WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
U.S. URGES CROATIA ON F-16s: The U.S. Embassy in Croatia released a factsheet highlighting the benefits of the U.S. F-16 fighter jet it dubs as “the world’s most successful, combat-proven multi-role fighter” and it “continues to serve as the backbone of NATO and allied coalition defense missions.”U.S. AMB TO BiH – BE AGENTS OF CHANGE: U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Eric Nelson encouraged Bosnian citizens to be agents of change in the country.

  • He wrote, “The United States Government has long supported the citizens of BiH in their efforts to build a better future. We remain a true friend, committed to ensuring this support is effective and results driven – but the final achievement depends on the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • “The ultimate purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for assistance. We look forward to the day when BiH has moved beyond dependence on assistance to self-reliance. On October first, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released the third iteration of the Journey to Self-Reliance Country Roadmaps on its https://selfreliance.usaid.gov public portal. USAID defines self-reliance as the capacity to plan, finance, and implement solutions to local development challenges, as well as the commitment to see these through effectively, inclusively and with accountability. Simply put, self-reliance means BiH managing its own challenges without guidance and financial assistance from the international community.”

SPEAKER OF SERBIA’S PARLIAMENT: Serbia’s Parliament have selected former FM Ivica Dacic as the next Speaker of Parliament.

LAVROV TRIP CONFIRMED: Speaker of the Russian MFA Maria Zakharova confirmed FM Sergey Lavrov will be in Serbia on October 27-28 to meet with President Aleksandar Vucic and “attend the ceremonies marking the completion of the interior of the Church of St Sava and the lighting of the eternal flame at the Cemetery of #Belgrade Liberators.”  On the 28th, Lavrov will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina for “discussions on the further development of bilateral political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation.”

  • It appears the stop in Croatia has been nixed – there were discussions he would stop in Zagreb on this trip, but it failed to materialize.
  • There is still no confirmation that Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the completion of the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

ZAEV LOOKS FOR SOLUTION: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev said his country will do everything in its power to come to a solution with Bulgaria to open negotiations for EU accession. Zaev yesterday spoke via video with EU Special Representative to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue about holding the intergovernmental conference “without delay.”

SERBIA + FRANCE: Serbian and French anti-terrorist units of their respective police departments held joint exercises yesterday.

BiH INTELLIGENCE CHIEF CHARGED: “Bosnian prosecutors have charged the country’s secret service chief with abuse of power for allegedly using agency resources to spy on a man who filed a criminal complaint against him.The prosecutors’ office said in a statement Thursday that Intelligence Security Agency head Osman Mehmedagic, together with the agency’s Cyber Security director Muhamed Pekic, allegedly sought to obtain information and photographs concerning the man.” (AP News)

CROATIAN EU FUNDS: Croatia is set to receive 490 million euros from the EU’s SURE instrument to fight unemployment. This brings Croatia’s total of funds appropriated to over 1 billion euros.

SLOVENIA TO TACKLE CORRUPTION: “(Slovenian) MPs have passed changes to the integrity and prevention of corruption act which the government argues strengthen the preventive and supervisory role of the anti-graft commission. They also aim at clearly delineating the powers in prosecution of corruption between the commission on the one hand and the police and prosecution on the other.

Arguing in favour of the changes, Justice Minister Julijana Kozlovič told the National Assembly on Wednesday that they stipulated more clearly that the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) issued opinions in principle and findings about a specific case, while it reports suspicions of criminal acts of corruption to the relevant authorities.” (Slovenia Times)

SERBIAN POLICE THWART POTENTIAL ATTACK: Serbian Police thwarted tense protests against the Serbian-Albanian cultural festival dubbed Miredita, Dobar dan. The festival has happened since 2014 and has been subject to constant protests and attacks from right-wing protesters.

IN OTHER NEWS
OP-ED: “‘Serb-Hating Bieberhausen’: What the Slurs Say about Serbia’s Ruling Party” by Florian Bieber in Balkan InsightANALYSIS: “Marcos and Soldado: Colombian Shootout Sheds Light on Balkan Drug Ties” by Charles Dickinson in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “From Macedonia to America: Civics lessons from the former Yugoslavia” by Beth Daley in The Conversation

CULTURE: “Read which Food you have to try while in Trebinje” in Sarajevo Times

SPORT: “For Kosovo’s Judo Stars, Medals Must Wait” by Leart Hoxha in Balkan Insight

ENTERTAINMENT: “Kosovo Albanian Actor’s Spirit Lives on at Belgrade Festival” by Milica Stojanovic in Balkan Insight

TRAVEL: “When We Travel Again: 4 Things To Do In Split, Croatia” in Femina Travel