WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

KOSOVO + U.S.: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti yesterday met with representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, USAID, and the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo to discuss Ujman/Gazivoda Lake.

Hoti wrote on Facebook, “Together with Deputy Prime Minister Driton Selmanaj, we met a delegation from the US State Department of Energy, headed by Mr. Mathew Zais, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, the US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett, and USAID representatives, with whom we discussed the implementation of the agreement for the normalization of economic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Serbia, signed on 4 September at the White House.”

And added, “We discussed the economic and energy needs of Kosovo, which derive from the Washington Agreement and the implementation of projects foreseen by this agreement.”

LAVROV IN THE REGION: Russian FM Sergei Lavrov’s trip to the Balkans will include stops in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia from October 27-29. The visit is currently being worked out, according to TASS.

  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik noted, “I am very delighted at Sergey Lavrov’s coming visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The leadership of Republika Srpska will be meeting with him. We will have an opportunity to receive him in Istocno (East) Sarajevo and that is very important. His visit to Istocno Sarajevo is more important to me than to Sarajevo.”
  • Dodik also called Russia “a stabilizing factor in the region.”

THREE SEAS INITIATIVE: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic and FM Gordan Grlic-Radman clashed with President Zoran Milanovic over the necessity of the Three Seas Initiative which is holding its summit this week virtually.

  • “Although the summit was a meeting of the presidents of member states, Croatia was represented by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. In his address Prime Minister Plenkovićc noted that as with other member states, Croatia had tasked its Foreign and European Affairs Ministry with coordinating activities within the Three Seas Initiative. He added that Croatia has joined its investment fund in the amount of 20 million Euros.” (Voice of Croatia)
  • FM Grlic-Radman said, “Three Seas Initiative’s contribution to the European and its values – cohesion, consolidation and prosperity – is obvious…Intergovernmental cooperation in the area of the initiative represents a natural progress of this informal platform for cooperation between EU member states and enables the implementation of practical solutions aimed at a stronger economic growth”
  • President Milanovic noted, “I’m against Croatia giving even one cent for this Initiative if we don’t see clearly how, what and when.”
  • He fears angering Moscow and Berlin. He said, “I won’t take part in isolating Russia like that. I find it stupid and harmful for Croatia. We can see how this is affecting the relations between the US, the current administration, and Germany. Germany is practically being mobbed into scrapping the Nord Stream 2 project…It’s not a match in which Croatia should participate and run afoul of both Berlin and Moscow.”

KURTI BACKS BIDEN: Leader of Kosovo’s Vetëvendosje and former PM Albin Kurti released a video urging Albanian-Americans to vote for Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election. In neighboring Serbia, political leaders including President Aleksandar Vucic and FM Ivica Dacic have said it would be better for Serbia if Donald Trump won the election on November 3.

NO EXECUTIVE POWERS FOR CSM: Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti told Klan Kosova, “There is no discussion of the CSM (Community of Serb Municipalities) as such because that has been closed by agreement. The forming and the makeup of the CSM were defined in the 2013 agreement and the one in 2015 as well as the opinion of the Constitutional Court on the 2015 agreement. We are setting up the elements for guarantees that the CSM will not have executive power.”

STANO EXPLAINS CONSTITUTION CHANGES: EU Spokesperson Peter Stano clarified that EU Special Representative to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak statement on constitutional changes had been reported as “perception or misinformation.”

VUCIC TO TAKE ON MAFIA: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic vowed to defeat the Serbian mafia in an Instagram post. He said, “We fought for better living standards, we fought for Kosovo, for a better health care system, to be able to heal people, but in the meantime some people thought that it was more profitable being part of the Mafia, killing people, kidnapping our people, sowing fear.”

BRNABIC’S GOV’T: Serbia’s PM designate Ana Brnabic announced that half of her cabinet will be made up by women and its main priority is to fight corruption. She warned foreign entities from interference – “If any foreign embassy lobbies for someone to remain in a new government their chances are proportionally less.”

POSTPONED: Chairman of the BiH Presidency postponed his official visit to Pakistan scheduled for late October due to the Covid-19 situation. It was set to be Dzaferovic’s first solo official visit.

PM PLENKOVIC SENT WHITE POWDER: An envelope of white powder was delivered to the party headquarters of PM Andrej Plenkovic on Saturday. Two men were arrested earlier in the day for threatening the PM.

KOSOVO SACKS MINISTERS: The Kosovo government on Friday confirmed it has sacked directors of the Kosovo Police andTax Administration, and acting director of the Kosovo Customs.

LOGAR IN THE BALTICS: Slovenian FM Anze Logar today is starting a three day trip to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The first stop is Tallinn.

NO PLAN B TO EU: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev told journalists, “I don’t want to talk about Plan B. We have to succeed” when asked about plans if EU accession negotiations don’t start in December.

N. MACEDONIA + BULGARIA: “A two-day meeting in Skopje of the joint history commission between neighbouring North Macedonia and Bulgaria, failed to make much progress on their disputes over the Macedonian language, jointly claimed heroes and shared history.The talks in Skopje were ‘intense’ and ‘hard’, a North Macedonia’s member of the commission, Dragi Gjorgiev, told the media on Friday evening.He said that while “some new ideas’ were put on the table over the contested ethnicity of Ottoman-era hero Goce Delcev, nothing concrete was agreed. ‘We agreed to have one more meeting by the end of this year, and to hold five more meetings next year if the conditions with COVID-19 allow it,’ Gjorgiev explained.

His Bulgarian colleague, Angel Dimitrov, said the fresh round of talks had been as “grey” as the current weather in Skopje.” (Balkan Insight)

TURKOVIC IN QATAR: Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turkovic on Sunday met with her Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Qatar to discuss bilateral relations.

SLOVENIA DECLARES EPIDEMIC: “The government officially declared a coronavirus epidemic for the entire country starting on Monday. This means the national protection and rescue plan is activated, but no additional restrictive measures have been announced.In line with the decree on a 30-day epidemic adopted based on the communicable diseases act, the same measures will apply in the country as so far.

Government spokesman Jelko Kacin told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija Sunday evening that there would be no changes for employees, students and others, except that all employers are being urged to organise work from home if possible.” (Slovenia Times)

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Alliance Attitudes: U.S. Election Pits Vocal NATO Backer Biden Against Frequent Critic Trump” by Todd Prince in RFE/RL: “A year ago, when the U.S. Senate voted its approval for North Macedonia to become the newest member of NATO, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden took to Twitter the following day to show his support for the decision.’The countries of the Western Balkans deserve to be part of a Europe whole, free and at peace and we should be supporting Euro-Atlantic integration across the region,’ he tweeted on October 23, 2019. North Macedonia officially joined in March, becoming the third nation in the Western Balkans to enter the alliance. Russia opposed its membership, a fresh blow to Moscow’s efforts to maintain influence in the region. U.S. President Donald Trump approved North Macedonia’s long-expected accession but made no fanfare about it. He made no comment about it on Twitter, his main means of communicating with the world. Nor did he tweet congratulations when Montenegro, another Western Balkan nation, joined NATO during his first year in office.”ANALYSIS: “The EU needs a step-by-step integration plan for the Western Balkans” by Nikola Djordjevic in Emerging Europe

ANALYSIS: “Under Cossack Banner, Russian Ties with Balkan Fighters Strengthened” by Mladen Obrenovic in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “‘Easy Money’: Fake Forex and Fraudulent Balkan Call Centre” by Aleksandar Djordjevic and Milorad Ivanovic in Balkan Insight

HUMAN INTEREST: “Amir Hadzic builds legacy at Mount Mercy after escaping war in Bosnia” by Josh Christensen in KCRG (Iowa)

HUMAN INTEREST: “The nexus between Bosnian sisters From Corona del Sol” by Valentina Martinez in Arizona Preps

CULTURE: “After 42 Years, Bistrik Station in Sarajevo will be Museum” in Sarajevo Times

ENTERTAINMENT: “Tito on film: Elsewhere in emerging Europe” in Emerging Europe

ENTERTAINMENT: “Why Electronic Music Has Become Popular in the Balkans” in One EDM