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Belgrade Media Report 23 May

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LOCAL PRESS

• Brnabic: Serbia’s stance on war in Ukraine clear, but excludes sanctions (TV Happy/Beta)
• Orban, Vucic herald rough winter (Beta)
• Biden congratules Vucic second mandate: I am sure we can deepen close ties (RTS)
• Hill: There’s only one path for Serbia to the West, and the EU (Politika/Beta)
• Vucic: We joined none of EU’s 23 declarations against Russia (Beta)
• Brnabic: Serbia fighting to protect its position, decide independently (B92/Tanjug)
• Selakovic: Serbia will not be alone in fighting Pristina’s CoE membership bid (Tanjug)
• Cuban Ambassador: For Cuba Kosovo is part of Serbia (RTV Panon)
• Djilas: Zero chance of Freedom and Justice Party joining Vucic’s government (Nova/Beta)
• Jeremic says hid party is no longer allied with Djilas after meeting Vucic (TV Prva/Beta)
• RIK confirms Vucic’s electoral victory, new vote in Veliki Trnovac (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Deadline for securing funds for organizing general elections in B&H expires (O Kanal)
• HR Schmidt: We will not allow that the elections fail; There is money in B&H (DW/Dnevni list)
• Deadline for political parties and independent candidates to apply for general elections in B&H expires, comments (Nova BH)
• B&H CEC: Application for participation in elections was submitted by 108 political entities (ATV)
• Seven opposition parties in FB&H announce Becirovic will be their joint candidate for Bosniak member of Presidency of B&H (Nova BH)
• Becirovic urges opposition not to underestimate ruling parties but to be cautious, serious and do everything that is required to ensure victory in 2022 general elections (Face TV)
• Becirovic assesses B&H’s relations with Croatia and Serbia, claims that both Croatia and Serbia must truly respect B&H’s sovereignty and not just profess commitment to its territorial integrity (Face TV)
• Izetbegovic, Covic meet with Michel in Sarajevo; Michel says he will help encourage further dialogue between all parties in B&H (Hayat)
• Stevandic on Izetbegovic’s statement that electoral reform will be discussed after elections: It is maneuvering to allow Bosniaks to elect Croat member of B&H Presidency, interfere with election of Serb member (RTRS)
• Dodik comments on his meeting with European Council President Michel (ATV)
• Komsic: President Milanovic acts on Russia’s instructions (Oslobodjenje)
Croatia
• Milanovic: Plenkovic only wants to show off and present himself as someone who cares for Croats in B&H, Michel does not decide on anything anyways (HRT1)
• Milanovic sends Stoltenberg a letter, does not mention vetoing Finland, Sweden bids to join NATO (Jutarnji list)
• Plenkovic meets Hahn, speaks about need to change Law on Elections of B&H (Jutarnji list)
• Covic: It would be wrong for HNS B&H to choose between Milanovic or Plenkovic (Hina)
Montenegro
• Montenegro celebrates 21 May – Independence Day (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Bulgarian parliament speaker announces that the veto against Macedonia will stay in place (Republika)
• Hopes for full EU membership evaporate with the latest Macron – Michel initiative (Republika)
Albania
• Stoltenberg telephone conversation with Rama: Finland and Sweden in NATO would strengthen the alliance (Radio Tirana)
• EU membership/ Meta makes an appeal to politics for urgent reflection! Focus on the resolution! (Radio Tirana)
• Durres port project / Rama: The extension in Prishtina makes us the gateway to the whole (Radio Tirana)
• Sali Berisha re-elected Chair of DP with 99% of votes (ADN)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Brnabic: Serbia’s stance on war in Ukraine clear, but excludes sanctions (TV Happy/Beta)

 

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on 23 May that Serbia has made its political stance on the conflict in Ukraine “clear” and that this position is in keeping with international legal principles. “If you respect your own [country’s] territorial integrity you must then respect the territorial integrity of all internationally recognized states. We consider the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity very wrong,” she told TV Happy. Brnabic also reiterated that Serbia is “the only country in Europe” not to have imposed sanctions on Russia. “Politically, we have clearly stated our position but have not aligned with the sanctions. Is now frequently being overlooked. Some ambassadors, too, have forgotten that we are not completely neutral. They need to show more understanding for us when it comes to sanctions – or they should fight for our full territorial integrity in the same way they are fighting for Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” Brnabic stated. According to her, the world as a whole is currently subject to “the rule of force”.

“When the great powers can pick and choose which UN resolution they will fully respect and which they will violate, then the outcome is an international legal system which amounts to the rule of force. Today, Russia is doing what other countries did to us in 1999 and 2008 – using the same verbiage: that they had to attack to prevent a potential genocide,” Brnabic concluded.

 

Orban, Vucic herald rough winter (Beta)

 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Novi Sad, on 21 May, that Europe was facing a difficult winter, “rougher than many think”. Opening the International Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad together with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Orban said a hard winter was ahead due to the war in Ukraine, adding that it would be difficult for Serbia because it was not a member of the EU, and for Hungary because it was. Orban added that Hungary and Serbia were safe as far as natural gas and agriculture went, and that the decision to secure a railway transport line from Greek harbors to Europe via Serbia and Hungary was particularly significant. Orban went on to say that everyone wanted to know the answer to the same question — Would there be fuel and, if so, at what price, and whether “we will be able” to provide for “our citizens’ needs”. He further said that farmers would be the heroes of the current economic crisis because they would stave off famine. Orban blasted EU’s sanctions against Russia, equating them with an “atomic bomb” as they could lead to famine and borders being overrun by migrants. Vucic said “a very hard” winter awaited the entire world if something did not change in the conflict in Eastern Europe. “We should prepare for the winter and try to overcome all problems and difficulties together,” Vucic said.

 

Biden congratules Vucic second mandate: I am sure we can deepen close ties (RTS)

 

US President Joseph Biden congratulated Aleksandar Vucic on his re-election as President of Serbia. In the letter, Biden states that he is looking forward to the two countries deepening close cooperation in advancing Serbia’s European integration, expanding bilateral security and economic ties and advancing regional stability and prosperity. “I note that Serbia, under your leadership, has joined a group of 140 democracies from around the world at the United Nations in condemning Putin’s war in Ukraine. It is important that we remain united in sending strong messages of support for Ukraine and condemning Russia’s brutal war that it chose itself,” it is stated in the letter of Joseph Biden addressed to Aleksandar Vucic. “Ambassador Hill and the team at our embassy are ready to support your efforts to continue strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption, diversifying energy sources in Serbia and meeting climate goals, as well as your efforts to deepen regional economic cooperation in a way that promotes integration with EU for all Western Balkan countries. As the elections are behind you, I encourage Serbia to make progress in promoting peace and stability across the region and to take proactive steps, including compromise when necessary – to quickly normalize relations with Kosovo through EU-sponsored dialogue. The United States will continue to work closely with you, Pristina and our EU partners to achieve this important goal,” the US President said in a letter. “I am convinced that we can advance the close ties and common interests of our two countries, as well as work together to overcome the challenges of peace and security around the world. Our citizens depend on our leadership; we have the opportunity and commitment to build a peaceful future rooted in greater freedom and prosperity for all,” states the end of the congratulations sent to Aleksandar Vucic by US President Joseph Biden.

 

Hill: There’s only one path for Serbia to the West, and the EU (Politika/Beta)

 

US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill said that in life choices had to be made and that this was one such moment for Serbia, ahead of which there lied only one path, to the West and the EU. “Unlike the past, when there was a belief in Serbia that there might be a third way, that Serbia was neither the East nor the West, that it’s somehow special, and was travelling a road of its own, most Serbs now think that there’s only a right way and a wrong way, and are willing to choose the right one,” Hill said for Politika. He went on to say in the interview that Ukraine and Kosovo “are two very different situations”, suggesting that what happened in Kosovo in 1999 should not be linked with what was going on in Ukraine today. “When it comes to Kosovo and Serbia, they are two neighboring countries. Serbs live in Kosovo, and many things in Kosovo matter to Serbia. Good neighbors need to sort things out. The right way to do it is the EU-mediated dialogue and talks in Brussels,” Ambassador Hill said. He also said he believes that all elements must be on the negotiating table and that it is not possible to say ‘I want to talk about this but not talk about this’, adding he has not yet seen the commitment of the two sides to that. “If we talk about Euro-Atlantic integration, it is also an element on that negotiating table. When you negotiate, one side wants one thing, the other side wants another thing, but then you just have to talk about it. I am discouraged when I see one side wants one thing and rejects what the other side wants to be on the negotiating table,” said the Ambassador. Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin replied to the Ambassador that Serbia was a free and successful country, and that it would take its own path and recommended that the ambassador “go and rule those who let him.” “The Ambassador’s arrogance reminds us that Hill was the executor of a policy of sanctions, rape and bombing in both Republika Srpska and Serbia. He obviously doesn’t see any problem there or feels guilty about it,” Vulin said in a written statement.

 

Vucic: We joined none of EU’s 23 declarations against Russia (Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on 21 May that Serbia had not joined any of the 23 EU declarations against Russia, stating that his job as Serbian President was to look after Serbia, not the EU. “When we become an EU member, we will look after it too. It is very important to have a good relationship with the EU and to be on the European path, but our job now is to take care of our country, to secure enough food and fuel, to tend to the integrity and Constitution of our country. I think we’re doing that in a very, very good way,” Vucic said answering reporters.

Asked about Serbia aligning with sanctions against Belarus, Vucic said Serbian aligned itself with nine out of 25 declarations.

 

Brnabic: Serbia fighting to protect its position, decide independently (B92/Tanjug)

 

Serbia needs to protect and defend its own interests and it is completely clear that our country needs to continue to protect the principles of international law and the legal order of the UN Security Council, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told TV B92 on Friday. Speaking about pressure on Serbia over its failure to impose sanctions on Russia, Brnabic said Serbia was fighting to protect its position and make decisions independently “as a sovereign country, in line with international law and the legal order”. “I think we must protect and defend our interests – it is clear that we must remain a country that defends the principles of international law and the international legal order of the UN Security Council. That is the only possible path ahead of us because those are our arguments for defending our position,” Brnabic noted. Those in the West who say that Serbia must have a stricter position on the issue have “brutally violated our territorial integrity and UN SC Resolution 1244,” she said. “Those who have recognized the unilaterally declared independence of the so-called Kosovo, and also committed an aggression on our country – a sovereign, internationally recognized country that did not attack anyone – did that without any UN SC decision whatsoever. They are defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine at all costs, which is completely alright, but they trashed all the fundamental principles of international law and international order at the expense of Serbia in 1999,” Brnabic said.

 

Selakovic: Serbia will not be alone in fighting Pristina’s CoE membership bid (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on Friday that, if Pristina’s Council of Europe (CoE) membership bid were to be considered, the move would be directly contrary to at least two articles of the CoE statute and completely contrary to UN SC Resolution 1244 and that it would be an act directly aimed against the territorial integrity of Serbia as well as against the unity of the CoE as a pan-European organization. “In case of such developments, we will fight against that using all political means, and I am confident we will not be alone in that fight,” Selakovic said after attending a CoE Committee of Ministers meeting in Turin. He said the CoE also had a status-neutral presence in the territory of Serbia’s southern province and was implementing various projects in the field of human rights there. Selakovic said he had met with CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric on the fringes of the meeting, as well as with the FMs of Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova and the deputy FMs of Ukraine and Slovakia, whom he informed in more detail of Pristina’s request for CoE membership. “We are talking about a vast majority of states that have always been on our side in the past and maintained a clear and principled position of supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia,” Selakovic noted. He said Serbia had proved to be one of the few European states that had clear, consistent and principled positions when it comes to fundamental foreign policy principles and was guided by the fundamental UN principles, respecting the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of other states and also respecting internationally recognized borders. Selakovic noted that some representatives of CoE member states had spoken in an unprincipled manner about respect of the territorial integrity of some European states without even mentioning other states whose territorial integrity had been violated, such as Serbia. “In my direct contacts with them, they had no arguments whatsoever except a direct ignoring of Serbia’s firm and clear arguments,” Selakovic concluded.

 

Cuban Ambassador: For Cuba Kosovo is part of Serbia (RTV Panon)

 

Cuban Ambassador to Serbia Gustavo Trista del Todo said that for that country, Kosovo is part of Serbia and that Cuba supports Serbia in terms of integrity and sovereignty throughout the territory. “I think that the relations between Serbia and Cuba are good and positive. There are no open issues between us, we support each other. We support Serbia as far as Kosovo is concerned, for us Kosovo is part of Serbia, and there are no other views on that,” said the Cuban Ambassador for RTV Panon.

 

Djilas: Zero chance of Freedom and Justice Party joining Vucic’s government (Nova/Beta)

 

Freedom and Justice Party leader Dragan Djilas has said “there is zero chance” of his party joining Aleksandar Vucic’s government or supporting one led by the Serbian Progressive Party. Djilas told the Nova paper that the Freedom and Justice Party “has a completely different vision of Serbia compared to the one Vucic’s regime has gone by for the past ten years.” The opposition party leader said “no other democratic solution except for a new election” could resolve the situation in Belgrade after 3 April local elections in which more Belgraders voted against the Progressive-Socialist coalition than for it, yet the coalition could still establish a majority again owing to the election system. “The new Belgrade assembly will not reflect the will of Belgraders, and is therefore illegal. I shared this argument with Vucic and he agreed,” Djilas said in a comment on a meeting he had with the Serbian president shortly after the April polls.

 

Jeremic says hid party is no longer allied with Djilas after meeting Vucic (TV Prva/Beta)

 

People’s Party president Vuk Jeremic said on 21 May that the party was no longer coalition partners with Dragan Djilas‘ Freedom and Justice Party in the wake of the “astonishing meeting” between Djilas and Aleksandar Vucic, president of Serbia and the Serbian Progressive Party, and the Freedom and Justice Party’s “about-face” on sanctions against Russia. “You cannot go and have an extra-institutional talk with Vucic before the vote in Belgrade has even been counted when everyone in the coalition is against that. What’s more, unlike the People’s Party, which did not take a position, [the Freedom and Justice Party] said unambiguously during its campaign that it was against sanctions against Russia. But then after the elections — wham! Suddenly they support sanctions,” Jeremic told TV Prva. Jeremic said “you can’t do a one-eighty with your platform overnight, and you can’t bypass institutions”, announcing a “clear differentiation” between the People’s Party and Freedom and Justice Party in parliament. According to him, the decision on sanctions against Russia should take into account Serbian national interests in Kosovo and Metohija, as Russia has the right to veto any bid by Pristina for UN membership in the Security Council, and Serbian economic interests, as imposing sanctions against Russia could result in a natural gas price hike by a factor of 2.5.

 

RIK confirms Vucic’s electoral victory, new vote in Veliki Trnovac (Beta)

 

The Republic Electoral Commission (RIK) confirmed on 21 May that the Serbian Progressive Party’s candidate for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic won in the April election with 2,224,914 votes. The RIK said that United for the Victory of Serbia coalition’s candidate, Zdravko Ponos, was the runner-up with 698,538 votes. Next on the list is NADA Coalition candidate Milos Jovanovic (226,137 votes), followed by Patriotic Bloc presidential nominee, Bosko Obradovic (165,181 votes) and the Oath Keepers’ candidate, Milica Djurdjevic Stamenkovski, who won 160,553 votes. The RIK also decided to repeat a parliamentary vote in the village of Veliki Trnovac, in the Bujanovac municipality, scheduling the election for 27 May. The chair of the Progressive party’s executive board Darko Glisic has said that consultations and deadlines for the inauguration of a new cabinet could be discussed only after the result of the Veliki Trnovac polls is announced.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Deadline for securing funds for organizing general elections in B&H expires (O Kanal

 

Deadline for securing funds for organizing this year’s general elections in B&H has expired. B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda completed his work on drafting documents for the 2022 state budget – which will be reviewed on Monday at the state Parliament. Commenting on the expired deadline, the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) members said they would reveal their next moves on Monday. HDZ B&H leader and Speaker of the B&H House of Peoples (B&H HoP) Dragan Covic scheduled a B&H HoP session for Monday at which one topic will be discussed and that is the need to secure the funds for elections. The B&H Ministry of Finance and Treasury confirmed that they prepared the document for the 2022 B&H budget and it will be sent to the B&H Council of Ministers (B&H CoM) on Monday. After that, the document will be reviewed in the B&H Presidency before being sent to the state parliament. SDA Secretary General Halid Genjac said: “I believe that this obvious obstruction, which has been in place for a long time in terms of preventing elections, will be recognized by the judicial institutions in B&H and reacted to in an appropriate manner”. Leader of SDP Nermin Niksic said that the CEC finds ways to conduct a part of the preparation for elections, even though they had to suspend certain procurements and that funds have to be secured. Leader of SDS Mirko Sarovic said: “We are optimists. We believe that there will be elections regardless of these problems with financing. I believe that no one will miss the chance to show up in the elections, that there will not be any obstruction. The Law on Elections is bad but we were in the elections with such a law during all previous cycles.” SB&H leader Semir Efendic said there is an attempt at public deception by HDZ B&H, which claims to be protecting the law. Efendic raised the issue of whether HDZ B&H protects the law by not forming the Federation of B&H (FB&H) government for four years after the elections were conducted in 2018. “There is something completely different on the scene. An attempt to introduce technocracy in B&H, which we are used to from the HDZ (B&H),” said Efendic.

 

HR Schmidt: We will not allow that the elections fail; There is money in B&H (DW/Dnevni list

 

High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt gave an interview for Deutsche Welle in which he was asked if he is prepared to use his powers in order to enable holding of the general elections, given the problems with financing of the elections. Schmidt replied by saying that the elections are essence, a core of democracy, which is why the elections must be held “and we all must create conditions for holding them”. “I must say that I would very much like to see the Council of Ministers adopt the budget. One should know that the international community, myself included, will not allow that the elections fail because there is no money. There is money in B&H and if nobody is ready to adopt and start the mechanisms, then the international community must be called to help,” said Schmidt.

 

Deadline for political parties and independent candidates to apply for general elections in B&H expires, comments (Nova BH

 

Deadline for political parties and independent candidates to submit their applications to participate in the general elections in B&H, scheduled for 2 October, expired on Friday at 16:00 hours. Presentation of names of candidates for highest positions in B&H has already started. SDP B&H leader Nermin Niksic confirmed that Denis Becirovic will be this political party’s candidate for the Bosniak member of B&H Presidency, and presented an opinion that Becirovic is the best candidate for this function. SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic also assessed that Becirovic could win more than 400,000 votes in the elections. SDA senior official Halid Genjac commented on the fact that Becirovic is expected to be a serious opponent to SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic when it comes to running in the elections for the B&H Presidency. In his comment, Genjac said that “voters are those who get to decide in the elections”. Genjac added: “We believe that Izetbegovic will win more votes”. SDS leader Mirko Sarovic was asked by journalists whether he will run for the post of Serb member of B&H Presidency, to which he replied: “The Presidency and the Main Board of SDS will soon provide an answer to that question.” Member of initative ‘My Address: Srebrenica’ Camil Durakovic is set to run for the post of Republika Srpska (RS) Vice-President. Leader of the initiative ‘Justice and Order’ Nebojsa Vukanovic gave up on the candidacy for B&H Presidency. SNSD member and adviser to the Serb member of the B&H Presidency Radovan Kovacevic is completely convinced that the RS citizens will once more place their trust in SNSD. He is sure people will realize that SNSD is the “only political force” that can take care of the RS citizens in the best possible way. It is known that PDP’s Jelena Trivic will run for the RS President as the opposition’s candidate. DNS’s candidate for the Serb member of the B&H Presidency will be leader of DNS Nenad Nesic, while Radislav Jovicic is their candidate for the RS President.

 

B&H CEC: Application for participation in elections was submitted by 108 political entities (ATV

 

The application for participation in the general elections in B&H, scheduled for 2 October, was submitted by 91 political parties and 17 independent candidates, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H announced. The CEC stated that the deadline for submitting applications for certification of political parties and independent candidates expired on Friday at 4 p.m., and that all 108 applications were received within the prescribed deadline. “The CEC will, in accordance with the prescribed deadlines, conduct checks and certify the applications of political entities that meet the legally prescribed conditions, after which the conditions for submitting applications for certification of coalitions or lists of independent candidates will be met,” reads the B&H CEC statement.

 

Seven opposition parties in FB&H announce Becirovic will be their joint candidate for Bosniak member of Presidency of B&H (Nova BH

 

Seven opposition parties in the FB&H have announced that SDP B&H’s Denis Becirovic will be their joint candidate for the Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency in the October general elections. He was nominated by NS, NiP and SDP B&H, while SBB B&H, ‘Za nove generacije’ (For New Generations) party and ‘Nova Inicijativa’ supported the nomination. Becirovic was SDP B&H’s candidate for the same post in the general elections in 2018, when he won three percent less votes than elected Bosniak member of B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA). Representatives of NiP, SDP B&H and NS stated at a press conference in Sarajevo on Saturday that for the first time citizens will have an opportunity to elect B&H Presidency member who gather the strongest and the most diverse bloc of political parties that are united in a wish to bring changes, stability, hope and prosperity to B&H citizens. Becirovic told the press that a large wave of democratic changes in B&H, which goes beyond the party, group of individual interests, starts to grow as of today. He added that his candidacy comes at the most difficult moment for B&H ever since the Dayton Peace Accords was signed, given that B&H is currently faced with RS’ secessionist policy and attacks on the constitutional of B&H. NiP leader Elmedin Konakovic denied the latest speculations in the public that bring the seven opposition parties gathered around Becirovic in connection with some mathematical coalition, stressing that in the battle for the better B&H – these parties refused to be targets of regime media, and corrupted prosecutors. Commenting on Becirovic’s candidacy, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, who has been nominated by SDA for the Bosniak member of B&H Presidency in the October general elections, wondered why the leaders of the opposition parties that nominated Becirovic were not brave enough to participate in the elections as the candidates instead of being united against SDA’s candidate. He stressed that topics they bring in focus now are outdated.

 

Becirovic urges opposition not to underestimate ruling parties but to be cautious, serious and do everything that is required to ensure victory in 2022 general elections (Face TV

 

SDP Vice President and delegate in the House of Peoples of B&H (B&H HoP) Denis Becirovic, asked about his candidacy for the post of Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H, said that many people have congratulated him but it is not time for congratulations nor will it be after the 2022 elections because he is facing “a tough political battle” to win the elections and once he does, the situation in B&H will remain as serious as it is now. He explained that having endorsement of almost entire opposition comes with great honor but also with great responsibility and it is high time to let reformers take over from politicians because reformers are not afraid to speak the truth to the people. He claims that it became common practice for B&H politicians to say one thing before the election and then do exactly the opposite after the elections but this is not normal and it has to stop. He urged caution and called on the opposition not to underestimate the ruling parties, saying that political battle for the elections is just starting and the opposition has to be well organized to go the distance because nothing will be over until each and every vote is counted. He stressed that there is no sense of fear whatsoever because he is determined to go all the way and although he is a favorite to win the elections, the opposition must adopt a serious approach and do everything that is required to ensure this victory and prevent electoral frauds. He stated that he is not wasting time thinking whether SDA will have its own candidate for Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H or not but either way, the opposition will remain a favorite to win the elections and it will do so if it remains committed and focused on executing its plans. He pointed out that he openly told HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic how DF leader and Croat member of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic, who will run for reelection, is not lesser Croat than anyone within HDZ B&H leadership but Komsic is more honest than entire HDZ B&H leadership and B&H would surely gain power and credibility if candidates from civic and democratic parties are elected as members of the Presidency of B&H. “To be more specific, it would be good for B&H if candidates of HDZ B&H and SDA go on to lose the elections, just as it would be good if SNSD candidate loses the elections in the other entity, Republika Srpska (RS),” Becirovic said and added that the 2018-2022 mandate was marked with failures, regress, fear and high tensions, which is why the focus of the 2022-2026 mandate should be on security, stability, economy, job creation, new investments and creation of stable political environment. He revealed that beside endorsement from seven parties, at least two other highly respectable opposition parties will endorse his candidacy, adding that this will probably be announced in the coming days and he cannot reveal more details because talks are still in progress. He explained that he no longer cares whether certain parties will change their mind during the election campaign and endorse some other candidate because there is no room for calculations after he accepted candidacy and he knows exactly what has to be done. He argued that the opposition must not act as a replacement for current ruling parties but bring about changes and truly commit to efforts to develop B&H into a democratic European state, accelerate B&H’s accession to the EU, set the dynamics of B&H’s path to join NATO, create smart and serious foreign policy and assess the results of current economic diplomacy.  He dismissed criticism regarding the adoption of the state law on place of residence, saying that he did vote in favor of the law in the House of Representatives of B&H (B&H HoR) in 2013 but it was actually drafted by state officials from SDA and SNSD and SDA did not try to stop its adoption in the Council of Ministers or the B&H HoP. He noted that the number of Bosniaks MPs in the RS parliament was already down to five before the law on place of residence was put into effect in 2015.

 

Becirovic assesses B&H’s relations with Croatia and Serbia, claims that both Croatia and Serbia must truly respect B&H’s sovereignty and not just profess commitment to its territorial integrity (Face TV

 

SDP Vice President and delegate in the House of Peoples of B&H (B&H HoP) Denis Becirovic, commenting on B&H’s relations with Croatia and Serbia, Becirovic stated that B&H politicians should let Croatian President Zoran Milanovic say and do whatever is on his mind because Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is far more dangerous politician than Milanovic and Milanovic’s rhetoric, as meaningless and toxic as it is, is helping the West to understand what exactly B&H is dealing with. He deems that B&H and Croatia should be trying to establish the best possible relations, meaning that the two countries should address all open issues and their communication should be based on the international law. He argued that aside from professing commitment to B&H’s territorial integrity, both Croatia and Serbia must truly respect B&H’s sovereignty. According to Becirovic, B&H and Serbia need to address a series of open issues and Serbia as a member state of the UN has to respect verdicts rendered by the UN courts, including the ICTY and the International Court of Justice.

 

Izetbegovic, Covic meet with Michel in Sarajevo; Michel says he will help encourage further dialogue between all parties in B&H (Hayat

 

SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic met with European Council President Charles Michel in Sarajevo on Saturday. Hayat stressed that a lot of topics were discussed during the meeting, reminding that there were speculations that a document related to amendments/changes to the Law on Elections of B&H would be on the table and that Michel could condition Izetbegovic and Covic with something. However, after the meeting, both Izetbegovic and Covic denied such speculations. Izetbegovic said that one of the good results of Michel’s visit to B&H is the return of focus to B&H’s European path. Izetbegovic said that he also heard that Covic is in favor of holding the elections, although HDZ B&H previously said otherwise, highlighting this as a positive thing as well. Izetbegovic pointed out that Michel’s visit also showed a more cooperative Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. “There was talk of making a roadmap, first these topics that are necessary for B&H at this time, i.e. unblocking, stabilization of the situation in B&H, better cooperation, European path before the Council session which is late June… And then in the fall, after the elections and after the formation of coalitions, our difficult topics, the Election Law, state property, law banning the denial of genocide and so on. I told Mr. Michel that we all have to attend, that they should not by no means decide for a reduced format and they realized that they made a mistake there as well. Reduced format Izetbegovic-Covic never stood a chance. It only provoked others,” Izetbegovic said. Izetbegovic also commented on the recent statements of Croatian President Zoran Milanovic. “I do not agree with the statements and the approach of Mr. Milanovic. Look at the things that man is saying,” Izetbegovic said. Covic, on the other hand, said that the meeting with Michel was encouraging, stressing that there were no documents nor conditions on the table. Covic pointed out that there is no improvisation when it comes to the laws on the B&H High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), conflict of interest and public procurement, noting that HDZ B&H will support these laws when the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) submits them into procedure. “As for the Croat side, we said that in further negotiating activities regarding defining the roadmap, we will of course have to resolve the unknowns regarding the implementation of the election results. Those who can make decisions and conclusions will go to the talks in order to make it easier for the chairman of the Council in his intention for B&H to regain its place when it comes to candidate status,” Covic said. Covic added that given that no agreement was reached on the issue of the Law on Elections of B&H in the past two years, it is difficult to expect that such an agreement will be reached in five months leading to the elections. Michel said that he came to B&H to get acquainted with the priorities of B&H political leaders, adding that he will help encourage further dialogue between all parties in B&H. Michel said that the Western Balkans needs the EU but the EU also needs the Western Balkans and he underlined the need to speed up the process of the European integration especially at the moment of the Russian aggression on Ukraine.

 

Stevandic on Izetbegovic’s statement that electoral reform will be discussed after elections: It is maneuvering to allow Bosniaks to elect Croat member of B&H Presidency, interfere with election of Serb member (RTRS

 

Commenting on the statement by SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic after the meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel that the electoral reform will be discussed after the elections, United Srpska’ leader Nenad Stevandic said it is a maneuver aimed at justifying the overturning of the B&H Election Law. “This confirms how important it is to maintain RS strong, because without its vote, there will be agreement,” Stevandic was quoted as saying. Addressing the media, Stevandic said: “I think it is only maneuvering to justify overthrowing the Election Law and to allow the possibility for Bosniaks to elect a Croat member of the (B&H) Presidency and to interfere with the election of the Serb member of the (B&H) Presidency, that has been SDA’s strategy for long time, like it is not disputable that they were not sanctioned for the strategy B&H without entities. However, it is important that only the RS can decide. Without us, no one can agree anything like strategies.”

 

Dodik comments on his meeting with European Council President Michel (ATV

 

Representatives of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H confirmed that European Council President Charles Michel and B&H political leaders agreed that they will hold a meeting in Brussels, in the next few weeks, so that they would be able to work on a “road map” which will define the priority reforms and the political agreements that are necessary for strengthening the European path for B&H. Based on Michel’s request, he met privately with Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik. Sanctions against Russia cannot be accepted – this is just one of the messages that Dodik conveyed to Michel. On Friday evening, a private meeting between Dodik and Michel lasted around an hour. During the meeting, it was said that the Serb side is for preservation of territorial integrity, but with the full respect to the Constitution of B&H. Focus of the talks was acceleration of the process through which B&H would receive status of EU candidate. Dodik made a proposal for the EU to reduce the number of its priorities that B&H needs to fulfill before receiving the EU candidate status. Dodik said if the number of key priorities is reduced, which currently stands at 14, then B&H would have an easier time implementing the necessary reforms and it would receive its candidate status sooner. Dodik believes a new dynamic would be established in B&H if this important goal was achieved. During a press conference on late Friday evening, he said that B&H already has three key priorities resolved, i.e. that the authorities were able to reach a consensus on those matters, and he believes that B&H should fulfill two more priorities before the EU grants candidate status to this country. “I am ready for us to work on that”, he added. As for the EU’s request for B&H to join sanctions against Russia, the Serb member of the B&H Presidency was clear on that issue, saying B&H did not and cannot impose sanctions, because “to Serbs, Russia and Ukraine are brotherly nations”. Dodik also commented EUFOR’s Althea mission. Althea and its military mission within the EU have not been disputable so far. Dodik says he would not accept Althea mission that acts irresponsibly, primarily referring to the EUFOR forces seen, in recent weeks, around schools in Republika Srpska.

 

Komsic: President Milanovic acts on Russia’s instructions (Oslobodjenje

 

Member of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic has stated that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, who is acting upon Russia’s instructions, is advocating blockade of elections in B&H and destabilization of the region. According to Komsic, it is interest of B&H’s partners to have stability, “which is why one should not have doubts that Milanovic’s attempt will go down as his funny conflict with Finland and Sweden”.

 

Milanovic: Plenkovic only wants to show off and present himself as someone who cares for Croats in B&H, Michel does not decide on anything anyways (HRT1

 

Addressing media on Friday, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic commented, among other issues, on the visit of President of the European Council Charles Michel to B&H, which has been an initiative of Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. Milanovic noted that Plenkovic only wants to show off and present himself as someone who cares for Croats in B&H, and added: “Michel does not decide on anything anyways.” Milanovic reiterated his stance that NATO membership of Finland and Sweden cannot be approved as long as the issue of the Election Law of B&H remains unresolved. HDZ Croatia responded to Milanovic’s claims and stated on social media that Croats in B&H “were abandoned during Milanovic’s mandate as the Prime Minister”. The rest of this part of the report focused on Milanovic comments on current issues in Croatia. Milanovic announced a “hot autumn” due to HDZ B&H, led by Dragan Covic. “Autumn is coming, Croats will go towards forming their own self-rule”, Milanovic was quoted as saying. Milanovic responded to messages of Swedish right-wing member of the European Parliament Charlie Weimers, who tweeted that Sweden and Finland are paying billions into the EU budget and that Croatia is getting billions from the EZ budget and that vetoes can go both ways. Milanovic responded by saying: “I do not care what some bigot Islamofob says. He should take all the money and sleep in it”.

 

Milanovic sends Stoltenberg a letter, does not mention vetoing Finland, Sweden bids to join NATO (Jutarnji list

 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, who earlier said that Croatia should veto NATO accession of Finland and Sweden until the Law on Elections of B&H is changed, has sent NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg a letter. According to reporter, Milanovic used rather reconciling tone in which he actually supports NATO accession of Finland and Sweden, but at the same time he expressed concern regarding the situation in B&H. Among other issues, Milanovic wrote that Sweden and Finland have strong partnership with NATO and that with their request for full membership, the two countries have opted for a new strategic direction in order to secure protection of their national security interest. In continuation of the letter, the Croatian President explained the complex situation in B&H, whose stability depends on equality of the constituent peoples. Among other issues, Milanovic said that ‘we’ were very disappointed that the international mediators were not successful regarding reaching agreement on changes to the Law on Elections of B&H, and that as a result of that, B&H has called the elections according to the rules that are discriminatory and unconstitutional even according to B&H’s top court (Constitutional Court of B&H). “Whilst we discuss application of Finland and Sweden, I am asking from you to seriously take into consideration our concern because there was not electoral reform in B&H. It is not too late to prevent one more elections that violate rights of the Croats,” wrote Milanovic in the letter that Jutanji list has an insight into.

 

Plenkovic meets Hahn, speaks about need to change Law on Elections of B&H (Jutarnji list

 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic received EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn at the seat of the Croatian Government on Friday, who later went to visit earthquake-stricken town of Petrinja where the EU Solidarity Fund will finance reconstruction of several buildings. According to the daily, Plenkovic also spoke about the situation in south-east Europe, with a special accent on B&H and the need to change the Law on Elections (of B&H) in order to secure equality and legitimate representation of Croats as a legitimate people, which is a basis for B&H becoming a functional and stable country.

 

Covic: It would be wrong for HNS B&H to choose between Milanovic or Plenkovic (Hina

 

B&H Croatian National Council (HNS) leader Dragan Covic said on Friday it would be a “catastrophic mistake” for Croat politicians in B&H to choose between Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic or President Zoran Milanovic, as both advocates the better status of local Croats. “It would be a catastrophic mistake for representatives of the Croat people in B&H to take that course in pursuing their policy,” Covic said. Being the leader of the HDZ B&H party I could also afford that luxury to connect with the interests of the president of the HDZ in Croatia, which is logical, he told a press conference in Mostar when asked with whom the HNS B&H would side, President Milanovic or Prime Minister Plenkovic. Earlier last week President Milanovic called for Croat parties in B&H to state whether they support his stance to block Finland and Sweden’s application to NATO until the election law in B&H is amended whereas Prime Minister Plenkovic considers that approach is mere exhibitionism and is damaging to Croatia and Croats in B&H. The presidents of three minor Croat parties, and members of the HNS B&H, supported Milanovic’s stance. Covic explained that it is necessary to preserve the unity within HNS B&H, adding that he appreciates Milanovic. “As the president of HNS B&H, it is necessary to take into account all the elements, valuing everything that Croatia’s President is doing, whose advocacy corresponds to everything we are seeking here as the Croat people. There is no doubt that sounds good to our people in Croatia and B&H because it has mobilized public opinion to an enviable degree so they can feel this problem,” he added. According to Covic, Prime Minister Plenkovic has managed to promote the importance of amending the election law in the world and for the legitimate representation and equality of Croats in B&H. He said that HNS B&H will not influence Croatia’s foreign policy, referring to Croatia’s position on Finland and Sweden’s NATO application. “It is our opinion that we cannot influence Croatia’s foreign policy. According to the Constitution, its foreign policy is co-defined by the president and prime minister. We will agree to whatever they agree to on the foreign policy plan,” he said.

 

Montenegro celebrates 21 May – Independence Day (CdM

 

The citizens of Montenegro celebrated Independence Day – the holiday which marks 21 May 2006 – when it regained its independence in the referendum. The referendum question was: Do you want the Republic of Montenegro to be an independent country with full international legal capacity? On 21 May 2006 at 8am, polling stations across Montenegro were open. The referendum was monitored by over 3.000 domestic and foreign observers. The first preliminary data were announced at around 11pm, saying that approximately 55.52% of voters backed Montenegro’s independence. On the occasion of 21 May, the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, congratulated the citizens of Montenegro the holiday, noting that Montenegro stood firmly on the road to the EU, not allowing any diversions from that road even during the rule of the irresponsible Government.  Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic organized a grand reception last night, attended by President Djukanovic, the parliament speaker Danijela Djurovic, and many other guests from legal, executive, and judicial bodies, diplomatic core, as well as the public and cultural life of Montenegro. Montenegro must keep up with its European perspective firmly, as the life of each one of its citizen will be much better. It’s time for Montenegro to turn to itself, Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic noted at the ceremony marking Montenegro’s Independence Day at Villa Gorica. “Sixteen years ago, after almost a century, Montenegro regained its independence and its flag was displayed at the mast of the United Nations family. The process of its renewal was neither simple nor easy – but imbued with numerous questions and different views on Montenegro’s future. However, while the state status in our neighborhood was decided by using weapons, the people of Montenegro, showing maturity and tolerance – restored independence with a pen,” Abazovic said. The PM, among other things, noted that disrespect for different opinions must not instigate the polarization within society and aversion to the country and its symbols. “We must stop it, as there’s no greater opponent to the prosperity and wealth of Montenegro than artificial divisions in a society.” Today, Abazovic stresses, Montenegro wants a new social paradigm. Djukanovic congratulated the citizens of Montenegro Independence Day, noting that Montenegro stands steadfastly on the road to the EU, and hadn’t allowed any diversions even while run by the previous, irresponsible government. The President also added that Montenegro demonstrated that it’s a functional democracy through the recent events on its political stage.

 

Bulgarian parliament speaker announces that the veto against Macedonia will stay in place (Republika

 

Bulgarian parliament speaker announces that the veto against Macedonia will stay in place

Nikola Minchev, the President of the Bulgarian parliament, confirmed that the Government is not preparing to lift the veto against Macedonia’s EU accession talks. There is no realistic reason for us to step down from what is in Bulgaria’s national interest, Minchev said. The two prime ministers will meet in Rome, on the honoring of St. Cyril and Methodius, but expectations remain low. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Teodora Gencovska said that that country’s position on Macedonia remains unchanged, meaning that the veto remains in place. She added that, given the latest initiative from President Radev, he has full right to convene the National Security Council of Bulgaria to discuss the situation in Macedonia. “We keep hearing that we need to lift the veto, but we see no concrete action on their part. We are not haggling with them behind closed door, or in front of the doors, we are not haggling with them at all,” Gencovska said.

 

Hopes for full EU membership evaporate with the latest Macron – Michel initiative (Republika

 

European Council President Charles Michel warned the Balkans states that they may lose out on the prospect of becoming full EU members, and fall in a broader category of associate members that was proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron. Michel is visiting some of the Balkan countries (not Macedonia) and also promoted the Open Balkasn initiative, that also looks like a substitute to full EU membership. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who met with Michel wants his country to leave the de-facto group with Macedonia and open its EU accession talks free from the Bulgarian veto, also said that he welcomes the idea of associative EU member states. This means that Macedonia, which directly faces the Bulgarian veto, has slim chances of ever becoming an actual EU member state. Macron’s initiative for a two-tier Europe likely has countries like Ukraine primarily in mind, but given how difficult Macedonia’s path even to the current dead-end has been, it is almost certain that it will fall in the outer category of countries, and not among the inner, core EU member states.

 

Stoltenberg telephone conversation with Rama: Finland and Sweden in NATO would strengthen the alliance (Radio Tirana

 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Edi Rama. In a Twitter post, Stoltenberg writes that the conversation focused on the war in Ukraine and how Kiev can win it. He also stressed that they discussed with Rama the application of Finland and Sweden to join NATO, adding that the two countries would strengthen the alliance. “I had a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, about NATO support for the people of Ukraine. Ukraine can win this war. We also discussed how Finland and Sweden would strengthen our alliance and the importance of Open-Door policy.”

Finland and Sweden formally submitted applications for NATO membership on 18 May at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. Albania has openly stated its support for the two countries’ decision, pledging to do whatever is necessary to speed up their membership in the alliance.

 

EU membership/ Meta makes an appeal to politics for urgent reflection! Focus on the resolution! (Radio Tirana

 

At a press conference, President Ilir Meta welcomed the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Albania, which recommends the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. In his speech, Meta underlined the problems, according to him, the obstacles to the country’s membership in the EU. He called on political forces to seriously focus on the content of this resolution and on solving problems. “I want to appreciate the vote on the resolution, on EU membership and it depends on deep reforms, I express concern about the polarized political climate, I regret the non-consensual changes, from the majority before the 25 April elections, I call for political maturity. Meta underlined the need to improve participation democracy including the adoption of a law on referendums. I note the need for urgent improvement of freedom of expression, despite the media and pluralism. I call on the government to improve access to its work, expressing serious concern about the leak of personal data. I call on the authorities to increase the prevention of misuse of personal data. All actors, government, opposition, all civil society actors to focus seriously on the content of this resolution, I strongly support the opening of negotiations, the Albanian people deserve to take a step forward,” said Meta.

 

Durres port project / Rama: The extension in Prishtina makes us the gateway to the whole (Radio Tirana

 

The project for the new port of Durres was presented during a meeting of Prime Minister Rama in his office with Dutch designers who unveiled the vision for the new port of Durres. According to them, the port will be a gateway to the Western Balkans. “The port itself is just a port, but it should be considered as an element of a whole logistics chain, so here it is possible for you to create a gateway to the Western Balkans,” said the leader of the design team. Prime Minister Rama said that the goal was exactly the transformation of the old infrastructure into a model port as one of the pillars of Albania 2030 vision. The new port has potential, has capacities, and makes us the gateway to the entire Western Balkans,” said the Prime Minister, as he assessed that “the extension of the dry port in Pristina is a masterpiece”.

 

Sali Berisha re-elected Chair of DP with 99% of votes (ADN

 

Sali Berisha returns to lead the Democratic Party after nine years. He was re-elected this Sunday with 99% of the votes of democrats in a race with only one candidate Ibsen Elezi. At the end of counting process, Berisha traveled towards the Party’s headquarters where it is expected to announce the victory. Dozens of democrats are travelling too towards the party in order to celebrate the re-election of their historical leader. Berisha was declared non-grata last year by the US Department of State and his removal by the parliamentary group from former leader Basha, caused angry and ambitious to regain the DP.

 

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Belgrade Media Report 7 July 2022

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