Vucic: If you want to talk then you don’t nail the position (RTS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told RTS in an interview that he had discussed Belgrade-Pristina relations with German Chancellor’s advisors Jan Hecker and Matthias Luttenberg. “We didn’t come closer to agreement because it is not the Germans who are negotiating with them but we, and there are no such negotiations,” said Vucic. “They said that they had unequivocally requested the abolishment of taxes, which is important that they are requesting as the most powerful EU state, and I expect new steps from the EU in the course of April for things to change on the ground, so we will see whether this will lead to the abolishment of taxes,” said Vucic. He doesn’t believe that the taxes will be abolished soon, because those who had introduced them think they have great support for that on the Kosovo political scene. “Nonetheless, the platform that they adopted is so bad and I acquainted the German advisors with Serbia’s stand, I said that it is so horrible that I don’t see how it can be changed in the future. The platform is followed by legal acts, it has binding force and it is not only an issue of territorial integrity of Kosovo that coincides with Serbia’s integrities…but it also has tens of conditions that are horrible for Serbia,” said Vucic. Asked why Belgrade didn’t adopt a platform for negotiations with Pristina, Vucic says it is clear to everyone. “If you want to talk with somebody, then you don’t nail things. If you nail them don, then it is difficult to pull out the nails. If we were to plan a platform that would be similar to Pristina’s, then it is clear that there can never be agreement,” said Vucic.
Vucic: Germany expects restraint from Serbia (TV Prva/Tanjug)
Germany expects restraint from Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic said Tuesday after Monday night’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s aides. As in the past, Serbia will act calmly and try to calm the situation down, Vucic said. There is no way I will consider Pristina’s platform because their conditions make no sense whatsoever, Vucic said in a statement to TV Prva after telling the German officials the same. The platform is one thing and Pristina’s taxes on Serbian goods are yet another, he said, adding that Pristina had also failed to fulfil its 2,155-day-old promises concerning the Community of Serb Municipalities.
General Mojsilovic: Security situation stable but unpredictable (RTS)
On the occasion of increased presence of the police in northern Kosovo and Metohija, Chief-of-Staff of the Serbian Army, General Lieutenant Colonel Milan Mojsilovic, has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that the security situation is table but unpredictable. He says the situation is very complex and full of tensions. “The responsibility of KFOR members is to ensure a stable state-of-affairs throughout Kosovo and Metohija. We are interested in citizens not only in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, but also in the south, throughout the entire territory of Kosovo and Metohija. According to him, there is permanent communication with KFOR, as well as permanent exchange of information. “The President of the Republic is determined for a peaceful solution of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, so at present we are not examining military involvement in the resolution of this issue, but I, as a soldier, cannot exclude that possibility,” said Mojsilovic. He underlines that he cannot say that the state of the army is regular, because we the army engaged on tasks along the entire administrative line.
Tadic: Revision of Brussels agreement necessary (RTV)
Former Serbian president Boris Tadic said that the Brussels agreement had to be revised, which was extremely dangerous. “I think that the Brussels agreement must be revised, and that is a very important moment, but it might create an extremely dangerous situation right now, as any international treaty is very difficult to revise without certain consequences for the party that
requires the revision,” Tadic said in an interview for Radio and Television of Vojvodina (RTV).
The former president said that, in a sense, the international position of Serbia was no better than it was before, because the states taking Serbia’s side against Kosovo, China and Russia, maintain different positions. “On certain issues, like Crimea, Russia maintains a view the Albanians prefer because they wanted Kosovo to secede from Serbia, whereas on Chechnya and the republics of the southern Caucasus, Russia shares Serbia’s position,” Tadic said. Tadic underlined that he had never favored a frozen conflict, but preferred a fair compromise, which would include Albanian interests, as well.
ANP of B&H needed for NATO Membership once again taken out from the Agenda (Fena)
The Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) was supposed to consider the Annual National Program of B&H, which was already taken of agenda several times and this has happened again yesterday at the request of the ministers from the Serbian people. Council of Ministers will discuss the appointments and extensions of mandates in the institutions of B&H under the authority of the Council of Ministers of B&H, as well as the work program of the Council of Ministers for 2019. Ministers will also consider information on the inflow of migrants to B&H. When it comes to migrant crises in B&H, on March 8th, it was stated that B&H expects an increased number of migrants on the so-called Balkan route on their path towards the EU. Last year, around 25,000 migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia went through B&H hoping to enter the EU through neighboring Croatia, Security Minister Dragan Mektic said, adding that the EU failed to address the growing crisis. “We expect an escalation of migrant problems, not just in B&H, but along that route,” Mektic said. According to him, information from official institutions, including European, tells that about 70,000 migrants, now in Greece, are moving towards Western Europe. “This is not just B&H’s problem, we want to be part of the European solution, but the EU cannot agree on solutions. This illegal migration is simply allowed to continue,” Mektic said. He said that B&H, poor and paralyzed by the fragmented authorities, does not have the economic or political capacity to support a large inflow of migrants. Last year the EU allocated some 9.2 million Euros ($10.3 million) to help B&H set up migrant reception centers with a current capacity of 4,500 people.
SDSS Party decides to stay in ruling coalition (Hina)
The Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) decided at a leadership meeting on Monday that it would not leave the ruling coalition, authorizing its leader Milorad Pupovac and the party’s parliamentary group to discuss the situation with the coalition partners. The party’s Presidency discussed relations within the coalition and the party’s status in the coalition, deciding that it has reached a line which it cannot cross for the sake of defending basic democratic values, rule of law, freedom of the press, Croatia’s international commitments, the rights of the Serb minority and everything that has been agreed with the government and signed and adopted in operational programs concerning the Serb minority, the chairman of the SDSS parliamentary group, Boris Milosevic, told the press after the meeting. MP Dragana Jeckov said that the Presidency had authorized Pupovac and the SDSS parliamentary group to discuss the situation with the coalition partners, “those who still care about these values and issues.” Pupovac declined to speak to the press. Last week he indicated in several statements that the SDSS was considering leaving the governing coalition.
Defense Strategy within lines of NATO strategic concept (TMN)
The government of Montenegro passed the Draft Defense Strategy of Montenegro, the most important strategic document in the field of defense. “This document focuses on the development of the defense system of Montenegro and engagement of defense resources in response to contemporary security challenges, risks and threats in the long term”, Minister of Defense Predrag Boskovic told the press following the Cabinet session. He also noted that the current Defense Strategy was adopted more than ten years ago and that it had to be revised, bearing in mind that in the meantime significant changes in the geostrategic and security environment occurred. The new strategic framework enables the further development of the defense system, and NATO membership is recognized as one of the key elements of the concept. “The draft defense strategy respects the current and future defense needs of Montenegro. The document provides a clear vision of protecting the independence, sovereignty and state territory of Montenegro, with the integrated engagement of all national capacities and support of the allies. The strategy also implements the vision set out in the NATO Strategic Concept, especially when it comes to contributing to the development and capabilities of the Alliance, as well as the preservation of peace and security in the region and the world” said Minister Boskovic. Recently in Brussels, Secretary-General at NATO, Jens Stoltenberg said that it is encouraging the Alliance has members such as Montenegro is, and emphasized that NATO enlargement within the Western Balkans has strengthened the Alliance. “There are numerous challenges and issues, but it’s encouraging to have Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and soon north Macedonia as our member states,” concluded NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg.
Ivanov refuses to sign laws passed under the name “Republic of North Macedonia” (Republika)
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has refused to sign laws adopted by the Parliament sent to him with the name “Republic of North Macedonia”. The President refuses to accept the Prespa treaty and did not sign it, leading to a legal precedent when the ratification act was published in the Official Gazette with the signature of Speaker Talat Xhaferi. Under the Constitution, the laws returned by President Ivanov to the Parliament will have to be voted on again. If they pass again, they will be resent to the Parliament, and the Constitution declares that then the President will sign them. Ivanov has already refused to do so in the case of the clearly unconstitutional law on the use of languages, so it is possible that until the end of his term in May any new laws will also lack his signature.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Serbia’s Gastrans invites binding bids for new gas link (Reuters, 12 March 2019)
BELGRADE – Serbia’s Gastrans has invited binding bids to book capacity at a planned section of Gazprom’s TurkStream pipeline, which will carry Russian natural gas across Serbia to Europe.
Firms that placed non-binding offers in the market test of the project last year can place binding bids by March 18 for gas transit between Jan. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2039, Gastrans said.
Gastrans is owned by Swiss-based South Stream Serbia, in which Russia’s Gazprom holds a 51 percent stake and Serbia’s gas monopoly Srbijagas the remainder. The TurkStream project is designed to deliver gas to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary as part of Russian plans to bypass Ukraine, currently a main transit route for its gas deliveries to Europe.
The planned 400-kilometre link through Serbia, which connects the country’s natural gas transmission system to those of Bulgaria and Hungary, is expected to be completed by Dec. 15, with capacity of 13.88 billion cubic metres a year. It is slated to begin commercial operation on Jan. 1, 2020. In last year’s market test, Gastrans received non-binding bids for the import of 9,139 gigawatt hours (GWh) of natural gas per day from Bulgaria and the export of 5,258 GWh of gas per day to Hungary in 2019-2039. The European Union’s energy watchdog said last week the project would hurt competition in the region after Serbia’s energy regulator exempted it from the EU’s Third Energy Package, a 2009 reform to integrate the EU energy market and boost competition.