WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • France continues to block Albania and N. Macedonia’s accession talk aspirations citing the need for EU reforms on enlargement. Also a hot topic at the General Affairs Council (GAC) is the topic of decoupling Albania from N. Macedonia. Not all hope is lost, though, as the GAC referred the issue back to the European Council.
  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev is still optimistic to get a date and noted, “French President Emmanuel Macron will like to elaborate the new methodology. It doesn’t involve us, the hopefuls, it’s about a reform of the EU that has to do with us, the countries wanting to join. I believe the decision will be made by the European Council, by the leaders of the EU countries.”
  • President Stevo Pendarovski added, “We are not hoping for a signal, but we expect a decision to be made. During the last year and a half, we delivered everything that was asked of us. We even changed the country’s name after the historic agreement with Greece. No other candidate country has done that before. If the EU says that the process is based upon performances, then we expect no more or less that to be measured by what we have achieved. My message is: Give us a chance to show that we are ready.”
  • The Macedonian-Bulgarian Commission met for an eighth time to discuss the origins of Goce Delchev. Bulgaria supports opening N. Macedonia’s EU accession talks, but has a list of demands before it would approve it as a full member.
  • But Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic,says that his country will be the next EU member, but realizes there are obstacles when it comes to Kosovo. He said, “Everyone expects Serbia to recognise Kosovo’s independence, but what is offered to Serbia? Once, it may be an EU member. But what’s the real offer? I asked them ‘if we settle that, will we become a member?’ They said – ‘you are a pragmatic man, see what the circumstances are.’”
  • Meanwhile, US Special Representatives to the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer will not be attending the Belgrade Security Forum which runs from October 16-18. He will be replaced by State Department’s Director of the Office of South Central Europe Dave Kostelancik
  • Meanwhile, the calls to denounce Nobel Prize for Literature Peter Handke continue to pour in –  BiH Presidency Chariman Zeljko Komsic telling the Swedish Academy to visit Srebrenica before giving the award, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that presenting the award to Handke devalues the meaning of the Nobel Prize, and the Croatian P.E.N Society denounced bestowing the award to him. 
  • “Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman received his Egyptian colleague Sameh Hasan Shoukry in downtown Zagreb on Tuesday. Both men agreed that the two countries share excellent bilateral relations and discussed how to further strengthen economic ties. They also condemned the Turkish military attacks on northern Syria.’This operation undermines peace and stability in the region and we can expect a new wave of refugees. Croatia is witness this year to a 211% increase in illegal migrants in the area of Bosnia and Hercegovina,’ Minister Grlić Radman said.” (Voice of Croatia)
  • Kosovo officially withdraws its application to join Interpol, asking for membership to be reconsidered next year.
  • Meanwhile, Kosovo’s Infectious Clinics of the University Clinical Centre of Kosovo says there were no chemical agents used in the case of the twenty-six Central Election Commission workers who were hospitalized after ballot boxes arrived from Serbia.
  • A group of South American businesspeople from Montenegrin descent visited Podgorica and met with president Milo Djukanovic
  • Switzerland’s federal court upheld the decision not to renew the visa of a Kosovar imam after he was found guilty of physical and sexual domestic abuse. He spent nearly ten years in eastern Switzerland.
  • “The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it is considering to extend a 30 million euro ($33 million) loan for the improvement of the road network of Bosnia’s Sarajevo canton. The sovereign loan will be extended to the Bosnian government, and then on-lent through a cascade of sub-loans via the Federation entity to the Sarajevo canton, the EBRD said in a statement on Monday.” (SeeNews)
  • At an event with the Croatian and American Chambers of Commerce, the main topic was double taxation and the visa regime between the countries. The conclusion: it hampers investment in Croatia by American firms. American Ambassador Robert Kohorst said that the US was working on the issue.
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: The Hague summoned Former MP and KLA member Fadil Beka, who served as a surgeon in field hospitals, Fatmir SopiSejdi Veseli, and two others have been summoned for questioning.
  • CRIME: Bosnia and Herzegovina seeks the extradition of a Missouri man, Adem Kostjerevac,  wanted on suspicion of war crimes. 
  • MIGRANTS: Nine Macedonians, including two police officers, were arrested for operating a large-scale migrant smuggling ring. The mayor of Bihac, Suhret Fazlic, says that his city needs help from the EU because there are 6,000 migrants in it and is getting out of control.
  • GREEN FEVER: Sio1 reports that every other 17-year-old in Slovenia has has tried cannabis, according to a study by the National Institute of Public Health.

BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • EURO 2020 RESULTS: Greece tops Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-1 after an own goal in the 88th minute.
  • SPORT: Bulgaria’s football chief resigned after racist abuse and Nazi salutes during their match against England. The game was stopped twice before halftime and a group of fans were thrown out of the stadium over the incidents.