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Belgrade Media Report 22 March 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Friday 22 March 2019


  • Vucic: I’m reluctant to slate early elections because I hope I can restart the dialogue with Pristina (La Repubblica/RTS/Tanjug/B92/Beta)
  • Brnabic: Only Washington had made one step more (RTS/Beta)
  • Brnabic: 1999 bombing did not happen due to fault of Serbian citizens (RTS/Tanjug)
  • Grasso rebuts Drecun (Danas)
  • DS condemns relativization of Karadzic verdict (Beta)
  • SRS: There was no genocide in Srebrenica, Serbia must react (Beta)


Bosnia & Herzegovina

  • Director General of ICMP: Chapter in the history of conflict of the Western Balkans closed (Radio Sarajevo)
  • Statement by the spokesperson on the final judgement in the Karadzic case (Radio Sarajevo)
  • Karadzic’s message: The tribunal’s decision is a ‘barren revenge’ (RTRS, Srna, N1)
  • Urgently remove NATO posters from schools in Brcko (Srna)
  • Zvizdic: Bosnia may close its border, just as the EU has done (N1)


  • President to visit Jasenovac Memorial on her own (Hina)
  • German President Steinmeier visits Zagreb (Hina)


  • Agreement on Future by “Odupri Se” proposes Government of Civil Union (TMN)
  • Agreement on future is not acceptable to DF (Pobjeda)
  • Markovic: Protests in Montenegro do not pose a threat to state (TMN)
  • Montenegro and Kosovo: Role models for Euro-Atlantic integration (TMN)

Republic of North Macedonia

  • We take Zaev at his word for early parliamentary elections, we believe that Siljanovska will win (Republika)
  • Mickoski – Zaev TV duel on Tuesday (Republika)


  • Albania opposition holds new rally (ADN)


  • Karadzic trial shows bias and politicization of UN tribunal — Russian Foreign Ministry (TASS)
  • Lavrov: NATO airstrike on Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 could have been deliberate (TASS)
  • U.S.-Russia competition Intensified in the Balkans (China Military)


Vucic: I’m reluctant to slate early elections because I hope I can restart the dialogue with Pristina (La Repubblica/RTS/Tanjug/B92/Beta)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Serbia was absolutely stable, Vucic said when asked whether stability was threatened in the aftermath of the weekend conflict. He added that violent perpetrators do not represent Serbia. “I assure Europe: Serbia is absolutely stable. Unfortunately, peaceful demonstrations that did not involve many people became violent. The police guaranteed peace and order in a moderate manner. You will no longer see unpunished violence in the streets of Serbia. We are more stable than ever, the opposition parties are losing their support in the polls,” Vucic said in his interview to the Roman media outlet, that he gave during his visit to Germany. When asked if he “feared conflict, since opposition leaders are urging ‘going all the way’,” – the Serbian President recalled that “once they launched violence, he immediately called a press conference, assuming that a protest would be held in front of the Presidency. “They asked for my resignation, I said publicly that I was a legitimately elected president and that I would not resign. I said, ‘I respect your protesters, although you are few, but not your leaders, among whom are fascists and thieves’. I do not care about my own destiny, I am in power because I have been elected and I am trying to implement difficult, courageous reforms. I am not afraid of their violence,” Vucic said. Asked “why he would not call early elections” – Vucic said that “a vast majority of citizens are on his side” and that he “is thinking about that.” “But I’m reluctant because I hope that I can restart the dialogue with Pristina. It’s impossible to negotiate during an election campaign, that’s the point,” Vucic said. When the interviewer remarked that the opposition accused him of limiting media freedoms, and comparing him to “Milosevic, Orban, and Kachinsky” – the President replied that he “always said that the situation with the Serbian media is not the best. “But the current media climate has been created by opposition leaders to destabilize the country, Dragan Djilas and his wealthy associate Dragan Solak own the highest-ratings cable network and various television channels. They influence all of the weeklies, and at least two daily newspapers. In the public broadcaster (RTS) – that they attacked – it wasn’t me who appointed the directors and editors, they were there before. When the current opposition leaders were in power, they shut down 3,000 companies, I opened 200 and since I have been in power economic growth has been at 4.4 percent – under them it was less at than 3, 1 percent,” Vucic said. He added that “the unemployment rate has fallen from 26 to 11 percent.” “I am conducting a dialogue on the topic of the media with international organizations and the European Union – not with those oligarch thieves and media magnates like Dragan Djilas: while he was the mayor of Belgrade, he stole 500 million euros,” Vucic said. Asked during the interview about the previous day’s second instance verdict against the first Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic, Vucic said that he was in Germany “for important political and economic talks” and that he would speak about the verdict “the next day (today) in Serbia.” “I’m afraid that this can only provoke political contradictions and divisions,” Vucic said. Asked “how much the past makes the region’s present more difficult” – Vucic said that “in the whole region, unfortunately, the past is too present in political debates.” “I am working hard and will trying as much as I can to overcome this situation in Serbia and I hope that every leader will do the same. Dialogue and economic growth are the future,” Vucic said. Asked about the “tense situation with Pristina that wants to take control of the huge Trepca mine” in Kosovo that is “historically Serb” – and “whether there is a risk of conflict” – Vucic said that he “spoke about precisely this with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.” “I told him that we appreciate the work of KFOR (which La Repubblica’s reporter said was ‘almost entirely Italian’ – ed.) – They have been protecting the Serbs in Kosovo. We expect them to continue to do so. Without the permission of KFOR and NATO, Pristina cannot make any move. I hope they will not endanger the peace. Faced with the risk of a pogrom (of Serbs in Kosovo) we will have no choice but to protect our people. However, we hope that KFOR, in which I have confidence, will solve any problem and that Pristina will act rationally,” said Vucic.

Brnabic: Only Washington had made one step more (RTS/Beta)

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told RTS on Thursday evening that the abolishing of import taxes by Pristina was not in sight, but that the French-German initiative was dedicated to their abolishing. “This initiative is certainly going toward abolishing the taxes, because we said the dialogue would not resume until that happens,” Brnabic said, without disclosing the details of the initiative. Brnabic said it was good that Washington, Berlin, London and Brussels were advocating the abolishing of fees, but added that it was sad to see that the EU had not done more, and that only Washington had made one step more. “They denied visas for leaders from Pristina, they were the only ones who had done something apart from declarative calls to Pristina to abolish taxes,” she said. “It seems to me that the abolishing of fees is not in sight; I have not seen Pristina thinking about acting constructively, I think they are only trying to complicate the situation and turn away from the dialogue as much as possible,” Brnabic added. She said that the authorities had done nothing to provoke the radicalization of the One of the Five Million protests in Belgrade. “The violent break-in into the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation to me means that the peaceful protests are over,” Brnabic told the channel and added that my being here is my support for the station. She said that it was also very important not to relativize violence. “It is very important not to relativize the violence by saying that they are to blame, but that the station and government are also to blame, we need to know who is to blame and all of us to condemn them as a society,” Brnabic said.

Brnabic: 1999 bombing did not happen due to fault of Serbian citizens (RTS/Tanjug)

At the conference dubbed “NATO aggression on the FR Yugoslavia: 20 years after”, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said today that Serbia is aware of the mistakes it has made in the past, but added that NATO bombing in 1999 was the fault of others, not the citizens of Serbia.

Brnabic stressed that Serbia must not forget the victims of that bombing, destroyed factories, bridges and devastated economy, but that it has to try to forgive because it is the only way to realize its great potential, to turn to the future, partnership and cooperation. No one should criticize Serbia for faults. We are aware that we made mistakes, but the bombing in 1999 was the fault of others, not of the citizens of Serbia who at the end of the 20th century were the victims of those with whom we fought for freedom and justice in two wars. For the future it would be good for them to be aware of those mistakes, she repeated. Brnabic has said that for the past 20 years we have been trying to get an answer to the question of how a small country has become such a big opponent of the most powerful forces, but also what are the reasons for the precedent that a sovereign country can be attacked without a decision of the UN Security Council. We ended the conflict in which we were not equal with a destroyed country. In Serbia, in 1999, we were all targets, irrespective of gender, age, nationality, religion or political affinities, Brnabic recalled. According to Brnabic, our country will remain faithful to tradition and history and will never forget the friends who stood with her in the most difficult times, with special thanks to Russia and China. She said that the country will develop partnership relations with those who took part in the bombing in 1999 and build bridges with those that we do not even understand today, judging that this is the only way to better.

Grasso rebuts Drecun (Danas)

KFOR is not involved in the training of Kosovo security forces. The military drill that you are mentioning was made public several days ago and it is part of a bilateral agreement, like many agreements that many nations have with Kosovo, without any presence of KFOR, KFOR spokesperson Vincenzo Grasso told Danas, commenting yesterday’s accusations of the Chairperson of the Serbian parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun. Drecun told TV Pink that the joint drill of the Albanian Army and so-called Kosovo security forces is intended to intimidate the Serb people in the province, and that KFOR was silent about it. “KFOR continues to operate impartially within the UN mandate in order to guarantee security and safety to all people in Kosovo, and such training does not represent any threat for security. Over the past days, KFOR, and especially COMKFOR, have called many times all leaders, speakers and the media, to refrain from creating unnecessary tensions and to be careful not to cause deeper consequences with their rhetoric. Using such rhetoric and spreading false information cause fear among the people and risk of establishing an environment where one isolated incident may escalate, says the KFOR spokesperson.

DS condemns relativization of Karadzic verdict (Beta)

On March 21 the Democratic Party (DS) condemned every relativization of the sentencing of Radovan Karadzic. The Democrats called on the authorities and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to desist with a campaign to present war criminals as heroes. The sentencing of Karadzic is important for facing up to the past, establishing responsibility and creating the preconditions for building a future without the mortgage of the past, the party said. This decision establishes individual responsibility and proves that the Serbian people, collectively, are not to blame for the crimes that were committed. “This gives satisfaction to the victims and hope to everyone fighting for the human ideals of freedom, peace and understanding. This is precisely where our individual and partisan responsibility lies and that of society as a whole to prevent revisionist interpretations, nationalistic rhetoric and violence toward those who think differently in the coming period,” the party said.

SRS: There was no genocide in Srebrenica, Serbia must react (Beta)

A member of parliament from the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Natasa Jovanovic raised the issue in the Serbian parliament, about what the state would do after the “shameful and draconian” sentence to Radovan Karadzic. She addressed that question to President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. Jovanovic said that the court in The Hague was anti-Serb and that the cases it processed were politically orchestrated, by orders of the western powers. She claimed that, even in the second-instance proceedings, the court had been unable to find that Karadzic advocated any crime and that, therefore, it attempted to impose that he (Karadzic) is also guilty of the Srebrenica genocide. “There was no genocide in Srebrenica and history will prove that,” Jovanovic stated.


Director General of ICMP: Chapter in the history of conflict of the Western Balkans closed (Radio Sarajevo)

The Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, issued a statement following the verdict of the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in the case of Radovan Karadzic.

“A chapter in the history of conflict of the Western Balkans closed, when the MICT upheld the conviction of Radovan Karadzic for genocide and war crimes and extended the sentence to life in prison. “As those who were responsible for crimes are brought to justice, it is important that their victims are not forgotten. In the former Yugoslavia, 40,000 people went missing as a result of the conflicts. More than two thirds of these people have been accounted for as a result of the action of regional governments, working together with ICMP. However, 12,000 people are still missing, including one thousand of the 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica Genocide.

ICMP provided evidence in the Karadzic trial, presenting expert testimony on its work to assist in identifying thousands of victims through a DNA-led identification process. Last November, the representatives of the authorities responsible for accounting for missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia signed a Framework Plan with ICMP that lays out steps to boost their cooperation and increase their effectiveness in accounting for those who are still missing throughout the region. The international community must continue to support this process. Convicting those responsible for war crimes is an essential element in upholding the rule of law. Ensuring that governments fulfil their legal obligations to account for those who are missing as a result of these crimes and to secure the rights of all surviving families of the missing is an important element in the same process.”

Statement by the spokesperson on the final judgement in the Karadzic case (Radio Sarajevo)

The final judgement in the Radovan Karadzic case before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) by the Appeals Chamber closes a case relating to some of the most tragic events in Europe’s recent history, involving war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Our deep sympathies are with those who lost their loved ones and those who survived.

The European Union fully respects the decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the IRMCT. We reiterate the need for full cooperation with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, as the ICTY’s successor. The EU expects all leaders in the region to support the decisions of the international tribunals and to refrain from any statements or actions casting doubt on the independence or the impartiality of the adjudication process. Denial or revisionism contradict the most fundamental European values. International criminal justice not only contributes to ending impunity but also to fostering broader trust and reconciliation within Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region as a whole. The EU also supports the effective and efficient domestic processing of war crimes, to complement and follow up on the work of international tribunals. Reconciliation requires an honest and factual assessment of the past, coming from within societies and bringing together all parties to the conflict. Education and awareness are key.

Karadzic’s message: The tribunal’s decision is a ‘barren revenge’ (RTRS, Srna, N1)

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, whom a UN’s court sentenced on Wednesday for the war crimes from the early 1990s, said in the aftermath of the final verdict that it was actually him and the Serb people who already won. In a statement for RTRS, Karadzic’s attorney read a message that his client wrote after the appeal judges handed down the final verdict in this case. “The sacrifice I make is much less than what others did. Thousands of young men had built Republika Srpska (RS) with their lives. The many are post-war disabled veterans, while the mothers whose sons, often only sons, gave their lives for the freedom of the Serb people made the biggest sacrifice. Those are the true victims” Karadzic said. For Karadzic, The Hague tribunal’s decision was a “barren revenge” that can do no harm to him, “an old man.”

“We did not surrender at the hardest times, and even in prison I won’t stop fighting for the truth about our just battle in the war that was imposed on us and in which all three peoples were killed,” Karadzic wrote in his post-sentence letter. The first President of the then RS, said this battle was just. “We justly fought for the freedom and equality of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Because of that, let’s always and in all occasions, show dignity, not hate others and let’s proudly keep what is above all of us – RS,” he added.

Urgently remove NATO posters from schools in Brcko (Srna)

Posters promoting NATO were placed on the secondary schools in Brcko, which is strongly condemned by Serb political parties in power in the district, which are demanding secondary school principals to immediately remove them. “Posters of a military alliance by no means belong in schools, among children and youth, especially if one takes into account the fact that half of B&H population strongly opposes B&H’s accession to NATO over its embarrassing role during the aggression against Republika Srpska and Serbia,” reads a statement signed by the SNSD, SP, PDP parties and deputy Uros Vojnovic. The statement reads that NATO is the last organization to teach children moral and human values. “Therefore, we demand the principals of all secondary schools, in which these shameful posters appeared, to immediate remove these posters or they will face legal sanctions,” the statement reads. Brcko high school students, after coming to school, voiced their disapproval over the posters, and reported this to the local media.

Zvizdic: Bosnia may close its border, just as the EU has done (N1)

If Bosnia’s western border to the EU remains closed for migrants, then the country will have to close its eastern border too, Chairman of B&H’s Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic said on Thursday. The country will remain committed to the principles of humanity and international law when migrants seek asylum, but not many of their requests are sincere and B&H needs to protect its borders just like the EU has done, he said. “Migrants from EU countries are coming to B&H with the intent to return to the EU again. They come from Greece, and if reports that a large number of migrants are leaving Greece in May are true, then we really have to think about fully closing the B&H border,” he said. Thousands have entered B&H on their way towards EU countries since the beginning of 2018. However, they got stuck there after surrounding countries closed their borders, particularly Croatia, B&H’s EU neighbor. Migrants continue trying to enter the EU illegally but Croatian border police have reinforced the border to B&H and are turning them back. B&H needs to resolve its issues with its neighboring countries regarding the migrant flow, Zvizdic said, explaining that many Iranians enter Serbia as tourists and then cross over to B&H as migrants. He also mentioned that Hungary and some other countries have offered to help B&H secure its border.

President to visit Jasenovac Memorial on her own (Hina)

Commenting on statements by representatives of ethnic minorities that again this year again they would not attend the government-sponsored commemoration of victims of the World War II Jasenovac concentration camp, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that she regretted “ideological divisions and that we are constantly going back to the past instead of focusing on issues of everyday life” and that she would therefore go to Jasenovac “to pay tribute to the victims in silence” again this year. “I’m quite upset that we are putting those divisions in the center of political debate” she said. Grabar-Kitarovic went on to say that everyone had recognized that regimes such as Fascism, Communism and Nazism were criminal. “Tribute should be paid to all victims” she said. “I said that I would attend the Jasenovac commemoration if we all go together. We all commemorate the victims and everyone does it in their own way, which makes no sense. I will go there to bow in silence to the victims because they deserve that,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.

German President Steinmeier visits Zagreb (Hina)

The European Union must not lose itself in bilateral quarrels, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Zagreb on Thursday after meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, with whom he agreed that the prospects of even better bilateral cooperation would occur in 2020, when both countries are set to preside over the European Union. Steinmeier began his two-day official visit with talks in Grabar-Kitarovic’s office during which they said the two countries shared the same views on many European issues and that they were strongly linked by the Croatian community in Germany. In a joint press conference after the talks, Steinmeier said Croatia, as the newest EU member, was a bridge between the European bloc and Southeast Europe, with which it shares a common past. There were difficult periods in that past, he said, urging the countries of Southeast Europe to resolve outstanding issues. In Europe, “dealing with the difficulties of the past paved the way to the future,” he said. Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia supported the Euro-Atlantic perspective of all Southeast European countries. “In that sense, we want a stable Southeast Europe, notably Bosnia and Herzegovina.” She said that Croatia would dedicate another summit on EU enlargement to Southeast Europe while chairing the Council of the EU in the first half of next year. The calendar envisaged that we assume responsibility one after the other, Steinmeier said. Germany will chair the Council in the second half of 2020. “That’s a chance to cooperate even better at European level.” Grabar-Kitarovic said the two countries shared common European values and commitment to a strong EU. Croatia will always remember “the key role of Germany and other close friends during the struggle for survival, notably the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher,” she said, adding that Croatia continued to count on Germany’s support. Croatia appreciates Germany’s “constant and strong” support for Croatia’s membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said Grabar-Kitarovic. The EU will “become safer and stronger when Croatia enters the Schengen and euro areas” she said. “In that respect, we are counting on Germany’s support,” she added, noting that Croatia is making big efforts to efficiently monitor “the EU’s longest eastern external border.” Steinmeier said Croatia was a new member state but has “settled in the heart of the EU” as a bridge helping to overcome the difficulties between old and new member states. He illustrated Croatia’s role with the Three Seas Initiative, which some in Europe saw as an attempt to distance new member states from “the old Europe.” Croatia said from the very beginning that the Initiative must not be used for political purposes and invited other countries to join, which Germany did, he said. “A lot is at stake in Europe” today, which is why the European Parliament election “isn’t just another election in history” as it “will decide on the different drafts of the European Union’s future,” he added.

Agreement on Future by “Odupri Se” proposes Government of Civil Union (TMN)

Representatives of the “Odupri Se” (Resist) protest movement have proposed the Agreement on Future to the opposition deputies to agree to jointly advocate for the formation of a government of unity, whose primary task will be to create the conditions for maintaining fair and free elections. As announced at yesterday’s press conference, protest organizers hope to achieve unity of 39 opposition deputies in the Montenegrin Parliament, which is 49 percent of the representative body. They remain at the earlier demands for the resignation of senior officials, and the opposition offers a common platform for resolving the political crisis. In the document entitled “Agreement on Future”, the signatories agree that the election of ministers in that government is on a parity basis – one-third of the representatives of the ruling majority and parliamentary opposition parties and a third of the non-partial personalities. It is stated that the function of the president of the government of civil unity, which will act in a limited mandate, cannot be a member of the parties that are now in power. “Opposition parties have offered a draft agreement that is the result of comprehensive consultations with integrity intellectuals, and the document is subject to change in one part,” Dzemal Perovic, representative of the organizing committee of protest “Odupri Se”. The signatories, as envisaged by the agreement, will not participate in local, state and elections for President of the State, scheduled before meeting the demands of the citizens reported on the protests and the primary task of the government of the civil union. The Government of Civil Unity will not change its current foreign policy approach to Montenegro by its activity or decision,” he said in the agreement. Perovic replied that the cooperation with this political alliance from the beginning of the protest was correct, to the journalist question whether they expected support from the Democratic Front that the representatives and sympathizers of these parties are regularly involved in civil protests and that there is no reason to believe that they will now be different. He stressed that the parties for their particular attitudes and politics would have the opportunity to seek support from citizens at the first free elections to be organized in Montenegro when the conditions are met. The agreement envisions the consent of the signatories that a mandate of the government of civil union is necessary to review all laws that call into question the inalienability of private property, the reduction of the VAT rate and the abolition of all the privileges enjoyed by ministers in the government and the institution’s leadership. It is necessary, as stated, to increase the minimum labor cost to 60 percent of the average earnings in the past year, and to introduce a ratio of the lowest and highest earnings to public employment in the rate of 1:5. The agreement provides that during the mandate of the government of civil unity it is necessary to adopt laws on the origin of a property of public officials and their affiliated persons, which would enable the seizure of illegally acquired wealth and a property whose background is impossible to prove. Prevention of party membership, including specific measures, activities and legal solutions, as well as priority work on the establishment of the Constitution of Guaranteed Social Justice, citizens’ safety and the establishment of a real social dialogue. Among the steps that are necessary to undertake during the mandate of the government of civil union is to ensure the independence of the Montenegrin judiciary, including the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive plan for the protection of judicial institutions from political and party influence. Energy measures are also foreseen to protect independent regulatory bodies, primarily the Anti-Corruption Agency, the State Audit Office and the Personal Data Protection Agency, and free access to information from political and party influences. Among the necessary steps of the future government is the provision of full freedom of the media, with particular reference to the informative work of the Public Media Service RTCG, to provide accurate, timely and complete information of citizens.

 “All the signatories to the Agreement have their political and moral credibility to fulfill these obligations and commit themselves to the beginning of constructive and consistent work on the concrete principles, methods, and means necessary for the realization of the points of the Agreement,” the document states. In the organizing committee of the “Odupri Se” movement, they believe the agreement will be supported by all opposition parties until Saturday, “because there is no reason not to maintain the unity we have already achieved,” said Dzemal Perovic.

 Perovic said the deal had already been approved by Democrats, URAs, Demos, SNP, and Independent Deputies. “We are convinced that DF will be wise to evaluate the unity of citizens that has been achieved and will do everything to unite in this sequence of steps to bring this peaceful transition together. I believe that all of us will respond positively by Saturday because there is no reason not to preserve the unity we have already achieved,” Perovic said at the press conference, saying he would not negotiate with the government representatives while claiming that one of the organizers other. “As long as speculated that someone else stands behind us, we will not respond to such a dialogue call. When a serious dialogue call comes, we will do as it is said in the Agreement, so we will work together to form a government. We will not go to the negotiations, but a united opposition will go along with us,” Perovic said. Perovic said opposition parties were offered a draft agreement that was the result of comprehensive consultations with intellectuals of integrity, stating that the document was in some cases subject to amendments. He claims that he will not negotiate part of the boycott of elections, parliament and foreign-policy directions of Montenegro. “Why is this noise rising so much when three o’clock in the morning we were talking about it? Some parts are taken or vacated, because we cannot go back to issues like the boycott of all elections until the fulfillment of the conditions and only the new government can prepare the first fair elections in Montenegro. There is no participation in the assembly when it comes from undemocratic choices. If the crisis did not go in some wrong direction, we did not seek resignation from deputies, but only unbiased,” Perovic said, stating that the stability of the state should be safeguarded. Perovic also said that any attack on the organizing committee would do nothing to bring about the regime because he is dealing with citizens. The organizers, as he said, only articulate their will. e said that the deal would be offered to minority peasants, but that there will be much more pressure on citizens and masses. Perovic said and will follow pressures from abroad, citing that this is the last year of this regime.

He repeated that there is no current in the Organizing Committee, although there are different attitudes among the members. “When we make decisions, then we all stand behind it. I do not see a more significant step than to have 39 deputies on Saturday. Our suggestion would be to overwhelm the Assembly over laws to show the supremacy of the opposition and the citizens,” he said, citing as an example of forming parliament in the shadows. He told the flippant businessman Dusko Knezevic not to take the protest, but to continue with the revelation of the regime affair. “We appreciate that he is doing a great thing because he can only do it as an insider inside the system. He has been legitimized as a repentant and is prepared to bear his share of omnipotence. We call him to continue in that part of it, and not to absorb our protest,” Perovic said.

Agreement on future is not acceptable to DF (Pobjeda)

Democratic Front probably won’t sign the agreement sent to opposition parties by the representatives of “97.000 Odupri se” movement. Several sources said that the document “is barely acceptable” to the most powerful opposition political alliance, since it has been drawn up without prior consultations with most opposition parties, with clear hints that the authors of the document were Civil Movement URA and Vijesti daily. “We’ll say what we think in the next two days. We are not very sure about part of the people from the opposition board. As far as protest are concerned, we have no doubts, they should continue, and we’ll give them our full support,” said the source of Pobjeda. “Agreement on the future” is acceptable to URA and Democrats, while SDP has said that the document should be considered at the meeting between the representatives of opposition parliamentary parties and independent members of the parliament and organizers of the protest. Socialists People’s Party will do as other parties do – if everybody accepts, so will they. Demos will make the decision by Saturday. Representatives of “97000 Odupri se” movement, together with opposition representatives, have proposed the “Agreement on Future”, by means of which they would all oblige to advocate for the formation of the Government of civil union. The government would act in limited mandate and its basic task would be creating conditions for holding fair and free elections. DF hasn’t officially answered to the movement yet, but one of the leaders of this opposition alliance, Nebojsa Medojevic, wrote on his Facebook profile: “DF is loyal to the people and Montenegro, not to the embassies of foreign states”.

Markovic: Protests in Montenegro do not pose a threat to state (TMN)

Civic protests do not pose a threat to the state and its political system, according to Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, who assessed that the government of Montenegro is persistent in the protection of the state and its citizens. Prime Minister explained that the demands for the resignation of the representatives of the Government were not grounded because, as he says, the Government has support in the parliament in which it was elected. Markovic announced that the state is becoming more and more stable. “Montenegrin institutions are capable and ready to protect the constitutional and legal order of our country at any time and in any circumstances,” Markovic estimated. This conclusion of the PM was based on the fact that Montenegro is a state with established institutions; the country is a NATO member, a politically stable country based on democratic and European values. “Therefore, despite the challenges that accompany us, we are achieving to protect the state, protect the citizens and their interests, and the attempts of destabilization have made our security apparatus more compact, and the state more stable” Markovic emphasized. The Prime Minister also pointed out that the European and Euro-Atlantic future, as well as the independence of Montenegro, cannot be endangered in any way: “I want to believe that even protesters do not want to endanger the independence of our country. I want to believe that they do not want to demolish Montenegro, but build the country towards a better future. Still, we will not allow the creation of an overthrowing atmosphere, because that is an ambience that can lead to unwanted consequences,” the PM stated during the assembly. He added that protests are a democratic and legitimate way of expressing opinions and that the representatives of the government fully understand their need to emphasize their demands, especially when they are motivated by the desire to improve the standards and quality of life of citizens. However, as PM explained, the citizens of Montenegro must all agree that the government is working on improvements daily, which is confirmed by notable results that are visible and measurable.

Montenegro and Kosovo: Role models for Euro-Atlantic integration (TMN)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic paid an official visit to the Republic of Kosovo at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Behgjet Pacolli. Minister Darmanovic also met with Kosovo Assembly speaker Kadri Veseli and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. The officials noted that Montenegro and the Republic of Kosovo have developed very good relations and expressed their satisfaction with the frequent political dialogue that strengthens the overall cooperation. “It is essential that all actors in the region cooperate closely, as well as to act responsibly for the purpose of faster integration into the European Union,” said Darmanovic. Pacoli emphasized that the two countries are sincere friends. cherishing good neighborly relations and mutual support. “The Montenegrin contribution to regional stability is very important and the citizens of our country appreciate it,” Pacoli stressed. The meeting with Veseli noted excellent cooperation between the two countries, which was confirmed in the previous period when addressing issues of common interest. “The Republic of Kosovo and its citizens have great respect for the results of the Montenegrin state policy,” Veseli underscored. The importance of the parliamentary dimension of cooperation between the two countries was also emphasized as an important segment of the overall relations. During the meeting with Haradinaj, the head of the Montenegrin diplomacy stressed that Montenegro closely monitors and supports the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, stressing that it is important for the two sides to achieve a sustainable agreement that will be in the function of the long-term stability of the Western Balkans. Commenting on bilateral relations, the Kosovo Prime Minister said that ” Montenegro is an example of successful development and a role model in European and Euro-Atlantic integration process.” The two officials also pointed out the need to boost economic cooperation between the two countries, primarily through better infrastructure connections. Darmanovic particularly highlighted the issue of the status of the Montenegrin community in Kosovo, which is in the focus of attention of the Government of Montenegro, hopeful that the Montenegrin national minority will soon receive a constitutional and legal treatment. In that context, the Kosovo officials said that they strive for the recognition of the status in the highest legal act of Kosovo, greater representation and a better position of the Montenegrin community. Darmanovic also spoke with the representatives of the Montenegrin emigrant societies, and pointed out the assurances of the Kosovo side that their status will be recognized in the future by the Constitution. They also discussed the soon opening of the Development Centre of Montenegrins, which will be the hub of cultural, economic, scientific and educational projects of Montenegro’s community in Kosovo. Darmanovic and Pacoli signed an agreement on cooperation between the two countries in the context of accession to the European Union. “Montenegro is set, based on its commitment to good neighborly relations and close regional cooperation, to share experience and expertise in the process of European integration with all its neighbors,” Darmanovic stated, adding that Kosovo can count on Montenegro’s support for its EU bid.

We take Zaev at his word for early parliamentary elections, we believe that Siljanovska will win (Republika)

VMRO-DPMNE president Hristijan Mickoski together with presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, VMRO-DPMNE vice-president Aleksandar Nikoloski and the secretary for international cooperation Timco Mucunski are on a several-day working visit to Brussels. On Thursday, Mickoski, after the meetings he had, said that the past two days they had extremely important and useful meetings for VMRO-DPMNE, but also for the Republic of Macedonia, because they informed their interlocutors about the real situation in the Republic of Macedonia, about what is true reality for the Republic of Macedonia, and also for all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. During Wednesday’s parliamentary assembly, I had very useful meetings with many presidents of our sister parties who are part of our family, from the family of the European People’s Party, I had several meetings with MEPs who are part of our sister parties within the European People’s Party, and we generally talked about the reality in the Republic of Macedonia, about the political persecution that is happening to political opponents, mostly opposition thinkers in the Republic of Macedonia. We talked about the lack of reforms in healthcare, education, and everything that practically represents failure of the government of Zoran Zaev and SDSM in the Republic of Macedonia. I also informed my interlocutors about the period ahead of us in terms of the presidential elections that, and I informed them about our strategy with just about a month until election day, about everything we do on the field, but also about the campaign which will officially begin on 1 April. Professor Gordana Siljanoska Davkova also had the opportunity to meet with many Presidents and MEPs from the ranks of the European People’s Party, to share her views, inform them about the program that she will present to the citizens in the Republic of Macedonia as future President of the Republic of Macedonia and all that represents a vision how should our country develop further. Today I also had a quality meeting with EPP’s President Daul. We talked about the developments within our European People’s Party, but I also informed him about the current political developments in the Republic of Macedonia, the violent behavior of the Government, the violent behavior of the institutions, practically a month before the voting in the presidential election. We talked about the political persecution, the lack of reforms in the Republic of Macedonia, but we also talked about the promise that the president of the government, Mr. Zoran Zaev, gave, that if his candidate loses in the presidential elections, he will call for early parliamentary elections in autumn. We take Mr. Zoran Zaev at his word because we certainly believe that VMRO-DPMNE and professor Gordana Siljanovska will win the presidential election, and thus fulfill the only condition that Zoran Zaev has set himself, that is if he loses the presidential election to call for early parliamentary elections in autumn. Early parliamentary elections for the Republic of Macedonia will mean a new future, a real future, with real structural reforms, no fake news that are delivered here in Brussels within the European Commission, Mickoski said.

Mickoski – Zaev TV duel on Tuesday (Republika)

Opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski and incumbent Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will face on Tuesday. They will oppose their views and opinions on TV Kanal 5. The TV duel starts at 18:30 h. According to Kanal 5, the two political leaders confirmed their presence. According to the concept of TV Kanal 5, the duel will last 100 minutes, limiting the answers to the questions in a duration of 2 minutes, as well as the possibility of exchanging replies and counter-replies. The two guests will get questions on current topics that citizens expect answers, and they themselves will have the opportunity to open one topic.

Albania opposition holds new rally (ADN)

Several thousand opposition protesters tried to enter Albania’s parliament building Thursday calling for the government’s resignation and an early election. Former MP of Democratic Party (DP), Klevis Balliu declared this Thursday that now it is the time for entering the parliament and dragging all those who have stolen Albanians. The former MP stated that they don’t accept to dialogue with criminals, just like US doesn’t accept to dialogue with terrorists. Moreover, Balliu declared that the opposition’s protests will continue until Prime Minister, Edi Rama‘s removal.

“It is the time for entering the parliament and dragging all those who have stolen Albanians. The citizens are those who decided on the continuation of the protest. We don’t accept to dialogue with gangs, just like the US doesn’t accept to dialogue with terrorists,” said Balliu. The rally is part of the center-right Democratic Party-led opposition’s protests over the past month accusing the leftist Socialist Party government of Rama of being corrupt and linked to organized crime. The government denies the allegations. The leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha declared on Thursday from Brussels that Albanian opposition has the support of the European People’s Party. He said that the leader of the EPP, Joseph Daul declared that no compromise can be done with democracy, media freedom and legal state. “DP is fighting for these values and it has the support of EPP. Mr. Daul was clear on this issue,” underlined Basha confirming that the protests will go on and opposition will not make steps back. After throwing projectiles and firecrackers for about an hour, a group of protesters tried to break the police line at the main parliament entrance but did not succeed. Riot police in the second line did not intervene, and a nearby water cannon was not used. In previous rallies, opposition supporters have tried to enter the parliament or government buildings using smoke bombs and projectiles. Police have responded with tear gas. The Socialists say the opposition’s protests aren’t helping Albania’s progress toward membership in the European Union.


Karadzic trial shows bias and politicization of UN tribunal — Russian Foreign Ministry (TASS, 21 March 2019)

MOSCOW. The court proceedings in the case of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have shown the bias and politicization of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) in The Hague, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. “The summary published on the website shows serious discrepancies, which have been noted in the Karadzic trial since its very beginning. The evidence base causes serious doubts,” the ministry stressed. “However, the Mechanism has inherited the vices of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and decided to ignore these circumstances, blindly following its anti-Serbian agenda and once again demonstrating the bias and politicization of the ICTY-IRMCT tandem,” the Russian Foreign Ministry concluded. The ministry stressed that “such selective methods not only show the bias and ineffectiveness of the ICTY and the IRMCT, but also discredit the very idea of international criminal justice.” “By the UN standards, these bodies have received significant funding, they were expected to aid the transnational peace in the Balkans. However, in the end, there is no contribution to even talk about,” the ministry noted, adding that the Mechanism is a temporary institution, which has to close its proceedings after reviewing all cases left over from the ICTY.

Lavrov: NATO airstrike on Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 could have been deliberate (TASS, 22 March 2019)

MOSCOW. The NATO airstrike on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999, could have been deliberate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview for NTV’s “U-Turn Above the Atlantic” documentary. “I think it was an accident but I am not completely sure,” Lavrov said when asked to comment on the airstrike. A missile hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during NATO’s operation in Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese nationals. The North Atlantic Alliance claims it was a mistake, while the Federal Procurement Office located nearby was the actual target of the attack.

U.S.-Russia competition Intensified in the Balkans (China Military, by Ruan Guangfeng, Editor Xu Yi, 22 March 2019)

Recently, NATO’s 29 members have signed an accession protocol with Macedonia at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. After the accord was ratified by allied governments, North Macedonia(The Republic of Macedonia officially changed the name into the Republic of North Macedonia since Feb 12,2019) will become the 30th member of NATO, marking a step closer to NATO’s eastward expansion. However, this move will likely escalate the competition between the U.S.-led alliance and Russia. Macedonia insisted on joining NATO in order to boost its economic growth at a greater pace and insure its national security. However, this move will unquestionably raise tensions between the west and Russia, getting North Macedonia drawn into the vortex of geopolitical competitions between great powers. Due to its geographical significance, North Macedonia’s accession will help NATO to further control the Balkans and reduce Russia’s strategic space. The landlocked country has borders with Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Albania to the west and Serbia to the north and occupies a core location in the Balkans. A window of the region toward the Mediterranean in the south, Macedonia has long been an important trade and military hub and a must passage for NATO to expand eastward. For this reason, NATO has spared no effort to win over Macedonia. The US has provided aids valuing a total of about US$750 million for Macedonia since 1991. Currently, the Balkans still faces the Kosovo issue and the Bosnian conflict. This time, NATO successfully solved the dispute between Macedonia and Greece, which can serve as a useful reference to assist in the Balkan countries to NATO or EU integration, thus further weakening Russia’s influence on the Balkans. The US even declared that “Macedonia’s accession into NATO is one of Russia’s worst nightmares,” which clearly indicated its strategic intention of “collaborating Europe against Russia.” In Russia’s eyes, NATO’s eastward expansion undermines the regional balance and severely threatens its national security. Russia has long considered the Balkans part of its sphere of influence. With the accession of Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro and Macedonia into NATO, Russia is worried that this might create a domino effect of ushering Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina who have also already aspired to join NATO to rush for participation. Thus, Russia has voiced strong opposition to Macedonia’s entry into NATO, calling this another grave provocation. It firmly opposes NATO to “continue pushing its infrastructure and even the entire military alliance toward Russia’ border” and pointed out that this may cause Macedonia to “lose its independent decision-making right in diplomatic affairs and increase its national defense expenditures for undertaking due proportions of NATO’s military spending.” Facing the pressure from the continuous enlargement of NATO, Russia is likely to react fiercely. Not long ago, Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu pointed out that the growing military strength of NATO undermines the current international security system, and Russia would be forced to take countermeasures. He also announced that Russia would reinforce its troops in its Western Military District. In recent years, Russia has constantly strengthened its nuclear power and accelerated the development of new-concept weapons. Some advanced weapons have been successfully developed or even put into commission, such as the S-500 air defense missile system, the Kinzhal hypersonic missile, which can hit speeds of up to Mach 10, the nuclear-powered 9M730 Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 “SKYFALL”) cruise missile and the nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), also known as the Poseidon. It is predictable that the strategic competitions between Russia and NATO will remain complex and continue a spiral tit-for-tat exchange for a long time, and the confrontation between the US and Russia is likely to intensify. It needs to point out that a growing organization inevitably faces a paradox between size and cohesion. With the increase of NATO members, due to their different economic development levels, ethnic and religious conditions and security concerns, those countries’ reliance on NATO also varies. As a result, their willingness to share defense expenditures of the military alliance is also different. In this context, the contradictions and differences of NATO members are becoming increasingly obvious, adding the burden and the difficulty of internal coordination and even causing an overall decline of its influence.

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Belgrade Media Report 18 September 2020

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