WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • “Today, the United States committed an additional $5 million to clear cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Kosovo.  Set to be implemented over four years (2020-2023), this assistance is expected to return at least 4,298,442 square meters (1,060 acres) of hazardous land back to the people of Kosovo.” (US Embassy in Kosovo)
  • A hearing on the burning of the US Embassy in Belgrade in February 2008 has been postponed again. Five officers are accused of not protecting the embassy during protests against Kosovo’s independence. The new date is scheduled for November 27.
  • High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will make his first trip, if approved by the European Parliament, as the EU’s foreign policy chief to Kosovo. The current Spanish foreign minister has never been to Kosovo since his native country does not recognize its independence. 
  • Croatia is celebrating 28 years of independence from Yugoslavia today. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic noted “we have demonstrated that no goal is unreachable if we are committed to it.”
  • KOSOVO ELECTIONS: With over 98% of the vote counted, Vetvendosje’s Albin Kurti is tipped to become the next prime minister of Kosovo. He is expected to go into a coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Kurti indicated that he would not include a minister from Srpska Lista which won all ten seats reserved for Kosovo Serbs.
  • Meanwhile, Serbian Director for the Office of Kosovo Marko Djuric expects Kurti to include Srpska Lista in his government. Also in Serbia, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says that US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer told him two months ago that Washington expected opposition leaders Kurti and Isa Mustafa to prevail in the snap parliamentary elections.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Serbia for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Belgrade-Sarajevo highway as a part of a two day visit. 
  • Serbia and Turkey signed several cooperation agreements including having Turkish police officers in Serbia during the tourist season. The officers will not be armed, nor will they have the same powers as back home.
  •  Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic pledged phase one will be done in less than three years. “This is not an ordinary highway project. It is a ring that connects the entire region. We have started the preparation for [building] the ring. This project will not only connect the regional countries but also the people. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the project will take place during Erdoğan’s visit.”
  • Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency quotes Erdogan: “Serbia is a friendly country for us and a key country for peace and stability in the Balkans. We have had strong friendship ties with Serbia for centuries. We have many common words in Turkish and Serbian, we have poems and folk songs describing this beautiful geography, Balkans.”
  • BiH Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic will join Vucic and Erdogan in Belgrade for a trilateral meeting today.
  • But on Monday, BiH Presidency Chairman Komsic and Bosniak Member of the Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic welcomed United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng to Sarajevo. They concluded that the only way to know the truth about crimes is through recognition. Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik did not attend, but sent his adviser, Nina Sajic
  • Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec refuses to get into a popularity contest in domestic politics over theabolition of a special bonus for welfare recipients that are working part time.
  • Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told leaders in Skopje that he “can compare this process to the Tour de France. It is not important who is on the starting grid, there are many stages and a long road ahead, but I believe there should be no discrimination regarding the starters.”
  • Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on his first day of his official visit. They discussed a Bar-Alexandria naval line and look to form a Montenegrin-Egyptian Economic Committee in the near future.
  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, and President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic will meet in Novi Sad  to discuss removal of barriers to the free movement of goods, people and services on October 10.
  • Vucic had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He wished him a happy birthday, and is looking to set up a trip to Moscow before the end of the new year, according to Politika.
  • Leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), Menduh Thaci, said his party is against holding a census in N. Macedonia because he fears the ethnic Albanian population is under 20%. 
  • “A new coordination system to handle civil emergencies was successfully tested during an exercise in Montenegro which wrapped up with the departure of the teams on Friday (4 October 2019). The four-day event was part of a multi-year project under NATO`s Science for Peace and Security Programme.” (NATO HQ)
  • UNESCO will visit Ohrid in November and determine whether it will slide over to the World Heritage Sites in Danger. Authorities in N. Macedonia have developed a plan that would divide the region into three protective zones. 
  • “Slovenia’s public debt will fall to 58.6% of gross domestic product in 2021 from 70.4% in 2018, dropping below the EU’s target threshold of 60% for the first time since 2012, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj said on Monday.
  • Slovenia’s debt soared to above 60% of GDP during the country’s 2013 banking crisis, and bringing it back down below that line would free it from having Brussels impose any steps on it to forcibly reduce its debt.” (Reuters)
  • A Jordanian business delegation is on a week-long trip to Slovenia. The delegation attended on Monday a business conference in Ljubljana.
  • “US-based heat transfer products manufacturer Modine opened a factory in Serbia’s northern town of Sremska Mitrovic on Monday, in an investment worth over a million Euros which created 45 new jobs, the Beta news agency reported.” (N1)
  • Croatian Hrvatska Elektroprivreda, the state owned energy supplier, announced plans to build a 75 MW solar plant. It aims to increase its renewable portfolio by 50% within the decade. The proposed plant will cost upward of $70M and be on already zoned land adjacent to the Korlat Wind Farm.
  • MIGRANTS: “(BiH) Security Minister Dragan Mektić and recently appointed Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Sarajevo Johann Sattler met on Monday to discuss the burning issue of migrations and Bosnia’s cooperation with European security agencies.” (N1)

BEYOND THE POLITICS