WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
  • “Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multicultural and multi-religious society and the struggle to preserve its most precious values and sense of community has never been more emphasised than today, Bosnia’s Council of Ministers Chairman, Denis Zvizdic, told US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback, on Wednesday.” (N1)
  • Former Charge d’affaires to Montenegro and current State Department Director for Press and Public Diplomacy for Europe Gordon Duguid was on Wednesday in Belgrade where he met with journalists to show support for a free and independent media.
  • Green also met with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and presented him with the signed Senate resolution ratifying N. Macedonia’s NATO accession.
  • Prior to his trip to Skopje, Green was in Pristina on Tuesday where he met with leaders including the Millennium Corporation Challenge for the project of Subsidies for Energy Efficiency in Kosovo.
  • The first American-Central European Business Association (ACEBA) mission to Croatia was opened by US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst. The mission will be in Zagreb from November 12-14
  • Kohorst noted on Twitter, the ACEBA included “Senior company officials made presentations: Bell/Textron, Citi, General Atomics, IBM, Lockheed Martin, MSD Pharma, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Oracle, and Oshkosh Defense.”
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed on Wednesday the Paris Peace Conference and compared Kosovo to Crimea: “Compare Kosovo and Crimea: a referendum was held in Crimea, and there was no referendum in Kosovo. Still, Kosovo was immediately recognised as an independent state by most of the Western countries.”
  • What Lavrov may not have known: Kosovo held a referendum in 1991, in which 99.98% of voters chose independence. Similarly, the four Serb-dominated northern municipalities held in 2012 a referendum to not recognize Kosovo’s institutions. It passed with 99.74% of the vote. Both referenda were not recognized by the international community.
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with Nikola Dimitrov, foreign minister of N. Macedonia, on Wednesday in Skopje. Maas supported Skopje’s ambitions for starting EU accession talks noting the EU “has to open the doors.”
  • Meanwhile, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia supports cooperation between Balkan countries. including the mini-Schengen between Albania, N. Macedonia, and Serbia.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik had harsh words for the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) Steering Board (SB) . He said, “The conclusions were adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly, which derives the right to adopt them from all applicable regulations. The PIC SB is a body that is neither grounded in international law nor its acts…The High Representative has no obligation under the Dayton Peace Agreement or UN Security Council resolutions to the Peace Implementation Council, and therefore I believe that their past actions, as well as those today, are beyond the Dayton Peace Agreement or any legally binding act.”
  • The PIC SB responded, “The interests of Republika Srpska are served not by rolling back essential reforms, but by implementing forward-looking reforms that support and strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and reduce BiH’s reliance on international supervision.”
  • Zaev will be in Greece today for the summit, “Southeast Europe: Regional Cooperation Initiatives and Reforms.” He is due to meet Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines.
  • Outgoing Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli warned the Council of Europe against appointing Aleksei Kondratev, United Russia party member (Putin’s Party), as Rapporteur for Kosovo. He called Kondratev a “security threat.”
  • Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman met with Pope Francis in the Vatican and spoke to the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States Paul Richard Gallagher about Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic reiterated Serbia’s neutrality, but noted that cooperation with NATO is key. He said, “Cooperation with NATO is based on clear premises and on respect for Serbia’s policy of military neutrality without the condition of our country becoming a member of the Alliance.”
  • “An additional 13 projects have been confirmed as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation on Security and Defence (PESCO), including a project in nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological defence in which Slovenia will participate. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec sees the project as an opportunity for Slovenian companies.” (Slovenia Times)
  • Speaker of Parliament of Montenegro Ivan Brajovic is accused of inappropriately using a credit card. He responded, “Personally, I am convinced that I have done everything in accordance with the law, and with full confidence in the impartial work of state bodies. I stand at my disposal and express my willingness to cooperate with the aim of ascertaining and disclosing the full truth about this case as soon as possible.”
  • Former Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Nikola Gruevski was acquitted of handing out contracts to Chinese companies during his time as PM in the “Trajectory” case. He is currently a fugitive living in Hungary for his role in another case.
  • “Serbia has very little insight into how the Russian company RZD International is using two Russian loans to modernize its railways, Radio Free Europe said on Wednesday. The Serbian government is getting a new loan of 172.5 million Euro from Russia to upgrade its railway system and to build a new dispatch center, RFE said and added that some of the things that the new loan is intended to be used for have already been covered by an earlier loan.” (N1)
  • “Bosnia’s Serb Republic has decided not to award a concession contract to China’s Sinochem Capital Investment Management (Hong Kong) for construction of Doboj – Vukosavlje – Brcko motorway, local media reported on Wednesday.  After a comprehensive financial, legal, and technical analysis, the offer was found to be unfavourable, news daily Nezavisne Novine reported, quoting information from the Serb republic’s transport ministry. Talks on the project could resume in the forthcoming period if the Chinese company decides to correct its bid, Nezavisne quoted representatives of the ministry as saying.  In September 2018, the Serb Republic government signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese consortium comprising Sinochem Capital Co and China Orient Asset Management for the construction of the Doboj-Vukosavlje and Vukosavlje-Brcko motorway sections.” (See News)
  • ENERGY: “UAE-based Al Dahra Agricultural Company plans to build an industrial complex of 10 independent biogas plants in Belgrade, the city government has said. The plants will have a capacity of 999 kW each and will be constructed in the Palilula municipality of the city of Belgrade, the city government said on Sunday in an invitation to the public presentation of the project, to take place next week. No financial details were revealed.” (Renewables Now)
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • ANALYSIS: “Serbia Sent Refugees from Croatia, Bosnia to Frontlines: Report” by Milica Stojanovic in BIRN: “A new report by the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre said thousands of Serb refugees during the 1990s wars in Croatia and Bosnia were arrested in Serbia, taken back to the conflict zones and forcibly mobilised as fighters.”
  • EURO 2020 QUALIFYING TODAY @ 2:45PM EST: Albania vs Andorra. Czech Republic vs Kosovo. England vs Montenegro. Serbia vs Lithuania.
  • EURO 2020 QUALIFYING TOMORROW @ 2:45 PM EST: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Italy
  • EURO 2020 QUALIFYING SATURDAY @ 12:00 PM EST: Slovenia vs Latvia. @ 2:45PM EST: Austria vs N. Macedonia. Croatia vs Slovakia.
  • EURO 2020 QUALIFYING SUNDAY @9:00 AM EST: Serbia vs Ukraine. @ 12:00 PM EST: Kosovo vs England. @ 2:45 PM EST Albania vs France