ERITREAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH NIKOLIC, VUCIC
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - Foreign Minister of Eritrea Osman Saleh Mohammed met with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on March 9, the third day of his official visit to Serbia. President Nikolic said that Serbia was firmly devoted to full membership in the EU but that it wanted to strengthen its friendship from the time of its membership in the Non-Aligned Movement. At the meeting with Eritrea's foreign minister, he said that Serbia especially appreciated the country's principled stance on not recognizing Kosovo and Metohija and for voting against Kosovo becoming a member of UNESCO. A statement said that Nikolic decorated President Isaias Afwerki as a token of gratitude and friendship.
During a meeting between Vucic and Osman Saleh, the participants said that signing an agreement on economic cooperation offered possibilities for cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, mining, the processing industries, IT and other areas. The Serbian government said that the two interlocutors had agreed that this would help the activities of the Eritrean government aimed at stabilizing its economic conditions and ensure Eritrea's economic progress. The visit by Eritrea's foreign minister is the first visit by a top-ranking official of that country since diplomatic relations were established nearly five years ago, while Minister Osman Saleh said he believed that it would bring concrete results in developing political and economic cooperation.
VUCIC CONGRATULATES TUSK ON ELECTION
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic congratulated on March 9 Donald Tusk on his re-election as president of the European Council. "I am sure that you will continue performing your duty with even more devotion and effort in these times which are full of challenges for the European family. I once again assure you that Serbia will be a reliable partner to the EU and stress that we are decisively moving toward our strategic goal - full membership in the EU," Vucic said in a note. Donald Tusk was re-elected on March 9 as president of the European Council despite his native Poland's opposition. Tusk will serve another two-and-a-half-year term and was elected by 27 votes in favor and one against.
ICJ REJECTS REQUEST FOR REVISION OF JUDGMENT
HAGUE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has rejected the request for revision of the judgment in Bosnia and Herzegovina's lawsuit against Serbia for genocide because of the disputed legitimacy of the agent of Bosnia's lawsuit, Sakib Softic. The letter that the registrar of the ICJ, Philippe Couvreur, sent to the members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, reads that the decision on Sakib Softic, as the agent of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the ICJ for submitting the request for a revision of the judgment, had not been made by the relevant bodies on the behalf of Bosnia as a state. "Accordingly, no action can be taken regarding the document titled 'Application for the revision of the Judgment of Feb. 26, 2007 in the case of the application of the Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide (of Bosnia against Serbia)," the letter reads.
REACTIONS TO ICJ DECISION
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on March 9 welcomed the decision of the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reject the application for revision of the judgment in Bosnia and Herzegovina's lawsuit against Serbia, saying that it was an absolutely correct decision. "Any other decision would have seriously jeopardized the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state and contributed to the unnecessary rising of tensions in relations with Serbia, which nobody needed - now or at any other time," Nikolic wrote in the statement. Nikolic said the preservation of stability in the region was the value Serbia was dedicated to and that it expected the same from everyone else.
The head of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic, said the court's decision was expected, that he had worked on that case for a long time, thoroughly and with argumentation and that it had yielded results in the end, but that he had never misused the victims.
The foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Crnadak, said the decision was "a major victory of the Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina."
For the Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, the ICJ's decision is politically motivated and "an indicator of the fact that there is no justice for small peoples." He said he did not know "what the reaction of the Bosniaks, who have already had enough, will be like," and added that the ICJ had not considered the essence of the entire case, or discussed the legitimacy of the agent, but had "resolved it politically."
Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik stated that he had expected the ICJ to reject the application for the revision of the judgment and urged the RS Prosecutor's Office to launch criminal proceedings against Sakib Softic for falsely representing himself as the agent of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the ICJ.
RS Premier Zeljka Cvijanovic stated that the ICJ's rejection of the application for the revision was expected, because it was not a result of a harmonized stance of the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mladen Bosic said that it was good that the ICJ had responded quickly, thus showing that it understood its responsibility in the case.
The leader of the Alliance for a Better Future, Fahrudin Radoncic, said that, as a Bosniak, he was "saddened" by the news that the ICJ had rejected the application for the revision of the judgment in Bosnia's lawsuit against Serbia for genocide, saying that "my Serb friends have no reason to gloat" and urged the Serbs "to adopt a resolution that would condemn the genocide in Srebrenica, like many other countries have done."
EU URGES KOSOVO POLITICAL LEADERS TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE WITH SERBIA
BRUSSELS, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - The European Union stated on March 9 that the Kosovo Assembly's resolution calling for the suspension of the dialogue with Belgrade did not contribute to the normalization of relations and urged all the political factors in Kosovo to continue the dialogue. The spokesperson of the EU high representative, Maja Kocijancic, stated that requests from the resolution were not in accord with the obligations Kosovo was constantly assuming. It was stated that Kosovo always strongly adhered to the dialogue and the further normalization of relations with Serbia, for the sake of its own citizens and because progress in the dialogue was a prerequisite for progress on the path to the EU. We are calling on all political leaders in Kosovo to continue their constructive engagement in the dialogue, to carry out the agreements reached in the dialogue so far and, in that way, improve the process of normalization of relations and their own European prospects, the statement reads.
EU: TRANSFORMING KSF INTO ARMY OF KOSOVO ONLY WITH CONSENT OF ALL COMMUNITIES
BRUSSELS, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - The European Union fully shares the stand of NATO and the U.S. that the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into armed forces could only be accomplished through constitutional changes, and particularly pointed out that this had to be done with the consent of all communities in Kosovo. The spokesperson in the European Commission, Maja Kocijancic, explained this on March 9 in a statement delivered to BETA in Brussels. She said that the EU was closely monitoring the issue of the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force and that it had to be done in the way that would include everyone within a multiethnic process that would secure the consent of all the communities in Kosovo.
STOLTENBERG: NATO CONCERNED OVER PROPOSED FORMING OF KOSOVO ARMED FORCES
BRUSSELS, 8 March 2017 (Beta) - The general secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, stated on March 8 that he had serious concerns over the proposed forming of the armed forces of Kosovo. Stoltenberg said he talked with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Premier Isa Mustafa on March 8, to convey NATO's concerns over the latest proposition by the Kosovo authorities about transforming the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into the armed forces of Kosovo. "I conveyed the serious concerns of NATO allies about recent proposals by the Kosovo authorities to transform the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into an armed force, without a constitutional change. I made clear that unilateral steps such as these are unhelpful, and I urged the Kosovo authorities to remain in close contact with Belgrade," Stoltenberg said. The general secretary of the Alliance said NATO had supported the development of the KSF as a professional and multi-ethnic force. "The structure, mandate and mission of the KSF are a matter for local Kosovo institutions in accordance with their constitutional law. However, should the mandate of the KSF now evolve in the way proposed, NATO will have to review its level of commitment, particularly in terms of capacity-building," Stoltenberg stated. He said that he made this clear during the visit to Kosovo in February and during the telephone talks on March 8, and that he remained in close contact with the partners in NATO in connection with that issue.
LJAJIC, IRANIAN DELEGATION ADVOCATE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister of trade, tourism and telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic, and a delegation of the Parliament of Iran concurred on March 9 that negotiations on the signing of a free trade agreement between the two countries should start as soon as possible. The head of the Iranian delegation, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said the introduction of a direct air route between Belgrade and Tehran would be very important for the two countries' overall relations, Ljajic's office has stated. The main topics of the meeting were the development of bilateral relations and the strengthening of economic cooperation. Ljajic and Boroujerdi concurred that negotiations on the signing of a free trade agreement between Serbia and Iran should start as soon as possible, in order to increase the volume of trade.
COMMEMORATION OF 34TH ANNIVERSARY OF MURDER OF TURKISH AMBASSADOR IN BELGRADE
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - A commemoration on the 34th anniversary of the murder of Turkish ambassador to Yugoslavia Galip Balkar, which was committed by two members of the Armenian ASALA terrorist organization, was held at the Turkish Embassy in Belgrade on March 9. Turkish Ambassador to Serbia Tanju Bilgic recalled the circumstances of the murder of the Turkish ambassador and the spontaneous reaction of Belgrade citizens when student Zeljko Milivojevic was killed in an attempt to catch the assassins, while Slobodan Brajovic, a retired colonel, sustained serious injuries. Bilgic said that Balkar had been an exceptional diplomat who had served with Turkey's standing mission in NATO, head of the Turkish president's office and on duty in the Turkish embassy in London. He said that Turkey "has suffered much from terrorist attacks" and that the Armenian ASALA organization had killed 36 Turkish diplomats from 1973 to 1994, who were also targeted by the Kurdish terrorist movement in the 1980s, and were now being targeted by Islamic State extremists. Bilgic added that terrorism did not know borders and that Serbia was a genuine friend to Turkey in the fight against terrorism. Turkish ambassador to Belgrade Galip Balkar was shot at 11 a.m. on March 9, 1983 while waiting in his car at the traffic light in General Zdanova street (present-day Resavska) on route to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He died two days later. After the assassination, citizens gave chase to the murderers and Zeljko Milivojevic, a student of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, was killed, while retired colonel Slobodan Brajovic was seriously wounded and left paralyzed for life. The Turkish ambassador's chauffeur Nexhati Kaja was also severely wounded.
HEAD OF RED CROSS DELEGATION SAYS IMPRESSED WITH TREATMENT OF MIGRANTS IN SERBIA
BELGRADE, 9 March 2017 (Beta) - Chief of a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross delegation Patrick Vial said on March 9 that he was "impressed" with the way the migrants had been accommodated and the conditions they had in Serbia. The Ministry of Labor said that after visiting a temporary center for asylum seekers in Belgrade's Krnjaca suburb, Vial added, "I am especially impressed" by the efforts that the Serbian government had invested to reconcile the country's national security with the needs of the migrants. On March 9 Vial met with Minister of Labor Aleksandar Vulin, who said that it was a "big challenge" for the Serbian government to maintain peace and order in the country, while at the same time offering the essential conditions for the migrants' temporary stay in its territory. The minister added that Serbia would continue behaving responsibly toward migrants, guarding the safety and security of all of its citizens.