Vucic: After Putin’s statement, our situation has changed for the worse (B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addressed the citizens of Serbia from the Palace of Serbia.
In the past decade, we have faced many crises, a catastrophic financial crisis, we have also faced the worst floods, the migrant crisis and a million people have passed through the country, we have faced coronavirus pandemic, and in our time we are witnessing a world conflict, you can also call it the third world war”, the President said. As he stated, in accordance with that, he divided the address into ten points.
The first point: Serbia’s course
Vucic stated that the latest research showed that for the first time we have a clear majority of citizens who are against joining the EU – 44 percent, while 35 percent support EU accession.
“As the President of the Republic of Serbia, it is our job to hear and understand public opinion, but it is also our job to do what is best for Serbia. My message to everyone is that Serbia is on the road to Europe and will continue down that road more strongly,” he said. He said that we are on the European road, and that he will fight harder so that Serbia finds its place among European nations.
The second point: Kosovo and Metohija
“We had important talks with representatives of the West and tried to convey discussion with the representatives of Pristina. Since Albin Kurti has been in power, the number of attacks on Serbs increased by 50 percent. No one has reacted to that. We are facing daily violations of international public law and Resolution 1244, along with the hypocritical behavior of parts of the Western world,” stated Vucic. As he pointed out, the dialogue with Pristina is almost non-existent. “Namely, our situation has changed for the worse, after the statements of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not because he intended to harm Serbia, but because he raised the issue of Kosovo and Metohija in a different way, to protect Russian interests,” Vucic said.
Vucic read Putin’s statement and tried to explain what Putin meant when he told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that a precedent had been set by the International Court of Justice when it ruled on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and that parts of Ukraine bordering Russia could declare independence. He said that Western officials are now trying to ruin Putin’s argument by saying that Kosovo and the Donbas region are different cases. “We are now in a problem because the West will call Serbia to head quickly towards recognizing Kosovo so that they can tell Putin that the Donbas and Kosovo are not about the same issue,” he said and added that Kosovo will be the dominant issue in future. “Let me tell you that all European leaders told me that Putin insisted on the Kosovo case in talks with them,” he said. Vucic said that he does not expect Russia to recognize Kosovo and added that Serbia is under enormous pressure.
The third point: Energy resources
The President also referred to the great energy crisis in the world. “We are facing a great energy crisis in the world. Orban compared the sanctions for Russian oil with the dropping of the atomic bomb,” he pointed out. Vucic warned that Serbia is 100 percent dependent on Russian gas and will continue to be so for at least two more years. He said that talks are underway with Russia’s Gazprom on the purchase of natural gas, specifying that a deal has to be signed by the end of May.
The fourth point: Financial crisis
Vucic also spoke about the financial crisis. He pointed out that Serbia is paying a high price for not imposing sanctions on Russia. “We cannot appear on the international capital market and renew loans. The public debt rate is 52.4% today, which is extraordinary, and I am grateful to the citizens for trusting us,” he said.
The fifth point: Food
Vucic also referred to the situation with food. He pointed out that Serbia had filled its reserves.
“We are able to provide food for the entire region, but not in such a way that someone makes money on our food,” he said.
The sixth point: Reforms
Vucic also touched on the topic of reforms in energy policy. “We talked to the British and Norwegians. I asked them to help us develop an energy policy strategy.”
The seventh point: Pensioners and young people
The seventh point concerns pensioners, and the president said that he would ask for a significant shift in the Swiss formula in times of crisis, in order to ensure that the growth of pensions fully follows the growth of salaries. “We will go for a significant increase in pensions in the coming period. In the next two years, it must be done that way. As for young people, from May 16 to 31, young people can apply for assistance. But we must continue to invest in dual education. We guarantee jobs to young people when they finish school. We have to extend that to universities. We will have to offer better education to young people. It is our job to provide education, health and equal chances to get a job,” he said.
The eighth point: The army and military neutrality
In today’s address, Vucic also referred to the military situation in the country. As he stated, his proposal will be to introduce a mandatory military service of 90 days. “Every young man can set aside 90 days for his country,” the president stressed, adding that this would strengthen the border cities. “South of Cacak, we have very few soldiers, which would speed up the development of smaller, poorer areas. I am asking the army not to offer response that we do not have enough training staff, as I do not want to accept that as an excuse,” he said.
The ninth point: The birth rate
“The issue of birth rate is especially important for us. We have the first case, the first use of state support. We have 9 cases in which decisions are currently being made. I ask mothers to submit applications, to try to solve their problems,” Vucic appealed.
The tenth point: Serbia’s road to Europe
Vucic stated that he had no problem saying that Serbia must continue down European road.
“There are different opinions in the party I lead. We are successful, but we would not be able to achieve that without the EU. That does not mean that we will lose our pride and dignity. I fought in the previous weeks and went through many unpleasant situations to protected Serbia”, the President said. As he stated, Serbia came out with its policy on the conflict in Ukraine on the third day, and it is protecting that position even today after 70 days. “I know what is in the soul of our people and what the emotion of the people is. Serbia will not trample on its friendship at the end. Only the force of Serbia’s interests can change our relationship, the force of pressure from outside cannot do anything to us, but our strategic path is the road to Europe,” said Vucic. “I see what the Germans and the representatives of other countries are doing, and it’s not funny to me. And we are behaving comfortably because we haven’t even felt the crisis. Which doesn’t mean we won’t. And I want to thank the hundreds of people who gave me advice and who know how the state is run, and I will gladly give them the helm when my term expires. And maybe even earlier,” he concluded.
Questions from the press
Vucic said that the talks with Olaf Scholz were difficult, and that many good things await us, but we will also face with many challenges. He pointed out that Serbia will react immediately if Pristina submits membership application for the Council of Europe. “The campaign for derecognizing Kosovo will commence immediately. I always talk about peace and stability, and I will continue to do so even though it cost me my popularity. Serbia will defend itself with weapons only if it is attacked”, he said. He emphasized that he promised the people peace and stability, and that he will fulfill it. Vucic pointed out that Serbia did not seize any of the Russian property, and that he personally loathes the seizure of property. “I also hate what happened in 1945, 1946 and 1947. What are we supposed to do? Go to a Russian school and say this is ours now, as they did in half of Europe. We have no major problems so far, and if there is, we will talk to our partners from NIS how to solve the situation”, he said. He also spoke about the difficult meetings in Germany, and responded to the attacks due to the photo with Lajcak and Kurti. “My daughter Milica accompanied me for dinner, and if they saw Kurti instead, then I don’t know what to say. I want to say one more thing. I’ve never shook hands with Kurti in my life. And the meeting was such that it is better not to comment”.
Serbia’s goal to enter EU as soon as possible (Tanjug/Politika)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated in Florence on Friday, at the State of the Union conference, that the strategic goal and priority of our country is membership in the EU and that the same goes for the entire region of the Western Balkans. Speaking at the panel “Crisis and Change – European Perspective of the Western Balkans”, which was attended by EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak and Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Brnabic underlined that the sooner we enter the EU, the better. She voiced her hope that the war in Eastern Europe, in Ukraine, will bring the enlargement process back into focus, and that EU Member States who opposed it will change their minds and realize that it is a priority for all. She noted that the entry of the Western Balkans into the EU is not even enlargement, but “inclusion”, given that this region is surrounded by EU Member States. It would be a big mistake and it would not be fair if the EU neglected the Western Balkans and opened the door to someone else, regardless of the political situation, she assessed. According to Brnabic, if you look at Serbia, the average wage, its public debt, fiscal stability, unemployment rate and infrastructure, you will see that according to all these parameters Serbia is ready for membership. The EU is a peace project and we want to be part of it, the Prime Minister reiterated and pointed out that the EU cannot constantly postpone some decisions, citing the example of North Macedonia, which changed its name and has not yet opened negotiations. She added that Belgrade has nothing against visa liberalization for Pristina, because open issues will perhaps be resolved more easily, given that dialogue is not going in the right direction now and the real question is whether we have dialogue at all. She said that besides European integration, another key thing for Serbia is regional stability and cooperation. Illustrating the importance of cooperation with the EU and the region, she stated that 65 percent of Serbia’s exports go to the EU market and 17 percent to the region. According to her, that is 82 percent of everything that Serbia exports, and it speaks of how important the Union is to us, and how important the region is to us. Brnabic also pointed to the importance of the Open Balkans regional initiative, which consists of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia and added that others from the region are invited to join in.
Brnabic meets with Borrell (Tanjug/RTS)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with EU foreign policy and security chief Josep Borrell in Florence on Friday to discuss the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, EU enlargement and the situation in Ukraine. “We discussed the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue – the news we have there is not too good, which is what President Aleksandar Vucic has spoken about as well. But we are doing our best and always sending the same message: that peace and stability are the most important for us,” Brnabic told reporters after attending a Florence conference on the state of affairs in the EU, titled the State of the Union. Regional peace, stability, connectivity and cooperation are what will give everyone space for further economic growth and development in these extremely difficult times, especially for the European continent, Brnabic said. She noted that the question of whether a war in the east of Europe should mean the EU should make a political decision in favor of a soonest possible accession of countries that had made considerable progress in the accession process, such as Serbia and Montenegro, or continue a “bureaucratic process” implying work on reforms and clusters, was being raised more and more frequently.
Selakovic: Serbia seeks sustained partnership with US (Tanjug/RTS/RTV)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic met with US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill on Friday, noting Serbia’s commitment to maintaining the most substantial communication possible with the US administration and building a sustained partnership with the US. He stressed Serbia was very interested in advancement of economic cooperation with the US, and welcomed the presence of the many US companies in Serbia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. He said maintenance of stability in the region and advancement of good-neighborly, mutually beneficial cooperation were a foundation and an unchanging starting point of Serbia’s foreign policy, and noted that US support for regional initiatives was of great significance. In its relations with all countries in the region, Serbia strives to place the emphasis on development of economic cooperation, Selakovic said, highlighting the Open Balkans initiative as a successful example. The parties also discussed a recent visit to Serbia by US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried, the situation in the region and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Selakovic thanks Brazil for support on Kosovo and Metohija issue (Politika/Tanjug)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic on Friday thanked Brazil for its position on the Kosovo and Metohija issue and for its advocacy of consistent respect of international law and full implementation of legally binding international documents. Meeting with newly-appointed Brazilian Ambassador to Serbia Mauro de Fonseca Couto, Selakovic highlighted Brazil’s support to Serbia in the UN, noting that a Brazilian delegation attending a recent UN Security Council session on UNMIK had associated the reaching of peace and stability in Serbia’s southern province with full implementation of UN SC Resolution 1244, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The fact Brazil also appealed for full implementation of the Brussels agreement is very important for Serbia, Selakovic said. He said bilateral relations with Brazil were characterized by a high degree of understanding and support on the most significant issues, and noted that Serbia was committed to advancing overall ties with Brazil. He noted that political dialogue at high and the highest level must be stepped up, and extended an invitation to Brazilian counterpart Carlos Alberto Franco Fransa to visit Serbia. The parties also discussed bilateral economic cooperation, which they said was much below the potential of the two countries and not on par with the present high level of political relations between Serbia and Brazil.
Selakovic: We must fight together for Serbia to pass less damaged through unfavorable times (RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) on Sunday that Serbia is trying to completely independently bring decision that regard its destiny. He says that the West will ask us to recognize Kosovo, that they could tell Putin there is no legal precedent. In a certain way, the West is pursuing a policy that is moving towards that. We will fight so that it does not go in that direction, we will fight with all diplomatic and political means, we will fight even harder,” Selakovic states. “We are the ones who claim that a precedent has been set that will be used. I am talking about this based on conversations I had with many ministers of diplomacy from Latin America, Africa, Asia who are aware of that,” Selakovic said.
He points out that the world is full of problems such as the problem of Kosovo and Metohija, there is no identical problem, but the problem of secession of certain parts of the territory of states exists all over the world, there are hundreds of such examples. Setting a precedent can give rise to a kind of deviant rule that will be applied in other cases, Selakovic stated. “Putin mentioned the case of Kosovo and Metohija, he mentioned the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. Pristina representatives mention that opinion in the UN Security Council, an opinion that the Serbian leadership contributed by asking the wrong question to the International Court of Justice,” Selakovic said. “We have to fight for our interests in Kosovo and Metohija, the interests of the state of Serbia for the interests of the Serbian people. I don’t know if the state has fought more successfully in this period of 23 years than in these ten years, and our room for maneuver is incomparably worse,” Selakovic said. Selakovic says that we will not sit with our arms and legs tied. We will not be silent, we will not be uninterested, we will fight in every possible way, Selakovic added. There is Pristina’s interest in joining the Council of Europe, it sounds nice to them to sell the story to their voters, it’s something like the EU. Russia is no longer in the Council of Europe, it is decided by a simple majority, Selakovic reminds. “It is no secret, Pristina has most of the member states of the Council of Europe on its side, but it does not have principles on its side, what someone must be in order to enter,” Selakovic said. Anyone who thinks that we will sit idly by on the brutal violation of both the Washington and Brussels agreements is mistaken, we will not, he says and adds that every possible policy of defending the interests of the state of Serbia and the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija will be activated. In the end, Selakovic said that he should be at a working lunch in Brussels on 16 May on the occasion of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, where the Western Balkans will be the main topic.
Stefanovic: EU is where Serbia sees its place (Tanjug)
In a statement on Victory Day and Europe Day, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Serbia was celebrating 9 May as a day symbolizing its glorious and heroic history as well as the future it wanted to build for its children, and noted that the EU was where Serbia saw its place. “It is written in world history that the small Serbian nation said a resolute no to Hitler and his forces of evil. Our choice of being on the right side of history – the only acceptable choice for us – we paid dearly, with the lives of our grandfathers, grandmothers, parents and other loved ones. We were one of the most suffering nations in the world in WWII, but not for a moment did we back away in the fight for humaneness, in the fight for freedom and peace, for values that permeate the essence of the Serbian nation,” Stefanovic said. “It is our duty not to forget the sacrifice of our ancestors and not to let their unwavering spirit in the fight for a better tomorrow for Serbia, as well as entire Europe and the world, be forgotten,” he said. By cherishing the memory of our ancestors, we are today building “a country committed to preserving peace and stability, a country committed to building and creating a better future,” Stefanovic said. “A Serbia that sees its place in the EU – the beginning of whose creation we are commemorating today – as a place representing a community of nations based on the principles of cooperation and solidarity, united to create a future and better living conditions for all nations,” Stefanovic said.
Joksimovic: Non-introduction of sanctions against Russia will not stop EU path, but will slow us down (RTS)
Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said today that no one can stop Serbia on its European road. According to her, Serbia cannot be stopped on that road when it comes to the procedure just because it did not join the sanctions against Russia, but that it will slow it down. “I expect that some member states will raise the issue of Serbia’s non-compliance with the sanctions regime as one of the main conditions that may motivate them not to support us to open the next cluster 3 that we are ready for,” Joksimovic told RTS. She also pointed out that it is difficult to talk about sanctions against the citizens of Serbia who have felt what sanctions mean. “For us, the issue of sanctions against the Russian Federation is not easy. If we want to be a member of the EU, the issue of sanctions will certainly be asked of us in the future,” she said. Answering the question whether she thinks that sanctions should be imposed on Russia, Joksimovic said that she does not know whether they would gain or lose something at this moment. “We must show that we condemn both the war and the violation of territorial integrity, no matter who is at stake, even when they are your friends. I absolutely believe that we should have voted for all these resolutions we voted for,” she said. Joksimovic pointed out that the new political credo in the EU is alignment with the common foreign and security policy. “If once the priority was economic integration, the rule of law, now it is becoming a common foreign and security policy,” she said. She added that the procedures are clear and that according to them, no one can stop Serbia on the road to the EU. “No one can stop us on the road, in terms of procedure, just because we did not join the sanctions regime, but it will of course slow us down. That is not a dilemma at all,” she said. She added that Serbia is ready to continue EU integration, and that Serbia clearly condemned the war, and stated that we are not a politically neutral country. “Let politicians and citizens understand that when you are an associated country in the process of EU integration, you are not a politically neutral country. Military neutral yes, but politically no. We proved that by voting for all relevant resolutions in UN bodies,” she said. She expressed confidence that some EU member states will raise the issue of non-harmonization of Serbia with the sanctions regime against the Russian Federation. She stated that this could be the reason why we do not get support for the opening of Cluster 3, which is competitiveness and inclusive growth, and for which Serbia is ready. She assessed that everything that has been done in Serbia in the last 8-10 years has been done mostly thanks to the fact that it is on a clear European path, and that it has made the European story serious. “We have shown that we are sustainable, thanks to the European road. Don’t let anyone have a dilemma, so that we could achieve all this if we were not on the way to joining EU,” she pointed out. Commenting on the results of the public opinion poll that the support for joining the EU has decreased, she assessed that the results can often be related to current emotions. “I can say that in the last eight years, every public opinion poll has been correlated with the current situation,” she said, adding that Euro-enthusiasm had dropped dramatically when there were challenges around Kosovo and Metohija and now because of the feeling that someone is pressuring us to impose sanctions to the Russian Federation. She added that no poll could convince her that citizens would vote against joining the EU in a referendum. She said that the support of the EU is less in the EU countries themselves than in Serbia. “But no one raised the issue of leaving the EU, on the contrary, they agree on how to jointly go into gas and oil procurement, how to diversify to be as independent as possible, in the interest of citizens and their future,” she said. On the occasion of marking 9 May, Europe Day and Victory Day, she said that those days are inextricably linked. “Serbia is part of Europe’s turbulent and difficult history and everything that generations have felt. Those two days are closely connected. European peace has been uninterrupted for a long time. But it was the 90’s and we know very well what it means not to be part of the EU, in the club who decides on something,” she said. She described the current war in Ukraine as a great and unprecedented crisis on the soil of the European continent. “We belong to the European continent, and our aspirations are as an associated EU country that is in the process of accession, and we have our rights and our obligations there. We are very interested in the future of the European continent, and today we are celebrating Europe Day,” she said. Responding to the thesis about the collapse of the EU, she said that she did not see the interest of the member states in destroying the long-built project. “No one, except the United Kingdom, which is a special case, decided to leave, even though the percentage of trust in the EU was low, even in the member states,” she said. She added that now the relations in the EU are strengthening, empowering, uniting and looking for common answers. “That’s the way big projects have to work to survive,” she said.
Botsan-Kharchenko: The West is putting incredible pressure on Serbia (Politika)
Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko says the West is putting incredible pressure on Serbia because it has not joined sanctions against Russia. “We know that from our own information, and from the leadership of Serbia, and that this is completely real, brutal pressure, concrete arm-twisting and attempts to stifle a the country and its own will, completely ignoring its interests,” Botsan Kharchenko told Politika. He said that such behavior seems completely “wild” to Russia, and assessed that the EU, NATO and the United States have taken off their masks and shown their true policy once again. “We understand very well the incredible pressure the West is exerting on Belgrade and the difficult situation Serbia finds itself in,” said Botsan-Kharchenko. He added that Russia highly appreciates the principled line that Serbia maintains in not recognizing and not accepting anti-Russian sanctions. Speaking about a statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he linked the issues of Donbass and Kosovo and Metohija, the Russian ambassador said that it is not Moscow’s practice to comment on the president’s statements and stressed that there is no change in Russia’s position regarding the Kosovo issue. “We do not recognize Kosovo and most actively support Belgrade in international forums, primarily in the UN Security Council,” Botsan-Kharchenko pointed out. According to him, the claims of the alleged change of the Russian position were invented with the aim of spoiling relations between Moscow and Belgrade and in order to get Serbia to join anti-Russian measures. Asked whether he ruled out the possibility that linking the issues of Crimea, Donbass, and Kosovo and Metohija could still be part of a diplomatic package, i.e., a trade-off between Moscow and Washington, the Russian ambassador said that this does not exist even in traces, that double standards are obvious and that the West has no arguments, and could never explain its position on Kosovo and Metohija, Crimea, or Donbass. “We also do not link these issues, they are different contexts and historical circumstances, although Kosovo has set a precedent. We only point out that, unlike Kosovo, referendums were held in Crimea and Donbass where the will of the people was expressed, which served as a basis for recognizing independence and fits into the foundations of international law,” Botsan-Kharchenko stressed. He said that there was no referendum in Kosovo and Metohija. “Moreover, the armed conflict in Kosovo had ended almost a decade earlier and negotiations were ongoing, while the people of Donbass have been facing the threat of physical destruction constantly, since 2014,” the Russian Ambassador said.
On what kind of faith are foreign troops in B&H facing (Politika)
The daily reminded that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said that the West is preparing a response in case Russia invokes veto to extension of ‘Althea’ mission of EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). “Unlike the consent to the appointment of Christian Schmidt as the High Representative, Russia agreed last November to extend the EUFOR mission for a year but it is uncertain whether this country will give its consent to the extension of EUFOR mission in November this year. Without the support of Moscow, European troops cannot renew their mandate. Does this mean that B&H will be left without supervision of foreign troops or western countries already have a back-up plan based on which, as some speculate, they could send NATO soldiers to B&H while formally doing that under the umbrella of the EU?”, the daily noted. Professor Milos Solaja told the daily that it is still too early to speculate on whether and how the mandate of foreign troops in B&H will be extended, but he added that it is obvious the need for their presence in B&H is obsolete. “There are political misunderstandings and differences in opinions in the country, just like in any other country, but there are no security threats regardless of ethnic prefix of political misunderstandings. I think even EUFOR is aware of this. Now that they exaggerate in their patrolling, I think they are a bigger source of threats”, Solaja said and argued that he has an impression that their presence is supposed to contribute to creation of an impression of instability in the country. The daily reminded that foreign troops have been present in B&H ever since the war ended and added that EUFOR took over the mission from NATO in 2004. “Up until recently, there were some 600 foreign soldiers in B&H and this number was recently increased by approximately 500 because of an assessment of European countries that it is necessary to ‘strengthen precautionary measures’,” the daily noted and added that some security analysts said that, due to the Ukrainian crisis, the western countries wanted to show that they not only want to keep the military mission in B&H but also that they want to strengthen it. Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik recently said that EUFOR can stay in B&H but only with consent of the UN Security Council (UN SC). “I was advocating extension of the EUFOR’s mandate in past, but I will no longer support forces that are patrolling in cities and drive armored vehicles in front of schools, kindergartens and institutions. Because of noise made by Sarajevo, there is suddenly 500 additional soldiers who are circulating in B&H, they are there – in front of schools and kindergartens. We are against this type of ‘Althea’ mission”, Dodik said. The daily reminded that, in case Russia refuses to give its consent to extension of the EUFOR’s mandate, the situation could get additionally complicated by the fact the legitimacy of new troops might be brought in question if the Presidency of B&H refuses to agree with it. The EUFOR stated that their mission was unanimously approved by the UN 1575 Resolution in 2004, in cooperation with EU. The EUFOR also noted that it is the legal successor of SFOR (NATO mission).
Ambassador Kalabukhov writes editorial on occasion of Victory Day (Glas Srpske)
On the occasion of Victory Day, Ambassador Igor Kalabukhov wrote an editorial for the daily, reminding of the joint victors of then Soviet Union and allies, arguing that the time after the WWII, showed that European and US allies learnt nothing from the history and argues that last eight decades, most notably the last couple of years, showed that the western world truly is. Author noted that Russia clearly saw their cynical pragmatism, absolute inability to negotiate and therefore completely lost faith in them. Article stressed that Western elites lost all their guidelines, especially the moral ones, and underlined that even though Russian vision of the world then, as well as today, differs from the one of Washington and EU capitals, earlier Russia if nothing could talk to responsible and professional people, while today they basically have no one to talk to. Kalabukhov noted that the European Union is degraded, both institutionally and morally and it is a known fact that besides the “collective West” nobody else joined their sanctions against Russia and even within the EU there is a growing discontent with the anti-Russian hysteria, which will have long-term consequences for the EU countries. ambassador noted that this is yet another proof of EU’s double standards, which is something that countries of the Western Balkans are well aware of, being that the EU declared this region a zone of indisputable interest and at the same time, set conditions to the countries which cannot be fulfilled and met. Therefore, author noted, it is necessary to once again think whether the desired membership in the EU will result in affirmation of “European standards” in the Balkans and underlined that one may say that B&H is miniature EU and the agreements that B&H peoples reached through the dialogue, based on mutual respect and compromises, could result in permanent peace and strengthening of internal stability- without the formal membership in the European structures. “However, we repeat, we will respect sovereign choice of B&H peoples,” noted the Ambassador. Kalabukhov noted that European institutions, formed to maintain balance of interest and providing equal and undivided security, turn into instruments of individual countries which for some reason, decided they can impose their rules to the rest of the world and frivolously use restrictive mechanisms to sanction the disobedient ones. Ambassador further noted that not only international structures, but entire countries are playing this role today, adding that it is obvious that Ukraine, with blessing of the West, was formed solely as anti-Russia and artificial conflict on its soil is only an excuse for strengthening of NATO and their further expansion. Repeating the well-known stances about Ukraine and western influence, Kalabukhov noted that today we are not speaking only about Ukraine and relations with the NATO, but about forming of new world order, as it becomes obvious that ‘game conditions’, agreed after WWII are becoming too tight “for the powers, which aim to maintain their global hegemony”. Elaborating the global changes, author noted that the United Nations are the founding structure for coordination and solving of the global agenda issues, and the reason for this yare the principles that UN acts on, which for Russia remain to be universal and efficient, but which are violated by “western hegemons”. Kalabukhov underlined that many troubles that the world faced in last couple of decades, could have been prevented if the letter and spirit of UN Charted have been respected. Ambassador concluded that Russia, just as 77 years ago, is ready to fight for their national interests and the Victory Day reminds them that great evil will be defeated once again.
RS government’s report to UN SC states that RS categorically rejects violence and fully accepts European values of democracy and rule of law built into DPA (ATV)
The report sent by the RS government to UN Security Council emphasized that the RS categorically rejects violence and fully accepts the European values of democracy and the rule of law built into the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), and believes that democracy and the rule of law can live and prosper in B&H only by respecting B&H Constitution. The report also stated that this should be obvious in itself and that the RS is not proposing to revoke any authority or competency conferred by the Constitution on institutions at B&H level, but only to strengthen B&H under the DPA, not weaken it. The report stated that mentioning that the RS is planning a secession is provocative propaganda. The claim that the centralization of power in the hands of, as the reporter said, Muslim parties led by the Islamist SDA, is more appropriate for European integration, potentially increases the risk of instability in B&H. It can never succeed as a country dominated by an ethnic group that ignores and abuses the rights of Serbs and Croats, added the reporter. The blame for the political crisis in B&H lies with former High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko, who, while leaving office, as the reporter said, illegally passed a decree criminalizing the expression of certain opinions about the war in B&H. The reporter added that the useless role that Christian Schmidt has been playing in recent months shows that he did not learn a lesson from the turmoil that Inzko caused. ATV carried an excerpt from the 27th report of the RS to the UN Security Council which reads: “The goal is to attract support for the anti-Dayton project of Bosniak parties to centralize all competencies and put them under their control. The RS has absolutely no plan to embark on a path of secession from B&H, but insists that everyone respect the letter of the Dayton Accords. Pressure from foreign powers can further alienate RS citizens, even cause instability in B&H, but no foreign pressure, from any source, will ever lead the RS leadership, no matter whom its citizens elect, to give up defending rights of the RS. Schmidt hypocritically lectures the citizens of the RS on the rule of law, although he does not recognize any restrictions on his presumed authority to govern B&H by decrees, which is clearly contrary to the Dayton Accords and the entire democratic constitutional system of B&H”. The report stated that the main cause of the unsolvable dysfunction of B&H is the persistent refusal of the SDA and other Bosniak parties to accept and adhere to the Dayton provisions that impose equality on the constituent peoples in the exercise of power.
Media on second part of 27th report sent by RS government to UN SC: There is orchestrated campaign aimed at strengthening of foreign intervention in B&H (ATV)
In the second part of the 27th Report of the RS government to the United Nations Security Council (UN SC), the RS government outlined that an “orchestrated campaign aimed at strengthening of foreign intervention in B&H” is ongoing, with alarming warnings that B&H is on the verge of war, whilst in the reality “everyone who understands the situation, knows there is no threat of such catastrophe”. ATV reports that it was also stated in the Report the RS firmly believes that B&H is able to overcome current challenges through political dialog of local parties to find a solution in the interest of all constituent peoples and the citizens of B&H. The RS Government is committed to maintaining peace and to the B&H Constitution, and has no plans for secession in any form. “None of the laws the RS is considering violate in any way sovereignty and territorial integrity of B&H. The RS proves its commitment to the peace in B&H and the region though its silent, but continuous cooperation on regional and security initiatives,” reads the Report. It also stated that the RS has proved to be a reliable partner to the NATO members in combating terrorism, high-tech security, and it closely cooperates with security and intelligence agencies of the key NATO members. Foreign officials and diplomats who are familiar with the situation in B&H confirm peace in the country is not threatened. The RS government underlined that the RS has never opposed to EUFOR’s presence in B&H and the Althea Operation in accordance with the mandate approved by the UN SC. “Officials of the RS have expressed concern over unnecessary and inappropriate movement of the EUFOR members and vehicles outside the base, causing distress among school-age children and other citizens of Srpska,” reads the Report. The Report emphasized that the situation in Ukraine is in no way related to the security in B&H. Bosniak political parties in B&H, led by Islamist SDA, with their foreign helpers, are trying to use the situation in Ukraine to implement their plan for B&H, claiming that recent moves of the RS aimed at returning its constitutional competencies were made under the influence of the Russian President (Vladimir Putin). The Report emphasized that the RS and its leaders do not serve Russia or any other foreign power, but only citizens of the RS. “Bearing in mind cultural ties and friendship between Russia and the Serb people, it is understandable that majority of the RS citizens oppose sanctions against Russia. Therefore, as well as majority of countries in the world, including at least one NATO member, the RS did not support imposing sanctions on Russia,” reads the Report. It also stated that the RS and its leaders clearly exclude any possibility of the use of violence, they do not request independence, but only to perform specific tasks with the competencies given to them by the B&H Constitution in hope they will build more functional and prosperous B&H.
Dzaferovic: If there is no European action, then way is opened for Russian influence, and we do not want that (Nova BH)
Chair of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic gave an interview for the Netherlands media. He answered the question whether it is risky for B&H, which is facing the worst crisis since the end of the war, to be granted the candidate status for EU membership. Dzaferovic was quoted as saying: “The easiest way to ensure stability is to be admitted to the European institutions. I do not see a good reason why the EU would distance the countries of the Western Balkans from itself. If there is no European action, then the way is opened for Russian influence, and we do not want that. Instead, we want to move forward on the path that leads us to the EU and the NATO alliance. That is the only way out for us.” Dzaferovic stated that scenes from Ukraine are identical to those that were coming from B&H three decades ago, stressing that B&H’s accession to the EU is a geopolitical necessity, “given Russia’s efforts to destabilize B&H”.
Dodik on Dzaferovic’s statement on B&H and Ukraine: B&H is destabilized by Muslims helped by several Western embassies, while everything else is product of Dzaferovic’s fantasy; other reactions (ATV)
The statement of Chairman and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA), who said that the situation in Ukraine resembles the war in B&H and who expressed belief that Russia is destabilizing B&H, caused harsh reactions in Republika Srpska (RS).
Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik reacted by saying that B&H is destabilized by Muslims helped by several Western embassies, while everything else is the product of Dzaferovic’s fantasy, who found himself unchallenged in high politics topics knowing nothing but to invest in the western part of the international community. Dodik was quoted saying: “Before that, for example, he could answer how many Mujahideens he personally controlled in the B&H civil war and how many crimes they committed, and then leave it to the world to judge how it is possible that someone with such a biography is free at all.” RTRS covered Dodik and noted that it is still unknown who will present Christian Schmidt’s report who, ignoring the fact he does not have consent from the United Nations Security Council (UN SC), still sent the document in which he accuses Serb and Croat peoples for the current problems in B&H, and goes on to say that Bosniak politicians have joined Schmidt in “in an orchestrated attack”, with Dzaferovic being the latest one, who, ahead the UN SC session and the Day of Victory over Fascism, shocked the public with inflammatory messages. The reporter notes that it is not only the Bosniak elite that does not, or does not want to hear the messages of the RS officials that the character of the conflicts is not the same, that the civil war was in B&H and that Ukraine is a collateral damage in the conflict of the big powers, this seems to be ignored by Schmidt as well, and goes on to say that although Schmidt sent the report to the UN SC it remains unknown what will happen with the report, bearing in mind Schmidt does not have legitimacy and legality. United Srpska’ MP in the B&H House of Representatives (B&H HoR) Nenad Stevandic emphasized that Dzaferovic – by saying that footage that now comes from Ukraine is the same as the footage that 30 years ago was sent from B&H – wants to further Stevandic said the goal of the statement was for Dzaferovic to “get on the good side of those that he thinks will be the main players in the future”. Stevandic stressed that what created the RS is not similar at all to what is in Ukraine today, and he added that the Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H compared what is incomparable. “B&H does not exist without the RS, and Dayton described this as a tragic conflict. Therefore, the statement is anti-Dayton, it seeks to further destabilize B&H”, concluded Stevandic. “What created the RS does not look like the situation in Ukraine, because in the period 2014-2022, people were killed, property was destroyed in the Donbas, to which no one reacted. It is impossible to compare the conflict in Ukraine between two neighboring countries with the RS and B&H, because B&H without the RS does not exist, and the Dayton described this as a tragic conflict”. RS Minister of Industry and Mining and SP RS leader Petar Djokic said Dzaferovic belongs to an extremist group that threatens peace, and referred to him as “the guardian of the chair in the Presidency of B&H and nothing more” and added that he will be there as long as he is supposed to perform the role of the guardian. “The situation we have and see in Ukraine today cannot be compared to what happened in B&H,” noted Djokic.
Podzic: Scenario in which Dodik causes conflict in B&H with help of Putin is possible, but other countries like Moldova and Georgia are in much worse position (Oslobodjenje)
The daily carried an interview with B&H Defense Minister Sifet Podzic. Asked how the war in Ukraine is going to impact the process of B&H’s NATO integration, Podzic said that it is clear that after the war in Ukraine, the world is going to be very different, with changed interest zones and some countries showing a new interest in NATO membership. Podzc underlined that some countries may even be allowed a fast-tracked accession process. However, he expects that the process for B&H will be somewhat longer. In the meantime, B&H can achieve full interoperability with NATO, he added. Podzic emphasized that B&H Defense Ministry and B&H Armed Forces (B&H AF) are working on this on a daily basis. Asked to comment the statement of US Senator Chris Murphy who said that the actions of B&H Presidency member Milorad Dodik are dangerous and that he might provoke a new war in B&H with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Podzic said that such scenario is possible, although he does not believe that B&H belongs to the countries which are most susceptible to such attacks. “I believe this because of our geographic location, as well as the obligation of EUFOR and NATO to defend the territorial integrity of B&H. I believe that in this sense, Moldova, Georgia and some Baltic countries are in a far more difficult position. Despite all of the above, we have to admit that the influence of the Russian Federation in the Balkans is great, and it is reflecting on the stability in the entire region”, said Podzic. He also explained that the Ministry of Defense has completed the Program of Reforms for 2022, and the document has been sent to B&H Foreign Ministry, be Council of Ministers and B&H Commission for Cooperation with NATO for approval.
Covic announces new attempt at agreement on changes to Election Law; Izetbegovic thinks it will be in vain (Nova BH)
The leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic announced new attempts at an agreement regarding changes to B&H Election Law and a new round of negotiations with mediation of European officials. The decision of the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) on approving funds for the B&H Central Elections Commission (CEC) is pending. There are about 10 days left for the ministers to provide money for the elections. Although this is unlikely, almost impossible, Covic is not giving up on agreement to change the election law, commented the reporter. Covic stated that he had a long conversation with European politicians on Friday “who arrived to B&H to prepare some more meetings, which are supposed to happen in the next 10 days, to once again try to change the elements of the Election Law so that the elections have their meaning, to have one real democracy”. A few days ago, the leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic hinted at the outcome of these negotiations. “I think we will have one high-ranking EU representative who will try something one more time. The Americans wanted that too, so they gave up. They see that it is not realistic, but I think, under the influence of Mr. Plenkovic who has good relations and friends in the EU that one of the high-ranking ones will come to talk one more time, and of course, in vain”. After the elections were called, they are supposed to be held according to the existing law. The view of the majority is that all opportunities for an agreement have been missed, added the reporter. The question of the financing of elections still remains. The sessions of B&H CoM, which is expected to decide on approving the funds, were not scheduled, but this does not have to mean there will be no session in the next week, commented the reporter. The opposition believes that holding the elections in October is in question. The leader of SDP Nermin Niksic said that holding elections is not endangered and he is sure that there are institutions in B&H, such as the Office of the High Representative (OHR), which can declare a budget and ensure funds for elections. There will be elections and funds will be provided in one way or another, according to Niksic. The President of B&H CEC Suad Arnautovic stated: “The CEC will monitor the situation. We do not want to prejudge anything. Maybe none of this will happen. We expect, we are very optimistic that the CoM will make such a decision”.
Sattler says problems must be solved in B&H parliament, calls politicians to respect existing Election Law of B&H (BHT1)
The Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler gave an interview for BHT1. In the interview, Sattler commented on the current political situation in B&H, blockades of state institutions, efforts to change the Election Law and calling general elections. Sattler said that in the past few days, attacks on state institutions were noticed, as well as unilateral moves that move away from common competencies. He stated that there were ways to discuss problematic issues, which does not mean that Serb member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik was not right for anything, and that there were issues that were controversial. He added that the way to approach the problem is not to unilaterally withdraw or make threats, but to solve the problems in the Parliament of B&H, which would help the whole of B&H feel that the problems are being discussed. When it came to the Election Law of B&H, Sattler hoped that a conclusion would be reached and that there was not enough political courage to take the final step. He added that the Election Law still existed and that elections would be held according to it, and called on political leaders to respect it. Sattler stated that the first important step was that the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced the elections, and that the next step was to secure funds for that in the coming weeks. In case the Ministry of Finance of B&H fails to provide that money, Sattler reminded that it is a request stipulated by the Constitution of B&H and that it must provide money for the elections. Sattler noted that the dialogue and consensus of all political players in B&H are crucial in resolving open issues.
Kofod welcomes decision to hold elections in October (FTV)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Jeppe Kofod started his two-day official visit to B&H with meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs of B&H Bisera Turkovic and Chair of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic. FTV reported that the message was conveyed that B&H will have a friend and the support on its path towards the EU membership, however the focus of the Kofod’s meeting with Turkovic was on general elections in B&H. Addressing the media after the meeting, Kofod said: “I welcome the decision to hold the elections in October. This is an opportunity to develop debate on difference, but also a debate and a discussion that will be democratic and constructive, that implies respect. It is crucial to hold elections in line with all relevant international norms and standards”. Kofod and Turkovic conveyed a message that although there is no electoral reform, there is no reason to prolong the elections, discussion caused by calling elections is redundant, as well as the pressures from the neighbouring countries. Addressing the media, Turkovic said: “What is essentially important is to respect the law of this country, that elections have been called based on the law, that the (Central) Election Commission (of B&H) set the date based on the law, and truly, our neighbours should not decide in any way on the elections in their neighboring country the same way as we do not have the right to make judgments on internal affairs of any country’’. “B&H needs a new constitution and needs electoral reform in a way that is aligned with the European standards, true democratic standards, because that is the way to ensure progress in integration towards the EU”, Kofod said. Turkovic also said that contacts with the EU at the highest level are expected to be made soon and added that “our priority is to obtain the candidate status”. Turkovic noted that she believes that the EU can understand how much this step would mean for stability and progress of B&H, relaxation of relations and focusing on reforms and European path. Kofod commented on the war in Ukraine and expressed his concern over the latest statements in B&H which threatened to disturb the balance of safety and cooperation, because of which it is necessary to do everything to support democratic B&H.
Arnautovic threatens Dodik and Covic’s nominations will not be verified if Schmidt states before UN SC that they violate B&H Constitution and DPA (FACE TV/FTV)
President of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) Suad Arnautovic has threatened the B&H CEC will refuse to verify SNSD leader Milorad Dodik and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic’s nominations for elections if (High Representative) Christian Schmidt states before the United Nations Security Council (UN SC), unless he is prevented by Russia and China, that Dodik and Covic undermine the B&H Constitution and the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA).
In an interview for FACE TV, Arnautovic said: “If it is true that in the report he will present (May) 11, he claims that someone is acting in an anti-Dayton manner, it is sufficient. It is necessary that the supreme interpreter of the DPA says that an individual political party leader behaves in anti-Dayton manner, contrary to the signed statement that the General Framework Agreement for Peace in B&H (GFAP) will be respected, that is enough for us to put it on the agenda.” The reporter comments that Arnautovic is only waiting for Schmidt to mention Dodik and Covic’s names, as expected in negative context, to convene the B&H CEC’s session to request a ban on their participation in the elections. Commenting on this, Head of SNSD Caucus at the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Snjezana Novakovic Bursac said for RTRS: “Arnautovic and (Ahmet) Santic are close to SDA. Members of SDS and PDP clearly fitted very well in that composition, as well as Zeljko Komsic’s people. They are clearly trying to directly influence election results with all mechanisms and manoeuvres, so they thought of completely unacceptable and ungrounded ideas, like the removal of individual political actors from the election process”. RTRS reports that Arnautovic referred to Article 1, item 13 of the B&H Election Law, according to which a leader of a political party, coalition or an independent candidate needs to sign a statement they will respect the GFAP when applying for participation in elections. Novakovic Bursac reminded that SDA is the only among “the bigger political parties that directly states in its program documents it advocates a different organization of B&H that is not in accordance with the Dayton. That is an example of anti-Dayton activities”. The reporter comments that despite this, international officials ignore statements related to weapons in case of an emergency, defence of B&H with “full mosques’’, and for them that does not constitute anti-Dayton activities, but when the RS leaders are returning competencies given to them by the DPA, or when Croats request to elect their representatives in the B&H Presidency or the House of Peoples, that constitutes anti-Dayton activities. Commenting on this, journalist and political analyst from Mostar Zoran Kresic said for RTRS that SDA and political parties with Bosniak majority “are convinced that what is written in the SDA Declaration, that is in a way a plagiarism of the Islamic Declaration by Alija Izetbegovic should be implemented, i.e. creating a small Bosniak state. In that regard, Arnautovic only fitted into the matrix of fulfilling the wishes of the political Sarajevo”.
Komsic says Milanovic’s activities cannot be called friendly or good-neighborly policy (Hayat)
In a series of his compromising statements, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic offended Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic (DF). Commenting on Milanovoc’s statements, Komsic said that from the moment he met Milanovic he had great reservations about him, adding that what Milanovic does cannot be called a friendly or good-neighborly policy. “At one point SDP B&H was making fun of him when it became clear who he is, so now he probably takes revenge on people in B&H as he is resented because they have not recognized him as a left-wing and socio-democrat politician”, Komsic stated. He assessed that joint policy of Milanovic and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic when it comes to advocating for the third entity in B&H became more transparent, which is a policy dating from 1992 and 1993 when first meetings of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, late Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, wartime leader of Croats in B&H and founder of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia Mate Boban and first Republika Srpska President and war crime convict Radovan Karadzic took place. Komsic stressed that political fight for B&H now continues and there will be no giving up as long as pressures on B&H intensify.
Plenkovic says rights of Croats as one of constituent people in B&H are currently jeopardized (Dnevni list)
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic addressed a panel discussion on contributions of Croatia in scope of the Conference on the Future of Europe, organized by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia in Zagreb, and he said that it is very important for Croatia to see that the enlargement policy in the neighborhood, especially B&H, got a significant place knowing that rights of Croats as one of the constituent people are currently jeopardized in B&H. Plenkovic reminded that the existing Election Law of B&H prevents fair representation of Croats and he argued that Croats in B&H have been outvoted thanks to election engineering. “Croats, from the position of victim, may turn into culprits if they raise their voice. Therefore, our arguments are always in line with a method of cooperation, on the side of those whose rights are not equal to those of others, as in line with the existing legislation, and I am especially referring to the territory of the Federation of B&H”, Plenkovic said.
SDA’s Izetbegovic confirms that he expects another EU mediation attempt to change B&H Election Law soon, but says it will not yield results in current circumstances (HRT)
SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic confirmed on Thursday that he expects another EU mediation attempt to change the B&H Election Law soon, but said it will not yield results in the current circumstances. “It is just that the atmosphere is so spoiled. With his departures to Banja Luka, his turning of HDZ B&H against (former High Representative Valentin) Inzko and the law on the prohibition of genocide denial, (HDZ B&H leader Dragan) Covic spoiled relations so much that this is not realistic at this time,” Izetbegovic said. Meanwhile, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said that he believes that Izetbegovic, as he says, is behaving so arrogantly because he feels protected. Milanovic called for the protection of the Croat people in B&H, sending a message to the Croatian left-wing parties. “If this seems right-wing to them, let them board, I give them a free ticket to cross to the other shore, to the shore of national responsibility, by boat across the Kupa, with catering and music, they can go back. Or let them imagine that this is a battle for the wounded. Croats in B&H are politically wounded,” Milanovic said. Izetbegovic “somewhat mysteriously announced the arrival of a high-ranking European official, who will again try to find a solution for the Election Law in upcoming days”, but he denied he is referring to President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen. Vecernji list learns that at the initiative of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, President of the EU Council Charles Michel, President of the EC Ursula Von der Leyen and even French President Emmanuel Macron were willing to mediate between Bosniaks and Croats over a month ago in order to reach an agreement on the election reform, so that the country gets a green light for the status of the EU candidate and in order to avoid the crisis after holding of the elections since it is quite certain that the situation will complicate with regard to filling of the Federation of B&H (FB&H) House of Peoples (HoP) and election of a B&H Presidency member. The daily added that Izetbegovic refused this offer. The daily added that the Office of Von der Leyen denied on Friday that she will visit B&H in order to encourage possible reaching of an agreement on the election reform or a possible “truce” which would be in force at the next elections at which Bosiaks would not elect Croat representatives.
Milanovic says HDZ B&H’s announcement on third entity in B&H is extreme, but that he will have to support it (N1)
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic stated on Friday that HDZ B&H’s announcement on third entity in B&H is extreme, but that he will have to support it. He also criticized moves of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, assessing that the situation in B&H is serious. Milanovic proposed to the Croatian Government earlier to hold a meeting of the Croatian National Security Council and said that he expects that the Croatian Parliament will invoke veto to the NATO accession of Finland until the issue regarding the status of Croats in B&H is resolved. Milanovic told media: “Croats will in the end go to the institutional connection and practically the third entity. That is the issue. That is stated in those documents, and people have prepared for that. They are heading towards special form of self-government that will practically be beyond state and legal system of B&H”. The reporter noted that Milanovic claimed that HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic will not run, in upcoming elections, while on the other hand, Covic, “who is still concerned” said nothing else was left but to fight. The reporter noted that Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman is lowering tensions, claiming that the National Security Council’s session requested by Milanovic is not necessary. In an interview for HRT1, Grlic Radman said the only potential topic of discussion is how to “repair the overall damage the President caused with his comments towards the international community (IC), because due to such statements, our reputation has been damaged”.
President of SDP of Croatia Grbin says SDP supports admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO, confirms SDP of Croatia would not support Covic’s idea on territorial reorganization of B&H (Jutarnji list)
President of SDP of Croatia Pedja Grbin said that the stance of SDP of Croatia is clear: “We support the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO. This has never been disputable”. Grbin reminded that Finland and Sweden still have not submitted their applications and noted that the NATO Summit will be held on June 28 or 29. “Let’s give it a chance until then to see whether the initiative of the President of the Republic (Zoran Milanovic) will produce any results”, Grbin said and confirmed that SDP Presidency decided on Thursday that it will support the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO. The daily noted that Grbin did not want to distance himself from Milanovic’s statements but noted that SDP of Croatia believes it remains to be seen whether Milanovic’s conditioning of the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO with adoption of changes to the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) will produce any results. Asked whether SDP, like Milanovic, would be willing to support (HDZ B&H leader) Dragan Covic and his ‘plan B’ to launch a territorial reorganization of B&H unless changes to the Election Law of B&H are adopted, Grbin said that SDP of Croatia would not do that. “Croatia is a signatory of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and it defines the organization of B&H through two entities. The issue of the third entity which was raised by Mr. Covic can only create additional tensions. It is necessary to hear a clear and unambiguous stance on this matter from Covic’s sponsors from HDZ of Croatia”, Grbin concluded.
Plenkovic visits Ukraine, visits Kyiv, meets with Zelensky (TCN)
Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic visits Ukraine as the war rages on following Russian invasion which began back in February this year. He has paid a visit to the capital, Kyiv, and will have further meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Andrej Plenkovic arrived in the City of Kyiv on Sunday morning as part of his visit to Ukraine, where he will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denis Smihal and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, Banski dvori announced. Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman is also in Kyiv as Plenkovic visits Ukraine. “Croatia knows what it’s like to be under military aggression and continues to provide political, diplomatic, financial, humanitarian, technical and any other possible support to Ukraine, as well as assistance in taking care of Ukrainian refugees,” the government said in a statement. During the meetings, the Ukrainian state leadership will inform Plenkovic about the consequences of the destruction caused by the Russian attacks on Ukraine, and they will also discuss further assistance and the continuation of Ukraine’s EU path. Plenkovic’s visit to Ukraine is taking place on the eve of Europe Day and is an expression of solidarity and support for the Ukrainian authorities and the brave Ukrainian people, who are victims of brutal and horrendous Russian aggression. Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Prime Minister paid an official visit to Ukraine in December 2021, and also attended a meeting of the Crimean Platform summit with EU leaders back in August 2021. Plenkovic and Minister Grlic Radman were welcomed by Ambassador Anica Djamic, who herself returned to Kyiv, where she will remain and continue to work at the helm of the Croatian Embassy in Ukraine.
Plenkovic: Croatia admires resistance of Ukrainian people (Hina)
Croatia admires the resistance of the Ukrainian people and their European aspirations and is ready to help with its own experience in post-war reconstruction, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said during a visit to Kyiv on Sunday. Plenkovic made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Victory in Europe Day and ahead of Europe Day, observed on 9 May. In his speech, he expressed Croatia’s full support to the Ukrainians in their resistance to the military aggression by neighboring Russia and to Ukraine’s EU path. “We admire the resistance you have demonstrated in the face of the Russian aggression. You are fighting not only for the freedom of Ukraine but also for the values that we all share,” the Croatian PM said. Croatia itself experienced military aggression and that’s why “we understand how hard the pressure is and how difficult the situation is for the defenders and Ukrainians,” Plenkovic said and added: “I have the highest regard for the heroism of Ukrainian soldiers defending their homes, their families, their territory and their homeland.” Addressing a joint press conference with President Zelensky, Plenkovic noted that he was well aware of the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Before becoming prime minister, Plenkovic had served as chairman of the European Parliament delegation to Ukraine and headed an EP observer mission for the 2014 election in Ukraine. As prime minister, he had offered Ukraine Croatia’s experience with the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region after its 1991-1995 Homeland War. Plenkovic also offered Croatia’s experience with post-war reconstruction, mine clearance, and reconciliation. “We would like to share this experience with you,” he said, recalling that he had last visited Kyiv five months ago when he and Zelensky signed a statement on Ukraine’s EU membership perspective. He commended Ukraine for responding so quickly to the EU questionnaire, presented to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv by European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, which is the first step by an aspirant country to gain the status of a membership candidate. “We will be on your side every step of the way,” Plenkovic said. Croatia has supported the first five packages of sanctions which the EU has imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and will support a sixth package which is being prepared. Plenkovic expressed satisfaction that Croatian Ambassador Anica Djamic has returned to Kyiv and that the Embassy will continue to operate normally. “This, too, is a strong sign of support to Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he said.
Bozinovic comments on case of Croatian national taken prisoner in Ukraine (Hina)
It is difficult to say at this point when we could expect progress on the case of the Croatian national who has been taken prisoner by Russian forces in Ukraine, Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Sunday. “Croatia is doing and will continue to do all it can. The situation is difficult in that he was arrested by Russian forces. We have sought information through our diplomatic service and will continue following this case, seeking answers to the questions, first of all those asked by his family. That is our obligation under the constitution and law,” Bozinovic told the press in Zagreb. The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs said on Saturday that a Croatian national had been taken prisoner in Ukraine and that it was dealing with the case in cooperation with Ukrainian authorities. Russian media said that “a Croatian mercenary” had been captured in Mariupol. “Considering the circumstances, at this point I cannot predict when we could expect any progress,” Bozinovic said. He said that any Croatian nationals who may be fighting in that war are doing that at their own risk and that the Croatian government is not involved in it in any way. Commenting on the visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, Bozinovic said: “I think this visit is a strong gesture of statesmanship and a sign of support to Ukraine that has been going on since the first day of the Russian aggression.” The visit came nearly two and a half months after Russia launch a military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. “I don’t think this visit by the Croatian prime minister differs in any way from visits made by several prime ministers a while ago, by the UN secretary general, the US secretaries of state and defense, and the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission,” Bozinovic said, adding that the visit was organized in the same way as other such visits given the security situation in Ukraine. He recalled that Croatia had sent various types of aid to Ukraine and pledged to send €5 million in aid at a donors’ conference in Warsaw on Thursday, and that more than 17,000 Ukrainians have found refuge in Croatia.
Djukanovic: We are facing difficult time, time of strategic decisions, Montenegro is determined to regain reform enthusiasm (CdM)
On behalf of the citizens of Montenegro and on his own behalf, the President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic congratulated the President of the European Council Charles Michel on the occasion of 9 May – Europe Day, with best wishes for the prosperity of the European Union and affirmation of the European unification project. European nations. “This year’s Europe Day, which is also the day of the great victory of the free world over fascism in the Second World War, we welcome in disbelief that the horrors of war, suffering and suffering of civilians on European soil have become our present. Unity, determination and efficiency in EU policy after the aggression on Ukraine, by a country that, together with Ukrainian and other peoples of the Soviet Union, made an invaluable contribution to that victory 77 years ago, encourage and inspire strength to persevere in defending the fundamental values of European unity: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights and the right of every people to freely choose their path,” pointed out Djukanovic. We are facing, the President adds, a time of difficulty, and strategic decisions. “Let’s hope for the wise and timely decision. A decision that will provide a secure European future for countries outside the EU,” said Djukanovic. Montenegro is celebrating Europe Day, the President of Montenegro points out, once again firmly on his European and Euro-Atlantic path. “Determined to regain reform enthusiasm and convince its European partners that it is not only a reliable foreign security partner that perseveres in affirming European values, but also a country that is able to respond to the majority commitment of its citizens to live in accordance with the highest European standards and values of democracy. We are looking forward to new European victories,” said Djukanovic.
Kovacevski calls on EU to finally keep its promise an allow Macedonia to open its accession talks (Republika)
Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski endorsed the warning from his Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, who said that Macedonia will lose focus on the dispute with Bulgaria if Bulgaria continues to veto our EU accession talks beyond June. Kovacevski reminded the EU that Macedonia has been a candidate country for 17 years and still hasn’t opened its EU accession talks. As a country, we did a lot, and our citizens have done a lot of work. We made some sacrifices along the way and some difficult decisions, so it is time for the EU to finally make its decision. Any process that lasts too long and ends without conclusion reduces the faith of the citizens and lowers their trust, Kovacevski said during the event today when NATO military aircraft were displayed at an airport near Skopje. Kovacevski will likely meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov in Rome for the honoring of St. Cyril and Methodius in late May, and before that Petkov will head out to Washington for meetings.
Xhaferi calls on Bulgaria to lift its veto (Republika)
Parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi called on the European Union to give Macedonia a date to open its accession talks during the French Presidency, which ends next month. Xhaferi was speaking during a meeting of the Adriatic – Ionian Initiative in Tirana. Even though every country individually has a strategy and takes steps to preserve its own integrity and sovereignty, each country also has an obligation toward the stability of the region and its European integration. This is also responsibility toward the European integration of the region, said Xhaferi, in a statement aimed at Bulgaria, which blocks Macedonia’s EU accession talks.
Byrnes wants to see Macedonia join EU as soon as possible, says strategic partnership with the US is no substitute (Republika)
US Ambassador to Macedonia Kate Byrnes said that the country should be allowed to open its EU accession talks as soon as possible. Asked about the plan to revive Macedonia’s “strategic partnership” talks with the US, Byrnes said that this is no substitute to full EU membership. According to the Ambassador, Macedonia did the work it was supposed to do in order to join the EU and should become a member as soon as possible. Macedonia is hoping that Bulgaria will lift its veto against the EU accession talks in June, but even if this happens, would still face a long accession process with likely additional vetoes.
Kovacevski refuses to discuss holding early elections – I will not accept blackmail from VMRO-DPMNE (Republika)
Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski said that he will not accept the opposition’s request for a meeting of party leaders who will discuss setting a date for early general elections. VMRO-DPMNE will begin blocking the work of the parliament from Tuesday, unless this request is accepted. The demand of the opposition is irresponsible. We are in time of war and spiking energy and food prices, when we can’t secure transport of grains from Ukraine. We can have a meeting of party leaders but to discuss strategic issues. Not a meeting based on blackmail with countdowns like in a bad action movie. This is the position of all parties, even of parties who are with the opposition bloc, said Kovacevski.
Rama: Our continent celebrates today under the sign of Ukraine (Radio Tirana)
Europe Day held every 9 May, celebrates peace and unity in Europe. Prime Minister Edi Rama writes on Facebook that Europe Day is celebrated today under the sign of Ukraine. The last three months are facing Russian aggression. May 9 marks the anniversary of Schuman’s historic statement, which during a speech in Paris in 1950 by France’s then Foreign Minister introduced the idea of a new form of political cooperation in Europe aimed at avoiding conflicts and wars between the peoples of Europe. “Good morning, Today our continent celebrates Europe Day under the sign of Ukraine,” writes Rama.
Open Balkans agreement, Minister Krifca receives counterpart from the Republic of Northern Macedonia (Radio Tirana)
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Frida Krifca received the delegation of the Republic of North Macedonia, led by the Minister of Agriculture Ljupcho Nikolovski. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the progress of the “Open Balkan” agreement to create a single market in the Western Balkans. Krifca expressed once again her maximum commitment and the technical staff for the implementation of all points agreed between the parties. According to Krifca, this is an ongoing process that will further serve the consolidation of the common market between the two countries. On his part, Nikolovksi expressed all the political and technical will to implement this agreement without any obstacles as a very good opportunity for the intensification of trade between the two countries. The progress of the Open Balkans Agreement with North Macedonia so far has been successful in terms of export of agricultural products through mutual recognition of laboratory tests, reducing costs for Albanian businesses and time spent at border checkpoints. The assistance to the business came through the Open Balkans Agreement and through inspections at the customs offices closest to the destination countries in North Macedonia, shortening the waiting time and not compromising the quality of agricultural products.