International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Vucic goes to Mostar, but not everyone does; "Bad message"

Bosniak (Muslim) leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) did not show up for the opening of the fair in Mostar, BiH, attended by the president of Serbia.

April 9, 2019

BiH Presidency member Sefik Dzeferovic, chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic and SDA President Bakir Izetbegovic have all canceled their visit.

The deputy chairman of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, Dragan Covic, who represents Croats in BiH, and who on Tuesday met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, thinks this is a bad message.

Asked to comment on the same issue, Vucic said he did not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of BiH.

Covic also commented on the fact that BiH has no representatives in the Council of Europe, saying that this also shows the state of relations today in BiH, and adding that it was "immense pity."

"This should be made completely serious and I hope that the talks that I had with (BiH Presidency chairman) Dodik last night, and tomorrow with Izetbegovic, will strengthen them in the faith to quickly form the Council of Ministers," said Covic.

The Serbian Presidency announced earlier that Vucic would be traveling to Mostar for the opening of the International Fair of Economy.

The program of the visit of the Serbian president also includes a tour the (Serbian Orthodox) Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, which is under reconstruction, a press release said.

Tanjug said it learned that Vucic would be welcomed at the fair by its director, Dalfina Bosnjak, the mayor of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Nevenko Herceg, and mayor of Mostar Ljubo Beslic.

The International Fair of Economy will be held for the 22nd time in Mostar, with China once again as the partner country.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic have also been invited to the opening of the fair.

Mirko Santic, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Federation of BiH (the Muslim-Croat entity in BiH), has announced that a joint tourist product of Serbia, Montenegro and BiH will be presented at the Mostar fair.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=09&nav_id=106580

Thaci calls elections, Belgrade silent - what does it mean?

The president of the provisional Pristina institutions on Monday called elections for mayors of four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo and Metohija.

April 9, 2019

For now Serbia has not reacted, while the Serb List expects consultations with President Aleksandar Vucic.

Journalist Milivoje Mihajlovic thinks that by calling these elections, Thaci expects this to cause unrest - a spiralof protests and violence in the north of the southern Serbian province.

He observed that the opinion of the political leadership of Serbia is not known, and whether they are surprised by Thaci's decision, because there has been no reaction. "The move from Pristina is not one-sided, nor does it have only one goal. By calling mayors' elections in the north, Thaci may have begun a process of disturbance in Kosovo and Metohija," Mihajlovic believes.

He added that Thaci has a justification for such a political move because these municipalities have not been functioning since November 27, when municipal presidents resigned (after Pristina increased taxes on goods from central Serbia by 100 percent) - "but he did not make the move to refresh the democratic process in Kosovo, but rather to put the ball in the North's court."

"The first reaction from Serbia may be advice to the Serb List, which conducts the Serbs' policy in Kosovo and Metohija to participate in the elections or to boycott," Mihajlovic said, adding that both options have their own good and bad sides.

He said he was "personally always in favor of Serbs going to the polls, because their survival will be more successful if they are in the institutions."

"Serbs do not have to recognize Kosovo. If they boycotted the elections, there would probably be another raid in northern Kosovo. Thaci is trying to put the ball in the court of the North at any cost," Mihajlovic said, adding that with this move, Thaci was "solving several of his problems, 'the Kosovo spring' that the opposition has been announcing, and drawing attention away from the taxes."

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=09&nav_id=106581

"United States does not offer ready-made solutions"

"The (normalization) process and the agreement itself should be locally-owned; only in this way can it be durably implemented in both Kosovo and Serbia. United States encourages the parties to demonstrate their full ownership of the process, reduce negative rhetoric, and work together constructively toward an agreement" – Matthew Palmer

April 8, 2019

As someone very familiar with the situation in the region, Deputy Assistant Secretary at U.S. Department of State Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs for the Western Balkans Mr Matthew Palmer, believes that it’s high time for an agreement to be reached between Belgrade and Priština, while he reminds us of the message of U.S. President Donald Trump suggesting that negotiators should use this “historic opportunity” to reach the agreement.

CorD Magazine’s interlocutor also confirms that, for the United States of America, Kosovo is an independent state. Efforts to safeguard the future of Kosovo have been exerted by “thousands of U.S. diplomats and soldiers”, as was written in a kind of protest letter to the Priština authorities that were co-authored by Matthew Palmer and sent in response to Kosovo’s decision to introduce import taxes on goods entering Kosovo from central Serbia.

In this interview for CorD Magazine, Palmer calls on both sides to avoid steps that make compromise more difficult.

Mr Palmer, could you shed light on the current position and role of the United States in the dialogue on the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Priština?

Although the United States is not a party to the negotiations, we strongly support the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Priština. Normalisation is essential to both countries’ European aspirations. Kosovo and Serbia should reach an agreement that is implementable, durable and does not create instability in either country or the region. We will seriously consider any agreement that meets these conditions.

Would you agree with the statement that “the United States, like no one else, should not dictate how that [the solution to the Kosovo problem] should look”?

Just as I said when I visited Belgrade in October, the United States does not, and will not, prescribe what the solution should look like. The process and agreement itself should be locally-owned; only in this way can it be implemented durable in both Kosovo and Serbia. We encourage the parties to demonstrate their full ownership of the process, reduce negative rhetoric, and work together constructively toward an agreement. Serbia and Kosovo are inextricably linked. Neither side will be able to move forward without a comprehensive normalisation agreement. We cannot want it more than they do. The United States is ready to help in any way possible, but it is up to leaders on both sides to find a way back to the negotiating table and seize what President Trump has called a “historic opportunity.”

The media attributed to you the co-authorship of a letter sent on behalf of the United States to the Kosovo Albanians in which disagreement is expressed with the policy of sharpening relations with Belgrade by introducing taxes on goods from Serbia. That letter also contains a reminder that “Kosovo’s struggle for freedom won over the imagination of Americans” and that “thousands of U.S. diplomats and soldiers were personally involved in efforts to build a future for Kosovo”. President Donald Trump has also written about the U.S.’s great investment in Kosovo’s independence. Can the U.S., under such conditions, be an objective aid in finding the best solution for relations between Serbs and Albanians?

The United States remains committed to Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty, and to partnering with Kosovo and Serbia where our goals align. We see Serbia and Kosovo as two sovereign nations who can and should make decisions in their own best interest. We believe the interests of both countries are best served through a bilateral agreement that would provide for a comprehensive normalisation of relations centred on mutual recognition. We don’t take sides or offer ready-made solutions. The EU is the facilitator of the Dialogue, and we stand ready to be helpful in that process.

President Trump has written that it would be extremely regrettable to miss this unique opportunity for peace, security and economic growth. Both countries will benefit from an agreement, and both countries stand to lose if no deal is reached. A frozen conflict would undermine our shared goal of a stable, secure and prosperous Western Balkans.

How would you comment on the fact that, even after multiple requests from the United States, the government in Priština hasn’t heeded advice to abolish duties on goods coming from central Serbia?

Belgrade and Priština both need to avoid steps that make compromise more difficult. We believe these tariffs are counterproductive. Neither side should seek tactical success at the expense of the strategic goal. Without both parties at the negotiating table, the Dialogue cannot move forward, and neither country can progress on its European path. It is high time for Serbia and Kosovo to take steps to build confidence in the negotiating process and to work together for a better future for both countries and the region. As we look at the next steps, it is essential that Kosovo and Serbia avoid provocations, de-escalate tensions and rhetoric, and cooperate on the measure that enhances the safety and security of the citizens of both countries.

On what basis do you hope that an agreement between Belgrade and Priština will be reached by the end of the year, as you have announced to the media?

I believe there is a growing realisation that the time is overdue to resolve disputes of the past and to turn to build a better future. The normalisation of relations would open a clear path for both Serbia and Kosovo, as they work towards membership in the European Union. I reject the idea that the future of the Balkan Peninsula is defined by its past century of conflict. The people of Serbia and Kosovo and the wider Balkan region deserve the same stable, peaceful future as Germany, France, Portugal or any other European nation.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Rambouillet Conference. Do you consider that the issue of relations between Belgrade and Priština could be resolved at some similar international conference?

As I said, this must be a locally-owned process if the agreement is to endure. The so-called Great Powers are not going to swoop in and resolve this issue for them. Belgrade and Priština can find a solution. President Vučić recently posed the rhetorical question, “What is the alternative to negotiations?” I completely agree.

You have amassed diplomatic experience in the region over many decades. How would you evaluate the situation in the Western Balkans today; and what do you consider as the biggest challenges?

The Western Balkans faces stark challenges: corruption, the weak rule of law, anaemic economic growth, violent extremism, ethnic tensions and threats to democratic norms. I am optimistic that these problems can be resolved if addressed cooperatively and adequately. Just look at the example of North Macedonia and Greece – two countries with long-standing differences that came together on an agreement that allows them both to move forward. Meanwhile, external, malign actors, including Russia, work to perpetuate divisions in the region – divisions that run at cross-purposes to the goals and objectives that the countries of the region have set for themselves.

In the context of regional cooperation, how do you see the invitation of current Kosovo Assembly Chairman Kadri Veseli for Montenegro and North Macedonia to form an alliance against Serbia?

Any rhetoric that creates or perpetuates divisions is unwelcome and self-defeating. Instead, we encourage constructive cooperation among all in the region. The United States strongly supports the EU integration goals of the entire Western Balkans, as well as NATO membership for all who aspire to join the Alliance. A prosperous and peaceful Balkans fully integrated into the Western community of nations is our vision for the region.

Given that one of your professional tasks in the region is to work towards the integration of countries that are not yet members of “Euro-Atlantic structures”, do you consider that insisting on speeding up the issue of B-H’s membership in NATO, which is opposed by the Republika Srpska entity, could prove to be an additional cause of misunderstanding between that country’s two entities?

Pursuing membership is a sovereign choice. Nobody is pushing Bosnia and Herzegovina to join NATO. Nobody is pushing Serbia to join NATO. Nobody is forcing anyone to join NATO. NATO promotes democratic values, ensures collective security and enables members to cooperate on defence. Shared values are the foundation of NATO — democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law. Bosnia and Herzegovina, like any other country, will always be in complete control of its NATO policy. The 2018 Foreign Policy Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina – approved by all three members of the Presidency – clearly articulated the goal of greater partnership and cooperation with NATO, because of the benefits.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/insight/interviews.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=08&nav_id=106575

Opposition alliance loses ground after latest events - poll

After the latest events involving the opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS), the bloc has lost some of its support, currently polling at 9.8 percent.

April 8, 2019

This is according to Strategic Marketing's latest survey, carried on April 4-5.

The ruling SNS remains the leading party in Serbia with 53.9 percent of citizens supporting it.

The coalition gathered around the ruling SPS follows with 12.2 percent, while the opposition PSG has 6.2 percent - nearly 9 percent less than last month.

The opposition SRS has 4 percent, while all others are far below the 5-percent threshold needed to win seats in the National Assembly in an election.

1,100 respondents participated in the telephone poll, Strategic Marketing said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=08&nav_id=106572

What is G7's message to Belgrade and Pristina?

G7 member-states have called on Belgrade and Pristina to engage constructively in normalizing relations through a comprehensive, legally binding agreement.

April 8, 2019

"We call on Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively and normalize their relations completely through a comprehensive and legally binding agreement, so that they can advance on their European path," said a joint communique at the end of the G7 summit held on Friday and Saturday in France

It is added that without effective and comprehensive normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina through dialogue with the mediation of the EU there can be no lasting stability in the region. G7 foreign ministers also stressed and confirmed their commitment to security, stability, prosperity and the European perspective of the six Western Balkan partners.

They also pointed out the importance of improving on necessary internal reforms, especially with regard to the rule of law, stated the 25-page document published on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

G7 is comprised of the US, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, and the UK.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=08&nav_id=106571

"If KFOR doesn't protect Serbs - there are those who will"

The presence of the Albanian army in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica was "deliberate and planned," Aleksandar Vucic has said.

April 5, 2019

The goal was to intimidating Serbs in Kosovo and provoke Serbia, the president said on Friday.

Late on Thursday, the Serb List, a party representing Serbs in Kosovo, asked KFOR to explain the presence of several soldiers from Albania in the northern, Serb part of the ethnically divided town earlier in the day.

They were among a large group of international soldiers brought to Kosovska Mitrovica by KFOR, Radio Kontakt Plus reported.

Speaking while he was touring the Belgrade Waterfront project, Vucic said that it was "quite logical that the presence of Albanian soldiers brought unease among people" in the north of Kosovo and Metohija.

"This is an unambiguous indication to KFOR to pay attention to such things. Take them to Djakovica, but don't take them to northern Mitrovica," the Serbian president said, and reiterated that if KFOR fails to do its job and protect Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, "there are those who will."

Commenting on announcements that former US secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton will visit Pristina on June 12, on the occasion of the anniversary of KFOR's entry into Kosovo, Vucic said that this was as expected, because the two had been involved in "creating an independent Kosovo."

"It's their baby, they were creating an independent Kosovo contrary to the norms of international public law, which a majority of humankind sees today, and we will make sure that the Trump administration, too, sees who was creating an independent Kosovo," the Serbian president said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=05&nav_id=106564

"Battle for supremacy over Europe to be decided in Kosovo"

The battle for supremacy over Europe is being fought between Germany and the US, and it could be decided in Kosovo, the daily Blic writes on Friday.

April 5, 2019

For Germany, Kosovo is an independent state and there is no further discussion on the subject of border change, Blic says, and reminds its readers that German parliamentarians Peter Beyer and Christian Schmitd conveyed this message to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic two days ago.

For Germany, Kosovo is an independent state and there is no further discussion on the subject of border change, Blic says, and reminds its readers that German parliamentarians Peter Beyer and Christian Schmitd conveyed this message to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic two days ago.

"It's interesting that they have such a firm stance, and then say that they will do everything for Pristina to withdraw its taxes (on goods from central Serbia) and for progress in the negotiations between the two sides to occur," an unnamed diplomatic source told the daily, adding: "Aleksandar Vucic at one point asked his interlocutors what the discussion was supposed to be about if they did not want to he deviates from their position, not even the one inch."

Germany and the United States are being stubborn, the source said they felt. Whatever Chancellor Angela Merkel says, the US rejects it, and it's similar on the other side. That is why, according to the newspaper, it is obvious that the two world powers are fighting for domination in this part of Europe and both would like to take credit in case an agreement is reached.

"While the Germans are strict, America would support a new solution. For Washington, a land swap would be ideal," said Blic's source.

A source from diplomatic circles in Berlin said the US has not done everything to force Pristina to withdraw its taxes, because it is clear that would have happened a long time ago had pressure been adequate. In addition, they add, the United States wants to use the tax story "to barter with Serbia when the time comes."

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer said recently that it was "high time" to reach a Belgrade-Pristina agreement and recalled the message of US President Donald Trump that negotiators should use the "historic opportunity" to do it.

Bearing in mind that the European Parliament will be dissolved on April 16, Blic writes that 11 days now remain to reach an agreement, and that it is currently difficult to believe that will happen.

Unless a compromise solution is found by then, there will be empty space until the end of the fall, and the whole case will have to wait for a new (EU) administration.

"Nationalist factions are winning, so the that after (EP elections) no one will be in a hurry to find a solution for Kosovo is justified," said the source

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=05&nav_id=106559

"No EU for Serbia without effective Kosovo normalization"

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says any solution for Kosovo needs to be supported by major powers, particularly the permanent UN Security Council members.

April 4, 2019

He stressed that the citizens of Serbia "have to be aware that without the effective and comprehensive normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina there will be no accession to the European Union."

"It is in our interest to be in close partnership with the United States when it comes to the Western Balkans and to have their support in encouraging progress in reaching a solution to this important issue," Kurz said in an interview with the CorD magazine.

Kurz also said he "believes that countries like Serbia belong in the European Union."

"The European Union will therefore only be complete when the countries of the Western Balkans have joined. I have always supported the EU accession process of Serbia and the other countries of the region and will continue to do so," he said, adding that what happens in the Western Balkans impacts directly on Austria.

"On a political level, we are strong supporters of the accession of Serbia and the region to the European Union. This process requires a number of reforms, and we are happy to support Serbia in this regard. Under President Vucic, a number of important reforms have already been tackled," Kurz observed.

Asked if the EU accessions of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries had been temporarily removed from the agenda as a result of internal happenings within the EU, he replied, "certainly not."

As for the hostility between him and Serbian FM and Deputy PM Ivica Dacic, and if it had impacted on bilateral relations between Austria and Serbia, Kurz said:

"Austrian-Serbian bilateral relations are excellent, and both countries have an interest in maintaining the excellent quality of these relations. I regularly meet with President Vucic and my counterpart, Prime Minister Ana Brnbaic, and we have excellent personal relations. I have known Ivica Dacic for a long time and saw him just recently in Vienna."

He also recalled that Austria is among top investors in Serbia, with over 2.3 billion euros invested to date. "Our companies are interested in doing and expanding business in Serbia and investing over the long term," Kurz said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=04&nav_id=106550

Time has come for Belgrade-Pristina agreement - US official

The time has come for reaching an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, says a US State Department official.

April 4, 2019

US Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer spoke for the CorD magazine to make this statement, Beta agency is reporting.

In an interview, Palmer recalled the message by US President Donald Tramp saying that the negotiators should utilize "the historic chance" for reaching an agreement.

He called on both sides to refrain from steps that could hinder the process of reaching a compromise.

"Kosovo and Serbia should reach an agreement which is applicable, lasting and will not cause instabilities in any of the countries in the region. We will seriously consider any agreement that meets these criteria," Palmer said.

Palmer reiterated that the US was not prescribing nor would be prescribing how a settlement should look like and that the process and the agreement itself should be initiated by the two sides as only then it could be lasting and applicable in Kosovo and Serbia.

"We encourage both sides to fully conduct the process, reduce the negative rhetoric and work together and constructively toward an agreement. Serbia and Kosovo are linked inseparably, neither side will be able to move forward without an agreement on comprehensive normalization," Palmer said.

He once again said that the US viewed Serbia and Kosovo as "two sovereign states which should make decisions to their best interest."

"The US stays committed to independence and sovereignty of Kosovo and partnership with Kosovo and Serbia where our goals are harmonized," Palmer said, reiterating that "Kosovo's customs tariffs on the goods coming from Serbia were counterproductive."

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=04&nav_id=106552

President reacts: Fascism won't pass here

"I urge the citizens of Serbia not to worry about the latest fascist incursion of Bosko Obradovic and his followers into the (Belgrade) City Assembly."

April 4, 2019

Fascism will not pass, President Aleksandar Vucic said.

In an unscheduled address to the media after the events in front of the Belgrade City Assembly, where supporters of opposition Alliance for Serbia (SZS) tried to force their way into the building, Vucic said that he first wanted to apologize to the women who prevented SzS members from storming the Assembly.

"I apologize to the women who had to suffer insults from unknown persons, because Obradovic is not from Belgrade, he did not even stand in elections for the city parliament. What had been done (in the past) in Hungary and Nazi Germany - these fascist ideas will not pass in Serbia, and therefore I call on institutions to do their job. Fascism has no future in Serbia because democracy is a form of political regime that we have been fostering and continue to foster," Vucic said.

He added that he was speaking today because he wanted to "thank the magnificent women."

"70 or 80 of them have shown that they are capable of standing up to fascism. The picture of them holding hands and defending an institution from fascist Obradovic is the most beautiful picture," Vucic added.

"They have stood in defense of their country, their institutions, and defeated the thugs and the bullies. They deserve admiration and I wish I could have been a city official at least for a while, to share this admiration with them. This way, they have my immense gratitude," concluded the president of Serbia.

Speaking about a previous announcement made by Orbadovic, the leader of the Dveri Movement, that an opposition protest planned for Saturday, April 6, will see participants go to the Pink TV building, Vucic said that they will not be allowed to enter the broadcaster's premises, and that violence will not be allowed to anyone.

Vucic pointed out that he does not want to in any way fall for the provocations of the SzS, "which have been directed at the police the whole time, in order to cause some reaction."

"The police will have to react in some way and at some point," Vucic said, adding that everyone should realize "about what kind of bullies this is about."

"The fact that they are kicking policemen, swinging at women, taking chainsaws with them, gallows - it's no coincidence - it's a habit, and the state will have to react," the president underlined. He also guaranteed to journalists that "nothing would happen to them and that no one would beat them."

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=04&nav_id=106555

FM: Maybe clouded minds plan to cause incidents in North

Ivica Dacic says the UK's warning its citizens not to travel to the north of Kosovo could refer to the possibility of major incidents breaking out there.

April 3, 2019   

The foreign minister and first deputy PM spoke for TV Pink on Wednesday and did not rule out the possibility that those incidents would be caused by "those with clouded minds" who want to conquer the north of Kosovo (predominantly inhabited by Serbs).

Dacic recalled that this was not the first such warning, and that "the international community has done it before."

According to him, the warnings relating to the north of Kosovo are sometimes also connected with a criminalization of Serbs carried out by Pristina, "because, it is constantly saying that there is a criminal structure in the north and that it is unstable there."

"Whereas in Pristina, there are criminal authorities that are now accusing the North of Kosovo of being a crime hub. However, since the warning came at this time, it is interpreted as meaning that there could be major incidents not related to crime, instead it could, happens if somebody gets the idea - and there I' m thinking of those with clouded minds - to conquer the north of Kosovo and Metohija by military means," Dacic said.

He added neither Serbia nor Pristina have full sovereignty over Kosovo on the ground. Serbia, Dacic continued,, does not have full sovereignty since the NATO bombing and the Kumanovo Agreement, while Pristina doesn't have full sovereignty in the north of Kosovo and Metohija.

"Their aim is to, if things drag out, try to achieve the Croatian scenario and create another (Operation) Storm, expel Serbs from Kosovo and extend their sovereignty to the north. That is why our warning both to the international community and to our citizens is that frozen conflict will not last forver, because it is a problematic concept that could lead to such attacks," Dacic said.

He added that it is not favorable for Pristina that 11 since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, it ha not become a member of the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, or Interpol, while the EU in refers to it as a territory and not a state in its documents.

On the other hand, Serbia is constantly working on those countries that recognized the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo to reverse that decision, despite pressure coming from the United States, Dacic said. "The situation has changed now, because many countries leave the possibility of reaching a compromise," Dacic said, adding that because of all these circumstances that do not work in Pristina's favor, it is likely that Ramush Haradinaj will not withdraw the taxes (on goods from central Serbia).

In such an atmosphere, says the head of Serbian diplomacy, it is uncertain when the dialogue will continue, but, he says, it will not happen before the taxes have been abolished.

Dacic also said that he "won't let anyone criticize him about Kosovo even when he is proposing solutions that do not like someone."

"I have the right to do it. I have done more for a Serb Kosovo than the all foreign ministers in history put together," Dacic said.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=04&dd=03&nav_id=106546

PM: I won't resign, and I don't accept blackmail

"I will not resign, and I don't accept ultimatums and blackmail," Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday.

MARCH 27, 2019

She in this way responded a journalist asking for her comment on the demands of the opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) toward the state leadership.

"They do not have to wait until April 13, my answer is that I will not resign," said Brnabic, adding that "the ultimatum made by the people gathered around SzS, for me to resign, together with the president of the Republic and the speaker of the National Assembly, by April 13 - is an ultimatum made by bullies." 

It's also made by people who showed they want to achieve democracy through street violence, gallows and chainsaws, said the prime minister. 

"I was not scared, nor was the government scared of gallows, threats and chainsaws. We respect democracy, Serbia is a society of decent and normal people and we will never accept ultimatums made by bully and fascists," Brnabic said. 

SzS representatives recently called on Brnabic, President Aleksandar Vucic and National Assembly President Maja Gojkovic to resign, and give them a deadline of April 13, when they announced that they would organize a big protest in Belgrade.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=27&nav_id=106497

Court ruling against Milosevic's widow overturned

The Appellate Court in Belgrade has overturned the first-instance verdict convicting former leader of the JUL party Mirjana Markovic to a year in prison.

MARCH 26, 2019

Markovic - the widow of former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic - was first found guilty and sentenced in June last year, on charges of influencing a government commission in 2000 to illegally assign a state-owned apartment to her grandchild's nanny, the daily Blic is reporting.

In the ruling published on Tuesday on its website, the Appellate Court ordered the trial to be repeated before the Higher Court in Belgrade, in order to eliminate all illogical points from the verdict, as well as and violation of the criminal procedure. 

By the abolished verdict sentenced former Secretary of the government of Serbia, Zivka "Cica" Knezevic to one and a half years in prison, while then director of Dipos Milos Loncar was sent to jail for one year on charges of abuse of office. Markovic was found to have incited both to commit the crime. 

The original verdict was pronounced almost 15 years after the initiation of criminal proceedings, which will now be resumed with a retrial. Markovic was tried in absentia because she was inaccessible to the judicial authorities of Serbia. 

Representatives of the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation in 2010 announced that Markovic enjoys the status of a political refugee in that country and that she cannot be arrested on the Serbian Interpol notice, which was issued in 2005 and is still in effect.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=26&nav_id=106487

Serbian president "surprised by US ambassador's statement"

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said late on Tuesday that he was surprised by US Ambassador Kyle Scott saying that "not only Pristina is to blame.".

MARCH 27, 2019

Scott said the blame for the current relations between Belgrade and Pristina is also the absence of dialogue on both sides.

"I am surprised by Scott's statement. Hang on, man. They say, don't shift the blame. Say what we are guilty of?," Vucic said while on a Happy TV talk show. 

The journalists remarked that some have asked Vucic to seal off passages towards Kosovo and Metohija "airtight." 

"Now I have a question for these smarties. Do they know that we would seal off our people in Kosovo that way, endanger their lives and supplies? Or do they think we can pass a law that says, 'entry allowed to Serbs, but not to Albanians'? That's 1932, Hitler's Germany and Serbia will not pass such laws," Vucic concluded. 

Vucic said that former and current high ranking US State Department officials, Wess Mitchell and Matthew Palmer, criticized him in meeting and said he was "unfair" in the context of the dialogue with Pristina because, thanks to the engagement of Serbia, a number of countries have withdrawn their recognition of Kosovo. 

Vucic asked whether the United States complained to Pristina when Madagascar recognized Kosovo - as it was now complaining when Madagascar withdrew that recognition. 

The president pointed out that the United States is calling on the countries not to withdraw recognition, and that representatives of the Dominican Republic and Suriname showed him a circular letter asking them not withdraw their recognition of Kosovo. 

Vucic asked in what was Serbia was "unfair" and again pointed out to a number of irresponsible decisions made Pristina, among which were "anti-civilization taxes (on goods from central Serbia) which are inappropriate for the 21st century" as well as Pristina's platform that is not for dialogue, but against it. 

"I pleaded with (EU foreign policy chief) Federica Mogherini not to allow them pass this platform, we received its draft six months earlier, I warned them, they told me that it would not come come to that. Pristina passed it anyway," said Vucic. 

He also pointed out that the Community of Serb Municipalities(ZSO) has not yet been formed in Kosovo, and that they have even voted in favor of establishing the so-called Kosovo army, which, the president recalled, is in contrast even with the "Kosovo Constitution." 

During the show, Vucic also announced that French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Serbia in July, and that he received a confirmation of the exact date. 

"Macron is coming, and before that - if everything is fine and I don't resign or get killed in the meantime - I will have the opportunity to see President Xi Jinping in China on April 25, which is a very important meeting, and I believe that I will meet (Russian leader) Vladimir Putin in China as well," Vucic said. 

He said he was convinced that he would have the opportunity for another one or two important encounters, but did not reveal who he was referring to. 

Asked whether he plans to intensify cooperation with the US and, perhaps, visit there, Vucic said he never "begs for meetings." 

"I am waiting for an invitation for America. When the call comes, I will go," said Vucic.

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=27&nav_id=106492

Early parliamentary elections "either in June, or next year"

Serbian President and ruling SNS leader Aleksandar Vucic says no final decision has been made on holding parliamentary elections.

MARCH 26, 2019

Elections will take place either in June, or in the spring of 2020, Vucic announced late on Monday, after a meeting of his party's presidency.

He said that the final decision had not been made yesterday - "but we are closer to calling them than before." 

"The SNS presidency was in favor, with with one abstention - mine," Vucic said. 

He announced that the SNS will start internal elections on September 1, which will be completed before the end of the year. 

Vucic also received unanimous support from the party's presidency "not to enter into talks with leaders of (opposition) Alliance for Serbia Djilas, Jeremic and Obradovic." 

"The decent Serbia will not have violence," Vucic said. 

The SNS must be the most responsible, he said he told the party's top officials. 

"We must not enter into grinding stone of political violence, into which our political opponents along with fascist Bosko Obradovic are trying to pull us," Vucic said. 

"I will not accept any of their requests. What remains if for them to kill me. What is the third solution? There is no third option," he said. 

Vucic announced that he will be in Belgrade on the April 19, continuing "The Future of Serbia" campaign, and then go to Cacak. 

He reiterated that he would "not allow violence" and said it was "unheard of anywhere in the world is what fascist Obradovic and tycoons Djilas and Jeremic are announcing, including blockades, preventing city officials from going to work, and the like."

Source: https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=03&dd=26&nav_id=106483

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