WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Hundreds mourned on the 14th anniversary of the death of pacifist Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova. He called for nonviolent resistance throughout the wars in the 1990s during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is “fed up of being lectured” on his country’s relationship with Russia and China. He said in an interview with Euronews,  “To tell you the truth, I’m fed up of being lectured and told by all the others about our co-operation with China, Russia, and then I see all the others meeting Xi Jinping and Putin even more often than I do. Do your job. You are sovereign states. Serbia is a sovereign state. We do everything that is for the best for our people and for our country.” He added, “It means that we need to wait for a decision and a conclusion from the European Union, whether they want to see Serbia as a part of European Union or not,” when speaking about Serbia’s slow EU accession process as a result of the Kosovo-Serbia relationship.
  • Speaking of China, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic met with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jin on Tuesday. Djukanovic noted that Montenegro looks to increase bilateral cooperation and joint projects in the 17+1 and One Belt One Road initiatives. Ambassador Jin brought a note from General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping inviting Djuknaovic to attend the 17+1 meeting in Beijing.
  • Kosovo outlet Gazeta Express published an unconfirmed copy of the aviation letter of intent to restore flights between Belgrade and Pristina. The agreement said, “Arrangements on the Freedom of Movement and IBM (Integrated Border Management) Agreement reached within the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue shall apply to the passengers, mail and cargo carried on this air route,” ensuring that Kosovars will be able to use IDs to travel.
  • The agreement aims to revoke taxes – “The Civil Aviation Authority in Kosovo and the Airport of Pristina confirm that the operation to/from Belgrade/Pristina and vice versa shall operate without further additional taxes, fees, and charges for a service on BPSAR (Belgrade-Pristina special air route). In any case, fees, tax and charges shall not be discriminating.”
  • Meanwhile, Kosovo’s outgoing Infrastructure Minister Pale Lekaj says this aviation deal will force Serbia to recognize Kosovo passports and this is another step closer to a final deal with Serbia.
  • Members of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which is led by President Aleksandar Vucic, proposes a law to reduce the election threshold from 5% to 3%.
  • “At the start of Croatia’s presidency of the EU, Serbia has submitted to the European Commission one more negotiating position, on policy area No. 27 – Environment and Climate Change, Serbian European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic said on Tuesday. Joksimovic stressed that Belgrade now has five policy chapters ready to be opened.” (N1)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Stasa Kosarac met with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delegation led by Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia Agi Veres. During the meeting, the two delegations discussed UNDP’s cooperation with Bosnian institutions.” (Sarajevo Times)
  • Slovenia plans to increase its defense budget to 2% by 2035. It will also expand by 1,500 soldiers to 8,000 by the same year.
  • The Chinese have completed over a third of the Peljesac bridge connecting two parts of Croatia separated by Bosnia’s short coastline.
  • In other LGBT+ news in Kosovo, legislation is blurred – the Kosovo Constitution leaves room for same sex marriages, but the Law on Family defines marriage “of two persons of different sexes.” It has never been challenged in Kosovo courts because there hasn’t been a case of same-sex marriage in Kosovo, but all that could change.
  • Three Slovenians are joining the European Space Agency team.
  • Croatia’s DIV Group takes over Norweigan shipyard Kleven Verft. As new owners, DIV Group expects to implement the deal within the next few weeks.
  • Recent data has suggested that average salary in Zagreb is over $1000 more than the rest of the country.
  • Data released has Ljubljana approaching 280,000 citizens making it one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.

 

  • CLIMATE: “Serbia Government said on Tuesday that according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the concentration of the damaging particles was on an average level for this time of the year and that there was nothing to worry about, the Beta news agency reported. The Government\s statement followed the first meeting of the Working Group for Air Protection, recently formed after alarming data about the air pollution in the country.” (N1)

 

  • ENERGY: Austrian-based Strabag is taking Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine to the International Court of Arbitration in Brussels. They are seeking payments of over $22.7M over construction of the Vranduk power plant.

 

  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: Former Kosovo MP Zafir Berisha has travelled to The Hague to be questioned by the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • SPORT: Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone is says, “I definitely have interest” in working with the Serbian national basketball team.
  • TRAVEL: Part of continued expansion at Zagreb’s airport are two new business class lounges. The rapidly growing airport just released PHOTOS.