Vucic: We need to reach compromise (Espreso/Tanjug/B92)
“It is true that in Kosovo and Metohija not everything is Albanian, and not everything is Serbian, and the truth is that we have to reach a compromise,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview for the espreso.rs website. He is convinced that those who do not understand that will lead Serbia into the greatest tragedy from which we will exit defeated, more defeated than ever. “If people do not understand it, and I see that they don’t, I also have no problem with that. But, to lead a policy in the future that will bring Serbia into the worst tragedies, I will not,” Vucic said, and added: “I will raise Serbia’s national pride and national dignity, to get more than we had before.” “Much more than we had during the time of those who lost everything. To protect our people in Kosovo and Metohija, but also in all other places. For the Serbs to stand up and feel that they are on their own and have the protection of their Serbia. To lead Serbia into wars and conflicts that we cannot come out of as winners, I will not,” said Vucic. Asked if he could more specifically explain the term delineation of Kosovo – he replied that he never said it in that way, but instead spoke about establishing a border between us and Albanians. When the journalist remarked that if we establish a border, that means that we have recognized them, the President said: “Wait, wait, my question for you is: do you think we can do this for another hundred years? Do you want to solve the problem or not? You want to leave it to your and our children, do you want them to go to the trenches tomorrow? I would not like my child to go in the trenches. I want my child, one, and the other, and the third, to think about the future they will have, both the one who is of army age at 21, and the little one who’s a year and a half. What is it that Serbia has in Kosovo, considering that I heard stories that I am the worst and greatest traitor, and from the people during whose time (in power) Kosovo gained independence.” He recalled that Kosovo declared independence in 2008. “What did it look like? One went to Romania, the other held a protest here, which ended with a general media agony around sneakers for Kosovo, to remind you. Wasn’t it like that?,” Vucic asked. He continued to say that in 2009, the Serbs were expelled from the UN and introduced into Europe and European negotiations, in 2010 the most catastrophic decision was made – to send a letter to the International Court of Justice and ask whether the declaration of Kosovo’s independence was legal, and we received the answer that it was not illegal. “If the Albanians were smart and stuck just to that at the Security Council, instead of to what I waited for them, and caught them, and beat them easily – the Ahtisaari plan and everything else – it would have been much more difficult for us,” Vucic said. “I still keep a fraction of the reply and I will not tell it to you now, so that I can tell it to the Albanians on the international scene when they bring it up next time, but our replies are the weakest there, thanks to the responsibility of those who now want to lecture somebody,” he said. According to Vucic, the strategic issue about Kosovo, and that everyone agrees about it, is to have peace, and there is no other solution than an agreement. When asked what kind of agreement he had in mind, the president replied: “Any kind of agreement that will be accepted by Serbs and Albanians, brings peace. There is no peace otherwise, understand that. Understand me, people, and everyone behave responsibly and realize that this is the only possible thing.” If you do not have an agreement, Albanians will get even more nervous, warned Vucic. “They thought they finished it all in 2008. And then some Vucic miraculously managed to bring Serbia back into the game in 2013, and that’s why they are nervous. That’s why they want to finish it all now. I ask you, what will we do?,” said Vucic. He went on to say that he is not afraid of the Albanian army, or anyone. Asked whether it hurts him to say that he is being kept in power by the West until he signs the surrender of Kosovo, and will afterwards be discarded, the president replied: “My West keeps me (in power)? I also heard that Russia hates me, so I met Putin more times than all the presidents and prime ministers of Serbia before me put together. Is that a fact or not?” Asked what decision will be made in case the EU pressures us to distance ourselves from Russia, he said that we will not distance ourselves from Russia. “Who knows how things are changing in the world, who knows what will happen by May or June next year, let alone in the next six or seven years. Serbia has good relations with Russia and will not be spoiling them. Serbia is on the European road and I don’t hide it anywhere, including in Moscow. And you telling me – you ruin your relations with Russia? And why would we? You’re building Nord (north) Stream, and we can’t build South Stream? Why?,” asked Vucic. “It’s because they are big and we are small,” the Serbian President explained, adding that he will not accept this type of argument: “I can’t be talked to like that, not in Brussels, not in Berlin, not anywhere else.”
Vucic says he has no intention of interfering with work of the RS and B&H institutions. He emphasized that he would not interfere or comment the work of RS institutions in regards to the situation in Banja Luka and the Dragicevic case. Vucic believes that maintaining good relations with B&H and with the RS is imperative and special relations must be maintained between Serbia and the RS. He admits he did not always see eye-to-eye with Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, but since he became the President of Serbia, their relationship greatly improved. “As an unwritten rule, we agreed never again to go against each other”, underlined Vucic. He asked all people to respect that as a strategic choice and something that will not change no matter the obstacles that appear in the future. Vucic said that he is convinced that Dodik will find a solution for David’s family that is inconsolable over their loss. Vucic expressed confidence that David’s family will find their peace in the future and find out what happened to their child, because it is very difficult to tell someone who lost a child that it is impossible to discover how the child died.
Drecun: Albania looking to annex our territory (RTS/Tanjug/B92)
Milovan Drecun says the erasing of the border between Albania and Kosovo is one of the steps leading to Albania’s annexation of a part of Serbia’s territory. The chairman of the Serbian parliamentary Committee on Kosovo and Metohija added that this would place a part of the international community that supports Serbia before a fait accompli. Drecun told RTS that Albania is doing everything to complete the violent annexation of Kosovo. “When you look at everything that has happened over the past several decades related to the Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija) problem, it is quite clear that Albania, due to its territorial pretensions towards a part of our territory, created the terrorist KLA in its territory, provoked a war in Kosovo and Metohija, and secretly took managed it. In that way, the KLA was in fact the striking wing of the Republic of Albania, for the sake of forcibly adding a part of our territory to Albania,” Drecun said. As he said, the intention of the Albanians both in Kosovo and Metohija and in Albania is to erase the border between Serbia and Albania in Kosovo and Metohija in March, without formally abolishing it, and that unification of Kosovo and Albania will be an attempt by Albania to violently annex a part of our territory. “They will put that part of the international community that opposes unilateral violent moves that undermine international order, which, such as it is, exists based on the UN Charter, before a fait accompli. That Charter should guarantee to countries like Serbia the implementation of resolutions like UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” Drecun said. Nevertheless, he believes, the other part of the international community – the leading Western countries – support the concept of a Greater Albania, which is a major problem because they paralyze the UN, unable to take effective measures to prevent such behavior by Albania. “That part of the international community will not be placed before a fait accompli because it is obvious that Albania has the green light of the leading Western states to carry out an annexation of a part of our territory,” Drecun said. As for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, the parliamentarian said that Russia and the United States are talking about it, and that these countries want to be directly or indirectly involved in the process. “It’s possible to expect reaching of an agreement, regardless of the fact that the EU has elections ahead of it, because behind this attempt to resolve the problem with a compromise stands the US, and they will certainly not allow themselves the luxury of President Trump’s initiative passing without any results. If talks don’t take place and if there is no compromise solution, then we will unfortunately have the accelerated creation of a Greater Albania,” Drecun said.
Vulin: Do we need this kind of EU (Beta)
Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin says that he has repeatedly suggested to President Vucic that Serbia should redefine its policy towards the EU. According to Vulin, Serbia should do that because of the double standards that the EU applies to Serbia, and because the organization is not reacting to the creation of Greater Albania. “I am asking to consider whether we need this kind of EU, whether we need this kind of policy, or if we should change our political position towards the EU,” Vulin said after the opening of the renovated helipad at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, adding that it depends on Vucic. If, he continued, the EU is unwilling to stop the creation of Greater Albania, we need to change our position towards it. When Pristina introduce taxes of 100 percent, the EU says that Albanians will reduce them a little to continue the dialogue with Belgrade, and put us into the same basket. Vulin said that because of such attitude, he has repeatedly suggested to Vucic that Serbia should change its policy towards the EU, and that so far, he did not have Vucic’s support, but it’s up to me to ask. He also said that the creation of Greater Albania is an evil that leads to conflict, not only with the Serbs but also with others in the Balkans. “And the EU is silent, I urge it to speak,” Vulin said.
Chepurin: Putin’s word is like a fortress (Tanjug)
Russia remains a reliable partner of Serbia, Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin says ahead of Vladimir Putin’s visit to Serbia. Putin’s word stands like a fortress, he said, rephrasing the words of famous film director Emir Kusturica. Vucic’s upcoming meeting with Putin – his third in just nine months – will reaffirm the mutual trust and understanding, as well as provide an opportunity to point to a need for the two countries to protect their national interests in line with their own needs – not by serving Western interests, Chepurin told Tanjug in an interview. Kosovo will be high on the agenda of the two leaders, he said. “There is a plan to sign a significant number of documents with the aim of furthering the Russian-Serbian partnership in several priority directions for the 21st century,” Chepurin announced. He said bilateral relations would develop in all areas, including in political contacts, the economy, defense and security and culture. Asked how he views the hints that the talks between Belgrade and Pristina would continue with the involvement of great powers, including Russia, he said Moscow has been taking part in resolving the Kosovo issue from the very start – at the UN Security Council sessions. The UN Security Council, which reviews the UN secretary-general’s reports on the situation in the province every three months, is an important platform for considering this problem, Chepurin said. “We consider counterproductive and unacceptable the moves of Pristina’s sponsors who undermine the regular schedule and format of these sessions, which has already led to a significant weakening of international control over the situation in Kosovo, and its dangerous straining,” Chepurin said. He said that Russia will continue to staunchly support Belgrade in protecting its national interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which aims to achieve a political solution through negotiations. Asked if he thinks the solution to the Kosovo problem is at hand, as US President Trump believes – or is in fact far off, as Serbian President Vucic says – Chepurin replied that he is convinced that such a solution is still far away. He pointed out that, regardless of the appeals of the Serbian leadership to find a compromise, the attempts to impose the recognition of the so-called “Republic of Kosovo” on Belgrade have not stopped. “As for Russia, we will continue to support Serbia in seeking a political solution. Russia is ready to support an option that will be acceptable to Serbia and the Serbian people,” said Chepurin.
When it comes to taxes on goods from Serbia proper imposed by Pristina a month ago, the Russian Ambassador said that Moscow still hopes that common sense will ultimately prevail, and that Pristina and its sponsors will at least return to the previous state of affairs. “The feeling that everything is allowed, the shift in tendencies in international relations in favor of Belgrade, the debacle in international organizations, more and more countries withdrawing their decision to recognize Kosovo – all these are the reasons for the retaliatory moves of Pristina,” the diplomat warned. “Because, for every poison, an antidote is found sooner or later. And that’s why it’s better for Pristina to have dialogue with Belgrade,” said Chepurin. As for the news that Lithuania is once again blocking the process of Serbia’s EU accession due to Serbia’s foreign policy towards Russia, Chepurin believes that the role of marginal factors in the process of European integration should not be overestimated. He added that Moscow has always openly warned that there are no reasons for anti-Russian sanctions and that they are causing great damage to cooperation on the continent. “The EU has painted itself into a corner. The attempts to involve Serbia as well are absurd. The more European countries are able to lead an independent policy, the more visible an exit will be from this situation,” said Chepurin. The Russian Ambassador noted that the EU, although preserving certain attractiveness, is no longer “the cream of the crop” and is now facing multiple crises – which Russia is not in the least happy about. Asked if he expects EU’s pressure on Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia to continue, regardless of how far or near Serbia’s membership in the organization may be, the Ambassador said it was difficult to predict how this would be aligned with the dynamics of Serbia moving towards EU membership. “The deadlines for EU’s possible enlargement are not clear and they are always moving. Of course, it is important to pay attention to what Serbia would gain, and what it would lose,” Chepurin concluded.
D’Addario: We are not obliged to disarm Kosovo security forces (Tanjug/RTS)
KFOR Commander Lorenzo D’Addario has stated that for now, there is no indication that something similar to 2004 event could be repeated. Asked how he can convince Serbia that violence seen on that spring will not be repeated, D’Addario, who recently took command of KFOR, said that many things have changed since 2004 and that the general situation has improved significantly. “KFOR constantly monitors the situation and maintains good relations and ties with all local institutions, and, for now, there are no reasons or indications that something similar to the 2004 could be repeated. I noticed that all parties gave a strong determination to avoid conflicts: we all have too much to lose if we return to it. Nobody wants it. However, we all have to refrain from provocative statements, because they could cause wrong perceptions and lead to misunderstandings, and therefore to the challenge and incidents,” D’Addario said. He has also stated that the political decision on the adoption of three laws that would enable the formation of the Kosovo Army did not affect security and that they have not intervened. “If necessary, KFOR is ready and under obligation to intervene against any threats to stability in Kosovo,” D’Addario said, and also reminded that, in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244, there is no obligation for KFOR to react to the adoption of the law. “The transition of Kosovo Security Forces is a long-term plan, and nothing has changed in two weeks,” D’Adario said, adding that “in any case, KFOR will act to prevent or block any action that could endanger security and security”. Speaking about the situation in Kosovo in the past month, he said that this period was turbulent at the political level, but that the situation in the field was under control. “There were some protests, but all were held in a responsible and mature manner, and there wasn’t any violence. KFOR was mostly busy with the upholding its presence, reminding in that way that we are fully committed to meeting our mandate and protecting all the people in Kosovo,” D’Addario stated. Noting that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and former KFOR Commander Salvatore Cuoci recently spoke about the possibility of changing KFOR’s mandate in the event of the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces, and the question of whether, in his opinion, the mandate will change and how, D’Addario said that “NATO Allies will continue consultations on this issue, and that the Secretary General will continue to contact all relevant actors”. “With the change of the Kosovo security forces mandate, NATO will have to reconsider our level of cooperation with them. For now, KFOR continues to work under the UN mandate and the Transitional Laws of KSF will not affect us,” D’Addario concluded.
Davor Dragicevic still missing; Stanivukovic questioned at District Public Prosecutors Office in Banja Luka (FTV/BNTV/N1)
The RS Police are still searching for Davor Dragicevic, a father of late David Dragicevic who is accused of threatening two civilians on December 27 and 30 during his public speeches in Banja Luka. FTV reports that according to the media in the RS, Dragicevic offered to surrender under certain conditions which was not permitted. Mother of late David Suzana Radanovic who has been lighting a candle for her son for the last three days at the central Orthodox Church in Banja Luka gave a statement to the press saying that she read information about Davor Dragicevic’s alleged stay at the UK Embassy as well as claims that his attorney contacted the Prosecutor’s Office. Radanovic said that she does not know any of this, that nobody has told her a single thing and that Davor Dragicevic is unavailable on his cell phone. “I can see that their goal is to have this story shifted from the murder of David Dragicevic” Radanovic stated. MP of the RS parliament Drasko Stanivukovic (PDP) who was arrested on Tuesday was brought in for a hearing at the Public District Prosecutor’s Office in Banja Luka. His team issued a press release stating that the whole process against him was set up. Stanivukovic gave a statement to BN TV after he was released. He said this is a classic show trial and political persecution. Stanivukovic stressed that because of a 15-minute statement one can be apprehended by the police for 30 hours. He said that the obvious goal is to give him as much misdemeanor warrants as they can, as well as criminal reports in order to accuse him of something that he never participated nor is he responsible for. Stanivukovic said that they made up the story about the coup d’état and the gas tanks, as well as the disorder that happened in Banja Luka and they are accusing him and several others of this. He claims they want to silence him and stop any future political and human engagement. He added that the message is that anyone who is telling the truth will be persecuted.
UK Embassy to B&H: Davor Dragicevic is not in UK Embassy (BNTV)
The UK Embassy to B&H stated on Tuesday that Davor Dragicevic, father of late David Dragicevic is not located in the Embassy and that the UK is not connected with organization of protests in Banja Luka in any way. The UK Embassy to B&H also stated that the UK is a partner and a friend of the entire B&H, adding that they show their commitment to citizens of B&H for many years. BN TV noted that the announcement of the UK Embassy to B&H comes following information of media close to the regime that Davor Dragicevic can be found in the UK Embassy in Sarajevo.
EU Delegation to B&H states they are closely following events in Banja Luka (BNTV)
The EU Delegation to B&H, the Office of the Special Representative of the EU to B&H and the Heads of the state missions of EU countries to B&H issued a statement regarding the recent events in Banja Luka. They stated that they are closely following the events in Banja Luka regarding the ‘Justice for David’ protests. They stressed the key role of the right to freedom of expression. The EU Delegation also stated that they received the explanation sent by the RS Ministry of Interior (RS MoI). They answered that the process needs to remain within the legal framework. They added that they will continue to follow the situation in Banja Luka, especially when it comes to the ongoing investigation and its judicial epilogue.
B&H CoM fails to adopt national program of reforms as last condition for activation of MAP (N1)
The Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H failed to adopt the national program of reforms as the last condition for activation of the Membership Action Plan (MAP). According to N1, political representatives of the RS strongly oppose the next move of B&H towards the NATO membership, claiming that the program includes a demand to carry out police reform. N1 stated that at the same time, Bosniak political officials stated that decisions of institutions of B&H – that mention the NATO integration as one of the strategic goals – must be respected. In a statement previously given to N1, Srdjan Perisic, adviser of Chairman of B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik said that the national program of reforms mentions the police reform in B&H. The reporter noted that the national program is a list of reforms, which authorities of countries that aspire to become NATO member states, are obliged to implement. Some members of B&H commission for the NATO integration and B&H Ministry of Security allegedly confirmed to N1 that the national program of reforms really mentions police reform in some way, but they did not precise whether this is a comprehensive reform or just commitment to strengthen police structures without encroaching into competences of the entities.
Cvijanovic: RS position on path to NATO must be respected and accepted (Srna, by Tatjana Paradjina)
Republika Srpska President Zeljka Cvijanovic has said that it is very important that all political subjects in RS have a unified position when it comes to NATO integration and therefore this position must be respected and accepted in B&H. “In October 2017, when the RS parliament adopted the Resolution on Military Neutrality, all political subjects, both the ruling and opposition parties, presented a unified position on B&H’s path to NATO – we will act the way Serbia acts and we simply want this position to be respected,” Cvijanovic has said. Asked if this position can be defended in B&H joint institutions, she has said that this position can and must be defended. “What would it look like if a country wanted to move in some direction while on the other hand, a half of the country disagrees with it? There must be a consensus in B&H, as a complex state union, about NATO integration,” Cvijanovic has said. She has said that the government at the level of B&H must respect the official position of RS institutions, including the Resolution on Military Neutrality. “The national assembly, which is entitled to adopt such acts, adopted this act which obliges all of us, not only at the level of RS, but also RS representatives who hold offices at the level of B&H, that is, in joint institutions. We all are obliged to abide by it,” Cvijanovic has said. When it comes to NATO integration, says Cvijanovic, times have changed and various decisions were made, since this issue was regarded differently in different times. She explained that the atmosphere today is not the same as ten years ago and simply there is no agreement to activate the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), namely, to become a member of NATO by way of the MAP. “How this issue would look like when people vote on this issue, when a referendum on this issue is called, it remains to be seen in another time, but the Resolution on Military Neutrality is the decision of this present time, it is relevant for us and obligatory, and I believe that we can defend this position,” Cvijanovic has said. She has said that when it comes to NATO integration and activation of the MAP, many issues are being raised which speak of inconsistencies and double standards. “When the story of putting conditions started, it was said that the resolution of the issue of military property is crucial. After that we entered a stalemate, the whole atmosphere was contaminated because rulings were issued with the aim of changing ownership over a property which should serve to the path to NATO. It is absurd that someone puts a condition on you, and then, after seven, eight or nine years they say that this is not a condition anymore since they recognized some different vibrations in the country. It is absurd to seize property from someone for the sake of the path to NATO which is supposed to be voluntary, as is the fact that this is being done for the first time in B&H. Someone should steal something from you in order to tell you that the path is voluntary. There are many absurdities and this is why it is very important that we in RS took a united position and said that we want to follow Serbia,” Cvijanovic has said. As far as the EU is concerned, Cvijanovic says, RS is involved in the process of accession to the EU. “However, the image of the EU has been rather foggy as of late and I personally regret it. I would like this image to be clearer, that things in Europe are a little bit clearer, that their message to us is clearer. Unfortunately, this image is not like that and the EU has become more bureaucratic, without political energy or real, strong message, and we see it. On the other hand, I think that we entered a phase where we are taking only bureaucratic steps, and this is not good for a process which should be politically vibrant,” Cvijanovic has explained. According to her, the path to the EU is a process full of operational, technical things, but political vibrancy makes it politically vibrant. “The one who understands what does it mean to move, meet obligations that are operational in character, knowing that you are constantly in a political machine which forces you to move on, understands how does the process look like. It was not like that in some other states earlier. I know how the process looked like when countries of Eastern and Central Europe and Baltic states were joining the EU. It was a vibrant process. Now, it is different, but the European path remains our strategic commitment, we are moving and meeting our obligations, facing different problems within B&H because there is a lack of dialogue,” Cvijanovic has said. She has said that B&H lost several years on its path to the EU until the coordination mechanism was agreed and adopted, which is necessary in a complex country like B&H. “We in B&H had to make a mechanism which will enable us to move on in an organized manner, and it took four to five years for us to agree on it. Also, we lost many years while harmonizing some framework strategies which would help both RS and the FB&H with its Cantons to be beneficiaries of support coming from the EU,” Cvijanovic has said, adding that B&H is wasting time because of political debates and because Sarajevo politicians simply want to neglect the fact that there exist RS or Cantons in the FB&H. She has said that Sarajevo politicians have an approach which is rather isolated from the reality, and the worst thing is that it is also isolated from the needs of citizens of RS and the FB&H, which is why everything is in a sort of a blockade. Cvijanovic has said that RS formed the government in a record time after elections, which shows its strength, while this is not the case with the FB&H or the level of B&H where political Sarajevo does not demonstrate the desire to form the Council of Ministers. “Every time after the elections, political Sarajevo together with some embassies used to say that the Council of Ministers should be formed as soon as possible. Now, no one is saying it. Embassies were the first to say: ‘You should immediately implement election results.’ Why don’t they talk about this now? Because there is a catch. It is not in their interest to form the Council of Ministers since the SNSD structure with its coalition partners should take offices, and they have their view of how Sarajevo should function, which is different from the view of those who are now holding these offices,” Cvijanovic has said. She has said that it is in their interest to keep the present Council of Ministers as long as possible even though individuals have already been elected and now work in parliaments at different levels, which is absurd. Regarding cooperation between RS and the countries of the region, she says that it is very important that the cooperation exists and that there are no open issues. “It is normal that this cooperation is the closest with Serbia and it took a larger shape than before. Today we are united even in humanitarian campaigns, in marking dates from the past which are important both for Serbia and RS. A new form of cooperation is the financial support to important projects that are being implemented in our municipalities,” Cvijanovic has said. Saying that results of this cooperation are visible in the implementation of a great number of utility and infrastructure projects, such as kindergartens, schools, city squares, streets, a theater building, she says that Serbia is thus leaving its mark on municipalities in RS which is an additional dimension of this cooperation. Asked to comment on the developments in Kosovo and Metohija, Cvijanovic has said that this is the product of double standards of the International Community. “If we had a situation where human rights of Bosniaks or Albanians are violated, the whole planet would talk about it, this issue would be raised at every forum, every EU official or state would send harsh messages or warnings, but since this is about Serbia and Serbs, we have a sort of complicity in a tragic and painful situation which Serbs in Kossovo and Metohija found themselves in. No one is talking about them, about their human rights, about the situation which they find themselves in…This is the policy of double standards in which you determine in advance who is right and who is wrong and as a rule of thumb, this leads to wrong decisions, but certain EU officials abide by it,” Cvijanovic has said. She says that she was disappointed when she heard EU officials urging both sides to refrain from she does not know what, while only one side is causing problems, noting that this is hypocritical. “You have one side which introduced taxes, which outside the Constitution and procedures is forming an army and the like, and then someone urges both sides to refrain from something. This is absurd and not a formula for success. I regret that Serbia is facing such a difficult problem and burden, but RS was and will continue to be the support to Serbia in all open and difficult processes facing it,” Cvijanovic said. Regarding cooperation between RS and Russia, Cvijanovic has said that these relations have always been good and stable, and that there is political understanding which is necessary for successful cooperation. She says that while she was the prime minister she was always saying that she was very grateful to Russia which defended the position of RS presented in reports submitted to the UN Security Council which were a response to that which the High Representative to B&H was presenting to that institution. “For years, Russia has referred to that which is written in RS reports by which we managed, at least to some degree, to brake the stereotype about Serbs and RS which was imposed on the Security Council as well,” Cvijanovic has explained. “We have nothing against anyone, but many do not recognize this as a good intention, but are trying to keep the idea that B&H is important and not its Entities, even though RS has grown up and become strong so much that we can live our lives regardless of what is happening in B&H, which we demonstrated,” Cvijanovic said.
Stoltenberg wants Macedonia and Greece to ratify the name change treaty by 15 February (Republika)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Macedonia and Greece to complete the ratification process of the Zaev – Tsipras treaty that renames Macedonia into North Macedonia by 15 February. Greek daily Kathimerini reports that a letter from Stoltenberg was sent to both capitals calling for the process to be completed as soon as possible, so that NATO can issue an invitation to Macedonia for full membership. The Macedonian parliament is expected to begin the plenary session on 9 January, and while Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has said that he is still several votes short, he pushed through several amnesty laws that release the members of parliament he needs from the charges his government used to blackmail them into voting in favor of the renaming. Meanwhile, in Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Tsipras also has the necessary majority, despite his own coalition being divided over the issue, and the opposition New Democracy being set against it. Greece is supposed to ratify both the renaming treaty but also the accession instrument for Macedonia to join NATO, and with that remove its veto which has been in effect since 2008. Tsipras is hoping that the center left To Potami party will support him on this issue.
Gjorcev: We need a presidential candidate who will articulate the growing dissatisfaction with Zoran Zaev (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE official Vladimir Gjorcev believes that 2019 can be a year to restore hope in Macedonia, seeing the coming presidential elections as the first step when the citizens will be able to re-assert themselves. It is important that VMRO-DPMNE has a presidential candidate who will be able to galvanize the growing pro-opposition mood in the public aimed against Zaev and SDSM. We need a person capable of articulating the public dissatisfaction and a person who can bring new hope in Macedonia. I’m certain that Macedonia will respond to the failures the Government was met with in everything it is doing, said Gjorcev in an interview with the Press24 news site. While the Zaev government is reliant on votes from ethnic Albanians to keep it afloat, Gjorcev says that Albanians are realizing that nothing will come out of Zaev’s promises. Every day more and more Albanians are disappointed with Zoran Zaev’s policies. As I said in the Parliament, he promised a lot and accomplished nothing. Many Albanians are taking to the social media networks to express their support for me and we will continue to speak out about Zaev’s false promises to the Albanians. He lied to them just like he lied to the Macedonians and to everybody else, Gjorcev says.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Name deal to play pivotal role in 2019 (ekathimerini.com, by Costis P.Papadiochos, 31 December 2018)
With national elections looming in Greece in 2019, the name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is expected to play a pivotal role. FYROM’s parliament is expected to ratify the deal, also known as the Prespes agreement, by January 15 at the latest, which means that the ball will be in the court of Greek lawmakers. The general elections are, according to analysts, expected to take place in either March or May and will to a large degree be determined by the developments regarding the deal, as well as by the reaction to the government’s handouts in January – including a hike in the minimum wage. Moreover, the government hopes to profit politically from Greece being able to tap international markets in coming months. Another pivotal factor will be the outcome of negotiations between the government and religious authorities on relations between church and state. Given the name deal’s potential political cost to the government, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has, reportedly, been given time by his FYROM counterpart, Zoran Zaev, and the other international players to bring the deal to Parliament for ratification at a date that best suits him. According to reports, Tsipras has also been given the option to ratify the deal in Parliament by March at the latest and to defer a vote on a protocol that will lift Greece’s objections to FYROM’s bid to join NATO after national elections. However, sources have told Kathimerini that the most likely scenario is that Tsipras will bring the Prespes agreement to Parliament relatively soon – in late January or early February. The same sources also said that there will be no delay on the vote allowing FYROM to join NATO, so that Greece adheres to the letter and spirit of the agreement. Furthermore, Tsipras will be able to brandish his international credentials as a leader who sticks to his commitments. Regarding the threat by junior coalition partner leader Panos Kammenos to leave the government over the Prespes agreement, Tsipras is reportedly not concerned, as he is confident he can muster the 151 votes needed in Parliament for its ratification. Moreover, Kammenos has pledged not to back a censure motion that ND plans to bring against the Tsipras government over the name deal.