WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • “On 15 January 2020, EUFOR Chief of Staff, Brigadier General László Szabó, and Chief Joint Military Affairs, Colonel Johann Jamnig, visited AFBiH Ass Krupa to witness progress on the upgrade of the weapons and ammunition storage facility. They received a brief on the project and current activities.” (EUFOR BiH)
  • New Desus leader Aleksandra Pivec will speak to PM Marjan Sarec to see if her party would retain the top post in the defense ministry.
  • “President-elect Zoran Milanović has decided to forgo the usual pomp and circumstance of the presidential inauguration ceremony and hold a simple swearing-in at the President’s Office on February 18. ‘There will be no sash, no ceremonial guard or watchmen. The inauguration will take place at the Office of the President with only the people who are required to be there,’ Milanović said.” (Voice of Croatia)
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Saturday that he signed off on Vetvendosje’s Albin Kurti to become the next PM of Kosovo. Kurti has been delaying appointing a PM designate and hasn’t been able to form a coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo over positions in government.
  • Meanwhile, the Russian MFA called Kurti’s party “radical” and “nationalist.” In addition, it blamed Kosovo’s side for not being constructive in returning to the negotiating table, warned of the dangers of creating a Kosovo Army, urged the Specialist Chambers to “start the real work” against ex-KLA members, and said Camp Bondsteel has turned into an American facility.
  • Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic says his country debated the religious law for four year and will not revoke it. Nevertheless, he indicated that his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, has an open invite to Montenegro.
  • Meanwhile, Montenegro’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic received EU and NATO Ambassadors to brief them on the law on religious freedoms and the necessity to prevent hybrid attacks and disinformation.
  • Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic says that his party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), has not gone too far to the left under his leadership.
  • Interim PM of N. Macedonia Olivier Spasovski met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Badzdnikin. A government press release said, “At the meeting, Spasovski gave the ambassador a letter addressed to the newly elected Prime Minister of the Russian federation, Mihail Mashustin. Spasovski expressed assurance that both governments will continue to cooperate for further promotion of the relations and the deepening of the collaboration between Macedonia and Russia, in all areas of mutual interest.”
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with MFA Ivica Dacic to discuss successes of the government up to now and the upcoming elections. Vucic leads the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) while Dacic is the head of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik met with Serbia’s Vucic on Friday. The two discussed a potential “Dayton 2” but were pessimistic. Dodik noted, “Many dare speak of the Dayton Peace Agreement. For us, Serbia is the guarantee of the Dayton Accords, but the international community has removed Serbia from its important ad-hoc body in charge of implementing the Dayton Accords which is also not part of that Agreement – the Peace Implementation Council.”
  • He added, “All the requests to discuss the Dayton Accords will lead to RS leaving Bosnia and its constitutional framework. Those thinking they can implement their political concepts as Bosniak Muslims do through the Dayton 2 must know that any such talk will mean the death penalty for Bosnia and leave us with no reason for staying in Bosnia.”
  • Vucic said at a joint press conference with Dodik, “We want the Republika Srpska (RS) to be within the framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we want full respect of the Dayton Peace Agreement and any breaking or amendment of the Dayton Accords must have the approval of the Serb people and the RS. There will be no change to the Dayton Agreement without the Serb approval.”
  • But High Representative Valentin Inzko says the Dayton Accords will be amended citing the ethnic divisions in the electorate and minority rights. He noted, “But not just the minorities like Mr Sejdic and Mr Finci, but also the people who were born in the wrong part of the country. Why can’t Serbs from Sarajevo run for these positions, or Bosniaks from Banja Luka? This needs to be amended and this would be a change of the Dayton Agreement. But, as I said, there were many attempts and none was successful.”
  • Albanian President Ilir Meta was on Friday in Kosovo where he called for the two states to stand together.
  • Presidents Borut Pahor, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Aleksandar Vučić, Željko Komšić, Stevo Pendarovski and Milo Đukanović are traveling to Jerusalem as guests of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. They are taking part in the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz. The theme for the international gathering is “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism.” They will join Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
  • Croatian FM Gordan Grlic Radman met with Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria on Thursday to discuss Croatia’s potential accession to the intergovernmental economic organization.
  • Serbs in Belgrade protested on Saturday the two year anniversary of the assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic. The protests were are a part of the 1 in 5 million protests which have been held 59 consecutive weeks.
  • “Today (January 16) marks the two-year anniversary of the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic. The assassination of one of the most prominent Kosovo Serb political representatives in January 2018 greatly disturbed the Kosovo Serb community, while today a memorial in his honor serves as a cause for division.Two commemorations on the occasion of the murder of Oliver Ivanovic will be held today in front of the GI SDP party premises in North Mitrovica. The first commemoration, held by the GI SDP, will take place at 10 a.m. The invitation for this commemoration arrived from the civic initiative led by Ksenija Bozovic, Ivanovic’s longtime colleague and friend. Late last year, Bozovic made the decision to join the Srpska Lista candidate list for the parliamentary elections – the party which led the discrediting media campaign against Ivanovic for months prior to the murder.” (KosSev)
  • Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia-Herzegovina Nebojsa Radmanovic spoke in Sarajevo with a delegation of scientists from the Russian Federation who are staying in BiH on the occasion of the exhibition entitled ‘The Road to Victory: Historical Sources Testify’. This is an exhibition that will open tonight at the Novi Temple Gallery in Sarajevo, to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism.” (Sarajevo Times)
  • “Bosnia’s council of ministers should as soon as possible adopt the country’s 2020 budget in order to facilitate the continuation of the existing arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and clear the way for a new deal with the international lender, the council said. The council’s statement was issued on Thursday, following a meeting between Bosnian prime minister Zoran Tegeltija and the IMF resident representative to Bosnia, Andrew Jewell.” (SEE News)
  • “The EBRD has achieved an historic record in Serbia in 2019 with €516 million of new financial commitments, lifting the Bank’s results to a new level, especially in the private sector and the green economy. In total, the EBRD signed more than 20 new projects and registered the highest investment volume in the country since Serbia joined the EBRD in 2001.” (EBRD)
  • The Bank of Slovenia released 2019 data and the economic outlook is a mixed bag.
  • Bosnian courts confirmed the indictment former Minister of Security Dragan Mektic for abuse of power.
  • Kosovo Specialist Chambers judge Andres Parmas was appointed as Prosecutor General of Estonia. His five-year mandate begins of February 3rd.
  • “A murder case stemming from the Bosnian War should be heard in a Croatian court, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday. The case, which was dismissed by the Strasbourg-based court, was brought by the surviving members of the Kušić family in an effort to get justice for two of their relatives who were killed  in 1992.” (Courthouse News Service)
  • The son of the mayor of Ljubljana, Slovenia has been fined in a tax fraud scheme.
  • The Bosnian Cultural Center in Gracanica (BiH) will open the Memorial Room 1992-1995 as . a an exhibit in its Gracanica Native Museum Collection.

 

  • Slovenia names NBA star Luka Doncic as an ambassador of tourism for Slovenia.
  • Belgrade is hosting Chinese Documentary Film week from January 17-24.
  • “The Serbian government and Embassy of China have organized a Chinese New Year fair which was opened at Belgrade’s Kalemegdan fortress by Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Minister Rasim Ljajic and Ambassador Chen Bo.” (N1)
  • “Bosnia and Herzegovina has obliged it will not occupy the Moon or any other planet, according to a treaty that was ratified on Thursday at the Parliament’s session, Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported. Although it passed the parliament, the MPs were rather unaware of what the document actually meant. The document that was endorsed is called the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, or simply – the Moon Treaty,” (N1)
  •  CLIMATE: Hundreds protested on Friday in Belgrade against the severe air pollution. Protests took place earlier in the week in Tuzla, Bosnia. Serbian PM Ana Brnabic announced the creation of a 27 person working group to combat the pollution.

 

  • ENERGY: Year end data on Bosnian energy consumption (and production) was released. Bosnia will be leasing blocks for oil exploration and production. Bosnia has ambitious plans in Posusje to build a wind farm with production of over 28MW. The private investment could total over $35M.

 

  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: Kosovo Security Forces Officer Xhevahir Geci has been summoned to The Hague for questioning. In addition to Geci, MP Elmi Recica of President Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) has been summoned for questioning..

 

IN OTHER NEWS…

  • SPORT: Denver Nuggets Coach Mike Malone denies he is joining the Serbian National Basketball Team at the end of the NBA Season. He said the information is “not accurate.”
  • SPORT: Slovenian national team striker Robert Beric has joined Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire from France’s Saint Etienne. The Fire lost German superstar Bastian Schweinsteiger and Serbia’s Nemanja Nikolic in the offseason.