Pristina, Tirana sabotage peaceful resolution of problem with trade taxes (Tanjug)
Despite numerous tensions in the relations with Pristina, representatives of the Serbian government attended today’s regular meeting of the CEFTA Joint Committee in Pristina in order to send once more a message of peace and tolerance, and show good will to constructively try to negotiate and solve the issue of imposed tariffs by the Provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina, in accordance with the mechanisms and procedures of CEFTA. Although the meeting can be chaired exclusively by UNMIK as the CEFTA agreement chairman for the year 2018, which is in accordance with international treaties and UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Serbia accepted the meeting to be jointly opened by UNMIK and the Provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina, proving once again its good will to settle this matter peacefully through dialogue. The representative of Serbia reiterated at the beginning of the meeting that we expect Pristina to withdraw immediately the radical, illegal and discriminatory measures of 6 and 21 November, which constitute a direct breach of the CEFTA and the Stabilization and Association Agreement. Immediately after the statement of the representative of the Serbian government, the representatives of the Provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina left the meeting, and UNMIK continued chairing it. Subsequently, the delegation of Albania also left the meeting, leading to a lack of quorum for its continuation. By leaving the meeting, both delegations openly sabotaged the efforts to settle the problem amicably. UNMIK Head Zahir Tanin expressed his concerns regarding the tariffs imposed on Serbian and Bosnian goods, and stated that such actions represent a clear violation of the CEFTA and should be withdrawn. He called on the leaders of all sides to show greater restraint and avoid further provocation that could jeopardize prospects for the normalization of relations or potentially escalate tensions. Once again, the Republic of Serbia acted constructively and tried to solve this problem peacefully, through dialogue and negotiations. However, the other party has obstructed the process. Immediately after the meeting, the representatives of the Republic of Serbia left Pristina, escorted by UNMIK and KFOR towards Central Serbia, due to high security risks.
Dacic: Destabilizing measures of Pristina deserve condemnation from OSCE (Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated on Thursday that Serbia remains committed to good-neighborly relations and the progress of the region and that it is ready to share its experiences which it obtained during its OSCE Chairmanship in 2015. Speaking at the 25th OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan, Dacic underlined that Serbia is committed to EU integration and that it acts as a credible partner in achieving stability and security in the region. We are committed to dialogue with Pristina that is conducted with EU mediation, and to implementing the provisions of the Brussels Agreement that was signed in April 2013, he said. We believe however that in order to continue the dialogue, the decision of Pristina to introduce a 100 per cent tax on goods from central Serbia must be abolished immediately. We condemn this move in the harshest terms, as well as the recent public burning of Serbian products in Kosovo and Metohija, which is an unprecedented act, Dacic stated. “We strongly condemn this decision, as well as the recent public torching of Serbian goods in Kosovo and Metohija, which is an unprecedented act. The intimidation of the Serb population by special Kosovo police units, together with the ‘trade war’ launched by Pristina, pose an obvious attack on the Serb population, which deserves the condemnation of all participant states,” Dacic said. Dacic told the gathering that he had received firm guarantees from Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati that during its chairmanship over the OSCE in 2020 Albania would honor the Organization’s basic principles after Serbia voiced concerns that Tirana might promote Kosovo’s independence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Dacic further voiced his concern over the tensions between Ukraine and Russia and pointed to the Prespa Agreement, which Serbia fully supported, as an example of a solution to a frozen conflict lasting years. As for the decision to have Albania chair the OSCE in 2020 Dacic said that it was known that Belgrade’s and Tirana’s positions on Kosovo were opposite and that Serbia had voiced its concern that Albania might use the position to promote Kosovo’s independence and the inclusion of its representatives in informal segments of the OSCE’s activities.
Madagascar withdraws recognition of Kosovo (Tanjug)
The Republic of Madagascar has informed the Serbian Foreign Ministry that it had withdrawn the decision to recognize the independence of Kosovo. “We have received a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Madagascar in which it informs us that, on 5 December, the Republic of Madagascar made a decision to withdraw the recognition of Kosovo,” Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Tanjug. Dacic pointed out that Madagascar is the 12th country to withdraw recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo.
“Commander Remi”, first passenger for the Special Court in The Hague (RTS)
Rustem Mustafa, known also after the war nickname “Commander Remi”, will be the first of the KLA commander who will find himself before the Special court for war crimes in The Hague. He is one of the most influential commanders of the former KLA, because, among other things, he was the member of the first armed group out of which the KLA was formed later on, along with Adem Yashari, Sulejman Selimi, Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi, Sabit Geci and Rahman Ramu. It is still unknown over which crimes will Mustafa find himself before the Special Court, but his lawyer Arian Goci confirmed that “Commander Remi” will head for talks in the court on 14 January.
Miscevic: Nearly 55 percent of foreign policy aligned with EU (Tanjug)
Serbia has aligned nearly 55 percent of its foreign and security policy with the EU, the Head of the Serbian negotiating team with the EU Tanja Miscevic said. “Both under the Stabilization and Association Agreement and under the EU acquis or principles, our obligation is to achieve full alignment by the time of becoming a member state, which, believe me, we understand clearly,” Miscevic said at a conference on Chapter 31 in the EU accession talks.
Inaugural session of B&H HoR takes place (N1)
An inaugural session of the House of Representatives (HoR) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) was held in Sarajevo on Thursday. The elected representatives in the B&H HoR from SDP B&H and PDP refused to receive certificates for their mandates from the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H. SDP B&H’s Sasa Magazinovic explained that the party sees the B&H CEC as the biggest culprit for “brutal election theft”, especially because the B&H CEC refused to recount ballots. He announced that a criminal report will be filed against the B&H CEC.
According to PDP leader Branislav Borenovic, the party filed several complaints regarding the election process but none of them was accepted by the B&H CEC. HDZ B&H’s Barisa Colak refused to accept his mandate, so his party colleague Darjana Katic replaced him. Newly-elected representatives were sworn in at the inaugural session, but SNSD representatives left the parliamentary hall during the intonation of B&H’s national anthem. The B&H HoR leadership was then elected, i.e. HDZ B&H’s Borjana Kristo was elected the B&H HoR speaker and SDA’s Denis Zvizdic and SNSD’s Nebojsa Radmanovic were elected the B&H HoR deputy speakers. Commenting on formation of authorities at the press conference after the election, the three officials said it is still uncertain if HDZ B&H, SDA and SNSD will be foundation of the state-level authorities and that future agreements of political parties will be crucial for new coalitions. However, Radmanovic said that the election of the B&H HoR’s leadership is the announcement of a new majority that will form a new B&H Council of Ministers (CoM).
SDP, PDP slam SDA for supporting election of SNSD delegates in B&H HoP (EuroBlic)
The daily noted that representatives of SDA expect parties that will form authorities at the level of B&H to be partners at the Republika Srpska (RS) level as well. Namely, SDA participated in consultations on formation of the new RS government and some speculated that SDA might get one ministry, while SNSD would then be able to count on support of SDA representative Adil Osmanovic in B&H House of Representatives (HoR), who would act as the 10th vote from the RS. Sources from SDA told the daily that SDA got positions of deputy apeakers in the RS parliament and RS Council of Peoples (CoP) and, should an agreement of SNSD, HDZ B&H and SDA be reached at the level of B&H, then SDA expects to be a part of the coalition in the RS as well. Sources from SDA also said that, in that case, SDA might even give a guarantee that Bosniaks in the RS CoP will not launch protection of vital national interest to almost every law passed by the RSNA and that talks on changes to the RS Constitution might be launched. The daily reminded that four delegates from SNSD were elected in B&H House of Peoples (HoP) thanks to votes of SDA representatives. SDP assessed that, by this move, SDA delivered B&H Parliament to SNSD and stopped NATO integration. Both PDP leader Branislav Borenovic and SDP’s Damir Masic criticized that fact PDP’s Mladen Ivanic was not elected a delegate of B&H HoP thanks to votes of SDA.
RS parliament elects four delegates in B&H HoP from SNSD with help of SDA (TV1)
The RS parliament elected five delegates for the B&H House of People (B&H HoP) at the special session on Wednesday. For the first time, four out of five delegates come from one party: SNSD. Those are Nikola Spiric, Lazar Prodanovic, Dusanka Majkic and Sredoje Novic. The fifth one comes from SDS: Mladen Bosic. This means that SNSD has the possibility to block the B&H level of authorities completely. The SNSD delegates were elected with the help of SDA MPs who voted for them as well. Facing criticism, both parties stated this is reflection of democracy.
Deadline for formation of authorities in Federation of B&H HoP expires; B&H CEC still has not published decision on population census (FTV)
The legal deadline for formation of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina House of Peoples (HoP) expired on Thursday, while the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) is yet to adopt a decision on the manner of distribution of mandates in the Federation of B&H HoP. The B&H CEC might adopt the decision next week. Meanwhile, all political entities are waiting to find out if the CEC will define the need to use the census of population in B&H from 1991 or 2013 in formation of the Federation of B&H HoP, in order to finalize their agreements on coalitions. Namely, the issue as to which census should be used has caused opposing views in the B&H CEC. B&H CEC members Suad Arnautovic and Ahmet Santic expressed support to use of the 1991 census, while Stjepan Mikic, Novak Bozickovic, and Irena Hadziabdic support using of the 2013 census. B&H CEC Chairman Branko Petric has still not decided on this matter.
Former HRs send letter to Mogherini regarding Croatia’s interfering with political processes in B&H (BHT1)
Former High Representatives Christian Schwarz-Schilling, Paddy Ashdown and Carl Bildt sent on Thursday an open letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs due to Croatia’s interference with political processes in B&H. They referred to the example of the recent attempt to deny the legitimacy of Zeljko Komsic’s election as a member of the B&H Presidency. “The 2016 Constitutional Court ruling concerning the B&H Election Law (‘Ljubic’ case) applies to the Federation of B&H House of People and not to the election of the B&H Presidency. The misinformed narrative about the ‘Ljubic’ case is being used as an argument against the legitimately elected Croat member of the B&H presidency Zeljko Komsic. HDZ representatives from Croatia, together with HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, claim that the election of Komsic was illegitimate and unconstitutional. Yet neither the B&H Constitution nor the B&H Election Law state that Presidency members must be elected by members of their ‘own group’” reads the letter. Former High Representative Christian Schwarz-Schilling commented a letter, and told that the official Croatian policy is getting more and more involved in the internal issues of B&H, adding that their final goal is not for B&H to become an EU member, but to create a Greater Croatia, which will lead to the Greater Serbia as well. “Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is not happy to see Croatia interfering in B&H. He would, most likely, have nothing against getting the Greater Serbia served on a plate, but he is not working on that. You cannot find his statement that points out to such direction. I am certain that Dodik wants that, but I also believe that Vucic finds his politics and tactics are reckless,” he said. Schwarz-Schilling went on to say that the Croatian tactics, as well as the one of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic, is good but shortsighted… In the field, both official Zagreb and HDZ B&H are doing everything they can to complete preparations for formation of the third entity and declaring Mostar its capital. Schwarz-Schilling said he is surprised by the passivity of Bosniak politicians, as they seem not interested in the fate of their country. “They should get their heads out of sand, stop with politicking and face real threat of dissolution of the country,” he concluded.
Croatian Parliament Committee on Croats outside Republic of Croatia adopts Proposal of Declaration on Position of Croats in B&H (HRT1)
The Croatian Parliament Committee on Croats outside the Republic of Croatia adopted the proposal of the Declaration on the Position of the Croat People in B&H. There will be discussion and voting on the declaration next week, after the Caucuses of the Croatian Parliament discuss it. In case any of them proposes amendments, they will be discussed afterwards. Speaker of the Committee Bozo Ljubic said that he hopes this declaration will be adopted in the Croatian parliament with maximal consensus. He believes that Croatia is finally aware that the position of Croats in B&H, namely the preservation of political subjectivity of Croats in B&H is a primary strategic, state and national interest of Croatia. Member of the Committee Domagoj Hajdukovic said that there are some disputable formulations and things that can be changed, but he believes the Caucuses will discuss this. Deputy speaker of the Croatian parliament Milijan Brkic stated that they should not even adopt such Declaration “without passion, without emotions and without content”. He requested inclusion of the parts of the Declaration that have been removed from the document, underlining that they should not fear the truth or the attempted accusations of their interference in the internal affairs of B&H. “Elections in B&H were not a festival of democracy to Croats, but a festival of discrimination,” said Brkic.
Constitutional Court initiated the proceedings against Medojevic (Dan)
Constitutional Court of Montenegro is working on the constitutional complaint lodged by Nebojsa Medojevic. The data required for conducting the procedure are being collected. Attorneys Dusan Radosavljevic and Miroje Jovanovic submitted to the Constitutional Court request for urgent proceedings on the basis of proposals for temporary measure for Medojevic and Milan Knezevic, as well as the proposal for urgent proceeding upon constitutional complaint. Attorneys think that the Constitutional Court is obliged to act urgently in this case, considering that Medojevic has been on hunger strike for days and Knezevic is locked in the Parliament. The complaint was lodged against the decision of the Court by means of which Medojevic was punished with two months prison sentence because, as they say, he refused to testify to his claims made in May last year, that the Chief Special Prosecutor Milivoje Katnic took part in war crime at the territory of Cavtat during 1991 and 1992. Medojevic was punished with another two months of prison because he refused to testify to his claims that former Mayor, Miomir Mugosa bribed Katnic in “Carine” case.
Montenegro at NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels (TMN)
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Srdjan Darmanovic participated in a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. On the first day, the NATO foreign ministers adopted the Joint Statement on violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. They also discussed the most important issues related to Euro-Atlantic security, including the relations with Russia, the safety of the Alliance’s southern borders and the implementation of the Framework for the South, as well as the strategic stability and the response to security challenges. A special session was held with the foreign ministers of Georgia and Ukraine to discuss the security situation in the region, as well as possible forms of support and cooperation of the Alliance in the reform processes and strengthening of defence capacities. On the second day of the meeting, a session on the Western Balkans was held in the light of recent developments in the region, as well as a discussion on the Euro-Atlantic perspective in line with the conclusions of the July NATO Summit. Minister Darmanovic emphasized the importance that Montenegro, as a Mediterranean state and ally, attaches to the stability of the southern partners and opposes the challenges from the south. Regarding the open-door policy, he stressed Montenegro’s full support for the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans and the conclusions of the July NATO Summit on Macedonia’s accession to NATO. He also highlighted the importance of today’s decision on the readiness of the Alliance to accept the Annual National Program (ANP) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). In this context, he informed about the support of Montenegro to Macedonia and B&H, as well as an openness towards other countries that show readiness. Minister Darmanovic reiterated the importance of NATO’s visibility and presence in the region and the same understanding of the Allies on the security of the Western Balkans, as well as the importance of maintaining the open-door policy on the Alliance’s agenda. Minister Darmanovic stressed that Montenegro would continue engaging in Afghanistan.
No doubts about the rule of law – Macedonia NATO member in February 2020 (Nezavisen vesnik)
No doubts about the rule of law – Macedonia NATO member in February 2020 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Western Balkans meeting together with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini welcomed the work currently underway in Macedonia to implement the Prespa agreement, noting that it does not expect a new thirty-member state. The assessments the Alliance is that Macedonia will become a member by February 2020, and the efforts made to reach that and finalize the name agreement are already becoming an example to other Western Balkan countries as how to resolve disputes. “At the end of the accession negotiations your MFA will have to send a letter confirming that the country wants to join the alliance and become a member. But it will be the only one that needs to send us two signatures – for the Prespa Agreement and for reception,” a senior alliance representative told reporters. He also reiterated what NATO diplomats were saying these days from a ministerial meeting in Brussels – that member states have confidence in institutions investigating the responsibility of former officials in Macedonia, despite Nikola Gruevski‘s escape from the country. “We have no reason to doubt the rule of law and that every suspected or accused will get a fair treatment,” said the high representative of NATO, without mentioning Gruevski. According to him, the reforms with the rule of law in Macedonia go well and accountability in the judiciary is needed in order to restore people’s trust in the justice system. Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, after meeting with NATO foreign ministers, said he was very encouraged by Macedonia’s support, announcing that in February 2020 the country should become a member of the alliance. “For us this is an unfinished thing. We have aspired to join NATO since 1993 and we should have joined in 2008. Ten years have gone by and we finally removed the name issue obstacle. This is important for Macedonia, for the region and for the Alliance,” said FM Dimitrov after Wednesday’s meetings at the NATO headquarters. According to him, no member state representative has expressed a dilemma or remark about what is being done in the country and how the conditions are met, and the message was only that they did not wait as the 30th member. “The message I have received from a number of capitals in recent weeks is one of trust in the rule of law in Macedonia. The Minister of Lithuania told me that we have been waiting for a long time, and that our membership has been worked out and earned. That we meet the criteria and there is no mistrust in the rule of law in the country,” Dimitrov said in the context of the dilemma as Gruevski’s escape and the new developments around the UBK are being received here in Brussels. While NATO’s limelight was on Macedonia, another positive news came from the region. Alliance representatives announced that Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) will submit its first Membership Action Plan, which means it makes the first step towards seeking admission to the alliance. How long is the road to the end yet shows the fact that Macedonia has submitted such plans for 18 years and when it is accepted into NATO, the country will have to submit yet another so-called programme for continuing reforms. As for Serbia, NATO has assessed that it is becoming a valuable partner, and that they do not intend to pressure the country to become a member, but that they have a problem with the way in which the Alliance perceives, and the misinformation spread over the way it acts and the policies it represents. NATO is also blocked from the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina because they do not participate in it, and at the same time they said they did not have an official position on territorial exchanges and border crossings as a way to resolve Serbia’s dispute with Kosovo. As the NATO allies can solve this issue themselves, however, the general attitude of the alliance is that redrawing borders along ethnic lines does not contribute to peace and stability, that it is actually impossible to do because there will always be an ethnic group inside, and because it can only be part of solving the problem – and not the most important one. “There is no silver bullet to solve the problem,” said a senior NATO official, pointing out that economic problems and displacement are the real problem in the region, and while addressing ethnic borders, the real problems are not addressed. This must stop, he said, adding that there was no such magical border. He condemned the introduction of import taxes by Kosovo as a retaliation against Serbia. The main focus of the NATO ministers was, however, the decision by the United States to give Russia an ultimatum to retire from a breach of a medium-range missile agreement, threatening that after that deadline the United States would withdraw from it. “We do not want a new cold war, we do not want a new arms race, the United States fully adheres to the agreement, but the situation is untenable for the United States to honor the agreement, and Russia does not,” Secretary-General Stoltenberg shifted the responsibility for whether or not there would be an agreement with Moscow. In NATO, when it comes to Russia, they are no longer using diplomatic gloves, so in the context of our region they said that wherever they could cause trouble, Moscow would take advantage of it.
Parliamentary boycott, opposition MPs risk mandates (ADN)
All the MPs of the opposition parties in parliament risk their mandates as member of parliament by refusing to be part of the parliamentary sessions. Democrats and MPs of the Integration (SMI) based on the Albanian constitution risk to lose their mandates. The Constitution sanctions predicts that MPs mandate ends when they will not be part for more than 6 consecutive months in the parliament. The last presence of the opposition in the parliament was on July 19. It means that if the opposition does not show in the parliament till January 19, their mandates can be substitute with the other on the electoral list. The most vulnerable is the mandate of Democrat Edi Paloka, who last participated in the Parliament on July 5. The final plenary session is scheduled to take place on December 20th, the date on which the opposition can return to the parliament to say its word for vetting in politics in order to avoid any collision that could escalate due to possible burned mandates.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
EU’s Failure to Make Kosovo Respect Duties Questions Bloc’s Reputation – Lavrov (Sputnik, 7 December 2018)
MOSCOW – The European Union’s failure to make the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo respect its EU-brokered obligations to Belgrade and Pristina’s ongoing provocations question the bloc’s reputation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Sintakton in an interview. “Kosovo remains the main hotbed of instability [in the Balkans]. Pristina not only openly sabotages the implementation of the agreements reached through the European Union’s mediation in dialogue with Belgrade but also takes new provocative steps… The reputation of the European Union, its ability to force Kosovars to fulfil their obligations, are being questioned,” Lavrov said. The Russian top diplomat noted that Pristina had been doing nothing over the past five years to establish the Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo, whose creation is envisaged by the 2013 Brussels agreement between Serbia and the breakaway republic. Moreover, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj initiated the formation of a national army in the self-proclaimed republic in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and even Kosovo’s constitution, Lavrov added. The foreign minister also recalled that the self-proclaimed republic had introduced in late November 100 percent tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which constituted a violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA). According to Lavrov, these measures are aimed at making it impossible for Kosovo Serbs to live in the self-proclaimed republic. The foreign minister believes that the situation in the Balkans, in general, was worrying because NATO and the European Union had been boosting their efforts aimed at spreading the blocs’ influence in the region and pressurising the Balkan countries into choosing between Moscow on the one side, and Brussels and Washington on the other. “Such actions lead to further destabilisation of the security architecture in Europe, escalate tensions,” the top diplomat warned.