WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

STOLTENBERG + MONTENEGRO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO would supply Montenegro with Covid aid. Stoltenberg encouraged Montenegro and all NATO members to continue military exercises.

HYSENI, HOTI ON THE DIALOGUE:

  • Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti announced a return to reciprocity if there is no agreement. He told Parliament, “This dialogue is a matter of months; I have no doubts. I do not know if it will end with mutual recognition. However, I would like it to end with recognition. I know that it will end in a few months and we will either bring a mutual recognition agreement at this Assembly, or we will conclude together with the partners that this agreement cannot be reached. I guarantee you that we will apply full reciprocity in every aspect with Serbia.”
  • Kosovo State Coordinator for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Skender Hyseni yesterday said that no agreement will be implemented without mutual recognition.
  • He said, “It is not known what the final Kosovo-Serbia agreement will containAs for the implementation of any element of the agreement, they will start implementing after the mutual recognition agreement is signed.”
UNMIK ON THE DIALOGUE: The UN Security Council met to discuss the six month report of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “I urge political leaders to ensure an inclusive approach through greater participation of key players, especially women and youth, in counseling and decision-making processes as well as the inclusion of gender and youth perspectives in implementing agreements that affect the lives of the population.”
RUSSIAN DEF. MINISTRY IN SERBIA?: Serbia and Russia are looking into the legality of the Russian Defense Ministry opening and office in Belgrade.
  • Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin yesterday attended the live exercises of a Chinese made drone
  • He said, “This is the first time that we had live fire with a laser guided missile at the Nikinci grounds and it was successful. The Army of Serbia has acquired another capability. We are keeping up with the best, the latests and the 353rd Recon Squadron got an important piece of equipment as did our Air Force and AA Defense Every Dinar invested in technology, modernization and the purchase of combat equipment is well invested into something that protects the lives of our soldiers”
  • Meanwhile, “Serbia’s Vucic and Russian Medvedev on Moscow-Belgrade relations, coronavirus pandemic Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and deputy leader of the Russian Security Council Dimitry Medvedev discussed on Wednesday the relationship between the two countries and the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” (N1)

SHEKERINSKA ON IDENTITY, LANGUAGE: Defense Minister of N. Macedonia Radmila Shekerinska responded to statements by Bulgaria’s Deputy PM Karakachanov who said Bulgarian troops would enter N. Macedonia to remove plaques that say Bulgaria was a fascist occupier during World War II.

  • She said, “Gone are the days when defense ministers from our region could make such statements and someone considered them serious. Bulgaria is a member of NATO and we are a member of NATO and this is not the way members of the Alliance communicate or should communicate.”
  • And added, “The Macedonian language and the Macedonian people are a reality and no political negotiations and quarrels will change that reality.”

CROATIA + N. MACEDONIA: FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani met with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic and counterpart Gordan Grlic-Radman to discuss N. Macedonia’s EU accession.

SERBIAN GOV’T FORMATION: “Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says the country’s new government will remain in power until new elections are held in less than two years.Vucic heads the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which dominates parliament following general elections in June that were boycotted by Serbia’s main opposition parties.

He told a news conference after meeting the SNS leadership in Belgrade on October 20 that the new government will be led by Ana Brnabic, the prime minister of the previous cabinet.” (RFE/RL)

ANTI-CORRUPTION TASK FORCE DISBANDED: Kosovo Police disbanded the Anti-Corruption Task Force which operated for ten years. The government says it is the result of a “separation of powers.” Meanwhile, EULEX recommended “to strengthen the Kosovo Police Anti-Corruption Task Force as a key player in the area of anti-corruption detection and investigations” in its latest report.

TWO MILLION GONE: Around two million euro was stolen from the Kosovo Treasury Office. One person was arrested while two others are wanted.

CROATIAN POLICE ACCUSED AGAIN: “People on the Balkans migrant trail have allegedly been whipped, robbed and, in one case, sexually abused by members of the Croatian police.The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has documented a series of brutal pushbacks on the Bosnia-Croatian border involving dozens of asylum seekers between 12 and 16 October.The Guardian has obtained photographs and medical reports that support the accounts, described by aid workers as ‘sickening’ and ‘shocking’.

‘The testimonies collected from victims of pushbacks are horrifying,’’ said Charlotte Slente, DRC secretary general. “More than 75 persons in one week have all independently reported inhumane treatment, savage beatings and even sexual abuse.’'” (The Guardian)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “A Recipe For The War” by Zlatko Hadzidedic in Modern Diplomacy

OP-ED: “EU-Western Balkans: Time is of the essence” in EU Reporter

OP-ED: “Time for Europe to rethink the Trans-Balkan pipeline” by Sergey Makagon in Atlantic Council

ANALYSIS: “How the Bosnian Serb Assembly Redefined Bosniaks as Enemy ‘Turks’” by Emir Suljagic in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “Joe Biden Woos America’s Bosnian, Albanian Voters Before Polls” by Xhorxhina Bami in Balkan Insight

ENVIRONMENT: “The biggest Solar Park in the Balkans to be built in Trebinje” in The Sarajevo Times

HUMAN INTEREST: “As Balkan Bump, Bay Area trumpeter Will Magid turbocharges his sound” by Andrew Gilbert in The San Francisco Chronicle

CULTURE: “Serbian-Style Stuffed Red Bell Peppers” in The Daily Meal

TRAVEL: “From Vomit Village to Butt Sweat, Slovenia Has a Number of Interesting Places Names” in Total Slovenia Times