Saturday, July 12, 2014




Bozhidar Dimitrov: Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania act together towards the realisation of their greatest dream – establishing a Greater Albania

10 July 2014 | 16:56 | Focus News Agency
Bozhidar Dimitrov: Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania act together towards the realisation of their greatest dream – establishing a Greater AlbaniaPicture: Focus Information Agency
Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of the National Museum of History, talks in an interview with Focus News Agency about the protests against the so-called Monstrum Case in which six ethnic-Albanian Macedonians received life sentences for murdering five fishermen near Smilkovsko Lake in Macedonian capital Skopje.

Focus: Mr Dimitrov, how will you comment on the protests in Kosovo’s capital Pristina and Albanian city of Shkodra, during which the Macedonian flag was burnt by the protesters?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: The burning of a national flag during protests clearly means, as far as the language of politics goes, that this country, whose flag is burnt, is considered as an enemy, an arch enemy, and it must be defeated or destroyed. If this had happened within the territory of Macedonia by manifesting ethnic-Albanians, things would have not seemed so bad, as the fact that the flag had been burnt in two neighbouring countries by Albanians. This means that the Albanians from the three countries, in which currently most of the Albanian population in the world is situated, are against one of the countries, in which ethnic-Albanians have been full-right participants in the governance of the country for many years now. What does that mean? This means that Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania are acting together for the realisation of their greatest dream – establishing a united Albanian state (the so-called Greater Albania), or it is just a sign of discontent with the ethic-Albanians in Skopje, who were accused in the brutal and unprovoked murder of five Macedonian fishermen. If you judge by their slogans, at least a part of the Albanians that are protesting, want exactly that. Unfortunately, nearly half of the remaining protesters insist on an Islamic revolution within the very Albanian community. It is a well-known fact that over the past few years a large part of the currently active religious leaders of the Islamic majority in the three countries are from Wahhabi movements from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other countries with Islamic fundamentalism. The Albanian politicians are not hiding, in informal meetings, their yearning for uniting the territories and countries, which are with predominantly Albanian population, in one big country. Currently motorways are being constructed between Kosovo and Albania, as well as to Western Macedonia, which is predominantly populated with ethnic-Albanians. If these countries, which are not very wealthy, find sufficient amounts for constructing the motorways, they will integrate them in a single transport system. During informal conversations between Albanian politicians, they continuously repeat the same statement, disguising it as a joke, in order to see what the reaction from the Bulgarian side would be. They say, “Let us divide Macedonia, while there is still there to be divided.” If we split the country tomorrow – we will do it along the Vardar River. Over the next 5 years, there will be nothing to divide, because we the border with the Wahhabis will be at Gueshevo in Bulgaria’s border with Macedonia in the Kyustendil region. If the Islamic fundamentalism is transferred on Bulgarian land, this means that there will be a lot of new mosques constructed and separating a part of the Muslims in structures, which are not part of the official Macedonian Grand Mufti. These Wahhabi organisations will gradually take over most of the Albanian community, and even will participate in the Islamic wars in the Middle East with Albanian representatives. It is a well-known fact that the Syrian army discovered many young Albanians from Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia, after its victories against the jihadists in Syria. Now they are in the army, which is trying to establish a new country on the territory of Iraq and Syria, called Islamic Caliphate. This growing trend is obviously an extreme danger for the countries with Islamic population on the Western Balkans, but also for the peace and order in the entire South-Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Macedonia will probably not be able to do anything about this trend. Its control on western and northern Macedonia, which are areas with 90% ethnic Albanian population, is just on paper. Albanians in this part of Macedonia are calmly doing their thing and the victory of the radical Islam in this area is as good as certain. I have always told my friends in Skopje, who are concerned with politics, that as long as they are fighting verbal battles with Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people, the Albanians will take their country from under their nose. Unfortunately this is exactly what is happening now, but I cannot be glad that my prognoses are becoming real. I wished that the people in Skopje finally got a grip of themselves and would stop challenging Bulgaria and refusing to sign a Good Neighbourly Agreement, and to try and find a reasonable solution to their dispute with Greece (it is a well-known fact that if they have the necessary will, both these issues could be resolved overnight), so that they can join the EU and we can all start living in peace and happiness, because the Islamic fundamentalists cannot be allowed to wave its flag on European soil, which is unfortunately what is happening, while Skopje’s politicians are dealing with Bulgaria.

Focus: Will the continuous conflicts between Albanians and Macedonians affect Macedonia’s EU membership aspirations?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: This could only be an obstacle along Macedonia’s EU path, because the EU has a pre-condition for all its future member states, namely the country to be in the state of internal peace and order, and to have no fundamental problems with its neighbours, and as we can see now, Macedonia fulfils neither of these requirements, which is an extremely worrying and dangerous thing and the EU will bear this in mind. That is why Macedonia has not progressed in its EU membership path, unlike its neighbours like Serbia, which very actively started looking for the pro-EU path.
First Greek Satellite Launched Today

by Daphne - Jul 12, 2014

Greek Satellite1A group of Greek scientists will send Greece to space by building the first Greek satellite which is scheduled to be launched today a little after midnight (Greek time).

It is a low-cost satellite, particularly small in size, the construction of which not only sets new standards in the field of space technology, but also enables our country to become an innovative force in the field of Aerospace. The name chosen for the satellite,“Λ-Sat,” refers directly to Greece by using the Greek alphabet letter Λ ( lamda).

Greek Satellite1

Despite the fact that more than 15 Greeks researchers and employees in universities and institutions around the world worked for the construction of the satellite, the man behind the whole project is astrophysicist and Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the San Jose University in Silicon Valley, California, Periklis Papadopoulos. “I named the team that worked on this project “Greek Minds in Action” since only Greek origin scientists worked for the construction of the satellite. Among them is a group of 6 children who came from Greece and stayed in California for about eight months until the project was completed, while our collaboration with the University of Aegean and Professor Nikitas Nikitakos was very valuable,” Mr Papadopoulos said on Proto Thema newspaper.

The Greek scientist aims to put Greece on the world map of Aerospace technology and emphasized that not only cutting-edge technology used to build the satellite but also all the electronic systems were constructed from scratch, gaining thus an extremely valuable knowledge for our country, in case it wants to take advantage of it.

The construction of the Greek satellite cost about $ 100,000, while the project was funded by Greek and Greek-American entrepreneurs. Excluding those who helped financially in order to advertise themeselves, the biggest amount of money was given by a Greek expatriate. “He is an expatriate, not a very rich one, who loves Greece deeply. Since he has requested to remain anonymous, I can only say that he comes from Messinia,” Mr Papadopoulos said.

The “Λ-sat» will be in orbit around the Earth for about a year for telecommunication purposes firstly, showing in real time the movement of all Greek merchant ships, particularly those sailing in the Indian Ocean and off the African coast and thus helping to protect them from piracy through the AIS, and secondly for scientific purposes since the first graphene test will be conducted in space.
You can watch the launch live here
- See more at:
Victoria Nuland visits Tirana

Victoria Nuland visits Tirana
The Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, Victoria Nuland, is attending an official visit in Albania. Her last contact with our country was in September 26th, 2013, with Prime Minister Edi Rama who had been on duty for just two weeks.

Unofficial sources say that this was the moment when for the first time, on behalf of the US government, Nuland asked the help of Albania for destroying the chemical arsenal of Syria.

10 months later, the high-rank official of Uashington held a visit in Tirana, as part of a Balkan tour, during which she will discuss important matters of our nations, the stable partnership and constant alliance.

The first meeting of Mrs.Nuland with the Albanian President lasted 30 minutes. Although the meeting ended at 17:00, the Presidency has not published a press release yet.

During her meeting with Parliament Speaker Ilir Meta, Mrs.Nuland congratulated him for the candidate status and underlined that the US will stay even closer to Albania for progressing with all the reforms that are necessary for the country’s progress towards the EU perspective.

As for the recent developments in the region, Meta expressed his appreciation for the role of the US in reinforcing democracy in Kosovo, and underlined that as regards the recent concerns in Macedonia, Albania supports constructive dialogue between the parties and the implementation of the Ochrid Agreement.

Nuland met with the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who updated the US official on the reforms undertaken by the government and thanked the USA for the continuing support on the Albanian people in the region and in the Euro-Atlantic path.

Before meeting with Rama, the US official attended a meeting with the DP leader, Lulzim Basha. After the official meeting, Nuland had a tete-a-tete meeting with Basha.

Basha has presented a long list of concerns from the opposition, such as trying to take independent institutions, not implementing the court orders, massive firing of people from the public administration, against the civil employee law, including criminal elements in the state structures, and blocking the local government by going against the citizens’ interests.

Basha underlined that for consolidating the judiciary they need to fight the corruption cases by increasing the independence of the justice system. After the meeting that continued for 45 minutes, Basha declared that the Prime Minister has established a violence structure with criminal elements for attacking the opposition and its free speech.

No agreement in Brussels, talks to resume

BRUSSELS -- Office for Kosovo Director Marko Đurić and Deputy Kosovo PM Edita Tahiri failed to agree on settling the problem related to "Peace Park" in Kosovska Mitrovica.
“The atmosphere was extremely difficult, Ms. Tahiri even refused to shake hands with me in the hall,” Đurić told reporters after the talks that lasted ten hours at the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels, Tanjug reported.
Đurić said that there were no direct talks at any point, but rather the two delegations talked with aides to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

Đurić said that it is Belgrade's stand that works on Peace Park on the bridge in northern Kosovoska Mitrovica should be continued.

“We will talk again on July 22, and in the meantime we expect everyone to demonstrate restraint,” he said.

“We were ready to discuss the matter again as soon as on Monday, but Priština's side refused that,” Đurić said.

Tahiri told reporters that “unfortunately, no progress was made”, noting that Priština's side came to the talks in full capacity, including representatives of several ministries, and was ready to continue negotiations over the weekend.

She noted that, on the other hand, Đurić "came to the meeting alone and was obviously not well-prepared."

Tahiri then added that "Serbs should stay away from Kosovo," and accused the head of the Serbian government's Office for Kosovo of "violating the Brussels agreement with his frequent trips to Kosovo."

Đurić "rejected these accusations," said reports, and added that he thought "every Serb should enjoy full freedom of movement when entering Kosovo."

Ashton issued a brief statement after the talks in Brussels on Friday saying that both sides should without previous agreement refrain from any activities near the bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica, and added that both sides "agreed to form working groups" that would seek a solution.

On June 18, local Serbs removed a roadblock from the bridge over the Ibar River in that city, divided into the northern, Serb, and the southern, Albanian part, which, Tanjug reported, "they put up three years ago to protect themselves from incursions by Albanian extremists."

However, the Serbs placed concrete flower boxes in place of the barricade the next day, and referred to this as "Peace Park," while the Albanian side demanded the structure to be removed, "to allow passage of vehicles."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Contract signed to build South Stream in Serbia

BELGRADE -- South Stream Serbia and Russia's Centrgaz on Tuesday signed a contract on building the section of the South Stream pipeline through the Serbian territory.
The contract is worth some EUR 2.1 billion and was signed by South Stream Serbia Director Dušan Bajatović and Gazprom International Projects head Aleksandr Siromyatin, with Centrgaz Director Stanislav Anikeyev.
They said it was a historic day for the Serbian energy sector, and that first gas deliveries via South Stream in Serbia would take place as planned, by late 2016.

Centrgaz won a tender called by South Stream Serbia to build the pipeline in Serbia.

Bajatović expressed special gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić for "helping solve some open issues, which made the signing of the contract possible."

"No W. Balkans country will join EU in next 5 years"

BRUSSELS -- Future president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker says no Western Balkan country will become a member of the EU in the next 5 years.
Juncker is seen with President of the European Socialists and Democrats Gianni Pittella (L) (Beta/AP)
Juncker is seen with President of the European Socialists and Democrats Gianni Pittella (L) (Beta/AP)
Juncker made the statement in the European Parliament.
Juncker told the members of the parliament from the group of liberal and progressive parties he saw no country of the region ready to join the EU in that time.

The liberals criticized Juncker on Tuesday for his views on EU enlargement stated in his recently presented program, where he says the EU must halt the enlargement until it can consolidate, and that he does not expect any new members during his 5-year term in office.

Juncker denied that he had called for a full stop of the enlargement process, but that he was merely being realistic and that there were clear requirements for getting the candidate status and accession.

The countries of the Western Balkans deserve a European future, as a guarantee that the recent conflicts will not be repeated, among other things, he stated.

It does not mean that the EU should promise those countries accession into the EU within 2-3 years, he added.

Juncker met separately in Strasbourg on Tuesday with parliament members from all the political groups, but only the meeting with the liberals was open to the public via a video link.

The former prime minister of Luxembourg, who won the nomination for future president of the European Commission with a lot of difficulty, has yet to gain support from the parliament, which will vote on the issue on July 16.

If most of the members vote for him, Juncker's 5-year term will start on November 1.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Albanian Ambassador: No maritime border negotiations with Greece

No maritime border negotiations with Greece
While it has been reported that Greek officials have confirmed the start of negotiations between the two countries about this issue, the Albanian Ambassador to Greece, Dashnor Dervishi, confirmed for Top Channel that the relations between the two countries have advanced, but there have been no negotiations.

“There are no direct negotiations about this issue. There are preparations for finding a solution. Both ministries are working for the alternatives of how consensus can be found”, Dervishi declared.

Despite the declarations of Greek officials, or news reports saying that Greece stands to the agreement signed with the Berisha government, the ambassador of Albania in Athens says that for Albania, the Constitutional Court decision is the only guide for this issue.

“It has been made clear in Athens that the decision of the Constitutional Court of Albania is unnegotiable and Athens has it clear that Albania is ready to renegotiate if all Albanian laws will be respected”, Dervishi declared.

For ambassador Dervishi, the solution of this issue will derive after Greece will revoke the law of war that they still have with Albania. He said that the Greek side has recognized that as a problem, and this is a visible progress. If yesterday this issue was simply mentioned, today it is a topic that is being discussed.

Our diplomats in Athens rejected the interpretations made to the declaration of the Greek Foreign Minister, Venizellos, for blocking Albania’s EU negotiations for the maritime agreement.

“Integration has no conditions or concessions. You don’t enter the EU with conditions”, he declared.

The ambassador who was summoned to report at the Commission of Foreign Policy confirmed that with the new government in Albania, the relations between both countries have entered the phase in which they are searching for solutions, without reserves or tabu. But the time when this will be done is still unknown”.

“I hope that the entire package of relations between Greece and Albania will be resolved and stabilized within my mandate in Greece, but I cannot say for sure if it will be realized”, the ambassador declared.

Bosnian Serb entity leader gets Serbian passport

BANJA LUKA -- Milorad Dodik, president of the Serb Republic (RS) - the Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina - has been issued a Serbian passport, it has been announced.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
Serbian Consul-General in Bosnia Vladimir Nikolić presented the passport to Dodik on Tuesday.
The RS president's cabinet said in a statement that the ceremony took place at the Consulate General of the Republic of Serbia in Banja Luka.

The Fena news agency reported that RS citizens who apply for Serbian passports receive them at this diplomatic mission.

Israel readies 'ground assault' on Gaza, calls up 40,000 reservists

Published time: July 08, 2014 12:47
Edited time: July 08, 2014 16:38

Israeli soldiers stand on Merkava tanks in an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 8, 2014 (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)
Israeli soldiers stand on Merkava tanks in an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on July 8, 2014 (AFP Photo / Jack Guez)
Israel’s army is formulating options to eradicate rocket fire coming from Gaza, “including ground assault,” an anonymous Israeli official stated on Tuesday. An unspecified number of troops are being called up after preliminary approval for 40,000.
Air raid sirens rang through Tel Aviv as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket in images shown on live television, shortly after the troop mobilization.
The reserve soldiers were mobilized as backup for the regular forces in anticipation of a possible escalation in the conflict, spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told Reuters.
Some 1,500 reservists had already been mobilized by the time that Israel approved the calling up of the extra 40,000. Israel’s security cabinet voted in favor of calling up the tens of thousands of extra personnel as part of a potential “ground operation.”
“The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation,” an anonymous official told the AFP agency.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday: “We are preparing for action against Hamas, which will not end within a few days,” according to RT’s Paula Slier from the Israeli/Gaza border area.
Six Palestinians have already been killed and a further 25 injured in an Israeli assault on a house in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Interior Ministry reported on Tuesday. The home had belonged to the family of a Hamas member, local residents told Reuters.
Hamas stated shortly afterwards that "all Israelis" would be considered legitimate targets; the airstrike killed two children, according to AFP.

Donetsk, Lugansk fear humanitarian crisis as Kiev tightens grip on eastern Ukraine

Published time: July 08, 2014 14:35
A mini bus that was hit by artillery fire in Lugansk (screenshot from RT)
As Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko confirmed plans to “liberate” the eastern cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, the two biggest towns in the country’s east fear that if sieges develop they will have a major humanitarian crisis on their hands.

Although the authorities in Kiev claim they are not targeting residential areas, the fact is that ordinary civilians continue to be caught in the attacks.
“I built this with my bare hands and now this has happened. So what am I supposed to do now?” a Lugansk resident told RT, as he inspected the ruins of his shelled house.
The RT video shows a completely destroyed building with broken windows and caved-in roof.
“Build my house again from scratch? Or is it time for me to die? Go ahead – just keep bombing us…” he added.

A local resident in destroyed house in Lugansk (screenshot from RT)
A local resident in destroyed house in Lugansk (screenshot from RT)
‘We sat in a basement and prayed they wouldn’t shoot us’ – E.Ukraine refugees
Local residents who have remained in Lugansk – a city that used to be home to nearly 450,000 people - are worrying about humanitarian issues: food, water supplies and electricity are scarce in the besieged city, reported RT’s Marina Finoshina, adding that it is unclear how local hospitals and medical institutions will be able to function in Donetsk and Lugansk during a siege.
On Tuesday morning, a mini bus in the center of Lugansk was hit by artillery fire, said Lugansk city council’s press service. Two people died in the attack and eight were injured. According to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, eight people were wounded in the assault.

(screenshot from RT)
(screenshot from RT)
After the minibus attack, bombs fell in the same street hitting a residential block, reported local witnesses on the scene. The shell struck the roof of the building. Videos released on the internet show a building with a destroyed roof and rescuers from the emergency ministry trying to help the injured.
Meanwhile, residents in Lugansk are running out of drinking water. The RT video depicts people coming with plastic bottles to get water.
Another city on Poroshenko’s liberation list is Donetsk, with a population of about a million people.
On Tuesday, several dozen armed people seized the ground floor of a large hospital in Donetsk, the local administration said on its website. It was not immediately clear who the people were and what they wanted.
Kiev orders 'loyalty checks' of Slavyansk police after militia relocate to Donetsk
Also a railroad bridge was blown up in the Donetsk Region on Monday. The bridge was a link to major cities, including besieged Slavyansk, the capital of Donetsk and Mariupol.

A bridge that was blown up in Donetsk Region (screenshot from RT)
A bridge that was blown up in Donetsk Region (screenshot from RT)
On Monday evening, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko confirmed plans to “liberate” the eastern cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, currently under the control of self-defense forces, Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council Mikhail Koval said.
“The Commander-in-chief has approved a plan that covers all phases of liberating our land from those who are destabilizing the situation there,” he said, adding that the Ukrainian president also supported the plan of ‘sweeping away’ all ‘separatists’ in the Donbas Region.
In the meantime, newly-appointed Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Geletey said that Kiev will not declare a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine unless the militias surrender their weapons.
“The president of Ukraine stated this in definitive terms. Now any negotiation is only possible after the militants lay down all arms,” he said.

local residents in Lugansk (screenshot from RT)
local residents in Lugansk (screenshot from RT)

Secretary General praises strong US leadership in talks with President Obama

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen thanked President Barack Obama for his country’s leadership within the Alliance and strong commitment to transatlantic security during talks with the United States president at the White House on Tuesday (8 July 2014) which focused on preparations for this September NATO Summit in Wales. “I am particularly grateful for the support the United States has provided in response to Russia’s unacceptable actions in Ukraine,” the Secretary General said.
All 28 Allies stand together in rejecting Russia’s aggression and all are playing an important part in NATO’s response to the security challenge, he said. “At our Wales Summit in September, we will take further steps, to ensure that NATO is prepared to face any threats. But readiness requires resources so at the Summit we will also seek a common commitment to reverse the decline in defence investment,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen.
At the Wales Summit, Allies will also turn a new page in Afghanistan. NATO will at the end of this year complete its longest combat mission and has already started to prepare to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces after 2014. “We have achieved a lot, but not without cost. and I want to pay particular tribute to the sacrifice made by American forces in Afghanistan,” the Secretary General said. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen stressed that “the electoral process in Afghanistan must run its course to a transparent and credible conclusion. This is vital for the future of Afghanistan and for continued international support”.
The Secretary General underlined that the Summit will also be an important opportunity for NATO to reinforce its work with partners, including those who have fought alongside Allied forces and to reach-out further to help build defence capacity in countries where crises can be prevented.
On Monday (7 July 2014) the Secretary General addressed the need to ensure a continued strong transatlantic bond for an unpredictable world in a speech delivered at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington. On Wednesday (9 July 2014), Mr. Fogh Rasmussen will give a speech at the Marine's Memorial Club in San Francisco on the need to reinforce the rules-based international order. He will hold a range of meetings with business and community leaders, members of the Commonwealth Club and the World Affairs Council of Northern California.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Serbian prime minister starts visit to Russia

BELGRADE -- Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić will on Monday in Moscow meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as part of his two-day working visit.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
This has been announced on the website of the Russian government.
Vučić will also be received by President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Russia.

Topics of discussion will be bilateral cooperation, as well as all important international issues.

The South Stream gas pipeline will be one of the main topics, Serbian and Russian analysts agree, while others include Ukraine, Serbia's OSCE chairmanship, gas debt and gas supply, and joint ventures.

Serbia and Russia have an agreement on strategic partnership.

President Tomislav Nikolić said earlier he expected Vučić's upcoming trip to Moscow to "benefit for Serbia," because, he said, Serbia was "the link missing for East and West to cooperate better."

Asked whether he expected Serbia's gas debt to be one of the topics, the president responded that a solution was being sought for the debt to be settled "in a reasonable time."

Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin also commented on the visit over the weekend to say that Russia is a friendly country and our extraordinary partner, and therefore the prime minister would not be given "any ultimatums" in Moscow.

"I think it's great that the prime minister is meeting at the highest level with European leaders, because it is necessary to confirm the constructive position of Serbia, it is even an added value for Europe, and not a hindrance. So in that sense, when you look at the map of Europe, and you see where Serbia is, Serbia really needs to have good economic relations with both Russia and Europe," Nikola Jovanović from the Center for international Cooperation and Sustainable Development told B92.

Another analyst, Dragoljub Anđelković, remarked:

"As long as Berlin maintains maximally good relations with Moscow and seeks promotion of cooperation, even under the relations that we have now, Serbia can pursue a balanced policy (of) both Berlin and Moscow - that is, try to position itself between these two European, and on a larger scale, powers. Things would be developing differently if by any chance Berlin and Moscow got more distant, but something like that is not currently in sight."

Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović was quoted as saying that Vučić was not going to Moscow "to be told something, but to openly and objectively talk with the prime minister and the president of Russia."

"It is in our interest to find strategic partners for energy companies, to see what could be the price of gas for us in the future, what can we do about South Stream and what its future is,'' said Stefanović.

The most delicate issue, according to analyst Dušan Janjić, will certainly be the Ukrainian crisis and, in this light, Russia will seek from Serbia that when it assumes chairmanship of the OSCE in 2015 - in favor of which Moscow "very much lobbied" - it provides support for sending observers to the separation lines, "which could lead to federalization, or the end of a unitary Ukraine."

"Russia wants to a contact group to be with OSCE, not the UN, because it learned a lesson: whenever the UN mediates (Russia) is in the end left out and the separation troops on the ground become NATO. Russia does not want NATO in Ukraine, or Ukraine in NATO," Janjić told Tanjug.

He estimates that the current prime minister's biggest problem ahead of the trip to Moscow are huge debts, "which brought him to a hopeless situation - on the one hand, the need to implement serious reforms, on the other, the lack of money, and thirdly, he is welcomed as someone who does not fulfill obligations."

Moscow positively assesses Serbia's support for South Stream, as well as its position on Ukraine, where it was sufficient that Belgrade did not introduce sanctions against Russia, and Moscow appreciates that, Russian analyst Fyodor Lukyanov commented for Tanjug.

He said that Russian President Putin "understands very well" that Serbia is in "a fairly complex geographical and geopolitical situation."

''As a candidate for EU (membership) it is closely linked to the EU economy and for that reason Belgrade will not, nor would it be fair to ask it to, completely contradict European policies and openly oppose the mainstream that exists in Europe," said Lukyanov.

Asked if he expected pressure from Moscow on Belgrade regarding a higher level of convergence with the Russian view on the crisis in Ukraine, he pointed out that Serbia will not recognize Crimea as a part of the territory of Russia, "because it cannot be done not by any criteria - not as a country associated with the EU, nor as a country that has lost a part of its territory as a result of intense use of force."

"What more could Russia ask of Serbia," wondered Lukyanov, and pointed out that, in his opinion, it was enough that Serbia did not join the sanctions, "especially as neighboring Montenegro was not required to join the sanctions and did it voluntarily."

Lukyanov, introduced as editor-in-chief of reputable journal "Russia in Global Politics", added he expected that Vučić's talks in Moscow would, beside South Stream, focus on the gas price and Serbia's debt for consumed gas.

He added that Russia was interested in retaining a very friendly and close relations with Belgrade, but that it cannot be said that at the same time Moscow has some special plans for Serbia, or that it wants to remove it from Europe - "that is not and will not be."

Lukyanov further said that he "does not understand those who think that Serbia will in the future have to choose between the EU and good relations with Russia."

He concluded that "those who claim that Serbia will have to choose are most likely performing psychological pressure on Belgrade in order to draw some concessions in negotiations - but nothing more than that."

All the countries taking part in the South Stream project have supported its construction, despite the opposition from the EU, saying they found the pipeline to be of great economic and vital interest.

Last week, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Italy all supported South Stream, and Austria and Slovenia did the same previously, expressing their commitment to the project which should provide decades of security of gas supply to Southeast and Central Europe.

"No true normalization while property is stolen"

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Marko Đurić has said there can be "no true normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Priština while Serbia's property is being stolen in Kosovo."
Marko Đurić (L) (Tanjug)
Marko Đurić (L) (Tanjug)
Đurić serves as head of the Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija.
"We are going to use all the institutional mechanisms at our disposal in the coming period to exert pressure, and this includes setting conditions concerning participation in Kosovo's institutions, in order to prevent Serbia's property from being stolen in Kosovo," he said on Sunday in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Serbia wants the issue of its property in Kosovo to be one of the topics of the Brussels talks on the normalization of the relations with Priština, he told reporters in Kosovska Mitrovica, stressing that there would be no tolerance for someone using the time between the talks to pressure the Serb community and steal property.

"It is completely unacceptable to us and we wish to state clearly now that the actions of the Kosovo Privatization Agency are causing direct damage to the normalization of the relations," he noted.

He listed the seizure of a wood mill in Štrpce as an example, adding that it had disturbed the local Serbs and drawn attention to the fact that the Kosovo authorities had been taking over Serbia's companies there for weeks.

"It is particularly pronounced in the municipality of Strpce and we find it unacceptable. It pushes us a few steps back, creating a bad atmosphere, directly slowing down the normalization of relations and putting us in a very difficult position," he concluded.

Black Sea boiling: US missile cruiser enters waters as Russian Navy monitors NATO drills

Published time: July 07, 2014 18:43
A view of U.S. Navy cruiser Vella Gulf in the Black Sea port of Constanta June 5, 2014. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel)
A view of U.S. Navy cruiser Vella Gulf in the Black Sea port of Constanta June 5, 2014. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel)
US missile cruiser Vella Gulf has reportedly entered the Black Sea, joining six other vessels for NATO’s naval drills. Meanwhile, Russia is having its own exercises in the sea, keeping a watchful eye on the alliance’s war games.
At about 18:20, the USS Vella Gulf passed the strait and entered the Black Sea,” a source in the Russian Navy's Main Staff told Itar-Tass on Monday. “The number of NATO ships in the Black Sea has thus increased to seven.”
The official reason for the American Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser entering the Black Sea, the source said, was the participation in an exercise of NATO mine-clearing forces.
The Russian naval official said he was bewildered by the American cruiser’s participation.“It’s like putting a horse and a deer to the same cart,” he said ironically.
A multi-mission cruiser, Vella Gulf, which is 173 meters in length and carries up to 400 crewmembers aboard, is capable of sustained combat operations in any combination of air, surface, undersea, and strike warfare environments. Equipped with four powerful gas turbine engines, it can develop the speed of over 30 knots. According to online sources, the vessel’s weapons include SM-2 surface-to-air missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, torpedoes, Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems for self-defense against aircraft and missiles, and five-inch, rapid fire guns.
The American missile cruiser was visiting the port of Constanta in Romania from late May till mid-June.

Large anti-submarine combat ship "Kerch" of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin)
Large anti-submarine combat ship "Kerch" of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin)
Earlier Monday, a military diplomatic source told the agency that the Russian Navy will monitor NATO’s Sea Breeze maneuvers in the Black Sea. Most of Russia’s Black Sea fleet is out at sea as its commander ordered a massive naval exercise the length and breadth of the area.
The Russian fleet has been ordered to “monitor all movements and activities of the NATO naval task force, which are, actually speaking, already well known.
The major group of NATO battleships, rotational Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO (SNMCMG2), has spent several days training at the Bulgarian port of Burgas in first stage of the Breeze drill this year led by the Bulgarian Navy.
On Sunday afternoon the ships left the Bulgarian port of Burgas and headed into the open sea for training in the southwest Black Sea.
The group consists of flagship Italian Navy frigate ITS Aviere, accompanied by Italian minesweeper ITS Rimini, Turkish minesweeper TCG Akça, British minesweeper HMS Chiddingfold and Greek Corvette Macitis.
French intelligence ship Dupuy de Lome is continuing electronic surveillance near Russia’s North Caucasus coast. It replaced another French stealth frigate, Surcouf, which was on a similar mission near the Crimean peninsula in June.
There was yet another NATO reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea, Italy’s Elettra, which operated close to Russian shores, but she had to leave after the maximum 21 day presence in the area for non-regional battleships expired Sunday.
In the meantime some 20 Russian warships, over 20 airplanes and helicopters, as well as the marines and coast artillery are taking part in the Black Sea Fleet exercise. The war games launched the same day as NATO's military drill in the area, on July 4. The ships taking part in the drills are operating from two locations, the port of Sevastopol in the Crimea peninsula and the port of Novorossiysk in Russia’s Northern Caucasus.
Albanian ambassador to Kosovo reports

Albanian ambassador to Kosovo reports
The Foreign Policey Commission has summoned in an informing session the Albanian ambassador to Kosovo, Qemal Minxhozi, about the recent developments in this country, where the new leadership has not been chosen yet, even one month after the elections.

Our ambassador, same as the international factor, valued the electoral process that was held according to the standards, but he said that the post-electoral panorama is not clear.

The Kosovo President is expected to open the procedures for the constitution of the Parliament duiring these days. But now that the PDK has won the elections but doesn’t have the majority, it might be difficult to foresee how the new government will be formed”, Minxhozi declared, and said that the position that will be held by the Self-Determination Movement will be key.

It remains to be seen what position will hold the President after the decision of the Constitutional Court, according to Minxhozi.