We would like to wish our readers an early HAPPY HALLOWEEN 🎃 Please stay safe and take precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19. – The Balkan Insider Team

  • ICMYI: Nevena Trajkov wrote an op-ed for Balkan Insider: The Macedonian-American Question in the U.S. Presidential Election: Diaspora Edition
  • The Biden-Harris Campaign has continued to conduct outreach to the Albanian-American, Bosnian-American, Croatian-American, Macedonian-American, and Serbian-American community through virtual rallies and town halls. VP Biden has published statements on the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, and Macedonian holiday Ilinden. The Biden team has released Diaspora Fact Sheets outlining his plans for the communities if elected president.
  • Former foreign policy adviser to VP Biden and current Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center, Michael Carpenter, told Prva TV in Serbia that he believes a Biden Administration would strengthen Serbia as a strategic country in the Western Balkans and its Euro-Atlantic structures. He added that he believes there would be more coordination with the European Union on the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue if Biden wins the presidency. He mentioned he has met virtually with the Serbian-American community.
  • At a rally in Nebraska, President Trump claimed he ended the Kosovo-Serbia conflict in 20 minutes with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti “hugging and kissing.” Kosovo and Serbia signed separate economic normalization pledges on September 4 in the Oval Office to increase cooperation between the U.S. and the two countries.
  • Presidential Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell last week appeared at the Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and Serb Hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and will be at the American Serb Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Nov. 1. He has appeared on posters with the title “Special Envoy for the Serbia/Kosovo* Negotiations.”
  • Grenell made an appeal to Albanian-Americans to vote for Trump yesterday. The Trump campaign held a “Trump Victory Middle East Coalition” event  yesterday which included the Albanian-American community.
  • The Trump campaign has Facebook pages for Albanian-Americans for Trump, American-Croatians for Trump, Macedonian-Americans for Trump, and Serbs for Trump.
KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE: EU Special Representative to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak held the fifth meeting of the EU-facilitated dialogue at the expert level with Kosovo’s State Coordinator on the Dialogue Skender Hyseni and Serbia’s Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic.
  • The sides discussed financial claims and property for the second time, according to EUSR Lajcak.
  • Serbia’s Petkovic urged the parties to discuss the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), but it was not discussed in depth. He said, “Whichever issue is opened, we cannot progress in the dialogue without the formation of the CSM. We’ll see how the Pristina side will behave… What they want is to create the CSM in line with Kosovo’s Constitution, but that had not been agreed in Brussels, nor is it a part of the agreed principles in 2015… We don’t need an NGO.”
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell told MEPs, “The EU-facilitated dialogue is a key element of their European paths.”
  • Meanwhile, German FM Heiko Maas commented, “I am convinced that the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina will prove it – by constructive mutual engagement, thus paving the way for a new era. The sooner it starts, the better it will be for stability in the entire region and the prospects of Kosovo and Serbia for the EU.”
ANTI-SEMITISM CONFERENCE: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President of the European Parliament David Sassoli participated in the virtual Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism. Other participants included Albanian PM Edi Rama; Speakers of Parliament of Albania, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, and N. Macedonia; High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Ángel Moratinos; United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr; and (Senior Advisor, Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Robert Singer.
  • Pompeo told the forum, “We are here because anti-Semitism is sadly still with us. We share the responsibility of those before us to crush it. We can do it. First, we must define this threat and understand it clearly.The task of combating anti-Semitism is pressing, especially as we have seen a disturbing uptick during the pandemic.”
  • Sassoli said, “The shameful and sad truth is: In 2020, 75 years after the end of World War II, many Jewish people all over Europe cannot live a life free of worry.This shows that we must never rest, that we must never stop, that we must never allow ourselves to think that the story we believed was over 75 years ago cannot repeat itself.”
  • Rama focused on internet and technology. He said, “Let us not forget that the very first pogroms originated from the ‘fake news’ and slanders of the day against the actions of Jews. This is where it all originated. The new form of spreading this in the digital world should worry us. There is a lot of hope in digital society for progress, but this must not turn into a nightmare spiraling out of control.”

GERMAN FM ON THE REGION: German FM Heiko Maas addressed a virtual youth summit about migration and in the Western Balkans. He highlighted that the economic challenges are related to political challenges such as corruption and rule of law. He added the EU is making available 9 billion euros for the region. He said, “The new Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans focuses on the green and digital economy and supports connectivity. The EUR 9 billion it offers could boost economic transformation in the region. The basis for successful investments are reforms that only your governments can undertake.” Read more about the event HERE.

DZAFEROVIC IN AUSTRIA: Chairman of the BiH Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic yesterday met with Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen in Vienna. They discussed the high level of cooperation between the two countries, the Bosnian diaspora in Austria, and ways to strengthen cultural and economic ties. In the evening, Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic joined Dzaferovic to open an honorary Consulate for Vienna and lower Austria. Businessman Davul Ljuhar has been appointed the Honorary Consul.

N. MACEDONIA + BULGARIA: Politico Europe claims a Bulgarian compromise is on the table that would see Bulgaria recognize Macedonian as an official language and identity.

  • What’s in the deal? Skopje would have to “acknowledge the ‘historical truth,’ as defined by Sofia, and admit there are Bulgarian foundations upon which any Macedonian identity, and the official language, have been created.”
  • PM Zoran Zaev denied there is any compromise. He said, “There will be no negotiations over our identity and our Macedonian language, and nobody is asking for such. Bulgaria is a friendly country and Bulgaria publicly states that it recognizes the Macedonian language and the Macedonian people. It recognizes the reality.
  • “I believe that our working groups who are holding talks will find solutions and I expect from the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarian leadership to make specific steps on the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian language. I emphasize again, there will be no new treaty or a new annex to the treaty. We are ready to clarify or specify some issues.”
SERBIAN OPPOSITION IN PARL. GOV’T: Shaip Kamberi, an ethnic Albanian MP, who represents the “opposition” in Serbia’s Parliament, says Serbia’s Parliament blasted Serbia’s new government.
  • He highlighted, “If out of 250 MPS, only 6 are from the opposition and there is no tolerance for those six, it speaks of the level of democracy there.”
  • And noted that Speaker Ivica Dacic has not fulfilled agreements signed for the Presevo Valley. He said, “This new government is a continuation of the past ones, which have never fulfilled the decisions for the Presevo Valley…One of the agreements is signed by Dacic himself. However, despite the measures they can take, we will continue to highlight our problems.”
  • Two-thirds of MPs in the Serbian Parliament come from President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party. The main opposition parties boycotted elections held on April 26.

MONTENEGRIN GOV’T FORMATION: PM-designate Zdravko Krivokapic announced the government coalition will meet today for the final formation of the government.

HUNGARY INVESTS IN SERBIA: “Hungary will support nine domestic companies with 25 million Euro to place in Serbia, and the value of those investments will be between 75 and 80 million Euros, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has said in a meeting with Sinisa Mali, Serbia’s Finance Minister in Belgrade on Thursday.”They also discussed the cooperation between the two countries in the implementation of large infrastructure projects, a Finance Ministry statement said.

“Hungarian companies will invest in logistics centres, the pharmaceutical industry, fruit processing and the metal processing industry, mainly in central and southern Serbia.” (N1)

CROATIA TO RECOGNIZE 5 COUNTRIES: Croatian FM Gordan Grlic-Radman announced Zagreb will recognize 5 more countries that “completes the process of establishing diplomatic relations with all modern and internationally recognized countries in the world.” The establishment of diplomatic relations will be completed through Croatia’s Mission to the United Nations.

GET WELL SOON!: We wish a speedy recover to former Kosovo PM and leader of Vetëvendosje Albin Kurti who revealed he tested positive for Covid-19.

POST EARTHQUAKE FUND: The Croatian government yesterday approved the establishment of the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb fund that is aimed at rebuilding Zagreb and the surrounding areas after the worst earthquake (5.3 magnitude) in 140 years.


OP-ED: “What’s wrong with the Macedonian language?” by Valentina Dimitrievska in BNE IntelliNews

ANALYSIS: “When Women Commit War Crimes” by Jessica Trisko Darden and Izabela Steflja in War on the Rocks

ANALYSIS: “London Calling: Albanians Count Cost of UK Illegality” by Valbona Bezati in Balkan Insight

CULTURE: “Rijeka’s status as European Capital of Culture to be extended” in Croatia Week

CULTURE: “Bosnia enters olive oil market with award-winning ‘liquid gold’” by Rusmir Smaljhodzic in Yahoo News

SPORT: “Legendary Croatian footballer Slaven Zambata passes away aged 80” in Croatia Week

ENTERTAINMENT: “Made In New York Jazz Festival makes history at its Montenegro event, despite the pandemic” in PR Underground