WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • President Stevo Pendarovski called for greater reforms in an address to the nation: “We have to confirm our orientation to which there is no other sustainable alternative. If we want the good, the only correct approach to these new circumstances is to be even more persistent in the transformation of the country. let’s apply the system of values. The reforms in many areas especially the legal state aspects have to continue without any calculations. European standards have to become domestic standards. Otherwise, we will not need only formal reforms.”
  • It is widely believed that France’s Emmanuel Macron was the sole reason for N. Macedonia to fail to open the talks. There was more apprehension to opening talks with Albania and failed to come to an agreement to decouple the two hopefuls.
  • Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic commented “The new, revised enlargement methodology suggested primarily by France will bring the negotiations being conducted by Serbia and Montenegro into a different position and also perhaps those conducted by North Macedonia and Albania, and we can only imagine what will happen with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. This should be discussed, but changing rules along the way isn’t good.”
  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was in Belgrade on an official visit to commemorate the liberation of Belgrade in World War II. Medvedev met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, and Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency of BiH Milorad Dodik. He addressed the Serbian parliament and gave an extensive interview to Vecernje Novosti that focused on historical revisionism, the need for greater cooperation between small and medium businesses, and the role of the US and NATO in the region.
  • In his address to Serbian parliament, he said he expected Brnabic to sign a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union when she visits on October 25. 
  • Balkan leaders descended on Washington DC for the World Bank and IMF meetings. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdic met with Congresswomen Ann Wagner (R-MO,2) and Eddie Bernice-Johnson (D-TX, 30), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and representatives of the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Meanwhile, LDK prime-minister candidate in Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, met with National Security Council (NSC) Deputy Senior Director for Europe John Erath, US Special Representative to the Western Balkans and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Matthew Palmer,State Department Director for South and Central Europe David Kostelancik, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.Congressmen Dean Phillips (D-MN, 3) Eliot Engel (D-NY,16)Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI),and representatives of the Atlantic Council.
  • The US could ratify N. Macedonia’s NATO protocol this week after it passed cloture on Friday.
  • After weeks of tension, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced a 6% to 8% salary increase for public sector employees starting in 2020. He also predicted a nearly balanced budget.
  • Protests rocked Croatia on Saturday after seven youth were released after gang raping and blackmailing an underage girl over the span of a year in Zadar.
  • Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic said, “for me, Kosovo is a part of the Republic of Serbia, but unlike the others, I won’t lie to the people, to tell them that everything is ours… I tell people – not everything is ours, but neither is theirs.”
  • Kosovo’s Albin Kurti said on Friday that Serbian institutions need to be removed from the north of Kosovo. He noted, “We have to be institutionally present in the north of Kosovo, serving the entire population whether Serbs or Albanians. Kosovo institutions will also be present in in majority-Serb municipalities south of the Ibar river. Their presence there is not a problem, Serbia’s presence is.”
  • Nearly half of Serbians believe Vucic will recognize Kosovo’s independence, according to a Center for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiatives that asked 1,100 people.
  • Vucic also wrote a note on Friday to EU Spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic to publicly explain who is responsible for the ballot boxes from Serbia that had over twenty Kosovo Central Election Committee employees in the hospital.
  • Bosnian presidency members Zeljko Komsic and Milorad Dodik sent letters to the Swedish academy on the topic of awarding Peter Handke the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sent a day apart, Komsic criticized awarding the prize to a “Srebrenica genocide denier” while Dodik praised the decision to award Handke the prestigious honor. 
  • She said what?! UK Tabloid reports on First Lady Melania Trump’s comments on Slovenia.
  • Speaking of Slovenia, President Borut Pahor has been invited by King Harald of Norway on a State Visit. The visit will begin on November 6th. The Norwegian Royals were on a state visit in Slovenia in 2011.
  • But first he will attend the Emporer Naruhito’s enthronement in Japan tomorrow. He will meet with counterpart Shinzo Abe on Wednesday. 
  • President of Montenegro Milo Đukanović received Archil Talakvadze, the speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, who is visiting Montenegro. President Đukanović welcomed the visit by the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, who continued the practice of continuous political communication between the two countries, which contributes to the strengthening of relations and the achievement of common goals. In addition to congratulations on his recent election at the position of the Parliament Speaker and the election of a new government, the President said that his visit to Tbilisi at the invitation of the President of Georgia, as well as the opening of consulates in Tbilisi and Bar, headed by honorary consuls, would be an incentive.” (Total-Montenegro-News)
  • Croatia passed a law making it easier for diaspora to gain citizenship. 
  • Bumpy roads ahead – Slovenian Members of European Parliament penned an open letter opposing Croatia’s bid to join the Schengen Zone. The six parliamentarians are members of the European People’s Party.
  • Chinese media is reporting that investment in BiH is around $1.48 million. 
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: Former MP Nuredin Ibishi-Leka has been summonsed to The Hague. After interviewing 100 suspects and nearly 800 witnesses, the first indictments are expected in the coming weeks.

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