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Belgrade Media Report 15 March 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 15 March 2019

• Brnabic to Moore: Pristina’s moves have negative impact on stability of region (Beta)
• Dacic: Logical for future Belgrade-Pristina deal to go through UN (TV Happy/Beta/B92)
• Djuric: Thaci rattling with arms (RTS)
• Vulin: We disagree with KFOR reduction (Beta)
• Stefanovic: Heightened state of alert of police and army in Ground Safety Zone (Politika)
• Chepurin: Pristina’s platform is a list of ultimatum demands (FoNet)
• Russia removes official over poor operation of Nis Humanitarian Center (Beta/Kommersant)
• Serbian, US special forces in joint exercise (FoNet/Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Dodik: Pointless to spread disorder with false information while calling for peace (Srna)
• Diplomatic spat erupts over claim that Croatia recruited Islamists in B&H (N1)
• Dodik: Tegeltija remains candidate for Council of Ministers Chair (Srna)
• Dzaferovic: B&H crucial for stability of Western Balkans (N1)
• Cvijanovic: RS committed to European path (Srna)
• Croatia rejects claims of espionage affair in B&H (Hina)
• Croatian MEPs demand Tajani’s resignation over Mussolini comments (Hina)
• Nuhodzic: First Schengen relations then Schengen borders (CDM)
• Djukanovic: Europe must become immune to populism, nationalism (CDM)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Noticeable lack of Macedonian flags during Zaev’s visit to Albania (Republika)


• EC: The Situation on the Balkan Refugee Route is Stable (novinite.com)

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Brnabic to Moore: Pristina’s moves have negative impact on stability of region (Beta)


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic discussed with Director General for Political Affairs at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Richard Moore the consequences of the collapse of the dialogue in Brussels. Brnabic pointed out that the introduction of taxes, the formation of the Kosovo army and the voting of the platform are the moves that Pristina demonstrates not to think about the dialogue, and to reject any possibility of seeking a compromise solution. She stressed that Pristina’s behavior has a negative impact on the lives of all citizens in Kosovo and Metohija, regardless of their nationality, but also on the stability of the entire region. Such moves are counterproductive, she assessed, expressing hope at the same time that adequate pressure from the international community would be brought about leading to the abolition of taxes and creating the conditions for the dialogue to continue. Moore said that it is necessary to continue efforts to find a way to reach a compromise solution for Kosovo.


Dacic: Logical for future Belgrade-Pristina deal to go through UN (TV Happy/Beta/B92)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Thursday reiterated that the UN Security Council would be a logical instance that should follow if Belgrade and Pristina reach an agreement. “That’s a logical sequence of events. Everything we agree on must go through some foreign body in order to gain international legitimacy, in order to verify what we have agreed,” Dacic told TV Happy in comment to Federica Mogherini saying this week a future agreement between Serbs and Albanians would have to be accepted by the UN Security Council. Dacic explained that this implies that all members agree.  “It seems that America is interested in participating, but together with Russia. America always asks what Russia thinks, and vice versa. (US National Security Adviser John) Bolton asked me what Russia thinks, (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov told me that he later asked Putin in Moscow (the same),” Dacic explained. The Minister also claims that this momentum should be used, i.e., that this is an ideal moment for stabilizing the situation in the region. Speaking about America’s mood, he said that the US never participate in something they cannot not extract some plus from. “On the other hand, everyone is in a hurry, nothing can be solved without America, and it currently has its internal problems,” Dacic said, adding that the current administration is more favorable for us, but we will hardly manage to solve the problem before the US elections. Dacic said that Pristina would lift the import fees on goods from Serbia, but in a way that would allow it to save face. “I already told you that this resembled a show. Pristina will try to lift the fees without losing face,” Dacic stated. He said the statement of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci that the correction of borders would be

possible over his dead body was ridiculous. “This is becoming ridiculous… He was the first in

favor of the correction of borders because he wants to take the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja,” Dacic stated. He pointed out that the idea about the correction of

borders was presented by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, but that the talks never reached

the stage of discussion about what would go to whom.


Djuric: Thaci rattling with arms (RTS)


We are ever more certain that Thaci, Veseli and the current authorities in Pristina stand directly behind the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, and I expect our investigative bodies to soon have a chance to offer more data on this case, because this is something the entire world should know, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said in statement from the Office.

Djuric states that instead of rattling with arms, Pristina should start thinking about preparing a response for the judicial bodies. “Serbia is not threating anyone and, unlike Pristina, it respects all of its citizens, while the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija certainly should not worry over Thaci’s rattling with arms, because our state will take care responsibly about their future and security,” notes Djuric in the statements. Djuric says that Thaci is acting that he wants the resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “Thaci’s gun is empty, just as is his false and transparent acting of a wish to resume dialogue with Belgrade, which has been lasting as little as the meeting with foreign representatives,” notes Djuric.


Vulin: We disagree with KFOR reduction (Beta


Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin expressed disagreement with the intention for KFOR forces in Kosovo to be reduced during a meeting with an official of the Pentagon, Laura

Cooper, in Belgrade on March 14. The reduction in the number of KFOR troops negatively affects the safety of the non-Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija, Vulin told

Cooper, who is the deputy assistant U.S. secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Vulin also said that there was concern over the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into

armed forces, which represents a flagrant violation of all agreements to date and has an extremely negative effect on regional stability, the Defense Ministry has stated in a press release.

According to Vulin, recent provocations by Pristina’s representatives do not work in favor of reaching a joint and sustainable solution.


Stefanovic: Heightened state of alert of police and army in Ground Safety Zone (Politika)


At the session held on 14 March, the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee considered the Ministry of the Interior activity information for the periods July – September 2018 and October – December 2018, as well as the Ministry of the Interior Report on the security situation in the Republic of Serbia for the period July – December 2018. The activity information and Report on the security situation in Serbia for said periods were presented by Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic. He said that overall, crime had gone down by 8.2 percent and there were positive results in the detection of drug-related crimes. Successful international cooperation resulted in the detection of two labs in the vicinity of Vienna, in cooperation with the Austrian police, and the arrest of five Serbian nationals. A September action resulted in the first seizure of the “drug of the gods” transported from Colombia. Speaking of organized human trafficking and smuggling, 14 criminal charges were filed against 22 persons for 16 acts of human trafficking and 51 charges against 43 persons for 54 acts of human smuggling. There had been no terrorist attacks or provocations on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija in the reporting period and the security situation is relatively stable despite the high number of attacks on Serbs and non-Albanians and their property in 2018, Stefanovic stated. He said that the attacks included physical assaults, arson, attacks on religious shrines, destruction of property, threats and provocation. He said the situation in the Ground Safety Zone was peaceful with no terrorist attacks or provocation but with some risk factors and the police and army at heightened state of alert. Stefanovic said that criminals from Kosovo were crossing the boundary line to steal lumber and tools. He said the latest incident was not as serious as the media reported it to be, explaining that a local man heard what he said was a shot and reported it to the police. The session was chaired by Committee Chairperson Marija Obradovic and was attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Stefana Miladinovic, Bozidar Delic, Milovan Drecun, Aleksandar Markovic, Sandra Bozic, Borisav Kovacevic, Zoran Dragisic, Dubravka Filipovski, Igor Becic and Jasmina Obradovic. The session was not attended by opposition MPs who are boycotting parliament.


Chepurin: Pristina’s platform is a list of ultimatum demands (FoNet)


Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Chepurin said on Thursday that Pristina’s platform for negotiations with Belgrade is a list of ultimatum demands. He added that the platform is a clear rejection of the dialogue to resolve the Kosovo issue. Chepurin tweeted that Pristina won’t be able to sustain the pressure with that platform, adding that fantasies can’t be in line with reality.


Russia removes official over poor operation of Nis Humanitarian Center (Beta/Kommersant)


Russia has sacked an official of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, Aleksandr Romanov, over the poor operation of the humanitarian center in Nis, Serbia, the Moscow daily Kommersant reported on14 March. Romanov was dismissed from the position of director of the international operations department of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations. Sources told Kommersant that a replacement had already been found for Romanov. According to unofficial information, it will be Vladimir Aleksandrovich Solovyov of the Federal Security Service. This information has not been officially confirmed by the Ministry for Emergency Situations. They stated that Romanov was on vacation. Kommersant reminded that Romanov had managed all Russian humanitarian centers abroad – in Serbia, Armenia and Cuba. According to sources, the cause for his dismissal were complaints about the operation of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in Nis. The Center exists, and its operation is not satisfactory, in the opinion of the top leaders, the source told the daily.


Serbian, US special forces in joint exercise (FoNet/Beta)


Serbian and US special forces conducted a joint training exercise at a police training facility in the Batajnica suburb of Belgrade on Thursday.  An Internal Affairs Ministry statement said that troopers from the police Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAJ), Army of Serbia Cobra Military Police battalion and a US navy SEAL detachment demonstrated what Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said was a transfer of know-how with the aim of protecting the population.

“We have an opportunity to cooperate at the highest level and see that this is one of the best equipped and trained units in the world from which we can learn a lot,” he said. US Ambassador Kyle Scott said that training like this is equally important to all units. “We are together in the fight against terrorism. We have to confront that threat together and it’s only through training like this that we can get to know each other better and be prepared to work together in the future,” the ministry statement quoted the ambassador as saying. The exercise was also attended by Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin.




Dodik: Pointless to spread disorder with false information while calling for peace (Srna)


Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik sent a letter to the leader of the B&H Islamic Community Husein Kavazovic pointing out that institutions of Republika Srpska (RS) are doing all in their power to provide security to Muslims as well as other citizens and would like to see the same efforts invested in the other part of the country.

“I very much appreciate that you as a religious leader are concerned about the security of your faithful and demand that all those who pose a threat to their security or the security of their property be prosecuted. Your position obliges you to do that. Information I currently have say that institutions of RS, which you specifically reference in your letter, are doing all they can to ensure security to the Muslims as well as all other citizens of RS and their property,” Dodik writes in his letter. He points out that no violence, whether it be of ethnic, religious or some other kind, is or will be tolerated in RS, reports the office of the B&H Presidency Serb member.

“Institutions ought to do their job and neither is the chief of the Islamic community nor a member of the B&H presidency, or anyone else from the legislative authority supposed to urge them to do that. Laws in RS oblige institutions to act against any individual who fails to observe those laws and I would like it if it were the same in the other part of B&H,” emphasized Dodik.

He wants to believe Kavazovic unintentionally wrote that paramilitary formations were lining up in RS, as there is no such information in RS itself. “For the sake of peace, co-existence and tolerance, both you and we should be mindful of the terminology we use in such letters because this correspondence is supposed to call for peace and security. I am certain you will agree with me in saying that it is pointless to spread disorder with false information, while calling for peace,” Dodik says in the letter to Kavazovic.  Dodik adds he would be grateful if Kavazovic emphasized with the same consideration the need for a peaceful life and security of non-Muslims in the Federation of B&H, who have for the past years often been attacked or subjected to all kinds of unpleasant situations, specifically referring to Serb returnees. “I am certain each of us from our own position will do all we can in the future to have peace and mutual respect in these parts,” the Serb member of the B&H Presidency stated in the letter to the leader of the Islamic Community in B&H.


Diplomatic spat erupts over claim that Croatia recruited Islamists in B&H (N1)


A war of words erupted on Thursday between B&H and Croatian officials after a day earlier the Sarajevo-based Zurnal outlet published a report claiming Croatian intelligence officials and diplomats tried to recruit Muslim extremists to bring weapons and explosives to Muslim places of gathering in central B&H. B&H Security Minister Dragan Mektic confirmed the media report, telling that “for a year or two already, we have certain intelligence saying that the Croatian service tried to recruit some of our people, B&H citizens, who have nothing to do with the Salafi movement, to buy those weapons and transport them to a masjid (gathering place for prayer) near Doboj.” He claimed that Croatia’s secret service then tried to manipulate a police operation that would reveal those weapons and, in this way, confirm a previous statement of the Croatian President that there were 10,000 terrorists in B&H and that the country was a terrorist hub. “This was an attack on the integrity of B&H,” Mektic said, adding the whole thing was supposed to be staged so that Grabar Kitarovic’s statement did not appear as made up. If the plan would have succeeded, “it would be the final nail which would be hammered into B&H’s coffin, as then it could be claimed that ‘yes, B&H is a state of terrorism and extremism’,” he said. “We could not let this happen,” he added. The Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, announced he will initiate a discussion in the Presidency on the matter and ask the Security Minister for more details on it. “If what the media reported is true, then this is a very heavy issue that will need a reaction in B&H” he said. “Generally, this example, if true, as well as earlier statements coming from Croatia on the matter, where the issue of radicalization in B&H is being blown out of proportion and various numbers are being thought up, is not contributing to good relations between our countries” he said. “Our neighbors, including Croatia, will have to treat B&H with respect, just as B&H is treating Croatia,” he added. However, Dragan Covic, the leader of the main B&H Croat party in the country, the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), called the media reports a “manipulation” that goes “beyond everything that I expected from those people.” The spokesperson for Croatia’s President, Ivana Crnic, said that the “Office of the President of Croatia does not intend to comment on these malicious, completely baseless and politicized constructions.”


Dodik: Tegeltija remains candidate for Council of Ministers Chair (Srna)


SNSD Leader Milorad Dodik said that the names of candidates for the positions in power at the B&H level, including the Council of Ministers, cannot be discussed, but that the Serb group led by the SNSD will propose Zoran Tegeltija for the position of Council of Ministers chair. Dodik told reporters that everything else is a matter of agreement. “We cannot talk about this now as the distribution of ministries in the Council of Ministers has not ended yet. Talking about the names is not realistic,” Dodik said. When it comes to his earlier statement that technical formulations of power were completed at the level of B&H and that this would be a one-and-a-half-page document, Dodik said it would contain basic things regarding the constitutional order, the Dayton Peace Agreement, the reform processes, European integration, tackling crime…

Asked if B&H needs the new constitution, Dodik, who is the B&H Presidency chairman, answered that B&H needs many things, which is a big topic to discuss. He did not want to comment on the allegations made by caretaker Security Minister Dragan Mektic that Croatia tried to slip weapons in B&H through certain Salafi communities. “I do not comment on Mektic,” said Dodik.


Dzaferovic: B&H crucial for stability of Western Balkans (N1)


B&H is crucial for the stability of the Western Balkans, B&H Presidency member Sefik Daferovic said on Thursday in Baku, where he addressed a forum discussing global challenges. Dzaferovic said the European Union and NATO are B&H’s two main foreign policy goals and that this was in the interest of all peoples in the country. “We have our own path. Our path is an integral, democratic B&H, which is a member state of the EU and NATO, where numerous economic and social reforms will take place, and where equality of every single person on every inch of B&H will be secured” said Bosniak member of the State tripartite Presidency. Addressing the 7th Global Baku Forum, which commenced on Thursday, Dzaferovic said that the relations at the international level were getting more and more complex and were less and less foreseeable. “No country can stay focused on its internal affairs only nor is it able to solve them in isolation and independently from the processes that are happening in its near environment or at the global level,” said the Presidency member. “This is exactly why we need joint solutions that are grounded on common values and cross-section of interests, which can be implemented only if all countries join their forces and capacities together,” he added.


Cvijanovic: RS committed to European path (Srna)


RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic stressed at the meeting with Franz Schausberger, Special Advisor of the European Commission for the Western Balkans, in Bucharest that RS is committed to the European path and underlined the need for forming new convocation of the Council of Ministers asap. Cvijanovic stated that the formation of the Council of Ministers is necessary in order to create adequate conditions for efficient communication between the entities and joint institutions levels, and to intensify the process of European integration in accordance with the harmonized coordination system, announced the Government’s Public Relations Bureau. Apart from Schausberger, Cvijanovic also met with President of the Italian region of Umbria, Catiuscia Marini, on separate occasions, at the 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, which is being held in Bucharest. Cvijanovic and Marini discussed the establishment of economic cooperation between RS and Umbria, as well as exchange of experiences related to access to EU funds. On the first day of the Summit in Bucharest, the participants were addressed by Viorica Dancila, the Prime Minister of Romania, the country that chairs the EU as of January 1, then Chairman of the EU Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, and Bucharest Mayor, Gabriela Firea. Cvijanovic met with Chairman of the EU Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz and discussed current political and economic situation in RS and B&H, as well as possible programs and activities of the Committee of the EU regions with regard to B&H’s accession to the EU.


Croatia rejects claims of espionage affair in B&H (Hina)


Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday said that an alleged espionage scandal, according to which Croatian intelligence agents and Croatian diplomats recruited radical Islamist groups in B&H in order to confirm claims by the authorities in Zagreb that thousands of extremists were hiding in B&H, was “nonsense and creative manipulation”. “This is creative manipulation. SOA (Croatia’s intelligence agency) has already released a statement and entirely rejected those insinuations. That is nonsense that I wholly reject,” Plenkovic said in Neum, where he attended a meeting on changes to B&H’s constitution. According to him, it is even bigger nonsense to claim that Croatian diplomats were involved in the alleged espionage scandal. “They are here to do their job and not to be involved in anything else. I reject both claims” the prime minister said. Plenkovic underscored that Croatia is combating terrorism and that it is cooperating with B&H in that fight, considering it a partner. “Our entire cooperation with bodies in B&H that deal with this issue, notably anti-terrorist activities and information exchange, is regular and permanent. As far as I know, our agency requested the B&H side to give its opinion on these allegations so that we get a broader picture,” Plenkovic said. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic‘s office said on Thursday it had no intention of commenting on the “petty political fabrications” by B&H’s security minister, while the Croatian Foreign Ministry said those claims were aimed at undermining the two countries’ successful cooperation.  The Foreign Ministry said that “the entirely unfounded and extremely tendentious claims are evidently aimed at compromising the successful cooperation between the two states in the fight against terrorism and at negatively impacting the further development of overall relations between Croatia and B&H as two neighborly and friendly states.” Croatia, as a member of the UN, EU, NATO and the Council of Europe, remains fully committed to the prevention of terrorism, in which it will continue to cooperate with its neighbors and international partners, the ministry added.

Croatia’s Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) on Thursday dismissed as “untrue and malicious” the claims by B&H’s Security Minister Dragan Mektic that SOA had tried to recruit members of the radical Islamic Salafi movement to transfer weapons and explosives in B&H, adding that Croatia was thus accused of aiding and abetting terrorism. “The fight against terrorism is SOA’s priority. We carry out all our anti-terrorism tasks professionally and responsibly with the aim of protecting Croatia, our EU and NATO allies and the whole of Europe,” SOA said in a statement emailed to Hina. “We believe that any political instrumentalization of the fight against terrorism and of B&H’s intelligence community poses a serious risk to the security of Croatia, the EU, NATO and in particular B&H itself,” SOA said. SOA has formally asked B&H’s Intelligence and Security Agency (OSA) to declare its position on these false allegations, adding that it will inform its international partners of the matter.


Croatian MEPs demand Tajani’s resignation over Mussolini comments (Hina)


Demanding his resignation, Croatian MEPs from the ranks of the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Greens expressed their outrage at the statements made by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani about Mussolini’s fascist regime. In comments to Italian radio on Wednesday, Tajani said the Italian dictator did some “positive things to realize infrastructures in our country”. Tajani said that “before the war, Benito Mussolini did positive things. Until the war and the alliance with Hitler, until the race laws, apart from the dramatic assassination of Giacomo Matteotti, Mussolini did good things, like the infrastructure. You have to be honest.”

Tajani, an Italian centre-right MEP who has led the EP since 2017, then apologized for comments praising Benito Mussolini after coming under fire from MEPs who demanded he retract the comments or resign. He issued an apology “to all those who may have been offended by what I said, which in no way intends to justify or play down an anti-democratic and totalitarian regime”. “I have always been wholeheartedly anti-fascist. I have always stressed that Mussolini and fascism were the darkest chapter in the history of the past century, without any distinction,” said Tajani. Croatian MEP Tonino Picula of the Social Democratic Party recalled Tajani’s recent revisionist statements about “Italian Istria and Dalmatia,” once again calling for Tajani’s resignation. Jozo Rados of the GLAS/ALDE group, Ivan Jakovcic of the IDS/ ALDE group, and Davor Skrlec of the Green Party joined in condemning Tajani’s statement saying that someone who represents the main democratic institution in the EU cannot resort to the same old slogans that fascists and the extreme right have being using since the end of the war to justify the Mussolini regime. The Mussolini remarks are the second time in as many months that prompted calls for Tajani to resign. Last month he sparked outrage in Slovenia and Croatia after he referred to the regions of Istria and Dalmatia as Italian territory. Mr. Tajani later apologized for the comments, saying they had been misinterpreted.


Nuhodzic: First Schengen relations then Schengen borders (CDM)


Commenting on the statement of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on “Schengen borders among Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo”, Montenegro’s Internal Affairs Minister Mevludin Nuhodzic told Montenegro and Albania have excellent friendly and good neighborly relations, but that this topic will be possible to be speak of when the Western Balkan countries adopt standards and have relations that exist among the Schengen countries.

“Ten years ago (2009) Montenegro and Albania opened a joint road border crossing Sukobin – Muricani, with the possibility of taking joint controls. Some other countries from the region did it almost a decade afterwards. But this was not all. In the second half of 2018, after the joint session of the two governments, we signed the Agreement on opening the joint border crossing Ckla – Zogaj,” told Minister Nuhodzic in response to the statement of Albania’s PM given at a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev.

When it comes to faster and simpler border crossings, Nuhodzic added that security of the citizens and state should come first.


Djukanovic: Europe must become immune to populism, nationalism (CDM)


If it still wants to be one of the creators of global policies, to be competitive and stay in big game, Europe has to be united and immune to populism and nationalism of any type, thus making way for the progressive global flows, said President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, at the 7th Global Baku Forum, Azerbaijan. In this way, he pointed out, Europe would contribute to the preservation of Euro-Atlantism as one of the greatest achievements of civilization after World War II. Azerbaijan has been initiator and organizer of many important international events and it greatly contributed to the regional and global stability, which surely caused positive reactions of all friends of Azerbaijani people, including Montenegrins as well. “We need adequate foreign policy in all countries, big and small ones, new and old ones, especially in these times of accelerated history, new political and security challenges, new technologies which make diplomatic activities digital,” Djukanovic said. Each one of us has its own view on this matter, according to him. “I speak from the point of view of a small Balkan country that has become the NATO member state, the leader in the accession negotiations with the EU and one of the region’s leading economies for only 13 years since it restored its statehood and regained the international recognition,” added Djukanovic. He also called in mind that 2019 will be marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. “When we take a look at today’s European and global scene, the relations among powerful forces – Russia and NATO, Russia and the European Union, East and West, a single question emerges: is the Berlin Wall really destroyed or it still exists in our minds?” Djukanovic noted that there are no ready formulas for new foreign policies but in order to be successful and appropriate, they must be committed to pursuing the multiethnicity and multiculturalism in all social systems at the local level, as well as the multilateralism at the global level. This is the first time President Djukanovic takes part at the Global Baku Forum in Azerbaijan.


Noticeable lack of Macedonian flags during Zaev’s visit to Albania (Republika)


On top of the issue of Edi Rama’s proposal to erase borders between Macedonia and Albania, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s Albanian visit also raised the question of protocol. Zaev was welcomed with two Albanian flags during his meeting with Rama, something that flies in the face of the protocol used during other similar visits. Photos of an older visit by Nikola Gruevski to Albania were circulated online, as well as photographs from visits of other foreign politicians to Albania, and the standard practice then was to have one Albanian flag and one Macedonian flag, or flag from the country of the other visiting dignitary. That’s why the image of a grinning Zaev sitting in a room draped with large Albanian flags during his meetings in Tirana raised eyebrows in Macedonia. Zaev owes his office to Rama, who in late 2016 mediated between the parties of Albanians in Macedonia until they hammered out a joint platform which included requests unacceptable to the VMRO-DPMNE party. This damaged VMRO talks with Albanian coalition partners and created an opening for Zaev to take over the government of Macedonia.




EC: The Situation on the Balkan Refugee Route is Stable (novinite.com, 15 March 2019)


The European Commission said that they are monitoring the movement of people on the Balkan refugee route and the increase of migrants and refugees in recent weeks, and concluded that “the overall situation is stable”. It is normal to have movement through the Balkan route. The position of the European Commission has always been that it is not closed, said European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva. She noted that the European Commission together with the European Agency for Border and Coastal Regions (Frontex) monitored the development of the overall situation in the Balkan region and provided the necessary assistance. The overall situation is stable after an agreement between the EU and Turkey, Andreeva added. She announced that agreements between the EU and the Western Balkan countries would soon be finalized, which would enable Frontex to take control and, if necessary, to manage the threatened borders directly.


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