WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

 

  • Brownback noted on Twitter, “Just finished visiting the cemetery in honor of the #Srebrenica genocide w/ the Mothers of Srebrenica. What happened in Srebrenica is unconscionable, unnerving, & nothing short of evil. I’m resolved to fight for #religiousfreedom until tragedies like this are no longer a reality.”
  • Brownback is scheduled to be in Pristina, Kosovo on November 14; Podgorica, Montenegro on November 15; and Tirana, Albania on November 18-19 before wrapping up his European trip in the Netherlands on November 20.

 

  • One hundred and thirty-three former US Ambassadors, top foreign policy makers, and national security officials endorsed US Presidential Candidate Joe Biden in a press release released through e-mail on Tuesday including former US Ambassador to Korea, Poland, Iraq, and Macedonia, Christopher Hill; former Ambassador to Estonia, Serbia, and Montenegro Mike Polt; former Ambassador to Serbia Mary Bruce Warlick; former Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Thomas J. Miller; and former Presidential Special Representative to the Balkans Robert S. Gelbard, who also served as Ambassador to Indonesia and Bolivia.
  • In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron held an impromptu meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar President Hashim Thaci.
  • After the meeting Vucic told reporters, “Europe certainly wants a clear role in further Belgrade – Pristina dialogue (on the normalisation of relations)” and that he “was realistic, slightly a pessimist.”
  • His Kosovar counterpart said, “We are prepared to continue the dialogue with Serbia and reach a final peace agreement which will bring mutual recognition and membership in the United Nations.”
  • Meanwhile, Chairman of the Presidency of BiH Zeljko Komsic described his encounter with Macron when he was received at the Presidential Palace. Komsic stayed on the red carpet to tell the French leader that he was wrong about his comments on BiH being a “ticking time bomb.”
  • A group of students that attended the World Democracy Forum in Strasbourg under Macron’s leadership invited the French president to BiH. The group told him to leave his suits behind because they wanted to take him hiking and that he would see the true BiH without “bilateral meetings, the result of which are press conferences on how to cooperation between the two countries should be improved.”
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski and Macron discussed bilateral issues and EU enlargement. Pendarovski told reporters after the meeting, “I elaborated on my arguments and now we can talk about a clear situation regarding several topics. Firstly, Macron and his team have already started with clearing out the new methodology, have lodged a non-paper to the member countries which has begun to circulate and is expected to end in the next month or two with an input, amendments, and commentaries. In general, he thinks that the methodology will pass by March.”
  • Meanwhile, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman praised Macron’s approach to multilateralism. He said, “In today’s world of great challenges, unity on peace and stability is of extreme importance. Responding to geopolitical challenges requires joint efforts and advocacy for stronger multilateralism.”
  • Ten former foreign minister of European countries signed a letter opposing Europe’s policy on EU enlargement. Signatories include Sigmar Gabriel, Former Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Germany; Nikola Poposki, Former Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs, North Macedonia; Nikolaos Kotzias, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Greece; Karin Kneissl, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Austria; and Goran Svilanovic, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Read their letter and see all signatories here.
  • “The parliament of Bosnia’s ethnic Serb entity, Republika Srpska, has approved nonbinding resolutions rejecting the so-called ‘Bonn Powers’ of the international community’s top civilian official in Bosnia-Herzegovina and calling for a referendum on Bosnia’s NATO accession. The measures, adopted early on November 12, were part of a package of some 20 so-called ‘conclusions’ voted on by Bosnian Serb lawmakers after a marathon 15-hour session. The conclusions were proposed by the ruling majority led by the Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), headed by Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency. The Bonn Powers give the high representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina — whose office was created in 1995 after the signing of the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war — authority to dismiss politicians, push through laws, and veto others.” (RFE/RL)
  • Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic outlined a broad economic forecast highlighted by adopting the Euro in 2024. On average, 75% of Croatian central bank savings are held in Euros. Croatia aims to reduce public debt to 60% of GDP (a key criteria to join the Euro). Plenkovic pledged that public debt will fall from 71.3% of GDP to 61.6% by the end of 2022.
  • After the Kosovo Central Election Commission nullified nearly 4,000 votes from Serbia, an unlikely protester emerged – nationalist party, and winner of the elections, Vetvendosje. It could lose multiple seats should the votes not be counted. Furthermore, Belgrade denounced the nullification as a “chauvinistic farce.”
  • Likely Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti blasted Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s outlook on Kosovo Serbs. He said, “Serbia doesn’t want Kosovo’s Serbs, they just use them to prevent Kosovo from going forward.When I was in prison (1997-2001, first in Lipljan in Kosovo, then in Pozarevac, in eastern Serbia), they treated Kosovo Serbs as guards and called them names pejorative for Albanians. I believe that (Serbia’s President Aleksandar) Vucic blackmails the Serb List.”
  • Meanwhile, Vucic will be visited by N. Macedonia’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, on November 22 in Belgrade.
  • Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic will be in London today for the 13th Global Citizenship Conference and to meet potential investors for Montenegro.
  • “Croatia’s presidency over the European Union in the first half of 2020 can facilitate efforts to upgrade relations and dialogue between the EU and Russia, Russian Ambassador to Zagreb Anvar Azimov said on Tuesday. Addressing a conference on gas as the future of energy, the ambassador said that both Europe and Russia suffered losses due to sanctions imposed on Moscow over the issue of Crimea. Therefore, Azimov proposed that during its EU chairmanship Croatia should organise an energy conference bringing together European and Russian experts, and described such an event as the start of dialogue between the two sides. Croatia can thus be a bond reconnecting the two sides, said Azimov at the conference, organised by the Zagreb-based Večernji List daily newspaper.” (Total Croatia News)
  • A petition to strip Peter Handke of the Nobel Peace Prize has reached over 50,000 signatures.
  • Serbia completed the final 54 miles (87 km) of the motorway that links it to Bulgaria. Serbia now has a direct line to Burgas and Varna, Bulgaria, and Istanbul, Turkey.
  • “Italian electricity transmission system operator Terna plans to inaugurate the operation of the underwater power cable linking Montenegro to Italy on November 15, the Italian government said…The 1.15 billion euro ($1.3 billion) project consists of an interconnection between Montenegro – Italy (underwater cable), the construction and enhancement of the internal 400 kV network in Montenegro, and the construction of 400 kV overhead lines between Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia. The total length of the power line is 445 km and 423 km of it is laid on the seabed.” (See News)
  • The China Rainbow International Investment group will build a 100MW power plant in Montenegro.
  • Half of FlyBosnia employees have left the company citing back pay. This includes eight of the Sarajevo-based carriers 15 pilots.
  • MIGRANTSSlovenia Prime Minister Marjan Sarec met with Mayors from 16 border communities. They had sent an open letter detailing affects of illegal border crossings. “We need to provide everything in time to prevent incidents that could endanger human lives or to unacceptably worsen living conditions in border areas.”
  • CRIME: “In the latest part of the arms trade saga in Serbia involving the father of the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic, Marinika Tepic, an opposition MP, showed reporters a photo which she said was taken at a meeting of Serbia’s and Libya’s delegations, adding President Aleksandar Vucic mediated an arms deal in his then capacity of Defence Minster, N1 reported.” (N1)
IN OTHER NEWS…