessed the murder, were then taken in a van to Mount Medvednica, overlooking Zagreb, where they were killed. I have been mentioning Vukovar these days. The city was systematically destroyed, not on impulse … and not at the end of the war as Srebrenica was, but systematically for two months… people were executed… Does that amount to genocide? Will we discuss that or stop this nonsense? Because in this way, it all becomes nonsense, Milanovic told the press. Commenting on other dreadful war cases, Milanovic cited the example of 40 elderly in Promina near the town of Drnis who were killed in their homes in 1993 by Serb paramilitaries out of revenge while they were allegedly under the protection of UN forces (UNPROFOR). “I have never seen Milorad Pupovac (the Croatian Serb leader) visit that place. And I went to Grubori, Varivode, Srb and Jasenovac,” Milanovic said, citing the sites where war crimes were committed against ethnic Serbs. He accused Pupovac of foul play and of immoral and unbecoming behavior. Milanovic accused the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) of supporting Pupovac in that “foul play”. He criticized Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and HDZ officials for failing to react to the false accusations that Croatia had committed ethnic cleansing. “Knin was not ethnically cleansed (in 1995), they fled, and nearly 30% of them (ethnic Serbs) have come back” he said. “Let me see if anybody who fled Serbia or the Bosnian Serb entity has come back to their home. In Croatia, people have come back (after the war),” he added. As for the topic of renaming again a square or a street in Zagreb after Josip Broz Tito, as recently suggested by an SDP official, Milanovic said that he did not know. “Thank God, I do not have to deal with such nonsense.” In the 20th century, four men — Stjepan Radic, Tito, (writer Miroslav) Krleza and (President Franjo) Tudjman — were crucial, Milanovic said and added that “ruffians” in the Zagreb City Assembly decided to remove the name of Tito from the square that used to be named after him. And I had suggested that they (Tito and Tudjman) should have their squares in Zagreb. That did not pass, and now I do not care anymore, said the head of state.
Grlic-Radman: Croatia’s experience ‘invaluable’ for Montenegro’s EU path (Hina)
Croatia’s negotiating experience is invaluable for Montenegro, for which there is no alternative to EU membership, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Djordje Radulovic said in Zagreb on Tuesday. He met with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic-Radman, who reiterated Croatia’s support for Montenegro’s European prospects. “Montenegro has made big progress and is certainly the likeliest EU member state,” Grlic-Radman said at a press conference. Montenegro has opened all policy chapters and provisionally closed only three. The last one was opened when Croatia chaired the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020. In its last progress report in October, Brussels again called on all six Western Balkan states to make progress in reforms, notably in the rule of law, press freedoms, and the fight against corruption and organized crime.
“There is no alternative to EU membership and Montenegro highly appreciates Croatia’s strong support for the European perspective of our country and the Western Balkans,” said Radulovic. “On that path, the experience of Croatia, which is our nearest EU member states and has the freshest experience, is of invaluable importance,” he added. According to the latest polls, 75% of Montenegro’s citizens support EU accession.
Vucic offers Grenell to assist in Dodik’s downfall; Cvijanovic presented as alternative to Dodik (Vijesti.me)
Podgorica based portal Vijesti.me published an article, which reads that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic offered himself via US lobbyist Richard Grenell to assist the political downfall of member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. According to the article, Grenell attended a meeting on December 1st in the Trump Tower in Washington with a group of Republican Congressmen and the meeting was also attended by Serbian Ambassador to USA, Marko Djuric, who is Vucic’s close associate. According to information that portal acquired, during the meeting Grenell portrayed Dodik as a huge disturbance factor in the region, while Vucic was presented as a partner and “stabilizer of the situation”. During the meeting Grenell noted that Vucic would be willing to assist in withdrawal or removal of Dodik, while Zeljka Cvijanovic was presented as an alternative. In return, Vucic hopes that this would help him to repair his image. Article carried names of Congressmen who attended the meeting (Claudia Tenney, Mike Turner and Nicole Malliotakis), but neither they nor Grenell wanted to speak to media about this meeting. Vijesti.me also reminded that group of Democratic Congressmen recently sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, criticizing Vucic because of allegations about corruption and pressure over media and they even demands considering of possible sanctions. Media in Serbia already wrote about the connections between Vucic and Grenell and Dusan Janjic from ‘Forum for Ethnic Relations’ claims that Serbia pays huge amounts of money to Grenell, which the Serbian Government “rather unconvincingly denied”. Media wrote about Grenell’s dines parties with Vucic and Ana Brnabic and even published his photo with Sinisa Mali from one of Belgrade’s night clubs. Article reads that Republicans still have huge influence and they hope to win majority in both Houses in 2022 and the unnamed source claims that it is not surprising that Vucic is still paying Grenell as a lobbyist. Vijesti argue that Vucic also complained about Dodik to EU Envoy Miroslav Lajcak during their last meeting. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic commented that he does not believe in this, but he warned that Dodik plays a very dangerous political game in which he cannot be a winner.
Krivokapic: I don’t expect sensations after 10 December, switching from one side to the other hasn’t brought happiness to anyone (CdM)
Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic, answering journalists’ question relating to the announcement of which three ministers in the government he is not satisfied with, has said that today is not a day for evaluation. Asked what he expects after 10 December and the DF’s platform to form a new government, Krivokapic has said he expects what is certain to happen after 11 December. He has stressed that there are at least five elements on the basis of which “you can judge at anyone”. “First for a program that is clear, and that concerns the Government’s program. The second one concerns the path to the EU and the fulfillment of obligations and perhaps the element of how transparent and accessible we are. Other criteria concern ethical elements. This is the government of creation, the government that brings innovations. If you want to give a grade, choose the moment,” the Prime Minister has pointed out. He believes that today is not the right day for evaluation. “Especially due to the complexity of the political situation, and the fact that we are not at the end of the year,” Krivokapic has said. He has also emphasized that the appointment of the Minister of Justice depends on the political will of parliament. The current government of Montenegro will be remembered as one of the most successful in the history of Montenegro, Krivokapic said. He said that the income of 700 million Euros in nine months, no one can dispute. The government of Montenegro is organizing a presentation to mark the first year of its work. We are broadcasting the event live on RTCG and TVCG2. “This government will be remembered as one of the most successful governments in history,” said Krivokapic. The Prime Minister also said that there was no going back. “There is no more political reset in Montenegro. Does anyone want that, of course it is his right,” Krivokapic pointed out. He also stated that 700 million Euros of revenue was generated in nine months, which, as he points out, is five times more than in 2020. “That is a result that no one can dispute,” Krivokapic said. He also said that this government works differently. “This government does not take but gives, gives what it can, knowledge, skills and sacrifice in everyday work, it is a fight for the future of Montenegro. Montenegro cannot win otherwise,” the Prime Minister said.
Abazovic: Much has been done, the best is yet to come (RTCG)
Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said that a year ago, Montenegro got a government of honest people whose goal is to work for the public good, and not for personal interest. “A lot has been done in a year, regardless of any perception. All types of mafia were attacked, there was a big gap in the public administration, the lack of processes and procedures for decision-making, and the lack of clear visions on how to move forward. However, despite all the misfortunes, even if we did not have, not only 100 minutes, but 100 days without criticism, we immediately got to work and tried to give the maximum so that Montenegro could take another honest path, and that’s what happened,” Abazovic said at the press conference on the occasion of the year of work of the executive power whose motto is “For a healthy Montenegro”. He says that everyone was afraid that we would go bankrupt, which did not happen, and as he adds, good results were achieved in tourism as well. According to Abazovic, the citizens are most interested in the distribution of justice. “We did not spare ourselves, just as we will not spare those who broke the law,” Abazovic said. With the modest support of the prosecution, he says that the hands of the Government are quite tied, but, as he adds, they will not give up. “A lot has been done in the year of democratic government, and the best things are yet to come,” Abazovic concluded.
Bogdanovic: Election results show growing trend of support for civilian and pro-European forces (CdM)
DPS Secretary General Aleksandar Bogdanovic has expressed his satisfaction with the results of Sunday’s local elections, both those concerning the DPS and all other civilian forces. “As far as the DPS is concerned, we have achieved what we set out to do – we have remained by far the strongest party in all three municipalities and we see the election results as a good announcement of what awaits us soon – a new cycle of local and possibly parliamentary elections,” Bogdanovic has said. He has pointed out that the DPS won a total of 47.3% of seats in three municipalities, and almost 8,000 votes. He has said that if the results of other allies are added to that, it is clear that there is a growing trend of voter support for civilian and pro-European forces.
Djukanovic and Maddox: Peach’s appointment as special envoy confirms Britain’s commitment to regional security (CdM)
The appointment of Sir Stuart Peach as the British special envoy for the Western Balkans is good news for Montenegro and the region and a confirmation of the United Kingdom’s commitment to stability and security in the region. This has been concluded at a meeting of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and British Ambassador Karen Maddox. Djukanovic has pointed out that the appointment of a special envoy is in line with the assessment we heard during Brexit – that the UK’s exit from the EU will not mean a lack of attention for our region, which Montenegro welcomes. Ambassador Maddox has expressed gratitude for Djukanovic’s participation in the Conference and the trip to Glasgow during the demanding period of the Covid pandemic, emphasizing that she has been impressed by the strong commitments and dedication he expressed in his address on behalf of Montenegro. Djukanovic has thanked the ambassador for her interest in summarizing the results of the Glasgow Conference, as well as for the invitation and successful organization of this year’s COP, and stressed that Montenegro is continuously dealing with these issues in accordance with available resources, which are defined as environmental priorities of the state committed to sustainable development, ambitiously participating in achieving the goals of the Climate Conference. “Aware of the global importance of this issue, but also of the importance for the future development of our country, which is oriented towards tourism and services and complementary to the production of healthy food, we understand opportunities such as COP26 as a chance to further emphasize the importance of multilateral cooperation,” Djukanovic has stated. He has suggested the conditions for creating the so-called Green Program of Bilateral Cooperation on the basis of previous activities, since in addition to unquestionable political declaration for this demanding goal, Montenegro needs expert and financial support. “Inspired by Glasgow, we can come up with projects that will bring us closer to achieving the ambitions of the Summit,” Djukanovic has concluded.
A stable majority is secured, the agreement with Alternative will become part of the government program (Libertas)
The agreement reached with Alternative ensured a stable majority in the Assembly and a stable government. Such a majority, according to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, will work to ensure continuity and a successful epilogue to the process of starting EU membership negotiations and to achieve the priorities of the government program that will be supplemented by the agreement reached with Alternative. DUI, which is a coalition partner of SDSM, is not against the entry of Alternative in the government. They say they were fully informed about the talks and that the prime minister was leading the talks on behalf of the coalition. The smaller coalition partners think that it is good that the parliamentary majority is increasing for four more MPs and estimate that now the country does not need early parliamentary elections. At the meeting with Prime Minister Zaev, the leaders of the smaller coalition partners were acquainted with the details of the agreement with Alternative, as well as the content of the document entitled “Basic principles for upgrading the work program of the government of the Republic of Northern Macedonia”, which should be refine and clarify in order to become an integral part of the new government program.
Mickoski: The new coalition is the last act of the attempt to destroy Macedonia directed by Zoran Zaev (Republika)
When asked by the press during his to Stip to comment on the new coalition which included Alternative and the distribution of director and ministerial positions, VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski said that this resembles the last act of the attempt to destroy Macedonia, directed by Zoran Zaev and SDSM. What is happening in the past few days is a political ignorance of Zoran Zaev and SDSM and an attempt to extend their political life for a few weeks. It is a shame what is happening, it is a shame that politics has been reduced to trade as in the green market and instead of talking about strategy, vision, talking about values, talking about development projects, today the debate comes down to who – how many ministerial positions they got, how many director positions they got, how many members in the board of directors, how many in the supervisory board and at the end of the day all that is paid by the poor citizens in Macedonia, said Mickoski. Mickoski went on to say that this is the essence of Zoran Zaev’s approach which is completely wrong and once again concluded that this is actually the last act of trying to destroy Macedonia, to impoverish the people and all that directed by Zoran Zaev and SDSM.
Next Bulgarian PM Kiril Petkov announces that the veto against Macedonia will remain in place for at least six more months (Republika/Der Spiegel)
The likely next Prime Minister of Bulgaria Kiril Petkov dashed the hopes of the PM Zoran Zaev regime that he will authorize the speedy opening of Macedonia’s EU accession talks. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Petkov said that Macedonia will have to wait at least six more months, until committees are set up to review Bulgarian issues with Macedonia, such as the Macedonian history textbooks, where Petkov complains about the mention of the Bulgarian participation in the Axis during the Second World War. “We need to set up working groups and let them sit down for six months, so that it’s not just the nationalists on both sides who are calling the shots. Why are there no flights and no train connections between Sofia and Skopje? Let’s talk more about economics than about different interpretations of the shared history. Or about Northern Macedonian textbooks that claim that Bulgarians are fascists. Giving the green light to accession negotiations now without discussion will only strengthen the nationalists in both camps. We are counting on negotiations rather than propaganda,” Petkov told Der Spiegel.
Journalist Walter Mayr observed that the issues Bulgaria raises against Macedonia are “flimsy”. There is already a joint committee of historians whose discussions have gotten progressively more difficult as the years went by and Petkov is asking for new such groups to be formed in different areas. Petkov was among the more conciliatory Bulgarian politicians during the negotiations to form the new coalition, but it includes the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the ITN protest movement led by showman Slavi Trifonov. Both have taken hard line positions toward Macedonia, and ITN is expected to be given the foreign policy department in the next government. The previous Borisov government, and President Radev from BSP, have made increasingly intrusive demands toward Macedonia, which were eventually unanimously supported by the Bulgarian parliament. The demands are that Macedonia redefines its national identity and history along Bulgarian lines, and more recently, the demands are also focusing on the alleged discrimination against ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia. The next European Council is on December 14th, and Zoran Zaev was hoping that he can secure some kind of a deal with Bulgaria by then – he was even using the wave of sympathy between the two countries after the disastrous bus accident two weeks ago to say that it will “positively influence relations” and hinted it could help do away the veto.
Rama honored by Clinton with the “Vital Voices Global” Award (Radio Tirana)
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has been honored by former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with the “Vital Voices Global” award for the housing of Afghans in Albania and the inclusion of a large number of women in the government cabinet. Hillary Clinton expressed her thanks during her speech to Rama’s leadership today because more than 1000 Afghans are safe in Albania. She also praised the appointment of women to government. “At a time when women’s rights and security around our globe are in difficult times, Prime Minister Rama’s commitment to advancing well-being, opportunities in Albania and for Afghans and others should inspire us all to act.” With these words of appreciation for the Prime Minister of Albania, the former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, has presented him with the “Vital Voices Global Award” on behalf of the Vital Voices Organization. When I called the Prime Minister to thank him for this extraordinary commitment, he answered very naturally “what else should we have done”. It seems to me that I hear Dan say, “Why, what else should we do but pay people equally?” Prime Minister Rama realized almost instinctively how important it was to extend his hand, to say “yes”. “I would like to have more leaders with this kind of approach,” Clinton said.
Clinton recalled the first moments when the evacuation of Afghans from Kabul was being prepared, moments in which, according to her, Edi Rama was among the few world leaders who expressed their readiness. The former US Secretary of State pointed out that aid to Afghans is not the only the reason why Rama is honored with an award by the Vital Voices Organization.
“After his re-election, in September, Prime Minister Rama set a historical record by appointing the largest number of women in Albania ever in the government of the country. Over 70 percent of the ministers in his cabinet are women, and some of them are here tonight – equal partners in the effort to shape the country they serve. He continues to place gender equality at the center of his government’s agenda and to raise his voice against gender-based violence and to strengthen the economic participation of Albanian women,” Clinton was quoted as saying.
Rama in New York: I am not a hero, but it is the Albanians who have always helped the weakest (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama was honored during his visit to New York with the “Honored Global Innovator” award from the organization founded by Hillary Clinton “Vital Voices” for the assistance he provided to Afghan refugees who fled their country in last summer, after the state was invaded by the Taliban. In his speech, Prime Minister Rama said: “It seems to me a very alarming sign for the world in which we live, this great desire to assess a reasonable basic judgment. “It’s no heroism not to turn your back on people who are in danger of dying.” Rama went back in history to show that Albanians have always been willing to be hospitable and heroic to the people who were suffering the consequences of the war. “Heroes were the Albanians who had everything to lose during the Second World War and saved the Jews, making Albania the only country in Europe that had more Jews at the end of the Second World War, and ranking Albania in it righteous among the nations, through the salvation of 3750 Jews and the closing of the chapter of the War without any Jews surrendered to the Nazis. It all comes from a long time ago, when Albanians wrote their first constitution. The key paragraph of our first constitution says: The house of the Albanian belongs to God and to the friend. I underline, the word ‘friend’ in that paragraph does not only mean the one who invites, but also the one who knock and appears at the door uninvited. And that knocking is your duty to God to open the door and find the knocker.” The Prime Minister also recounted the moment when the issue of Afghans who had cooperated with the West and who as a result were very endangered by the new regime was addressed. “When we met in June at a meeting of NATO member states and talked about withdrawing from Afghanistan, I also mentioned the need to address the issue of ‘traitors’. The ‘traitors’, as our rather bitter history of dictatorship teaches us, are those who, after a regime is installed, are seen as collaborators of the enemy, and in this case, the ‘traitors’ were all those Afghans, men and women, who came to us, who worked with us, who covered so many services for NATO countries,” Rama said. “I think that as a NATO member country as well, we had to do it. We are a small country, we cannot change the fate of any war and go to war when the United States of America decides, but what if we are not even there when it comes to saving people, without doing heroic acts like the ones that the old women and men before us did during World War II, why should we be members of NATO and what value do we have in this world? I am very proud to tell you that no Albanian political party said ‘no’ to the hosting of these people and our public opinion was very supportive of their hospitality. But I also think that we should do it as an obligation to our children. They need to know that in this life, there is a time to receive and a time to give. Then, it was us who got it, now it was our turn to give,” Rama said.
Escobar visits Tirana to confirm fight against corruption and undermining democracy (Radio Tirana)
The US Embassy in Tirana has disclosed 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, supported friendship 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.”