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Belgrade Media Report 13 December 2018

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 13 December 2018
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic to Tanin: Kosovo army a new provocative measure (RTS)
• Vucic: KFOR’s obligation will be to disband Kosovo army (Tanjug/B92)
• Drecun: Kosovo army can seriously threaten Serbs (RTS)
• Eurochambers against Pristina’s taxes on Serbian goods (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• B&H Presidency adopts joint statement on EU integration; Dodik and Komsic request removal of some ambassadors (TV1/BHT1)
• Ljubic says constituent rights of Croat people in B&H have been violated by imposed changes of Constitution and Election Law of B&H (FTV)
• Inaugural session of RS CoP held in Banja Luka (BHT1)
• Covic gave Izetbegovic clear ultimatum, 1991 census cannot be used for formation of FB&H HoP (Dnevni list)
fYROM
• Defense Minister Kammenos issues a threatening message from the Greek – Macedonian border (Republika)
• Mickoski calls Zaev out to a debate, to discuss the forced name change and the political persecution (Republika)
• Constitutional Court refuses to decide whether the scandalous October 19th vote was legal (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• NATO-led troops on the move in northern Kosovo (AFP)
• FYROM constitutional revisions in line with Prespes accord, says gov’t source (ekathimerini)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic to Tanin: Kosovo army a new provocative measure (RTS)

 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has told UNMIK Head Zahir Tanin that Serbia will do everything to preserve peace and stability, but that the situation will significantly deteriorate when Pristina passes the decision on the formation of the army tomorrow, contrary to international law. Tanin said he shared concern for the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic said Pristina’s intention to form an army of so-called Kosovo represented a new, provocative and unilateral measure, following the introduction of taxes on Serbian goods and causes great concern of Serbia for the future of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic stressed that KFOR is the one, according to the decrees of Resolution 1244, that has the mandate to disarm the illegal armed forces of Kosovo Albanians. He announced consultations with Serbia’s friends in the United Nations Security Council on the actions we could undertake as a reaction to the formation of an army of so-called Kosovo. Tanin stressed that the letter of the UN Secretary-General of April 2014 confirmed that “Resolution 1244 remains the legal framework of the international security presence in Kosovo and Metohija”. Tanin also stated that this is the stand of the current Secretary-General Guterres as well: Resolution 1244 remains the valid framework for the international presence in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as that there is no change of KFOR’s mandate without the consent of the UN Security Council. The UNMIK Head stressed he had assurances from KFOR that it would continue cooperation with the UN Mission within Resolution 1244. He recalled his statement that the introduction of taxes on goods from Serbia proper was a clear violation of the CEFTA agreement and that this measure had to be abolished urgently, reads the statement by the President’s press service. Vucic asked UNMIK Head Tanin to use his influence and warn Pristina that it was increasing tensions and endangering peace and stability in the region with its unilateral and provocative measures. He voiced concern over the increasing number of incidents and reiterated that Serbia was devoted to improving regional cooperation, as well as that it hadn’t violated one single decree of the Brussels agreement, Resolution 1244 or the Military-Technical agreement, as well as the CEFTA.

 

Vucic: KFOR’s obligation will be to disband Kosovo army (Tanjug/B92)

 

“Kosovo and Metohija is to us great torment, especially because of Pristina’s move and the announcement of the formation of an army, which is neither based on law nor on Resolution 1244. KFOR’s obligation is to dissolve that army. But, they will not do that, they will say that everything has changed since (Pristina) declared independence,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Trstenik.  He added that this brings us into a very difficult situation, but I tell all mothers that we will do everything we can to help the people in Kosovo and Metohija and preserve peace. He sent another message, as he said, to the world. “Do not humiliate Serbia and the Serb people, because neither the Serb people nor Serbia will let you,” Vucic said. He said that he would speak more about the topic tomorrow or the day after, as he is waiting to see what would happen in connection with the announced formation of a Kosovo army. “But to be clear. Everything Pristina is doing it is obviously doing with the support of the US. They have no right under any international legal document to form armed formations, to us, that is illegal, and we will inform the public about further steps. Serbia is in a difficult situation, but will try to preserve its face as well as to try to protect its children and not enter into conflicts. I hope that others have enough reason and brains not to think that some kind of a solution by weapons is smart and good,” concluded Vucic.

 

Drecun: Kosovo army can seriously threaten Serbs (RTS)

 

The Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told RTS that the Kosovo army, whose formation has been announced for 14 December, is opening space for the abuse of the civil sector. He says the Albanians are making the so-called army of Kosovo with the support of some NATO members, and that it already exists, it is armed and organized in a military manner. “It will be a formation that can be some factor in this region. It can seriously threaten the Serb people,” says Drecun, adding he expects these units will soon appear in the peacekeeping missions throughout the world. Drecun showed two documents that testify on the crimes committed by the KLA against the Albanians population. The first document is from the OSCE report from 25 February 1999, which shows that two armed persons took nine Albanians, seven of whom went missing, Drecun says, underlining these armed men were later on charged with prostitution. “I wish to convey to the Albanians through these documents to ask Haradinaj and Thaci where are their missing ones,” says Drecun.  According to him, there are less of such cases but it turned out that there are around 400 of such crimes. Drecun also showed a report with the list of people of Albanian nationality who were liquidated, while most of them were civilians. This is unbeatable evidence against Haradinaj, he says. Drecun wonders who submitted and what evidence to the Special Court for the KLA, when some of the key video material was lost, so he had to submit some of the key evidence from his archive. He says that the complete KLA structure has been submitted to this court, and the point is that you need to show documentation in order to process certain crimes.

 

Eurochambers against Pristina’s taxes on Serbian goods (Beta)

 

The Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambres) is opposed to protectionist measures like the taxes imposed by Pristina on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, that body’s top official has told his Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) counterpart. The PKS press release said that Eurochambres President Christoph Leitl told PKS President Marko Cadez that his organization has called European institutions to help find a solution to the problem. “The Eurochambres supports open markets and is against protectionism. We support good trade relations among our partners,” Leitl is quoted as saying. According to Leitl, trade plays an important role in promoting peace, freedom and economic prosperity in the Western Balkans. He added that this is why the European Union has called Kosovo to revoke the high tariffs. “We will continue following this issue carefully,” he said and added that he is convinced that trade relations between Serbia and Kosovo will be normalized soon.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

B&H Presidency adopts joint statement on EU integration; Dodik and Komsic request removal of some ambassadors (TV1/BHT1)

 

B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik chaired on Wednesday the first session of the new convocation of the B&H Presidency. Croat and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency, Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic, agreed to Dodik’s terms and one of the two B&H flags was taken out of the room in the BiH Presidency’s building where sessions take place. According to TV1, in this way Dodik was not discriminated against given that Dodik feels that the two B&H flags represent the state of B&H and one of the entities. There were ten items on the agenda of the Wednesday’s session of the B&H Presidency. Addressing media following the session, Dodik said that the most important thing is that B&H Presidency members adopted a joint statement related to the European integration and the need to speed up the process of the European integration. The B&H Presidency members called on the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) and other institutions to submit answers to follow-up questions from the European Commission’s (EC) Questionnaire by the end of the year. At the request of Dodik and Komsic, B&H Presidency members also discussed the issue of B&H ambassadors. Dodik underlined that the B&H Presidency members agreed to prepare all information about the ambassadors by the next session of the B&H Presidency which will be held in six days. Asked to comment on the process of formation of the B&H CoM, Dodik said candidates for the post of the B&H CoM Chairman should be known next Wednesday, December 19. The B&H Presidency members also asked to be provided with more detailed information about the migrant crisis in B&H, adopting a conclusion that migrants should not be granted asylum in B&H. Addressing media after the session, Dodik stated that, due to rejection of the proposal to include the RS flag into the B&H Presidency’s premises for meetings, the same proposal will be submitted into B&H-level parliamentary procedure. Commenting on the fact that he attended the B&H Presidency’s session although his request for displaying the RS flag was not granted, Dodik explained that he agreed to attend the session if only one B&H flag is displayed only because he found it necessary “to deal with several issues”. Dodik described the Wednesday’s session “as quick and efficient”. Dodik thanked Komsic and Sefik for agreeing on the removal of one of the B&H flags. The B&H Presidency adopted a conclusion on implementation of the Annex G to the agreement on succession issues of former Yugoslavia, along with activities on protecting and restoring B&H property that is located in Croatia. According to the conclusion, Dodik will send a letter to Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic reminding them that the agreement on succession issues of former Yugoslavia as an international agreement, with all of its annexes, must be implemented according to international law. The letter should mention that this legal act is superior to other domestic legislation and, in line with them, it is necessary to restore all property of B&H in Croatia with obligatory registration of real owners into the land register. The B&H Presidency also tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of B&H to send a note to inform the UN Secretary-General about Croatia’s violation of the agreement on succession issues of former Yugoslavia.

 

Ljubic says constituent rights of Croat people in B&H have been violated by imposed changes of Constitution and Election Law of B&H (FTV)

 

At a session that took place in Zagreb on Wednesday, the Croatian parliament discussed the proposal of a declaration on position of the Croat people in B&H. During a fierce discussion, representatives of the ruling coalition and the opposition presented opposite views with regard to the declaration and interference with internal matters of B&H. Representatives of the Croatian parliament’s Commission for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia explained that the declaration is not a response to the general elections in B&H. Chairman of the Commission for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Bozo Ljubic reminded that Croatia is a signatory of two international agreements – the Washington Agreement and the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA), which he says were severely violated through amendments to the entity Constitutions and the B&H Election Law at the expense of Croats. Therefore, Croatia is obliged to monitor the implementation of these agreements and make sure that the position of the constituent peoples returns to the constitutional framework that implies equality, he stressed. MOST MP Bozo Petrov said: “If we do not protect fundamental rights and freedoms of those people in B&H, who can we expect to do that? However, unfortunately, some people in Croatia expect that imposed, illegitimate and unconstitutionally elected Komsic will take over this role.”

Zivi zid MP Ivan Pernar stressed that HDZ Croatia actually wants HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic to be a member of the B&H Presidency. “What has he done for the Croat people so far? What is going on with the Croat people? Is it possible that, while the Croat people are disappearing from B&H, he and his family are building a villa, a hacienda that even drug lords in Colombia would not be ashamed of? Aren’t you ashamed of that? You are ready to displace your own people and destroy them for one more square meter of his villa!” Pernar argued. SDP Croatia MP Nenad Stazic reminded that Covic was elected the Croat member of the B&H Presidency in accordance with the same rules that are claimed to be detrimental to the Croat people. “Why didn’t you propose a declaration back then? You have something against the election of Zeljko Komsic. He is a Croat but he is not a member of HDZ B&H,” Stazic said. At the end of the session, the Croatian Parliament called for intensified relations between the two countries at all levels, as well as more efficient protection of interests of the Croat people in B&H.

 

Inaugural session of RS CoP held in Banja Luka (BHT1)

 

The inaugural session of the RS Council of Peoples (CoP) took place in Banja Luka on Wednesday. On this occasion, the RS CoP elected a four-member RS CoP Collegium. The RS CoP re-elected Nada Tesanovic from rank of Croat people as the speaker and elected Dzevad Mahmutovic from rank of Bosniaks, Vojislav Gligic from rank of Serbs, and Jovana Carkic from rank of ‘Others’ as deputy speakers. The RS CoP consists of 28 delegates, who were previously elected by the RS parliament and they include eight delegates from the rank of each constituent people and four delegates from the rank of ‘Others’. The RS CoP’s role is to protect Vital National Interest (VNI) of constituent peoples. Tesanovic confirmed that election of the RS CoP Collegium, both the speaker and the deputy speakers, was endorsed “with a large number of votes”. Mahmutovic stated: “We will use all mechanisms defined by the constitution and the Rules of Procedure to defend rights of Bosniaks in this area. By defending Bosniaks’ right, we will defend rights to a better life for all peoples in this area.” Reporter noted that SNSD advocates a stance of limiting the RS CoP’s competences, while Bosniak political representatives have an opposing view according to which the RS CoP’s competences related to protecting VNI should even be expanded.

 

Covic gave Izetbegovic clear ultimatum, 1991 census cannot be used for formation of FB&H HoP (Dnevni list)

 

HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic is directing the process of “destruction of formation of authorities in cantons and at the Federation level”. Namely, daily learns from (unnamed) sources in HDZ B&H that Covic ordered his associates in Herzegovina-Neretva and Central-Bosnia cantons to drag the process of formation of new cantonal authorities until the Central Election Commission (CEC) of B&H has passed a decision pertaining to filling of the FB&H House of Peoples (HoP), which will determine the majority at the FB&H level. According to Maric, it is obvious that Covic wants to form authorities in cantons and in the FB&H in the same package.

The daily goes on to say that Covic recently gave Izetbegovic a clear ultimatum at a meeting in Mostar, namely that SDA must support a compromise solution in the CEC, which would rule out the use of 1991 census for filling of the FB&H HoP. In this context daily writes that SDA and HDZ B&H representatives, under watchful eye of Covic and Izetbegovic, are trying to find a solution for the FB&H HoP away from public eye, adding that CEC members are involved in this.

 

Defense Minister Kammenos issues a threatening message from the Greek – Macedonian border (Republika)

 

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos marched to the Greek – Macedonian border near the Lerin – Bitola region and issued a threatening message that “our neighbors need to understand that there is only one Macedonia, and it is Greek”. “Greece wants to live in peace and our neighbors need to understand that it is also in their interest. Greece is friendly toward them, but at the same time they must know that while they provoke and have irredentist claims, the Greek door will be closed. And a closed Greek door for them means a closed European and a closed Western door”, Kammenos added, announcing a continued veto for Macedonia’s entry into NATO and the European Union. Kammenos is involved in a war of words with the Macedonian government, after Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that the Prespa treaty will mean that Macedonians living in northern Greece (Aegean Macedonia) will finally be allowed to have their public education in Macedonian. Zaev issued an apology to Greek media after his statement but later, following a similar verbal fight with Bulgarian Defense Minister Krasimir Karakacanov, insisted that he and his children are and will remain Macedonians and that they speak Macedonian. “The Prespa treaty is dead. It is dead because of Mr. Zaev who, despite all efforts on the Greek side to find a solution to the problem, keeps making statements that deny the very treaty. Unless he has a different, secret deal with Tsipras. That must be said publicly. We don’t know of any such deal,” Kammenos said, further straining relations with his coalition partner, the Alexis Tsipras led SYRIZA party. Kammenos ensured the resignation of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias over the Prespa treaty and accused him of bribing Macedonian politicians and journalists to secure the deal. Now Tsipras holds the Foreign Ministry portfolio, and Kammenos has threatened he will leave the government if Parliament moves ahead to ratify the Zaev – Tsipras treaty. “If the government in Skopje continues with its policy and continues to speak about the existence of a Macedonian national group or a Macedonian language, and even worse, speaks about a Macedonian minority in Greece, this treaty must never be put to vote in the Greek parliament. If, for whatever reason, it is brought before Parliament, I clearly state that the Independent Greeks will leave the government and the ruling majority,” Kammenos said. The Tsipras government is held in power by the votes provided by Kammenos and his Independent Greeks (ANEL) party.

 

Mickoski calls Zaev out to a debate, to discuss the forced name change and the political persecution (Republika)

 

Thousands of VMRO-DPMNE supporters marched through downtown Skopje on Wednesday, to protest in front of the Government building against the renaming of the country and the political persecution of all critical voices in the country. Opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski called out Prime Minister Zaev to a televised debate before the year is up, and offered him to bring the group of blackmailed and bribed former VMRO-DPMNE members of parliament who supported Zaev in the push to rename Macedonia into North Macedonia. – Let’s talk about the shame you have brought on our nation, about all the low things you’ve done. Face to face, let’s let the Macedonian people decide who speaks the truth. Pick the time and the TV station, Mickoski told Zaev. The VMRO-DPMNE leader said that the protests will lead to bringing down the government and to show that, despite all the arrests and intimidation, the Macedonian people are not afraid. At one point, VMRO supporters noticed that a person is filming the event from a window of the government building. This prompted loud protests, and a “greeting” from Mickoski. “Look at them, like spies, recording who is at the protest. Many are afraid to join us because they know they are being recorded, but their hearts are with us here. Instead of ruling with competence and reforms, they want to rule the country with fear, hatred and jealousy. All they bring in our homes is darkness and a national humiliation, they want to kill our dignity and kill what is Macedonian in us”.

 

Constitutional Court refuses to decide whether the scandalous October 19th vote was legal (Republika)

 

The Constitutional Court today refused to move forward a request submitted by the World Macedonian Congress to annul the vote on October 19th which opened the process to amend the Constitution with the aim to rename the Republic of Macedonia into the Republic of North Macedonia. Judges Jovan Josifovski and Elena Goseva insisted that the Court takes the case, saying that they’ve often decided on far less significant matters. One of the issues is the number of members of Parliament needed to open the procedure – following the timed release of three members of Parliament from detention and alleged bribes and threats aimed at five more, the SDSM led majority reached 80 votes in parliament. But the two thirds requirement of the 120 members needed to open the process is believed by many legal experts to be 81, and not just 80 votes. Josifovski named examples when former parliament speakers, including those elected from and by SDSM like Stojan Andov and Tito Petkovski, insisted on 81 and not 80 votes, to meet the two thirds requirement. – The Court must not run away from this issue. We need to determine the way in which parliament can reach a two thirds majority, said judge Josifovski.

Ultimately, judges appointed by SDSM and the ethnic Albanian parties overruled Josifovski and Goseva and refused to move the request further.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

NATO-led troops on the move in northern Kosovo (AFP, 13 December 2018)

 

Kosovo’s NATO-led peacekeepers moved troops through the Serb-dominated north on 13 December, an AFP correspondent reported, amid high tensions with Serbia on the eve of a vote to create a Kosovo army. A spokesman for the international KFOR forces, which guarantees the security of the former Serbian province, confirmed the deployment and told AFP it was part of ‘normal exercises all around Kosovo’. ‘We have a couple of convoys moving around. One of them is going today to the north,’ said KFOR spokesman Vincenzo Grasso, adding that there was no reason for alarm. About 50 KFOR vehicles moved through the city of Mitrovica and headed north in the direction of Leposavic, a mostly Serb municipality, an AFP correspondent said.

The top local official in Leposavic municipality confirmed troops were in the village of Dren on the morning of 13 December. The movement comes as Kosovo lawmakers prepare to vote 14 December to transform a local crisis response force into a full-fledged army. The vote has outraged Belgrade, which refuses to accept the independence Kosovo declared in 2008, a decade after a brutal guerrilla war. KFOR, which has more than 4,000 troops, has been deployed in Kosovo since the end of the 1998-99 war between Serb forces and Kosovo Albanian separatists.

 

FYROM constitutional revisions in line with Prespes accord, says gov’t source (ekathimerini, 13 December 2018)

 

The final drafts of the constitutional revisions that the Parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will have to ratify are in compliance with the Prespes accord, Greek government sources said late Wednesday, according to state-run news agency ANA-MPA.

The changes in FYROM’s constitution are part of the requirements included in the deal signed with Greece last June to end a prolonged name dispute between the two countries. According to the source, the main point of contention, paragraph 3 of article 49 which referred to “Macedonian people who live in neighboring countries” was changed to “diaspora,” similarly to the references that exist in the Greek constitution (article 108). “Therefore, it corresponds to the letter and spirit of the Prespes agreement, whose ratification process is continuing,” the source said. The same source said Zaev’s occasional “unfortunate statements” were likely made to placate his domestic audience and achieve the necessary majority to support the accord. However, it added, his commitment to the Prespes Agreement remains unchanged. The final draft of the four constitutional amendments were submitted to Parliament on Wednesday to Parliament for ratification. The vote is expected in mid-January 2019.

 

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