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Belgrade Media Report 28 July 2022

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 29 July 2022

LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: Prime minister-designate to be announced in about 12 days (RTS/Politika/Tanjug)
• China’s position on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in connection with the issue of so-called Kosovo is consistent (FoNet)
• Serbia and Kingdom of Eswatini signed five agreements on cooperation (Tanjug)
• Office: Anti-Serb campaign in Kosovo and Metohija; Petkovic: Kurti wishes to take off responsibility with lies (RTV/Tanjug)
• Thirty-five opposition MPs to nominate Lutovac for deputy speaker (Beta)
• Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is visiting Serbia starting today (Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H CEC thanks Schmidt for imposing technical changes to Election Law (Hayat/Nova BH)
• Izetbegovic: I do not believe political changes to the Election Law can be agreed before the elections (Hayat)
• Turkovic: Technical changes to Election Law were necessary (Dnevni list)
• Russian Embassy: HR Schmidt’s decision on technical amendments to B&H Election Law issued under outside pressure (RTRS)
• Germany Embassy to B&H welcomes decision of HR and condemns rhetoric of leaders of SDA, SNSD (Avaz)
• Milanovic: Schmidt got frightened by the mob that threatened him (BHT1/RTRS)
• Modernization of B&H Armed Forces key (Srna)
Montenegro
• Bogdanovic: DPS-SNP-URA fraud, parliament session convened over Zeta (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Mickoski-Geer meeting: Dignified EU integration with the preservation of the Macedonian identity, language and culture (Republika)
• EU closely monitoring freedom of media in Macedonia’s accession process (MIA)
Albania
• Biden congratulates Albanians on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations (Radio Tirana)
• Bush message for the 100th anniversary of friendship: Proud to be the first American president to visit Albania (Radio Tirana)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: Prime minister-designate to be announced in about 12 days (RTS/Politika/Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said yesterday that the name of prime minister-designate who will form the new government will be known very soon – in about 12 days. The President also stressed that once it is known who will get the mandate to form the next government, the government will be formed very quickly. He said this after a tour of the final works on the Belgrade Tower, when a journalist asked how close he was to naming the PM-designate and when the new government will be formed. Vucic also referred to speculation that appeared in the media that the new PM will be Finance Minister Sinisa Mali: “They wrote that it will be Sinisa Mali, since this was announced by a member of the government who thought he should be the prime minister, because he saw the biggest competition in Sinisa Mali,” said Vucic. Vucic added that the press reported Mali was already writing his keynote address (as PM) and revealed that after that news, Minister Mali jokingly sent him a message from the pool saying, “look how good my keynote is”. The President said that such news items are untrue and described them as “nonsense”, asking citizens not to read such things.

 

China’s position on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in connection with the issue of so-called Kosovo is consistent (FoNet)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Ivica Dacic and Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin met Thursday in Belgrade with Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo. Dacic discussed with the Ambassador bilateral relations and the two countries’ strategic cooperation and underlined that, in addition to the intensive political dialogue at all levels, he was also very satisfied with China’s and Serbia’s parliamentary cooperation. Dacic said he hopes that the new parliament, which is to be constituted on 1 August, will continue to work in the same spirit. Ambassador Chen Bo said bilateral relations where at their historic peak and that China describes them as “timeless relations of a steel-strong friendship.” She added that there were no outstanding issues in political relations and that the two countries’ relationship is characterized by a high level of trust and mutual support. The Chinese Ambassador presented to Minister Vulin a letter from Chinese Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong confirming the excellent cooperation in the field of internal affairs, said a Serbian Interior Ministry press release. China’s position on Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in connection with the issue of so-called Kosovo is consistent, said the Ministry, adding that China will continue to strongly support Serbia. Vulin repeated that the friendship between Serbia and China is steel-strong, just like the personal friendship between the two presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Xi Jinping, the press release said.

 

Serbia and Kingdom of Eswatini signed five agreements on cooperation (Tanjug)

 

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic and the Minister of Youth and Sports Vanja Udovicic signed several agreements today with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Eswatini Tulisila Dladle with the aim of improving cooperation between the two countries. At issue is the Agreement on cultural and educational cooperation, the Agreement on the mutual cancellation of visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports, the Agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture, the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of protocols and the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of youth and sports.

 

Office: Anti-Serb campaign in Kosovo and Metohija; Petkovic: Kurti wishes to take off responsibility with lies (RTV/Tanjug

Anti-Serb and anti-civilizational hysteria in Kosovo and Metohija is not abating despite the persistent appeals of official Belgrade to calm tensions and stop attacks on Serbs, their property and facilities of the Serbian Orthodox Church, is the comment of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija on the latest incident in Prizren. Namely, a group of pilgrims discovered a broken iron gate at the entrance to the church property during a tour of the Church of the Holy Savior in the Potkaljaja settlement in Prizren. The Office for Kosovo and Metohija demands a quick response from the police, to which the case has been reported and the harshest sanctions for the perpetrators of this crime. The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic says that it is a notorious and easily verifiable lie told by Albin Kurti against Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that Belgrade is allegedly sabotaging the dialogue. “Such a scenario exists only and exclusively in the head and dreams of Albin Kurti, who because of his lies easily qualified for the title of Baron Munchausen,” says Petkovic and asserts that Belgrade is firmly and unequivocally committed to dialogue and the normalization of relations with Pristina, which it wants to achieve after negotiations the table. He also says that Belgrade has always responded to every call for dialogue and discussion on the normalization of relations and adds that while Kurti obsessively attacks President Vucic, he is at the same time trying to cause a new crisis and destabilization of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija with unilateral, unfounded and illegal actions. “What kind of invitations Kurti received, that is not for us to analyze, but to focus on preserving peace and stability as the greatest sanctity in the challenging and difficult times generated by Pristina’s unilateral actions, and that is what President Vucic is unwaveringly committed to. There is no doubt that Vucic’s policy of economic prosperity, progress that is reflected in ever-increasing salaries and pensions, new highways, hospitals and bridges is a thorn in the side of many who slander him because of it,” said Petkovic. Kurti could easily demonstrate his commitment to dialogue by implementing the first Brussels agreement and forming the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), as specified in the first six points of that document, says the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija. “All the rest are fruitless and unsuccessful attempts to remove responsibility for the collapse of the dialogue. This is also evidenced by the refusal of his chief negotiator to meet with me in Brussels on several occasions and discuss the formation of the ZSO in general. Pristina’s wish lists, like some kind of mutual recognition, they have never been, nor will they be part of the dialogue agenda, but they can only be topics of interest to the life of every individual in the area of ​​Kosovo and Metohija. And the sooner Kurti realizes that, the easier it will be for him,” said Petkovic.

 

Thirty-five opposition MPs to nominate Lutovac for deputy speaker (Beta)

 

A group of 35 members of parliament from the opposition announced on Thursday that they would nominate the president of the Democratic Party Zoran Lutovac for the post of a deputy speaker of the Serbian parliament. The group consists of MPs from the Democratic Party, the People’s Party, the Together and Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own parties, and they made the announcement in a joint statement issued after consultations in the Serbian parliament, convened by the secretary general Veljko Odalovic. “We expect this convocation of parliament to honor the democratic principles and the will of the people, and let the opposition parties which do not help the regime in any way, exercise the right to representation in parliamentary bodies, both through the post of deputy speaker and the posts of presidents or vice-presidents of parliamentary committees,” the joint statement reads. Radomir Lazovic from Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own has stated that parliamentary sessions in this convocation will proceed in a different manner, since the opposition will have a greater role than before.

 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is visiting Serbia starting today (Tanjug)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will host Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who will arrive today on a two-day official visit to Serbia. The welcoming ceremony is scheduled for 18:30 in front of the Palace of Serbia, after which the President of Serbia will have a meeting with Sanchez. After the meeting between Vucic and Sanchez, delegations of the Republic of Serbia and the Kingdom of Spain will hold a plenary meeting, after which Vucic and Sanchez will address the media, announced the press service of the President of Serbia. As part of his visit to the Western Balkans that will end on 1 August, Sanchez will also visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H CEC thanks Schmidt for imposing technical changes to Election Law (Hayat/Nova BH)

 

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H thanked High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt for imposing technical changes to the Election Law of B&H. B&H CEC President Suad Arnautovic emphasized that Schmidt completed consultations with the CEC, which he deems to be very important, because all solutions that get adopted must also be implementable. Speaking during Thursday’s session of the B&H CEC, Arnautovic said that the Commission members are still dissatisfied with the fact that changes to the Election Law were not adopted by B&H lawmakers in the state parliament. He analyzed the imposed changes and pointed out that the B&H CEC’s capacities will significantly be strengthened with these technical changes. “These changes set a normative-legal framework for the B&H CEC as a kind of ‘ethical armor’ against public officials, party members, who decide to break the law”, Arnautovic underlines. Nova BH reports that the CEC has started preparing for implementation of the HR’s decision to impose technical changes of the B&H Election Law. The CEC expressed content with the fact that Schmidt’s decision meets most of what the CEC demanded in order to ensure fair and transparent elections. The presenter stressed the CEC is aware that its competences have been significantly expanded and this will pose a challenge because the CEC was never before in charge of certain procedures, such as those regarding misuse of public funds.

 

Izetbegovic: I do not believe political changes to the Election Law can be agreed before the elections (Hayat)

 

Guest was SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic. Commenting the recent decision of High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt, Izetbegovic said he believed there was a 99 percent chance that the decision would be imposed. He explains that he expected political changes to the Election Law to be imposed by Schmidt but, due to reaction of the citizens and the politicians in the country, Schmidt only decided to impose the technical changes. Izetbegovic said Schmidt realized that his initial plans would not be accepted by many, and that is why he changed his mind. This is also a lesson for us, the SDA leader says, emphasizing that people should know how worthy it is to fight for the things they believe in. Analyzing Schmidt’s decision, Izetbegovic said the decision has some good parts and they connect to the integrity of the election process, which ensure fair and transparent elections. Other parts that are good refer to the appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court (CC) of the B&H and the unblocking of the FB&H. Izetbegovic reminds that these are the things that he advocated during talks in Neum. Amongst those things was also the change in practice of keeping some important laws in a drawer for years, not adopting them in the relevant institutions due to political disagreements. That must be properly regulated, and laws must be adopted in some chronological way, Izetbegovic stressed. He expressed sadness that something like that was not included in Schmidt’s solutions. “We still have a chance to reach an agreement on those matters. We shall see what happens next”, Izetbegovic stated. He is not optimistic that B&H political leaders will be able to agree on changes to the Election Law before the elections. That is almost impossible, he says, adding that it is more likely that an agreement will be reached after the elections. Izetbegovic points out that even if B&H officials do not find a solution at the end, then they should still continue their activities, talks and lobbying – doing things that would contribute to making the solution, imposed by the Office of the High Representative (OHR), “more acceptable”.

 

Turkovic: Technical changes to Election Law were necessary (Dnevni list)

 

B&H Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic (SDA), who commented on High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt’s decision on technical changes to the Election Law on B&H. Turkovic stated, among other issues, that the big number of people, who attended protest rallies (in front of OHR building in Sarajevo), has shown they disagree with divisions and further frustrations. Regarding the technical changes to the law, Turkovic said they were necessary, whilst changes dealing with the way of election of FB&H House of Peoples were not good. “The offered changes were, as they say in Great Britain, were ‘quick fix’, in other words solve something very quickly, make step forward. I am sure he had good intention, wants to make the best he can (…)”, said Turkovic. She went on to say that it is not enough for B&H, that B&H does not deserve it and that B&H needs to become a functional state, which is something its citizens deserve. Asked to comment on (recent) statements of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, Turkovic said she does not know anything about the statements. Namely, Turkovic said (on Thursday) that she came back from a trip the night before and was not able to follow the media, “my phone kept to stop working, I am not up to speed with the statements” “(…) As far as I know the leader of the party I come from, I think he takes care of all citizens of B&H (…)”, said Turkovic.

 

Russian Embassy: HR Schmidt’s decision on technical amendments to B&H Election Law issued under outside pressure (RTRS)

 

The Russian Embassy to B&H has issued a statement in reaction to High Representative (HR) in B&H Christian Schmidt’s decision on technical amendments to the B&H Election Law that reads: “It is clear that Christian Schmidt’s decision to impose technical amendments to the B&H Election Law was issued under outside pressure, no matter how good intentions Schmidt offers as an explanation. We have always started from the fact that the use of extraordinary powers is damaging and counterproductive, and that is even more serious when it is related to changes in legislation. None of the HRs has the right to impose such changes in terms of the Bonn Powers.” RTRS reports that it was also reminded the Russian Embassy to B&H has on many occasions underscored they do not consider Schmidt legitimate HR and that “from logical and political standpoint”, Schmidt’s activities are not legitimate.

 

Germany Embassy to B&H welcomes decision of HR and condemns rhetoric of leaders of SDA, SNSD (Avaz)

 

The Germany Embassy to B&H welcomed the decision of the High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt to use the Bonn Powers in a limited way in order to secure more transparent and more fair elections. The German Embassy stated that the HR had wide-range consultations with the international community and added that measures will help in suppression of manipulations and they can help improve integrity and thus, credibility of the elections. According to the German Embassy, decisions of the HR are based on recommendations of the OSCE (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe (GRECO). The German Embassy to B&H also commented on statements of leader of SDA Bakir Izetbegovic and leader of SNSD Milorad Dodik by saying that inflammatory rhetoric coming from the two of them in the context of the Election Law of B&H is irresponsible and must he strongly condemned. The German Embassy to B&H urged all politicians in the country to return to objective discourse, understanding and balance instead of hate and divisions.

 

Milanovic: Schmidt got frightened by the mob that threatened him (BHT1/RTRS)

 

BHT1 carries that both Croatian President Zoran Milanovic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reacted on Thursday to the amendments to the Election Law, imposed by High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt. Milanovic as well as Plenkovic believe that HR Schmidt succumbed to pressures and thus gave up on imposing amendments to the Election Law of B&H that would define the manner of election of delegates in the FBiH House of Peoples (HoP). Milanovic noted that it is Schmidt’s own fault that he received threats over the amendments to the Election Law. Milanovic noted that Schmidt got frightened by “the mob that threatened him”. Milanovic also said that after three weeks of uncertainty, Schmidt came out with somewhat of a draft written by his advisors who have close and even family ties with local Bosniaks in Sarajevo. He claims that Schmidt’s safety is not at risk because there are no arms in B&H and Schmidt’s sole motive was because he was given such orders from Berlin. Milanovic said: “Even that little is too much and the mob is threatening him and he gets scared under the pressure from small town, pub, street or the Berlin policy. That is what I am talking about.” Milanovic assessed the situation in B&H and strong rhetoric represent a risk to Croatia’s national security, while Schmidt was under pressure to impose changes of the Law on Elections. Milanovic underlined that Croatia cannot be expected to remain quiet to threats and hate speech coming from B&H and the streets of Sarajevo. Nevertheless, Milanovic said that Schmidt can only blame himself for threats he received because changes of the Law on Elections of B&H and the FB&H Constitution proposed by Schmidt bring nothing to Croats. After Schmidt criticized Milanovic for his statements and the way he communicates, Milanovic said that he wants to welcome Schmidt to the world of adults. Milanovic further clarified that Schmidt has enormous competences and the fate and survival of the Croat people depend on them, which is why these issues have direct influence in Croatia as well.

 

Modernization of B&H Armed Forces key (Srna)

 

Commanding General of V Corps of the US Army John Stephen Kolasheski met Deputy B&H Minister of Defense Mijo Kresic in Sarajevo on Thursday. The B&H Ministry of Defense said that Kolasheski assessed that B&H achieved big progress since the end of the past war and modernization and progress of the B&H Armed Forces (AF) is the key to continue with the progress. During the meeting, Kolasheski emphasized that this is why all education programs, donations and trainings that the US Army realizes together with the B&H AF are very important in order to gain experiences and in order to exchange knowledge.

 

Bogdanovic: DPS-SNP-URA fraud, parliament session convened over Zeta (CdM)

 

Boris Bogdanovic, head of the Democrats – Demos – Peace is Our Nation caucus, says that parliament speaker Danijela Djurovic, in violation of Article 85 paragraph 5 of the Rules of Procedure, convened a parliamentary session for tomorrow in the early hours of the morning with a fraudulent motive, within a period of less than 7 days, without approval of the parliament speaker’s Collegium. “Namely, at the request of DPS-URA to convene a parliamentary session with the item on the agenda – the Proposed Law on Amendments to the Law on Public Sector Salaries, Djurovic convened the session even though she knew in advance that that was not the real reason for convening the session, but the intention of the proposer to supplement the agenda by introducing the Law on Amendments to the Law on Territorial Organization, which separates Zeta from Podgorica and takes parts of Zeta’s territory, only because DPS-URA-SNP want to reduce the advantage of DPS’s opponents over DPS by excluding votes from Zeta from the total number of votes in the local elections in Podgorica,” claims Bogdanovic.

 

Mickoski-Geer meeting: Dignified EU integration with the preservation of the Macedonian identity, language and culture (Republika)

 

The leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski, together with the vice-presidents of the party Timco Mucunski and Aleksandar Nikoloski, as well as the secretary for international cooperation Stefan Andonovski, held Thursday a meeting with EU Ambassador to Macedonia David Geer. Macedonia’s EU integration was discussed at the meeting. I underlined the positions held by the party and the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, which is a dignified integration with the preservation of the Macedonian identity, language and culture, and not a humiliating process involving assimilation. I pointed out that the government is not making any efforts at all to find solutions to overcome the current crises in Macedonia. I also pointed out that Macedonia is going in a very bad direction with the SDSM and DUI government and that it is literally sinking into crises. The only way out of the catastrophic situation is early parliamentary elections, which should take place as soon as possible, said Mickoski after the meeting.

 

EU closely monitoring freedom of media in Macedonia’s accession process (MIA)

 

European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said Thursday freedom of expression and freedom of media is key for the progress of all countries in the EU negotiations, MIA reports from Brussels. When asked by MIA about the accusations made by the state leaders during the debates on the French proposal, Stano recalled the consistent position of the European Commission and EU member states on freedom of media. Countries in the accession process are expected to adopt all EU values and principles while preparing for EU membership, Stano said at Thursday’s regular press briefing at the European Commission. This, he said, means refraining from inflammatory rhetoric and from restricting freedom of expression. This is something on which the EU rests, Stano said, adding that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are one of the key criteria in the negotiation process with the EU. Based on the countries’ performance in this regard, they will be assessed in the accession process, in the negotiation process, and this will also determine the speed with which they will advance towards the final goal, which is EU membership. I can only recall our numerous calls to all political leaders, politicians, stakeholders to be aware of this, to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric, to refrain from undermining the freedom of the media and limiting the space for independent journalism, the media space and journalistic work, because this is something that the EU, the European Commission and the member states are monitoring very closely, Stano said.

 

Biden congratulates Albanians on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations (Radio Tirana)

 

US President Joe Biden has congratulated the Albanians on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with a message conveyed by the American embassy during the special activity to mark this day. Biden declared that in the future the USA will continue to stand by Albania, while the country strengthens democratic institutions, fights corruption and complete the journey to join the EU. ” To all the people of Albania I send my best wishes in doing friendship with the Unites States. As we celebrate 100 year anniversary when our countries  established diplomatic relationships. When the United States defended Albania’s independence after World War I, it launched a lasting friendship between our peoples, a shared love for liberty and the values of democracy that was never broken even when the people of Albania endured the decades of dictatorship. Today Albania and the United States are allies in NATO and partners working together in defending freedom and democracy in Europe and around the world, including through our work in the UN Security Council. Albania has also made critical contribution in supporting the humanitarian and security needs of Ukranian people as they defend their country against Russia’s brutal war, I want to thank the people of Albania for your hospitality in hosting thousand of Afghan people over the past year and we look to the future. The United States will continue to stay with Albania as you carry forward the work to fortify democratic institutions, fight corruption, strengthen the rule of law and complete your journey to join the European Union. May our two nations continue to build all that we have accomplished together and deliver a brighter, more hopeful future for our children,” said Joe Biden.

 

Bush message for the 100th anniversary of friendship: Proud to be the first American president to visit Albania (Radio Tirana)

 

Former American president George W. Bush has conveyed his message for the establishment of the 100th anniversary of relations between the United States and Albania. The message was read at the ceremony of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of these relations by the American Ambassador Yuri Kim. Bush has expressed his pride that he was the first American president to visit Albania in 2007. In his letter, the former head of the White House appreciates Albanian traditions such as faith and hospitality. “Laura and I send you our warmest greetings to the people of Albania as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Albania and the United States.This milestone is proof of friendship between our countries and our shared diplomatic values. In 2007 I was proud I  to be the president who visited Albania. Laura and I will never forget our time in your beautiful country. We witnessed firsthand your sincere hospitality and your commitment to democracy and strong relations with the USA. I also recall your passion for progress and tolerance. I am delighted to see Albania and the USA continue working side by side as NATO allies and on the UN Security Council, defending democracy, peace and human rights. The Albanian spirit that strives relentlessly for liberty and your tradition of besa that extends a helping hand to those in need are traits that I hope will be emulated by others. Albania is a force for good in the world and the United States is proud to call you a friend and ally. Congratulations on the 100th anniversary of our abiding friendship. Here’s to many more bright and promising years ahead. May God bles you!,” writes the former American president in his message.

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