WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

 

  • US State Department’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey met with Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade.

 

  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski had his photos taken with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the Paris Peace Conference. He attended the official dinner on Monday night.
  • Also, Kosovar President Hashim Thaci met with with Macron. He asked France to support visa liberalization for Kosovo. He also attended the official dinner.
  • The EU Commission President Ursala Von der Leyen took aim at Macron who opposed opening EU accession talks with Albania and N. Macedonia. On Monday, she noted that Europe has “asked a lot of North Macedonia and Albania, and they’ve fulfilled it all. Now we must be true to our word and start accession talks.”
  • She also warned that “others will fill the gap – China, Russia, Turkey or Saudi Arabia.”
  • Meanwhile, US Special Representative to the W. Balkans and DAS Matthew Palmer said the US supports the “mini Schengen” that Vucic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, and Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev agreed on in Ohrid over the weekend.
  • It wasn’t without controversy, though – Kosovo’s Thaci laid out reasons why his country didn’t take part in the initiative: “First, Kosovo was deliberately bypassed by Serbia at the First Summit of this new regional initiative. Second, Kosovo’s only vision remains EU and NATO membership. Therefore, we do not want in any circumstances to replace our Euro-Atlantic perspective with any regional initiative. And thirdly, this regional initiative is meaningless as long as Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina do not recognize Kosovo’s independence…But Kosovo cannot be part of a summit where states participate that do not yet recognize the reality of an independent Kosovo. We are committed to overcoming current obstacles through dialogue and mutual recognition. Only when such a thing happens will we become part of such regional initiatives as equal states.”
  • Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic laid out on Monday her vision for her second term as president. The areas she would focus on in her next term are: Croatian development, Croatian identity, Croatian resoluteness, Croatian justice, Croatian democracy, Croatian security and Croatian optimism.
  • Meanwhile, presidential candidate Dejan Kovac called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to introduce electronic voting in Croatia for the next election.
  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev will meet his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis on November 14 on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki Summit 2019 which focuses on business.
  • Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic hopes the data center in Kragujevac will open by June 2020 and the second phase would be completed by the end of the year 2020. China’s Huawei will use the center as a data hub for southeastern Europe.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik asked lawmakers in Republika Srpska to support abolishing the Bonn Powers. He noted, “Republika Srpska, which has, as a state of the Serb people and others who live there brought its statehood, territory, government and population into the Dayton Agreements, constantly suffers from unjust activities by the OHR (Office of the High Representative) and the Constitutional Court. Its rights which are guaranteed according to Bosnia’s Constitution are constantly being breached – competencies are being stripped away and institutions at the state level have been formed without a clear constitutional basis for it.”
  • He also openly called for statehood for Republika Srpska while addressing the RS Parliament.
  • And Defense Ministerr of BiH Maria Pendes told reporters on Monday, “I think it is very important to implement the ANP. It cannot be a stumbling block because the ANP document that we in BiH prepared, taking into account five chapters that need to be guided through the reform process in the coming period. These chapters are in some ways identical to the reform agenda on BiH’s path to the European Union.”
  • Montenegro’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Srdjan Darmanovic said a new model of EU enlargement would be “a challenge for the pro-European governments in the region and a step backwards for the Western Balkans.” Montenegro is a frontrunner for EU membership along with Serbia.
  • “Slovenia and Vietnam listed logistics, information and communications technology (ICT) and tourism as areas with most untapped potential for cooperation at the second session of the Slovenian-Vietnamese intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, chaired by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and his counterpart Tran Tuan Anh.” (Slovenia Times)
  • Three hundred out of 1,2000 workers at the Trepca mines in Kosovo are protesting for not receiving October wages in full.
  • Meanwhile, the Kosovo Election Commission annulled 3,782 votes from Serbia because they were not sent in the mail.
  • A 211 mile (340km) peace march commenced from Srebrenica, BiH to Vukovar, Croatia where there will be a commemoration on November 18.
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERSKosovo MP Rexhep Selimi has been summoned to the Hague for questioning. He did not reveal in which capacity he would be appearing for questioning.
  • MIGRANTS: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan contends there are 4,000 Pakistan nationals at the camp in Vujcak, BiH.
  • CRIME: A dozen people were arrested in Bosnia for bribery and soccer match fixing. The charging documents suggested the accused were “demanding and receiving gifts”.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • HUMAN INTERESTCongresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL,2) named a suburban Chicago post office after Tuskegee Airman Robert Martin. The African American pilot was shot down over Zagreb in WWII.