WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • A flet Shqip? The bill on the Law on Languages has officially become law meaning Albanian is an official language of Macedonia. RFE/RL writes: “The legislation was published on January 15 after being signed by parliament speaker Talat Xhaferi, an ethnic Albanian. Xhaferi bypassed President Gjorge Ivanov, who had been legally obliged to sign off on the text after parliament approved it twice in separate sessions last year.”
  • The first round of Macedonian Presidential elections are set for April 21. The second round will be May 5. 
  • US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Voice of America Macedonian Language: “This (Prespa passing Parliament) is great news. I was in Macedonia and Greece in September, before the referendum. This is another one of those treaties that solve a problem that has dragged on for years, as was the case with Kosovo and MontenegroRussia offers nothing but instability and perhaps oil and gas, but we can get them elsewhere. NATO membership will be a good thing for Macedonia, “
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Serbian new outlet Politika which you can read here. He will give one to another government backed website, Vecernje Novosti, this week.
  • Serbs are preparing for Putin’s visit by naming churches after him.
  • Bosnia in NATO: Bosnian Serb Presidency Member Milorad Dodik objects to linking EU and NATO asenccy. He says: “I do respect that but I also don’t obstruct any activity related to the EU road. Linking it to the NATO road goes at the detriment of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU road,” US President Donald Trump is very skeptical of NATO and threatens to pull out of the defense alliance.
  • Kosovo Dialogue: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says that dialogue will continue once tariffs are lifted. 
  • Kosovo Leaders descended upon the village of Recak/Racak to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the massacre which led to the NATO intervention. 
  • Happy International Recognition Day Croatia! Voice of Croatia writes: “January 15th is celebrated in Croatia as the day on which it was internationally recognized as an independent country. However, the process of gaining international recognition was a lengthy one. Between June 26th and December 14th Slovenia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Latvia all recognized Croatia as an independent state, however, at the time they were also seeking international recognition following the demise of the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The first internationally recognized country to recognize Croatian independence was Iceland on December 19th.”
  • Where is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic? The President of Croatia is in Canada and met with Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada Geoff Regan
  • Albanian Prime Minister Ali Rama encourages a “fluid border” between Kosovo and Albania
  • Slovenian President Borut Pahor has nominated a special education expert for Ombudsman of Slovenia. 

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • How much did the BiH Presidency spend on cars? Find out here.
  • Air France will operate Split-Paris flights for the summer season from July 16 until September 1. Air France already flies to Zagreb and Dubrovnik. 
  • “The Game of Thrones effect – how the TV series has been a blessing and a curse for tourism,” in The Telegraph by Oliver Smith: “Few television series have had such a profound impact on tourism as HBO’s fantasy epic Game of Thrones. Since the show first aired in 2011 each of its key filming locations – such as Iceland, Northern Ireland and Croatia – have witnessed a sharp rise in arrivals, with the ‘Game of Thrones effect’ said to be directly responsible. Tourism bosses are no doubt delighted, but there’s a negative side to the trend. Dubrovnik, for example, better known to Game of Thrones fans as King’s Landing, has become an ‘overtourism’ battleground, with locals complaining that their home has been turned into ‘Disneyland.’ ‘Fifteen years ago I was begging people to come to Dubrovnik,’ a tour guide told Telegraph…”
  • Speaking of Tourism, the Sarajevo Times cites The Telegraph on why you should visit Mostar: “In the past years, the Balkans has become an attractive destination and fans of sun and culture mostly visit Croatia. But only a few hours from the crowded Dubrovnik is Mostar, famous for its Old Bridge. In this city with many Eastern shops, visitors can see brave dives from the bridge, which is a tradition of this area.” Read more here.
  • Montenegro-born Orthodox Priest Milan Radulovic translated the Quran into Ukrainian. The Toronto-based priest told N1, “The message is that those who love Islam should love it even more and for non-Muslims to make friends with Muslims. My goal was to bring Christians and Muslims closer together, to love each other, to make the faiths into something that binds us, not something that divides us.”
  • Delayed: The Institute of Marine Biology will delay the opening of its aquarium to June 2020. It was supposed to open in June 2019.