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Belgrade Media Report 27 June 2018

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 27 June 2018

LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: Compromise on Kosovo, and referendum, still far away (Tanjug)
• Vucic: We are prepared for compromise, will not allow crimes against Serbs (Tanjug)
• Djuric: Attack on Serbian young man mining of peaceful resolution of problem (Tanjug)
• EU’s Serbia draft: Kosovo, warning over Russia and visas (Beta)
• Vucic, Moore discuss regional situation, Moore supports Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
• Morocco continues to support Serbia’s territorial integrity (Tanjug)
• Vucic regarding Macedonia name issue: We want peaceful resolution of dispute (RTS)
• Croatia’s PM responds to SRS MP accusations at PACE, Serbia’s delegation lodges protest (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Federation of B&H HoR holds theme session on EU path of B&H; Representatives of HDZ B&H-HNS B&H Caucus boycott session (N1)
• Dodik: We have two states of Serb people – RS and Serbia (ATV)
• Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: It is natural that harsh rhetoric appears in pre-election period, I see no security threat for B&H (TV1)

Croatia
• Serbian representative at Council of Europe insults Croatia (Hina)

fYROM
• EU to open accession negotiations with Macedonia in June 2019 (MIA)
• EC starts preparing accession negotiations as of tomorrow, says Hahn (MIA)
• Government: Macedonia received a date for negotiations, positive changes were recognized (MIA)
• PM Zaev: Yet another major recognition for our country (MIA)
• Dimitrov: The path will be narrow and steep, with rain and strong wind, but we’ll make it (Meta)

Albania
• EU Foreign Ministers block the opening of Accession Negotiations (ADN)
• Rama: We received the date for entering the EU ‘port (Top Channel)
• Negotiations postponed due to Government’s links with crime, SMI Says (ADN)
• Accession Talks, Rama accuses opposition for slinging dirt (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Russian Ambassador cancels Srebrenica visit amid genocide row (BIRN)
• EU ministers postpone Albania and Macedonia accession decision (Politico)

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LOCAL PRESS

Vucic: Compromise on Kosovo, and referendum, still far away (Tanjug)

Aleksadar Vucic says he “does not intend to hide behind the people when it comes to Kosovo – as some claim he would.” Speaking on Wednesday in Kraljevo, central Serbia, where he attended the police-military exercise Joint Strike, the President also said that “the citizens will be the ones who will decide on their future. Some mind me saying that I will not be making a decision on the solution for Kosovo and Metohija without asking the citizens, and claim I would ask them in order to hide behind them, use them as a fig leaf” Vucic said.

“I never hide. I did not hide when we had to reduce salaries and pensions to recover the country and save it from bankruptcy. I did not hide and I will not hide when we are increasing salaries and pensions, because we healed the system and showed that we are responsible and serious, unlike some before us,” he said.  Vucic added that his policy will not be to remain silent in the face of “someone destroying crosses and churches, declaring independence, the International Court of Justice deciding, on our request, that independence had been declared legally.”

“I will not do it. There is nothing nice about Kosovo that we can get and offer to the people,” he stressed.  Vucic said he would “go before the people, who will make a decision about their future. People must be informed about all the consequences of one, other, or a third option. People should say what they want” Vucic said.

Speaking to reporters after the exercise, Vucic also said that a referendum will certainly be organized – once there is something to offer to the people. But at this time there is no such thing, so a referendum on Kosovo would make no sense, he said.

“We must arrive at some plan that certainly must not be humiliating to Serbia, that would mean something to the Serbs, and that means – to arrive at a compromise,” the president said, and concluded: “A referendum will certainly take place once we know we can count on a compromise solution. Otherwise it will not, and right now we are still far away from that.”

Vucic: We are prepared for compromise, will not allow crimes against Serbs (Tanjug)

Serbia is prepared for dialogue and compromise and committed to peace but it will never accept any new “Operation Storms”, a new exodus or crimes against Serbs, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after the military-police exercise Joint Impact 2018 in Kraljevo, on Wednesday. Addressing police and Serbian Armed Forces troops, as well as Kraljevo residents, Vucic said the police and the army had not only demonstrated their skills, level of training and technical equipment.

“They showed, above all, that they are ready at all times to defend the sovereignty, independence and freedom of Serbia, the independence to decide for itself. There is no bigger or more important task than that” the Serbian President said. He reminded that we invested a lot in this freedom, paid a great price in human lives, and that’s why, for us Serbs, that freedom is so sacred. “We need such an army, the police, equipped and dressed as a dam to anyone who would try to endanger our freedom” the President said.

Vucic said that they are a way to preserve the lives of people, not to bring citizens into a situation where they need to go to war.

“Today, Serbia threatens no one, but will not allow no one threaten us either. We are always ready for compromise, dialogue and peace, but we will never accept any new “Operation Storms”, a new exodus or crimes against Serbs” the President underlined.

He pointed out that this exercise showed our reaction in the event of an attack on our country and people. “We have shown readiness to defend our security and stop anyone who thinks that problems today should be resolved by violence. We will continue to invest in the army and the police” concluded Vucic.

Djuric: Attack on Serbian young man mining of peaceful resolution of problem (Tanjug)

The wounding of a Serb young man in the Suvi Do settlement near Kosovska Mitrovica has once again confirmed that there are unofficial power centers and organized extremist groups among the Albanians in Kosovo, whose goal is to minimize efforts to solve problems in the province by political means, said the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric.

Djuric said in a statement that the wounding of a young man is the way to try to prevent Serbian-Albanian relations being settled in a peaceful and civilized manner.

“This kind of demonstration of force cannot bring anyone anything good and I demand from both Pristina and the international community to prevent further deterioration of the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija and to show that they are honestly on the side of peace by punishing those responsible for this and many other attacks on Serbs in the last two months” Djuric said.

He adds that Serbia and the Serbian people will not be staggered in their efforts to provide the Serbian people, in the province, the conditions for a normal life, as they imply for all Europeans, except for the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

Djuric also stated that at the same time as an armed assault on a young man took place, the building of an ambulance that provides health services to the inhabitants of Suvi Dol was demolished for the fourth time in two months.

“Attacks on health care institutions and healthcare workers are an anti-civilization act even in wartime conditions and it’s incredible that such things are happening in peacetime, in front of the face of international security structures and organizations tasked with caring for the rule of law in Kosovo” emphasizes Djuric.

He reminds that the issue of municipal demarcation in the village of Suvi Do is part of the Brussels dialogue, precisely because of the concern for the security of Serbs in that settlement.

“Instead, we have an obviously organized campaign of intimidation of Serbs in that settlement, which can have dangerous consequences” Djuric concluded.

EU’s Serbia draft: Kosovo, warning over Russia and visas (Beta)

The EU Council of Ministers hails Serbia’s progress in membership negotiations, according to a draft resolution from an EU foreign ministers’ meeting.

The draft also stresses that for the speed of negotiations the key areas of progress are rule of law and fundamental freedoms, as well as the normalization of relations with Kosovo, Beta is reporting. The document, which the agency had access to, states that for Belgrade and Pristina the normalization of relations with Pristina, including a legally binding solution, is pivotal to their progress on the European road and of essential importance for enduring regional stability.

It also hails the much belated relaunching of work on composing a statute for the Community of Serb Municipalities in accordance with the Brussels Agreement and says that it expects both sides to become constructively engaged in implementing the achieved agreements, including overcoming obstacles in applying the agreement on energy.

The Council of Ministers calls on Serbia to take important steps in reforming the rule of law, especially where the independence and efficiency of the judiciary is concerned, along with “tangible and constant results” in investigations and verdicts tied to the curbing of corruption, organized crime and money laundering, the draft resolution on enlargement being debated by the EU ministers says.

The lack of progress in the area of freedom of expression is causing growing concerns, the ministers also stressed, adding that the Serbian authorities must guarantee safe conditions for the unhindered exercise of the right to freedom of speech and the independence of the media as a priority task, including strengthening efforts to investigate attacks on journalists.

The Council of Ministers of the EU again welcomed the Serbian government’s commitment to European integration as a strategic objective, the foreign ministers stressed and underlined that this needed to be more effectively and unambiguously stated during public debates.

“An urgent move is needed in the work of independent bodies and democratic institutions, including parliamentary oversight, as well as constitutional reforms,” ​​the draft says, and asks for “progress in the work of independent bodies, democratic institutions, parliamentary oversight and constitutional reform.”

It also states that the Council of Ministers again urges Serbia to gradually align itself with EU’s common foreign and security policy, in line with the negotiating framework, “and in the first place, reverse the current deviation from it.” This above all, refer to Serbia’s policy towards Russia, which is under EU sanctions.

The draft also urges Serbia to “refrain from moving away from the EU’s common visa policy” and notes that Serbia’s new practice of when it comes to concluding agreements with countries in the world is “a cause for concern.”

When it comes to economic reforms, EU ministers assess favorably the progress made there and encourage Serbia to further improve business conditions, “tackle public debt and continue to implement structural reforms, especially in energy and transport, labor market, tax administration, public procurement, including privatization of state-owned enterprises.”

Vucic, Moore discuss regional situation, Moore supports Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on June 26 with Director General for Political Affairs

at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Richard Moore to discuss bilateral relations and the situation in the region. The Office of the Serbian President said in a press release that Moore supported the talks between Belgrade and Pristina, while Vucic explained that Serbia was open to a compromise, but that it refused to accept humiliation. The President thanked the British official for his country’s support to Serbia’s EU accession, and commitment to the Berlin Process, as it would host the next Western Balkans Summit in London, in July.

Moore said that Britain had accepted to organize the conference to demonstrate its commitment to the Western Balkans and the region’s future in Europe, despite its decision to leave the EU. Vucic said that security themes, which together with infrastructure and digital regional ties would be the at the top of the summit’s list of priorities, were vital for peace and stability in the region. The President said that Serbia was interested in strengthening political dialogue and economic ties with Great Britain, willing to boost British investment as well.

Morocco continues to support Serbia’s territorial integrity (Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on Wednesday in Belgrade with Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives Habib El Malki. El Maliki stressed that Morocco’s policy when it comes to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia is unchangeable, the president’s office said in a press release. He also welcomed Serbia’s stance regarding the territorial integrity of his own country.

Vucic expressed his gratitude for the consistent policy and principled position of Morocco on respecting the norms of international law and consistent support for Serbia’s efforts to preserve its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The President also noted that bilateral relations are excellent, but are not accompanied by an adequate level of economic cooperation. Vucic pointed out that Serbia is interested in improving economic cooperation in areas of common interest, especially the renewable energy sector, agriculture, information technology and construction. He stressed that Serbia highly appreciates Morocco’s efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East region, while El Malki supported the reform processes and the European path of Serbia. Vucic invited Moroccan King Mohammed VI to visit Serbia, the statement said.

Vucic regarding Macedonia name issue: We want peaceful resolution of dispute (RTS)

The President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia supports every kind of agreement between Skopje and Athens, but also that Serbia must respect the views of both Macedonia’s President George Ivanov and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. When asked about the position of Serbia regarding the Athens and Skopje agreements on the future name of the Macedonian state, he stressed that those are the internal matters.

“We do not interfere in internal matters and we wish the peaceful resolution of the matter” Vucic emphasized.

Croatia’s PM responds to SRS MP accusations at PACE, Serbia’s delegation lodges protest (Beta)

The Serbian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) lodged a protest to PACE President Liliane Maury-Pasquier on Tuesday, angry at the remarks Andrej Plenkovic, the Prime Minister of Croatia, made during a debate.

Responding to the accusations made by Aleksandar Seselj, Serbian Radical Party (SRS) MP, that Plenkovic “glorified” Jasenovac, a concentration camp run by Croatian fascists during the World War Two, and that Croatia treat ethnic Serbs as second-class citizens, Plenkovic said Seselj – son of SRS leader Vojislav Seselj – was promoting the Greater Serbia. After Seselj made the accusations, he was interrupted by Maury-Pasquier.

On Monday, Seselj also used impropriate language during a speech of Croatia’s foreign minister Marija Pejcinovic-Buric, held. Seselj’s intervention caused protests by the Croatian delegation.

On Tuesday, Plenkovic reminded Seselj of his father’s words and deeds in the nineties.

“It is because of the policies by then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that my country has suffered, that we have had 15,000 dead, that we have had 37 billion of war damages,” Plenkovic

said. “We are fed up with the policies of trying to disseminate false information – this was the example of fake news – and trying to portray Croatia negatively,” Plenkovic said.

After Plenkovic’s speech, Serbia’s delegation sent a protest to Maury-Pasquier, requesting an urgent meeting because of what they called “scandalous” Plenkovic’s address. The delegation also complained that Maury-Pasquier had not reacted timely and violated the rules of the PACE work by letting Pelnkovic continue.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Federation of B&H HoR holds theme session on EU path of B&H; Representatives of HDZ B&H-HNS B&H Caucus boycott session (N1)

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Tanja Fajon addressed a theme session of the Federation of B&H House of Representatives (HoR) held on Tuesday and dedicated to challenges and perspectives of the Federation of B&H on the EU path. Among other things, Fajon said that there is a lot of nationalistic rhetoric and emotions in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) detrimental for the EU path of this country.

Representative of B&H’s Directorate for the European Integration Edin Dilberovic underlined that support to the EU membership of B&H among citizens of this country has been decreasing due to current the political situation in B&H and due to the issues related to migrations.

MPs from HDZ B&H-HNS Caucus in the Federation of B&H HoR boycotted the abovementioned session. Members of this Caucus left the last session of the Federation of B&H HoR after it was announced that Proposal of Law on Constituencies and Number of Mandates in the Federation of B&H Parliament will be discussed at the special session of the abovementioned House of the Federation of B&H Parliament.

Deputy Speaker of the Federation of B&H HoR Mladen Boskovic (HDZ B&H) underlined that the MPs will not attend sessions of the Federation of B&H HoR until the Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) presents its stance on the abovementioned developments. Boskovic underlined that HDZ B&H-HNS MPs will not be attending the Federation of B&H HoR sessions not because Croats are not committed to the EU and NATO path, but because Croats wants to convey a message that outvoting which took place at the last session of the Federation of B&H HoR, when the Law on Constituencies was adopted without support of single Croat MP, will not be accepted.

On the other hand, Head of DF Caucus in the Federation of B&H HoR Dzenan Djonlagic underlined that statements of HDZ B&H presenting themselves as carriers of European values turned out to be lies. He added that boycott of the Federation of B&H institutions (by HDZ B&H) represents beginning of out-of-institutions acting of HDZ B&H.

Prior to this session, Fajon met with leaderships of both Houses of the Federation of B&H Parliament. Fajon expressed hope that pre-election campaign in B&H – which started earlier than expected – will not affect the EU path of B&H. Fajon stressed that she is convinced that the EU membership is the only solution for B&H. She expressed hope that dialogue between B&H authorities and the European Commission will be speeded up. Head of the EU Delegation to B&H Lars-Gunnar Wigemark stated that interference of other problems into the process of the EU integration of B&H is visible, adding that this leads to further slowdown of the EU accession process of B&H. He added that all factors in B&H need to reach wider consensus on goals of this country.

 

Dodik: We have two states of Serb people – RS and Serbia (ATV)

The Republika Srpska (RS) Veterans’ Organization (BORS) marked its 25th anniversary by organizing a forum of veterans at the RS National Assembly (RSNA) in Banja Luka on Tuesday. The forum was dedicated to the role of the RS Army and Ministry of Interior (MoI) in creation of the RS. Addressing the forum, RS President Milorad Dodik called on the BORS to remain independent from political parties but to keep fighting for preservation of the institutions of the RS. He stressed that he is not proud of the fact that the RS has lost its army, but this is yet another proof that further centralization of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) must be prevented. “Today, I think we have two established states of the Serb people, which are strong and well-positioned – the RS and Serbia, of course. Therefore, I support the idea that we, whom the people elected to lead our policies, should not create new illusions. B&H is not a place where we can defend our ethnic positions,” Dodik underlined. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic said that thanks to the veterans, officers and generals of the RS Army, the Serb people have their institutions that protect them and make it possible for them to be equal in this region.

Russian Ambassador Ivantsov: It is natural that harsh rhetoric appears in pre-election period, I see no security threat for B&H (TV1)

Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Petr Ivantsov commenting on the situation in B&H, said that the political situation in B&H is never boring and it is complicated, especially in the pre-election period. “In my opinion, a normal political process is taking place. It is natural that harsh questions and rhetoric appear now”, Ivantsov noted and added that he sees no security threat for B&H in this.

Asked about the relations between Russia and B&H with the focus on Russia’s particular fondness for Republika Srpska (RS), Ivantsov replied that Russia has normal relations with B&H, including when it comes to trade, economic and cultural cooperation as well as wide political contacts with B&H. Ivantsov specified that Russia’s relations with the RS are an integral part of the relations with B&H but they are also special in terms of Russia’s cherishing of traditional spiritual and religious connection with Serb people. Speaking about Russia’s relations with the entity of the Federation of B&H, Ivantsov particularly singled out successful operation of Russian bank ‘Sberbank’ and Russian oil company ‘Gazprom’, along with friendly relations between Cities of Moscow and Sarajevo. “We plan to further deepen these relations”, he added.

Reflecting on RS President Milorad Dodik’s frequent visits to Russia and his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Ambassador underscored that this is reflection of Russia’s relations with the RS and Dodik has great sympathy towards Russia and its people. The Ambassador stressed that it comes as no surprise that Russia communicates with the RS President a lot, but he also reminded that Russia has good communication with Serb member of B&H Presidency Mladen Ivanic and B&H officials representing all three constituent peoples.When it comes to the arrival of additional 40 UK soldiers to support the EUFOR mission in B&H and the fact that this sparked controversy in the RS, Ivantsov confirmed that Russia supports activities of the EU and EUFOR and that his country keeps endorsing continuation of this mission’s mandate, due to considering that it has a useful role in B&H. Nevertheless, Ivantsov expressed understanding for the harsh reaction that followed, stressing that UK State Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson himself recently said that the UK officers’ task is to carry out special supervision and intelligence work in the period ahead of the elections in B&H. According to Ivantsov, it was also mentioned that intelligence work in this regard is directed against so-called malignant influence of Russia on the elections in B&H. In Ivantsov’s opinion, sending 40 soldiers to deal with intelligence activities in a country that is soon to hold elections only contributes to a tenser political situation.

Asked if Russia will have its observers in this year’s elections in B&H and if those observers could influence the elections, Ivantsov remarked that observers’ role will be only to follow the process. He doubts that there can be influence on the elections. He argued that Russia has no favorite candidate, and it will respect the will that citizens express through voting.

Commenting on the concern that the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) expressed over arming of the RS Ministry of Interior (MoI), the Russian Ambassador assessed that PIC’s last session was constructive and it focused on holding of free elections in B&H without an external influence, but he does not consider that purchase of the RS MoI is concerning. According to the Russian Ambassador, purchase of weapons for the RS MoI was in line with all rules and external players cannot determine if this purchase was proportional or not.

As for Russia’s attitude towards NATO integration of B&H, Ivantsov noted that the matter of NATO is a matter of all peoples in B&H, just like it is the case in Serbia. Ivantsov confirmed that no one can prevent NATO membership if the citizens opt for that, but Russia’s stance is that there is no need for such a thing. Ivantsov stated: “Enlargement of NATO on the Balkans would create new divisions and joining NATO would not contribute to development of B&H.” Ivantsov added that he does not find that NATO membership would contribute to calming down tensions in B&H or to fostering stability, because half of the country is against it. He wondered: “Why artificially provoke a new conflict?”

The Russian Ambassador was asked about his stance on the Croat issue and the idea of formation of a third entity, to which he replied that a third entity is not stipulated by the Dayton Peace Agreement. The Russian ambassador reminded that the pre-election period is a period when Serbs speak of secession, Bosniaks of unitary state, and Croats of third entity. He does not consider that any of these ideas are realistic. The ambassador reminded that such decisions can only be made through consensus of all three peoples, and there is no such consensus. Ivantsov believes that a solution for the Croat issue, which includes preventing violation of Croats’ rights in legislative authorities, lies in implementation of the B&H Constitutional Court (CC)’s decision in the case of Bozo Ljubic from Croat People’s Assembly (HNS) but through consensus and dialogue.

 

Croatia

Serbian representative at Council of Europe insults Croatia (Hina)

During a session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg on Monday, the Serbian deputy Aleksandar Seselj of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), led by war criminal Vojislav Seselj, made insulting comments against Croatia, saying that the present-day Croatia was founded by a criminal and neo-Fascist Franjo Tudjman.

While Foreign Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric was outlining the programme of Croatia’s presidency of the Council’s Committee of Ministers as current chair, Serbian deputy Aleksandar Seselj asked when Croatia would give back “the Serbian Krajina to people who fled the Ustasha knife?”

Aleksandar Šešelj also claimed that Croatia killed 1,000 Serbs and made 500,000 Serbs leave the so-called Serb Krajina during the liberating operation Storm in the summer of 1995. He said that it was a shame on Croatia to observe the anniversaries of Operation Storm as a national holiday.

The Croatian parliament’s delegation to PACE stated that it does not intend to debate with Aleksandar Seselj, however, the Croatian representatives cannot accept the insults and untruths said at the plenary meeting. “We condemn any hate speech, primarily based on insults and untruths,” reads the press release of the Croatian delegation.

The head of the Croatian delegation Sanja Putica also asked the PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier to ensure that such level of communication and dissemination of untruths and insults would be stopped in the Parliamentary Assembly. Putica thanked Pasquier for her advocacy in favour of upgrading the accepted democratic customs and parliamentary discussions embraced by the Europe.

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe said that the Serbian deputy ‘s behavior was unacceptable and against the PACE rules, and that she would inform the Serbian delegation’s chairwoman of the incident.

 

fYROM

EU to open accession negotiations with Macedonia in June 2019 (MIA)

The path towards opening of accession talks with the European Union in June 2019 has been paved provided that Macedonia maintains its reform progress, especially the urgent reform priorities, the Council of the EU decided Tuesday following a long debate on enlargement in which the recommendations for negotiations for Macedonia and Albania were considered.

The Council of Ministers expects the European Commission next year to release a report focusing on reforms in public administration, fight against corruption, judicial reforms and reforms of intelligence services.

In June 2019, unless the reform momentum in Macedonia is preserved, the first inter-governmental conference will take place soon after. It will in fact officially mark the start of negotiations, MIA‘s correspondent reports

In the meantime, the European Commission has said it is willing to start preparing the negotiations, which is already approved by the Council of the EU.

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the Commission will launch the screening process in rule of law ‘as of tomorrow.’ The screening process is a technical tool to assess the capacity of a candidate country to open a certain chapter. The chapter of rule of law is the first one to be opened and the last one to be closed in making sure that rule of law reforms are sustainable and permanent.

France and the Netherlands have been against any date for negotiations to be set for Macedonia, because they think the reform progress is still very fresh to have resulted in any permanent results.

After tough discussions with the other member countries, a compromise was found that involves a date only under the above-mentioned conditions.

Moreover, Albania could also start negotiations with the EU next year only after it meets similar conditions.

EC starts preparing accession negotiations as of tomorrow, says Hahn (MIA)

The European Commission can launch a screening process starting tomorrow, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Tuesday after the EU Council has approved conditional opening of accession talks with Macedonia, MIA reports from Luxembourg.

“I congratulate the citizens of the future North Macedonia on today’s achievement, because now it’s clear that negotiations will launch in June next year and we, the Commission, can start preparing the negotiations starting tomorrow. This is now a clear perspective and clear reward,” said Hahn.

After a tough battle between 25-member states and the Netherlands, France and Denmark, Macedonia was given the green light for a date to open negotiations in June, but under several conditions.

The European Commission should produce a report focused on three main issues: reform in public administration, reform of intelligence services, as well as judicial reforms and fight against corruption. Depending on progress made, the first inter-governmental conference could be held by the end of 2019.

“In view of the above progress, in particular on implementation of the Przino agreement, the Urgent Reform Priorities and the positive momentum created by the agreement on the name issue with Greece, the Council agrees to respond positively to the above progress made by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and sets out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019. Accordingly, the Council underlines the critical need for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue making concrete progress on the Urgent Reform Priorities and to deliver further tangible results in the fight against corruption, maintaining and deepening the current reform momentum. To this effect, the Council calls on the Commission to monitor closely the above reform efforts of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and will assess progress on the basis of the yearly Commission report. The Council recalls that the decision to open accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be subject to completion of national parliamentary procedures and the endorsement by the European Council and swiftly thereafter be followed by the first Intergovernmental Conference by the end of 2019, depending on progress made,” reads the conclusion of the Council of EU Ministers.

The Council, it adds, underlines that this assessment of progress should include further tangible and sustained results, focusing in particular on: judicial reforms and proactive investigations, prosecutions and final convictions in corruption and organized crime cases, including at high level; intelligence and security services reform; public administration reform.

Furthermore, the Council takes note of the intention of the Commission to begin the necessary preparatory work.

Government: Macedonia received a date for negotiations, positive changes were recognized (MIA)

Another great day for the Republic of Macedonia, and more recognition for our country. The Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member states of the European Union yesterday decided to start negotiations for membership for the Republic of Macedonia in June 2019, the Government stated.

“The European Union and the leaders of all member states recognized the Republic of Macedonia as a country of positive change, a dynamic process of reform, inclusiveness and social dialogue. A country with a strong, well-intentioned political will, resolves disputes with its neighbors and a country of citizens who have demonstrated that they have a clearly expressed vision of a European future. The path of reform and building our country as a state under European rules is an irreversible process”, the government announced.

PM Zaev: Yet another major recognition for our country (MIA)

Yet another glorious day for the Republic of Macedonia. Yet another recognition for our country, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a statement after the EU Council approved the opening of membership negotiations in June 2019.

“The European Union and the leaders of all member states have recognized the Republic of Macedonia as a country of positive changes, of dynamic process of reforms, of inclusion and social dialogue. A country settling disputes with the neighbors with a strong, well-intentioned political will and a country of citizens that have shown they have a clear vision for European future,” said Zaev. According to him, the path of reforms and the process of building the country according to European rules is an irreversible process. “We remain on the course of reforms. We have set a concrete goal” the Macedonian PM said.

Dimitrov: The path will be narrow and steep, with rain and strong wind, but we’ll make it (Meta)

We will make it! There will be sweat, tears and many disappointments to come, but we will make it. The more obstacles, the greater the joy at the end. We missed the time when the road was steady, now we have to climb a mountain path, narrow and steep, in the rain and strong wind. nevertheless, we will make it!” stated the Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, following a decision by the European Union yesterday to set a date for the start of Macedonia’s accession negotiations – starting in June next year.

“And all those who are still fed up, confused, skeptical, and without hope – we will motivate them. It’s time for us to roll up our sleeves and finish our mission. Let’s clear up the challenges concerning our identity, statehood and secure future” Dimitrov said.

 

Albania

 EU Foreign Ministers block the opening of Accession Negotiations (ADN)

The Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) have blocked on Tuesday the long-waited opening of accession negotiations for Albania and Macedonia.

During the meeting on the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, Foreign Ministers decided that talks on Albania’s and Macedonia’s EU accession could begin in 2019, under certain conditions, not immediately.

Because of strong opposition from France, the Netherlands and Denmark, they agreed to find a compromise, by including in the proposal the gradual opening of the EU chapters by the summer of 2019, both for Albania and Macedonia.

As it was stated earlier, 25 EU states were pro for the opening of accession negotiations for the two Balkan states, by they faced strong opposition from the Netherlands, France and Denmark.

Rama: We received the date for entering the EU ‘port (Top Channel

The Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, reacted after the Foreign Ministers of the EU decided to postpone the opening of the accession negotiations to June 2019, after France, Netherlands and Denmark expressed their reserves.

“After 72 hours of long debates among the EU, Albania received the date for entering the EU port” Rama said. “The results of our reforms made it possible that even the most skeptical countries recognized the merit of Albania and Macedonia. A very difficult battle was won” Rama said.

The Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, confirmed that the EU countries have agreed to open Albania’s path for starting the accession talks on June 2019. He thanked every member country and said that Albania must sit the soonest possible with the EU delegations.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party leader, Lulzim Basha, said that the opening of the accession negotiations was postponed with a year. “Crime and corruption are keeping our country back. Without fighting crime and corruption, the decision in 2019 will be a refusal, the same as today”, Basha said. “This is the moment for a big turn, to save our country and our European future”, said the DP leader.

Negotiations postponed due to Government’s links with crime, SMI Says (ADN)

During a press declaration on Wednesday, Deputy Chairman of the Socialist Movement for Integration, Luan Rama, accused the government for trying to conceal the failure of Albania regarding accession talks.  The MP declared that our Government has chosen crime, therefore negotiations were rejected by EU. According to him, the Albanian government is making devilish attempts to make it look like a victory, when in reality it is our loss.

“EU Ministers decided not to open accession talks with Albania by pre-determining the conditions that have to be completed. The decision is the ultimate attitude against the Albanian government.  Their attempts to make the postponing of negotiations seem like it’s our achievement is a huge joke on the Albanian people. It is obvious that EU can’t accept a government that has chosen crime. Blaming opposition for EU’s decision is a mockery, because they have all the right means to make thorough control. The responsible person for this failure is Premier, Edi Rama. If he cares for Albania, he better resigns” concluded Luan Rama.

Accession Talks, Rama accuses opposition for slinging dirt (ADN)

Prime Minister, Edi Rama, has accused on Wednesday the opposition parties for slinging dirt regarding EU’s decision to opening accession talks in 2019.

The Premier said that while European Commission (EC) praised Albania’s achievements until now, the sadists threw mud against the government.

“When the EC was displaying Albania’s progress during recent years, the sadists began undermining the government for an imaginary failure. I hope you will not forget these hideous shows of them against our common purpose” stated PM Rama.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 Russian Ambassador cancels Srebrenica visit amid genocide row (BIRN)

The Russian ambassador to Sarajevo indefinitely postponed a visit to Srebrenica after he was not allowed to visit the memorial centre for victims of the 1995 massacres because Moscow refuses to define them as genocide.

Russian ambassador Petr Ivancov has indefinitely postponed a visit to Srebrenica which was planned for Wednesday because Bosniak politicians said he could not visit the genocide memorial-cemetery complex in Potocari, where massacre victims are buried.

“They said that Ivancov was not welcome in Potocari because he allegedly denied the genocide. After that, the ambassador’s office cancelled the visit to Srebrenica,” said Mladen Grujicic, the Serb mayor of Srebrenica. Grujicic’s Bosniak deputy Nermin Alivukovic said he had initially agreed to meet the Russian ambassador.

“Then another call came in which the ambassador expressed his desire to visit the Potocari Memorial Centre and pay tribute to the victims of genocide. Respecting the decision of the victims of genocide and the decision of the Mothers of Srebrenica Association… not to allow anyone who denies the genocide in Srebrenica to visit the Memorial Centre, I could not accept that request,” Alivukovic told FENA news agency.

“We know very well what Russia’s position on this issue is. It’s the position they put forward at the United Nations, putting a veto on the resolution on genocide in Srebrenica,” he added.

In July 2015, Russia voted down a British-drafted UN Security Council resolution intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the July 1995 massacres of more than 8,000 Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces, saying it was anti-Serb and would cause more divisions in Bosnian society.

In a gesture of gratitude in November 2017, a far-right Bosnian Serb organization called Eastern Alternative unveiled a monument to Vitaly Churkin, the now-deceased Russian ambassador to the UN who vetoed the genocide resolution.

Ramiz Salkic, the Bosniak vice-president of the country’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity, in which Srebrenica is situated, said that Moscow’s ambassador should not be allowed to visit the memorial centre.

“There is no place at the Potocari Memorial Centre for those who are not ready to accept the fact that the genocide against the Bosniaks has been proved and judicially ruled upon,” Salkic told Bosnian media.

“The Russian Federation, with its negative attitude to the UN, clearly stood by those who committed genocide and committed a joint criminal enterprise when it was discussing the Srebrenica genocide,” he added.

But Srebrenica’s mayor described such reactions as unacceptable.

“I call on the Russian ambassador to visit Srebrenica, and I will always be happy to host him in my office and in Srebrenica,” Grujicic said.

Except for a brief statement that the visit had been postponed, the Russian embassy did make any comment on the row.

EU ministers postpone Albania and Macedonia accession decision (Politico)

The door to EU membership for Albania and Macedonia remains closed at least until June 2019, but accession is on offer if the countries make progress on reforms, EU ministers decided Tuesday. During a marathon session of the General Affairs Council, the majority of member countries argued in favor of opening membership talks now but France and Netherlands, with the backing of Denmark, were the main opponents, diplomats said.

The result of all-day discussions was a compromise text where the Council said it agreed to set “out the path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019.”

However, the two countries will have to show progress on making reforms in areas like battling corruption and improving their judicial systems. Those steps will be assessed in a future European Commission report and “depending on progress made” there will be an intergovernmental conference with Albania and Macedonia “by the end of 2019.”

The Commission in April gave its backing to the launch of accession talks and recommended that the Council follow suit, although it too noted some shortfalls in the two countries’ preparations. The prospects of joining the queue to EU membership opened for Macedonia after it resolved a decades-old dispute about its name with Greece, which had blocked the accession process. Opening talks would represent a clear indication that the bloc is ready to renew its expansion to the six western Balkan countries. The language in Tuesday’s declaration allows the pro-EU governments of Macedonia and Albania to tell their citizens that the door to eventual EU membership is open. But for France and the Netherlands, cautious about expanding the EU to new countries, it allows them to say that no final decision has been taken.

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Belgrade Media Report 17 January 2019

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