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Belgrade Media Report 20 May 2022

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 20 May 2022

LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: All crucial issues discussed with Michel (Tanjug/RTS)
• Michel: We want to deepen cooperation with Serbia, accelerate EU accession (Tanjug/RTS)
• Vucic: Science and technology parks reflect our change for better (Tanjug/Politika)
• Agreement for financing Serbian start-up community signed (Tanjug/Politika)
• Selakovic: Legally inadmissible and unacceptable request of Pristina (RTV/Tanjug)
• Serbia builds bridges of cooperation with all neighboring states (Tanjug)
• Pristina refuses six years to return land to Visoki Decani (RTV/Tanjug)
• Porfirije: After 55 years, the wound of schism with the Macedonian Church has been healed (Tanjug/Politika)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H CEC cancels number of public procurement procedures due to lack of funds; It calls on authorities to ensure funds by midnight on Thursday (Hayat)
• OHR calls on B&H Council of Ministers to allocate funds (AJB)
• Covic: Someone deliberately wants to create crisis in B&H (ATV)
• SDA: Blocking of elections is criminal offense, judicial institutions must react (N1)
• Dodik: Agreement on changes to Law on Elections of B&H will happen when Bosniaks want it (Nova TV)
• Dodik: B&H will not impose sanctions on Russia (Sputnik/RTRS)
• Russian Federation: B&H is friendly country as far as Russia is concerned; Kalabukhov: B&H is not on Russia’s list of enemy states (RTRS)
• Dodik comments constant attacks on RS authorities done by RS opposition and international community officials (RTRS)
Croatia
• Plenkovic: Milanovic’s threats that he will block NATO accession of Finland and Sweden not helpful (HRT1)
Montenegro
• Abazovic & Bilcik: Positive energy in Brussels for Montenegro (CdM)
• Abazovic: Montenegro has a historic chance (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Mickoski on the Macron initiative – If it includes the Bulgarian demands, it would lead to our full capitulation and assimilation (Republika)
• Nikoloski: Bulgaria needs to give us guarantees before we amend the Constitution (Republika/Makfax)
Albania
• European Parliament approves report on Albania, Santos: Time to move ahead with the accession negotiations (Radio Tirana)
• EP urges EU to start opening negotiations on Albania, Foreign Minister welcomes decision: Time to show strategic vision (Radio Tirana)
• Nikolla welcomes EP vote: Albania unwavering towards the European family (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: All crucial issues discussed with Michel (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday Belgrade was ready for dialogue with Pristina and that he hoped that, with assistance from the EU, a compromise solution would be getting closer in the future. At a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, Vucic said he considered a concept of a European geopolitical community – put forward by Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron – to be a significant thing. Vucic said his meeting with Michel had addressed the global situation and Serbia’s problems regarding energy supplies, and added that he had received certain guarantees from Michel that Serbia would be able to count on EU support. “We discussed all crucial political issues. Michel pointed out that we must continue rule of law reforms and mend and improve the situation in the media sphere,” Vucic said. He said they had also discussed the situation in the region and that Serbia would do everything in its power to maintain peace and stability and that the EU could fully count on Serbia in that regard. “We spoke about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. I understood all the words and concerns and everything Michel and the people in the EU are facing. I spoke about Belgrade’s position, we are always committed to dialogue and ready for it, and we hope that, with assistance from the EU, we will be getting closer to a compromise solution in the future,” Vucic said. He said the concept of a European geopolitical community could greatly help to accelerate the path to full EU membership and improve the Western Balkan countries’ position in the EU accession process. “The details are still to be discussed – I pointed to our needs, primarily to exercise of four freedoms – movement of people, movement of goods, movement of services and movement of capital. Green lanes for trucks are important for us and I believe we can achieve major things as part of the initiative,” Vucic said. “We also discussed Russia’s attack on Ukraine and Michel expressed in a very strong manner a desire and an expectation for Serbia to join the sanctions against Russia. I informed him of our political situation and our political stances,” Vucic said. Asked by a reporter whether an acceleration of Serbia’s EU accession would come at a particularly high price for the country, Vucic responded: “If you think you can get cheese for free, you cannot, because the only place where there is free cheese is a mousetrap.” It has been clear for a long time that Serbia wants to be a part of the EU, and even before it was given membership candidate status, the EU’s demand was that an agreement on normalization of relations must be reached with Pristina, Vucic said. “But that is not something we do not know. No one should play dumb and pretend they did not know that because it has been reported a million times,” he added.

 

Michel: We want to deepen cooperation with Serbia, accelerate EU accession (Tanjug/RTS)

 

The EU wants to deepen its cooperation with Serbia and other partners in the region and accelerate the European integration process, European Council President Charles Michel said in Belgrade after meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday. We want to confirm our full commitment to Serbia’s EU accession talks, Michel said at a press conference with Vucic, adding that EU and Western Balkan leaders would meet in June. “We want to expand our dialogue and deepen our cooperation, and to promote peace, stability and security. The war against Ukraine has really shaken the entire continent,” Michel said, adding that the war had ended a 20-year period of peace everyone had fought for. “After COVID-19, we must get our economies to recover and we must protect each other. New challenges call for new ways of thinking and working. We must accelerate European integration and create encouragement for reforms. We want to provide concrete benefits to all citizens of Serbia and all partners in the region and start the integration as early as during accession talks, rather than wait for them to conclude. We will hold discussions about that in Brussels in June,” Michel said. He said his visit to Belgrade sent a strong signal of close cooperation between Serbia and the EU. Michel also said he fully supported EU accession of membership candidates and that a concept of a European geopolitical community, put forward by him and French President Emmanuel Macron, aimed to contribute to that and be a platform for good coordination. Responding to a question from a reporter, he said the establishment of a European geopolitical community would provide an opportunity to hold regular meetings between EU and Western Balkan leaders at least twice a year to seek solutions for common progress.

 

Vucic: Science and technology parks reflect our change for better (Tanjug/Politika)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Thursday Serbia had attracted an average of 61 percent of the total FDI in the Western Balkans over the past three years and that the IT sector accounted for nearly 70 percent of Serbia’s exports, indicating how much the country had changed for the better. “That alone shows how much progress Serbia has made and how much we have changed, and we must continue on that path,” Vucic said at the Science and Technology Park in Belgrade after the signing of an 84.5 million Euro agreement under which the EU and the World Bank will provide funding to Serbian research and startup communities. The signing ceremony was also attended by European Council President Charles Michel. In a speech, Vucic said Serbia and the EU had many mutual ties and that they shared difficulties as well as success. “Through the Innovation Activities Fund, which boasts over 150 patents, we used to have investments worth 500,000-600,000 euros a year, while Serbia is now investing over 20 million Euros through the Fund,” Vucic said. He noted that the Science and Technology Park was now home to 120 innovative companies, as opposed to just 20 five years ago. Vucic said he believed that, after Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad and Cacak, such parks would be built in other Serbian cities as well to enable young people to develop their ideas.

 

Agreement for financing Serbian start-up community signed (Tanjug/Politika)

 

In the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and President of the European Council Charles Michel, an agreement was signed on Thursday which will enable a joint financing of Serbian researchers and the start-up community by the European Union and the World Bank in the total amount of €84.5 million. The agreement was signed at the Belgrade Science and Technology Park by Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Emanuel Giaufret and representative of the World Bank to Serbia Dusan Vasiljevic. From the project’s total value, the EU will donate €41.5 million, whereas the World Bank will give a €43 million loan. The project will be implemented in association with the Serbian Science Fund and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. Before the signing of the agreement, Vucic and Michel visited the Belgrade Science and Technology Park together with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development Branko Ruzic, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic, Belgrade Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic and others. The Serbian President underlined that in the first three months of this year our country made exports in the IT sector in the amount of approximately €600 million. He said that one more building needs to be built for the Belgrade Science and Technology Park as four years ago there were only twenty or so innovative companies, while today there are approximately 120. Brnabic stated that investments in science and new technologies will continue and announced that this year, the total export of Serbia’s ICT sector will stand at €2.5 billion, with a surplus of €1.5 billion, by which the export goal of this sector will be achieved. Now the focus is on the development of artificial intelligence, bioengineering and biomedicine, she pointed out and added that four campuses will be built in which these technologies will be developed over the next four years. The Belgrade Science and Technology Park is the first park of this kind opened in 2015, and in 2016 we founded the Ministerial Council for Innovative Entrepreneurship and Information Technologies, which marked the beginning of the state’s serious involvement with innovation and investment in start-ups and development, she said. That is when the creation of basis for transition of the economy from labor intensive towards the economy based on knowledge and technologies started, Brnabic noted. She recalled that in Serbia, there are also science and technology parks in Nis, Cacak and Novi Sad, apart from the one in Belgrade, and that all were built with the help of soft loans from the European Investment Bank. She added that a large part of partnership of Serbia and the EU takes place in the innovation sector and that we have even more ambitious plans. Namely, we are finishing negotiations with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on €400 million for faculties, science, equipment and the expansion of science and technology parks. One more building of 16,000 square meters will be built in Belgrade, we are discussing expansion with Cacak and Nis, as for Novi Sad there is still no need for that because they can find partners in the private sector, the Prime Minister stated.

 

Selakovic: Legally inadmissible and unacceptable request of Pristina (RTV/Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said today before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that the consideration of the “legally inadmissible” and for Serbia “absolutely unacceptable” request of so-called Kosovo’s membership has called into question the organization’s credibility. He emphasized that Serbia will respond to Pristina’s move with all available diplomatic means. “The request for membership for Pristina is a political goal, not a value commitment, and it is an attempt to abuse this organization. This is deeply contrary to the norms and rules of the Council of Europe, other international organizations and international law. In addition, this is just another clear indication that Pristina does not intend to reach any solution through dialogue, but has decided on a unilateral approach for who knows how many times,” Selakovic said.

 

Serbia builds bridges of cooperation with all neighboring states (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Minister of Defense Nebojsa Stefanovic talked in Belgrade on Thursday with Operational Commander for the EU’s Operation ALTHEA Lieutenant General Brice Houdet about the current political and security situation in the region. Stefanovic underlined that Serbia is strongly committed to constructive and essential dialogue which he finds to be a basic mechanism for overcoming problems. He added that our country also stands firmly on the position of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all internationally recognized states and that it expects the same from the international community. Houdet informed Stefanovic about plans to strengthen EUFOR forces in Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the light of the international security situation and underlined that EU members doubled their presence on the ground, as a precautionary measure. He also said that the EU wants to adjust the operation to the current changes in the international context and show firm dedication to the preservation of peace and stability in the region.

 

Pristina refuses six years to return land to Visoki Decani (RTV/Tanjug)

 

The decision of the Constitutional Court in Pristina to return 24 hectares to the monastery of Visoki Decani, which was made six years ago, has not been implemented yet, and the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic says that this example shows that there is no rule of law in Kosovo and Metohija and calls on the international community to put the strongest pressure on Pristina to implement that decision. In a statement to the media, Petkovic pointed out that the authorities in Pristina brutally refuse to implement anything agreed if it is in the interest of the Serb people, but they are also more than ready to implement all their decisions when it is necessary to attack Serbs. “Since 2016, politicians in Pristina have brutally refused to implement the decision of their highest legal instance, not only are they unable and unwilling to implement decisions and agreements from Brussels, they do not even want to implement their own decisions whenever Serbs are at issue. When it is necessary to do what is in the interest of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija, there is no political will, and here when it comes to the court’s decision, it is no longer a matter of any political will, but the need to respect the law,” pointed out Petkovic. “They call on the Constitutional Court when it is necessary to attack the Community of Serb Municipalities, but when it is necessary to return the land to Visoki Decani, they deny that decision, say that it is a decision from the Milosevic period and try to do everything from the lowest instance, that is, from local self-government to the highest instances of provisional institutions of self-government to stop the execution of that decision and to show that the will of an individual, a politician in Pristina is above any law and any court,” he added. He mentioned that only since the beginning of this year, more than 11 temples and churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija have been desecrated, and added that when Pristina says it wants to protect churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija, it only wants to provoke. Having all that in mind, as he stated, the very mention that so-called Kosovo should become a member of the Council of Europe would be a violation of all human rights in the heart of Europe and trampling on democracy in Europe. “Not only because of international law, so-called Kosovo cannot become a member of the Council of Europe. When we see how the basic human rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are violated, Serbian cultural monuments and monasteries are destroyed, 135 churches and monasteries have been destroyed and burned since 1999, when we have all this in mind, it is clear that the peak of cynicism is to speak and mention membership of so-called Kosovo in the Council of Europe, let alone something more than that,” says Petkovic. Calling on the international community to put the strongest pressure on Pristina to implement the decision to return the land to the Visoki Decani monastery, Petkovic said that there was no European politician or world leader who was in Kosovo and Metohija, without mentioning the non-execution of the decision. “Not only is the decision of the so-called Constitutional Court of Pristina not respected, but that court also ordered the Prosecutor’s Office to react because that decision is not implemented. Of course, no one reacts, but that is why the Special Prosecutor’s Office and everyone else are ready to attack the Serbs only to be expelled from the centuries-old hearths,” concludes Petkovic.

 

Porfirije: After 55 years, the wound of schism with the Macedonian Church has been healed (Tanjug/Politika)

 

Serbian Patriarch Porfirije said on Thursday, during a liturgy service of reconciliation with the Macedonian Church, that after 55 years a deep and painful wound of schism with that church has healed and that this is a great day and a miracle of God. “Let us rejoice and be happy, let us rejoice, brothers and sisters, because today the wholeness of the church, heaven and earth rejoice, all the saints rejoice, Saint Sava and all who are planted in his root,” Porfirije said in the Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, where he served the liturgy of reconciliation together with Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid and Macedonia and the archbishops of both churches. The Patriarch stressed that the schism with the brothers from North Macedonia lasted for 55 years and that the Serbian Orthodox Church waited every day for that painful wound to heal. “There is nothing that we can heal ourselves, it cannot be done only by our powers, now the wound has been healed and it is a miracle of God and a gift from God. When we suffer, it can be an expression of God’s providence, most often it is a consequence of our choices and wrong steps, and the wound then becomes again a pedagogical option, and we used it and understood that the wound was inflicted by our actions and therefore prayed to God and Saint Sava,” said Porfirije. He said that now our joy is immeasurable and an expression of God’s love. “Here this call of brothers and sisters from Serbia and North Macedonia – the heart of our people was beating for all of us, in the rhythm of Christ. It shows us that God looked at us and showed us mercy. We understood that the only thing we should not be doing is preventing God’s grace,” said the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the talks, we agreed that our actions should be an inverted pyramid and that people should be at the top, and that we should be reduced, that we should be servants of the servants, stated Porfirije. “You are welcome, bless us and convey our blessings to your people,” said Porfirije. With the liturgy of reconciliation in the Temple of Saint Sava, after 55 years of schism, the Macedonian Church returned to liturgical and canonical unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as under its umbrella.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H CEC cancels number of public procurement procedures due to lack of funds; It calls on authorities to ensure funds by midnight on Thursday (Hayat)

 

Due to the fact that funds for the general elections 2022 have not been secured, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) has cancelled a number of public procurement procedures. At its session held on Thursday, the B&H CEC cancelled procedures for purchase and services of printing and packing of voters’ registers, envelopes and signs for polling stations, preparing folders, as well as purchasing packaging material for polling stations and the B&H CEC’s warehouse. Hayat reports that due to the lack of funds, the B&H CEC also adopted a decision on overtime work, work on non-working days and night work, because they cannot employ young people, students, unemployed persons and other under service contracts during the election process. Addressing the present B&H CEC member Zeljko Bakalar said: “It was stated that those in charge are called on to continue with preparations and implementation of the elections in October 2022, and the money, until the moment it is necessary for the CEC, we will have at our disposal. It is necessary, not today, but yesterday. I call on the decision-makers, from the CEC’s session to ensure the necessary money by midnight.” B&H CEC member Vanja Bjelica-Prutina said it is necessary to protect people and no one can allow “that we violate our employees’ rights”. She noted that it is devastating to expect single mothers and pregnant women to work nightshifts, overtime and at weekends. “I still plead to respect the law, to ensure funds for us and to prevent bringing us into a situation to exhaust people,” said Vjelica-Prutina. President of the B&H CEC Suad Arnautovic said: “We needed the money yesterday to sign contracts with young people, students, unemployed, etc. Since we do not have the money, we now must violate the law, and make people to, in addition to their eight hours, work additional four, ten hours in this CEC so that we can fulfill legally prescribed obligation. Therefore, the key question is – Is the law in this country the same for all?.”

 

OHR calls on B&H Council of Ministers to allocate funds (AJB)

 

The deadline by which the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) should be provided with 6.3 million Euros or the October elections in B&H expired at midnight on Thursday. The Office of the High Representative (OHR) is urging the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) to approve the funds, which will be discussed by the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) at the beginning of the next week. Hayat reports that High Representative (HR) in B&H Christian Schmidt reiterated that voting is “is a fundamental right of the citizens in democratic society and financing of elections is legal obligation. I call on all members of the (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) to do their job and approve funds”. It concluded that Schmidt’s message indicates that he does not intend to react or to use Bonn Powers to resolve the current situation.

 

Covic: Someone deliberately wants to create crisis in B&H (ATV)

 

The leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic said that attacks by Bosniak politicians claiming that HDZ B&H is actually blocking the processes in B&H CoM are meaningless. Covic claimed that the B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda adheres to the Constitution and the law, and that the biggest problem is that the budget has not been voted on for a year and a half already. Covic stated: “Someone deliberately wants to create a crisis in B&H, so that we do not have a budget, and now I will say very openly who wants it. This is what those who voted yesterday to make a decision on something, for which there is no legal basis, want.”

 

SDA: Blocking of elections is criminal offense, judicial institutions must react (N1)

 

SDA stated that the three ministers who block the allocation of funds for the elections should be criminally prosecuted due to their inaction. SDA calls on the B&H judiciary and High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt to react and to sanction these ministers. “HDZ B&H has blocked the implementation of the 2018 election results in the Federation of B&H (FB&H). They must not be allowed to block now the holding of elections in 2022. Making a decision on financing the elections is a legal obligation, and if the HDZ B&H staff led by (B&H) Minister of Finance Vjekoslav Bevanda does not meet the deadline that expires today, the B&H judicial institutions must react. We expect a decisive reaction from the High Representative, within the mandate given to him through the Dayton Peace Agreement,” reads SDA’s statement. SDA has stated that blocking of elections is a criminal offense and judicial institutions must react. “An attempt of HDZ to, via its members in the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), prevent holding of the General Elections in October this year is violation of the Dayton Peace Accords, that is, the deepening of the crisis and destabilization in B&H,” reads the statement by SDA. SDA said that a reaction of judicial institutions in B&H and the High Representative is expected in case that deadlines set in line with the law fail to be met.

 

Dodik: Agreement on changes to Law on Elections of B&H will happen when Bosniaks want it (Nova TV)

 

Member of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik confirmed in an interview for Nova TV that he is in contact with Croatian President Zoran Milanovic with whom he speaks about setting up a system that guarantees peace. According to Dodik, they often speak to each other and mostly about the issue of equal treatment. Asked to comment claims that he and Milanovic are labeled as pro-Russian, Dodik replied by saying he is a man of the Serb people and that he cooperates with everyone. In this context Dodik said he does not have problems cooperating with the US, the UK, Germany or the EU, confirming that he has positive opinion about cooperation with Russia related to many economic issues. Dodik further noted that the Law on Elections of B&H will be changed when the Bosniaks want it, arguing that the Bosniaks want to sideline the Croats and the Serb people and want to organize B&H that does not take into account status of constituent peoples and the system of entities. “Croat people have equal rights like all people and they justifiably seek their territorial political structure. They have my support,” Dodik told Nova TV. Asked if he plans to go to Srebrenica, Dodik shrugged his soldiers and said the pre-election campaign is nearing and that he will go (to Srebrenica) because there is a strong municipal board (of SNSD) there. As for genocide in Srebrenica, Dodik assessed it is an issued that is often recycled. “Everything was said about it. I think there is a serious manipulation about the issue. If some is true, it is very difficult to be a cretin and not accept the truth,” said Dodik, concluding that there were innocent victims on all sides.

 

Dodik: B&H will not impose sanctions on Russia (Sputnik/RTRS)

 

No matter how much the neutral policy will cost us, we will not agree to the game of the West – which, through a chaotic request for joining the sanctions against Russia, is trying to prevent all larger Russian borders, said Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik for Sputnik. Dodik reminds that B&H did not impose sanctions on Russia as there was no consensus on that matter in the B&H Presidency. Dodik underlines that, as long as he is a member of the state Presidency, there will be no consensus on this matter and sanctions will not be issued. Dodik reacted to speculations of PDP and SDS, which accused him of voting in favor of issuing sanctions against Russia. Dodik says these speculations were proved to be false primarily through the statement of Ambassador of the Russian Federation to B&H Igor Kalabukhov, but also through the statement of B&H Presidency Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic, who said Dodik blocked the process of issuing these sanctions in the state Presidency by not giving his approval. “B&H did not issue any of the sanctions towards Russia, and in line with the Constitution and the internal procedure,” Dodik told Sputnik. He points out that a problem occurs when “one of the Muslim ambassadors appears at a meeting of the West” and says otherwise. Dodik believes that the West welcomes such behavior, as “the West wants to declare some sort of victory”. “The fact that they are creating internal problems within B&H only shows how much they care about B&H,” Dodik assesses. He accused the West of creating a serious problem in B&H – by allowing the unilateral acts by which the basis of the Dayton Peace Agreement “was destroyed”. He explains that this basis is the consensus that must be reached on all matters in B&H. Dodik previously proposed for a point to be discussed at the B&H Presidency session, which would refer to the Ukraine conflict and B&H’s need to stay neutral in this situation. The Serb member of the B&H Presidency reminds that his request was rejected by other two Presidency members because, he believes, they “believe in the almighty power of the West”. Dodik believes this is not good, and B&H risks of becoming collateral damage, like Ukraine. Dodik tells Sputnik that he asked for B&H to be neutral, i.e. not to meddle into the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and not to side with the stances and moves of other countries. “We should try and secure us being outside of all those speculations, thus avoiding any type of economic damage, and of course, political (damage),” Dodik stated. He concludes there are many reasons why B&H should not issue sanctions against Russia, and he believes such decision will never be adopted as long as he sits in the B&H Presidency. He adds that RS’ goal is to preserve stability and peace, and this can only be done through unity of Serbs in the RS and programs that ensure stability and peace in the region.

 

Russian Federation: B&H is friendly country as far as Russia is concerned; Kalabukhov: B&H is not on Russia’s list of enemy states (RTRS)

 

The Russian Federation stated that “B&H is a friendly country” as far as Russia is concerned. Ambassador of the Russian Federation to B&H Igor Kalabukhov reiterated on Thursday that B&H is not on Russia’s list of enemy states. This puts an end to speculations that were spread by RS opposition in recent days that said Dodik gave his consent on the B&H level so that sanctions would be issued against Russia. Kalabukhov denied these claims and said there was no institutional decision in B&H that said the country would issue sanctions against Russia. Ambassador Kalabukhov said that all those that make these claims “have their own political goals”. “But, for us, the matter is quite simple. We believe that that is not a technical matter, that is, in fact, a basic issue, and there must be a consensus in B&H regarding that matter. And we can see that such consensus has not been reached; and there was no decision of a relevant institution,” Kalabukhov told RTRS. Kalabukhov says that the Russian Federation has positioned B&H as a friendly country, and that there are various mechanisms for cooperation. “It has the potential for development in many domains in industry, agriculture, culture, so it has prospects for good and constructive development of our bilateral relations. Especially in that context, I would like to call on everyone in B&H to reject stories about malignant Russian influence. I reiterate that the Russian Federation is interested in stability, dialogue, compromise in B&H and, of course, friendly relations between the Russian Federation and B&H,” the Ambassador emphasized.

 

Dodik comments constant attacks on RS authorities done by RS opposition and international community officials (RTRS)

 

Orchestrated attacks on the RS authorities, done by members of the RS opposition and the international community officials, continue. The international community officials explain this behavior by saying the RS is “too close to Russia”, and the RS opposition is against any sanctions issued to Russia. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik responds to this, saying “if it were not for the RS’ stance, B&H would have been on Russia’s enemy list long time ago”. Due to such stance, Dodik is under attack of the IC and the opposition. PDP and SDS claim that Dodik had a “decisive role” in the process of sanctioning Russia. Dodik reacted to this and said, “the people do not wish to deal with traitors of the British made”. Dodik asked the opposition, i.e. PDP and SDS, how far they are willing to go, and how long will they use slander for humiliating the RS. On his Twitter account, Dodik wrote that the opposition has a problem with everything expect “with the hatred they feel towards SNSD and Milorad Dodik”. He warned the opposition that these are times of great challenges, global conflicts, a great war and uncertainty. He says people in RS must know who the liars are, and they also must be aware that some people only work against the Serbs. “The RS needs a steady hand to guide it through the uncertain times. You do not have such a hand, because you hate your own Serb people, because people do not want you like that, bickering amongst yourselves, and they especially do not want traitors of the British made,” Dodik wrote on Twitter about the opposition. Dodik asked SDS and PDP how long will they embarrass the RS by lies and slander, and whether the Embassy of the Russian Federation needs to say that they are lying. Dodik wrote on his Twitter profile: “Your hatred is endemic, the lie planetary. When I hear what you say and try to understand, I only realize that you are pathological liars and that you hate pathologically, that you cannot be helped. What you are doing has long gone out of the framework of political struggle and truth and has grown into complete untruth and destruction. You are wallowing in the mud that stinks because of your constant tapping in your own helplessness, but you cannot manage the RS.”

 

Plenkovic: Milanovic’s threats that he will block NATO accession of Finland and Sweden not helpful (HRT1)

 

Croatian Prime Minister and Croatian HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic held a press conference on Thursday. He spoke about the EC’s plan worth 300 billion Euros that could help the EU countries reduce the dependence on the Russian gas and oil. Plenkovic also commented on Croatian President Zoran Milanovic’s threats that he will block the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden, stressing that such threats will not help anyone, but they inflict immense political damage to Croatia. (Milanovic called on Wednesday on Plenkovic to follow Turkey’s example and get a favor for B&H by blackmailing Sweden and Finland.) He said that Milanovic’s goal is to inflict political damage to Croatian HDZ but also to HDZ B&H, warning that his political agenda is not to help Croats in B&H but to abuse their difficult position with an aim to harm Croatian HDZ and the Croatian government. Plenkovic stressed that these are all reckless actions Milanovic take without previous agreement with the Croatian government, adding that Milanovic has not done anything for Croats in B&H.

 

Abazovic & Bilcik: Positive energy in Brussels for Montenegro (CdM)

 

We feel positive energy towards Montenegro in Brussels, PM Dritan Abazovic has said after the meeting with the President of the Delegation of the European Parliament to Montenegro, Vladimir Bilcik. Abazovic has tweeted that he had a very constructive meeting with Bilcik. “The new Montenegrin government is encouraged to make decisive progress in the rule of law reforms and continue to be the exemplary leader in the EU accession process,” Abazovic has said. The meeting was also attended by DPM for Foreign Policy, European Integration and Regional Cooperation and Minister of European Affairs Jovana Marovic, Head of the Montenegrin Mission to the EU, Ambassador Petar Markovic, Prime Minister’s head of cabinet Ana Rasovic and Advisor to the Prime Minister Djordje Radulovic. “We are convinced that the tangible results we will achieve in Montenegro when it comes to the rule of law will result in rapid progress on the path to integration,” Abazovic has stressed.

 

Abazovic: Montenegro has a historic chance (CdM)

 

“Montenegro has a historic chance. The goal is to develop a political dialogue, to show that it works in practice, to make two or three crucial decisions in the coming period that would lead us to the final benchmarks,” said PM Dritan Abazovic after meeting in Brussels with Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi and European rapporteur Tonino Picula. According to Abazovic, those final criteria can be achieved during the Czech presidency, which begins in July and will last until the end of this year. “So, this is the period in which we all need to speed up when it comes to European integrations and achieve concrete results. It is of great importance that we also mentioned the European investment plan, which should finally be revived”, he pointed out.

 

Mickoski on the Macron initiative – If it includes the Bulgarian demands, it would lead to our full capitulation and assimilation (Republika)

 

VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski warned that, if the proposal made by French President Emmanuel Macron includes accepting key Bulgarian demands, it will not be adopted in Macedonia. Macron yesterday spoke with the prime ministers of Macedonia and Bulgaria, and with Bulgarian President Radev. Radev said that he asked that Macron secures written guarantees that Macedonia will implement the Bulgarian demands over the course of its EU accession talks – meaning that future VMRO led governments would be bound by the decisions of the current SDSM led government. We must be clear that Radev’s demands are based on the declaration of the Bulgarian parliament from November 2019, and he wants this declaration to be made part of chapter 35 of the EU accession talks. This is what Radev wants and he says that if it is not accepted, Bulgaria will not approve the opening of our EU accession talks. If this government accepts it, it would mean complete capitulation. It would either mean our assimilation or no accession talks. If this proposal is sent to parliament to a vote, and it requires a two-thirds majority, VMRO-DPMNE will not support it. Kovacevski and Osmani can sign anything they want, I can understand Osmani, but I can’t understand Kovacevski’s actions, Mickoski said, appealing to the national pride of the Prime Minister. The declaration of the Bulgarian parliament calls on Macedonia to accept the Bulgarian historic narrative. The SDSM – DUI government is generally prepared to accept many of their demands, but their continued implementation would require the cooperation of future governments, and Bulgaria wants to formally incorporate its demands in the EU accession process.

 

Nikoloski: Bulgaria needs to give us guarantees before we amend the Constitution (Republika/Makfax)

 

VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski said that Bulgaria needs to provide Macedonia with guarantees that it will stop blocking our EU accession talks, if Macedonia amends its Constitution and adds the Bulgarian community to the preamble – as one final concession. At the moment, I feel that Bulgaria is using the fact that a number of EU member states are not convinced that Macedonia should open its EU accession talks, and that is their excuse to block us. We are blocked not by the strongest EU member, but by the weakest, and still we see no pressure exerted on it to stop. There are many forms of action that can be done, especially to Bulgaria. But in our case, they tell us to reach a deal with Bulgaria. And the Bulgarian demands are that we accept that we are Bulgarians and that we speak the Bulgarian language, which is unacceptable, Nikoloski said. In a Makfax interview he added that VMRO-DPMNE, whose votes are necessary to amend the Constitution, made a fair proposal, that the Constitution is amended, and the Bulgarians are named in the Macedonian Constitution, but the Bulgarian Parliament adopts a declaration that they will have no additional demands of us. The key problem with Bulgaria is that their demands never cease. I’m convinced that if Macedonia makes a step forward now, in 6 to 12 months there will be new demands from Buglaria, and that will be a never-ending story, Nikoloski said. He pointed to the new concept for the EU put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron, of a two-tier Europe. “We see that the concept was supported by some EU member states and the President of the European Council announced that it will be discussed at a meeting. The blueprint is very simple, a core Europe of existing members plus maybe some additional countries, and then a group of European countries that don’t want to join the EU, the UK, Switzerland, Norway, and of course, a far larger group of the Balkan and Eastern countries that will be part of the so-called European political community, a loose union with no firm hierarchy, no executive economic power, maybe an advanced form of the Council of Europe or of OSCE. To translate, it will be far from the European dream that generations and generations of Macedonians dream of, Nikoloski said.

 

European Parliament approves report on Albania, Santos: Time to move ahead with the accession negotiations (Radio Tirana)

 

The report on the process of Albania’s accession to the EU was approved by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament, announced the rapporteur for Albania in the EP Isabel Santos. Bringing the voting table, where 519 deputies out of 599 deputies voted in favor, Santos stressed that it is time to start Albania’s negotiations with the EU. “My report on the process of Albania’s accession to the EU was just approved by the plenary session of the European Parliament by an overwhelming majority. Europe can not disappoint the Albanian people and a country that has tried to implement all the necessary steps for accession. “Time to move on to formal negotiations,” Santos wrote. The European Parliament Rapporteur for Albania Isabel Maria Santos, during the EP plenary session presented the findings regarding the country’s progress in the integration process and called for the immediate holding of the First Intergovernmental Conference between Albania and the European Union within the French Presidency of the European Council. The representative of the European Commission Didier Reynders stressed the determination in fulfilling the conditions by Albania for holding the First Intergovernmental Conference, and requested the holding of the First Intergovernmental Conference with Albania as soon as possible.

 

EP urges EU to start opening negotiations on Albania, Foreign Minister welcomes decision: Time to show strategic vision (Radio Tirana)

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka expressed her gratitude to the European Parliament for the request made to the Council for the opening of negotiations for Albania’s membership in the EU. “The European Parliament is grateful for the Resolutions for Albania, adopted today by an overwhelming majority, with high appreciation of Albania’s strategic orientation and unwavering commitment to the EU. I welcome the crystal clear call for the delayed opening of Albania’s EU membership negotiations. It’s time to show strategic vision and recognition of merit,” Xhacka writes.

 

Nikolla welcomes EP vote: Albania unwavering towards the European family (Radio Tirana)

 

The speaker of the Assembly Lindita Nikolla welcomed the vote of the European Parliament for holding the First Intergovernmental Conference with Albania. “The European Parliament’s vote in favor of holding the First Intergovernmental Conference is a deserved achievement. Albania has walked with safe and unwavering steps towards the natural destination, the European family,” she said. “Thanks to the Rapporteur for Albania, Isabel Santos for the realistic recommendation for Albania! The Western Balkans is a natural part of Western civilization and cannot remain hostage to the inertia of the past,” said Nikolla. She stressed that, “The Assembly guarantees the democratic legitimacy of Albania’s European integration process.”

 

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Belgrade Media Report 7 July 2022

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