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Belgrade Media Report 28 March 2019

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United Nations Office in Belgrade

Daily Media Highlights

Thursday 28 March 2019
LOCAL PRESS

• Vucic: My abstention in vote was due to state interests (ORF/Tanjug)
• Vulin: I hope NATO will admit aggression against Serbia was horrible crime (Beta)
• Serbia and Georgia support one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (Tanjug)
• Fabrizi: No alternative to dialogue, cautious optimism (Tanjug/B92)
• Tenth EU-Serbia SAPC meeting Declaration and Recommendations adopted unanimously (RTS/Tanjug)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Hahn: B&H leaders to form governments quickly (N1)
• Shaheeds in Boban’s empire (Srna)
• Constitutional Court cannot change historical fact (Srna)
• Micic: SDS bodies will decide on participation in Authorities (Srna)
• B&H Croat Presidency member names Serbian opposition leader as advisor (N1)
• US Ambassador: B&H’s Annual National Programme should not be politicized (N1)
• President Meron to decide where Karadzic will serve the life imprisonment (Radio Sarajevo)
Republic of North Macedonia
• Parliament re-adopts several laws which President Ivanov refused to sign under the name “North Macedonia” (Republika)
• Albanian issues Secretariat being turned into a full government Ministry (Republika)
• Macedonian soldiers will go on compulsorily NATO missions (Meta)
• Interview with VMRO-DPMNE presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova (Ekspres/Republika)
Albania
• Opposition is getting ready for snap elections (ADN)
• ‘New Opposition’ – three candidates to accept mandate (ADN)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

• Albania opposition supporters try to storm parliament (AP)
• Tension at Albanian Parliament in face of opposition protest (ANSA)

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LOCAL PRESS

 

Vucic: My abstention in vote was due to state interests (ORF/Tanjug)

 

In an interview to Austria’s public broadcaster ORF, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said his abstention in a Serbian Progressive Party Presidency vote on calling early parliamentary elections had been primarily due to state interests. In the interview, published in its entirety on the Facebook account of the ORF’s Belgrade correspondent Christian Wehrschutz, Vucic said he had abstained for two reasons. “The first was that I do not want to shut the door on potential dialogue with (Kosovo) Albanians, if they revoke the taxes. I think that discussions and the attempt to solve the Kosovo problem are crucial for Serbia’s future,” Vucic said. “The second was that we want to demonstrate full stability, seriousness and responsibility to the entire world. We are fighting for various types of investments,” Vucic explained when asked if the abstention had been due to a potential investment by Volkswagen. “We will wait for the Albanians for a while longer, and we will fight for investments and to reduce unemployment, and then we will make a decision,” Vucic underscored, adding that a decision on early elections would be made soon.

 

Vulin: I hope NATO will admit aggression against Serbia was horrible crime (Beta

 

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said he hoped that someday, NATO would find

the strength to admit that its aggression against Serbia had been a horrible crime. “I hope that someday they will find the strength and will offer an apology and express regret for each

victim of the aggression, not only for civilians but also for each and every police officer and soldier,” Vulin said at the commemoration of 20 years since shooting down a F-117 stealth attack aircraft, at the army barracks in the Belgrade area of Banjica. Vulin stressed that NATO had no courage to admit that the aggression was a crime. “Those who are powerful rarely and hardly admit their mistakes and NATO is not capable of saying that it at least was a mistake, if not a crime, and it was a crime,” Vulin noted. Asked to comment on the statement by NATO

General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg that the intervention had not been directed against the people

in Yugoslavia, but that it aimed to protect civilians in the wider region, Vulin said: “Stoltenberg said that Serbia had been bombed to prevent tens of thousands of refugees, and that is what happened when NATO started bombing, not before they were dropped.” According to Vulin, refugees were the result, not the cause of the NATO bombs. “If they are fully consistent in this thinking, uttered by the NATO general secretary, then they would have dropped bombs on Croatia, for instance, from where 250,000 of Serbs were driven out, the same number

from Kosovo. I have not heard that anyone was bombed, for this reason,” Vulin noted.

 

Serbia and Georgia support one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (Tanjug)

 

Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic met today with Georgian parliament speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, in official visit to Serbia, after which they signed a Partnership Agreement between the two parliaments. Gojkovic and Kobakhidze emphasized the two countries’ traditional friendship and good political relations which should be strengthened across the board in the coming period, especially in the sphere of economy. Gojkovic said that this was the first visit of a Georgian parliament speaker in the history of the two countries’ relations, adding that the Partnership Agreement would raise the parliamentary cooperation to an institutional level. Gojkovic said that the Partnership Agreement would also strengthen cooperation in the area of European integration since both countries strive to join the organization and help the development of cooperation in the spheres of foreign affairs and economy, as well as between the delegations in international parliamentary organizations. Gojkovic thanked the Georgian parliament speaker for Georgia’s support of international law and Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, stressing that Serbia respects Georgia’s territorial integrity, too.  Gojkovic also thanked Georgia for never voting against Serbia’s interests in international organizations and standing by Serbia during so-called Kosovo’s INTRERPOL and UNESCO bids. Gojkovic briefed Kobakhidze on the situation in Kosovo and Metohija and Pristina’s radicalization of relations by the decision to establish the so-called Kosovo Army and violate the rules of free trade by imposing a 100% taxes. Kobakhidze said that the two countries enjoy a very good political cooperation, that they support one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, stressing that Georgia stands firmly by Serbia, always supporting it in international organizations and voting against so-called Kosovo’s attempts to join them, and will continue to pursue this policy. Kobakhidze said that the parliamentary dimension is vital in the overall relations. Serbia and Georgia share a common goal – EU accession, and Serbia’s experience of the process is invaluable for Georgia. Gojkovic and Kobakhidze agreed that the abolition of visas would bring the two nations closer together, and a direct flight would give a big boost to the development of economic cooperation and tourism. The two parliament speakers also praised the opening of the Georgian honorary consulate in Belgrade and diplomatic offices in Belgrade and Tbilisi.

 

Fabrizi: No alternative to dialogue, cautious optimism (Tanjug/B92)

 

The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi says there is no alternative to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on Kosovo and that status quo is not an option. Fabrizi stated that he remains cautiously optimistic about the achievement of an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. “I do not think there is a possibility to maintain this situation, the status quo is not an option, it does not help either Serbia or Pristina. There is a need for dialogue to continue and reach an agreement,” Fabric told the students at the Faculty of Political Science. When students asked if the only option for the EU would be Serbia recognizing Kosovo, Fabizi replied that the EU is not an intermediary in the dialogue and does not prescribe or comment on the content of the agreement. Fabrizi also said that the EU’s common position, although some of its members do not recognize Kosovo, is that Belgrade and Pristina should normalize their relations, and stressed that the Belgrade-Pristina agreement should be in line with international law, reached on a compromise and be sustainable. Commenting on 2025 as a possible date for Serbia’s full membership, Fabrizi said that the country “should not put the speed above the quality of the process and that all depend on the work done while being on a halt does not get a country any closer to the EU.” He added that the entry to the EU means the entry of the whole state and society, not of government. Fabrizi reiterated the EU stand that Serbia would have to adjust its foreign policy with that of EU before its full membership. Suzana Grubjesic, the Secretary-General of the European Movement in Serbia, said that the 2025 deadline for the EU membership was not realistic if the opening of the negotiating chapters were going on at same the pace as in the past. She said the highest level of support to Serbia’s EU membership was after the assassination of the then prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, and also in 2009, adding the visa liberation profoundly influenced the mood among the population.

 

Tenth EU-Serbia SAPC meeting Declaration and Recommendations adopted unanimously (RTS/Tanjug)

 

The 10th meeting of the European Union-Serbia Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC) was held in Strasbourg on 27 March 2019. At the end of the meeting, SAPC unanimously adopted the Declaration and Recommendations. The Serbian parliamentary delegation, comprising Vladimir Orlic, Elvira Kovac, Dragan Sormaz, Ljubisa Stojmirovic, Vesna Marjanovic, Milorad Mijatovic and Vladimir Djuric, took part in the meeting.

Eduard Kukan, the head of the European Parliament delegation, said that the European Parliament still actively supports Serbia’s European integration. He spoke briefly about the European Parliament Resolution adopted in November last year, as the document outlining the EP’s official position on Serbia’s advancement on the path to European integration and praised the country’s progress. He said that the projects financed by EU funds should be made more visible. Orlic, the head of the parliamentary delegation, said he was very pleased by the SAPC meeting and thanked Kukan and the other members of the European Parliament for their cooperation and support of Serbia’s EU path. He stressed that EU accession remains Serbia’s number one foreign policy goal and highlighted the country’s staunch efforts to implement the standards from each of the negotiation chapters and action plans and become EU member by 2025. He said that, with its wise and balanced politics, Serbia tries to make the best possible decisions in the face of the many daily challenges, the biggest of them being the problem of Kosovo and Metohija. The members of the two parliaments exchanged views on all the important segments of Serbia’s EU accession and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Following the discussion, they unanimously adopted the Declaration and Recommendations which emphasized the importance of the enlargement process as a key priority and urged the European Union to keep to its commitments in that regard. In the Declaration and Recommendations the SAPC called on Pristina to revoke without further delay the tariffs which are in violation of the spirit of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) and the letter of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA); condemned the forcible entry into the public media service, and underlined that the parliament was the institution for resolving political differences; acknowledged that the Venice Commission Secretariat had considered the proposal, which had been submitted to the parliament in November 2018, followed the recommendations of the Venice Commission Opinion; welcomed the positive developments in the Serbian economy in terms of higher economic growth, reduced unemployment, stable prices and good budgetary performance; emphasized the importance of the approach by which the evaluation of the progress of each country is carried out on the basis of individual merit and the unambiguous support to Serbia in the European integration process. The European Parliament and the Serbian parliament unanimously adopted the Declaration. Kukan said it has been an honor to take part in the Parliamentary Committee all these years, and Orlic said he hoped that Serbia would continue to have strong allies among the members of the European Parliament. The next meeting of the EU-Serbia SAPC will be held on 30 – 31 October 2019 in Belgrade.

 

REGIONAL PRESS

 

Hahn: B&H leaders to form governments quickly (N1)

 

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said after meeting the B&H Presidency members and Council of Ministers that the government should be formed as soon as possible. “At the meeting with B&H Presidency members I urged leaders again to form governments quickly in order to resume implementation of reforms in the interest of the citizens”, wrote Hahn on Twitter. He met with the Chair of Council of Ministers of B&H Denis Zvizdic, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic and Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda. Head of EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina Lars-Gunnar Wigemark was also present at the meetings. Hahn already talked with Chair of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik and members of the B&H Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic.

 

Shaheeds in Boban’s empire (Srna)

 

The 25th anniversary of the formation of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is, the Croat-Muslim federation, has almost been passed over in silence in Sarajevo and west Mostar and the reason is clear – it is an undesired combined state, which both the Croats and Bosniaks were pushed into by the will of Americans. An ethnic and religious war between the Croats and Muslims that raged in central Bosnia and parts of Herzegovina in 1993 completely negated the claim about “Serbian aggression” on Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) pursued until today.

It was untenable to defend a stance that Croats and Bosniaks were victims fighting against “Serb aggressors” while killing each other, burning each other’s property and opening prison camps.

Back then, as well as today, the Croats prefer only one kind of B&H – the one in which they have their Herceg-Bosna, that is, their political and territorial autonomy, and yet they joined the Federation of B&H under tremendous pressure from the first President of Croatia Franjo Tudjman, repaying for the western allies’ support for the creation of an independent Croatia.

On the other hand, the Muslim war-time leader Alija Izetbegovic, who rejected all peace plans for B&H except the last one in Dayton, which he agreed to when Americans threatened they would stop helping him, he had to sign the deal since his troops were not doing good on the frontline facing the Army of Republika Srpska (RS).  What his take on the Washington Agreement actually was he showed the next year, when he failed to appear at a celebration of the anniversary of an undesired federation in Washington. In such a constellation of forces, the Federation partners looked each other in the eye and lied, knowing they were lying to each other. Like they do today, too.  Izetbegovic and his SDA only had one goal at the start of the war in B&H, which Izetbegovic himself announced on the eve of the 1992 referendum, when he said: “I will sacrifice peace for a sovereign and independent B&H.” He had always fought only for the “souls of Muslims” – like he wrote in his number-one work, the “Islamic Declaration” and that is why he had rejected the peace plans, never caring about the size of the territory he was holding.

The longer the war dragged on, the more the multi-ethnic society disintegrated, “mixed marriages” crumbled and family connections broke up – that is why the Muslim leader rejected cantons, entities and everything else he was offered because he wanted the longest possible conflict and divided national and thus religious communities too. The Croats in B&H, however, never abandoned the stance that a people cannot be constituent without having its political or territorial autonomy, which their leader Mate Boban had frequently said. Nothing has substantially changed in the views of the Bosniak or Croat political elite in B&H so far – they still pursue the official claim about the Election Law and quotas for Croat representation in the Federation of B&H authorities.  In fact, Sarajevo politicians want to square accounts with any kind of Croat aspirations to be a major political factor in the bigger part of the Federation of B&H, that is, they want to make the notion of constituent people completely relative and ultimately pointless, firstly when it comes to Croats, and then any other people in B&H.

The Bosniak dream about the “one man – one voice” principle, which is not characteristic of multi-national countries, did not stem from “European norms” but from Izetbegovic’s religiously proclaimed and written down theory that Muslims would have a state to their own liking when their population grew more than 50 percent. During that time, the Croats increasingly withdrew demographically as well as politically towards west Herzegovina and border cantons, where they still make up the majority, creating a more compact national territory, informally, activating Herceg-Bosna for the time being. All the while, political fairytales have been told about the Sejdic-Finci ruling and amending the Election Law, while the stripped disintegration of an interest and imposed community called Federation of B&H is concealed by claims of the “crisis of institutions” and “problems with the formation of authorities”. The Bosniak political elite are now trying to achieve, at least partially, the dream of their late leader about a more-than-50% Muslim territory, stirred up by the results of the last population census, especially in the Federation of B&H. To put it more simply, the crisis in the Federation of B&H, or the “bigger entity” like they like to call it in Sarajevo, was caused by the struggle for territory and the greatest possible control of the national space, and that was one of the reasons for the 1990s war. The Federation of B&H clearly has no future, the Croats see themselves within their remaining autonomy, while for Bosniaks it has become too small. This is why there are attempts to bring the constantly smoldering Croat-Muslim conflict into RS, the only part of the present B&H where everything foreseen by the Constitution and laws works. An attempt to send a message out into the world that the problem lies not only in the disintegration of the Federation of B&H, but that “nothing in B&H works” is a lie identical to the one that Shaheeds (martyrs for the Islamic faith) advocate a multinational B&H. Whoever wants to believe this can go and live in the Federation of B&H. There is enough room there – it is the “bigger entity”.

 

Constitutional Court cannot change historical fact (Srna)

 

No court ruling can change the historical fact that 9 January is Republika Srpska (RS) Day, says the Speaker of the National Assembly Nedeljko Cubrilovic. Cubrilovic told the press on Wednesday the B&H Constitutional Court was examining historical facts for an umpteenth time. “I am certain RS will continue to celebrate its day no matter the court ruling,” Cubrilovic stated commenting on an announcement that the B&H Constitutional Court is supposed to examine a request on Thursday for the review of constitutionality of an article of the Law on RS Day stipulating 9 January as the day it is marked. Commenting on the RS government’s first 100 days in office, Cubrilovic said it was a short period to give a convincing and valid evaluation. “It is certain the Government did not make any mistakes in the period that could be given a bad evaluation,” said Cubrilovic.  He said the Tuesday meeting the leadership of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) had with delegations of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) and Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) about participation in the B&H State-level authorities was another attempt to integrate the political scene and make sure RS had one voice at that level. “It would certainly be good for the stability of political parties in RS and B&H,” emphasized Cubrilovic.  In relation to that, he quoted an earlier statement by SNSD leader Milorad Dodik that RS had made a team for negotiations on the formation of the Council of Ministers. “The backbone of the team is the SNSD, which has the main say and is the only one that has the capacity for it, given the election results. It is a pity that all legal deadlines for the Council of Ministers formation have been missed,” added Cubrilovic.

 

Micic: SDS bodies will decide on participation in Authorities (Srna)

 

SDS leader Mico Micic stated that the Serbian Democratic Party will definitely support everything that is important for operations, work and survival of the RS and provide assistance in such efforts, no matter if it makes it into the authorities or not. “We, too, believe that with joint efforts we can achieve some of our principles and demands for the benefit of RS,” Micic said commenting on a Tuesday meeting of SNSD and SDS delegations about the formation of the B&H Council of Ministers in which he took part.  He pointed out the SDS considered itself the most responsible for the creation of RS and that it wanted to safeguard RS as well. “The party’s bodies will make a decision about the offer to be part of the authorities – whether we will participate at all or not,” Micic told the press. According to him, all decisions will be made by the party bodies. “As for our participation in the authorities, it is more of a technical issue, and the party’s bodies will make decisions about that,” said Micic.

 

B&H Croat Presidency member names Serbian opposition leader as advisor (N1)

 

The Croat member of B&H presidency Zeljko Komsic hired on Wednesday the leader of Serbia’s opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Cedomir Jovanovic, to be his advisor.

Jovanovic is an outspoken critic of Serbian and Bosnian Serb authorities because of their policy in B&H, which he claims is nationalistic, and because of their denial that Serb forces committed genocide in the eastern B&H town of Srebrenica in 1995. As per his wish, Jovanovic will be serving in the cabinet of Zeljko Komsic pro-bono. The move came soon after the current Chairman of B&H Presidency, B&H Serb leader Milorad Dodik, named renown filmmaker Emir Kusturica as an advisor. The pro-Russian close ally of Dodik has a Muslim background but he converted years ago to Serb Orthodoxy. Although now both are Serbs, Kusturica and Jovanovic have completely opposite worldviews when it comes to politics.

 

US Ambassador: B&H’s Annual National Programme should not be politicized (N1)

 

The submission of B&H Annual National Program (ANP) for 2018-2019 is a technical step which should not be complicated and politicized, the US Ambassador to B&H, Eric Nelson, said in Banja Luka on Wednesday. “What I hear in all of my discussions is a broad agreement that the partnership (with NATO) is useful. Submission of the ANP is a technical step which should not be complicated, which should not be politicized,” the Ambassador said, adding that it is up to the government to decide how to resolve the standstill. Asked about the sanctions the US government imposed on the Bosnian Serb leader and Bosnia’s Serb Presidency Chairman, Milorad Dodik, Nelson confirmed that “the sanctions were a decision taken in Washington, based on specific actions and threats of Chairman Dodik.” “We’re looking forward to a better partnership in the future. We hope that all of the Chairman’s actions will promote and support the stability of B&H,” the Ambassador said. In the end, Ambassador Nelson briefly commented on the government formation process in the country after the October general election, saying he was well aware that “parties discussing coalition formations have different priorities,” but how they balance those priorities is something that the US respects as part of the democratic process.

 

President Meron to decide where Karadzic will serve the life imprisonment (Radio Sarajevo)

 

The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals Theodor Meron will decide where war criminal Radovan Karadzic will endure life imprisonment. Karadzic will not have the right to appeal. He will, in any case, be transferred to one of the United Nations member states, but in this case, it will probably be a country that has a life sentence in his legal system. These are Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Austria, Italy, France or Spain.

 

Parliament re-adopts several laws which President Ivanov refused to sign under the name “North Macedonia” (Republika)

 

Members of the Macedonian parliament voted yesterday to re-approve several laws which President Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign because they were adopted under the name “Republic of North Macedonia”. The laws include the one on the creation of the new wiretapping agency OTA. According to the Constitution, the President should sign the laws once they’ve been adopted by the Parliament for a second time, but Ivanov has already refused to do so in the case of the clearly unconstitutional law on the use of the Albanian language. The ruling SDSM – DUI majority, in response, published this law with the signature of speaker Talat Xhaferi, a practice already deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The constitutional amendments to rename the country, which were adopted by a two thirds majority following widespread blackmail and threats aimed at members of parliament, was also published with Xhaferi’s signature. It is expected that the latest series of laws will be published in the same way.

 

Albanian issues Secretariat being turned into a full government Ministry (Republika)

 

Hazbi Lika, the former guerrilla commander turned Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s Deputy Prime Minister who is best known for simply not showing up at work, was “rewarded” in the parliament as his department was elevated to a full-scale Ministry. The new Ministry is in charge of “political system and inter-community relations”. It is being built atop the Secretariat tasked with implementing the Ohrid peace treaty – mainly dealing with hiring more ethnic Albanians in the public-sector administration and expanding the use of the Albanian language. Given the political debt Zaev owes to the ethnic Albanian voters and the DUI party, he agreed to increase the influence of the Secretariat, and in the future, it will also be tasked with implementing the law on the use of the Albanian language which Zaev pushed through parliament, in the face of President Ivanov and legal experts who found it unconstitutional. The law turns Macedonia into a fully bilingual country, with the Albanian language imposed in official use even in municipalities with little to no Albanian citizens. It is expected that the Ministry will manage a vast translation service which will translate an ever-growing number of documents, forms, public addresses and comments into Albanian.

 

Macedonian soldiers will go on compulsorily NATO missions (Meta)

 

The Ministry of Defense is preparing a draft law amending the Law on Defense, which define the rules for engagement for our soldiers on NATO missions. “This draft law will allow the deployment of members of the Republic of North Macedonia outside the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia in NATO operations and missions on a compulsorily basis, as well as uninterrupted deployment and transit through the Republic of North Macedonia to NATO’s forces and capacities” reads the explanation published on the Single National Electronic Register (ENER). The main goal of the proposal is the continuation of reforms in the defense of the Republic of North Macedonia.

 

Interview with VMRO-DPMNE presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova (Ekspres/Republika)

 

Why did you apply for a candidate, and what was, in your opinion, crucial for VMRO-DPMNE to entrust you with the presidential nomination?

  • I certainly can speak on my behalf about my motivation to enter the political ring and run for president of the Republic. Simply, I came to the realization that whatever I do as a Constitutional Law professor and as an intellectual, it cannot be enough to prevent the further destruction of the rule of law and institutions by selling national interests. As for the VMRO-DPMNE, the party itself opened up to the public, allowed fair confrontation to all registered candidates and held a democratic convention for election. Which means nothing could be agreed in advance, although I entered that part of the race as an outsider, as someone who is not a member of the party, as a woman, and in addition, I had strong and valuable rivals, and I primarily refer to the MP Vlatko Gjorcev.

 

What is “selling national interests” for you?

  • They changed the Constitution and the name although the Parliament had previously passed a resolution that the name and the Constitution cannot be changed. Changing the name of the country is the most striking example of selling national interests. Not only have the authorities renounced the existence of the Macedonian minority in the neighboring countries, but also they took away Macedonian people’s right to self-determination, obtained in 1944 at the plenary session of ASNOM, which is a basic law, jus cogens, and now the Macedonians are equated with other smaller ethnic communities in the country.

 

Your opponent, Professor Stevo Pendarovski, was supported by the Albanians as well. In fact, SDSM leader Zaev stressed that “Pendarovski was supported by all ethnic communities in North Macedonia, as well as 31 coalition parties headed by Prime Minister’s SDSM”. It seems to be a great advantage. Who supports you. Who will vote for you?

  • It is a show that the ruling parties want to create, before asking the Albanian citizens and all the rest. They want to present me exclusively as a representative of the Macedonians while forgetting that I already got support from many parties and civic associations of Serbian, Turkish, Roma and other nationalities. Unlike the procedure that I already explained to you, SDSM played with the interparty democracy by first announcing a public call, and then deciding to elect its candidate at the Hilton Hotel, in a closed circle of the cartel with a foreign elite. The truth is that the Social Democratic Union achieved great success among the Albanian voters in the last parliamentary elections, but today the discontent is evident among all voters, regardless of ethnicity. The authorities then won votes on the promises of justice, fight against corruption, that the standard of living would improve, and in reality, none of this happened. I address all citizens, I neither divide them by ethnicity nor do I enter a vote trading, called contingent. Nevertheless, the third candidate is Albanian, my colleague Blerim Reka, so in the first round, we will see if Pendarovski really enjoys blank support from the Albanians, and most importantly, whether this government is ready and able to organize fair and democratic elections.

 

The political situation in Macedonia is little known to the citizens of Serbia. As if that suited to someone. Can you tell the readers in Serbia what are the main motives of your campaign, what do you think will win the voters?

  • The main slogan of my campaign is in line with my professional and life vocation, which is the rule of law, constitutionalism and protection of human rights. With the change of the country’s name, Prime Minister Zaev and his government partners tried to find a shortcut, and quickly get to NATO membership, and they seem to be on the right track. But the other side of the coin shows that the collateral damage in the process is too great, not only in terms of national interests and violations of the principles of democracy, but above all in violating the procedures, and without respecting the procedure there is no democracy! There is almost no day without scandals that show that one family is replaced by another, that clientelism, cronyism, and nepotism rule! Macedonia has drastically gone up on the list where countries in the world are ranked according to corruption, there are no free media, the judiciary and public administration are put in the service of one party … Zaev himself admits that public support has dropped, and I think that citizens are looking forward to punishing the ruling coalition precisely because of these examples of an incompetent and corrupt elite.

 

Are the name change and the path to NATO an irreversible process? Are you, if you win, going to be the “President of North Macedonia”?

  • The strategic goal of all the governments of Macedonia was to join NATO. Regarding the name change, if I become president, I will keep the name issue open, I will set up an international expert group that will write an objective report on the violation of national and international law and we will act on that report. I do not accept the name North Macedonia.

 

The key political developments in Macedonia in recent years were marked by mass protests and a great emotional charge. Do you think that the atmosphere of the elections will be regular and whether the real mood of the voters will be expressed?

  • I expect that the citizens will understand that real reforms, as well as Europeanization based on the rule of law, are of crucial importance for Macedonia. Emotions are important, but the law is more important. It is necessary for voters to massively go to the polls in order to delegitimize the authoritarian government. The silent majority who said “no” in the referendum, or rather, those who massively boycotted the referendum on the name change, are the ones I expect to vote for me, but also some of those who were in favor of changing the name, but the government had disappointed them.

 

What kind of Europe will you lead Macedonia to? What kind of future do you want for Europe, and what are your predictions?

  • The EU is not the same as when we applied for membership 15 years ago, as there are more and more movements within the Union that seek its reformation. The future of the European Union is its internal issue, but it is certain that reforms are needed in it, but also in the countries that pretend membership. We must raise the level of democracy and the rule of law, and in that sense, reforms within the country are a priority for us. That’s the true Europeanization.

 

What kind of behavior do you expect from the representatives of the international community in Skopje?

  • I expect the international community, and especially the OSCE / ODIHR, to be the guarantor of the regularity of the elections, and that there will be no scandalous ballot stuffing as during the referendum. A large number of observers have already been announced and we count on them because we cannot rely on the government. Macedonia is a partner of the international community, so I expect for us to apply the same standards that apply to other countries.

 

Where is Serbia on your political horizon?

  • Serbia is where it has always been, close to Macedonia and its citizens. Regardless of all changed circumstances, the stories about the geopolitical spheres of interests, divisions, boundaries, and the like. I’m glad that our citizens travel from one country to another with IDs, that the road infrastructure is improved, and in the cultural and sports field we have always worked closely. In my vision for Macedonia, it is networked in close regional cooperation, because we cannot talk about European integration if we do not show those skills in our region.

 

Opposition is getting ready for snap elections (ADN)

 

Although majority excluded any possibility for snap elections in Albania, opposition is getting ready for general snap elections. The Chairwoman of the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) Monika Kryemadhi, stated on Wednesday evening that all the party’s structures were informed on this situation and she was trustful that Albania will have soon snap elections.

“We are getting ready for snap elections. We are convinced that elections will be realized soon and we informed all our structures to be ready for snap elections for a normal parliament. We decided to ‘burn’ our mandates for the public interest. This was the final act of the opposition in order to raise public and international public awareness of the state’s capture,” underlined Kryemadhi.

 

‘New Opposition’ – three candidates to accept mandate (ADN)

 

The Central Election Commission (CEC) will be gathered on Wednesday to give the mandate to three other candidates from opposition’s lists, who have filled in the self-declaration form.

First in the list is Adriatik Alimadho, who will obtain the mandate abandoned by the former MP, Agron Shehaj. Also, from the lists of DP, CEC will hand over the mandate to Arben Elezi, who will replace Edmond Spaho.  While from lists of Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI), Ambra Borova will take the mandate, hence replacing Agron Cela.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

 

Albania opposition supporters try to storm parliament (AP, 28 March 2019)

 

TIRANA, ALBANIA – Albanian opposition protesters on Thursday made further attempts to enter the parliament by force as they demand the government’s resignation and an early election.

A few thousand center-right Democratic Party-led protesters used smoke bombs and projectiles and repeatedly clashed with police in an attempt to break the cordon protecting the parliament building where the weekly session was held. Police refrained from the use of tear gas, which they had used in previous rallies. Opposition leaders and others made short speeches. “Our greatest mission is to topple the government of crime,” said Democrats’ leader Lulzim Basha, calling on all Albanians to join. Elsewhere, a group of demonstrators tried to disrupt the arrival of a visiting Dutch minister for a meeting with the interior minister. The opposition accuses the leftist Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Edi Rama of being corrupt and linked to organized crime, which the government denies. Opposition lawmakers resigned en masse in February and, since then, opposition supporters have repeatedly tried to enter the parliament or government buildings and police have responded with tear gas and water cannons. Lawmakers, with about 20 newcomers from the opposition lists who have filled the vacant seats, are continuing to hold sessions. The Socialists say the opposition’s protests are damaging Albania’s progress toward membership in the European Union. Brussels is due to decide in June on launching full membership negotiations. The opposition says it will hold protests whenever the parliament convenes in weekly sessions. A bigger rally is planned for mid-April.

 

Tension at Albanian Parliament in face of opposition protest (ANSA, 28 March 2019)

 

Centre-right calls for resignation of socialist PM Rama

TIRANA – Tensions are running high in front of the Albanian Parliament on Thursday, where a regular session is underway and opposition protests are taking place outside. Protesters have launched firecrackers and smoke bombs, and groups of demonstrators have tried multiple times to break through the security cordon at the main entrance, where police are lined up. The opposition in Albania has been protesting since February, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is accused of corruption and collusion with organised crime.

Protesters are calling for a transition government and early elections. In February, a group of opposition MPs resigned en masse, giving up their terms. At least 17 of them, however, have been substituted by other opposition candidates who were on the lists in the 2017 elections.

 

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