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Belgrade Media Report 18 March 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Monday 18 March 2019

• Vucic: NATO committed grave crime against small country (Tanjug/B92)
• Vucic: Serbia will protect its people in Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTS/Beta/Novosti)
• Brnabic: Protests haven’t upset Serbian authorities (TV Prva/Beta)
• Protest at Serbian presidency, central police station (N1)
• Grenada supports solving Kosovo issue through dialogue (Tanjug/Politika/Beta/B92)
• Serbia supports peaceful resolution of crisis in Venezuela (Tanjug/Novosti)
• Djuric: We will not allow a repetition of Serb expulsion (Beta)
• Dacic: Some countries are telling Haradinaj – don’t do it yet (Tanjug/B92)
• Stefanovic: Belgrade not behind Ivanovic’s murder (Beta)
• Chepurin: No overnight solution for Kosovo issue (Sputnik/Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Prosecutors question Security Minister on alleged Croatian secret service affair (N1)
• Crnadak assesses Ambassador Hajric’s words as dangerous and irresponsible (N1)
• Dodik condemns terrifying terrorist attack in New Zealand (Srna)
• Dodik: CoM Chairman-designate may be appointed within two or three days (Srna)
• Grujicic: Chemical and nuclear war waged against Serbia and Republika Srpska (Srna)
• Croatian President doesn’t want to see Serbia’s destabilization (Hina)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Judge Kacarska orders 200 years in prison for the group charged over the April 2017 parliament incident (Republika)
• Zaev personally announced the process against Mitko Cavkov (Republika)
• AA: Alimi should’ve been rewarded, not punished with 7 years in prison (Republika)
• Mickoski: What Zaev ordered on 28 April, 2017, his servants delivered today (Republika)
• Xhaferi will publish some of the laws rejected by Ivanov, will return most of them to parliament (Republika)
• Nominations for the presidential elections should be submitted to SEC by 21 March (Republika)
• Opposition’s protest, Basha Reacts on Police Action to Prosecute 33 People (ADN)
• DP leader’s message for internationals (ADN)
• Kryemadhi warns escalation of protests until PM’s removal (ADN)


• Russia expects Serbian authorities will settle situation around rallies (TASS)
• Protests in Serbia, Albania and Montenegro continue, demonstrators take more radical steps (European Western Balkans)
• Terror has no connection with history of Balkans: envoy (Anadolu Agency)

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Vucic: NATO committed grave crime against small country (Tanjug/B92)


NATO aggression was a grave crime against a small sovereign country, but 20 years on, the Serb people remain unbowed, says Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated at the opening of the 4th International Conference the Belgrade Strategic Dialogue, titled “20 years since the bombing of Yugoslavia – lessons for European security in the 21st century”. “Serbia and the Serb people are still unbowed today, but today we are in the process of a comprehensive process of state consolidation and I am convinced of a safe and successful future,” Vucic emphasized. As a small and independent country, Serbia has been under attack by many, because no one likes disobedience, and Serbia makes its own decisions, the President said.  Vucic reiterated that Serbia does not want to join NATO, does not have two different stories, and we say the same to everyone and before everyone. According to him, Serbia will remain on that road no matter how many attempts there are to derail it. He pointed out that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is not respected today and that it does not apply in the field. Vucic said this was the case because some countries recognized Kosovo – and said that if it no longer applies – they should try to cancel it in the UN. He thanked Russia for supporting the Serb people 20 years ago, as it does now, and pointed out that the Serbs are loyal to everyone who helped us in difficult times. Vucic pointed out that we should not be ashamed of condemning the NATO aggression as others had in Serbia had been, who only worried about their jobs. For me, the truth is the priority, added Vucic.


Vucic: Serbia will protect its people in Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTS/Beta/Novosti)


Speaking on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the pogrom against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that if NATO is not able to protect the Serbian people in the southern province, Serbia will do so. Vucic said in his address to the public that today (Sunday) it is 15 years since a great and terrible pogrom of Albanian extremists against the Serbian people living in Kosovo-Metohija took place, which was carried out with the support of a part of the international community. This resulted in the demolition and burning of 35 churches and monasteries, 935 Serbian buildings, of which 738 houses, ten public buildings, schools, post offices and health centers. A total of 4,012 Serbs were expelled out of six towns and nine villages. 28 people were killed and 994 injured. Among them, 143 Serbs and dozens of members of international forces. Two villages were wiped out – Slatina and Svinjare, he said. He pointed out that at that time there were 38,000 KFOR troops and 8,000 UNMIK policemen deployed in the southern Serbian province. Vucic expressed fear due to the fact that the Community of Serb Municipalities was not formed, that the deals made under the Brussels Agreement have not been fulfilled, and that Pristina imposed tariffs on Serbian goods and adopted a platform that is not in favor, but against dialogue. As for Serbia, it will protect its people in Kosovo and Metohija if those whose task is to do so do not do it. It seems to me that NATO did not understand its role well and that it must understand that their work is in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 to protect our people in every place in Kosovo and Metohija, he underlined. Vucic stressed that he sends a clear message from Belgrade that Serbia is ready to talk with Pristina and to cooperate, but that he is afraid that Pristina has shown through its platform and tariffs, and with everything else, that it does not want the same. We believe that reaching a compromise solution is the best. If someone does not want it, they should clearly and unequivocally say so. Serbia will always be ready for talks and dialogue, but it is firm enough and determined to protect its people and its vital interests, Vucic stated.


Brnabic: Protests haven’t upset Serbian authorities (TV Prva/Beta)


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Monday that three and a half months of #1 in 5 million anti-government rallies had not rocked the authorities, and accused Bosko Obradovic, the leader of the Dveri movement, of taking over the protest, preventing other citizens from demonstrating peacefully. Speaking to the Belgrade TV Prva, Brnabic said President Aleksandar Vucic told the people “million times” they were free to protest and that the regime guaranteed them the right to demonstrate. “The authorities have not been upset at any moment. There is no nervousness. It’s a minority around Obradovic, Dragan Djilas and Vuk Jeremic. That minority denied the democratic right to peaceful protest to all other citizens,” Brnabic said. She reiterated Vucic’s description of Obradovic as “a fascist” whom she would never talk to. “The protests have been going on for weeks, and there hasn’t been any violence. We will secure people the right to demonstrate peacefully, but Obradovic doesn’t want peaceful protests,” she added.

Brnabic criticized some media, without naming them, for, as she put it, fueling the aggression.

She blamed N1 for what she said was hypocrisy since it denounced Vucic last year when he condemned the RTS work, but now keep silent about the intrusion into the RTS. Referring to the opposition demand for the release of all arrested in connection with protests, Brnabic said it was the matter for the prosecution and courts, but added: “How can those people be released? What would be a message which we would send by releasing from custody anyone who committed a crime?” Commenting on the opposition deadline of Monday 3 pm for all detained to be released, Brnabic said “there are no deadlines set by a fascist. Who are you to set a deadline? To do that you have to have people’s support.”


Protest at Serbian presidency, central police station (N1)


Police and a crowd of several thousand protesters faced off with some pushing and shoving in front of the Serbian Presidency building during a news conference by President Aleksandar Vucic, but moved to the central police station to demand the release of arrested protesters

The crowd, which gathered following a call to protest by Alliance for Serbia leaders, tried to interrupt the news conference with cries of shouts of Vucic Thief and by blowing whistles. The crowd broke through a temporary fence in front of the entrance to the Presidency building. The street was blocked off by protesters with white tape which said It’s Started on them. The police was reported to have thrown tear gas canisters some 50 meters from the presidency building to try to disperse a part of the crowd coming to the protest. Reporters said that Gendarmerie troopers were deployed along with the regular police to keep the crowd back. Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic and 1 in 5 Million protest organizer Jelena Anasonovic called the crowd to form a chain around the presidency building in an effort to prevent President Vucic from leaving the building. Vucic responded later with a Twitter post showing him playing chess in the building. Protest organizer Srdjan Markovic said that two people were “dragged” into the Belgrade city assembly building by what he said was a private group. He added that the police refused to disperse the crowd in front of the presidency, adding that the military police had been brought in. Obradovic called the crowd to march to the city’s central police station to demand the release of a young man who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for taking part in Saturday’s protest at the RTS. The police confirmed that several people had been arrested. The protest continued in front of the central police station where a cordon of officers in riot gear prevented anyone from entering the grounds of the station. Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic was present at the station. Obradovic warned the crowd in front of the central police station that Vucic had ordered his party to gather people at their local branches to come to Belgrade and added that the Alliance for Serbia would not take part in any conflict. He said that the police had till Monday at 03:00 pm to free everyone who was arrested over the RTS protest or else protest organizers would set a date for another gathering of people from across Serbia. President Vucic left the building four hours after the end of his news conference with several protesters who were still in front of the building booing and shouting at him. Obradovic called people to gather for the protest during the noon news conference after being pushed out of the Serbian state TV (RTS) building late on Saturday night.


Grenada supports solving Kosovo issue through dialogue (Tanjug/Politika/Beta/B92)


Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic spoke with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Labor of Grenada Charles Peter David, who is on an official visit to Serbia, after the country’s government canceled all previous decisions regarding the status Kosovo and canceled the recognition of Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence. Brnabic expressed the gratitude to Grenada for this decision, as well as for the support to reach a compromise solution through dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. She pointed out that Belgrade is determined to continue the dialogue and achieve a lasting and sustainable solution, if the necessary conditions are created. David pointed out that his country has traditionally friendly relations with Serbia based on mutual respect and support, and added that the government of Grenada will firmly support the position that Belgrade and Pristina agree on. The meeting was also attended by Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, who on this occasion conveyed his gratitude to Charles David David for support of Grenada to our country at the last General Assembly of the Interpol in Dubai and voting against the receipt of the so-called Kosovo into this organization. Stefanovic also said that Pristina’s new request for admission to Interpol is a renewed attempt to politicize the work of this professional police organization. Also, the ministers discussed the possible cooperation of the police of the two countries.


Serbia supports peaceful resolution of crisis in Venezuela (Tanjug/Novosti)


Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza, who is on a bilateral visit to Serbia. Dacic expressed his satisfaction with the Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s visit and underlined that Serbia and Venezuela enjoy a long friendship, which is reflected in the mutual support in the international arena. He thanked Venezuela on its principled position regarding Kosovo and Metohija and on its vote against the admission of the so-called ” Kosovo” into Interpol and UNESCO. Dacic announced that Serbia is pursuing a principled policy based on respect for international law, non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and a peaceful settlement of disputes. Dacic said that Serbia understands the difficult situation that Venezuela is going through and underlined that only dialogue is a way to reach a lasting solution to the crisis in that country. Arreaza thanked the Serbian government for understanding the difficult situation that Venezuela is going through and for supporting peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue. He underlined that the Venezuelan government is in favor of dialogue, as the only way to achieve a lasting sustainable solution, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Djuric: We will not allow a repetition of Serb expulsion (Beta)


Tens of thousands of Albanians have, led by blind hatred, burned down everything that is Serbian in Kosovo and Metohija 15 years ago on this day, and Serbia will not let that happen again, the Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric said on Sunday. Djuric said that, in only two days, 35 Serbian sanctities and several thousand Serb family homes were burnt down, that thousands of Serbs were expelled and that the main perpetrators have not faced justice even 15 years after that. He said that back then neither KFOR nor the international community have done their job and that their passivity contributed to those events. “They didn’t do everything necessary to prevent it and we should not forget that on March 17 (2004), Prizren, Bogorodica Ljeviska, the Devic monastery and the Prizren Serbian Orthodox Seminary were burned down and now we are rebuilding them and we are aware that there are those who still want this today,” Djuric said. Even the US State Department had condemned the developments in Kosovo and Metohija and named more than 100 incidents against Serbs, stating there was continuous violence, Djuric said. He added that all of this is a lesson that Serbs cannot rely only on KFOR and the international community, as the responsibility partly lies with Serbia.


Dacic: Some countries are telling Haradinaj – don’t do it yet (Tanjug/B92)


Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that not everyone in the international community wants the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue. And not everybody wants to find a solution for Kosovo and Metohija, he remarked on Friday in Belgrade. Dacic also pointed out that some countries are playing a double game. The minister responded in this way when asked how it was possible that neither the US nor the EU and other major players are able to force Pristina to withdraw its taxes on Serbian goods. “I do not believe that this is exactly the case, I have already expressed doubts that this is a double game, and now we need to determine who plays these double games and what is their goal,” Dacic said. According to him, not everyone are interested in revoking of the taxes a prerequisite for the continuation of the dialogue.  “We have a multiplication of various geopolitical problems, it’s no longer just a matter of the East and the West intertwining there, but also of different interests within the West,” said Dacic. He stated that some countries are encouraging Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj not to abolish the taxes, precisely in order not to continue the dialogue. “Some countries are telling him – don’t do it yet,” Dacic said, adding that some countries are telling Pristina to wait for the cancellation of the taxes until after the EU elections. According to Dacic, it is obvious that Germany and the UK do not share enthusiasm for various reasons when it comes to quickly finding a solution. “Ones are against it because of the elections, the others because new people will come to lead EU bodies, while yet others are against because they oppose the principle of delimitation and are in favor of Kosovo not changing its borders. We are the biggest supporters of not changing the borders Kosovo – it’s just that they violated this principle a long time ago, now you thought of not changing borders. It would be as if Saddam Hussein took Kuwait, and then said, ‘no more changing of borders’,” Dacic said. He added that the question of how it was possible that the taxes are surviving now is logical, as well as why pressure from the international community isn’t effective – and assessed that this is because there are no clear-cut measures against Pristina, which why the taxes will not be revoked.


Stefanovic: Belgrade not behind Ivanovic’s murder (Beta)


Pristina is politically abusing the murder of Kosovo Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic by claiming Belgrade was involved in it, said Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic on Saturday, adding that a Serbian investigation into the matter showed that Serbs were not involved. Stefanovic told Serbia’s public broadcaster that even 14 months after the murder, “no serious investigation” has been conducted in Kosovo while all findings of the Security Intelligence Agency, the Ministry of Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office “show that the perpetrators and those who ordered it should not be sought among Serbs.” But Serbia does not want to reveal more information from that investigation because “it behaves like a serious state,” Stefanovic said.


Chepurin: No overnight solution for Kosovo issue (Sputnik/Beta)


The Kosovo issue is very complex and it is impossible to find a solution to it overnight, Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandr Chepurin said on Saturday. Chepurin said that the platform which Pristina recently adopted was completely unrealistic and that, at the current moment, the only solution according to international law was the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which in 1999 placed the former Serbian province under UN jurisdiction. “We support Serbia unconditionally, and Serbs will decide their interests, positions and possibilities by themselves. That cannot be decided unexpectedly in hallways, it is difficult to imagine,” Chepurin told Sputnik. “It is clear what some sponsors of Pristina want – a fast capitulation, but that is an issue which will hardly suit Belgrade,” he added. Chepurin also said it was difficult for him to comment a statement by the European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, David McAllister, who said it would make sense to involve Russia in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, because it is unclear who he is, what his competencies are, and in whose name he voiced that proposal.




Prosecutors question Security Minister on alleged Croatian secret service affair (N1)


Bosnia’s State Prosecutor’s Office questioned on Friday the country’s Security Minister about his claims that Croatia’s secret service was recruiting Muslim extremists to store weapons in places of prayer in central Bosnia in order to justify an earlier claim by Croatia’s President who said Bosnia was a ‘terrorist hub’. “Why did the Prosecutor’s Office not react in any earlier cases? The bottom line here is not to find out what truly happened, but to protect the friendly-family connections between certain prosecutors and actors in this whole story,” Minister Dragan Mektic said after the questioning.  “If the Prosecutor’s Office would have wanted to, it would have opened every case. Everything I said, I am confirming again,” he added. The Sarajevo-based Zurnal outlet published on Wednesday a report claiming Croatian intelligence officials and diplomats had tried to recruit Muslim extremists to bring weapons and explosives to Muslim places of gathering in central Bosnia. Mektic confirmed the media report, telling N1 that he knew about the plot for a year or two already. 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 thousands of terrorists in Bosnia and that the country was a terrorist hub. Croatian officials dismissed the claim. Asked whether Bosnian security agencies prevented the plot, Mektic said that this was their job. According to the media report, Croatia’s consul in Tuzla, Ivan Bandic, was involved in the alleged failed operation along with local journalist Mato Djakovic. Mektic said that prosecutors asked him about the two. Djakovic drove the vehicle with diplomatic license plates which belonged to the Croatian consulate, Mektic said. “I said I had new information and that I saw several photos in which Mato Djakovic can be seen driving that vehicle several months ago,” he said. Djakovic bought that vehicle from Bandic but registered it on his name only a day after the media report was published, the Minister added. “Nobody can use a diplomatic vehicle except for the authorized diplomat. The diplomatic vehicle is in a certain way treated as the territory of that country. And if you give Mato Djakovic a diplomatic vehicle for him to drive, he can do whatever he wants in it, however he wants,” he said. But Djakovic denied all the allegations in a statement to N1 on Thursday and announced lawsuits against Zurnal and Mektic. “He has the right to defend himself,” Mektic said. “The security sector doesn’t trust this Prosecutor’s Office and this Chief Prosecutor. They need to know this in the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council and take this into account,” he added. Mektic has been complaining about the Prosecutor’s Office for years. He claimed that they never finish any of the investigations they launch.


Crnadak assesses Ambassador Hajric’s words as dangerous and irresponsible (N1)


Ambassador’s statement comparing the New Zealand terrorist attack with the war crimes in Srebrenica is aimed against coexistence in B&H, B&H Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak said on Friday, warning that such statements are dangerous and irresponsible. “Terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand is a monstrous crime committed against people who prayed to God in peace. Brutality and treachery of this terrorist attack should remind us that the fight against all kinds of terrorism must never stop,” said the minister in a statement condemning the Friday terrorist attack in New Zealand. He condemned the way in which Mirza Hajric, Bosnia’s Ambassador in that country commented on the tragic event. In a statement for N1, Ambassador Hajric said earlier on Friday that a recording which was briefly available on social media and which showed the killer on the way towards the mosques where he committed the massacre, was especially concerning for Bosnians. According to Hajric, what could be seen on the video was the killer listening to the Serb nationalist songs, glorifying the wartime Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and calling for the killing of Ustashas and Turks. “He is picking up the guns and killing dozens of people. The recording is horrible. We simply can’t comprehend it although we have in the history of B&H been witnesses to such scenes. The images of Srebrenica and the massacre are coming back,” Hajric said. But according to Crnadak, there is no room for such comments. “The statement of Ambassador Mirza Hajric which connects the terrorist attack in New Zealand with the crime in Srebrenica and with Bosnia and Herzegovina is disgusting and aimed against coexistence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which can be seen from anti-Serb hysteria the statement triggered in part of Sarajevo-based media,” said the minister, assessing such comments as dangerous and very irresponsible. “I call on all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both in Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation (FB&H), to condemn this terrorist attack and to truly and peacefully sympathize with the families of the killed ones,” he said.


Dodik condemns terrifying terrorist attack in New Zealand (Srna)


B&H Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik strongly condemns terrifying terrorist attack in New Zealand that killed civilians during the prayer, which makes this crime even more horrifying. Dodik voiced expectation that all those responsible for this attack will be adequately punished, and the families of victims will receive the attention of the community in which they live.

“I cannot help but notice that a campaign against the Serbs has begun in the media and part of the political world, as a terrorist was allegedly inspired, as suggested, by characters from Serbian history,” Dodik told Srna. He emphasized that it is clear that the attacker is an Australian citizen and has nothing to do with the Serbs and this region. “The media headlines and political qualifications that do not bring crime to the fore, but the alleged motives and tendencies of the attackers, are humiliating the huge loss that the Muslim community in New Zealand suffered this morning. The crime committed in New Zealand is scary enough for anyone to gain dirty political points in such way,” said Dodik. The attacks in mosques Al Noor and Linwood in Christchurch killed 49 people. The police detained four people, including a twenty-year-old Brenton Tarrant who took responsibility for the attacks.


Dodik: CoM Chairman-designate may be appointed within two or three days (Srna)


B&H has finalized two of three tasks that the EU marked as important for the country at this moment, Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik confirmed in a press conference on Monday. In the meetings that B&H top officials recently held with the EU representatives, Dodik said, B&H was set three important tasks, of which two have been finalized. Those are the issue of roaming fees for mobile phone services in the region, the certification of B&H’s high education institutions and post-election formation of the state government, formally known as the Council of Ministers (CoM). “We finished the matters of roaming and accreditation, while the issue of Council of Ministers still remains. We’re having a meeting in Sarajevo today, I think we have a final statement regarding the government formation” said Dodik, following a meeting with RS representatives. According to him, the CoM Chairman-designate may be appointed within two or three days.


Grujicic: Chemical and nuclear war waged against Serbia and Republika Srpska (Srna)


A chemical and nuclear war has been waged against Serbia and Republika Srpska (RS), the member of the Commission to Investigate the Consequences of the NATO bombing of the Serbian Assembly and prominent Belgrade neurosurgeon Danica Grujicic, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia. She points out that every day there are patients from Serbia and the RS and that there are evidently many malignant and autoimmune diseases. “Every day we have a lot of patients which have surgeries in Banja Luka and in Serbia. There are a large number of malignant tumours, extremely aggressive in despite of all the therapy. Recently, these tumors are showing greater aggressiveness than before. We, as a doctors, noticed that some kinds of tumors, which were previously ‘reserved’ for people older than 50, 60 and 70 years old, now appear within children population,” says Grujicic. She points out that autoimmune and systemic illnesses are in great expansion, as well as the increasing in sterility in women, and especially in men. According to her, male sterility is in evident increase, as well as complicated pregnancies and chromosomal aberrations (mutations). “This is what should be followed in the offspring, especially those people who were exposed to the depleted uranium as well as other toxins,” Grujicic said. She pointed out that, unfortunately, in Serbia, the coordination body of the four ministries – Environmental Protection, Health, Science and Education, which signed the contract in June last year – has not yet begun, so that the only legally established commission is in the parliament. “We are committed to scientifically, causing and effecting, mathematically precisely proving what NATO has done in this area, for both, the ecology and the health of the population. That commission has not begun to work. Why this is so, you have to ask the Ministry of Environment, which should be the head of the whole project and I will constantly appealing both to the prime minister and the president of the state to enable us to finally start working,” Grujicic said.


Croatian President doesn’t want to see Serbia’s destabilization (Hina)


Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday declined to comment on the situation in Serbia, which has been shaken by anti-government protests, saying that the destabilization of that country could destabilize the entire region. “This is not an ideal time for the southeast of Europe, and we should be very careful when it comes to interstate relations, which includes the relationship between Croatia and Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” she concluded.


Judge Kacarska orders 200 years in prison for the group charged over the April 2017 parliament incident (Republika)


The Court in Skopje ordered more than 200 years for the 15 defendants in the large case against opposition officials and activists over the 27 April 2017 incident in the parliament. Former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov was sentenced to 18 years in prison, along with protest activists such as Jane Cento, who received 15 years in prison. Judge Dobrila Kacarska released only opera singer Igor Durlovski, who was one of the protest organizers and refused the offer of amnesty. Police officials Mitko Pesov, Dusko Lazarov and Goran Gosevski – Levi were sentenced to 15 years in prison each. The prosecutors accused Cavkov and the other police officials of failure to stop the chaotic disturbance in the parliament. Other sentences, handed to participants in the protest, ranged from 7 to 15 years in prison. Zaev’s government used this trial to go after political opponents and to blackmail three members of parliament – Krsto Mukoski, Saso Vasilevski and Ljuben Arnaudov – who were also charged with “terrorism”. The three negotiated pardons in exchange for their votes in favor of changing the name of the country. Several other opposition members of parliament also received pardons even though they refused to vote the way the government requested them to, and one of them, Ljupco Dimovski, later faced re-arrest on a different politically motivated charge. Several of the organizers of the protest which turned violent when the protesters were provoked by SDSM and their DUI coalition partner which staged an irregular vote for a new parliament speaker, also received pardons, but the most prominent of them – opera singer Igor Durlovski – refused the offer. Durlovski and the other organizers – director Boris Damovski, actor Vlado Jovanovski and social media personality Bogdan Ilievski shared a photograph with a comment “brother for life” before the expected sentencing. Even as the trial was nearing its end, Ruskoska expanded the list of those charged with “terrorism” to include former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, former speaker Trajko Veljanoski who was deposed by SDSM and DUI and Janakieski and Ristovski.

Those who refused amnesty also include Jane Cento, the heir to the family name of Macedonian World War Two commander and first President Metodija Andonov – Cento, who was also persecuted by the Communist regime after the war. Jane Cento was recently also attacked in prison, by prison guards. Since taking over the government, Zaev staged a series of other high profile trials of political opponents, but this “terrorism” case was by far the largest, given the number of defendants and its political ramifications.


Zaev personally announced the process against Mitko Cavkov (Republika)


The 18 years long prison sentence handed to former Interior Minister Mitko Cavkov by judge Dobrila Kacarska was announced by Zoran Zaev a day after the 2017 incident in the Parliament.

Bolstered by support from the US State Department and the EU foreign policy chief, Zaev then announced that his party is taking over control of the Government and shouted at Cavkov to flee the country. The first step was made. US and EU see peace and progress in us. Be part of these historic processes, Zaev said, before telling Cavkov to “run away as far as you can”. Cavkov refused to leave the country, was detained three times since then, and also refused to request amnesty under a law Zaev passed to secure the votes in Parliament he needed to rename and redefine Macedonia. Former prime minister Nikola Gruevski detailed Zaev’s reason for going after Cavkov – these include the corruption investigations which Cavkov led against Zaev, but also his steadfast defense of Macedonia from the Albanian terrorist gang which attacked the country in 2015, at the height of the political crisis which Zaev instigated.


AA: Alimi should’ve been rewarded, not punished with 7 years in prison (Republika)


The Alliance for Albanians announced an appeal to all legal instances of the verdict with which Abdulfeta Alimi was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his involvement in the 27 April events.

Although the decisions of the court and the verdicts are not commented in a democratic country, North Macedonia is far from democracy and justice. The sentence of 7 years in prison for Abdulfeta Alimi, who is known as the only man who saved the life of the Alliance for Albanians leader, Zijadin Sela, on the night of 27 April, for us, is a tendency to depreciate the other punishments of the organized group in advance projecting and attacking the Parliament, the deputies and, above all, the physical liquidation of Zijadin Sela, the Alliance for Albanians reacted. It is illogical for Feta Alimi to be charged with terrorism and to make him equal with the group that attacked MPs in the Parliament of the RNM. Feta Alimi in this trial is treated as a victim trying to preserve the ethnic balance of the remaining punished persons and whom the public knows as the persons who ordered and who are responsible for the events of April 27, the party has said. According to AA, Feta Alimi today should have been rewarded by the state, because he saved human life, and that of a MP and a leader of the people, such as Zijadin Sela, putting his own life in danger, rather than being sentenced to 7 years in prison and equal with those who “we saw on television  attacking MPs with hard objects on the fatal evening of 27 April”. We are deeply sorry for the political and legal sentence of 7 years in prison of Abdulfeta Alimi and warn that we will use all legal remedies to prove his innocence, the Alliance for Albanians said.


Mickoski: What Zaev ordered on 28 April, 2017, his servants delivered today (Republika)


To what extent are the sentences and timing that they have been handed are a kind of pressure to voters and a kind of dirty game before the election? VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski says this pressure is unprecedented in the recent history of the Republic of Macedonia. Zaev threatened on 28 April, 2017, and almost two years later, Kacarska and Ruskoska delivered, classic political persecution. And the citizens will no longer believe in the classical demagogy that comes from the SDSM’s center for lies and manipulations that we had been protecting violence, etc. Because we have violence in all the cities in the Republic of Macedonia and not only are the perpetrators and criminals not punished but on the contrary, the government takes photos with this kind of criminals and posts them on social media, says Mickoski. According to him, the draconic sentences for 27 April are aimed at spreading fear among voters, among the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. Also to deal with politically different minded people, and what Zaev ordered on 28 April, 2017, his servants delivered today, the Kacarska judiciary and the Ruskoska prosecution respectively. What is a reality in the Republic of Macedonia will be seen on April 21 and May 5, and that is the strength and energy that exists among the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia to put the incompetent, violent and despotic government once and for all on the margins of the dark side in history, said Mickoski.


Xhaferi will publish some of the laws rejected by Ivanov, will return most of them to parliament (Republika)


Following President Gjorge Ivanov’s refusal to sign laws passed through parliament stamped with the name “Republic of North Macedonia”, speaker Talat Xhaferi said that those laws adopted with a two thirds majority will be sent to the Official Gazette for publication, while the rest will be brought back before the parliament. Xhaferi already signed several laws, including the constitutional amendments that rename Macedonia into North Macedonia, and the law on the use of the Albanian language, instead of President Ivanov, despite clear Constitutional Court precedent that this is unacceptable. It is likely that, until a new President is elected in late April/early May, and he or she takes a position on the name of the country, more laws will be published with Xhaferi’s signature. I will sign the laws in the place where my signature is required. In the laws adopted with a majority of two thirds of the total seats in parliament, the President is required to sign them within seven days and they can’t be returned to a parliamentary new procedure and will be considered adopted. As for the other laws, I’m required to bring them back before the parliament within 30 days, said Xhaferi. He insisted that the delays will not affect Macedonia’s EU accession process, even though some of the laws which are before parliament are expected to influence the decision of the European Commission and Council on whether the country can open accession talks. Ivanov has refused to sign 15 laws, most of them adopted without the two thirds majority.


Nominations for the presidential elections should be submitted to SEC by 21 March (Republika)


Nominations for the 21 April presidential elections should be submitted to the State Election Commission (SEC) by 21 March at the latest, whereas the campaign starts on 1 April. In order to formalize the presidential nomination, candidates should submit 10,000 citizen signatures or 30 parliamentary signatures. So far, three candidates, SDSM’s Stevo Pendarovski, VMRO DPMNE’s Gordana Siljanovska Davkova and Blerim Reka from the Albanian opposition have collected the necessary signatures.


Opposition’s protest, Basha Reacts on Police Action to Prosecute 33 People (ADN)


Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha reacted after 33 persons, among them even the Secretary General of Democratic Party (DP) Gazmend Bardhi were prosecuted following the opposition’s protest last Saturday. In a short reaction Basha said nothing can stop Democratic Party and the Albanian citizens to fulfill their mission and making Albania as all Europe. “This government is using the State Police to make pressure against citizens and political opponents. This is a criminal regime. Edi Rama comes to power with the help of the criminal bands as is fighting against his people,” said Basha. He promised that when he will come to power all criminal and the actual Government will face justice.


DP leader’s message for internationals (ADN)


Democratic Party (DP) leader Lulzim Basha during his speech in front of thousands of protesters in DP headquarters, called on internationals to not listen Prime Minister Edi Rama, who according to him, covered Albania with drugs. According to him, there is no stability without democracy, justice, law and inequality before the law. “I want to address a clear message to our Western friends. There is no stability without democracy, justice, law and inequality before the law. Listen less to incriminated autocrats. My invitation is not to hear the incriminated autocrat Edi Rama. Do not listen the voice of the one who drowned Albania with drugs. Listen to the voice of citizens,” said Basha. He added that the battle will continue every day, in every neighborhood and in every house, till Albania can get free from crime and criminals.


Kryemadhi warns escalation of protests until PM’s removal (ADN)


The Chairwoman of Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) Monika Kryemadhi declared on Saturday after the protest organized by opposition, that from now and on, there will be escalation protests till Prime Minister Edi Rama‘s removal. She expressed endless gratitude to thousands of Albanian citizens who flooded the streets of Tirana, with the conviction and the desire to protest the capture of state. “Citizens faced the situation without stepping backwards. The people have already made their decision to finally reject being ruled by his only enemy, Edi Rama. The opposition will lead them every hour and every day. The game has already come true. The game is beginning to be played hard because there is only one way that creates a chance for Albanians,” said Kryemadhi. She added that the only way Albania has to escape from the capture of crime and the removal of criminals and robbers, is European integration.




Russia expects Serbian authorities will settle situation around rallies (TASS, 18 March 2019)


MOSCOW, Russia wants to see Serbia a stable and steadily developing state and expects that its leadership will exert every effort to settle the situation with protests that took place in Belgrade last week, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday. “Of course, we want to see Serbia a stable and dynamically developing nation,” Peskov said, adding that Russia is ready to contribute to this in every possible way within the framework of bilateral relations, as the two states enjoy long-standing partnership relations. At the same time, he stressed that protests in Serbia are an internal affair of the country. “We are confident that the Serbian leadership will do everything to settle the situation,” the spokesman added.


Protests in Serbia, Albania and Montenegro continue, demonstrators take more radical steps (European Western Balkans, by Aleksandar Ivković, 17 March 2019)


BELGRADE/TIRANA/PODGORICA/- Anti-government protests have continued over the weekend in the capitals of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro, as well as smaller places in these Western Balkan countries. While the protesters in Albania once again clashed with the police, Saturday evening marked the first time that the preventive force was used against the participants of Belgrade demonstrations, who stormed the building of the country’s public broadcaster.

Protests in all three countries are aiming to overthrow the ruling parties led by President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Edi Rama and President Milo Đukanović respectively. The regimes are accused of corruption, suppression of democracy and media freedoms as well as unsatisfactory economic situation. On 16 March, dozens of demonstrators, lead by opposition politicians Boško Obradović and Dragan Đilas, entered the headquarters of Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS), bypassing the security and demanding an opportunity to address the viewership live. Since the protests have begun in early December, none of the organizers has been invited to RTS, which is still the most watched television channel in the country. There were no acts of violence, and the police managed to remove the citizens from the building after several hours, with some accusations of disproportionately harsh treatment surfacing on the social networks. Only one person was arrested for assaulting a police officer. President Vučić announced that he will be addressing the incident during an extraordinary press conference on Sunday at noon. Breaking from the traditional protest walks on Saturday, the organizers announced in return that they will be staging protests in front of the Presidency at the same time, demanding Vučić’s resignation. Earlier this week, the parties gathered in the Alliance for Serbia, the country’s strongest opposition coalition, gave Vučić and other high state officials a month to resign from their offices, or face demonstrators from all across Serbia who will gather on 13 April in Belgrade if the demands are not met by then. This is the first protests explicitly organized by the opposition politicians, who have started to address the attending citizens more and more every week, taking the role from the popular public figures and representatives of civic initiatives.

In the meantime, protests in Albania have been openly organized by the opposition from the start. Democratic Party MPs, along with several other opposition parties, have resigned from their parliamentary posts in February. DP’s leader Lulzim Basha has been at the forefront of the demonstrations from their start. On 16 March, protesters in Albania once again tried to storm the offices of Prime Minister Rama, and then the national parliament. They were stopped in the latter attempt by the police, who threw tear gas and used water cannons to disperse them. At least one protester was incapacitated, Balkan Insight reported. Basha announced that various forms of citizen’s resistance will be held across the country during the following days. Both US Embassy and EU delegation to Albania condemned the violence, and urged the organizers to prevent it from escalating during future protests. In Montenegro, on the other hand, the protests are still almost exclusively organized by the citizen movements, and not by opposition parties. This Saturday again witnessed thousands of people (in a country of 620.000) gathering to demand the resignations of the most senior state officials, beginning with the President Milo Đukanović, who has been in power since 1989. The demonstrations have been sparked by the numerous affairs that have seemingly revealed the extent of corruption of the ruling party. Under the hashtag “Resist”, they are taking place every Saturday, and the next ones are already announced for 23 March.


Terror has no connection with history of Balkans: envoy (Anadolu Agency, by Vakkas Doğantekin, 16 March 2019)


Serbian envoy to Turkey slams any connection made between New Zealand terror attack and Serbia

ANKARA – The Serbian envoy to Turkey has condemned the “terrorist attack” in New Zealand that killed at least 50 Muslims at their place of worship and called it an “act of a complete lunatic”. “There is no rational explanation for what he did. He named many historical figures on his gun connected to the different era and to totally different context. “Only the sick person could make the connection between his mad, sick, criminal and totally unacceptable act with the history of Balkans,” Zoran Markovic told Anadolu Agency on Saturday. A gunman opened fire on worshippers during Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.

Footage of the terrorist shows Serb nationalist symbols and song praising convicted Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic. “We deeply disagree with any kind of violence and terrorism of any kind. I, personally, yesterday evening expressed my condolences to my New Zealand colleague and sympathies with families of victims, as well as my Government,” said Markovic. “Turkish public should know that this mad mass killer has no single connection with our region, especially not to Serbia. He should have been previously treated by competent social and medical institutions. Such disasters wouldn’t happen then. Unfortunately, there are many unadjusted people all around the globe,” said Markovic. He added: “Putting this mass killer in any connection with Serbia is bad-intentioned and caused by intention to spoil excellent relations between Turkey and Serbia.”


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