Putin says Russia views Balkans as space for constructive cooperation (Novosti/Politika)
In exclusive interview to Vecernje novosti and Politika dailies, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on ties between Russia and Serbia, cooperation of Russia with Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS), support of Russia to Serbia in strengthening of defense potentials in light of formation of Kosovo Army, preservation of peace under circumstances of growing tensions at local and global levels and future of economic cooperation of Russia and Serbia in case Serbia joins EU. Asked to comment statements of western politicians who believe that Russia is destabilizing factor in the Balkans and also asked to comment on relations of Russia with former Yugoslav republics, Putin replied by saying that policies of USA and certain western countries, which have the goal to strengthen their domination in the region, represent serious destabilizing factor here. Putin reminded that back in 1999, NATO forces bombarded Yugoslavia for two and a half months without any punishment and then they forcibly seceded the Autonomous Region of Kosovo, while in 2008 Washington and its allies supported illegitimate proclamation of Kosovo independence. Putin also noted that, in 2017, Montenegro was drawn into NATO in spite of stance of one half of its population and added: “They were afraid of referendum on this issue and, as a result, the country is going through the period of political instability”. Putin noted that Russia has always been aware of the fact the Balkans and history of this region are complicated and has always thought of the Balkans as of a space for constructive cooperation. “Even today, Russia has many friends here, among which strategic partner Serbia has a special place. Therefore, assistance to strengthening of regional security and stability is our unconditioned priority. We advocate respecting of rights and interests of countries and peoples of the Balkans, respecting of international laws. Cooperation with the RS, which is an integral part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), is carried out on the basis of mutual benefits and strictly in line with the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) from 1995. We are still focused on realization of projects, both in the RS and entire territory of B&H, in field of energy, processing of crude oil and petroleum trade, banking, pharmaceutical industry and other fields. We think that the promotion of joint humanitarian initiatives have the same importance, having in mind growing interest of B&H citizens in Russian language, Russian culture and studying in Russia”, Putin said. Asked to comment on future support of Russia to Serbia in strengthening of defense potentials in light of formation of Kosovo Army, Serbia’s neutrality and fact Serbia is surrounded by NATO members, to which Putin said that Russia highly values firm commitment of Serbia’s leadership to the course of preservation of neutrality of the country and reminded that Russia has been assisting strengthening of defense capabilities of Serbia for years. He assessed that NATO is trying to strengthen its presence in the Balkans but, by doing so, it only renews lines of divisions in the European continent.
Vucic: Remove taxes and talks can continue (Beta)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Belgrade had attached no conditions to
talks with Pristina, but that it was very important to put things back to where they had been before Pristina levied new taxes on imports from Serbia. “Nowhere else in the normal world are new taxes imposed to restrict the flow of goods. It’s not something you do. Remove that obstacle, and we’ll talk. Serbia is not forgetting an obligation from the Brussels dialogue you haven’t fulfilled – the Community of Serb Municipalities. You are not even interested, while we have fulfilled all our obligations. And we still do, even though we are just a click away from going back to the previous situation,” Vucic said. After a meeting with ambassadors and the head of the EU Delegation, Vucic said that the point was that someone should “bring Pristina’s leaders to their senses,” repeating that Serbia had always supported the talks. “What we are interested in is to continue the talks with legitimate and legal Albanian representatives. We should see if we can reach an agreement. As far as pressures go, the European Union has been very specific in their statements, but I think it’s only America’s view that concerns the Albanians. I apologize to the EU. And, thank Washington for being so openly against the tariffs,” Vucic said. Vucic remarked that the date for the meeting with EU representatives was chosen by chance, and had nothing to do with the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin here in two days’ time. The head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi also spoke to reporters after the meeting, to say that the date was agreed on “last year.” “Every day something happens in Serbia, I would not invest too much in the coincidences you are mentioning,” Fabrizi told journalists.
Fabrizi: EU to continue to mediate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sam Fabrizi reiterated support to Serbia’s EU
accession, urging the country to continue reforms in the process. At a press conference with President Vucic, following a joint meeting with EU ambassadors, Fabrizi said the rule of law was particularly important in Serbia’s accession to the Union, saying that the country had made certain progress, but that it had to keep working on a judicial reform, anti-corruption measures and the freedom of the media. Fabrizi said the EU would resume its role of mediator in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, hoping that a sustainable, comprehensive agreement would be reached, appealing to Kosovo again to withdraw the tariff on imports from Serbia and Bosnia. Fabrizi said that EU accession was made to be a strategic goal for Serbia, which he said was good for Serbia’s citizens and economy. The EU has supported EU prospects for Serbia, as well as many other Western Balkan states. We used today’s lunch to repeat those messages, the EU ambassador said. Fabrizi said that five key areas had been discussed – the independence of judiciary, struggle against corruption, the freedom of the media, struggle against organized crime and regional issues.
Dacic: KFOR remains only legal and legitimate military formation in Kosovo (Beta/RTS)
At a Tuesday reception on the occasion of the handover of duty of the contact embassy for cooperation of Serbia with NATO – the embassy of Greece and the takeover of duty by the Embassy of Norway, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said: “Serbia and NATO have significantly improved their practical cooperation in all areas of common interest, whether civil or military. At the same time, Serbia’s policy of military neutrality is not at all at stake – this remains our lasting decision, which NATO partners fully respect. Serbia respects the commitment of its neighbors and other countries to NATO membership, and we expect the understanding for our cooperation with countries that are not members of the Alliance.
Serbia and NATO are firmly connected by the common interest of preserving peace and stability in the region. Therefore, we expect the Alliance to view with understanding and support our priorities, especially regarding the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, because NATO, among other things, has a number of obligations in accordance with the mandate given by the UN Security Council in preserving peace and stability in Kosovo. We think that only a compromise solution for Kosovo and Metohija can provide lasting peace and stability and on several occasions, we have shown readiness to come to such solutions. The agreement between Belgrade and Pristina will not be at the expense of any third party, and there is no reason for anything that is acceptable to the two parties to be unacceptable to anyone else. NATO’s KFOR mission remains the only legal and legitimate military formation in the province, an important guarantor of the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and virtually the only guarantor of the security and survival of the Serbs, their property, and religious and cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija.
On this occasion, I emphasize that Serbia strongly opposes the transformation of the so-called Kosovo Security Forces in the so-called Army of Kosovo, as it violates UNSC Resolution 1244, the Military Technical Agreement and endangers regional and wider stability. Unfortunately, the unfolding of events shows that Pristina obviously does not give up on unilateral moves, such as forming armed forces despite the clear warning of representatives of the international community, including Mr Stoltenberg, that such unilateral moves are unacceptable and damaging to the dialogue.”
Drecun: Kosovo most important issue during Putin’s visit (RTS)
The Chair of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the problem of Kosovo will be the most important issue during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade. He says that support given by Russia and Putin in preventing further progress of the self-declared stated towards the United Nations is very significant. He notes that President Vucic will inform Putin about further possibilities for continuing talks with Pristina. He says that Russia appreciates Serbia’s military neutrality as it experiences any expansion of NATO as a blow to its own security. Speaking about the Russian reaction to the formation of the Kosovo army, Drecun says that Moscow recognized that this destabilizes the situation and endangers the survival of the Serb people.
B&H CoM fails to discuss Annual National Program of B&H due to lack of support of Serb Ministers (BHT1)
At a session in Sarajevo on Tuesday, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Council of Ministers (CoM) once again failed to discuss the Annual National Program (ANP). The Serb Ministers insisted that this item is removed from the agenda of the last session and they also refused to support it on this occasion. The ANP represents the next step on the country’s path towards membership in NATO. Although representatives of NATO have made it clear that B&H will still be far away from membership even after taking this step and despite the letter of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the B&H Presidency, there are still different views with regard to this issue. While representatives of Bosniaks and Croats support the further path towards NATO, the Republika Srpska (RS) authorities and Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik have opposite views despite the previously accepted obligations. According to the B&H CoM, this item is supposed to be discussed at the next session of the B&H CoM scheduled for next Tuesday. Commenting on the issue, B&H Minister of Security Dragan Mektic explained that the item was removed from the agenda at the request of ministers from the rank of Serbs, because the ANP needs to be returned to B&H Commission for NATO Integration for further harmonization prior to discussion in the B&H CoM. Serb ministers in the B&H CoM emphasized that B&H’s progress on NATO path will be directly connected to Serbia’s stance in the matter. Serbia is military neutral and the RS follows Serbia’s stance in the matter. The Serb Ministers believe that the outgoing B&H CoM convocation should not make such important decisions and this matter should be discussed by the new convocation.
Dodik’s advisor Perisic: B&H membership in NATO without agreement can cause new conflict (Dnevni list)
Srdjan Perisic, advisor to Chairman of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik, said that NATO is exerting pressure on Republika Srpska (RS) via Bosniak politicians with the aim to make sure B&H joins NATO, arguing that such pressures lead to creation of instabilities. According to Perisic, majority of citizens of Montenegro are against membership of their country in NATO, which is why there was no referendum about it, arguing that similar case is in Macedonia too where NATO membership was rejected at a referendum, arguing “but nobody cares about it, Macedonia is being pushed into the membership without majority will of the people”. Dodik’s advisor went to say that next in line is B&H, which should join NATO is the same way, without broad consensus and agreement and without will of its citizens, arguing “it could cause a new conflict in B&H”. According to Perisic, this is being done via the Council of Ministers of B&H, which is in technical mandate and infamous Commission for NATO Integration, whose session are not attended by Serb members, and on top of it, members of the Presidency of B&H Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic are preventing formation of state level authority in line with the election results. This triggered Perisic to ask “are they aware that because of NATO, B&H can only have conflicts and stalling of its development?”, arguing that Komsic and Dzaferovic are openly and illegally linking B&H’s membership in NATO with formation of state authorities.
SNSD requests postponing sessions of B&H HoR until Presidency appoints B&H CoM Chairman-Designate (TV1/EuroBlic)
SNSD Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) filed on Tuesday a request to the Collegium of the B&H HoR to postpone sessions of the B&H HoR that were scheduled for January 17. The Caucus proposed to the Collegium to schedule a session – at which members of permanent B&H HoR’s commissions are supposed to be elected – after precisely defining the structure of authority in joint B&H institutions and after B&H Presidency appoints the B&H CoM Chairman-Designate. According to SNSD, early election of members of commissions and their formation would make it possible for the B&H HoR to discuss and vote on documents that the B&H CoM would be sending into the parliamentary procedure in technical mandate. Chair of SNSD Caucus in B&H HoR Stasa Kosarac confirmed to the daily that the postponement of the session was asked for because B&H HoR was supposed to elect members of B&H HoR commissions, which is absurd having in mind not even B&H CoM Chair was elected yet. Kosarac also noted that adoption of documents sent to B&H HoR by B&H CoM in technical mandate would mean that (outgoing B&H CoM Chair) Denis Zvizdic and (ministers) Adil Osmanovic, Mirko Sarovic and Dragan Mektic would be in a position to first discuss and adopt documents in B&H CoM and then to discuss and adopt same documents as representatives in B&H HoR.
Dodik meets Ivantsov; Two officials discuss upcoming visit of Russian President to Belgrade (ATV)
Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik met with Russian Ambassador to B&H Petr Ivantsov on Tuesday. The two officials discussed the upcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade and Dodik expressed his satisfaction with the fact that he will too get the chance to meet with President Putin in Belgrade on Thursday. Dodik emphasized that, during that meeting, he will try to secure as good arrangement as he can for Republika Srpska (RS) and B&H, in connection with the distribution of natural gas from Russia. He added that Putin’s visit to Belgrade is important for Serbia, as well as for all the Serbs and countries of the Western Balkans region. “I tried to contact the other two members of the B&H Presidency (Zeljko Komsic, Sefik Dzaferovic) today. I wanted to inform them that I will, as the Presidency Chairman, attend this meeting, but not on behalf of the Presidency. I wanted to tell them that I will speak with President Putin and if they have some kind of message they want me to convey to him, I will do it”, stated Dodik. Dodik pointed out that Sarajevo’s air pollution issue can potentially be solved by securing distribution of a larger amount of natural gas from Russia to B&H. “If that is the solution, I want to help Sarajevo with this. I really want to help solve this, it is not a problem for me,” said Dodik.
Vucic: I want B&H to be Serbia’s partner (ATV/Dnevni list)
The 14th official meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be held in Belgrade on Thursday. This visit is considered to be a very important one, in light of the current relations between Serbia and Kosovo and their unresolved issues. Commenting relations with B&H and Croatia, President Vucic said that “Serbia is a friend, but others do not see that”. He added that he always tries to work on encouraging good relations between Serbs and Bosniaks. “I always emphasize the respect towards B&H’s integrity, but they (the Bosniaks) do not wish to see the rational wish of the Serbian leadership on maintaining good relations with the Bosniaks”, underlined Vucic and added: “We do not always see eye-to-eye, but that does not mean we do not wish to see B&H as our partner. You have friends in Belgrade, in Serbia, use them”. Vucic said that he is especially proud of the good relations between Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS), and the fact that Chairman of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic always emphasize that they have “best possible cooperation with Serbia in concrete matters”. Dnevni list reports that Vucic said that Bosniaks are making the same mistake as Serbs in the period from World War II and the 1990s, namely the self-victimization and expectation that other will have to repeat what they are thinking. According to Vucic, we do not see things in the same way, namely “we do not see (Naser Oric – former Bosnian military officer who commanded Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina forces) Oric’s role the same way, nor the way of creation of the RS, but it does not mean we do not want B&H as a partner”. “When it comes to Croats in B&H, they made the same mistake as Serbs with Kosovo and did not want an entity or something similar because they believed whole of B&H is their,” said Vucic.
Reactions to Vucic’s comparison of B&H Croats and Kosovo Serbs (Dnevni avaz)
Statement of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that Croats in B&H made same mistakes in the past as Serbs in Kosovo has caused an avalanche of reactions in B&H. Vucic stated that Croats believed they do not need an entity in B&H thinking “whole Herzeg-Bosnia is ours”, but now they are slowly losing their position in the country. Vucic further said that both Serbs and Croats have failed to learn from their past mistakes, which is why they should come together now and harmonize their stances for the future. SDP leader Nermin Niksic stated it is time for Vucic to finally accept B&H as a sovereign country with its own interests, and a country that does not depend on the will and stances of Serbia. “Instead of focusing on ethnic structure in the cities of B&H, he would be better condemning once and for all the policy that has organized the siege and destruction of those cities and their citizens,” said Niksic. Our Party leader Predrag Kojovic stated he is deeply offended by the claims that the Croats in B&H need the help of Croatia and Serbia, since B&H is their country as well. He pointed out that he will fight with Croats against discrimination, but he will never accept the quasi-arguments about legitimate ethnic representatives, about the peoples who are “more equal” than the citizens and similar legal fantasies. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic said that the most important thing is to build bridges of cooperation in the region, but he refused to further comment situation in B&H. SBB B&H leader Fahrudin Radoncic told the daily that Vucic’s statement clearly shows presence of resurrected ideas of ‘greater states’ in the region. “Vucic’s statement comes at time of turbulent events and it truly represents unacceptable interference in internal affairs of a sovereign and independent country,” said Radoncic and pointed out that the support for establishment of a third entity in B&H is not helping anyone. Also, Radoncic underlined it is unacceptable to compare Kosovo and B&H, or position of Serbs in Kosovo and Croats in B&H.
Presidential elections will be held on 21 April, Xhaferi to announce them on 8 February (Meta)
Parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi announced that the presidential elections will take place on February the 8th. The first round of elections will be on 21 April, and the second round on 5 May. Xhaferi said that the first round was initially planned to take place on the 4 April and the latter on 28 April, but because it coincides with Easter, the elections were moved a week later. He added that in that case of the deadline for the inauguration of the new president be on 12 May, because on that date Gjorge Ivanov’s mandate ends. Together with the presidential elections, local elections will be held in three municipalities, where there is now acting mayors.
Mickoski sees big VMRO win in the coming elections (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski reiterated his call for early general elections as the only way to restore the country to the people. Mickoski blamed Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Government with destroying Macedonian democracy with its abuse of the judiciary, forcing political decisions and the all-around defeats the country is faced with. VMRO-DPMNE is the biggest political force in the country. We will take part in the elections and there is no doubt we will win. We need to win the confidence of the people, because only with their help can we protect Macedonia. We are unable to correct the actions of the Government from the opposition, this is why we are calling for early general elections, where all of the lies and the crimes of SDSM and Zoran Zaev will be revealed, said Mickoski. Presidential elections are regularly expected in late April, and Mickoski is calling for early general elections at the same time, which, under the so-called Przino rules would mean that Zaev and key ministers would have to resign in January. Mickoski said that this is necessary given the all out capturing of the state by the ruling SDSM party, and especially the abuse of the police and the judiciary for political ends. Zoran Zaev and this government are openly announcing the outcome of court cases, they are wiretapping judges and prosecutors and there is no investigation in the matter. With the latest events in the Parliament, they are providing votes for Zaev in the most shameless and unscrupulous way. We present the facts we have in all our meetings with the international factor, and we receive understanding. But, we see that their criticism toward Zaev has been absent in the past period. This is likely because they expect Zaev to get something done. Meanwhile we have no rule of law, citizens feel insecure, and the international institutions see this from their communications with the citizens, said Mickoski. Given the way SDSM is acting, Mickoski predicted them the fate of PASOK, the Greek social-democratic party which was nearly completely ruined in the past years. Mickoski said that polls show VMRO-DPMNE enjoying a 2:1 lead among ethnic Macedonians and other smaller communities, a deficit which SDSM is trying to make up among ethnic Albanian voters, but only by symbolic gestures which will not improve their lives. His interview with Alfa TV comes a day after SDSM and DUI violated the Constitution to publish a law expanding the use of the Albanian language in parts of Macedonia with little to no ethnic Albanians without the President’s signature. They are not announcing new investments that will employ a thousand Albanians or building a new water supply in Aracinovo, or solving the traffic problem in Tetovo. Instead, they are playing to low passions and are trying to stir emotions among the Albanians, and this is their way to win Albanian votes. This will cause problems between SDSM and DUI, which is reluctant to see SDSM take even more Albanian votes and establish itself as the leading Albanian party in the country, said Mickoski.
Law on Use of Languages published in Official Gazette (Meta)
The Law on the Use of Languages was published in the Official Gazette after parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi sent it without the signature of President Gjorge Ivanov. With the publication of the Law in the Official Gazette, it officially comes into force, making Albanian the second official language in Macedonia. DUI MP Artan Grubi listed things DUI had promised and fulfilled on Facebook: Integration into NATO and the EU, promised and delivered, language equality, promised and delivered, systemic reforms, promised and delivered – Grubi wrote. Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Bujar Osmani wrote “What a start to the year, I am proud to an associate of Ahmeti”. SDSM vice-president and MP Mohammed Zekiri said via Facebook, and asked that DUI not take the glory when it comes to the law on languages.
“Almost a decade in power with VMRO DPMNE, we did not hear a thing from them. Today, with such a pomp and praise, they want all the glory. The merits for opening the doors to NATO and EU membership for Macedonia, as well as making the Albanian language official, belong to the citizens who embraced the concept “Macedonia, One Society” for all. Without euphoria, please. Citizens know best who works for their own good,” Zekiri wrote.
Ivanov: The laws on languages and its ratification were published unconstitutionally (Meta)
The publishing of the Law on use of languages and the Law on ratification of the Prespa Agreement in the Official Gazette without the signature of the President of the Republic of Macedonia are contrary to the Constitution, stated the President of the state, Gjorge Ivanov in his press release. He said that the procedure itself behind both laws to be published is enough for a basis for criminal prosecution. “By submitting both these laws at the Oficial Gazette, the Article 75 of the Constitution of R. of Macedonia has been violated while the publishing of these laws has been done illegally and represents a basis for criminal prosecution” states the press release. President Ivanov states that the Constitutional Court, the Prosecution and the judiciary are on the move. “This is the moment that will show whether in the Republic of Macedonia there is a Constitutional Court, whether the Prosecution is functioning and whether there is a rule of law” said Ivanov. The head of the state, also, hideously is addressing the representatives of the international community, stating that the support of such precedent could cause damage to the rule of law and the legal state. “I’m asking myself, whether the high representatives of the international community who are supporting this government coalition will speak and support this manner of passing laws? Whether they will support these precedents that are causing unforeseeable consequences and damage to the law and the legal state, and whether such precedents are applied in their own countries?” states the press release.
Xhaferi: Impeachment could be launched against Ivanov (Nezavisen vesnik)
Macedonia’s parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi said that he had signed the decrees and forwarded the law on the use of languages and the law ratifying the Prespa Agreement to the Official Gazette. The laws entered into force after being published in the Official Gazette.
Attached to the decrees, Xhaferi to the Official Gazette also forwarded an explanation as to the reasons why they had been signed only by him and not by President Gjorge Ivanov as well.
By refusing to sign the two laws, he had failed to meet his obligations stemming from the Constitution, thus misusing his official duty, the speaker told a news conference. “I feel no responsibility for my actions as Speaker of the Assembly. I gave him enough time for the two decrees – one year for the decree on the law on languages and six months for the second one. I acted in line with my institutional authorization and I don’t think I’ve breached anything,” stated Xhaferi. VMRO-DPMNE accused him of committing a crime and violating the Constitution and President Ivanov said he would seek criminal responsibility. In his comments, Xhaferi said that Ivanov had compared ‘apples and oranges’ adding that everything had been done according to the provisions of the Rules of Procedures. It is Ivanov who could be held to account, noted Xhaferi. “It is not Ivanov who will launch proceedings against the legislative power. It is, in fact, the legislative power that will seek that he is held responsible. I didn’t say I will demand impeachment, however, the legislative power has the authority to demand that the President is held responsible. The MPs have this authorization and they can launch impeachment proceedings against the President,” said Xhaferi.
VMRO warns the Official Gazette Director: This is a punishable violation of the law (Nezavisen vesnik)
VMRO-DPMNE warned the Director of the Official Gazette, Martin Kostovski, that the publication of the Law on Languages in the Official Gazette is a crime that does not become obsolete and it foresees a prison sentence. He carries direct responsibility, and everyone else that was involved. “We warn the director of the Official Gazette Martin Kostovski that publishing a law in the Gazette without the signature of the President is a criminal act for which there are is statute of limitations. All involved in this brutal violation of the laws will be held responsible. SDSM is again raping the democracy and the rule of law in Macedonia. The SDSM led Government is forcefully turning the Republic of Macedonia into a bilingual state,” VMRO-DPMNE said in its press release. According to them, if the government is really sincere in its intentions, instead of implementing non-essential laws, they should try to fulfill the promises they gave before the elections for a better life through economic policies and really improve the lives of the Albanians in Macedonia by opening new jobs and everything that they had promised.
“But since this is only an attempt to win over Albanians before the elections by committing this crime, one day when they lose power, they will bear responsibility before justice and will face the punishment for this crime,” threatened the opposition party.
MFA tell Moscow, the future will confirm the correctness of the Prespa Agreement (Meta)
In response to the statement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MFA (Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) said that the procedure for passing the constitutional changes in accordance with the Prespa Agreement is with full respect for the envisaged parliamentary procedure and the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, and expressed regret that Russia “in a negative context, puts authentic political processes in two neighboring countries leading to problem-solving, fostering trust and building friendship.” “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia regretfully concludes that despite such heated problems in today’s world, the Department of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation again, in a negative context, attests to the authentic political processes in two neighboring countries that lead to troubleshooting, building trust and building friendship. The amendments to the Constitution in accordance with the Prespa Agreement, adopted in parliament with full respect for the envisaged parliamentary procedure and the Constitution, which reflects the consensus and determination of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia for membership in NATO and the European Union, have received undivided support from the wider international community as an act of political courage, responsibility and leadership, which resolves a long-standing bilateral problem that has burdened the relations between Macedonia and Greece,” reads the reaction from the Macedonian Foreign Ministry. The Prespa Agreement contributes to regional stability and is a model for resolving open issues among countries, reads the reaction. “Not only does the Prespa Agreement not interfere with the interests of any third parties, but it substantially contributes to regional stability, friendship and cooperation, and as such is an example and model for resolving open issues between countries. The MFA is confident that the future will reaffirm the correctness of this approach, which prefers political vision and leadership, and that the benefits of regional stability and prosperity will be accepted and validated by all sides, including the friendly Russian Federation,” said the Macedonian Foreign Ministry.
Lavrov: Moscow does not oppose the new name for Macedonia, but there is the issue of legitimacy (Nezavisen vesnik)
Moscow does not oppose the new name for Macedonia, but there is the issue of the legitimacy of the ongoing process, which may be due to the goal of driving all the Balkan countries into NATO as soon as possible, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
“We have always actively supported this dialogue (between Greece and Macedonia). We have always spoken for a solution to be found in a way that would be acceptable to the public, nations, and certainly the governments of both Greece and Macedonia,” Lavrov said at a press conference.
“We do not oppose the name that eventually appeared and was announced. We ask questions about how legitimate this process is and how much it really is conditioned by the desire to find a consensus between Greece and Skopje, or it is conditioned by the US desire to drive all Balkan countries into NATO as soon as possible and stop any Russian influence in that region”.
Kosovo customs in Durres, Rama: Greater Albania does not exist (ADN)
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama took part on Tuesday in the inauguration of Kosovo Customs in the Durres harbor. During his speech, the Premier stressed that the “Greater Albania” does not exist and that all of this is an invention of enemies. “The Port of Durres not just customs for Albania, but also for Kosovo. Now, mutual recognition is an opportunity to carry out customs procedures through technology and realization of the purpose of the administration, which has two arms or two heads, and functions as a single body,” said Rama. The Prime Minister added that Albania and Kosovo will have a fluid border just as the border between France and Germany.
Border controls, Lleshaj meeting with Macedonian counterpart (ADN)
Albanian Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj held a meeting on Tuesday with his Macedonian counterpart Oliver Spasovksi. At the invitation of Minister Sander Lleshaj in Pogradec, a joint meeting was held between the two Interior Ministers of Macedonia and Albania and the accompanying delegations, with the aim of deepening and further improving cross-border and police cooperation. Lleshaj congratulated his counterpart on the results in the Macedonian Parliament regarding the approval of the Prespa Agreement, which paves the way for Macedonia’s integration into NATO and the European Union. During the meeting, the discussions were focused on the common goal of setting up a “one-stop-shop” model on the common border, a model that Albania has already applied with Montenegro and Kosovo, while Macedonia has been applying it with Serbia. The Macedonian Minister informed the Albanian side that the Macedonian authorities are taking all the necessary measures to improve the conditions and infrastructure of the Trebisht cross-border point. He also stressed the importance of good bilateral co-operation in the area of police, the fight against organized crime and global security threats, underlining for further cooperation between the two countries.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serbia’s president says he always asks Putin for advice (TASS, 16 January 2019)
Serbian leader always tells Vladimir Putin the truth
BELGRADE, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic always consults with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, he said in an exclusive interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman in the run-up to the Russian leader’s visit to Belgrade due on Thursday.
“I always consult with President Putin, I ask him for advice, and I request his advice. I familiarize him with what is happening and I don’t lie, I tell the truth, although he does not always like everything. I think this is one of things which Putin respects very much. And I respect this because he is the leader of a great country and I’m the leader of a small country, and he shows respect for this country and I’m very grateful for that,” Vucic said. The Serbian president recalled that he came under serious pressure after Serbia had sent humanitarian aid to Syria. “We sent not weapons, but cereals, butter and sugar, but harsh attacks on us began. And when I came to President Putin and journalists came I told him that we could send one or two planes with [humanitarian] aid. And Vladimir Vladimirovich told me: “Aleksandar, don’t do this, this creates only additional problems for you.”