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Belgrade Media Report 25 May 2022

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 25 May 2022

LOCAL PRESS

• Serbian Patriarch: SPC unanimously approves autocephaly of Macedonian Orthodox Church (Beta/Politika/RTS/Tanjug)
• Vucic, Pendaroviski on Serbian Orthodox Church’s decision, ties, Open Balkans (Beta)
• Vucic from Davos: Only topic in Davos is Ukraine (TV Pink/B92)
• Hill: US supports Serbia’s path to EU, Open Balkans, dialogue with Pristina (Beta)
• Selakovic meets with ASEAN Secretary-General (Politika/Beta)
• Support of Indonesia to territorial integrity of Serbia (Tanjug/RTS)
• Stefanovic meets with Wiermann (Tanjug/Politika)
• Mali: Serbia to store natural gas in Hungary next winter (Tanjug/RTS)
• Dacic expects cooperation with SNS to continue (TV Happy/Beta)
• Bilcik says sanctions against Russia important, already in report (Beta/Kosovo Online)
• SANU notes primitive tones of hatred in Croatian counterpart’s announcement (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H HoP rejects conclusion proposed by Bosniak Caucus to pressure B&H CoM to approve BAM 12.5 million for elections; HDZ B&H and SNSD’s delegates vote against proposal (O Kanal)
• Izetbegovic on B&H HoP’s session: It is time for HR Schmidt to react given that all other options have been exhausted (O Kanal)
• Komsic accuses Covic and Dodik of working together with renegade IC representatives who are working with HDZ on blocking of elections (O Kanal)
• Borenovic: SNSD and HDZ B&H want to prevent holding of the elections (Glas Srpske)
• Arnautovic discusses elections with Murphy, Kavalec: Postponing of elections is illegal; Murphy: Denying citizens’ right to vote is unconstitutional and anti-Dayton (Hayat)
• Sattler: Holding of elections in October as planned is not questionable (N1/O Kanal/Istraga.ba/Oslobodjenje)
• Bajrovic: Covic enjoys support of part of international community (Hayat)
• Dodik: I have received information that Schmidt will impose necessary decisions so that elections are held; This is unacceptable (Nova BH)
• Kavalec: Criminally persecute perpetrators of election frauds (Dnevni list)
• Dodik: Podzic and Masovic’s attendance at meeting on military assistance to Ukraine is part of Bosniaks’ joint enterprise aimed at destroying Dayton-based B&H (RTRS)
• Dodik calls for peaceful dissolution of B&H, stresses any kind of agreement on B&H’s future is impossible (RTRS)
• 30th anniversary of death of 12 Banja Luka babies marked (ATV)
• SDA comments Milanovic’s statements: This is threat to stability and peace in entire region (Dnevni avaz)
Croatia
• Milanovic: If Croats in fall start implementing what they announced, it may happen that someone turns international military forces against them (N1)
• Croatian President rules out possibility of armed conflicts in B&H (Hina)
• Milanovic tells Serbia indictment against Croatian pilots will cost it (Hina)
Montenegro
• Abazovic and Kurti: Dedicated to the development of infrastructure projects that will better connect the two countries (CdM)
• In Davos, Plenkovic invited Abazovic to officially visit Zagreb in June (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Pendarovski believes the recognition of the Macedonian church will advance reconciliation in our society: Pendarovski met with Vucic in Davos as Serbia recognized the Macedonian church (Republika)
• No progress in the meeting between Kovacevski and Petkov in Rome (Republika)
Albania
• McAllister: EU should start accession talks with Albania (Radio Tirana)
• Meta meets McAllister (Radio Tirana)
• Greece warns it will put up barriers on EU bid if Albania brings up Cham issue (Tirana Times)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Serbian Patriarch: SPC unanimously approves autocephaly of Macedonian Orthodox Church (Beta/Politika/RTS/Tanjug)

 

During a liturgy in Skopje on 24 May, Serbian Patriarch Porfirije said that the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church “unanimously approved” autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric. “Responsibility has been placed on me and Archbishop of Ohrid (the head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric) and our Synods to together work on technical and organizational details, which will be formalized with an official document,” Patriarch Porfirije said. The Patriarch also said that the document would be communicated to all Orthodox Churches, which would be asked to accept autocephaly, noting he was sure that all would embrace it with joy. Archbishop Stefan stressed that he was happy with “brotherly reconciliation,” adding that autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric would mean “more closeness with other Orthodox Churches”.

 

Vucic, Pendaroviski on Serbian Orthodox Church’s decision, ties, Open Balkans (Beta)

 

Serbian and North Macedonian presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Stevo Pendarovski discussed on 24 May relations between the two countries, the Open Balkans initiative and the Serbian Orthodox Church’s decision to recognize the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. After the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Pendarovski said that he had met with Vucic briefly and that both officials had hailed the Serbian Orthodox Church’s recognition of the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric as a “step in the right direction.” “I had a brief encounter with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Davos and both of us lauded the Serbian Orthodox Church’s decision to accept the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric as a step in the right direction,” Pendarovski wrote on Facebook. Vucic voiced his satisfaction with the meeting with Pendarovski on Instagram. “I am glad that we saw each other and had a chance to discuss the Open Balkans initiative and the further development of brotherly relations between Serbia and North Macedonia,” Vucic wrote.

 

Vucic from Davos: Only topic in Davos is Ukraine (TV Pink/B92)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is staying today and tomorrow in Davos, where he is attending the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Vucic said that the one and only topic in Davos is Ukraine and everything that is happening there, and everything else is on the margins. As he says, today he talked to many world and economic leaders. “Diverse opinions could be heard in Davos before, now only Ukraine is a topic and one and the same side, huge support for Ukraine and that’s it. You live in a world where hysteria dominates and there is no common sense. We have given a clear political position and condemned the attack on Ukraine, but in vain, you cannot change the opinion of some, you cannot convey any rational message. I do not think there is willingness for anyone to hear anyone on this issue. Yesterday the main news was, all our newspapers reported only whether someone applaud or not to Zelensky‘s speech? Imagine, now I’m also talking about someone touring around the hall whether someone is applauding or not. What stage of madness have we entered, should we order everyone to applaud?” Vucic said. “I have no right to talk about what we discussed. It’s our job and everyone shares the concern about what’s going to happen in the world and how to find a solution for themselves – how to buy as much food and coal as possible. They’re looking to find a solution to oil. Ukrainians took over the Russian house and now they are presenting Russian crimes there. This year, Davos is marked with Ukrainian colors, which is expected,” Vucic said. He also referred to the dialogue with the of the Western Balkans. “What will it look like? By Kurti telling terrible words about Serbia – I can tell you in advance, I’ve heard that 500 times already – He will say that little Putin will carry out wars in the Balkans on the orders of the great Putin and that’s it, that’s the rhetoric. I will speak fiercely and that’s it,” Vucic said. He says that the important fact is that because of the people pushing the country forward, we should not add a burden to our backs, we should not add another stone of untruth and lies. “Our job is to work hard. Some are looking forward to making it as difficult as possible for Serbia,” Vucic said. “For now, Serbia is finding solutions,” Vucic pointed out.

 

Hill: US supports Serbia’s path to EU, Open Balkans, dialogue with Pristina (Beta)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on May 23 with the US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill to discuss closer bilateral ties, energy diversification, Serbia’s EU accession, current geopolitical issues and initiatives for regional cooperation. The ambassador reconfirmed his country’s support to Serbian and regional EU accession processes. “We also support the Open Balkans Initiative, and we are prepared to help it develop at a fast pace,” Hill said, adding that the US would support efforts to deepen regional economic cooperation in a way that promoted integration into the EU,” the Office of the Serbian President reported in a press release.

The President and the Ambassador concurred that all efforts should focus on the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue since the talks were the only proper way to resolve open issues and reach a sustainable agreement. The US diplomat reiterated his country’s support to Serbian efforts to diversify sources of energy and improve energy efficiency, underlining that the U.S. would be working to give Serbia access to energy projects that were well underway.

 

Selakovic meets with ASEAN Secretary-General (Politika/Beta)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic has met with Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Selakovic said that Serbia and ASEAN shared the same values which relied on mutual respect of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national identity of all peoples, noninterference in internal affairs, and advocacy of peaceful resolution of differences, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 24 May. Selakovic further said that in 2021, trade with ASEAN was worth USD621 million, with Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia accounting for the largest portion. He noted that Serbia’s imports from ASEAN countries accounted for 95 percent of the total trade value, but stressed that Serbia was interested in changing the ratio and strengthening cooperation in a number of fields. With the meeting at the ASEAN headquarters Selakovic concluded his two-day visit to Jakarta, where he met with top Indonesian officials and representatives of local food companies.

 

Support of Indonesia to territorial integrity of Serbia (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic met in Jakarta on Monday with President of Indonesia Joko Vidodo, who confirmed once more that country’s support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia. Selakovic conveyed that there is great interest in cooperation in trade in agricultural products, but also that political cooperation dating back to the time of the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement was discussed. From their side, there is great interest in the import of Serbian cereals, but we also discussed the possibility of placing our apples on the Indonesian market, Selakovic pointed out. Earlier today Selakovic also talked with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia Retno Marsudi. After the meeting, he pointed out that for Serbia, Indonesia is the most important partner in Southeast Asia and that his visit is a sign of our country’s desire to encourage cooperation in all areas. Selakovic confirmed Serbia’s desire and readiness to improve cooperation in numerous areas, such as agriculture, culture, education, sports and defense. Marsudi stated that Indonesia has a desire to continue investing in Serbia, and it was jointly assessed that it is necessary to encourage business ties.

 

Stefanovic meets with Wiermann (Tanjug/Politika)

 

Serbian Minister of Defense Nebojsa Stefanovic met on Tuesday with the director-general of the NATO International Military Staff, Lt-Gen Hans-Werner Wiermann, who is visiting Serbia.

Stefanovic said the cooperation, in which the International Military Staff has an important role, has been good to date, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “Serbia is satisfied with the results of its participation in activities under the Partnership for Peace program. Considering our military neutrality, for us it represents the optimal framework for cooperation aimed at accomplishing our security objectives, as well as an advancement of the defense capacities for our military neutrality,” Stefanovic said, adding that Serbia’s cooperation with all partners was proceeding in an extremely transparent manner. Stefanovic said Serbia was firmly committed to peace and stability as the fundamental preconditions for prosperity in the region and worldwide and was making very concrete and visible contributions to maintaining them. He said the cooperation between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR was good and very significant, noting that, under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Military Technical Agreement, KFOR was the sole security stakeholder in Kosovo and Metohija with non-transferable authority. Wiermann said NATO highly respected the partnership with Serbia, and noted the significance of the military alliance’s cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces as part of Partnership for Peace.

 

Mali: Serbia to store natural gas in Hungary next winter (Tanjug/RTS)

 

Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali announced on Wednesday in Budapest an agreement had been reached for Serbia to store 500 million cubic m of natural gas in Hungary next winter. Mali made the announcement after a meeting with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto. Previously, at the opening of the Novi Sad international agriculture fair last weekend, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban reached an agreement allowing Serbia to store 300-500 million cubic m of natural gas in Hungary. Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Szijjarto, Mali said Serbia would be able to draw 3 million cubic m of gas a day from Hungarian storage facilities in October, 6 million cubic m a day in November, December and January and 3 million cubic m a day in March. “This is great and important news for the citizens, we have secured 500 million cubic m for gas storage for the upcoming winter. That will ensure secure gas supplies to Serbia,” Mali noted. Szijjarto said the deal was a proof of a strategic friendship between the two countries.

 

Dacic expects cooperation with SNS to continue (TV Happy/Beta)

 

Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dacic on 24 May said he expected cooperation with the Serbian Progressive Party to continue, noting that joint governments had already been formed in certain municipalities and that it was in the best interest of Serbia. “The formation of a cabinet is not a matter of math, but goals. We have been in coalition for a decade now and have achieved much success,” Dacic told TV Happy. He recalled that 31 May was “a fixed” date when Aleksandar Vucic should assume presidential duty, noting that the Serbian Constitution did not specify before which parliament makeup he should take oath of office. “A special parliament session will be held exclusively for the president to take oath of office,” according to Dacic.

Asked about sanctions against Russia, Dacic replied that “irrationality” should be avoided and that the issue must not be addressed from the aspect of “whether we love Russia, or we love America.” He added that Serbia had not joined restrictive measures against Russia and that it “is the official policy we are conducting today.” “If the situation will be changing and what will be changing, it will be a topic for discussion. Serbia must take care of its interest and look for our interest in all cases – when we are sticking to this decision, or if we are to change it,” Dacic specified.

 

Bilcik says sanctions against Russia important, already in report (Beta/Kosovo Online)

 

Vladimir Bilcik, rapporteur for Serbia before the European Parliament, has said that the EU expected all countries aspiring to membership to join sanctions against Russia, adding that this issue was an important part of his report on Serbia. In an interview with Kosovo Online, Bilcik said restrictive measures against Russia were not a symbolic, but a very important act, adding that the EU expected all countries to join as soon as possible. Bilcik said the issue would not disappear and was already an important part of his report on Serbia, to be discussed in June and July, going on to say that the language and conclusions in the report could become very different by July depending on what Serbia does. He said alignment with the EU foreign policy was “crucial” to progress in accession talks, noting that, though there was no date attached to the expectation that Serbia would impose sanctions against Russia, there was a new political dynamic, and that focusing on dates missed the point. He said Serbia had the opportunity to be the region’s European leader, but that it would have to make some important choices when it comes to the dialog with Pristina and to standing shoulder to shoulder with the EU on the Russian aggression. Bilcik went on to say that he could see no alternative to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, adding that he appreciated all the steps made by Belgrade and that the problem was much more in the hands of the Kosovo government after elections there.

 

SANU notes primitive tones of hatred in Croatian counterpart’s announcement (Beta)

 

The Executive Committee of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) said on 23 May that “experience aside, SANU members are stunned by the primitive tones of hatred in a publication by the Croatian counterpart organization HAZU, “Contributions to the protection of Croatian national interests during Republic of Croatia’s negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia as to their entry into the European Union”. “Under no illusion that any of those in the international community, who have tirelessly taught us what the new values of civilization are, might react to this hatemongering political pamphlet, we are not going to use the devalued room for a reply with those who have shamelessly used the term ‘the myth of Jasenovac’, precisely out of respect for all the victims killed in the death camp. But it is good and very useful to know what they think,” the SANU committee responded. The HAZU said in the announcement that “hostilities towards Croatia and persecution of Croatian nationals should be halted, while Serbia should also stop propaganda in favor of a Greater Serbia, including the issues of the Bunjevac people, language and the myth of Jasenovac”.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H HoP rejects conclusion proposed by Bosniak Caucus to pressure B&H CoM to approve BAM 12.5 million for elections; HDZ B&H and SNSD’s delegates vote against proposal (O Kanal)

 

At its urgent session held on Monday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) House of Peoples (HoP) did not adopt a conclusion proposed by the Bosniak Caucus that would make pressure on the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) to approve BAM 12.5 million for holding of the elections due to HDZ B&H and SNSD delegates voting against it. O Kanal reports that, according to HDZ B&H, the outcome of the session was known in advance, and the session was another attempt of “the Sarajevo policy” to make the pressure. O Kanal reminds that the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) stated earlier that money for the General Elections can be allocated only from the state-level budget, i.e. by the B&H CoM. Addressing the press conference after the session, speaker of the B&H HoP Dragan Covic (HDZ B&H) said: “I think that the colleague (B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav) Bevanda, spoke before the Parliament about the budget in detail almost two months ago. Today, he again explained it. It is a classic pressure, I will say it openly and stir the spirits, by the Sarajevo policy that wants, for them the campaign started long time ago, to put focus on how to create an environment not to resolve the issue of legitimate representation of the constituent peoples. With that, we brutally violate the B&H Constitution.” The reporter notes it is uncertain if the B&H CoM will adopt the budget at one of the upcoming sessions and if the High Representative Christian Schmidt will react if necessary, and goes on to say that, as it has become the practice in the past several years, “all eyes are on the OHR building” and everyone is waiting to see if the HR will resolve this crisis. Addressing the session, Bevanda stated that the regime of temporary financing makes possible for a new expenditure program that was not defined by the law on B&H to be adopted by the B&H CoM through a special decision. He reminded that B&H CEC has proposed to the B&H CoM to pass a decision to approve funds for the general elections, adding that this decision is not in line with the law on financing of B&H institutions. Hayat learns unofficially that Covic as the HoP Speaker and Nikola Spiric (SNSD) as the HoP Deputy Speaker, removed from the agenda of the last session of the B&H HoP’s Collegium the item on the 2021 budget of B&H, which would be a base for the 2022 budget of B&H. Addressing B&H HoP’s session on Monday, Covic stated that execution of the 2021 budget cannot be a base for this year’s budget, because there were four decisions on temporary financing in 2022 that are based on the last quarter of 2020. B&H HoP concluded that they do not have a majority to adopt any conclusions. For Covic, the attempt to make such a decision via B&H Parliament is pure politicking. Covic said it is even questionable whether he was supposed to schedule this session when it comes to the Rules of Procedure. He said they scheduled a session to discuss this issue and better inform the public how much does someone politicize the topic that was on the agenda. “It is mostly those who have been doing everything in the last two years so that there is no budget in B&H institutions,” stated Covic for the media. Bevanda stated that he is not guilty of anything. He added that he attended the sessions regularly and worked in line with the law. He pointed out that he kept all of the documentation. Bevanda said during the B&H HoP’s session that he was warned by his friends, and not those from Mostar, that he should keep all of the documents and take care not to be, as Bevanda said, trampled. Bevanda confirmed that the budget for 2022 is in its final phase and that he will send it to the B&H CoM. After that, the budget needs to be passed in the B&H Presidency and to be adopted in the B&H HoP and the B&H House of Representatives (HoR). This would remove all dilemmas regarding funds for the elections, concluded the reporter.

 

Izetbegovic on B&H HoP’s session: It is time for HR Schmidt to react given that all other options have been exhausted (O Kanal)

 

At its urgent session held on Monday, the B&H House of Peoples (HoP) did not adopt a conclusion proposed by the Bosniak Caucus that would make pressure on the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) to approve BAM 12.5 million for holding of the elections due to HDZ B&H and SNSD delegates voting against it. Deputy speaker of the B&H HoP Bakir Izetbegovic (SDA) said it is time for High Representative (HR) in B&H Christian Schmidt to react, who should impose decisions on manner of financing of the elections, given that all other options “have been exhausted”. Izetbegovic also commented on the possibility of the elections being financed by the entities. “I think RS persistently tries to prove that B&H is composed of two entities and this is in line with that. It should be treated as such and should not be allowed. Today, we could hear HDZ representatives actually accusing SNSD of wasting time, of not allowing the budget to be adopted. On the other hand, SNSD accused Bosniak representatives of being to blame, because they did not accommodate the Croat side and adopt amendments to the B&H Election Law. Therefore, SNSD speaks on behalf of HDZ,” said Izetbegovic. SDA stated that this is a case of intentional obstruction of elections. Izetbegovic warned that denial of the right to vote in any way is a criminal offense and may be punished by up to three years in prison. Izetbegovic said that both the convention and the constitution were violated. Izetbegovic said: “Everything done in this country for the fourth consecutive year was designed in coordination, cuisines of two political parties, i.e. you are the executors of that here and you will also be to blame for young people leaving. We are guilty of not accepting the Election Law proposed by HDZ and SNSD wanted to support it.”

 

Komsic accuses Covic and Dodik of working together with renegade IC representatives who are working with HDZ on blocking of elections (O Kanal)

 

B&H Presidency member Zeljko Komsic has reacted to the B&H House of Peoples’ (HoP) decision not to adopt a conclusion on financing of the elections, stating it is “a joint game” of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and SNSD leader and B&H Presidency member Milorad Dodik with individual representatives of the international community (IC) who are “working together with HDZ” on blocking of the elections. “I think they even have the support of a small group of renegade IC representatives, and all in order to, after postponing the elections, return to negotiations on the Election Law. Those are the same people who, despite the public positions of the institutions and the countries they represent, have been trying for years to give Covic what he wants. Luckily, they are minority, and their machinations will not succeed,” Komsic was quoted as saying. Komsic is expecting High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt to react, because, according to Komsic, “there is a quiet game” of Covic and Dodik. He conveyed a message that the pro-Bosnian political parties’ primary goal is to hold the elections 2 October.  Komsic concluded that it is now clear to everyone that HDZ B&H did not give up on their plan to block the holding of elections. He said that HDZ B&H now persuaded their partners from SNSD to support them in this. Komsic issued a statement which reads: “This time they do it quietly. They say publicly that they are in favor of the elections, but in fact they are using all the mechanisms to prevent the B&H Central Elections Commission from getting the money to organize the elections”.

 

Borenovic: SNSD and HDZ B&H want to prevent holding of the elections (Glas Srpske)

 

PDP leader Branislav Borenovic said that no matter how much SNSD and HDZ B&H try to avoid it, the budget for organization of the elections must be secured within legal deadline. According to Borenovic, it is obvious that they (SNSD and HDZ B&H) are doing everything to prevent holding of the elections. Namely, it was first the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H that did not secure the funds within the legal deadline i.e. 19 May, and now the B&H House of Peoples has refused to order the CoM to secure the funds. “We must abide by the democratic principle that citizens have the right to elect and be elected,” said Borenovic.

 

Arnautovic discusses elections with Murphy, Kavalec: Postponing of elections is illegal; Murphy: Denying citizens’ right to vote is unconstitutional and anti-Dayton (Hayat)

 

US Ambassador to B&H Michael Murphy and Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Kathleen Kavalec met with members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H, in Sarajevo on Monday. They discussed the general elections in B&H scheduled for October and challenges in this field. Addressing the press conference after the meeting, Murphy and Kavalec stressed that the elections should be held and that problems regarding ensuring funds to finance the elections need to be resolved as soon as possible. They said that it is against the Dayton Peace Accords and the Constitution of B&H to deny citizens’ right to vote in the elections. Murphy reminded that the US and the international community have conveyed a message to the B&H Council of Ministers several times and said that they have mechanisms to ensure the implementation of the elections and protect the DPA. He expressed hope that B&H institutions will choose the right path this week already and act in line with obligations stipulated by the law. B&H CEC members stated that there is no option to postpone the elections as that would be unlawful, warning that B&H CEC as an institution in charge of implementation of the election process was put under pressure to postpone the elections because sum worth BAM 12.5 million to finance the elections was not ensured. B&H CEC President Suad Arnautovic stated that B&H CEC as an institution will not cope with a situation in which someone has failed to ensure the funds for the elections as stipulated by the law, i.e. B&H CEC will not postpone the elections because someone has acted unlawfully. He reminded that the law clearly stipulates that the general elections will be held on the first Sunday in October. After the meeting Arnautovic said postponing of the elections is illegal and unacceptable for the B&H CEC. Arnautovic also said that postponing the adoption of a decision on financing of the elections is the pressure on the B&H CEC to adopt a decision on another date, that would lead to the violation of the Law. “The Law clearly states the elections are in the first week of October, and they will be (held) on the day as determined, i.e. October 2, or there will be something else, that we will all need to find answers to together,” said Arnautovic at the press conference held after the meeting. “We really have the tools to ensure adoption and implementation of relevant decisions. However, we certainly hope that the institutions of this country will choose another path,” said Murphy. Murphy said timely, fair and transparent elections are the foundations of democracy. “For the citizens of this country, they are also the right contained under Article 2 paragraph 2 of the B&H Constitution. It would be unconstitutional, and even anti-Dayton if someone would deny the right of citizens of this country to free and fair elections”, said Murphy. Murphy reminded that jointly with the OSCE and B&H CEC, the US works on strengthening the election process and its protection from those who try to degrade it for the sake of their personal goals or party interests. Murphy noted that voters need to trust the integrity of the election process. Kavalec stressed that non-ensuring funds to finance the general elections is a serious issue that could prevent the implementation of the scheduled elections. She reminded that several times in the past couple of months, representatives of the international community have requested from B&H Presidency, B&H Council of Ministers and B&H parliament to take immediate measures in order to ensure funds for the elections. Kavalec warned that creating obstacles to financing of the elections cannot be tolerated in democratic world. Kavalec was quoted as saying: “Statements linking approval of funds to dissatisfaction with composition of the CEC are unacceptable and creating obstacles to financing elections is something that cannot be tolerated in a democratic society.” The OSCE believes that B&H CoM needs to urgently convene a session and adopt a decision for securing funds for the elections. Kavalec added that it is very important that members of B&H CEC refrain from any actions that may call into question their impartiality and undermine trust in the institution they represent. Murphy was quoted as saying: “The US, as well as the IC, have sent a message to the B&H CoM that we really have mechanisms in place with which we can ensure that certain decisions are made and implemented, but we hope that institutions of this country will choose a different path and that they will act in accordance with their legal obligations, that they will enable the CEC to act, in terms of the timely organization of the forthcoming elections.”

 

Sattler: Holding of elections in October as planned is not questionable (N1/O Kanal/Istraga.ba/Oslobodjenje)

 

N1 reminded that Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic (DF) stated on Monday that there are “rebellious representative of the international community who work on obstructing the elections together with HDZ B&H”, which triggered a number of reactions and accusations against Head of the EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H Johann Sattler who allegedly blocks the OHR from passing a decision to finance the general elections. Austrian member of the European Parliament (MEP) Thomas Waitz wrote in a tweet published on Tuesday that he wonders what gives Ambassador Sattler the right to prevent the OHR from ensuring financing funds for the elections. Commenting on the accusations, Sattler said that holding the elections in October as planned is not questionable and he called on the B&H CoM and B&H Ministry of Finance and Treasury to adopt all necessary decisions to ensure funds for the elections in the upcoming days. He stressed that the EU and all its member states have a unified stance on this issue. O Kanal also reports that some political structures in B&H accused Sattler of opposing a decision of a High Representative to provide funds for elections and of working in interest of HDZ B&H. Sattler underlined that elections will be held on 2 October. He went on to saying that this clearly speaks about stances of the EU when it comes to the elections. He emphasized that they have joint stances in regard to this issue with all partners, not only those in the EU, but also with the US and the Office of High Representative (OHR). Sattler also underlined that a letter of European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi in which he called on the B&H Minister of Finance to act has been very clear. He appealed to B&H CoM to pass all necessary decisions that will enable implementation of elections in upcoming days. In the meantime, portal Istraga.ba published a text which reads that Sattler is objecting the decision of the Schmidt to impose the decision which would secure the funds for 2022 general elections and that he is working in the interest of HDZ B&H. In statement to the daily, EU Delegation to B&H denied these allegations, claiming that funds for the elections will certainly be secured. “Ministers from HDZ B&H who block the decisions on financing of the upcoming elections, demonstrate disrespect toward democracy. There is no doubt that financing funds for the elections will be secured. If necessary, as the end measure, via Bonn powers. In the practice, there is little time left. Institutional solution would be the best option, because that would mean local ownership. EU closely cooperates with their international partners, including the OHR, on finding of the solutions that would fully secure funds for the upcoming elections,” EUD stated for Oslobodjenje.

 

Bajrovic: Covic enjoys support of part of international community (Hayat)

 

Following the recent session of the B&H House of Peoples, leader of DF Zeljko Komsic said that it is clear that leader of HDZ B&H Dragan Covic enjoys the support of part of the international community with the aim to return to negotiations on the B&H Election Law. According to Hayat, the IC said that the elections will be held, and they reminded of a letter that European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi sent last week. Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Johann Sattler said that when it comes to the elections and this topic, this makes stances of the EU pretty much clear. Sattler stated that there is no reason that anyone calls the elections into question adding that they and all their partners have a single stance on this issue. Vice President of the US-Europe Alliance Reuf Bajrovic commented on this issue for Hayat via a video link and he argued that what we were witnessing in Mostar for 12 years, Covic actually wants to see now in the entire B&H with the direct support of some people from the EU especially the man who represents the EU in B&H; i.e. Sattler and some people from Brussels like Director for Western Balkans and Turkey of European External Action Service Angelina Eichhorst who took Covic’ side when it comes to the B&H Election Law.

 

Dodik: I have received information that Schmidt will impose necessary decisions so that elections are held; This is unacceptable (Nova BH)

 

The Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said a few days ago that he has information that the High Representative to B&H Christian Schmidt will become an active part of the story about financing of the general elections, noted the reporter. Dodik said he received information that Schmidt will impose necessary decisions so that elections are held. Dodik said that they have information that Schmidt has the support of the US, the UK and others, and that consent from Brussels is still awaited. Dodik stated: “If he does that, he will have to face serious consequences for the functioning of B&H. That is unacceptable.”

 

Kavalec: Criminally persecute perpetrators of election frauds (Dnevni list)

 

Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec said the OSCE Mission to B&H has carried out research about the election process in B&H and noticed that people do not have much trust in the integrity of the election process. According to Kavalec, she talked to the people and some of them told her they do not vote because they believe their vote will not be counted or will be stolen. Due to that, continued the Ambassador, the OSCE Mission is placing strong accent on improving the integrity of the election process, that is why there is the electronic system of registration and that is why there are observers who are important. Ambassador Kavalec noted ‘we’ believe the ODIHR will send its observing mission to B&H to observe the elections. “That is why non-government organizations are important too, which know how to follow the election process. Citizens should have the trust that, once they cast their vote, that vote will go to the person they intended it for. That is one more area where improvements are possible. It is also important to criminal persecute perpetrators of election frauds. It would also strengthen the people’s trust in the system,” said Kavalec.

 

Dodik: Podzic and Masovic’s attendance at meeting on military assistance to Ukraine is part of Bosniaks’ joint enterprise aimed at destroying Dayton-based B&H (RTRS)

 

B&H Defense Minister Sifet Podzic and Chief of Joint Staff of B&H Armed Forces (AF) Lieutenant General Senad Masovic attended on Monday an online meeting on military assistance to Ukraine, which US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held with the Ukrainian officials. The Defense Ministers of more than 40 countries also attended the meeting. Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated on Tuesday that Podzic and Masovic attended the meeting on military assistance to Ukraine without agreement with B&H Presidency, “which is a part of a Bosniaks’ joint enterprise aimed at destroying Dayton-based B&H – not just an isolated case”. Dodik warned that they were unconstitutionally and independently representing B&H’s stances at this meeting. He stressed that behind back of the other two peoples in B&H, Bosniaks give fake and unlawful support to the US’ efforts to involve others in the conflict in Ukraine and take over domination of the world. Dodik added that Bosniaks see the conflict in Ukraine as an opportunity to show other peoples that they are the ones who make decisions, reminding that decisions on the army or any kind of the armed forces engagement are up to B&H Presidency. He stated that Bosniak political elites devastate B&H’s foreign policy by well-organized unilateral actions. Dodik concluded that regardless of efforts of foreigners and sanctions imposed against the Serb representatives, “B&H is a failure, and it cannot decide on important issues, unlike RS that can continue on its own in that regard”. According to B&H Deputy Defense Minister Mirko Okolic, the online meeting was agreed on without knowledge of the Serbs and Croats at B&H Defense Ministry and B&H Presidency. He said that the fact that B&H Defense Ministry joined the meeting without prior consultations with B&H Presidency as the only institution in charge of foreign policy represents violation of the law and the Constitution of B&H. Okolic stressed that Bosniak decisions are sponsored and approved by the international actors, and this has become a public secret. Dodik also said that he heard about everything from the media. “This is not an individual case. This is part of a joint effort to destroy B&H by the Muslims. Muslim nationalism has gone so far as to try to use the Ukrainian crisis to reaffirm its goals,” Dodik said. Okolic stressed that without the decision of the B&H Presidency, everything that Podzic and Masovic possibly said at the meeting means nothing. “It is not good that something like this happens that only the representatives of one people promise and agree on some things, or participate in a debate, and they are not competent for such things because that is the competence of the Presidency of B&H which is the only one responsible for foreign policy. Everything that happened or was possibly agreed at that meeting is impossible to realize unless approved by the Presidency,” Okolic was quoted as saying.

 

Dodik calls for peaceful dissolution of B&H, stresses any kind of agreement on B&H’s future is impossible (RTRS)

 

Commenting on the statement of Croat member of B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic who said that “B&H is not the country what they fought for”, Serb member of B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated on Tuesday that Serbs have not fought for B&H but for the independent RS where they have been a part of their motherland for centuries. Dodik stressed that as long as Komsic sees Croats and Serbs as aggressors and other countries’ branches instead of the peoples who have been living in B&H for centuries and have the same rights as Bosniaks, B&H will be chasing its own tail. According to Dodik, creators of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) and the Constitution of B&H have found that Komsic’s wartime goals are not right, which is why they have built into the Constitution a mechanism of protection from outvoting

Dodik also stated that regardless of all efforts made by foreigners and regardless of all sanctions imposed against him, it is clear that B&H is a failed country that does not stand a chance to move or to decide. He added that Serb side did not fight for B&H but against it and that today they are against B&H as demanded by Muslims. “We did not get what we wanted, neither did Muslims. Today, when they say this is not B&H they fought for, it is true. They will never get B&H they want. That is why it is time to attempt again to use mechanism of peaceful dissolution. This would give opportunity for life to everyone, equally peaceful and rational so that we can stop harass each other in any regard,” emphasized Dodik. Dodik stressed that any kind of agreement on B&H’s future is impossible. “We have not fought for B&H but against it. We accept Dayton-based B&H but this is obviously not enough. During the war, we have declared an independent state and we believed that we need to be independent. This was our goal, so neither did we get what we wanted, nor Muslims could have got that…,” Dodik stated. Dodik was quoted as saying: “There is no possibility for B&H to survive and live on the collapse of the neoliberal world.”

Commenting on the statement of Dodik about the need for peaceful dissolution of B&H, NS’ Predrag Kojovic wrote in a tweet that the time has come for peaceful dissolution with Dodik and that everyone will be relieved after that.

 

30th anniversary of death of 12 Banja Luka babies marked (ATV)

 

The 30th anniversary of death of 12 Banja Luka babies was marked on Tuesday. On this occasion, wreaths were laid, and a minute of silence was observed at the ‘Life’ memorial in Banja Luka. ATV stated that the death of 12 babies in Banja Luka thirty years ago was a consequence of the sanctions of the then international community, because oxygen could not be delivered to the RS. Shortly afterwards, 12 babies died at the Clinic for Children’s Diseases in Banja Luka due to lack of oxygen. President of the Association ’12 Babies’ Zeljka Tubic expressed pain and sorrow over the deaths of the Banja Luka babies which, even 30 years later, cannot be erased. “There is no way to erase a child from the heart, to erase pain and sorrow. That May, each of us mothers was happy and proud, believing that life will prevail over death with the birth of these babies,” Tubic said, thanking the RS leadership and all those present at the commemoration for their support. RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic said that this is one of the saddest memories that the citizens of the RS carry from the previous war, primarily because innocent, newborn children died then. Cvijanovic added that this event is being tied to one of the greatest brutalities of the UN Security Council. “We are sad that this event is associated with one of the greatest brutalities, and it comes from the World Global Organization and its heart called the Security Council, which should be at the service of everyone on the planet who needs help,” Cvijanovic said. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that this heinous crime should be remembered this year, just like it was all previous years. “Some were not humane at the time. What we must do is ensure stability and peace in spite of all these sad days,” Dodik said.

 

SDA comments Milanovic’s statements: This is threat to stability and peace in entire region (Dnevni avaz)

 

SDA issued a statement, which reads that statements that Croatian President Zoran Milanovic is making on a daily basis and with which he flagrantly interferes in internal matters of B&H, speaking with contempt about B&H, insulting Bosniaks, can only harm necessary improving of relations between the two states. SDA statement noted that Milanovic’s announcements that “the fall will not be peaceful” represent a threat to stability and peace in the entire region.

 

Milanovic: If Croats in fall start implementing what they announced, it may happen that someone turns international military forces against them (N1)

 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic discussed the situation in B&H with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a phone conversation on Tuesday. Milanovic informed Stoltenberg in details about a serious political crisis in B&H. He told reporters earlier on Tuesday that if Croats in B&H start with implementation of certain form of self-government in autumn, the scenario in which someone will order the engagement of the international military forces against them is possible. He added that “Croatia does not have anyone in B&H due to laziness, servility and cowardice of the Croatian government led by Andrej Plenkovic”. Milanovic also stated for the media: “It concerns the NATO alliance and Operation Althea, and in fact the entire military presence of the international community in B&H, which is quite complicated. It has some two wings, there is EUFOR, there is NATO. These chains of command intertwine in a way that is not very clear. Therefore, in the fall, if Croats start to achieve what they announced, therefore, with their elections, with the implementation of a certain form of self-government, it may happen that someone unknown to me, because the system is not clear, orders the use of these forces against Croat citizens, citizens of B&H of Croat ethnicity.” Milanovic emphasized that the will of the Croats is unbreakable, regardless of who leads them. “The Croats will go with it and then someone will send military force on them, short or long barrels. What do we do then? Croatia is a member of the EU and NATO, but a third-class member because it is led by third-class people,” Milanovic underlined. Announcing his meeting with Stoltenberg, Milanovic said that he does not expect much from this meeting, because international leaders do not know much about the situation in B&H. According to a statement issued by Milanovic’s office, Milanovic especially pointed out the difficult position of the Croats, noting that they have been denied the opportunity to elect their legitimate representatives, “which is a direct violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement and a threat to B&H’s stability.” “President Milanovic further explained that the unequal status of Croats in B&H negatively affects not only the stability of B&H, but also calls into question the national security of the Republic of Croatia, for which a stable B&H is of strategic interest. He emphasized that the Republic of Croatia expects more understanding from its NATO allies for fair and legitimate demands to ensure the equal position of Croats in B&H. He pointed out that this could have a positive impact on regional security,” statement issued by Milanovic’s office reads. Milanovic said that Croatian leadership does not have a harmonized stance because Plenkovic is blocking the National Security Council. Milanovic said that he will decide on his next move based on the development of the situation, but he will continue to warn about it. Milanovic said that his warnings are a form of resistance against the oppression of Croats in B&H. “In absence of an agreement which is undermined by Plenkovic, I can only draw the attention, and everyone knows that I would block the process with Finland and Sweden. If Plenkovic and I were to send the same message, at least 75 percent of Croatian citizens would support that”, said Milanovic. Milanovic stressed that everything he does he does because he wants peaceful coexistence of the three peoples and that nobody loses, apart from those who want to racket the Croat people, namely Zeljko Komsic. According to the daily, Milanovic did not want to properly pronounce surname of High Representative Christian Schmidt for whom Milanovic said he is a private person, and that Serbs are right in that sense.

 

Croatian President rules out possibility of armed conflicts in B&H (Hina)

 

President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday there was a risk of the situation in B&H deteriorating and that his intention is to prevent that and help find “a framework for coexistence of the three constituent peoples in B&H”, however, he ruled out the possibility of an armed conflict. “Anyone starting talk of a war erupting in B&H should get their mouth taped,” said Milanovic adding that speculations like that amount to war-mongering propaganda. “Who will attack whom in B&H? Perhaps, Serbs with their three armored vehicles?” Milanovic wondered in an ironic comment, insisting that not enough weapons existed for anyone to spark an armed conflict. He announced a phone call to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for Tuesday afternoon so as to inform him of what is going on in B&H. Last week, the Croatian president sent a letter about this issue to Stoltenberg. Milanovic said that “when it comes to knowing about the developments in B&H, international leaders are not updated,” accusing Croatia’s diplomats of that. Mila Milanovic accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of boycotting his proposal to hold a session of the National Security Council to discuss the state of affairs in B&H. He also criticized Plenkovic over a lack of a joint position on the issue, and again ruled out that “there was anything personal in that conflict”.

 

Milanovic tells Serbia indictment against Croatian pilots will cost it (Hina)

 

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday that indicting four high-ranking Croatian Army officers for alleged war crimes will cost Serbia, calling out politicians in that country for “unintelligent behavior” with which Serbia will never succeed in joining the European Union.

Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office indicted four high-ranking Croatian Army officers for alleged war crimes. They are accused of shelling a refugee column during the military Operation Storm on 7 and 8 August 1995. “These indictments have occurred despite our years-long attempts to convince them not to play with fire and that it will cost them. I cannot be more polite, I hope they are listening to me. Leave that alone. Otherwise, they should not be surprised by reactions by right-wing lawmakers in the Sabor. The problem is that the majority of people in Croatia think like that,” Milanovic told reporters. Asked by N1 television if he was afraid of being indicted for his speech in Glina in 1995 as a possible response to Serbia indicting four Croatian generals, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said “the Serbs didn’t kill Croatians, it was the Croatians who killed Serbs.” Milanovic called on Vucic “not to do that.” “I can keep things rhetorically under control to a certain measure. But then this comes from Belgrade and how then can I explain that we pursue a well-intentioned policy?” Milanovic said that these moves by Serbia were “unintelligent behavior” by a state that is “impoverished and degraded,” and that does not have its status resolved anywhere. “They don’t want to join NATO, OK. They will never join the European Union this way. Who needs this? Who is pursuing this policy? Which citizens there is the prosecutor’s office addressing?” Milanovic said. He went on to say that he is convinced that 75% of citizens would support his and the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic‘s common stance about Croats in B&H, and that just as many people in Croatia believe that “Croatian prosecutorial authorities should indict Vucic.” Milanovic however said that that should not be done because Vucic is “being tactical.” “And then we hear that nobody killed anyone, but instead the Croatians killed Serbs,” he added. “I am sorry for every Serb who was killed. They need not have been. But a huge majority of Serbs fled straight away. That is a fact. Even the tribunal in The Hague confirmed that,” said Milanovic. “Serb brethren, come to your senses,” Milanovic said, adding that he would probably now be proclaimed an “Ustasha.” “Last week I was a Serb.” “We have to be clear and just in our relations with Serbia, articulate what we expect of them,” he added.

 

Abazovic and Kurti: Dedicated to the development of infrastructure projects that will better connect the two countries (CdM)

 

The governments of the two countries will be committed to the development of infrastructure projects that should improve communication, transport and trade between the two countries and affect their stronger economic development, said Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic during a bilateral meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. According to the Government of Montenegro, the interlocutors agreed that the relations between Montenegro and Kosovo are friendly and based on the principles of mutual trust, good neighborliness and a common European and Euro-Atlantic perspective. Abazovic pointed out that Montenegro is committed to every kind of regional cooperation, which, he says, it has proven several times so far, primarily through open dialogue and good neighborly relations with all countries in the region. “Continuous efforts are being made to give additional impetus by upgrading existing relations with all neighbors and opening new opportunities for democratic, economic and any other prosperity in the region,” the Prime Minister emphasized. Congratulating the vote of the 43rd government of Montenegro, Kurti indicated that the two countries should improve relations in order to increase the economic assets of the two countries. Abazovic and Kurti talked about infrastructure projects that should connect the two countries, and above all about the reconstruction or construction of a new road on the section Rozaje-Pec, as well as the construction road-tunnel that would connect Plav and Decani. The interlocutors agreed that the two countries should strengthen their relations in the context of regional stability and multilateral cooperation.

 

In Davos, Plenkovic invited Abazovic to officially visit Zagreb in June (CdM)

 

“Croatia is an ally of Montenegro that best understands the context of the Western Balkans and from which we have high expectations when it comes to Montenegro’s European integration,” said Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic during a bilateral meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, it was announced from the Prime Minister’s Office. Inviting Abazovic to pay an official visit to Zagreb in June, Plenkovic congratulated Abazovic on his inclusive approach to forming the government and showing respect for the Croatian national minority. “Montenegro has Croatia’s support in European integration, but relations in that sense should be intensified even more,” Abazovic pointed out. At the very beginning, Abazovic thanked his colleague Plenkovic for the invitation for an official visit to Zagreb, emphasizing that the meeting is an ideal opportunity for further encouragement of mutual cooperation. “In a very difficult time for Ukraine and challenging for Europe and NATO allies, it is necessary to show unity and solidarity, but also a strong will to oppose Russia’s aggression against Ukraine with adequate mechanisms,” Abazovic emphasized. During the meeting, it was stated that the cooperation is high quality and diverse and that there is a real basis for its improvement and intensification in the field of economy, tourism, infrastructure, ecology and sustainable development, health, agriculture and defense.

 

Pendarovski believes the recognition of the Macedonian church will advance reconciliation in our society: Pendarovski met with Vucic in Davos as Serbia recognized the Macedonian church (Republika)

 

President Stevo Pendarovski welcomed the recognition of the independence of the Macedonian Orthodox Church by the Serbian church. This is a joyous news for the Orthodox faithful in our country, and follows the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to admit our church in canonical unity. If fulfills one of our national interests and advances reconciliation in the Macedonian society, Pendarovski said. The Presidents of Serbia and Macedonia, Aleksandar Vucic and Pendarovski met in Davos, as the Serbian church finally acknowledged the independence of the Macedonian church. This ended the half a century long dispute, as the Serbian church refused to recognize the Macedonian church as equal. Pendarovski said that the move rectifies historic injustices and helps us accomplish one of our strategic goals.

 

No progress in the meeting between Kovacevski and Petkov in Rome (Republika)

 

Statements made by the prime ministers of Macedonia and Bulgaria, Dimitar Kovacevski and Kiril Petkov, following their meeting in Rome, show that there was no progress in their talks. The government issued a statement describing the meeting as “constructive and open” to cover political issues and the global economic crisis. The meeting was used to discuss the need to continue dialogue to unblock the process of opening Macedonia’s EU accession talks. Kovacevski told Petkov that the biggest gain for both countries would be to unlock this process with solutions based on European values, the statement reads.

 

McAllister: EU should start accession talks with Albania (Radio Tirana)

 

Albania and North Macedonia have met the conditions for opening negotiations. This was stated by the head of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament David McAllister at a press conference from Europa House in Tirana, where he stressed that Albania has no time to lose. “Albania is a valued and valuable member of our European family and an ally who has played a key role in the issue of European security. I thank Albania for its strong commitment to Atlantic integrity in terms of sanctions in the war in Ukraine. First, the EU has no time to waste on opening negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia after both countries have met the necessary conditions. All diplomatic efforts are being made to carry out the process. “Albania has no time to waste to continue the reforms for the benefit of the citizens,” he said. While praising the work done so far and urging the continuation of reforms in the country, McAllister said that however it cannot move forward without a strong and constructive opposition. McAllister’s statement comes at a time when the country’s largest opposition party, the DP, continues to be divided. “We need constructive political cooperation and competition, elections with full competition. Disruptive rhetoric and hate speech will stall the process. Political parties to engage constructively. There can be no progress without a strong and constructive opposition. Only then will they be considered. Albania has also made significant progress in Justice Reform. The EP continues to call for the immediate start of accession negotiations. We have asked the Council to maintain credibility by opening negotiations with the 2 countries after they have met the conditions and we call on these countries to continue to yield results. “Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks,” McAllister said. Asked about the arrest of two former ministers, Saimir Tahiri and Lefter Koka, McAllister considered them indications that the authorities in Albania have taken the fight against organized crime and corruption seriously. “This shows that the authorities in Albania have taken the fight against organized crime and corruption seriously. I want to encourage all those who have responsibilities in Albania for this work to continue with this important stance against corruption, crime and drug trafficking. “This was also the message for the Minister of Interior and Justice that we gave them today,” he declared.

 

Meta meets McAllister (Radio Tirana)

 

President Ilir Meta held a meeting with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament David McAllister where he called for the opening of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible. In a Facebook post, where he posted photos from the meeting, Meta says the opening of negotiations is of paramount importance to ensure democratic transformation through real and irreversible reforms. “The opening of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible is of primary importance, both for our countries and for the EU itself, to ensure democratic transformation through real and irreversible reforms,” ​​says Meta. Assuring the delegation of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee that Albanians continue to believe in the European project, Meta says that the country needs to improve accountability at every level, freedom of the media, integrity of elections and the fight against corruption. “It is a pleasure to meet with the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament led by its chairman, Mr. David McAllister. I thanked them for reaffirming their support for the prospect of Albania’s full membership in the European Union, especially when our region is under pressure from the consequences of unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine. I assured them that Albanians continue to believe in the European project, as their best and only alternative for a peaceful and prosperous future. I praised the realistic approach that the European Parliament has to the situation in Albania, fully supporting the serious concerns addressed in the 19 May resolution. There is an urgent need to improve accountability at every level, media freedom, election integrity, the fight against corruption and all other issues related to the most important block of crucial issues. I stressed the need to strengthen democratic institutions, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as the main pillars of the functioning of the state in a country aspiring to EU membership,” said Meta in his post.

 

Greece warns it will put up barriers on EU bid if Albania brings up Cham issue (Tirana Times)

 

Greece’s foreign minister has publicly warned Albania in a visit to Tirana that raising issues related to the Cham community will result in Greece throwing up barriers in Albania’s EU membership bid. The comments came at a joint press conference with Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka who asked that the two countries discuss in the future the property and human rights of the Chams, ethnic Albanians expelled from Greece at the end of WWII. “Our friendly countries can start discussions on other issues, no matter how difficult we have inherited from the history and from the tragic period of the Second World War, such as … the issue of property and human rights of the Cham community,” Xhacka said. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said no such issues exist and warned that raising them would have multiple consequences on Albania’s European journey.  “This would lead to consequences at multiple levels where Greece will decide other issues related to Albania’s itinerary in Europe,” he said. The remarks, which garnered much attention in the Albanian press, came at the end of a visit that was likely aimed at mending relations further, after a significant cooling in recent years.  The ministers said the two countries were ready to speed up the procedures to send to the International Court of Justice the issue of delimitation of the maritime border between the two countries. “We once again confirmed our will to seek a compromise to refer the case to a third judicial party, such as the International Court of Justice,” Xhacka said. Greek officials have always refused to discuss anything relating to the Chams, but the Albanian side has brought it up several times over the years, as the descendants of the deportees have increasingly gained political power. The Greek state’s official stance is that the population was expelled due to cooperation with the invading Axis forces, while the Albanian side maintains it was ethnic cleansing aimed at removing Muslim Albanians from Greece. Descendants of up to 35,000 deportees are now seeking to get back their properties in Greece. The Greek foreign minister seemed more willing to discuss the abrogation of the law of war between the two countries, an oddity remaining in Greek legislation after Italy used occupied Albania’s territory to attack Greece in WWII. A year and a half ago, during a visit to Tirana and alongside Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister Dendas described it as “an anachronism,” while Prime Minister Rama expressed confidence that this issue would be closed positively and quickly. At the same meeting, the two announced the decision that the delimitation of maritime borders be resolved at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a body of the United Nations.  This week, the Greek foreign minister echoed that goal. “It is important how we will speed up the steps to meet the technical part in order to file documents as soon as possible in court,” Minister Dendias said.

Submission to the court requires the parties to determine the points of dispute between them for which they will seek the interpretation of the court.  The two countries have started the preparatory stages of the talks that will have to take place afterwards in order to reach an agreement on the document that will be sent to the court.  The meeting also focused on social security and other issues related to facilitating the movement and life of Albanian citizens in Greece, the foreign ministry said in a statement.  The Greek foreign minister’s meeting was part of a regional tour.

 

 

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