WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

MEDIA OUTLETS CALL ELECTION FOR BIDEN: U.S. media news outlets on Saturday called the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for former VP Joe Biden.

  • Leaders in the Balkans took to social media to congratulate Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, including Albanian PM Edi Rama, Chairman of the BiH Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic, Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic, Kosovo’s Acting President Vjosa Osmani, Kosovo’s PM Avdullah Hoti, Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro’s PM-elect Zdrakvko Krivokapic, President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
  • Notably, Slovenian PM Janez Jansa claimed Trump won last week, but he appeared to peddle back his claims after it was announced that Biden is projected to win.
  • It was quite a different tune in Sarajevo where people took to the streets to celebrate by honking their horns and putting the face of Joe Biden on City Hall.
  • Meanwhile, Serbian Speaker of Parliament thinks Biden’s posture towards Serbia will change from the 1990s when he was an ardent supporter of the NATO bombing of Belgrade and Yugoslavia. Dacic said, “We will see how Biden’s administration will behave, but there will certainly be no return to the period from the 1990s, when Biden had some assessments that did not go in favor of the Serbs and the Serb people.” Dacic openly supported Donald Trump against Biden in the race to the White House.

KLA IN THE HAGUE: Kosovo’s former President Hashim Thaci, former Speaker of Parliament Kadri Veseli, and two others pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges on Monday in The Hague. Meanwhile, Thaci’s lawyer asked about charges of organ harvesting which was a key component to setting up the court.

  • Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti rejected calls from Justice Minister Selim Selimi to delay the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue after Thaci’s indictment. Hoti said the country needs to move towards resolving the issues from a president resigning. He said, “Presumptions of innocence must be respected until final verdict by the competent court. It is now necessary that parliamentary parties sit together and find a way to get through this situation.”
  • Meanwhile, Hoti noted at a government session, “In order for the work of judicial institutions to be guided strictly by professionalism, we believe that the end of this process will once again prove that the struggle of the people of Kosovo for freedom and independence was fair and pure.”
  • And added ,”The people of Kosovo did not fight on foreign soil, but in their own backyard, in order to defend their homeland and their homes. Serbia, with its armed military and paramilitary forces, was the aggressor. And it was punished by the civilized world, precisely because of the aggression against Kosovo and its citizens, and no one has ever had a dilemma in this regard.”

BULGARIA – N. MACEDONIA: Bulgarian FM Ekaterina Zaharieva and FM of N. Macedonia Bujar Osmani jointly opened the Berlin Process meetings as a part of a joint presidency. While they both maintain that “good neighborly relations” are vital to European integration, Bulgaria continues to block N. Macedonia’s EU path. Zakharieva insistsed Sofia’s conditions for opening accession talks have remained the same for years while Osmani encouraged dialogue noting that nondemocratic influence in Skopje could rise if talks aren’t started. Read more about what’s been said HERE.

SLOVENIAN CELEBRATES SECRET MEETING: “At a secret meeting on 9-10 November 1990, the deputy group of the ruling DEMOS coalition, elected in the first multi-party seven months earlier, took a decision to hold a referendum on Slovenia’s independence. The vote was held six weeks later.

“At the meeting in Poljče, a centre for defence training in the north-west, three members of a constitutional commission, philosopher Tine Hribar and jurists Peter Jambrek and Tone Jerovšek, joined forces with DEMOS leader Jože Pučnik to convince the MPs to back the referendum idea.

“The then opposition, dominated by the reformed Communists, wanted the plebiscite to be held in the spring of 1991, but eventually accepted the December 1990 date. DEMOS meanwhile agreed to a provision that an absolute majority of all eligible votes be required to declare independence.” (Slovenia Times)

BULGARIA’S BALKANSTREAM COMPLETED: “The construction of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline has been completed de facto and the Bulgarian section of the pipeline is connected to the gas pipeline in Serbia. This was reported to TASS by an informed source involved in the construction of the pipeline.

“‘Balkan Stream has been completed, it is connected to the gas pipeline in Serbia, there are no official events related to the completion of the pipeline due to a coronavirus pandemic and the opening ceremony is likely to take place later’, the source said.

“In October, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that the construction of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline in the country was almost complete. He stressed that “with the operation of the Balkan Stream project, Bulgaria will become a regional strategic gas distribution center and will guarantee the diversification of gas supply”.” (IBNA)

COVID CASES INCREASE: As Coronavirus numbers have been rising n the region, countries have implemented stricter measures. In Slovenia, protests against the new measures turned violent. Meanwhile, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania signed an MoU to battle Coronavirus. Citizens of the three countries can visit each other with just an ID and are not required to have a Covid test.

MINE FREE!: The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo announced that Sarajevo is mine free in an initiative fully funded by the United States.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “The EU’s Rivalry With the U.S. Is Complicating Serbia-Kosovo Talks” by Mare Ushkovska in World Politics Review

OP-ED: “China’s growing investments in Montenegro – will the new government break their secrecy?” by Jovana Marovic in The Berlin Process Information and Resource Center

OP-ED: “The Balkans: Old Xenophobia, New Threats” by Dea Bashkurti

OP-ED: “Studying genocide during the Trump administration” by Selena Golden in The Cluster

ANALYSIS: “Is it end of an era in Kosovo?” by Dzihat Aliju in Anadolu Agency

ANALYSIS: “Why a Balkan city is important for understanding Turkish history” by Hamza Karcic in The Daily Sabah

CULTURE: “Mostar marks 27th Anniversary of the Demolition of the Old Bridge” in The Sarajevo Times

CULTURE: “Museum of Becarac, Pleternica, Celebrates Slavonia Folk Song” by Donatella Paukovic in Total Croatia News

SPORT: “Roglič crowned Tour of Spain champion for second time” in The Slovenia Times

TRAVEL: “Beautiful Croatia Still Welcomes American Travelers — If You Follow These Strict Rules” by Lea Lane in Forbes