WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

LAJCAK LEAVES FOR BELGRADE: EU Special Representative to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak left Pristina for Belgrade and made a stop at the EU-funded Merdare Border Crossing. He met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade.

  • At a press conference Lajcak underscored, “The goal of my talks with President Vučić is to talk about the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The goal is to normalize relations, and it is not up to the EU to decide. It is up to the two sides to agree. The EU is here to help, we are not here to impose any solution.”
  • On the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), Lajcak noted, “The next step is the drafting of a statute and we expect that to be done. The CSM is part of the final agreement and will be implemented once the agreement is signed but the details of the CSM should be part of the final agreement.”
  • Meanwhile, Vucic in Belgrade told the press conference, “We had a good, rational and serious meeting on the future of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. What is important is that we agreed to continue the dialogue and Serbia’s full commitment to that dialogue. We also made a joint assessment of economic developments between Belgrade and Pristina, which is satisfactory. That is one of the most important things. Third, the European future is important for Serbia and it is not a phrase. It is important because of more investments and because the position of Serbia will be stronger the closer we are to the EU and that is full implementation of the Brussels agreement.”
  • He also alluded to a plan for the dialogue. He said, “The plan to implement the agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, which consists of six elements. Point one – adjusting the legal framework, point two – association and community, point three – police, point four – judiciary, point five – local elections, point six – general provisions

U.S. ON OSCE IN KOSOVO: Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Jan Braathu, gave his final address to the OSCE Permanent Mission as the head of the mission. The U.S. Mission to the OSCE responded to Braathu’s address by thanking him for his leadership in the mission. In addition, the U.S. noted, “As we have said before, stability, prosperity and lasting peace in the Western Balkans are achievable only when Kosovo is integrated as a full and equal partner.  The OSCE plays a role in moving the region toward that goal.”

PUTIN CANCELS VISIT?: The Serbian Orthodox Church claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cancelled his visit to Belgrade for the consecration of the Saint Sava Temple on October 20 which coincides with Belgrade’s Liberation Day, according to Danas. But Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko wrote in a Twitter post, “Unbelievable writing in Danas daily that Russian President Vladimir Putin called it off with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. That has nothing to do with reality and is a complete and irresponsible fabrication.”

LAVROV IN ZAGREB: Russian FM Sergei Lavrov will make a visit to Croatia on October 27 before heading to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lavrov will meet with President Zoran Milanovic, PM Andrej Plenkovic, and counterpart Gordan Grlic-Radman.

BiH PRESIDENCY ON KOSOVO: The three members of the Bosnia’s tripartite presidency failed to come to a consesus on whether they discussed recognizing Kosovo.

  • Chairman of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic said, “I didn’t include the item on today’s agenda because it’s absolutely clear that Kosovo won’t be recognized until we reach a consensus. It is evident that Bosnia will not pass that decision. Mr Milorad Dodik  insisted that we include that item but Zeljko Komsic asked that it be withdrawn, but Dodik asked that we vote on it. In the end, Dodik voted against the recognition of Kosovo and Komsic and I didn’t even vote.”
  • And added, “I repeat, as Chairman, I did not include that item on the agenda. It was included in the extraordinary session. Then Mr Dodik insisted we include it in the regular procedure and Komsic said that we should withdraw it, so we decided to include it after all, but when we were about to vote, Komsic asked to withdraw that item. That’s when Dodik voted against the recognition and Komsic and I didn’t want to vote because there was nothing to vote on.”
  • But Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik refuted, “After Komsic attempted to withdraw that item from the agenda which was impossible at that time because it wasn’t in the form of a proposition but in the form of in which the Presidency was set to pass a vote. We had to vote because it was earlier decided to include it. This formally means that Bosnia did not recognize Kosovo, by the decision of its Presidency – meaning it rejected to recognize it. This is a formal and legal fact which will be binding for the future actions of all state institutions.”
  • Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic’s cabinet noted, “There’s no such decision. If there is, let Dodik show it. He won’t show it because it doesn’t exist.”

KRIVOKAPIC MEETS MINORITY COALITION: Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapic met with the Genci Nimanbegu – Nik Djeljosaj coalition yesterday. The minority coalition told Vijesti, “The goal is to discuss only the program requests.”

BULGARIA-N. MACEDONIA: Representatives of the Historical Commissions of Bulgaria and N. Macedonia yesterday met to discuss historical figures to resolve a stumbling block for N. Macedonia to open negotiations for EU membership. FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani said he is confident there will be a resolution. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Parliament is discussing renaming Cyril and Methodius from Slavic educators to Bulgarian educators.

MILANOVIC ON BOSNIAN CROATS: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic says Croats in Bosnia should elect a member of the BiH presidency according to the Dayton Peace Accords. He said, “If the Dayton agreement provides for the three members of the presidency from the three national groups, how can it be that the Bosniaks elect two of them? Any meaningful discussion ends here for me.”

ATTACK IN ZAGREB: Interior Minister of Croatia Davor Bozinovic said the government is investigating whether there was a different target of the shooting at St. Marks Square in Zagreb. He said, “The attacker wounded a security police officer, shot at Government House, and we cannot rule out the possibility that the target was something else.”

CROATIA + HUNGARY + SLOVENIA: “(Slovenian) Prime Minister Janez Janša, his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman addressed a ceremony in the north-east of the country on Wednesday launching construction of a power line that will link the three countries.The 80-kilometre power line between Cirkovce near Ptuj and Pince on the border with Hungary will establish a link between the Hungarian and Slovenian national grids and consequently Croatia’s.

The EUR 150 million project has been almost two decades in the making, mainly due to lengthy zoning procedures.” (Slovenian Times)

UNITED SRPSKA IN BOSNIAN ELECTIONS: Bosnian Court has overruled the election watchdog’s decision banning the Serb nationalist United Srpska (Ujedinjena Srpska) party’s participation in the local election after the party published an offensive campaign video, the watchdog said Thursday.

‘The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has annulled the decision of the Central Election Commission (CIK BiH) from October 7, 2020. in the case of ‘United Srpska’,’ the CIK BiH said.” (N1)

IN OTHER NEWS

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