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Belgrade Media Report 5 May

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LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: We want compromise with Pristina, peace in W. Balkans (Politika/Tanjug/RTS)
• Scholz: Belgrade-Pristina dialogue key topic (Tanjug/Politika)
• Vucic thanked the German hosts for organizing Belgrade – Pristina dialogue (B92)
• Vucic: I’m afraid it will be even worse (B92/Tanjug)
• Lajcak welcomes talk with Vucic, Kurti in Berlin (N1/Beta)
• Mihajlovic: Gas interconnection with Bulgaria a priority (Tanjug)
• Dacic, Hill discuss situation in Europe, Western Balkans (Beta)
• Serbian Patriarch serves liturgy in Pec Patriarchate (Politika/Tanjug)
• Serbian Patriarch says Kosovo holy sites are global heritage (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Pisonero: Important to hold fair, free and inclusive elections (Dnevni avaz)
• Sattler comments on B&H CEC’s decision: First step for implementation of elections was made (O Kanal)
• Covic: B&H CEC’s decision can threaten peace in B&H (BHT1)
• US Embassy reacts to Covic’s letter: Financial obstructions and threats to divide B&H further are against B&H Constitution and EU path of B&H (BHT1)
• UK Embassy on Covic’s letter: We take seriously attempts to destabilize or threat B&H (FTV)
• Reactions of other B&H politicians to CEC’s decision, changes to B&H Election Law (Hayat)
• Lambrecht meets Podzic in Sarajevo, expresses support of Germany to Western Balkans (BHT1)
• Dodik: New EU sanctions against Russia to produce numerous problems in this region as well, RS not to allow B&H to impose sanctions on Russia (ATV)
• Grlic Radman: B&H CEC is unconstitutional (O Kanal)
Croatia
• Milanovic proposes to Plenkovic to convene session of Croatian National Security Council due to danger Croats in B&H will not be able to elect their representatives (N1)
• Croatian politicians comment on latest Milanovic’s statements (HRT1)
Montenegro
• Petar Knezevic questioned, claims the recording was edited (RTCG)
• Knezevic requests interrogation of Abazovic, Brdjanin… (RTCG/Libertas)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Nikoloski: VMRO-DPMNE will begin to blockade parliament on10 May, and it will last until early a date for elections is agreed (Republika)
• Bulgaria wants Macedonia to amend its Constitution before EU accession talks begin (Republika)
• Mickoski: VMRO-DPMNE will not allow amending the Constitution unless Bulgaria declares that it is the last of their demands (Republika)
Albania
• Draghi: Negotiations with Albania should be opened as soon as possible (Radio Tirana)
• Nikola meets Lithuanian Foreign Minister: Grateful for supporting Albania’s accession into EU (Radio Tirana)
• Premier asked about possible ban of Russian tourists (ADN)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: We want compromise with Pristina, peace in W. Balkans (Politika/Tanjug/RTS)

 

After meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz late on Wednesday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Belgrade would do everything to ensure a compromise solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue was found, and added that, when it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia would generate no problems whatsoever, but maintain peace and stability in the Western Balkans. Commenting on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Vucic said Serbia would do everything in its power to “head towards a compromise solution and try to find compromise solutions”. “But they cannot be a desire that is only our own, as the word (compromise) suggests clearly, to us and to the other side in the dialogue,” Vucic told a joint press conference with Scholz. Vucic said they had also discussed Serbia’s attitude towards the war in Ukraine, and added that he had pointed to the position Serbia had taken on the nature of the conflict and to Belgrade’s votes in the UN and the OSCE. “Regional relations were a key issue as well, we had an open and substantial conversation,” Vucic said. He noted that he did not believe there was only one side to blame for the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), but added that he had promised Serbia would not be the cause of any problems. “We keep our word and the Western Balkans will have peace and stability,” Vucic said, noting that he had not even wanted to comment on “shameless claims by those who are saying Serbia will cause conflicts, which has not happened”. He said the fact Scholz had expressed confidence about the European future of the Western Balkans was very important for Serbia. Vucic said they had noted a major upward trajectory in Serbia-Germany bilateral relations, in particular in economic ties. He said bilateral goods trade in the first three months of the year amounted to 1.839 bln euros and was expected to reach a total of 7.5 bln euros in 2022, rising by 26 pct y-o-y. Germany is Serbia’s largest and most significant trade partner and Serbia is the same to Germany when it comes to the Western Balkan region, Vucic said, adding that he was looking forward to a visit to Belgrade by Scholz in the near future. Responding to a Reuters query about whether Belgrade’s stance on Russia would have consequences for Serbia’s EU accession process, Vucic said there was no doubt that Serbia had chosen to be on the European path but that, as a country that had been under sanctions for a decade, it had a different view on sanctions on Russia than other countries did. Asked whether Serbia will leave the Council of Europe if Kosovo becomes a member of EC, i.e. a member of NATO, Vucic said: “It is important for us that everything that has been written and signed be implemented.” Scholz answered the same question in the following words: “I want Serbia to stay in the Council of Europe, for us all to be in the EU together.”

 

Scholz: Belgrade-Pristina dialogue key topic (Tanjug/Politika)

 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said late on Wednesday the EU accession perspective of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries must become a reality. Speaking to reporters after a Berlin meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Scholz said he had promised that Germany would be advocating such an outcome, and noted that an agreement in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was crucial on that path. He said the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue had been the key topic of his meeting with Vucic. “Progress in the dialogue is hugely important for peace and stability in the region and in Europe. I said how important progress towards a comprehensive agreement is. All agreements reached to date must be respected, and unilateral actions are not helpful,” he said. He said Germany was intensively supporting Serbia’s accession process by providing advice and project financing. He said a reaction to Russia’s “brutal war against Ukraine” was a major topic and that the EU and candidate states must be united and defend common values. He also said it was important that Serbia continues its reforms, in particular in rule of law and the fight against organized crime and corruption. He said he had voiced concern over the situation in B&H and “secessionist aspirations” by Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the B&H Presidency. Regional cooperation on the path towards the EU is a must, Scholz said, and announced that he would visit the Western Balkans, including Belgrade, in a few weeks’ time.

 

Vucic thanked the German hosts for organizing Belgrade – Pristina dialogue (B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent expressions of gratitude to the German hosts on Twitter. “Many thanks to the German hosts for organizing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina,” Vucic wrote.

 

Vucic: I’m afraid it will be even worse (B92/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the media from Berlin, where he met with the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock. According to him, dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will continue as soon as on 13 May. “Our position is difficult, terribly complicated. President Putin‘s statements made it even more complicated. I will talk about it tomorrow. I am afraid that it will be increasingly difficult in the economic aspect,” he said. Vucic also said that the situation for Serbia, not through our fault, has become very difficult. Vucic also said that last night’s informal dinner with EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and Prime Minister of the Interim Institutions in Pristina Albin Kurti was very difficult, and that German representatives insisted that what was signed in the Brussels agreement must be implemented. When asked if he could reveal some details of that meeting and whether there was a shift, Vucic answered that he did not like to talk about details, but that the conversation was “very, very difficult”. “Talks will continue. The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic is going to Brussels on 13 May to try to agree on something,” said Vucic. He also pointed out that the problem for Belgrade is that some refuse to talk about the Community of Serb Municipalities at all, but that it is important that all German representatives said that what was signed must be implemented. “Now you see that what we were criticized for becomes our point of support, and that what they said was bad for us, now others do not want to align,” said Vucic. And, as he said, it is pointless for him to talk about the details, because he does not want to collect political points in that way. “My job is to fight for Serbia, and I will continue to do that,” Vucic said. After the meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, at whose invitation he was in Berlin, and discussed all important issues with the Minister, such as the European perspective, the crisis in Ukraine, and the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. “The talks were not simple, but I am satisfied with the great interest of the German government in the talks with Serbia. That is important news,” he explained. “It is important to talk to German representatives, because it is the largest and most important country in Europe. We cannot change Germany’s position on the issue of Kosovo, it will not happen,” said President of Serbia. Commenting on the war in Ukraine and the position of Serbia, which is “between two fires”, he said that the situation for our country, not through our fault, has become very difficult and the pressure on Serbia is great. Asked whether Serbia will make a turn in politics precisely because of these pressures, he said that Serbia is on the path of European integration and does not deviate from that path. “We are militarily neutral and will remain so. On the third day of the intervention in Ukraine, we clearly stated our position, and no matter how difficult it was for 71 days, Serbia is in that position,” Vucic said, adding that he always spoke clear and direct about it. “We will continue to do our job, tomorrow I will talk about all the consequences of our attitude, all the problems and what our answer will be on that issue,” he concluded, addressing the Serbian media, adding that he will talk to political parties in early June and consult on what people think.

 

Lajcak welcomes talk with Vucic, Kurti in Berlin (N1/Beta)

 

European Union Envoy Miroslav Lajcak welcomed the opportunity to talk with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti at an informal dinner in Berlin. Lajcak attended the dinner given by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz following separate meetings with Vucic and Kurti. Scholz had separate news conference with the Serbian President and Kosovo Prime Minister. “Welcome the opportunity for an informal dinner discussion about the Dialogue with Prime Minister Kurti and President Vucic in Berlin. Grateful to the German government for hosting. We will continue the discussion on the level of Chief negotiators on 13 May,” Lajcak wrote in a Twitter post. Beta reported that Vucic, Kurti and Lajcak met with the German government’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans Manuel Sarrazin and one of Chancellor Scholz’s advisors.

 

Mihajlovic: Gas interconnection with Bulgaria a priority (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy Zorana Mihajlovic said in Sofia on Thursday construction of a natural gas interconnection with Bulgaria was a priority for Serbia as the pipeline would enable the country to receive gas from an LNG terminal in Greece or from Azerbaijan. With Bulgarian counterpart Aleksandr Nikolov, Mihajlovic attended the signing of a contract to design, build, equip and launch the Bulgarian stretch of the pipeline. “The construction of an interconnection with Bulgaria is the most significant project for us. Works on our side began in January and the contract on works on the Bulgarian side was signed today, which will accelerate the process of building the interconnection and everything will definitely be finished by September next year,” Mihajlovic said. Mihajlovic was in Sofia for a meeting of energy ministers, also attended by her counterparts from Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as by European Commission and Energy Community officials. “With the deputy energy minister of Turkey, I discussed the capacities available to us in the TurkStream pipeline, and with Azerbaijan’s minister, I discussed gas supplies from the country, as well as development of new technologies, in particular when it comes to hydrogen,” Mihajlovic said. “At the meeting, we discussed the filling of storage facilities before the start of the winter season and accelerated decarbonization of the energy sector, as well as the need to react together in case of further disruptions and to cooperate and show solidarity,” a statement from Mihajlovic’s ministry quoted her as saying.

 

Dacic, Hill discuss situation in Europe, Western Balkans (Beta)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic met on 4 May with the US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill to discuss the current situation in Europe and the Western Balkans, as well as the development of bilateral ties. Ambassador Hill underlined that he knew the Western Balkans very well, and that there was great potential for the development of the region, suggesting better promotion to attract US investors. Dacic and Hill exchanged opinions about talks between Belgrade and Pristina, and agreed that open issues in the dialogue should be resolved under the auspices of the EU. They also agreed that for Serbia and the entire region to move forward it was vital to preserve peace and stability, and that in that context US support was of the utmost importance, the parliament of Serbia quoted the speaker as saying.

 

Serbian Patriarch serves liturgy in Pec Patriarchate (Politika/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Patriarch Porfirije served the Holy Hierarchs’ Liturgy in the Patriarchate of Pec, in Kosovo and Metohija, along with the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC). After the liturgy, regular meetings of the Synod and the Patriarchal Board will be held, the SPC announced. Bishops Vasilije of Srem, Jovan of Sumadija, Fotije of Zvornik and Tuzla and David of Krusevac, Bishop Teodosije of Raska and Prizren, Abbot of Decani Archimandrite Sava, Abbot of Crna Reka Archimandrite Andrej and other members of the Synod participated in the service. Upon arrival, his message was: “Here we are again, we came home again. May God make it so that we will always be here and that everything we think, say and do has its roots here.” The Patriarch said that since “that root is very deep, it means that regardless of storms, thunder, lightning and winds, we will not break”.

 

Serbian Patriarch says Kosovo holy sites are global heritage (Beta)

 

Patriarch Porfirije said on Thursday that holy sites in Kosovo and Metohija are part of the cultural heritage of the entire world. The Patriarch said that sites such as the Visoki Decani monastery and the Pec Patriarchate belong to the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) but are the cultural heritage of the entire world. He told reporters after a visit to Visoki Decani that “everything that is authentically spiritual is not limited to just one person or one people”. “We should not be surprised that these sites are under the protection of UNESCO. We should all invest effort as the monks and the church and everyone else locally and globally to protect these holy sites as the cultural heritage of the 14th century,” a SPC press release quoted him as saying. According to the Patriarch, everyone with good intentions should invest effort not only to protect these holy sites but also to make sure they hold the same importance as they did through history. “The significance to us is that they are our heritage, Orthodox Christian Serb, as well as of all other people,” Porfirije said.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Pisonero: Important to hold fair, free and inclusive elections (Dnevni avaz)

 

In statement to the daily, representatives of the European Commission commented the decision of B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) to announce elections for 2 October. EC spokesperson Ana Pisonero stated that it is “of the outmost importance for fair, free and inclusive elections to take place in October, as stipulated”. “There can be no precondition or the obstruction. Government (Council of Ministers) needs to secure funds necessary for organizing of the elections, as the law stipulated,” said Pisonero. She said that in the end, necessity to eliminate the discrimination, in line with judgements of the European Court of Human Rights, improving of the integrity of the elections and strengthening of functionality of institutions, will not disappear.

 

Sattler comments on B&H CEC’s decision: First step for implementation of elections was made (O Kanal)

 

Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler, asked if the international community may ensure funds for the general elections in B&H in case B&H authorities fail to do so, reminded of two preconditions to hold the elections, i.e. the B&H CEC calling elections, “which happened today”, and local institutions ensuring funds to hold the elections. “The first step has been made, and I believe the second will be made during this month,” said Sattler. Asked if he is disappointed with the B&H political officials over failing to reach an agreement on electoral reform, bearing in mind that the citizens are the ones at loss, Sattler agreed the citizens are at loss, and reminded that over 90,000 citizens signed the petition, organized by the ‘Pod lupom’ Coalition, requesting adoption of the “amendments package that will improve election process integrity. Therefore, finally, the international community is not important, the citizens are. Because the citizens want this, and they want to see an equal, balanced approach, a system devoid of corruption”. He reminded of irregularities in the last elections, “where thousands of polling station committees were changed literary overnight, ahead the elections. Therefore, work needs to be done to eliminate the corruption. Those were all important elements in the negotiations” said Sattler and added that another important element was allowing every citizen of B&H to run for the B&H Presidency, i.e. Sejdic-Finci case. He noted that, unfortunately “there was no political will, and I would also say the political leaders did not have the courage to cross the final meters to the finish line. We were really close to solution. So yes, it is a disappointment, but what is perhaps important, is to immediately after the elections start building upon what has already been done, because we now have a good base that can be built upon”. Sattler added that, prior to the interview he met with “some of the leading officials in the B&H Parliament” who agreed to such approach to “perhaps keep what has been done through negotiations on constitutional and electoral reform after the elections and build upon it”. Sattler was asked to comment on the stance of neighboring countries towards B&H, especially knowing that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic conditioned B&H integration in the EU with the adoption of the Election Law of B&H. Sattler replied by saying that the EU was based on principles of peace through integration, economy and partnership, so cooperation of former opposing sides is the leading principle of the EU and it should be the leading principle in the region. “However, with regard to the Election Law of B&H, this is an important step B&H will have to make before it becomes a member. This law must be changed, you cannot have the Constitution which is in violation with the European Human Rights Charter, you cannot become a member under such circumstances, because of which we insist on continuation of talks after the elections,” Sattler said and added that, instead of focusing on statements coming from neighboring countries, one should focus on what citizens really want.

 

Covic: B&H CEC’s decision can threaten peace in B&H (BHT1)

 

President of the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) B&H Dragan Covic sent a letter to international officials, expressing concern over the decision of the B&H CEC to set the date for general elections. In his letter, Covic stated that this was done without the necessary change to the B&H Election Law which would ensure the removal of all possible discrimination. Covic said that despite the efforts of the Croat side, numerous verdicts of the B&H Constitutional Court (B&H CC) and the Mostar Agreement were not fulfilled. He assessed that this confirms the attempt of Bosniak political domination over the Croat people in the FB&H. Covic announced that because of this, the HNS B&H will implement all conclusions adopted on 18 February this year. Covic added in his letter that there are not technical and legal preconditions to hold elections and to implement results of elections. Covic announced that HNS will launch all legal procedures and make political steps for new institutional and territorial organization of B&H. Covic expressed disappointment over calling elections without amending the B&H Election Law in accordance with the ruling in the Ljubic case and the rulings of the European Court of human Rights (ECHR), condemned “the silence” of the international community in relation to continuous outvoting of Croats, and announced activities in accordance with the conclusions earlier adopted by the HNS. “In view of further continuation of the process of elimination of parity, equality, and constituent status of Croat people, the HNS will start the realization of all conclusions from the extraordinary HNS B&H session as of February 19 2022, and will initiate all legal procedures and political steps for new political and territorial organization of B&H on principles of federalism and consociation democracy, that will ensure full constitutional equality of Croat constituent people in B&H,” reads Covic’s letter. Covic stressed that concerns are even bigger if the two facts are taken in regard: that the CC of B&H has put out of force the unconstitutional provisions of the Election Law of B&H on the election of delegates to the FB&H House of Peoples (HoP), and that negotiations on the electoral reform and limited constitutional changes have failed. Covic noted in the letter that Croats will not accept holding the elections based on the existing Election Law, because that – according to the letter – would mean Bosniak electorate could elect Zeljko Komsic as the Croat member of the B&H Presidency. The letter also reads that radical Bosniak representatives have been attempting to create Bosniak national state. Covic warned that the Croat people in B&H is under constant attacks on their identity, civil and political rights and everything because of brutal violation of the Constitution of B&H, the growing hate that radical Bosniak representatives are using in an attempt to create a Bosniak national state.

 

US Embassy reacts to Covic’s letter: Financial obstructions and threats to divide B&H further are against B&H Constitution and EU path of B&H (BHT1)

 

The US Embassy issued a statement on Wednesday, answering the letter sent by President of the HDZ B&H Dragan Covic. The US Embassy to B&H stated that all B&H leaders have the constitutional obligation to ensure citizens their right to free and fair elections. They stressed that financial obstructions and threats to divide B&H further are against the B&H Constitution and the EU path of B&H. “It is time for leaders to accept responsibility for advancing real reforms, such as the rule of law and laws governing the integrity of the electoral process, that can move B&H forward and allow voters to choose who is committed to combating corruption and working for B&H’s prosperity,” reads the statement by the US Embassy to B&H.

 

UK Embassy on Covic’s letter: We take seriously attempts to destabilize or threat B&H (FTV)

 

The FTV reported that the letter by HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic sent to the international institutions have sparked reactions among international officials. The UK Embassy to B&H issued a statement responding to Covic’s letter. “We remind every political actor, who considers or threatens with unilateral moves contrary to legal and constitutional order of this country, it is a path that will only lead towards increased isolation and that such activities are contrary to the interests of this country’s citizens. As the UK has recently shown with the use of sanctions, we take seriously attempts to destabilize or threat B&H,” reads the statement by the UK Embassy to B&H.

 

Reactions of other B&H politicians to CEC’s decision, changes to B&H Election Law (Hayat)

 

Reacting to the decision of the B&H CEC to call the general elections for 2 October. SDA stated that citizens will exercise their right to vote in October, regardless of obstructions. SDA called on politicians who plan to obstruct the elections to timely terminate these plans, reminding that such obstructions represent an attempt to destroy a great Dayton achievement – to hold democratic elections. SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said that the amendments to the Election Law of B&H will not be adopted, but that the budget of B&H needs to be adopted in order to finance the elections – otherwise the Office of the High Representative (OHR) will need to react and to either impose the budget or pass a decision to ensure funds for the elections. SDP B&H stated that B&H CEC has met its legal obligation to call the elections, stressing that unless B&H CoM ensures the funds to finance the elections, this will be duty of the OHR according to the Annex X of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA). SDP B&H’s Irfan Cengic stated that Covic’s stance is unimportant but the only thing that matters is the Constitution of B&H and laws, warning that those who block the elections will be held accountable in line with the Criminal Code of B&H. He said that the Federation of B&H (FB&H) Police Administration should form a case because of the announcements that the elections will be blocked. SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said after the meeting that the general elections in B&H will be implemented under very complex circumstances. He stressed that he is glad that the ruling coalition is committed to joint work and willing to find the best way how to jointly participate in the elections. Dodik stated that it can be justifiably suspected that the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H that called the general elections in B&H on Wednesday works in favor of certain political interests of Bosniaks in Sarajevo and part of the international community. Dodik stated that elections are called in difficult situation in B&H. Representatives of ruling coalition in the RS expressed doubt B&H CEC is subjugated to political interests of Muslims in Sarajevo and part of the international community. SNSD reminded that legitimacy of B&H CEC has been disputed, because appointment of its members is not legal. Dodik stressed that B&H CEC has been attempting to be on one side, while all participants of political process should act in line with their expectations. Vice President of SNSD Zeljka Cvijanovic stressed that despite to all deviations in B&H, they are prepared to participate and win in elections. Also, some participants of meeting in Banja Luka reminded of recent statement of leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic that upcoming elections should show that one third of Serbs and Croats cannot decide about what some 60 percent of Bosnian patriots should be doing. They stressed that this represents a direct attack on the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA). Dodik underlined that they have suspicions in regards to intentions of “this speculative B&H CEC”. Representatives of NDP and SP RS stated that although it is not part of their competences, B&H CEC has been modeling the Election Law of B&H through its internal acts. Leader of NDP Dragan Cavic stressed that this is evidence more actors – not only members of B&H CEC – are engaged in process of modelling of election results. Leader of SP RS Petar Djokic said that B&H CEC cannot make any changes of election rules unless it is defined by the Constitution of B&H and by the DPA. Coalition partners also stated that B&H is defined on ethnic principles through the DPA, adding that this principle cannot be changed by anyone. Leaders of United Srpska and NDP stated that they are prepared for general elections in B&H. Also, coalition partners agreed series of meeting aimed to achieve agreement on joint participation and candidates in general elections.

 

Lambrecht meets Podzic in Sarajevo, expresses support of Germany to Western Balkans (BHT1)

 

German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht met B&H Minister of Defense Sifet Podzic in Sarajevo on Wednesday. Lambrecht arrived in B&H for a two-day visit. Lambrecht met the EUFOR Commander Anton Wessely in Butmir as well. After her meeting with Podzic, Lambrecht said that B&H and Germany share the values of peace and democracy. She stressed that B&H is not alone on its path and Germany supports the Western Balkans, which is proven by numerous projects and cooperation. Lambrecht said that the EU and NATO path of the Western Balkans is one that Germany wishes to see in order to fight against any issues together. Podzic assessed the cooperation with Germany as well and the officials condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Podzic said that countries in south-eastern Europe did not finish their transition period and they are not fully integrated into the EU and NATO. Podzic said that the aggressive behavior of Russia means that this is a sensitive region. He stressed that the support of Germany and EU has a great significance. The officials agreed that it is necessary to extend the mandate of EUFOR in B&H and Lambrecht said that she will support this. Lambrecht will also visit Serbia, Kosovo and Slovakia. Addressing the media after the meeting with Podzic, Lambrecht said: “Germany wants stable Western Balkans, and these are not only empty words. These are desires fulfilled by concrete cooperation and projects, and in that regard, we want to see the Western Balkans in its accession to the European Union (EU) and NATO. That is the path where we want to provide support, where we want to be a reliable partner, and if there are dangers, i.e. risks, we want to fight together”. Podzic said: “The message in B&H Ministry of Defense is that we are not alone, and that we will cooperate with the NATO Alliance members, as well as with the EU Member States.” The meeting in the Ministry of Defense of B&H was also attended by Deputy Minister of Defense of B&H Mirko Okolic, Deputy Minister of Defense of B&H Mijo Kresic and German Ambassador to B&H Margret Uebber. Podzic pointed out the importance of Germany’s support related to education of members of the Armed Forces of B&H in Germany as well as mutual cooperation in field of verification and control of weapons. He especially expressed his gratitude for valuable donations that were realized through projects, including equipping of the Armed Forces of B&H especially in the process of demining, equipping of helicopters and infrastructural projects in five locations of the Armed Forces of B&H. Lambrecht said that it is very important to extend the mandate of EUFOR and added that the engagement of Germany will depend on impressions she will convey to the Parliament of her country. “We must not allow destabilization of B&H to happen, and we underline our readiness to support training of personnel of the Armed Forces of B&H, education of personnel and equipping of locations of the Armed Forces of B&H,” Lambrecht added.

 

Dodik: New EU sanctions against Russia to produce numerous problems in this region as well, RS not to allow B&H to impose sanctions on Russia (ATV)

 

Asked whether he will attend a parade in Moscow organized on the occasion of Victory Day, member of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that those who believe so should put cameras at border crossings and record who will leave B&H. Talking about new set of the EU sanctions against Russia that includes ban on import of oil from Russia, Dodik stated it will definitely cause problems in this area. “We cannot easily switch to some other markets, especially expensive ones”, stressed Dodik.  Dodik also said that it is obvious that the EU is accelerating the process of excluding Russia from the European market. Dodik reiterated that RS will not allow B&H to impose sanctions on Russia. Asked by journalists who would present a report to the UN Security Council (UN SC), which scheduled a session for B&H on 11 May, Dodik said that the B&H Presidency is in charge of foreign policy, adding that the foreign policy sector has been “completely ruined” by unconstitutional and illegal behavior of individuals in recent period. “We will try to ensure that our voice is heard there, and it will be heard for sure”, he concluded.

 

Grlic Radman: B&H CEC is unconstitutional (O Kanal)

 

Commenting on the decision of the B&H CEC to call general election in B&H, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman has stated that although the Court of B&H has ruled the current B&H CEC convocation is constitutional and appointed in accordance with law, officials in Croatia are of view the B&H CEC is unconstitutional. B&H Presidency member Zeljko Komsic reacted to Grlic Radman’s statement, saying even if Croatian officials get the support from the part of the IC, they will never have the opportunity to interfere with B&H’s internal affairs, and noted that the elections will remain the issue of B&H. Grlic-Radman said that the B&H CEC cannot take over competences of those who draft constitution and laws. Grlic Radman said that they are very disappointed with the decision that an agreement on election changes was not made. He said that great political efforts were made, and negotiators were encouraged to reach an agreement with the Bosniak side. “We were for all agreements legitimate representatives of Croat people, gathered within the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) reach in talks with Bosniak sides. We are saddened by the fact that the biggest Bosniak side did not show enough understanding of interests, it actually made it clear this status quo suits it, electoral engineering, outvoting suit it”, said Grlic Radman for the media. Grlic Radman also said that a stance of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is that Croatia will not remain passive if scenarios that come from outside have the aim to further destabilize and deprive Croat people in B&H of their rights. Grlic Radman emphasized that Croatia will resume to be barricade to any scenarios coming from abroad and are aimed to additionally destabilize B&H and disempower Croat people in B&H. Grlic Radman said that B&H CEC has illegally taken the constitution-making and legislative rights. He emphasized that B&H CEC does not have the right to interpret the non-existent provisions of B&H Election Law which were annulled by B&H Constitutional Court. He also noted that the rulings of the Constitutional Court prove that the Election Law is flawed. He reminded that B&H Constitutional Court annulled provisions on indirect election of FB&H House of Peoples and underlined that B&H CEC, as an administrative body, cannot make decisions on composition of the FB&H House of Peoples. In his statement, Komsic focused on the positions of Croatian officials, saying reactions from Croatia are a good indicator, showing that all lobbying efforts by Croatian politicians in the international institutions in relation to electoral reform as it suits HDZ B&H, i.e. Covic, have failed. “Whatever Grlic Radman and Milanovic and Plenkovic say, as well as the whole Government of the Republic of Croatia and the whole HDZ of Croatia, they should remember that they will never decide on any issue in B&H, including the Election Law. In that they can seek, and even if they get support from Brussels, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Belgrade, Budapest, Beijing, or from anyone else in the world, they will still not decide on anything in regard to B&H. That is waste of time and energy, i.e. completely meaningless action,” Komsic was quoted as saying.

 

Milanovic proposes to Plenkovic to convene session of Croatian National Security Council due to danger Croats in B&H will not be able to elect their representatives (N1)

 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic sent on Wednesday a letter to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic proposing that a session of the Croatian National Security Council should be convened due to “the danger that Croats in B&H will not be able to elect their representatives to authority bodies.” Milanovic said that this would happen since the elections in B&H are planned to be conducted according to the “existing discriminatory Election Law, which will prevent Croats from legitimately electing their representatives to authority bodies”. Milanovic stated: “I believe that our partners, with their lack of understanding and double criteria of partnership, put us in a situation where we will have to take stronger measures to protect Croat national interests, since the diplomatic efforts so far have not yielded any results. When I talk about the rights of Croats in B&H, if our partners do not want or cannot influence Bosniak representatives to accept changes to the Election Law, then Croatia must insist that the High Representative (HR) in B&H use his powers to impose solutions that will guarantee Croats in B&H the right to they elect their own representatives.” Milanovic argued Croats will lose their constitutional rights. In his opinion, the Croatian national interest is protection of Croats in B&H and preservation of stable B&H. Milanovic said: “If our partners from the EU and the NATO cannot or do not want to influence representatives of Bosniaks, then Croatia must insist that a High Representative in B&H uses his authority and imposes a solution that will enable Croats in B&H the right to elect their representatives on their own.” Milanovic also urged for acceleration of B&H path to the EU. Milanovic also commented on possible NATO accession of Sweden and Finland. Milanovic stressed that same as Finland and Sweden know what their national interest is, Croatia also knows what its national interest is. He explained that in this context, national interest of Croatia is to speed up EU path of B&H. Milanovic went on to saying that Croatia cannot accept speeded up granting of the EU candidate country status to Ukraine if same status is not granted to B&H. He underlined that it would stabilize situation in B&H and entire region.

 

Croatian politicians comment on latest Milanovic’s statements (HRT1)

 

HRT1 brings reactions to the statement of Croatian President Zoran Milanovic that he will veto admission of Sweden and Finland to the NATO if the issue of the B&H Election Law remains unsolved. HRT1 reported that while part of the opposition is yet to decide on how they will vote in the Croatian Parliament, members of the ruling parties strongly opposed to Milanovic’s views, and they claim that he will not even be able to put a veto. Speaker of the Croatian parliament Gordan Jandrokovic said that opposing to the admission of the countries to the NATO is an attack on solidarity and unity of the entire democratic western world against what Russia is doing in Ukraine. He argued: “There is no doubt that these are pro-Russian stances. There is no doubt that the international community (IC) is surprised with his stances and lately, there is some sneering.” HDZ claims that Milanovic will not even be in the position to use the veto. HDZ’s Marko Pavic said that Milanovic knows really well NATO procedures and the decision will be reached at the level of Ambassadors, while voting will be in the Croatian Parliament. The Platform ‘Mozemo’ announced that they will announce their stance on the voting by the end of the week. Independent member of the Croatian Parliament Hrvoje Zekanovic strongly opposed to Milanovic’s views and he argued that the intention to create a big coalition is actually behind Milanovic’s moves.

 

Petar Knezevic questioned, claims the recording was edited (RTCG)

 

Assistant Commander of the Anti-Terrorist Unit (PTJ) Petar Knezevic was questioned in the Special Police Department (SPO). As we find out, during the interrogation Knezevic denied everything he is accused of regarding the audio recording of the events in Cetinje on September 4 and 5 last year. Medojevic told TVCG that Knezevic claimed the recording was edited in order to compromise him and denied everything he was accused of. The Special State Prosecutor’s Office previously issued an order for Knezevic to be questioned regarding audio recording of him recounting the events from Cetinje at the beginning of September, when Metropolitan Ioanikije was enthroned. Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said earlier that he did not want the affair over Knezevic’s recording to cover the affair over former Supreme Court President Vesna Medenica.

 

Knezevic requests interrogation of Abazovic, Brdjanin… (RTCG/Libertas)

 

The President of the Committee on Security and Defense Milan Knezevic has scheduled a session of that body for Friday, when new information from the Europol about the officers of the Police Administration, Petar Lazovic and Ljubo Milovic should be discussed. On the agenda is the adoption of the Decision on the Control Hearing of the Prime Minister, Director of the Police Administration, Chief Special Prosecutor and Head of the Special Police Department regarding Europol’s allegations about Police Administration officers Petar Lazovic and Ljubo Milovic. Police officers Petar Lazovic and Ljubo Milovic are members of the Kavac criminal clan, according to a Europol document, the Libertas portal reported. “Police officers Petar Lazovic (32) and Ljubo Milovic (32) are members of the Kavaccriminal clan. The investigation aimed at Lazovic and Milovic should be the number one priority of the Montenegrin police”, are the key conclusions stated in the Europol document that Libertas had access to. The Montenegrin prosecutor’s office and police received the document from Europol in July last year, with transcripts of communications between the two and the head of the Kavac clan, Radoje Zvicer, Veljko Belivuk and others, and till today it is not clear if the two state institutions have called to account Lazovic and Milovic, or any other police officers, the Libertas writes.

 

Nikoloski: VMRO-DPMNE will begin to blockade parliament on10  May, and it will last until early a date for elections is agreed (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski announced that the party will begin to block the work of Parliament starting on May 10th. Nikoloski spoke after a meeting of the Executive Committee of the party and cited the disastrous situation in Macedonia as a reason why VMRO will push for early general elections. This is our response to the actions of the government. We are obliged to respond to them. We live in a state of national disaster. We determined to begin an active blockade of the Parliament, meaning, we will block all harmful laws put forward by SDSM and DUI starting on May 10th. Until then, we expect that DUI and SDSM will reconsider our request to hold a meeting of party leaders. The ball is in their court, Nikoloski said. VMRO-DPMNE wants the meeting of party leaders to be held to discuss holding early elections. “The active blockade will be in force until we agree on a date for early elections. These are our first steps in this direction. In the future, we will consider other steps. We will go to the end,” Nikoloski added.

 

Bulgaria wants Macedonia to amend its Constitution before EU accession talks begin (Republika)

 

Bulgaria wants Macedonia to amend its Constitution before the EU accession talks begin

In his remarks at the conference held in Sofia, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said that his country wants all open issues with Macedonia to be resolved before it will allow the opening of EU accession talks. Bulgaria remains on the position that it wants the disputed political issues with Skopje to be resolved before the opening of EU accession talks. This includes amending the Constitution of Macedonia to include one word – Bulgarians – along with other statehood nations, Radev said, adding that Bulgaria sees no other alternative than bringing Macedonia to the EU, but it wants to have its demands met.

 

Mickoski: VMRO-DPMNE will not allow amending the Constitution unless Bulgaria declares that it is the last of their demands (Republika)

 

Speaking at an event in Karbinci, VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski reiterated the party’s position that they will not support amending the Constitution and adding the Bulgarian nation to the preamble until Sofia vouches that it will stop blocking Macedonia’s EU path after that change is implemented. I’m always an optimist, but when it comes to Bulgaria, things appear to be becoming hopeless. Our government and those tasked by us to lead the negotiations have no strategy. What the Macedonian people needs to know is that whatever happens in June, is that, even the biggest betrayal perpetrated by our government will not lead to an opening of the accession talks. I was very clear, and I will repeat the position of VMRO-DPMNE. We will not open the Constitution until there is a clear guarantee from the Bulgarian Parliament that, if the Constitution is opened and amended, that means that all open issues between Macedonia and Bulgaria are closed. And that there will be no additional demands until Macedonia becomes an EU member state. Only then can we talk, Mickoski said.

 

Draghi: Negotiations with Albania should be opened as soon as possible (Radio Tirana)

 

On Tuesday, MEPs backed Mario Draghi‘s call to reform the EU to ensure sustainable economic growth and transition, during a “This is Europe” debate in Strasbourg. Prime Minister Mario Draghi has stated that he is in favor of the full and speedy integration of the Western Balkan countries and Ukraine into the EU. “The enlargement process must be accelerated first. The full integration of countries aspiring to membership in the European Union does not represent a threat to the European project but is part of its realization. Italy supports the immediate opening of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in line with the European Council decision of March 2020. We want to give a new impetus to the negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro and pay maximum attention to the expectation, legitimacy of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. We are in favor of the membership of all these countries, and we want Ukraine in the European Union. “We have to follow the path we have set for enlargement, but at the same time we have to move as fast as possible,” he said. For Draghi, only a pragmatic federalist Europe would enable a common structure, funding and oversight of the EU’s capacity to deal with current crises, starting with the threat of peace and security, the crackdown on democratic values, the energy crisis or the food crisis.

 

Nikola meets Lithuanian Foreign Minister: Grateful for supporting Albania’s accession into EU (Radio Tirana)

 

The speaker of the Parliament Lindita Nikolla received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis, who is paying an official visit to Albania. Nikolla highlighted that “Albania and Lithuania have a very good bilateral cooperation and this year we mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Our countries are close partners in NATO. Albania is grateful to Lithuania for its determined support for European integration, the opening of negotiations and the holding of the First Intergovernmental Conference as soon as possible,” she said. Nikola also expressed gratitude for Lithuania’s assistance in coping with the consequences of the November 26, 2019 earthquake. Landsbergis, underlined that Lithuania is determined to accelerate the pace of European integration of Albania, North Macedonia and the countries of the Western Balkans. This is a process based on merit and Albania deserves holding the First Intergovernmental Conference with the achievements and reforms it has carried out so far. Nikolla and Landsbergis also expressed their support for the struggle of the Ukrainian people to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, assessing it as a momentum for accelerating the pace of integration of Albania, North Macedonia and the Western Balkans. During the meeting, they also discussed the possibilities of expanding bilateral cooperation in the fields of investment, education, culture, tourism, etc.

 

Premier asked about possible ban of Russian tourists (ADN)

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama was asked by reporters after the meeting of the SP leadership, whether he would ban Russian tourists following a request made the day before by Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky, during his speech before Albanian MPs. Rama said he would be in the same line with the EU, and currently the EU has not taken such a measure. He said that if the EU decides to ban Russian citizens, then Albania will be in the same line. Asked will he ban Russian tourists at the request of the President of Ukraine, Rama said “our decisions are aligned with EU decisions, as long as there is no EU-aligned decision, we will continue the same path. If there is to be a linear decision, we will follow the same path”.

 

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