WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

BLINKEN WRITES TO KURTI: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a letter of congratulations to Kosovo PM Albin Kurti for forming a government and spoke about U.S. expectations moving forward.
  • Secretary Blinken underscored the U.S. looks “forward to working closely with your government to ensure a sovereign, independent, multiethnic, and democratic Kosovo takes its place as an equal partner in the Euro-Atlantic family.”
  • He added, “Kosovo should also engage productively and without delay in the U.S.-supported EU-facilitated Dialogue with Serbia.”
  • And concluded, “Securing a comprehensive normalization agreement with Serbia centered on mutual recognition is essential to Kosovo’s ability to reach its potential and move forward on its EU accession path.”
LEPOSAVIĆ CLAIMS HE DIDN’T DENY GENOCIDE: Under fire Minister of Justice, Human, and Minority Rights Vladimir Leposavić claims he never denied the Srebrenica Genocide.
  • He said, “The parliamentary question was whether I would recognize the crime of genocide. That question is part of the usual, monstrous policy of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which causes discord and mutual quarrel.”
  • He came under fire in late March for saying he would recognize that genocide was committed in Srebrenica “when it gets proven unequivocally.”
  • PM Zdravko Krivokapić has called for the minister to resign over the statement.
SARAJEVO HAS A NEW MAYOR: Benjamina Karić officially became the new Mayor of Sarajevo.
  • On taking office she said, “I want us to be a great team that works exclusively in the interest of Sarajevo and BiH. We must serve Sarajevo and its citizens. Love for our Sarajevo should be the main motive for our action.”
  • And added, “I do not accept or support divisions. Our mission is to unite and create new values, to be remembered by the citizens for that. Sarajevo and Sarajevans are both traditional and modern. They recognized evil and resisted it both during the aggression and the longest siege of a capital city in Europe, as well as in the fight against fascism.”

MONTENEGRINS PROTEST, ATTACK OFFICIAL CAR: Montenegrins blocked roads throughout the country over the decision on acquiring Montenegrin citizenship and changes to the Law on the Register of Residence and Stay. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sergej Sekulović ordered an investigation to the conduct of police officers in the vicinity of the official vehicle that was surrounded by protesters. The vehicle was transporting PM Zdravko Krivokapić’s daughter. Watch the video HERE.

KOSOVO + SLOVENIA: Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani yesterday spoke with Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor. They discussed bilateral relations, the importance of good relations, and advancing relations. Pahor invited Osmani to participate in the Brdo-Brijuni Process Summit while Osmani invited Pahor for an official visit to Kosovo.

MONTENEGRO + ISRAEL: Montenegrin FM Djordje Radulović and Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi agreed that a visit to Israel by Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapić would benefit both countries. The FMs agree that increasing relations at the PM and Ministerial level, increasing the number of Israeli tourists in Montenegro, and economic cooperation in technologies and innovative projects would benefit both countries. Montenegro is also aiming to open an embassy in Israel in the coming period.

COVID CORNER
  •  BiH – BiH House of Peoples Chair Bakir Izetbegović says Bosnia and Herzegovina will have one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by summer.
  • He said, “Soon, we’ll have vaccines from the EU for Health program, which is why I held talks with the EU representative in BiH, Johann Sattler, in recent days. That way I think we’ll have one million vaccines in the next two to three months. That’s the basis for mass vaccination.”
  • Croatia – The first 7,150 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in Croatia on April 14, according to Health Minister Vili Beroš. To date, Croatia has received 657,385 doses to date and administered 533,409.
  • PM Andrej Plenković noted that Astrazeneca vaccine is “reliable” after he, Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković and Health Minister Beroš received the Astrazeneca shot two weeks ago.
  • N. Macedonia – Russian Ambassador Sergey Baznikin says that Moscow will respect the decision to send 200,000 Sputnik V vaccine doses to N. Macedonia.

ECHR AGAINST SLOVENIA: “The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has admitted an application against Slovenia over an alleged violation of the right to a fair hearing. The case concerns Constitutional Court judge Rok Čeferin’s failure to exclude himself from a case, the STA has learnt from the State Attorney’s Office.

“The State Attorney’s Office said it had received the Kodrič vs. Slovenia application from the EHCR two weeks ago, but could not reveal any other details.

“However, the STA has learnt from a source speaking unofficially that the ECHR has proposed that Slovenia reach a damages settlement with the plaintiff.” (Slovenia Times)

REGIONAL TOURISM PROMOTION AGREED: “Tourism ministers and the other representatives of six Western Balkan countries backed the Tirana Declaration at a regional conference in Albania’s capital on Thursday, marking the completion of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) project for the development and promotion of the European Union-funded tourism.

“The Tirana Declaration to Assist the Recovery and Growth of Sustainable Tourism in the Region envisions positioning tourism as a key strategic sector for regional economic recovery and sustainable development, coordinating the opening and continuation of the tourism and travel industry supply chain, and enabling safe and unhindered travel, the RCC said in a statement.” (N1)

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