WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

GRENELL IN MILWAUKEE: President Trump’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell attended a Serbian Orthodox Liturgy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and campaigned for Trump a dinner at the Serb Hall.

KOSOVO TO BE INVITED TO MINI-SCHENGEN: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev announced a meeting with Albanian PM Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on October 30. PM Zaev announced Kosovo would be invited to the Mini-Schengen initiative at the meeting.

  • PM Zaev noted, “In my country, it is said that we do not choose our neighbors, but they are the first to come to the rescue. Therefore, we expect Kosovo to join the regional initiative, so that its inclusive character is a priority for the region, regardless of open political issues.”
  • And added, “We expect Kosovo to join a regional cooperation initiative led by North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia. Next Friday, I will have a meeting with President Vučić and Prime Minister Rama, in which one of the topics will be to send a joint invitation to Kosovo.”

VUCIC + DODIK: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Monday met with Bosnians Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik in Belgrade to discuss the construction of an airport in Trebinje, BiH. The project is expected to cost up to 50 million euros.MONTENEGRO’S EXPERT GOVERNMENT: PM designate Zdravko Kirvokapic insists that leaders of the winning coalitions are forming the government, but will not serve in the government positions because of the expert nature of the new government.

ANTI-CORRUPTION TASK FORCE TARGETED INTERIOR MIN.: Kosovo’s recently disbanded Anti-Corruption Task Force began a preliminary investigation into three tenders signed by Minister of Interior Agim Veliu, reports Koha Dritore.

PAHOR URGES UNITY TO FIGHT COVID: President Borut Pahor urged unity among all parties in Slovenia to defeat Covid-19 as the number of cases surge in the country. He hopes they can channel their inner predecessors that came together to declare independence from Yugoslavia.

SPEAKING OF COVID…: Croatia’s Minister of Tourism and Sport Nikolina Brnjac tested positive for Covid-19. She had meetings with several government ministers over the weekend who are now in self-isolation. PM Andrej Plenkovic tested negative for Covid-19 after meeting with Brnjac on Sunday.

DACIC ACCUSES KOSOVO of breaking the agreements signed in Washington when an unnamed minister from Kosovo sent a letter to Bosnia’s FM Bisera Turkovic inviting the country to recognize Kosovo.

  • The Washington economic agreements say Kosovo agrees to a one year moratorium on seeking admission into international organizations, but does not prohibit Kosovo from urging states to recognize its independence.
  • Kosovo’s Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani said Kosovo Parliament will attempt to join an unnamed international organization since the parliament has not agreed to the one year moratorium.
BELGRADE + BANJA LUKA: The mayors of Belgrade and Banja Luka signed a charter on becoming twin cities.
  • Mayor of Belgrade Zoran Radojcic said, “Our relations are versatile, traditional and profound in economy, science, culture, sports, but the deepest are those personal, families’ and business’ ties.”
  • Mayor of Banja Luka Igor Radojcic added, “The twinning is maintained, nourished through generations. Banja Luka and RS (BiH’s Republika Srpska entity) look at Belgrade and Serbia all the time because Belgrade is our common capital. Whenever we cooperated, our people progressed, while when there were arguments, a third side always benefitted.”
OSMANI ON EU : FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani remains optimistic about Skopje formally opening EU negotiations in December. He said at a press conference, “What gives me optimism is that all parties in the process are aware of the stakes and the weight and the consequences of not succeeding in this process.” He added he hopes the historical commissions of Bulgaria and N. Macedonia can come to a clear consensus that will not be open to interpretation.
IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “The voting dead: Why electoral fraud in Bosnia should matter to the EU” by Majda Ruge in The European Council on Foreign RelationsOP-ED: “Why the Balkan region should be on investors’ radar screens” by Tim Umberger in BNE IntelliNews

OP-ED: “China’s Belt and Road Falls Short in Central and Eastern Europe” by John Varano in The Strategist

ANALYSIS: “Political Wrangling Delays Formation of New Montenegro Govt” by Samir Kajosevic in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “Blank Screens: Lost Opportunities to Digitalize Education Haunt North Macedonia” by Vlado Apostolov in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “Existence of People in Bosnia living off the Remittances of the Diaspora has been called into Question” in The Sarajevo Times

HUMAN INTEREST: “As a Slovenian Tycoon’s Empire Crumbled, His Bank Accounts Swelled” in OCCRP

HUMAN INTEREST: “Croatian Dejan Nemcic The Best Geography Teacher In The World” by Marc Rowlands in Total Croatia News

HUMAN INTEREST: “Croatian guide dog volunteer Mira Katalenić among EU Local Heroes” in Croatia Week

TRAVEL:  “Move Over Istria: the Rise of Zagreb Truffle Hunt Tourism” by Paul Bradbury in Total Croatia News