WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Anthony Godfrey was sworn in as US Ambassador to Serbia and is expected to arrive in country later this week.
  • NATO is opening its arms to N. Macedonia after its failed EU bid. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted on Twitter, “Good phone call with PM Zoran Zaev to reaffirm NATO’s commitment to North Macedonia’s accession. The ratification process is well on track & I look forward to North Macedonia joining our Alliance soon.”
  • The two odd men out?: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
  • Where were they?: Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Neely Kennedy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
  • Also in Washington DC, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina  Denis Zvizdic met with Deputy Director for Europe at National Security Council John Erath.
  • The European Parliament has chosen Slovak MEP Vladimir Bilcik as Serbia’s rapporteur for Europe. Bilcik will replace German MEP David McAllister
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday. Abe announced that Japan will open an embassy in Pristina. 
  • Probable Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti told The Guardian that “The EU was formed as a response to fascism, but is now running scared in the face of populists and fascism…You cannot say first we need internal reform in the EU and then external enlargement – they go hand in hand. Europe is such an important historical project that no one man can be its author, directing or leading it. We have always seen that when [the outgoing EU Commission president] Jean-Claude Juncker said there would be no further expansion in the next five years, the situation in the Balkans got much worse…Yes, the EU is important for the Balkans, but the Balkans is very important for the EU. Berlin and Paris should know this well, and it is really sad, for all of us, that they forget this. In a couple of decades, historians will write there were not two world wars, but just one world war with two episodes, and it all started in Sarajevo.”
  • Meanwhile, there are rumors that French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Albania and N. Macedonia next month.
  • Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic does not appear phased by Albania and N. Macedonia’s failure to open accession talks, and Brexit. He told the AP: “This (Brexit) is one of the difficult open questions the EU has faced in recent years…The agreement on Great Britain’s exit from the EU should not have a negative impact on the dynamics of Montenegro’s negotiations with the EU, but hopefully be a positive stimulus for it…Enlargement policy will gain in importance because of what the new European Commission announced as a policy toward the Western Balkans.”
  • French Secretary of State to the Minister of the Armed Forces Genevieve Darrieussecq is on a visit to Montenegro where she met with PM Markovic and Speaker of Parliament Ivan Brajovic. Darrieussecq reiterated French President Emmanuel Macron’s sentiment towards EU enlargement – first comes internal reform.
  • Croatian Economy Minister Darko Horvat hosted his German counterpart Peter Altmaier on Monday in Zagreb. Horvat noted, “Croatia’s readiness to create prerequisites for German investors who want to direct a segment of the automobile industry towards eastern or central Europe.”
  • The eleven Croatian MEPs penned a letter urging a positive recommendation ad to avoid the “politicization of the accession process.” Slovenian MEPs previously wrote an open letter against a positive recommendation. 
  • The Kosovo Central Election Commission (CEC) will not count 3,700 votes from Serbia because police and prosecution are still investigating the CEC workers that fell ill after handling the boxes.
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic responded by accusing Pristina of trying to repress the Serb vote at all costs.
  • Snap parliamentary elections in N. Macedonia means that a planned census will be delayed
  • ENERGY: “Gazprom plans to supply Bosnia and Herzegovina with Russian gas that will be delivered to Europe via the Turkish Stream or TurkStream natural gas pipeline. A connecting branch of TurkStream will start in 2020 to extend from Belgrade to the Republika Srpska, one of the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska Energy and Mining Minister Petar Djokic said on 7 October, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported, citing Tass.” (New Europe)
  • ENERGY: “The Government of Montenegro has adopted a bill on protection from the negative impact of climate change and sent it to parliament for approval. Montenegro is one of the first countries in the region and the first Contracting Party to the Energy Community Treaty to adopt such a document.” (Balkan Green Energy News)
  • CRIME: Two American tourists, and members of the US Air Force, were attacked at a nightclub in Zadar, Croatia. The two African-Americans were attacked because “the men had been acting gay,” according to local media.
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: The Hague questioned  Driton Lajci, director of the office on protection of Potential Indictees, on October 17 for two hours. The office works under the Ministry of Justice.
  • MIGRANTS: Police busted a migrant smuggling gang of ten people, including four Slovenians. Representatives of the police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, and Europol presented their findings in Koper, Slovenia. The Una-Sana Canton in BiH says it could be facing a migrant crisis and even asked the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to suspend the train service between Sarajevo and Bihac. But on Monday local authorities in Bihac cut off the water supply to a nearby migrant camp citing the need to reduce the population of the camp. 


BEYOND THE POLITICS

  • SPORT: The Serbian men’s national soccer team will have to play its next home game behind closed doors after being found guilty of racist behavior during Serbia’s loss to Portugal in September. A potential second game without fans has been suspended for a year.
  • SPORT: The British government gave advice for Manchester United fans traveling to Belgrade for the match vs. Partizan Belgrade.
  • HUMAN INTEREST: “Honoring Our Heroes: Angela Green” by News 12 Long Island: “The desire to make a difference has been a driving force in Angela Green’s life since she was a young girl. The Wantagh resident enlisted in the Army right after she graduated from Uniondale High School in 1985. She remained on active duty for three years and then joined the reserves.  Green was deployed three times.  Once to Bosnia with the 423rd Military Police Company, and twice to Iraq with the 310th Police Battalion. While still serving as an Army reservist, Green joined the NYPD in 2000. As a rookie cop, Green was assigned to security detail at Ground Zero, just hours after the 9/11 terrorist attack.”
  • HUMAN INTEREST: “Theater as a way of peacebuilding” by Maya Sankaran in University of Michigan Global: “To pursue their interest, Russell and Harmon co-founded Playwriting for Peace, a project that aims to bring artistic-based peacebuilding interventions into post-conflict areas. This summer, with the help of a Kathryn Davis Projects for Peace Grant, they held a five-week playwriting and theater program for youth in post-conflict Kosovo. Traveling between three different locations in the capital city of Pristina, the duo and their local partners held workshops about writing dramatic works, monologues, storytelling with personal identity, getting on the stage and learning the elements of drama with improvisation.”