Brnabic: Serbian citizens understood importance of changes leading to more independent judiciary (RTS/Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic spoke on Wednesday with the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Emanuel Giaufret. Brnabic underlined that she is satisfied with the results of the referendum on the change of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia in the field of judiciary and the fact that the citizens of Serbia understood the importance of changes that lead to a more independent and efficient judiciary and which represent the most important step towards further reforms in the field of the rule of law. She noted that the support from the most relevant professional associations, first and foremost the Judges’ Association of Serbia and the Association of Prosecutors, is very important. Giaufret welcomed the completion of this important step in the reform of the Constitution, which is in line with Serbia’s strategic choice of joining the EU. He underlined that the reform process aimed at strengthening independence of the judiciary should be continued, especially through changes to laws for an effective implementation of Constitutional amendments, in line with European standards, with the engagement of the Venice Commission. Constitutional reforms and the recent opening of Cluster 4 in the accession negotiations with the EU which deals with the Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity are very positive steps for Serbia on its path to the EU, Giaufret said. Brnabic voiced her protest over Pristina’s move regarding the holding of the referendum in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija and its decision to deny Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija one of their basic human rights – the right to vote. Brnabic and Giaufret also discussed her upcoming visit to Brussels on 25 January, where she will attend a session of the Council for Stabilization and Association. The meeting was also attended by Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic.
Mojsilovic: SAF to react to unilateral actions in north of Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTS/Novosti)
Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) Chief of General Staff General Milan Mojsilovic on Wednesday said fresh unilateral actions by Kosovo security forces in the north of Kosovo and Metohija were not ruled out but that the SAF would react to attempts to mount such actions. “I am not ruling out the possibility of the security forces that exist in Kosovo and Metohija engaging in an unilateral and disproportionate manner with the aim of achieving certain political gains on the ground, but our demand, our insistence, as well as some other things, will be aimed at securing not only peace but also a state of security guaranteeing that our people in Kosovo and Metohija can live and exercise their rights like all citizens of this country,” Mojsilovic said after an analysis of the condition and capabilities of the SAF in 2021. Mojsilovic reiterated that, under UN SC Resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Military Technical Agreement, KFOR troops were the only legal military force in the province.
Stefanovic: Serbia no threat to anyone (Tanjug/Beta/N1/Novosti)
The year 2021 was the first year in a long time in which the Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) had a higher inflow of military officers, NCOs and professional soldiers, as well as soldiers in voluntary military service, and also acquired a large quantity of the arms and equipment it was lacking, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said on Wednesday. Stefanovic said this after a presentation of an analysis of the SAF’s condition and operational and functional capabilities in 2021, also attended by President Aleksandar Vucic. Stefanovic said the SAF was achieving new capabilities on a daily basis, and announced further major acquisitions of arms and equipment as well as more housing units for SAF personnel. “Serbia is no threat to anyone. It is acquiring arms only to the extent required by the units to defend Serbia. We are not in a race against anyone… Had greater investments been made in the past, we would not be having to invest so much now to make up for lost ground,” Stefanovic said in response to comments on arms acquisitions by the SAF. In that context, he asked why Croatia, a NATO member state, was spending 1 billion Euros to buy modern Raphale fighter jets and who it intended to use them against. The presentation was also attended by Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, parliament speaker Ivica Dacic, the Chair of the parliamentary committee on defense and interior affairs Aleksandar Markovic, the Chair of the parliamentary committee supervising the security services Igor Becic and the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic.
Stefanovic claims to enjoy President Vucic’s support
Stefanovic on Wednesday denied claims that he had been dismissed from all his posts in the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), adding that he enjoys the support of President Aleksandar Vucic. Stefanovic said that he resigned as head of the Belgrade SNS branch but added that he was recently re-elected to the SNS Presidency. “I am doing this job (Defense Minister) with the support of Vucic. If he didn’t want me to be defense minister I would not be. I he doesn’t want me to be minister any longer tomorrow I won’t be. There’s not need to elaborate,” he told reporters following a meeting with the Serbian military chiefs and the president. Stefanovic said he is prepared to resign at any time. According to him, the SNS is “a democratic party in which everyone can say what they think about anyone”. He said the party has “pluralism of thought” as well. “Many in the opposition who want to see discord in the SNS will see a well constructed organization,” he said.
Dacic: Sanctions for Kurti for announcing to ban vote in April (B92/Beta)
Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic stated on Wednesday that Pristina’s announcements that it would ban the Kosovo Serbs’ from voting in the April elections, after having done the same in the referendum, represented the continued undermining of the Brussels agreements. “That is the continuation of undermining everything that has been agreed in Brussels, but also of the great powers’ policy of tolerating all that. I think it is absolutely unacceptable,” Dacic said in an interview to TV B92. Dacic urged the “great powers” to show that they were unbiased and, since Kurti had refused the request of the Quint to enable the holding of the referendum in Kosovo, to impose sanctions against him, just as they did against the member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik.
Petkovic: Kurti’s claims untrue (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Reacting to Albin Kurti’s statement, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic stated that Kurti, who knows how many times, tried to spread the untruth that electricity in the north of Kosovo and Metohija has allegedly not been paid for years. “The facts say the opposite, and that is that absolutely every kilowatt of electricity consumed all these years has been duly paid, because official Belgrade and EPS paid for the electricity that arrived in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo and Metohija through the EMS transmission systems until the beginning of 2021,” the statement said. It is added that at issue is “electricity of the Republic of Serbia, which Belgrade supplied the north of Kosovo and Metohija from the moment when Pristina physically interrupted the supply of electricity to the north a decade ago, which could have led to a humanitarian catastrophe”. “The authorities of the provisional institutions in Pristina are solely responsible for the current unresolved situation on the ground, persistently refusing to issue a license for electricity supply to Elektrosever company, thus directly violating the energy agreements reached in 2013 and 2015 within the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue,” Petkovic points out. According to him, Pristina refuses to even discuss that topic during the last rounds of dialogue in Brussels, although obtaining a supply license for Elektrosever company is vital, but Kurti obviously does not want that. “On the issue of energy, the matter is very clear, Pristina is deliberately creating a problem, because it is delaying the licensing of Elektrosever, which, according to the agreement, fulfilled all the necessary conditions a long time ago,” the Office for Kosovo and Metohija said in a statement.
Serbia’s activist announces new protests to make regime keeps its word (N1)
Savo Manojlovic, the director of Kreni-Promeni (Go–Change) campaigns, told N1 on Wednesday the organization would stage a new series of protests, making the authorities keep their word. We have two crucial demands, but the protest is also against the attack (on Tuesday) we suffered outside the parliament. Tomorrow is when we should show that this is not the city (Belgrade) of the blackmailed (people). If the two demands – the abolition of the (Rio Tinto’s) ‘Jadar Project Spatial Plan and ban on lithium and boron mining for 20 years – are not met, we have further plans. It’s up to the authorities how far we will go,” he said. Manojlovic added he would announce the steps and tactic on Thursday. Manojlovic told N1 that a Financial Times’ reporter called him to tell him that Rio Tinto stopped the project for a year. “That is lowering the topic until the elections are over,” Manojlovic said. In the meantime, Dacic said the People’s Initiative on Geological Research, submitted to the parliament by the Kreni-Promeni on Tuesday was returned to the submitters, because that proposal does not contain certain legal preconditions for verification.
Macron advocates clear perspective for Western Balkans’ EU accession (Beta)
French President Emmanuel Macron called on Wednesday for the Western Balkan countries to be given a clear perspective for their accession to the European Union, and advocated “a strong and independent Europe and a new security order” of Europe with NATO in relation to Russia. “We must not be distant from the Western Balkans any more (…) They should receive a clear perspective from us, for accessing the European Union in a reasonable time,” Macron said in his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, news agencies have reported. However, he emphasized, Europe in its current condition is not one that can accept new members, and stressed that changes were needed in the Union that would enable “quicker, clearer and more effective decisions.” “We need a strong Europe that can respond to the climate, technological, digital challenges, we need an independent Europe that will decide about its future on its own and not depend on other powers,” the French president stated, while presenting France’s priorities during its six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union.
US Embassy officials look for prosecutor to press charges against Dodik (RTRS/Srna)
Officials of the US Embassy visited the B&H Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday and they discussed the options for the pressing of charges against Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik tied to the purchase of a house in Belgrade. This information was uncovered by Srna from sources close to the US Embassy. According to the information of Srna, the officials of the US Embassy looked for and found a prosecutor who agreed to do this job. The same sources confirmed that the officials instructed the prosecutor to press charges at any cost, regardless of the evidence. RTRS reminds that the B&H Prosecutor’s Office investigated owner of ‘Pavlovic International Bank’ Slobodan Pavlovic for issuing a loan to Dodik for the purchase of a house in Belgrade. During these investigations, Pavlovic and several employees of the bank were arrested. It was established that there were no irregularities.
Biden responds to letters of B&H diaspora; we will always stand by the side of our friends (Dnevni avaz)
Professor at Columbia University in New York, Amra Sabic al-Rejes launched the action among the B&H diaspora in the US regarding the poor political and security situation in B&H to send a message and letter to US President Joe Biden and US Senators and Congressmen, standing against destruction of B&H. Results of this action are already visible and many of B&H citizens received the response, one of them being Efendi Senad Agic. “We have returned the diplomacy into the center of our foreign politics and we are dedicated to facing today’s global challenges from the position of power, cooperating with our allies and partners. I also want to be clear that I will never hesitate to defend the US people or our vital political interests including use of force when necessary. We will always stand by the side of our friends all over the world in order to protect our values and improve peace, security and prosperity for all. I appreciate that you have shared your stances with me and I will keep in mind your perspective about these important issues while we are working on meeting of challenges of our time,” reads among other things the response of President Biden.
Schallenberg calls for reaction of international community due to undermining of B&H (FTV)
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has called for reaction of the international community due to undermining of B&H. He expressed support to the international community in B&H at a meeting with High Representative Christian Schmidt on Wednesday. Schallenberg wrote in a tweet after the meeting that undermining the unity of B&H and the legitimacy of its institutions is unacceptable, adding that the international community and the EU have to consider actions.
Power arrives to reaffirm US’ commitment to partnering with citizens of B&H (O Kanal)
Samantha Power, the Administrator of USAID, has arrived in a visit to B&H on Wednesday. Her goal is to stress the US’ firm commitment to the promotion of reconciliation through meetings with representatives of B&H authorities, civil society organizations, youth activists, investigative journalists, environmental activists, entrepreneurs of small companies and war victims in B&H. Power is also expected to meet local partners of the USAID from the NGO sector in Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of B&H (FB&H). USAID stated that Power will meet with the B&H Presidency members to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to partnering with the citizens of B&H as they seek to build a democratic and prosperous future in a stable, functioning B&H. During her visit to B&H, Power will meet with local partners of USAID from the nongovernmental sector in both entities. She will have meetings with government officials, civil society representatives and young activists, investigative journalists, environmentalists, businessmen and B&H war survivors. Ahead of her visit, Power spoke with High Representative Christian Schmidt. On that occasion, Power reaffirmed the support of the United States to the High Representative and his authority in exercising all necessary powers, including the Bonn Powers, until the full implementation of the ‘5+2’ agenda and until B&H meets the criteria for functioning without international supervision. Hayat stressed that Power is not an ordinary politician, but a person who ranks high in the US politics and a person of trust to the US administration. During the war, Power reported about the aggression on B&H, stressing that she knows very well who carried out the aggression on B&H. Power has come to B&H in the midst of more and more frequent attempts at secession and collapse of the constitutional-legal order of B&H by the RS authorities, as well as constant pressure by HDZ B&H to change the B&H Election Law in a way which would deepen the ethnonational division of society in B&H.
Turkovic: There will be sanctions, however I do not believe that they will be unanimous when it comes to the EU (Hayat)
B&H Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic, speaking about the importance of USAID Administrator Samantha Power‘s visit to B&H, stated that Power is an exceptional person. “A person who knows B&H very well, who spent time here in the most difficult period, who showed a great deal of understanding, who pushed the processes in B&H and I do not believe that her arrival at this moment is accidental,” Turkovic said. Asked whether she believes that this is a plan of the US administration, Turkovic said that it certainly is. “No one in the US administration does anything without a plan, without agreement. There are no individual actions,” Turkovic said. Turkovic stressed that Power’s intention is to show that the US is with B&H. Asked what can be expected from the upcoming visit of Special US Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar to B&H, Turkovic said that she believes Escobar’s task is very clear. “I hope that he will appear to testify in the US Senate on the 26th, that he will speak about B&H. His arrival has also been announced and he should visit not only B&H, but other countries of the Western Balkans as well. He is a man who is very involved, who is carrying out the orders he received from the top of the administration and who is trying to direct B&H towards what is the natural path and that is the path towards the EU and path towards the establishment of the best possible relations with NATO,” Turkovic emphasized. Asked to comment on the upcoming diplomatic offensive in B&H, Turkovic said that the situation in B&H is as such that it requires involvement. “The situation is as such that it requires to try very vigorously and dynamically to solve problems which exist in B&H and which can lead to an escalation of further unfortunate events. Of course, this is a diplomatic offensive, and a lot of effort is being exerted to improve the situation,” Turkovic stressed, adding that besides Power, Escobar, US Special Envoy for Electoral Reform Matthew Palmer and Director for Western Balkans and Turkey of European External Action Service Angelina Eichhorst, who will all stay in B&H in the coming weeks, other important visits to B&H have been announced as well. Asked whether she expects the US to impose sanctions against more individuals from B&H, Turkovic said that she will leave it up to the US Embassy to announce that. “I can only say that this is definitely not the end. But, everything else, they are the authors of that and I would not want to interfere in their job, i.e. in their announcements,” Turkovic said. Asked how dangerous it is that countries in the region are getting involved in secession stories, Turkovic said that she would not exactly say that they are getting involved. “It depends on what do you consider to be interfering of the countries of the region. I believe that some look at the current situation with more or less sympathy, that some understand it better or worse, in the end, that some things correspond more or less to their political orientations,” Turkovic underlined. She stressed that no one from the neighborhood, near or far, has called the sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H into question. “That is very clear to everyone. The only question that is being raised is whether different political players should be sanctioned or one should try to persuade them in another way to work on the progress and further development of B&H,” Turkovic said. Asked whether she believes the EU will follow in the US’ footsteps and impose sanctions against certain individuals in B&H, Turkovic stated that many EU countries are in the final stages of considering sanctions which they want to apply “regarding all these ugly announcements coming from one part of B&H”. “There will be sanctions. There will definitely be sanctions. However, I do not believe that they will be unanimous when it comes to the EU simply because of the manner in which decisions are made, because of the problems that exist in the EU or open issues in the EU which do not directly concern us, but we certainly feel the effects of these open issues as well,” Turkovic pointed out. Asked to comment on the celebration of the RS Day and the presence of the ambassadors of Russia, China and Serbia at the 9 January celebration in Banja Luka, Turkovic said that it is necessary to say what is right and what is not. “Perhaps someone is pulled by some invitation or the level from which the invitation is coming, the level of the B&H Presidency member. However, what is stipulated in the constitutional provisions and laws of this country must be respected, no matter who it is,” Turkovic underlined. Speaking about Russia’s current policy towards B&H, Turkovic said that during their recent meeting, she and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov had a high degree of understanding when it comes to B&H. “At no point did he challenge sovereignty or territorial integrity of B&H. He also had a full understanding that the laws being challenged today were passed in both houses of Parliament, that representatives of SNSD were present at the sessions,” Turkovic said. She stressed that the body which is announcing that it will adopt new laws and which is challenging the institutions that were established on the basis of laws “which they themselves, i.e. their representatives accepted” is clearly entering illegal and unconstitutional activities. “Lower authority level cannot challenge decisions of higher authority level, not only in B&H, but nowhere in the world. Therefore, it is completely clear that this is violation of legal norms and that everything that has been announced has no legal validity,” Turkovic emphasized.
Stanivukovic, others condemn sanctions against ATV (ATV)
Many people condemned the sanctions that were issued by the US against ATV. Support for ATV came from the East Herzegovina municipalities, but also from Banja Luka Mayor Drasko Stanivukovic. ATV, however, noted that a few months ago Stanivukovic and members of the opposition staged a protest, emphasizing the importance of media freedoms, but ATV does not believe such protest will be staged after recent sanctions. At that time, Stanivukovic said he would do the same, i.e. stage a protest, if media freedoms were endangered to any of the television stations in the RS. On Wednesday, ATV asked Stanivukovic to comment the sanctions. He said he is strictly against sanctions issued for ATV, as he would be in any other case that involves a television station in RS. He said the US should not have meddled in the RS’ affairs, when there are competent domestic institutions that could have investigated any potential claims and determine the facts. “If someone wants to view something, or if they do not wish to view it, these people here should choose, and not for someone around us to impose something” Stanivukovic told ATV. He emphasized that citizens, the laws and the competent institutions in RS should be “judge and jury” in any such case. “And not someone from the outside, no matter what the reason is,” the Banja Luka Mayor stated, adding he is categorically against sanctions issued for media outlets. ‘United Srpska’ councilor in the Banja Luka City Assembly Neven Stanic condemned sanctions against ATV and said “today it is ATV, tomorrow it might be any other television station”. Stanic expected more reactions to come from the opposition as they were a lot more protectively inclined towards other media outlets and their media freedoms. Stanic said that if opposition stands for certain principles then those principles should apply in all cases. He accused the opposition of having double standards. Istocno Sarajevo Mayor Ljubisa Cosic said sanctions against ATV are unacceptable and that this is just “an American crazy practice”. “With all due respect to different opinions, we must not allow that in such way media outlets in our country are ‘disciplined’ from the outside, whose only ‘sin’ is that they affirm clear legitimate views of the RS through their work”, Cosic was quoted as saying. Representatives of the Alliance of Cities and Municipalities of the East Herzegovina also reacted to the sanctions. They say it is ludicrous that foreign factors sanction a media outlet due to media freedoms and independent editorial policy. “Although hate speech was often practiced on various media platforms, from the Internet and electronic to print media in B&H, no party, not even an internal body, sought or imposed penalties to prevent hate speech and inappropriate expression. In light of such circumstances, it is clear that the pressure on ATV and the imposition of sanctions on this media outlet was done for one reason only and with one goal – to endanger the survival of ATV”, assessed Acting Executive Director of the Alliance of Cities and Municipalities of the East Herzegovina, Luka Petrovic.
ATV investigates if Serb representatives will return to work in joint institutions of B&H (ATV)
ATV investigates if Serb representatives will return to work in joint institutions of B&H. ATV shared opinions of the ruling authorities and the RS opposition on recent request of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for return of Serb representatives in the B&H institutions. Even though the RS parliament session was not even scheduled, the RS opposition stated that Vucic’s request means a complete capitulation of policies advocated by Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. On the other hand, Dodik emphasized that Vucic’s request should be discussed, and that should be done in the RS parliament. He also noted that Serb representatives already take part in work of the B&H institutions, in line with the RS parliament’s conclusions. Dodik accused the opposition of trying to misuse and falsely present the request that was made by Vucic. He advised the opposition to once again read the joint statement that came after Dodik’s meeting with Vucic. Dodik said the most important part of that statement is that Vucic showed how deeply he cares about B&H, and how he would like nothing more than for the problems in this country to be resolved. Dodik said the opposition is now trying to present like Vucic’s request means “all is done” and that decision on return to the B&H institutions has already been made. Dodik said this is not true. He emphasized that it is a great thing that the Serbian President showed such care for the RS, and overall issues in B&H, and Dodik promised this matter will be discussed in the National Assembly in the coming days. That being said, Dodik pointed out that conditions for their return to work in the joint institutions of B&H have not been fulfilled. He elaborates that imposed decisions were not withdrawn, which is a problem. Dodik reminded that RS parliament conclusions include one which speaks of the moments in which Serb representatives can participate in work of B&H institutions. He said conclusion number four addresses this matter and says they can work in B&H institutions if they deem the discussed matter is important for the RS and its interests. Dodik emphasized that he took part in work of the B&H Presidency and so far, no point on the daily agenda was important for the RS.
Even though he believes that all these requests and decisions were “planned for an election year”, SDS leader Mirko Sarovic said he would take part in the RS parliament discussion and also respect any decisions that the Assembly adopts in regards to the abovementioned issue. Sarovic told a press conference that the opposition and the ruling coalition see unity differently, but the only place where they will meet and discuss things important for the RS will be the parliament. Sarovic also said Dodik is not someone that can decide, on his own, what is and is not important for the RS and its interests. Sarovic called on Dodik to discuss all such decisions in the RS parliament and allow the lawmakers to have the final word regarding the work in B&H institutions. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic was amongst the first people to comment Vucic’s request. He commended the Serbian President for always having reasonable, wise and calm policies, advocating a serious and responsible approach to leading political processes. Borenovic said that this means Dodik’s quarrelsome and noisy policy failed. He assessed that this probably means Dodik and SNSD will return to the joint institutions of B&H. Borenovic believes they will return with their heads bowed down, and he also said SNSD returns to its friends from SDA, with which this party made an agreement. SNSD decided, and we have not even held a session of the RS parliament, and we have also not resolved the problem created over the imposed Inzko decision, Borenovic concluded. Dodik believes opposition statements serve as further pressure onto the RS and also for diverting attention from the warmongering messages that come from the Federation of B&H. Dodik assessed that the opposition does not hide its anger, and its wish for return to the joint institutions. Dodik said opposition MPs want to return to B&H institutions and then ‘blame’ someone else for that. He said they currently have the capacity to do that, if they want, and they do not need any approval from the RS parliament or anyone else.
Dodik grateful to Vucic, Erdogan for caring for B&H (RTRS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday. During this meeting, the two leaders discussed the possibility of meeting leaders of the three peoples in B&H alongside Croatian President Zoran Milanovic in an effort to solve the crisis in B&H. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that Erdogan understands the situation in B&H and he does not look at it selectively, but it is understandable that Bosniaks receive more of his support. He stated that Erdogan understands the issues of other people and entities in B&H as well. Dodik stressed that he and President of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic are ready to sit down for a dialogue. Commenting on the criticism of SDA towards this proposal, Dodik said that they fear what the USA or others might say to this idea and they cannot admit that they are against the dialogue. He added that he is not ready to initiate any meeting, but he will attend one whoever initiates it. Dodik welcomed the talks held between Vucic and Erdogan on the situation in B&H and their commitment to respecting the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution of B&H. “I am grateful to them and glad that they support the dialogue as a form of reaching a solution in B&H, which Vucic and Erdogan initiated on Tuesday,” said Dodik. He added that the RS has been clearly advocating, this entire time, the full respect of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the dialogue between political representatives of the three constituent peoples in B&H. The RS has not endangered peace and stability in B&H, at any moment, Dodik stressed, adding that this was not the intention of the RS officials. Dodik said they insist on the Constitution and what was signed in Dayton. “I am grateful to Vucic, and Erdogan, and Milanovic; I know that (HDZ B&H leader Dragan) Covic accepts, I also accept that dialogue; the only one that rejected that, in the earlier attempt of reaching that format, was Bakir Izetbegovic, and how he will react to this, I really do not wish to speculate,” Dodik told reporters. As far as he is concerned, Dodik says, he is ready for any type of dialogue.
Izetbegovic: There is no agreement on holding meeting of leaders of the three peoples in B&H with Vucic and Erdogan (BHT1)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said after the session of SDA Collegium that there is no agreement on holding a meeting of leaders of the three peoples in B&H with the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that this is misinterpretation. Izetbegovic added that the trilateral meeting should happen soon and that B&H will be represented by the B&H Presidency. Izetbegovic believes that B&H needs to be represented by institutions and not party leaders. Izetbegovic believes that Erdogan agrees with meetings of B&H Presidency members with representatives of Turkey and Serbia.
SBB B&H criticizes Turkish, Serbian initiative, arguing that Bosniaks must not take part in this (Dnevni avaz)
Commenting the initiative presented by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, SBB B&H issued a statement stressing that a dialogue and regional cooperation represent a path which should not be abandoned. Underlining that concern of Turkey and regional countries for the situation in B&H is not something that should irritate anyone in advance, still the party stressed that destiny of B&H should be decided in B&H institutions only. The statement reads that B&H needs friends, but also a fair diplomatic-statehood approach, which will be balanced and responsible, especially toward Bosniaks. SBB argues that the initiative makes it clear that Bosniaks should be represented by SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, which reduces the biggest people in B&H to ethnic-religious group and reduces B&H to a tribal community, instead of state representation. The party makes it clear that in case of such a meeting, they would have no problem if it is attended by member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic, who should attend such meetings, while Izetbegovic should stay home i.e. in B&H Parliament or at the meetings of party leaders. SBB also noted that the meeting in Ankara would compromise the US sanctions and international isolation towards separatist and chauvinistic Dodik and this is something that Bosniaks should not and must not participate in. In the end, SBB called all three mentioned states to join introducing of sanctions to Dodik and not to strengthen him with such initiatives.
Sattler: Regardless of final outcome of negotiations, October elections will take place (FTV)
Commenting on the announcements on boycott of the general elections, Head of the European Union Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler stressed on Wednesday that the elections have to be held this year regardless of whether an agreement on the electoral reform will be reached or not, reminding that the elections can be held in line with the current Election Law of B&H if this agreement fails. “For my part, I assure you that the elections will certainly take place regardless of whether there will be a solution and an outcome, because in the end you have the Election Law as it is with its imperfections and it is not ideal, you have the CEC, you have previous election processes that took place in accordance with the Election Law as it is. So, regardless of the final outcome of the negotiations, the elections in October in this country will be held”. Sattler said that laws need to be respected, and reminded that there is an Election Law, despite its flaws, and there is a CEC. “Regardless of the outcome of the talks, the elections in this country will be held in October,” Sattler underscored.
Milanovic expresses readiness to mediate talks of representatives of three peoples in B&H together with Presidents of Turkey and Serbia (Vecernji list)
The daily reads that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has again expressed readiness to act as an envoy, together with leaders of Turkey and Serbia, in an attempt to reach an agreement among political representatives of the three peoples in B&H since several crises are threatening to undermine the country’s stability, which in turn would create problems in the neighborhood. Namely, spokesman for the Croatian President Nikola Jelic told the daily that President Milanovic proposed in November of last year that the three Presidents – Presidents of Croatia, Serbia and Turkey – act as envoy, believing that such format of mediation can help achieve agreement among three constituent peoples in B&H – Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks. According to Jelic, Croatia has constitutional obligation to take care of position of Croats in B&H, and that Croatia has interest in integral and stable B&H as state of three equal, constituent peoples. “If it is possible to agree on mediation of that kind, President Milanovic will take part, but he expects support from the Croatian Government in that”. The daily went on to say that in case there is no agreement on changes to the Law on Elections of B&H, and the elections are held in October this year, two crises in B&H could merge, and in case Bosniak voters again elect the Croat member of the Presidency of B&H and kick the Croats out of the entity and the state government, it is likely that a new crisis between Croats and Bosniaks would happen.
URA submits initiative to parliament for vote of no confidence in government (CdM)
URA has handed over to the parliament of Montenegro the initiative for a vote of no confidence in the government of Zdravko Krivokapic. URA announced that it would not simulate processes, procrastinate and kill the majority will of citizens who want stability, reforms and the path to the EU. Therefore, URA sent an initiative to the parliamentary procedure today to see if the current government has the support of the majority. A proposal for amendments to the Law on lLocal Self-Government has been submitted to the parliamentary procedure, by which 31 MPs are asking for local elections in 14 municipalities to be held in one day. The initiative was signed by the MPs of the Black on White coalition, the minority parties, SDP, SD, 16 DPS MPs and Andrija Popovic of LP.
The reasons for this are as follows:
- at the 5th Session of the Second Regular Session of the Parliament of Montenegro held on 29 December 2021 interpellations were passed on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, which made it clear that the three ministers did not have the support of the parliamentary majority;
- PM Zdravko Krivokapic said he would refuse to act on the Interpellations for the removal of the three ministers, thus showing that he does not respect the Constitution and laws of Montenegro
- at the 4th Session of the First Regular (Spring) Session, held on 17 June 2021, Minister of Justice and Human and Minority Rights was dismissed and the Prime Minister still has not proposed a new Minister to the Parliament, which has directly jeopardized the reforms in key Chapters 23 and 24;
- The Prime Minister, by his actions several times in the previous period, endangered and hindered the cooperation between the legislative and executive branches, which directly produced the institutional and political crisis in the country;
- the political crisis, inadequate cooperation between the legislative and executive branches, non-harmonization of legislation with the legislation of the European Union, as well as the inactivity of some ministers have led to a slowdown in European integration;
The initiative was signed by MPs of URA, CIVIS, the Bosniak Party, the Social Democrats, the Social Democratic Party, the Albanian parties, the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party of Socialists. Earlier, the Democrats said they see such an initiative as the “DPS and URA’s fraud”. Parliament speaker and the Democrats’ leader Aleksa Becic addressed the public after URA handed over to the Parliament the initiative for a vote of no confidence in the Government.
Commenting on the initiative, Becic said that it was “a betrayal that Montenegro has never faced before”. “When you combine political fraud, political hypocrisy, political immorality, political cowardice and political betrayal, you get great betrayal of people’s will. A betrayal of epic proportions. The betray of the century. The betrayal that Montenegro has never faced before… Therefore, if the betrayal of the people’s will lead to me being an opposition MP again, I will be honored to continue to lead the steadfast and brave people of Montenegro of all faiths and nations,” said Becic.
Krivokapic submitted an initiative to remove Abazovic, proposing Spajic as vice president (CdM)
After the Black and White coalition submitted an initiative for a vote of no confidence in the government, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic submitted an initiative for the removal of Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic. “I submitted an initiative to the parliament of Montenegro for the removal of Dritan Abazovic, and proposed the Minister of Finance and Social Welfare, Milojko Spajic, as the new Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro. Europe now! For a healthy Montenegro,” Krivokapic wrote on Twitter. In his explanation, Krivokapic states that, after several months of disagreement with the main directions of government policy development, deputies of the Civic Movement URA, together with some deputies of DPS and other parties of the former government, submitted a vote of no confidence in the government of Montenegro. “Vice President Abazovic, as the president of the mentioned political organization, did not publicly dispute this initiative, thus directly joining the ranks of those who work against the interests of citizens and jointly created and defined goals. I consider inadmissible and inappropriate such an attitude towards the signed Agreement of Leaders of the three winning coalitions from September 2020, according to the obligations assumed later in the executive power and towards the citizens of Montenegro who expected from us harmonious and legal political action of all members of the government. Incorrectness of overthrowing the government of which he is a member, while preserving the position in which he was elected, the principles on which the functioning of the Government is based, are unforgivable reasons why I propose to the Assembly the dismissal of Vice President Abazovic,” reads the initiative. Krivokapic proposed that a session of the parliament be held on 3 February, at which his initiative would be discussed.
Protest in Podgorica due to the initiative for a vote of no confidence in the government (CdM)
A group of citizens gathered last night in front of the Government building in Podgorica in protest to, as they say, “defend the electoral will of August 30, 2020.” It is not known who is behind this protest, but Democrat MPs Momo Koprivica, Vladimir Martinovic, Danilo Sharanovic and Albin Ceman, President of the Right of Montenegro Marko Milacic and United Montenegro Vladimir Dobricanin were present. The protest said that they would gather at the same time today in Podgorica and other cities in Montenegro. It was said from the protest that they gathered in Podgorica, and that they will gather in other cities. They also said that they were demanding the removal of the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the GP URA, Dritan Abazovic, and shouted “Treason”! Koprivica said that they believe that the Black and White coalition should remove the signature from the submitted initiative. Stanko Dragojevic Boulevard was closed to traffic due to the protest. The protest came after the Black and White coalition proposed the formation of a minority government without the DPS and DF to overcome the political crisis. Although such a proposal was condemned by Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic and some ministers, the “Black and White” coalition handed over an initiative of no confidence in the government to the Assembly. The mentioned initiative was signed by 31 deputies – deputies of the coalition “Black on White”, but also the parties of minorities, SDP, SD, LP and DPS.
Mickoski called for snap elections without a technical government (Republika)
The government is afraid and runs away from early parliamentary elections, although they should take place as soon as possible, said VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, emphasizing that the idea is rejected by the artificial parliamentary majority, i.e. DUI government administered by Kovacevski, and supported by the smaller coalition partners of SDSM. Mickoski emphasized that if the government is afraid of a technical government and if it is an obstacle, then VMRO-DPMNE is ready to submit amendments to the Electoral Code to have no technical government and to keep the current ministers, ie let this government remain as it is until the moment of early elections. Mickoski also sent a message to the smaller partners who help Kovacevski in this government, if they are in favor of one constituency, that VMRO-DPMNE is ready to discuss that issue as well.
Laws on the border regime and social security with Kosovo are approved (Radio Tirana)
The Council of Ministers approved the draft law “On the ratification of the agreement between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the government of the Republic of Kosovo, on the rules of the local border traffic regime”. This draft law will be sent for review and approval to the Assembly of the Republic of Albania. Also, the Council of Ministers decided in the meeting the ratification of the agreement between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the government of the Republic of Kosovo, on the rules of the local border traffic regime. The Council of Ministers also decided on the draft law “On the ratification of the agreement between the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Kosovo on social security”. This draft law will be sent for review and approval to the Assembly of the Republic of Albania. The Council of Ministers decided to ratify the agreement between the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Kosovo on social security.