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Belgrade Media Report 06 March 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Wednesday 6 March 2019

• Vasiljevic: ANSA incorrectly translated Vucic’s statement (Beta/Raskrinkavanje)
• Scott: Mutual recognition needs to be in the heart of the agreement on normalization (Kurir)
• Danielsson: Re-establishing Belgrade-Pristina dialogue critical for Serbia (Beta)
• SzS: Vucic confirms he is a step away from delineation (Beta)
• Opposition MP groups write to Kocijancic (Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik after talks with Izetbegovic and Covic (N1)
• Dodik: Not interested in surrogate B&H which cannot work (Srna)
• Dodik: SNSD will not sacrifice military neutrality for power; SNSD will not enter any coalition with the SDA (Srna)
• Djukanovic to receive European King David Award (CDM)
• Parliamentary session without opposition (MINA)
• Worker’s Party left the DF (RTCG)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Iseni: Although I’ve been member of SDSM for long time, I will support the Albanian candidate in these elections (INA)
• Biden to Zaev: Prespa Agreement is major positive development for EU integration (Republika)
• Opposition warns biggest rally on 16 March (ADN)


• Serbia, North Macedonia eye stake in Bulgaria’s Belene NPP (bne IntelliNews)

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Vasiljevic: ANSA incorrectly translated Vucic’s statement (Beta/Raskrinkavanje)


President Vucic’s media advisor Suzana Vasiljevic told the Raskrinkavanje portal that an error in translation led to ANSA initially reporting that President Vucic said that “we have to reach a compromise, we cannot recognize Kosovo if we don’t get something on the other side”, adding that what he said was: “We have to reach a compromise, but a compromise can’t be someone getting something and the other side losing everything”.  “Journalist Francesco Quintano insisted on conducting the interview in Serbian, but his Serbian is not so good. Vucic said that a compromise can’t be someone getting something and the other side losing everything. So, he did not say anything that he does not say anyway, that is what he keeps repeating all the time. When we saw the interview, when it was published, I called them and asked them to listen to the recording once more and correct it. There is an audio recording of the interview, the journalist recorded it and it’s impossible to falsify,” Vasiljevic said.  The interview was done prior to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s visit to Serbia. Quintano told Radio Deutsche Welle that there were some problems in interpretation which is often the case with foreign languages. “We decided to correct the item in coordination with the president’s cabinet,” he said.

ANSA deleted the original version from its servers after withdrawing it without explanation. That version was reported by a number of European and Serbian media, the Raskrinkavanje portal said and added that the new version did not include the disputed claims.


Scott: Mutual recognition needs to be in the heart of the agreement on normalization (Kurir)


“We are not drawing ‘red lines’, we are not determining what will happen if what they agree on is stabilizing for the region, if it can be implemented and be lasting, then we will probably support this. We are waiting for the sides themselves to reach agreement under EU auspices,” US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott said in an interview to Kurir. Asked about the future role of the newly appointed US administration official in charge of the Balkans Philip Reeker, Scott says Reeker doesn’t have a solution for Kosovo. “I’m afraid that the Serbian press has been freely speculating without any facts that support this. Philip Reeker will assume in the middle of the month the post of the Head of the European Bureau and he will have many things on the agenda, including relations with Russia, Turkey and the EU. He is a person that knows a great deal about the Balkan region, he was our ambassador in Macedonia. His heart is still in the Balkans, he cares about what is happening here, he is devoted to moving this process forward, but I don’t believe he has a plan in his pocket and that he will force anyone to anything,” Scott said. He says that the agreement on normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations needs to include many more things, such as an agreement on economic relations, resolution of the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the issue of missing persons, war crimes and so forth. “There are many elements that need to be included in the agreement, but we believe that mutual recognition needs to be in the heart of the agreement on normalization,” said Scott.


Danielsson: Re-establishing Belgrade-Pristina dialogue critical for Serbia (Beta)


Director-General for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Christian Danielsson has said that it is critical for Serbia that a dialogue with Pristina be re-established.

The European Commission official said at the Kopaonik Business Forum that the result of the

dialogue was very important, allowing both Serbia and Kosovo to move on their path to the European Union. Danielsson said that Serbia had achieved excellent results in fiscal consolidation, but it had to work harder on reforms and curbing the gray economy. More importantly, the country has to improve the rule of law, and ensure that democratic institutions

operate properly. “The judiciary and administration need to work properly,” he said, adding that digitalization was very important for the development of Serbia, as well as the growth of the energy sector.


SzS: Vucic confirms he is a step away from delineation (Beta)


The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s comment in an interview with Italy’s ANSA agency that Serbia “can’t recognize Kosovo without getting anything in return from the other side,” confirmed that he was a step away from a “private

deal” for permanent demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo. The SzS suggested that Vucic’s words were sending foreign actors a message that he was ready to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, while portraying himself at home as a politician fighting for Kosovo. The SzS unveils Vucic’s “manipulation,” as he had waited for Western media to release the interview, before he asked ANSA to re-release it without that sentence, in order to hide his “true intentions” from the Serbian public.


Opposition MP groups write to Kocijancic (Beta)


A few opposition parliamentary groups sent on 5 March an open letter to a spokesperson for

the European Commission, Maja Kocijancic, saying that they would continue to boycott the Serbian parliament’s session, and all plenary activities, as “neither the reasons for the boycott, nor the circumstances surrounding it” had changed. The signatories wrote that they agreed with the position that parliament was a place for debate, but that “the supervisory and legislative powers of the Serbian parliament have been challenged by a lack of parliamentary debate.”

“As you know very well, the debate is a two-way process. We regret to say that in Serbia’s parliament it has become a stage for aggressive and intense political violence against political opponents, generated solely by the ruling majority. An unbearable atmosphere has been created as opposition MPs, criticizing the ruling majority, are unable to speak. In addition, the parliament’s Rules of Procedure, processes and customs have been abused repeatedly,” the opposition MPs said in the letter. They also recalled that two years ago they filed a request for the dismissal of the Serbian speaker, Maja Gojkovic, but that the request has never been put on the parliamentary agenda. The open letter was signed by the caucuses of the Democratic Party, the Dveri movement, the Social Democratic Party – People’s Party, New Serbia – Movement for the Salvation of Serbia, the Independent MP Caucus and independent MPs, Marinika Tepic, Ana Stevanovic and Branislav Mihajlovic.




Dodik after talks with Izetbegovic and Covic (N1)


Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik stated after talks with Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic, that the halt in the formation of the Council of Ministers happened because of the Membership Action Plan (MAP). “The SDA, HDZ and everyone in the Federation of B&H think they are moving towards NATO. This issue cannot be approved for a number of reasons, but it is rational that this issue will not disappear by itself, just because we from Republika Srpska (RS) think that it should be different. I want to say that conditioning is not rational, said Milorad Dodik,” speaking about B&H’s entry into NATO after today’s meeting of the SNSD, SDA and HDZ. “To have the Council of Ministers completely formed is very important, for sending the message to the EU and the European countries. There are no different views regarding the European path of B&H. There is a complete consensus regarding this issue, as well as the coordination mechanism. We talked here as the presidents of the three parties. The positioning of the parties is certain, therefore there is no dispute that the chairman should be a Serb, there is no dispute. There was a stalemate because of the moment where the issue of the MAP was raised as the previous question of the Council of Ministers,” said Dodik. We will try to produce the paper that will satisfy all three sides, it is up to us to make an effort, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic said after the meeting with the leaders of the SNSD and HDZ. “We have adopted strategies related to the Membership Action Plan (MAP). When I say the rule of law, it also implies these laws, but that does not mean that they will not be changed.” The Entity level cannot be superior to the state, nor command in the sense that this can or that cannot be done,” said Izetbegovic.

At today’s meeting between Dodik, Covic and Izetbegovic on the establishment of power at the B&H level, it was agreed that the Chairman of the Council of Ministers should be appointed in the next seven to ten days, and by the end of March a Council of Ministers should be formed.


Dodik: Not interested in surrogate B&H which cannot work (Srna)


Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik stated Tuesday his goal is a Dayton agreement-based B&H which is defined in both the Dayton Peace Accords and in the Constitution, not its surrogate that is unable to function. Elaborating on his statement that he will leave the Presidency if together with the other two members he fails to return the country from its current path of self-destruction to the right path within a year at most, Dodik said he considered himself an absolute legalist when he said he advocated the Constitution.

“But, things should be the way they were stipulated, not the way some people made them, imposed them and then turned B&H into a non-functioning surrogate. It’s not a secret that I have been re-examining my tenure at the Presidency even since the time before I was elected,” Dodik told the press in Banja Luka. He made a comment about a constant obstruction and disagreements about an agreement on lowering roaming prices between B&H and regional countries, and later on with the European Union by 80%, which is supposed to come into effect on July 1.  “There is nothing to be agreed there and it has to be accepted. Only B&H is refusing to sign the agreement on April 5 due to some interests of certain companies. I have spoken with the RS M:tel director and they are willing to adhere to those decisions because Serbia has agreed to make the roaming prices 80% cheaper,” emphasized Dodik. He said the Croat member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic had assured him they were willing to give their consent to the agreement, while the Bosniak member Sefik Dzaferovic believed some things should be clarified further. “That means that BH Telecom probably wants to buy some time and have higher profits. I don’t want to waste my time or energy on those issues because that is a vital interest of our citizens. Why should we pay 80% more than the people in Serbia, Montenegro or the EU? What kind of a state fails to protect its own people? The Presidency will send its decision that it agrees to sign the agreement as early as tomorrow,” said Dodik. He said he did not want to re-examine deals about the things that had already been agreed, such as the route of the Sarajevo-Belgrade motorway. “If we agreed on the route, then that’s the route. If we agreed that the entire B&H should be supplied with gas, then there’s no stopping and no one from Sarajevo can say that a leg of the pipeline from Serbia should not go towards RS,” said Dodik.

He reiterated that he did not take the job at the B&H presidency to earn a salary nor have his photographs taken but to do something for the benefit of the people. “Why should I go to Sarajevo and sit in endless meetings without any results? That’s what I would like to know,” stated Dodik.


Dodik: SNSD will not sacrifice military neutrality for power; SNSD will not enter any coalition with the SDA (Srna)


Milorad Dodik, said on Tuesday that the EU expects B&H to form authorities as soon as possible without any conditions, including the adoption of the annual national plan, and added that his party, the SNSD, will not sacrifice the principle of military neutrality for any agreement on the formation of the Council of Ministers. He said that if the SDA tries to insist on making the formation of authorities conditional upon the adoption of the 1st National Annual Program, this would be their political decision. “They must understand that the SNSD will not sacrifice the principle of military neutrality for any agreement on the formation of authorities and this is my message today, and it will be the same tomorrow as well,” Dodik said. According to him, B&H’s accession to NATO would mean to double allocations for armed forces, and this would be financed by the Entities, which means that RS would have to allocate another 50 million euro for the army. “We cannot give it. We need it for some development programs, hospitals, schools, roads, many things that we want to do,” Dodik said. He said that when it comes to previous talks on the formation of the Council of Ministers, no one disputed the fact that a Serb should be the chairman, and added that the name of Zoran Tegeltija, who should assume the office of chairman, was also not disputed, but that the SDA suddenly cited the Annual National Program as a point of disagreement. “As far as the HDZ is concerned, they do not put this condition” Dodik said and added that it remains to wait for the SDA. Dodik explained that the SNSD will not enter any coalition with the SDA and that it won’t sign any document on program coalition, which previous RS representatives did. “We can only be a part of technical process of formation of the Council of Ministers, where this time the SNSD will take that which belongs to Republika Srpska and Serbs, and there is no need to get approval from the SDA for something like that” Dodik said.


Djukanovic to receive European King David Award (CDM)


On 5 March, President of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic departed for Brussels at the invitation of the President of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, where he will speak at the meeting of the board of this association on the Montenegrin model of inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations. At the official ceremony in his honor, Rabbi Margolin, in the presence of the representatives of the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission, as well as European Jewish communities, will present President Djukanovic the “European King David Award”, the highest recognition given by the Jewish European Association to prominent figures. The event, which will take place on March 7, is dedicated to the Montenegrin people’s great accomplishment of building a tolerant, inclusive and pluralistic society based on the principles of mutual respect and coexistence. As explained by the European Jewish Association, the event will be attended by dignitaries from across Europe, MEPs and senior representatives of European Jewry. “We are gathering to present the European King David Award to the President, in recognition of his huge contribution in safeguarding Jewish life in Montenegro, and building a tolerant society that should be emulated across the European Continent,” says the statement by the EJA. President Djukanovic will use his stay in Brussels to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk, to discuss issues related to the EU negotiation process, as well as current processes in Montenegro and the region. He will also meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, whose agenda will also include some of these topics.


Parliamentary session without opposition (MINA)


Opposition deputies were not present at yesterday’s second regular session of parliament on which the proposed laws on academic integrity and state awards will be considered. President of the Assembly Ivan Brajovic said he regretted that there were no opposition representatives in the hall, the MINA agency reports. “My appeal to them, and I suppose colleagues from the ruling majority would agree with it, is to come and join us as soon as possible,” Brajovic said. The SDP delegates’ caucus announced that they would not attend the session. “Strongly supporting the legitimate revolt of Montenegrin citizens after the arose of the Koverta affair, as well as the daily degradation of their social position, we consider justified the request that the opposition publicly renounces participation at any future elections, until fair and democratic conditions and ambience are created” said the SDP. Supporting the efforts of the organizers of civil protest to, as they say, “help to create fair and democratic conditions through a caretaker government,” the SDP declares itself aware that “any change and creation of a decent and democratic society has to have the support of European and Euro-Atlantic partners, while respecting their assessments in their desire to help the necessary changes.”


Worker’s Party left the DF (RTCG)


The Worker’s Party left the Democratic Front (DF), its President Janko Vucinic said, explaining that the DF is managed by the Presidency, in which the Workers’ Party, even two and a half years after gaining parliamentary status, hasn’t got a representative. The Worker’s Party, as announced at the press conference, continues its independent work along with the boycott of the parliament, which, Vucinic believes, “completely lost legitimacy.” “So, we have come into the situation to have to respect decisions that are made without our participation in making such decisions,” he said at the press conference.  Having in mind upcoming turbulent political events the Workers’ Party do not want to participate in the implementation of decisions that are taken without their participation. “Also, the Presidency of the Workers’ Party has assessed that we are being repressed by other DF constituents, marginalized and reduced to the status of the pendant, which none of us, starting with me as party president to the last member and sympathizer, agrees to be,” said Vucinic.


Iseni: Although I’ve been member of SDSM for long time, I will support the Albanian candidate in these elections (INA)


In SDSM there are doubts about the support for their presidential candidate. SDSM official Xhevat Iseni publicly expressed his support for the independent Albanian candidate for president, Blerim Reka, INA reported. Iseni does not follow the election of his party, who presented Stevo Pendarovski as its candidate, and was supported by DUI and other parties.

“I, Xhevat Iseni, although I have been a member of SDSM for many years, I will support the Albanian candidate in these elections” stated Iseni, who is president of the Board of Directors of the Joint Stock Company for construction and management of residential and business premises (ADSDP). Iseni has often publicly opposed his party’s activities, expressing criticism and disagreement.


Biden to Zaev: Prespa Agreement is major positive development for EU integration (Republika)


Prime Minister Zoran Zaev received a letter from former US Vice President Joe Biden in which he said he was honored to meet and exchange views about current political issues with Prime Minister Zaev at the Munich Security Conference. “Once again I congratulate you on the historic agreement with Greece in Prespa. I am convinced that the agreement is a major positive development for European integration and unity. As I said at the meeting in Munich, the success of North Macedonia is a success for all of Europe, and that’s good for everyone” the former US Vice President Biden wrote in a letter. According to a government press release, Biden writes in the letter that he was looking forward to the day when the Republic of North Macedonia will be welcomed as a full-fledged member of NATO. “Your vision sets the foundations of safety and security, and your leadership as the Prime Minister of North Macedonia will be remembered after the historical achievement” reads Joe Biden’s letter to Prime Minister Zaev. Former US Vice President Joe Biden ends the letter with the conviction that the friendship between the two nations in the years ahead will be stronger. “I assure you that I will personally advocate for your policies and commitment to a better future” reads the letter of former US Vice President Joe Biden to the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, reads the government’s press release.


Opposition warns biggest rally on 16 March (ADN)


It is not the end. The opposition in Albania is getting ready for another protest, as they said bigger protest on 16 March. At the end of the Tuesday’s protest in front of the parliament, the leader of Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, warned that the next protest will be bigger and decisive for PM Edi Rama‘s removal. “This government showed its ugly face. I want to make a call for all of you that were here today and those who support us, that the biggest protest will be organized on 16 March. This will be the decisive protest to remove the criminal sect in government and save Albania,” said Basha.




Serbia, North Macedonia eye stake in Bulgaria’s Belene NPP (bne IntelliNews, 5 March 2019)


Serbia and North Macedonia have shown interest in getting stakes in Bulgaria’s planned second nuclear power plant, Belene, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said on March 5.

The Bulgarian government currently plans to re-launch the Belene nuclear power plant project and is looking for foreign investors. The government’s strategy aims to secure construction of Belene within 10 years at a cost of up to €10bn. The two countries would like to get stakes as future consumers of the electricity produced by Belene NPP, Donchev said in an interview with bTV. He added that Bulgaria will seek several types of investors in the project – a strategic investor who will give cash for the project, the Bulgarian state that will participate with already acquired equipment and investors who will be consumers of the produced electricity. Sofia is expected to launch a tender for investors by the end of March. Earlier this year, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that Montenegro also wants to participate in the project. Local large companies have shown interest in acquiring stakes as future consumers. Donchev also said that the Belene project cannot be completed without the participation of Russia’s Rosatom that supplied equipment for the plant several years ago. Company representatives have arrived in Sofia with Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Rosatom has already expressed interest in participating in the project. Last year Belene’s revival united the ruling coalition comprised of GERB and the United Patriots with the main opposition in parliament, the Socialist Party (BSP), but raised serious concerns among economic analysts and opposition parties outside parliament about the viability of the project and the true reasons for its restart. In November the European Commission noted it was considering that Bulgaria has to start the whole procedure from the scratch, as it sees it as a completely new project, not a resumption of a previous one. Petkova has said that the government will probe the real interest of potential investors in the project and an investor should be picked by the end of 2019. Four international companies, including China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), Rosatom, and companies from France and Korea, have shown interest in the construction of the Belene plant, Petkova said in November. The government’s strategy aims to secure construction of Belene within 10 years at a cost of up to €10bn.

According to Democratic Bulgaria, the cost of Belene’s construction would be at least BGN21bn (€10.7bn), an expense that would seriously threaten Bulgaria’s economic stability. The country has so far spent over BGN3bn on Belene. Economists claim that Bulgaria does not need the new power plant, which if completed will have two 1,000 MW reactors. While it was initially seen as a replacement for the ageing Kozloduy nuclear power plant, in January 2016 Kozloduy signed a contract to extend the lifespan of its two remaining reactors until 2049.



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