Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Restorers of Milošević Are Waiting for EPP Membership

Adelina Marini, September 7, 2016

There are various exciting issues in media in the countries of former Yugoslavia – from the upcoming elections in Croatia and Montenegro, through Islam, to relations with Russia. Leading topic for Croatian media yesterday and today is the postponement of the vote on the application of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić for joining the European People’s Party (EPP). The topic is somehow more prevailing in Croatian media than in Serbian ones and it even became part of the election campaign during the first (and so far only) debate between the leaders of the two largest political parties – Zoran Milanović (SDP, and also leader of the People’s Coalition) and Andrej Plenković (HDZ, which is a member of EPP). The Vecernji list correspondent to Brussels Tomislav Krasnec writes that despite HDZ opposition, Vučić’s party will probably get accepted. 

"The party of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, which over past weeks has complained to European institutions with the accusation that there is true anti-Serbian policy being led in Croatia, which publicly compared the Ustaša crimes in Jasenovac to the legitimate “Storm” operation and sent its ministers to exonerate Slobodan Milošević, while at the same time claiming that Croatia is the biggest shame for the EU, is on its way to becoming an EPP member, despite opposition from the HDZ and the formal silence of the HSS – the two Croatian members of this political family”, writes Mr Krasnec. He reports that in the initial agenda the topic of the SNS membership was present, but it was later withdrawn because of the upcoming elections in Croatia. 

Vecernji quotes its own sources, according to whom the prevailing position in the EPP is that Vučić and his party are leading a policy, which is in line with the values of the European Peoples' Party. Germans lobbied intensively for Vučić, and some of them, writes Krasnec, are fully aware of the problematic aspects of Vučić’s past and especially his episodes in the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Šešelj, but over the last few years they have witnessed Vučić and the SNS developing in the right direction and that it is beneficial for Europe that Serbia has a party, which is an EPP member. 

Serbian Blic reports that the vote on the SNS membership will be in mid-November. The newspaper quotes the international secretary of the party Jadranka Joksimović, who believes that the HDZ and its leader Andrej Plenković will vote for the acceptance of the party. Yesterday, on Twitter came out outrages by former Croatian Prime Minister and ex-HDZ leader Jadranka Kosor and MEP Ruža Tomašić, who belongs to the family of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), but entered the EP through the list, led by the HDZ. Jadranka Kosor wrote that the EPP will at the end of the day accept Vučić’s party in its ranks. “I would not support this, neither will I send congratulations”. Ruža Tomašić’s reaction was even sharper: “It is natural for EU political families to look for partners in Serbia. What is not natural is that they find a partner in a četnik, who never denounced his četnik background”, goes her tweet. 

A new movie on general Gotovina

Croatian Rijeka daily Novi list reveals some, so far, undisclosed details on the hiding of general Ante Gotovina, who was hiding for four years before he was handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and later acquitted of the accusations of war crimes. The newspaper quotes one of the sources of the movie of director Antun Vrdoljak for general Gotovina – his best man Željko Dilber, who admits after years of silence that he had aided the general in hiding in fishermen’s huts and boats in Kornati, Dugi Otok, and Ugljan. Not even the general’s wife knew his whereabouts. After several months in hiding around Croatia the general, aided by his best man, left the borders of Croatia. He was later apprehended in Tenerife. 

Croatian foreign ministry answers the threats of the Russian ambassador

The online edition tportal published the reply of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the interview of the Russian ambassador to Croatia Anvar Azimov for Vecernji list on Monday. Answering tportal’s enquiry the ministry states that economic cooperation between Croatia and Russia is a very important segment of bilateral relations, but as an EU member state Croatia is obliged to follow and implement the restrictive measures, levied on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. The ministry admits that sanctions led to damages to the commercial exchange between the two states, but claims that they are far lower than what was stated by Mr Azimov. 

Support for Live Wall is growing

Mere days before the parliamentary elections in Croatia Jutarnji list publishes data on the growth of support for the Eurosceptic party Live Wall and its new coalition. Journalist Ivanka Toma explains in a commentary for the newspaper the reasons behind this growth. One of them is the pre-election coalition that Live Wall negotiated with other small parties. Another reason, she believes, is that the leader of Live wall, being the only MP in the last term of the Sabor from this party went regularly to all sessions, was well informed on all subjects, discussed in parliament, never used MP privileges, and could always be seen at his workplace, even in the afternoons, when the plenary hall is empty. “As an honest and valuable worker (MP) and an established fighter against the eviction by force of people out of mortgaged homes, Sinčić has proved that he is credible”, writes Ivanka Toma, using a word, which is a slogan in the HDZ campaign – credibility. 

What other subjects of discussion in Croatia?

A question was posed to the audience of the Zagreb Antena radio station today on how would they fix the situation in Croatia if it were up to them. The anchor herself proposed that Croatia be given out on concession “until we learn to deal with things by ourselves”. Some listeners advocated for the reinstatement of the Austria-Hungarian empire with Viktor Orbán at its helm, who knows how to bang a fist on the table. There were talks on television and other media about the outrage of Croatian parents, who stumbled upon a scandalous treatment in the music textbooks, which makes a distinction between a mother and a woman, as you can see in the pictures, published on Facebook by an outraged mother. 

Peace and quiet in Serbia today

Serbian media report today of the upcoming visit of the Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn (Austria, EPP) on September 10. Hahn is expected to arrive to Belgrade for a working visit as early as Friday, as was confirmed by the EC to Serbian information agency Tanjug

And while Serbia seems to be working on its European membership, it does not miss maintaining its good relations with Russia, as was evident from the announcement by RTS of a meeting between Serbian Defence Minister Zoran Đorđević and the Russian ambassador to Belgrade, Aleksandar Chepurin. The two have reached the conclusion that the political and general relations between Serbia and Russia are progressing, which also brings progress to cooperation in the field of defence. 

The TV channel also reported on the participation of Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić at the strategic forum in the Slovenian resort of Bled, where he stated that the EU continues to be an attractive factor. Enlargement policy, despite being one of the most successful ones in the history of the European project for facilitating the transformation of a large number of states and for expanding the space for freedom and prosperity, is still halfway, believes Mr Dačić. 

The newspaper Danas publishes today the furious reaction of the initiative of young people for human rights from the planned rally in support of the referendum in Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, organised by right-wing formations. The rally is planned for September 10 (right in the middle of the visit of Commissioner Hahn) at the Republic square in Belgrade. The young people’s initiative wants the Serbian government to denounce the rally, which they believe threatens stability in the Balkans. With this rally Serbia pushes itself back in isolation and is returning to the 1990’s, claim the youngsters. 

Đukanović the pro-European

The indisputable leading news in today’s media in Montenegro is the interview of Prime Minister and leader of the Montenegro Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) for the Pobjeda newspaper. Đukanović’s reply to the question what is the message that he would send to the people after 25 years in the lead of the DPS was: “The DPS was in the lead of this state when in it – one of all the ex-Yugoslav republics – peace was kept during the 90’s, when Montenegro, as a part of SFRY, was protected from NATO bombings, when it was necessary to cleverly, not with the head in the wall, to create the right to a referendum and provide for independence under the strict European democratic rules. Today Montenegro is practically a member of NATO, a convincing leader in European integration among all candidate countries, and the most economically advanced state in the Western Balkans”, claims Đukanović, presenting himself in the interview as an avid pro-European.

He paints the opposition as anti-Montenegrin and wishing to turn Montenegro to the East, despite their children getting their education not there, but in the West. Milo Đukanović believes that it is extremely important that there is a convincing majority in the new parliament, which supports Montenegro’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, the building of a society of rule of law, and the country’s democratic development.  

Islam and the burqas

Once again today you can find texts about Islam and the burqas in Croatian media. In a commentary for Jutarnji list the famous columnist Miljenko Jergović paints a thorough portrait of the recently deceased leader of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, reminding that he was a great American friend and most avid fighter against Islamic terrorism in Central Asia. Uzbekistan gave territories for secret American concentration camps, similar to the one in Guantanamo, but much scarier, writes Jergović, because in these camps the most cruel methods imaginable were applied, including the cooking of live people. The battle of Islam Karimov against Islamic terrorism was led in a way, which only produced heavier and scarier extremists – avengers, spreading hellish terror, claims the author. 

The online edition Index reports that ISIS forbids women to wear burqas in Mosul, because a series of attacks against leaders of the terrorist organisation were performed by women wearing burqas and niqabs. Index quotes Express, but it does not become clear which Express, neither is there a link to the publication. It does report, though, that at all other places women must continue walking completely covered.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev 

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