WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

LAJCAK VISITS KOSOVO, IN SERBIA TODAY: EU Special Representative to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak on Tuesday met with Kosovo’s PM Avdullah Hoti, Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani and civil society leaders as a part of a two-day official visit. He will be in Belgrade on Thursday and Friday.

  • On the Dialogue, Lajcak told Slovakia’s Pravda, “The EU is not interested in slowing down the process but it also can’t speed it up.The important thing for us is for the agreements between Belgrade and Pristina to bring them closer to the EU and for them to be based on European standards… The final document is intended to stabilize the region.”
  • He added, “Two years ago we said that there are three big challenges in the region. The Macedonia name dispute is resolved and if we could continue normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia and then we could devote our full attention to how Bosnia-Herzegovina should function.”

VARHELYI ON ON ECONOMIC INVESTMENT: EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi released a comprehensive overview of the EU’s 9 billion euros of funding for the Economic and Investment Plan “in the areas of transport, energy, green and digital transition, to create long-term growth and jobs” with the aim of creating long-term prosperity and interconnectivity in the region that will spur reforms to align the countries with EU policy and eventually join the EU.

GERMANY COMMITTED TO THE REGION: Susanne Schütz, Director for South-East Europe, Turkey and EFTA States in the German Federal Foreign Ministry said at an online conference, “Time is very important. It’s important to work together, primarily the countries of the Western Balkans. It’s important to work on establishing rule of law and the implementation of the law.” And added, “The European integration of the six countries of the Western Balkans is the priority of the European Union and Germany’s EU Presidency. The Economic Investment Plan will be a priority in the coming period.”

ON THE ASSOCIATION: Serbia has long pushed for the implementation Association of Serb Municipalities (ASM) after Kosovo agreed to form it in 2013.

  • After a joint meeting between Serbia’s new Director for the Office of Kosovo Petar Petkovic and Kosovo Serbs, a statement said, “If Pristina unilaterally decides not to fulfill the obligations signed before the EU – the obligations of Serbs arising from the Brussels dialogue will also cease to be. And the possibility of abandoning all central institutions in Pristina and abolishing all Pristina institutions in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo will be considered.”
  • Kosovo remains steadfast that it will be implemented, but must be in line with Kosovo’s Constitution. The Office of the Prime Minister told Gazeta Express, “Kosovo remains faithful to the principle that the topics on which an agreement has been reached, and which have received the support of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo thus becoming a legal and an international obligation, cannot be renegotiated or intervened in.”

KRIVOKAPIC INVITES VUCIC: Montenegrin PM Zdravko Krivokapic invited Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to visit Montenegro. He told Prva TV in Belgrade, “I want to invite Vucuc to visit Montenegro so that the two of us as politicians can find out what is upsetting our relations and find a way to resolve it.”

VUCIC MEETS RUSSIAN AMB, CHINESE POLITBURO MEMBER: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic held separate meetings Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko and Politburo member of the CPC Central Committee and the Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office Yang Jiechi.

  • Vucic and Botsan-Kharchenko discussed the meetings with Washington and Brussels, Covid-19, and joint energy projects.
  • Meanwhile, Vucic discussed joint infrastructure projects and the “sincere friendship” between the two nations.

OSCE WORRIED ABOUT BiH ELECTIONS: The Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina Kathleen Kavele told N1, “There have been many problems this year, starting with the adoption of the budget. The pandemic caused major problems. We called on the relevant institutions to resolve them. The adoption of the budget has slowed down the process.”

  • But she remained optimistic that the issues will be resolved. She said, “I think most municipalities will solve their problems, but they are struggling. Everything could have been avoided with better organization.”
  • And urged a comprehensive plan within all BiH institutions. “It’s important that all competent institutions at all levels engage and communicate, in order to solve all these problems. We will help. We have received a promise from the authorities that they will jointly solve these problems,” said Kavele.

LNG IN CROATIA: “The LNG Croatia vessel which, as a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU), will be one of the main elements of an LNG terminal in Omisalj on Krk island, sailed into Rijeka Bay on Tuesday, the LNG Croatia company said.”The vessel will dock at the Viktor Lenac shipyard in Rijeka for additional tests. The LNG Croatia arrived from a shipyard near Shanghai, where it was converted into an FSRU.

“The vessel will be put on trial at the LNG terminal in Omisalj on Krk island in early December and to commercial use as of January 1, the company’s director, Hrvoje Krhen, told Hina.” (Total Croatia News)

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Who will watch the watchmen on Europe’s borders?” by Apostolis Fotiadis in Balkan InsightHUMAN INTEREST: “Serbian pensioner can’t kick football habit” in France 24: “Serbia’s Dragisa Kosnic lives and breathes football and despite being nearly 67 years old has no plans to hang up his boots just yet. He plays week in, week out in Serbia’s official football league, which requires rigorous medical tests to check his fitness before each season. He says that he doesn’t know of any other players of his age in the same position — his teammates tend to be young enough to be his grandchildren.”

TRAVEL: “Future Travel: Drawn to the Edge in the Western Balkans” by Alex Crevar in Paste Magazine