Borell: Secession is contrary to principles of international law (Tanjug/RTV/RTS)
By adopting its platform, Pristina has demonstrated it is against dialogue and put an end to it, while Pristina’s next moves remain unknown, Serbia will be committed to peace and regional stability, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Wednesday at a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borell in Belgrade. Spain is against the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo because secession is contrary to the principles of international law, but it also supports a search for compromise within the framework of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Borell said. Vucic noted Serbia was acting responsibly as it had met all its obligations from the Brussels agreement, as well as reasonably and with restraint because it had not responded with reciprocal measures to Pristina’s taxes, the presidential press office said in a statement. Vucic expressed satisfaction with excellent bilateral relations with Spain.
Dacic: Spain strongly supports integrity, sovereignty of Serbia (RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic expressed his gratitude to Spain today for its strong support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia, which is a matter of the greatest national interest for our country. Speaking at a joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain Josep Borrell, Dacic said that Serbia provides firm support to the territorial integrity of that country and opposes attempts at internationalizing the Catalan issue. He underlined that Serbia did not allow the opening of a diplomatic office of Catalonia in Serbia, which would have a notion of statehood, but that such an office was opened in Zagreb though. Support to the territorial integrity is a matter of the highest national interest for Serbia, and it is very important that Spain, as a large EU member state, has not recognized the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, he said.
According to Dacic, Serbia and Spain are traditionally friendly countries, which have good relations and cooperation at all levels, with the trend of improving regular relations.
Foreign trade between Serbia and Spain is between 450 and 500 million Euros, Dacic said, adding that the exchange is higher than it used to be, but that it is relatively small compared to the opportunities that exist. That is why Serbia impatiently awaits an economic forum in Madrid scheduled for the second half of this year, which will be used for further improvement of economic relations. Also, Dacic welcomed the decision to introduce regular Belgrade-Madrid and Belgrade-Barcelona flights, pointing out that Serbia and Spain are present together in multilateral peacekeeping operations, such as those in Lebanon, where 117 Serbian Army troops are part of the Spanish battalion. Borrell underlined that Spain’s position on the non-recognition of the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo is clear and that Madrid believes that only through dialogue can a permanent solution on this issue be found. He stated that Spain is committed to peace in the Balkans and that it believes in dialogue as the best way to overcome the existing problems in the region.
Dacic: Serbia warned KFOR and NATO that it will intervene if Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are attacked (Tanjug/TV Pink)
There is no united appeal of the international community on Pristina for the abolishment of taxes and this is why they are surviving, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told TV Pink. “Some EU countries do not wish that and they are constantly telling Ramush Haradinaj not to abolish taxes. They want the dialogue to continue and, once they sit at the negotiating table, then to abolish taxes,” Dacic says. He says that Great Britain is not condemning Pristina’s moves and that their stand is that there is no change of borders. Germany, too, does not agree with the change of borders, but doesn’t either support what Haradinaj is doing. “In our opinion, Great Britain is encouraging Haradinaj not to abolish taxes, they don’t like the idea of a compromise and don’t like the fact that they are not the leading factor. They are not thinking that this issue needs to be resolved. They are proposing solutions that imply that we need to recognize Kosovo within the existing borders and for northern Kosovo to have broad autonomy,” said Dacic. Asked whether Pristina was drafting the platform on its own or whether they received it from the side, Dacic says he thinks it was written in Pristina, but that several factors are involved and that everybody was adding something. “Not one document was so against the dialogue as the platform is. It annuls the Brussels agreement. The platform states the wish list that Serbia needs to fulfill. That platform has no importance for us, nor will we accept anything from it. That is an indicator as to how much they are against a compromise solution,” said Dacic. Speaking about the operation “Steel Ring”, Dacic says that Serbia had warned KFOR and NATO that Serbia would intervene if the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are attacked. “Serbia will not allow an attack on the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. Of course, it will not allow an attack on all of Kosovo, but the north is their obsession,” concluded Dacic.
Drecun: Serbia would not abandon its people at Pristina’s disgrace (RTS)
The Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun has told the morning news of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) that EU High Representative Federica Mogherini’s statement that the final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina needs to be in accordance with international law, with the support of the UN Security Council, is very important. “This statement shows the direction in resolving the Kosovo problem. Neutral talks had been mentioned all the time, everybody was avoiding saying who will sign the document that is to be reached, if two states are at issue – this doesn’t suit us,” says Drecun.
According to him, Mogherini’s statement points out that the reached solution could be different, and that Resolution 1244 needs to be amended. He asks what does it mean that it needs to be in accordance with law, international law is in accordance with how someone interprets it. “If someone says that borders are untouchable and that they cannot be changed, we agree with that. Do not touch our borders with Albania,” says Drecun, adding that Russia had stated that a solution for Kosovo and Metohija needs to be in accordance with international law.
Commenting the adoption of the law and statute on Trepca in Pristina and speculations that Kosovo forces will take Trepca, Drecun says that such a possibility exists. He says that we have visible presence of the police and KFOR in northern Kosovo, increased presence of unmanned aircraft. “It is evident that they are gathering information, so now is the question whether they want to prevent Pristina in its intention or not,” says Drecun. He stressed that in case of a massive violence, where KFOR doesn’t wish or cannot act, Serbia would not abandon its people at their disgrace.
Ljajic: Text of agreement with Eurasian Economic Union harmonized (Tanjug)
Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Minister of Trade Veronika Nikishina agreed in Moscow on Tuesday the final version of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Serbia and the EAEU. Tuesday’s round of discussions solved all issues in talks that have been underway since 2016.
In this round of talks between Ljajic and Nikishina all the controversial issues in the negotiations that have been going on since 2016 were resolved. In a statement to Tanjug, Ljajic said that a modern text of the FTA was agreed in Moscow, which is in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the principles of modern trade practice. In addition to Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, with which we have already had bilateral agreements, a new unified agreement will apply to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, he specified. According to him, we did not get everything we wanted, but we will have more goods in duty-free regime than to date. In this way, as he explained, our producers will be able to export unlimited quantities of all kinds of fruit brandy, as well as all kinds of sheep and goat cheese. In addition, we received a 2,000-ton quota for the export of cigarettes, as well as a quota for 87,500 liters of “vinjak” brandy and 400 tons of semi-hard and hard cow cheese, Ljajic said, adding that other types of cow cheese are already in duty-free regime.
SzS: Huge protest on 13 April if requests are not met (Beta)
The Alliance for Serbia (SzS) has said that after three months of protests in over 90 cities the signatories of the Agreement with the People had only one demand: that the current regime go and that free elections be held at all levels. “We demand the immediate resignation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic. We ask for elections at all levels which will be held in six to nine months, in which the media would be free and during which the opposition’s other joint demands for fair and honest elections would be met,” the statement said. It added that the first step toward free media was the immediate dismissal of the editor of the national RTS and RTV broadcasters’ news programs and the dismissal of the REM regulatory authority members. “We give the authorities 30 days to meet these requests. If the regime ignores these demands, we will organize a mass national protest in Belgrade on 13 April which citizens from all around Serbia will be
invited to attend,” the statement said.
Radoncic: We are not interested in participation in government (Fena)
The leader of the Alliance for a Better Future (SBB), Fahrudin Radoncic, told reporters that this party is not interested in taking part in the government and that they are not interested in being part of the majority either at the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the state level. He pointed out that the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) itself says that it is the strongest party, because of which there is no reason why they should not form state authorities with the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
“We talked with the SDA, they have a potential option with the Democratic Front (DF) and that’s just the reason more. They have sufficient capacity to make the authorities at the Federation of B&H and the state levels,” explained Radoncic.
Bombing of Yugoslavia starting point for all current conflicts (Srna)
The 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia became a starting point for all current conflicts, including the one in Venezuela, stated Andrey Klimov, Deputy Chairman of Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee. During a session of the working group on protecting state sovereignty, which was held on Tuesday in the form of a video link between Moscow and Belgrade under the title “20th Anniversary of Illicit NATO Intervention in Sovereign Yugoslavia”, Klimov recalled that the conference was taking place exactly twenty years after Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO and for the first time since the Cold War had ended and NATO approached Russia’s borders so close. According to Klimov, the US bombing of Yugoslavia, which took place from March 24 to June 10, 1999, undermined the so-called Helsinki Accords, which established principles of peaceful international order in Europe.
“And, of course, this de-facto war on the European continent opened a Pandora’s Box and led to various changes related to forceful arrangement of state borders. Even now, when NATO countries call for a military resolution of conflicts in such countries as Venezuela… These are all links in the chain that started with the events twenty years ago,” said Klimov. The Serbian Minister of Innovation and Technological Development Nenad Popovic stated during the meeting that the goal of NATO’s aggression against Serbia was a secession of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. “There was only one goal to NATO’s aggression against Serbia, for Kosovo to secede from Serbia. However, they didn’t manage to achieve it. Kosovo and Metohija is still a part of Serbia,” said Popovic. Popovic stressed Russia and its President Vladimir Putin’s major role in preserving Serbia’s territorial integrity. “Kosovo will remain Serbian as long we have our Constitution and the UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Thanks to Russia, Resolution 1244 remains in effect and the false state of Kosovo has not been admitted to either the UN, UNESCO or Interpol despite all the pressures from certain Western countries” said Popovic. The Serbian minister recalled that 90% of Serbian people oppose joining the North Atlantic Alliance. “We continue to pursue the policy of military neutrality. Our country will never join NATO,” said Popovic. NATO launched its military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999, and the Alliance claimed its goal to allegedly be the “prevention of genocide against the Albanian population in Kosovo”, TASS reports. Military experts say that during the operation 3,000 cruise missiles were fired, 80,000 tonnes of all various bombs were dropped, including cluster and depleted uranium munitions. Serbia estimates that between 3,500 and 4,000 people were killed during the bombing and that 10,000 were injured, two thirds being civilians. The damage incurred during air strikes on Yugoslavia is estimated to be 100 billion Dollars.
Putin, Jinping and others wish Dodik a happy birthday (Srna)
The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, sent a birthday greeting to the Serbian member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency, Milorad Dodik, wishing him good health, wellbeing and success. “We appreciate your efforts to improve friendly relations between our countries. I believe that the relations will develop well in the coming period to the benefit of both the Russian Federation and B&H” Putin said in his greeting to Dodik on the occasion of his 60th birthday. President of China, Xi Jinping, also sent a birthday card to Dodik, wishing him good health, personal and professional success. “I find developing of China – B&H relations very important, and I am ready, together with you, to make efforts to improve friendship and cooperation between China and B&H to an even higher level, bringing welfare to the two countries and peoples,” birthday card reads. The president of China said that relations between China and B&H are good and that a good trend of their development is maintained. “The two sides have a firm mutual political trust and continuous exchange at different levels, while practical cooperation between the two countries is steadily improving,” said the president of China. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev was also the one who sent warm greetings and best wishes to the Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency. “I wish you excellent health, success in your activities, and our friendly people of B&H long-lasting peace and prosperity,” Aliyev wrote in his greetings to Dodik. Aliyev invited Dodik to visit Azerbaijan whenever was appropriate for him and voiced expectations that the visit would contribute to the development of bilateral relations. “Today, the relations between Azerbaijan and B&H are on the path of a dynamic development. There are also good opportunities for improving our cooperation further in the field of politics, economy and culture,” stated Aliyev. The Serbian member of the B&H Presidency, Milorad Dodik, was born on Mach 12, 1959 in Banja Luka.
Hahn concerned about China Bank loan for Federation of B&H energy project (N1)
“I am very surprised by the large majority decision of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity’s House of Representatives on a public guarantee in favor of China’s Exim Bank loan for Tuzla Thermal Power Plant’s Block 7, the EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn” stated on Tuesday evening. According to him, this raises serious questions “not only about Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H)’s commitment to international treaties and European rules under the Energy Community Treaty but also about the choice of the energy technology as well as about a sound cost-benefit analysis in a responsible and transparent manner.” Last week, the Federation of B&H Parliament adopted several decisions needed for the beginning of the construction of Block 7, which is supposed to substitute the already dated blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4, which are due to shut gradually by 2027.
The 450 MW Block 7 will cost the Federation of B&H whooping €870 million, but, as the Federation of B&H Prime Minister, Fadil Novalic, said – the Federation of B&H entity has no alternative because the scenario of it running out of power by 2027 is real. This would compromise the entire energy system of the country, and the consequences of this scenario would be devastating for the country. When it comes to reasons why B&H signed a loan contract with a Chinese bank and not an EU one, only one dominated the negotiations – high interest-rates from EU banks caused by B&H’s weak economy and unfavorable political situation. The Chinese Exim Bank, on the other hand, bullishly, offered highly favorable repayment conditions which the Federation of B&H government could not resist. Hahn added that Federation of B&H representatives probably have good reasons for their decision and that they will be able to explain this to their citizens. “Issues like environmental impact assessments, state aid and public procurement procedures will certainly be closely looked at during the opinion process,” the EU official said, probably hinting at the EU Commission’s opinion on Bosnia’s candidate status application which was formalized by the submission of answers to the Commissions Questionnaire on the state of affairs in the country.
RS blocks connecting natural gas pipeline between B&H and Croatia (HRT)
The government in Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) has refused to allow the implementation of a project to connect B&H with the Croatian natural gas network.
A source close to the government in Banja Luka confirmed for the Hina news agency that the aim of the project was to secure more sources of delivery in order to reduce dependence on the only gas pipeline coming from Serbia that serves exclusively for distribution of gas from Russian suppliers. The branch of the future Ionian-Adriatic pipeline was supposed to open the Bosnia and Herzegovina gas market access to sources such as the LNG terminal on the island of Krk. The project was strongly supported by the energy community, which consists of 11 EU member states and five potential member states, while the European Bank for reconstruction and development demonstrated readiness to finance its implementation.
Croatia and Albania sign exchange agreement (HRT)
The Croatian and Albanian defense ministers signed an exchange agreement in Zagreb on 12 March. After the signing the two ministers inspected weapons and equipment produced by the Croatian arms industry. Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic signed an exchange agreement with his Albanian counterpart Olta Xhacka in Zagreb. Both ministers emphasized the great potential for strengthening cooperation, with the Albanian minister inspecting the domestically produced weapons and equipment used by Croatian soldiers. “We have excellent products from the defense industry and I am confident this is an opportunity for the minister to ascertain the quality of these products. Obviously, this is an opportunity for our defense industry, because Albania, just like Croatia, is investing into modernizing its armed forces,” said Minister Krsticevic. His Albanian counterpart added that Tirana is keen on furthering its ties with Zagreb. “We are confident that we will continue to cooperate in the future, and that this will open up new opportunities in the area of security in the Balkans and all of southeast Europe,” Minister Xhacka said. Albania has confirmed that it will participate in a soon to be held Croatian-led military exercise marking its tenth anniversary of NATO membership.
Croatian President meets with UN Secretary General, gives speech (Hina)
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday held a bilateral meeting with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the fringes of the UN Conference “Women in Power” the Office of the Croatian President said in a press release. The two officials talked about the situation in Southeast Europe, with a special emphasis on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) and the position of Croats in that country, as well as about current global challenges, the press release said. Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia supported the continuation of the EU enlargement process to include all six Southeast European countries. She expressed satisfaction with the policy of human resources, which for the first time in history resulted in gender equality in the IN group of senior staff and commended progress made in revival of the work of the UN General Assembly, according to the press release. Earlier, Grabar-Kitarovic participated in the United Nations Conference “Women in Power”. She said that just as most other women in politics and all walks of life, she had to persist and fight for her place – in life and in politics. She pointed out that in the public, often inappropriate questions are posed to female politicians and women in power, and in many situations, they face threats and insults. Although women have accomplished much, they still don’t have an equal value to men and this applies not only to female politicians, but to all women, no matter where they come from, how old they are or what position they hold, Grabar-Kitarovic underlined. The Croatian president reasserted the fact that countries with a higher share of women in executive and non-executive positions are more prosperous, adding that there is a huge positive impact on the GDP and increased productivity. In view of this, the president highlighted that in Croatia efforts by the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality have resulted in the creation of a unique Data Base of Business Women who can lead successful companies and be in managerial positions based on their professional qualifications and achievements. Furthermore, Grabar-Kitarovic said that women are needed in the maintenance of peace and security, in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and politics in general, because when given full and equal access to resources and opportunities, and when included in decision-making, women drive the world forward. She emphasized that education has to be among the priorities of all development programs.
“Just outside this building stands Croatia’s gift to the United Nations and one of the symbols of the Organization – the “Peace Monument” by the famous Croatian sculptor Antun Augustincic. It is a horsewoman carrying a globe in her hand and leading the world to peace. She is the one to aspire to. Let’s make her symbolism our reality and every girl empowered enough to know that she too can have the world on the palm of her hand,” Grabar-Kitarovic said in her address at the UN. The goal of the conference is to show how important it is for women to stand up for themselves and never give up, and the responsibility of women who are policymakers is to show other women and girls worldwide, through their own deeds, to believe in themselves and to be determined in overcoming all obstacles standing in their way. The conference is being attended, among others, by the Presidents of Lithuania and Estonia, Dalia Grybauskaite and Kersti Kaljulaid respectively, Prime Minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
Montenegro at Informal General Affairs Council in Bucharest (CDM)
The presence of the European Union in the region and further support to the reform process of the Western Balkan countries are essential for the preservation of peace and security, Chief Negotiator Aleksandar Drljevic pointed out. During the meeting on margins of the Informal General Affairs Council in Bucharest, Chief Negotiator Drljevic emphasized that despite challenges the EU is currently facing it is important to remain present in the region and strongly dedicates to the enlargement policy. “I am convinced that the EU will remain consistent with the goals set out in the European Commission Enlargement Strategy of February 2018 as well as the support messages from the May 2018 Summit in Sofia, confirming the European perspective of the Western Balkans,” he noted. The Chief Negotiator pointed to the importance of timely evaluating the candidate countries for membership progress based on individual results. „Montenegro has been firmly committed to the EU membership, which is confirmed by strategic documents and activities related to the fulfilment of remaining obligations in all negotiating chapters,” he pointed out, highlighting the extremely high level of citizens’ support for the EU membership. On the occasion of Informal General Affairs Council, Chief Negotiator Drljevic stated the importance of keeping continuity in evenly advancing of the country in the process of accession negotiations since we have entered the phase which implies temporary closing negotiating chapters. Montenegro anticipates 2019 as the year of opening last negotiating chapter, achieving internal readiness in closing more chapters, obtaining final benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24, the Chief Negotiator said. “In the process of its accession to the EU, Montenegro needs to pay attention to the importance of cooperation and exchange of experiences among countries of the region. Montenegro’s policy of good neighborly relations is one of its top foreign policy goals, and as a state which has made the most progress in the process of EU accession, it shares unselfishly its experience with the surrounding countries safe in the knowledge that it contributes to better quality and rapid transformation of the region, as well as its integration to the EU,” the Chief Negotiator pointed out. The Bucharest meeting highlighted that the path to the EU for the candidate countries has no alternative and that Romania will aim to achieve concrete results in terms of enlargement policy, during its presidency.
OSCE/ODIHR will monitor the presidential elections with 279 observers (Meta)
“The OSCE / ODIHR observation mission will cover the upcoming presidential elections with a total of 279 observers. The main team of 11 experts will be based in Skopje and 18 long-term observers who will be deployed in nine teams across the country from March 20” said the head of the observation mission, Corien Jonker at a news conference. ODIHR will additionally ask member states from OSCE to provide 250 short-term observers who will come a few days before the election. Jonker noted that he would monitor the election process not only on election day but also before, during, and after election day. The administration of the elections, the campaigns of the candidates and their funding will also be monitored. “We are not interested in the result, but the quality of the election process and every voter to vote freely and transparently,” said Jonker. OSCE / ODIHR will publish a report the day before the elections, and after the election there will be a press conference and a preliminary report. The final report will be released several months after the election process, which will include recommendations to the authorities on areas which need to be worked on.
Zaev to chair next meeting of Stabilization and Association Council (Republika)
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will chair the meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council on March 19 in Brussels. The government said that considering the rotating presidency of the Stabilization and Association Council, it is foreseen that this year’s meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Zaev, and the EU’s co-chair will be the EU’s high representative for foreign policy and security, Federica Mogherini. The Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani will also be part of the delegation of North Macedonia, and the EU delegation will also include Commissioner for Neighbor Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Johannes Hahn.
The information on the 15th meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council between the Republic of North Macedonia and the European Union, with the draft platform for the participation of the Macedonian delegation, was adopted at Tuesday’s government session.
Pipe burst at SPO has flooded a part of the evidence in the cases of “Empire”, “Three Hundred” and “Spy” (Meta)
Part of the evidence in the SPO led cases of “Empire”, “Three Hundred” and “Spy” were flooded when the building where SPO is located had heating pipe burst. Last week, SPO confirmed that their location was flooded and part of the documents that were gathered as evidence for three cases were also flooded. “It is true that due to dilapidated heating installation in the object where SPO is located, there was a pipe burst where a part of the documentation for the cases “Empire”, “Three Hundred” and “Spy.” It should be taken into account that in this prosecution the documents are being scanned, but if there is a hint that there are documents that were not put into a digital form, there will be a request for their renewal,” said SPO. Cases such as “Trista” and “Spy” were taken to a trial, while the case of “Empire” is still under investigation.
Political crisis, SP gathers allies (ADN)
The Socialist Party (SP) organized on Tuesday a meeting with 25 ally parties. During the meeting was analyzed the political situation in the country, where the SP has sought consultations from its allies to overcome the cramp that has involved politics in the country.
“The abandonment by a group of Democratic Party (DP) and Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) MPs from the Temple of Institutional Democracy aims to severely damage our national and strategic interests in favor of the narrow interests of personal careers and party accounts. The rhetoric and the use of violence by the DP and the SMI for political ends tends to destabilize the country and the social chaos, turning us back many years back in the past with serious events of ’97 and ’98. We are committed to building a common platform for a functional and winning coalition of local government bodies,” it was stated in the declaration of political parties.
They called the political parties of the entire pluralist spectrum in the country, to respect the Central Election Commission (CEC) registration deadlines according to the Electoral Code.
Basha calls Albanians to fight for a change (ADN)
The Democratic Party (DP) leader Lulzim Basha stated that Albania is not poor, but robed by a corrupted government. He called all the Albanians to join opposition’s protest on 16 March for a better future and for a needed change. “I have often been in this area and have seen the potential of agriculture. The problem is not that we are a poor country, but we are a robed one. There are two ways: one to accept the fate and immigration and another one. I am here for the second one, the one which would release the economy and decrease taxes. But this way can truth only if we remove the actual government,” said Basha. The Democrat Leader stressed that his plan to cut taxes will be put into effect very soon.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Speech by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the United Nations’ Security Council (EEAS, 12 March 2019)
I would like now to mention two more contributions of the European Union to the multilateral system, starting with a region closer to us, to the European Union, reconciliation in the Balkans.
Let me thank you each and every one of you for the constructive approach of the Members of the Security Council to the Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
For a full-fledged resumption of the talks, the tariffs that have been imposed by the government of Kosovo must be revoked. The day the tariffs are revoked, I will immediately call for a new meeting of the Dialogue – to reach a legally binding agreement, which should address all outstanding issues and fully normalise relations between Pristina and Belgrade.
As you know, I personally facilitate the dialogue. But the Dialogue does not belong to me, the European Union or any of us around this table, it belongs to the parties. It is up to them to find an agreement that would be acceptable and convenient for both. At the same time, a final agreement will need to be in line with international law, and it will have to be supported by the UN Security Council. Your role is and will be key, and we are ready – I’m personally ready – to intensify our exchanges with all members of the United Nations Security Council on this.
And staying with the Balkans, this year we have already seen something historical happening in the Balkans: the Prespa agreement is another positive example of EU/UN cooperation and a remarkable example of political leadership by the two countries, North Macedonia and Greece. A positive conclusion to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue would give even more hope to the whole region, it would be a model and an inspiration to Europe and to the world.
NATO parliamentarians urged to increase focus on Balkans, security in the Eastern Mediterranean during visit to Greece (NATO Parliamentary Assembly, 12 March 2019)
Brussels / Athens – NATO and the European Union (EU) should pay more attention to ongoing security challenges on their south-eastern flank, NATO Parliamentarians heard during a visit to Athens, Greece. “The Balkans is not the dark side of the moon”, as Christos Karagiannidis, Head of the Greek delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) stressed, and the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean remains volatile, among others because of the ongoing conflict in Syria and the continuing migration flows. NATO PA President Madeleine Moon (United Kingdom) congratulated host country officials for their courage and farsightedness in resolving the name issue with neighbouring North Macedonia despite the high sensitivities involved. “I hope the Prespa agreement will contribute to peace and stability in your neighbourhood and in the whole Alliance”, she stressed during a joint statement with Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Nikolaos Voutsis. Her message was consistently echoed by other NATO Parliamentarians, including participating members of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia. Border security and the refugee/migration crisis was another key theme of the visit. Greek politicians have stressed that this is the most serious external challenge the country is facing. Since 2015, some 1.5 million people entered Greece’s territory fleeing violence and poverty, the delegation heard. While the numbers have dropped significantly since 2016, the problem remains acute for Greece. Under the 2016 EU-Turkey agreement, Greece must process all asylum requests filed on its territory. As a result, Greece has become the third country after France and Germany in terms of number of asylum requests received – 69,000 for 2018. The number of migrants returned to Turkey has been lower than anticipated due to the Greek legal provisions on asylum and lengthy procedures. Many migrants continue to be hosted in overcrowded facilities in Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos and others. Speaker Voutsis, Minister for Migration Policy Dimitrios Vitsas and other Greek interlocutors called for greater burden sharing and solidarity in dealing with this challenge, including by amending the Dublin regulation in order to reduce the burden on frontier EU member states. They stressed, however, that Greece is determined to treat all migrants with due dignity and to prioritise saving human lives over all other considerations. Greece has enhanced its coast guard’s capabilities to deal with migration movements across the Aegean sea, and works closely with international partners, including Frontex, NATO and Turkey. The coast guard co-operation between Greece and Turkey was assessed particularly positively. All participants agreed that the good cooperation in this area can and should be use to strengthen the bilateral Greek-Turkish relationship. Beyond these two priority areas, Greece supports the development of stronger Allied defence and deterrence posture on NATO’s eastern and south-eastern flanks, Evagelos Apostolakis, Greece’s Minister of Defence, stressed. While the country’s economic and financial situation remains strained, Greece dedicates over 2% of its GDP to defence, and actively contributes to NATO operations. Seeing itself as a heaven of democracy and stability amidst the arch of insecurity spanning from Ukraine to Northern Africa, Athens strives to develop a wide array of regional partnership frameworks to prevent further destabilization in the area. These frameworks include tripartite alliances involving, in different configurations, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. In addition, Greece maintains a strong bilateral military co-operation with the United States, including hosting the US Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay, Crete. Mainly due to longstanding cultural and historical connections, Greek public opinion holds the most positive view of Russia among NATO member countries, the delegation learned. However, Greece supports NATO’s policy towards Russia, and sees its relations with Russia as supporting the dialogue strand of the Alliance’s dual-track approach – the second strand is deterrence. Moreover, even though it has questioned the effectiveness of the sanctions regime against Russia, Greece chose not to break the European consensus on this matter, the delegation was informed. Greek-Russian relations were tested in summer 2018 when Russian intelligence services attempted to sabotage Athens-Skopje negotiations over the name issue. Bilateral relations have since improved, and Greece seeks to develop its political, economic and energy co-operation with Russia. The NATO PA delegation consisted of 38 members of parliament from 13 NATO member states and 2 delegates from the Republic of North Macedonia, belonging to NATO PA Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations (PCTR) and the Sub-Committee of the Democratic Governance (CDSDG). The delegation was co-led by PCTR Chairman Dr Karl A. Lamers, Germany, and CDSDG Chairman Vitalino Canas, Portugal, and included officers of the Assembly’s Middle East and Mediterranean Special Group (GSM) led by Chairman Philippe Folliot (France). The three day visit on 4-6 March 2019 included meetings with leading Greek government officials, parliamentarians, officers of the coast guard, academics, and representatives of international organisations. As part of its programme, the NATO PA delegation visited the temporary accommodation centres for asylum seekers of Elaionas and Schisto, as well as the offshore Hellenic Coast Guard’s patrol vessel “Gavdos”.
NATO’s 1999 aggression was turning point for int’l relations — Yugoslavian ex-top diplomat (TASS, 12 March 2019)
BELDRADE – NATO’s 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia was a turning point for international relations, Former Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said during a video conference between Moscow and Belgrade, dubbed “The 20th Anniversary of NATO States’ Illegal Military Intervention in Sovereign Yugoslavia,” broadcast from the Belgrade Media Center. “NATO’s 1999 aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was not just a little war, it was a war with global goals. Even though 20 years have passed, it is still impossible to either justify it or to mitigate the responsibility of the aggressor countries and their governments. It was a turning point for global relations, staring from respect for the basic principles of international relations and United Nations declarations to globalization and interventionism. The interventionist process continued in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and many other parts of the planet,” Jovanovic pointed out. “It was a war Europe waged against itself. Bombs that fell in Serbia destroyed the agreements made in Potsdam, Tehran and Yalta. Those bombs also targeted the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the entire United Nations system. It was an attempt to destroy the world order created following World War II,” the former Yugoslavian top diplomat added. According to him, today, the West’s aggression against international law has taken other forms. Jovanovic said that cooperation with Russia could help find a way out of the situation. “We must continue to boost comprehensive cooperation and partnership between Serbia and Russia the way we did during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Belgrade,” he said.