26. May 2017

"Skopje has not asked Belgrade to withdraw BIA officer"

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Friday denied media reports that Skopje was asking Belgrade to withdraw Serbian embassy adviser Goran Zivaljevic. Dacic described the reports as "utter untruths." On Thursday, the Macedonian Foreign Ministry summoned Serbian Ambassador Dusanka Divjak-Tomic, over the presence of Zivaljevic in the Macedonian Assembly as it was stormed by protesters, in late April. The ambassador emerged from the meeting to tell reporters that "everything about the case has already been said." Earlier, Zivaljevic, an officer of the Serbian civilian security agency BIA, confirmed that he was in the Assembly on April 27 - in order to do his job, i.e., "observe whether Serbian citizens, (football) supporters or extremists" were taking part in the clash. Also speaking earlier in the week, Dacic said that Zivaljevic's presence did not violate any diplomatic protocols, including the Vienna Convention. "He was merely doing his job. He did not take part in committing a crime, he only reported about the situation in Macedonia, because Serbia needs to know how that situation may reflect on her national and state interests," Dacic said, adding that "no (other) Serbian citizen was in the Macedonian Assembly when the demonstrators stormed it." The minister remarked that the BIA officer was not in Macedonia illegally, and added, "I wish Macedonia would treat everyone equally - both eastern and western countries, who are sending their security services people." Earlier in the week, Macedonian PM-designate Zoran Zaev said he and Serbian PM and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic did not discuss this topic when they spoke in Brussels, where they traveled for an informal gathering organized by the EU. Vucic at the time explained the presence of Zivaljevic in the Macedonian Assembly by saying it was his job "to report from that country." @b92

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