WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

DON’T MISS OUT: Balkan Insider is hosting the webinar 2021 Outlook for the Balkans: A Trans-Atlantic Discussion with Florian Bieber and Edward Joseph TODAY at 12:00 PM EST/ 6:00 PM CET. See below for announcement and REGISTER HERE.

PALMER ON BIDEN ADMINISTRATION: U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia and Special Representative to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer yesterday told Albanian Radio Television that he expects the Biden Administration’s approach to the region as “stable and continuous.” He added the U.S. would support the next government of Kosovo and highlighted key areas for the country to improve in including “rule of law, transparent and responsible management, support of the economic growth and the development of possibilities for foreign investors.”

SPEAKING OF THE BIDEN ADMIN…: Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic wrote an open letter to the Biden Administration in the outlet nacional.hr calling for Bosnia function as a civic state as opposed to based on national lines.

SASSOLI ON TWITTER: A day after meeting Kosovo’s Acting President and Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli wrote on Twitter, “Glad to see that Kosovo remains on the path of reform, which will lead to a more prosperous future. Fighting crime and corruption will bring you closer to the EU and improve the lives of all citizens. The EU is here to support.”

DJUKANOVIC + KRIVOKAPIC: Montenegrin media is reporting PM Zdravko Krivokapic extended an invitation to President Milo Djukanovic to meet on Friday to discuss the functioning of institutions including the Defense and Security Council. Deputy PM Dritan Abazovic and Speaker of Parliament Aleksa Becic are expected to join the meeting. President Djukanovic has refused to sign several laws introduced by Krivokapic’s government and yesterday refused to dismiss Major General Dragutin Dakic and Major General Rajko Pesic from the Defense Ministry.

SLOVENIA’S MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE: “All four MPs of the Pensioners’s Party (DeSUS), which left the government coalition in December, have contributed their signatures in support of a motion of no-confidence in the Janez Janša government, DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec said after a six-hour talk with the MPs on Tuesday. He said the motion would be filed to parliament on Friday.

“This means the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which brings together five left-leaning parties in a bid to oust the government, has 43 votes secured.

“However, 46 votes are needed in a secret ballot to vote a government out of office, or to vote in a prime minister-designate, in KUL’s case Erjavec.” (Slovenia Times)

ZAHARIEVA ON ELECTIONS/N. MACEDONIA: Bulgaria’s FM Ekaterina Zaharieva said the Government of N. Macedonia should not expect a change in attitude towards historical and language disputes after elections, warning the views towards Skopje “if something changes, it will be worse” after the elections

FASCISTS OUT!: “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s House of Representatives on Monday adopted an initiative demanding from local communities across the country change the names of streets, schools and other public areas named after Nazi and fascist officials and their aides, and replace them with those on the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ list recognised by remembrance authority Yad Vashem.

“The initiative filed by MP Damir Arnaut late November was previously endorsed by the Constitutional Legal Committee of the House of Representatives.” (N1)

PETKOVIC ON DIALOGUE: Serbia’s Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic says that Kosovo must met Serbia half-way in the negotiations “so that neither side gets or loses everything.” He also noted urged Kosovo to implement already signed agreements. He said, “We have signed 48 agreements, and Pristina has to implement them. We have done our part”

KOSOVO’S NEW CHIEF OF POLICE: Outgoing PM Avdullah Hoti announced Samedin Mehmeti as the new Chief of Kosovo Police. He had been acting director before the announcement yesterday.

BiH’S MIGRANT CRISIS:

  • Head of the Croat Republican Party (HRS) Slaven Raguz criticized the Head of the EU Office in Sarajevo Johann Sattler for calling for all sides to tackle the migrant crisis equally throughout the country. On Tuesday, Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency Milorad Dodik announced there would be no migrant camps built in the Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska.
  • A migrant was killed by an unidentified person in Zenica.
  • N1 goes deeper into the numbers of the migrant crisis, estimating between 7,000 and 9,000 migrants currently in the country.

CHINESE WORKERS PROTEST CONDITIONS: Chinese workers at the Zidjin company’s Cukaru Peki copper mine protested working conditions in Bor. They say they have not been sufficient food and water and are not allowed to leave the city of Bor in Serbia. The 50 protesters are planning on filing charges when they return to China.

VUCIC FINED: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has been fined 1,700 euros by Belgrade’s First Basic Court for calling the leader of the right-wing Dveri movement, Bosko Obradovic, a “fascist” and “thief.” in an interview in February 2019.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “How to fight disenfranchisement, Kosovo style” by Hana Marku in Prishtina Insight

OP-ED: “Serbian Strategy To Return To Kosovo” by Sadri Ramabaja in Eurasia Review

ANALYSIS: “Bishop with Attitude Threatens to Shake Up Serbian Politics” by Sasa Dragojlo in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “Kosovo in 2021: New elections Loom as Old Problems Stack up” by Perparim Isufaj in Balkan Insight

HUMAN INTEREST: “St. Louis County officer honored for his work in the Bosnian community” by Patrick Clark in Fox2 Missouri: “When he was 17, Emir Hadzic moved to the United States to escape the war in his native Bosnia.’St. Louis County Police Department assigned me to Affton for a smart reason,’says Hadzic, an officer in the department. ‘There’s a number of police officers who speak Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian assigned to the South County precinct. So, it just makes sense because we automatically have some sort of rapport with the public and we understand those cultural nuances that somebody might miss that leads to peaceful resolution of any kind of incident we’re dealing with.”Peaceful resolution is something he’s seen in his eight tours overseas. After 20 years in the military, Hadzic retired as a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant.”

CULTURE: “Varazdin’s Old Town applies for European Heritage Label in 2021” in N1

SPORT: “Croatian and Turkish football federations pledge to step up cooperation” in N1

FILM: “Dara Of Jasenovac Opens Up History Of A Concentration Camp In Croatia” by Nancy Tapia in LMR Film: “The Serbian film Dara of Jasenovac is listed in the Academy Awards submission for Best International Feature. This film exploits the Jasenovac concentration camp that has been overlooked in history. Today, it is still unknown how many lives were lost while this concentration was active.”