WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

CORONAVIRUS by the numbers:

  • BiH: 13,687 confirmed cases,  7,373 recovered, 394 deaths.
  • CROATIA: 5,649 confirmed cases, 4,906 recovered, 158 deaths.
  • KOSOVO: 10,419 confirmed cases, 6,058 recovered, 341 deaths.
  • N. MACEDONIA: 11,942 confirmed cases, 528 deaths.
  • MONTENEGRO: 3,696 confirmed cases, 68 deaths.
  • SERBIA: 28,262 confirmed cases, 24,743 recovered, 646 deaths.
  • SLOVENIA: 2,255 confirmed cases, 128 deaths.

U.S. WARNS SERBIA ON FK-3 PURCHASE: The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade warned Serbia after it was announced that the Defense Ministry would be purchasing FK-3 air defense missile system from China. The U.S. Embassy recognized the right for each nation to make purchases for defense, but reminded it short and long-term consequences of doing business with authoritarian regimes. Finally, the U.S. “advises Serbia to work on fuller harmonization with the Common Security and Defense Policy of the EU…The choice of suppliers should reflect Serbia’s declared goal of integrating as much as possible with Europe. There are other vendors that do not depend on authoritarian regimes, and offer equipment not only capable of meeting Serbia’s defense needs but also comparable in quality and price.”

MEDDLING IN U.S. ELECTION: United Serbia, a junior partner with President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party, encouraged Serbs in the U.S. to vote for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Party leader Dragan Markovic noted, “We all know how much harm the US administration under Clintons has done to us, and Trump’s opponent Joe Biden would surely continue with the same policy. Kosovo Albanians obstruct the dialogue (on the normalisation of relations) with Belgrade, waiting for change at the White House.” HE concluded, “By helping Trump, you help Serbia.”

GERMANY’S EU PRESIDENCY + BALKANS: Director for the Western Balkans at the German Foreign Office Susanne Schütz told BIRN she looks for “renewed momentum” for EU integration and aims to “hold the first intergovernmental conference with North Macedonia and, if conditions are met, also with Albania during our Council Presidency.” Schütz urged judicial reforms in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, she noted, “A comprehensive agreement that allows for the realization of the EU perspective is in the interest of both Kosovo and Serbia, as well as the region as a whole. This agreement should also bring greater stability to the region. As is well known, we do not believe that new borders or land swaps would contribute to such a sustainable solution.” Read the extensive interview that touches on much more in the region here.

KOSOVO + NATO: Kosovo Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani on Monday met with NATO KFOR Commander General Michele Risi. They discussed the KFOR mission, Covid-19 response, and the NATO exercise with Serbian Gendarmerie in Kosovo.

ELECTIONS IN N. MACEDONIA: The leader of the SDSM Zoran Zaev met with DUI’s Ali Ahmeti on Monday, but no agreement to form a government was reached by the two sides.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS MEET: The new opposition group in Serbia, the United Opposition of Serbia (UoS), gathered on Monday to announce the transformation from the Alliance of Serbia. The UoS consists of twelve parties including a Hungarian minority party. The right wing Dveri party is not a member of the UoS. One of its leaders, Janko Veselinovic, noted “Serbia is not a free country… After false elections boycotted by the people and opposition, Serbia has become the only country in Europe without legitimate parliament and government.”

VULIN CONFIRMS ARMY + KFOR PATROL: Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin confirmed the Serbian Armed Forces conducted a joint patrol with NATO KFOR troops. He said, “The only fact is that a joint patrol of the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR and the Regional Command East – the Turkish contingent, along with two contingents from the US, conducted a joint patrol from 16.50 to 18.10 from the village of Muhovac to the village of Donje Karacevo, according to a pre-determined administrative line.” Vulin underscored the goal of the joint patrols is to include members of the Kosovo Police.

CROATIAN ENERGY SECTOR: Croatia’s President Zoran Milanovic announced Julije Domac will head the energy transition council which aims to prepare a strategic platform for Croatia’s energy sector.

LENARCIC ON LEBANON CRISIS: “European Crisis Commissioner Janez Lenarčič gave a statement in Ljubljana on Sunday about the European Commission’s efforts to help Lebanon in the aftermath of a massive explosion that devastated half of the capital of Beirut on Tuesday. He said the EU had reacted almost immediately, providing humanitarian aid and sending experts to the country.” (Slovenia Times)

GRAND MUFTI REBUKES SARAJEVO IMAM: The Office of Bosnia’s Grand Mufti rebuked a Sarajevo Imam’s statement welcoming the cancellation of Sarajevo’s Pride Parade amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. An adviser to the grand mufti said, “This is his personal position and it is not the position of the entire Islamic community.’

IRAN + BOSNIA: “Iranian Ambassador to Sarajevo Mahmoud Heidari met and held talks with the head of the state broadcasting of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday. During the meeting, Heidari submitted the first draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Media cooperation. He said that state media of the two countries have had a good collaboration in recent years and further expressed hope that both sides boost mutual ties in the near future.” (Mehr News)

TOURISM INDUSTRY: Croatia passed the 1 million visitor mark for August which is around 70% of the total number of tourists from last year. Meanwhile, Montenegro will be relying on Russian tourists to salvage the rest of the season. The country expects it will lose 90% of tourism compared to last year. Tourism comprises more than 20% of its economy.

KOSOVO DISTRIBUTES MONEY: Kosovo distributed 22 million euro in aid. 80,199 people received 170 euro on Monday and an additional 53,270 will receive the same amount today. Meanwhile, 27,572 families received 130 euro each.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Good-bye Montenegro!” by Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Aivo Orav in European Western BalkansOP-ED: “Balkan Fatalism Risks Becoming Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” by Agon Maliqi in BIRN

OP-ED: “Serbia Is Sitting at the Great-Powers Crossroads” by James Jay Carafano and Luke Coffey in The National Interest

OP-ED: “America Shouldn’t Reward Tiny Montenegro’s Giants of Duplicity” by Wes Martin in

ANALYSIS: “What Happened When Another Country Inflamed Racial Hatred Based On A Year Like 1619” by Willis J. Warner The Federalist

ANALYSIS: “Migrant flows rise on Balkan migrant route” in Info Migrants

HUMAN INTEREST: “Story about Children in besieged Sarajevo that Everyone should read” in Sarajevo Times

CULTURE: “Culinary Novelty: Dining in the Ljubljana Castle Vineyard” by Denise Rejec in Total Slovenia News

SPORT: “Slovenian cyclist Roglič wins Tour de l’Ain” in Slovenia Times