WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Wyoming Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) recently visited Wyoming National Guard troops in the UAE, Kuwait, and Kosovo. He returned from a Congressional Delegation trip to Montenegro and Croatia led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Cindy McCain in early September.
  • KOSOVO ELECTIONS: Despite the Quint embassies statement that they were neutral in Sundays parliamentary elections, it appears not everyone in Washington got the memo. Former US Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker addressed a rally for Kadri Veseli who seeks to become Kosovo’s new prime minister representing the PDK party in Sunday’s election. Yesterday, a banner with a photo of Veseli and US President Donald Trump from the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast appeared in Pristina.

  • KOSOVO ELECTIONS: Outgoing Kosovo Foreign Minister and representative of the of the AKR, NISMA and Justice Party coalition Behgjet Pacolli on revoking the 100% tariff: “I repeat, that the election winner, that the future prime minister who says he will not abolish the taxes – is lying. I can say, in the most humane way: It is a lie. I do not include Haradinaj in this, because I know that he is stubborn and when he fixates on something, you cannot change his mind. He doesn’t change his position.” He also accused outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj of lying about having US Embassy support for the taxes. Hoxhaj responded by accusing Pacolli of allowing Serbia and Russia to continue its campaign to revoke Kosovo’s recognition.
  • Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic officially announces her bid for a second term. She noted that “The Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina will remain a special issue for me”
  • Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic welcomed a group of Czech Parliamentarians led by Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondracek. Vondracek addressed his Serbian counterparts after Czech President Milos Zeman hinted that he would try to revoke reconition of Kosovo.
  • He noted. “Recognition of Kosovo in the Czech Republic was followed with many disagreements and enjoyed no big support in Czech society. The Chamber of Representatives even called the Government to withdraw and find an alternative solution, and to see the future through membership of the region into the European Union. The Parliament has not recommended the government recognition of Kosovo, but at the end the government was put under a pressure and was influenced by arguments which were not correct. Time has proven this.”  
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski welcomed Montenegrin counterpart Milo Djukanovic. Their message was clear – they both believe NATO and the EU is the only path forward and that could help jumpstart progress in other fields. Djukanovic also met Speaker of the Parliament Talat Xhaferi.
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Montenegrin capital Podgorica followed by Ohrid, N. Macedonia on October 4th. He is expected to discuss Russian influence in the region, US support for the two nations, and resolving outstanding issues in the Western Balkans.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of Presidency Milorad Dodik and Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic joined political and business leaders to mark China’s 70th. The focus was on the over 45,000 Chinese tourists who came to Bosnia – a 99% increase year on year as well as major Chinese investments in Bosnia’s electricity generation.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accuses the United States of trying to alter the Brussels Agreement which called for the creation of the Community of Serb Municipalities. He ultimately said the US was trying to “drag Kosovo into NATO” in order to keep its bases there.
  • “The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development plans to invest 72.25 million euros ($78.86 million) to help Serbia’s capital Belgrade in the cleanup of a huge landfill just outside the city and construction of a new one, the lender said on Wednesday.” (Reuters)
  • BiH GAS CRISIS: “An agreement reached after hours-long negotiations on Wednesday averted a crisis that would have left half of the country without just ahead of the heating season.The problem was not technical, but political. A gas transport company from the Serb-majority semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity within the country shut off the valves that would have left the other entity, the Federation (FBiH), which is mostly populated by Bosniaks and Croats, without gas within the next 24 hours.” (N1)


  • Bosnian Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic called for more sources of the gas supply:  “In making strategic decisions, Bosnia should be guided by its own need to provide more different sources of gas supply, which would provide the security of supply and greater competitiveness in terms of gas prices as well as benefits to end consumers.”
  • A delegation of Ukrainian Police Patrol Academy is on a trip to Croatia to exchange experiences with training police officers and education. 
  • CRIME: Kosovo Special Prosecutor Office indicted a Serb accused of “preparing terrorist or criminal acts against Kosovo’s Constitutional order and safety.” The person reportedly sent a package with a gun, six bullets, and a Serb pamphlet with the logo of the “Supreme Command of the Liberation Army of Kosovo and Metohija.”
  • “The head of the Civil Rights Defenders branch in Serbia said on Wednesday that Red Star Belgrade FC fans “attacked the Pride Info Center” in the center of Belgrade on Tuesday evening when their club played the Greek Olympiakos in a Champions League match.” (N1)
  • “Yesterday it was Brussels Airlines and Wizz Air, and today four other carriers have announced moves to fill the gaps in the market created by Adria Airways’ bankruptcy, Lufthansa CityLine, Swiss International Air Lines, Aire Servia and Montenegro Airlines.” (Total Croatia News)
  • Meanwhile, the manager of the Ljubljana Airport, Fraport, has pledged that canceled routes (due to the bankruptcy of Adria Airways) will be resolved within a year and a half. Adria owes more than $4.36 million in debt.
  • But neighboring Croatia takes a different approach – Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Marić announced an injection of approximately $14 million into Croatia Airways.
  • Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic reiterated, “We are sending a strong message to our national carrier, because it is important for Croatian tourism. We expect the company to be consolidated and financially ready to make new forward strides, while also bearing in mind its existing partnerships that are vital.” The airline is in the process of privatizing.


BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • SPORT: The older brother of Serbian basketball star Nikola Jokic was arrested in Denver after being accused of strangling a woman in his home.