WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

 

OSMANI ON THE DIALOGUE: “Kosovo’s acting president accused the European Union on Friday of not treating Kosovo on ‘an equal footing’ with neighboring Serbia in the negotiations to normalize ties between the former war foes.

“Vjosa Osmani, the second female head of state in post-war Kosovo, told The Associated Press in an interview that she thinks Brussels has not learned from past mistakes and treats Serbia as ‘a spoiled child.’

“‘We need to be considered on an equal footing during this dialogue. If that happens, it sets a path for a successful dialogue in the future,’ Osmani said in an interview to the Associated Press.” (AP News)

VUCIC CLEARS UP NAGORNO-KARABAKH: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic clarified his comments regarding Kosovo becoming similar to Nagorno-Karabakh after Kosovar politicians claimed he was threatening to invade. Vucic said, “I spoke about the need to avoid the policy of a frozen conflict, that maintaining that conflict would mean that anyone could lead us to disaster in the future and they understood what I said but have to interpret that differently for their own reasons.”

BULGARIA SET TO BLOCK N. MACEDONIA: Bulgaria is set to block N. Macedonia from formally opening EU accession negotiations tomorrow.

  • Bulgarian FM Ekaterina Zakharieva said yesterday that “Bulgaria is saying ‘No’ to the start of negotiations, we are not saying ‘No’ to North Macedonia’s accession to the EU,” all but dashing the hopes of N. Macedonia to formally open EU accession negotiations.
  • PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev noted, “I am ready and I have prepared the Macedonian people for a possible blockade and that is quite certain. It is more certain in percentages, but still, I never lose hope because the responsibility of politicians is great. Although the General Affairs Council is set for Nov. 17, there is time, until December. By the end of December is the opportunity for the first intergovernmental conference. I expect a cry of friendship from the Bulgarian side.”
  • Politicians from Bulgaria and N. Macedonia continue the blame game over who is to blame for not living up to the 2017 Friendship Agreement.

LOCAL BOSNIAN ELECTIONS SHAKE UP SJJ, BL: Bosnia held local municipal elections on Sunday during the trying Covid-19 pandemic, but managed to pull it off. At the time of this writing, the Bosnian Election Commission said more than 3 million people voted for new heads of municipalities and municipal councils.

  • Sarajevo saw drastic change as the most dominant Bosniak political party, the Democratic Action Party (SDA), only won one head of the municipality in Sarajevo.
  • The Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) led by Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik lost the capital of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Banja Luka, to opposition candidate Drasko Stanivukovic.

NO CROATIAN NSC MEETING ON BOSNIAN CROATS: President Zoran Milanovic said that PM Andrej Plenkovic has refused to agree to discuss the status of Bosnian Croats at the next National Security Council meeting. Plenkovic’s chief of staff told Milanovic that it should be a question of Croats throughout the world, not just in BiH. Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat Member of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic said over the weekend, “I believe that we are all entitled to same rights, that our ethnic affiliation or religious beliefs cannot provide us with more or less of those rights, that all of us must have the same opportunities in this society.”

KRIVOKAPIC CALLS ON MINISTERS TO FORM TEAMS: Montenegro’s PM-designate Zdravko Krivokapic has called on his proposed ministers to form their own teams and expects them to be of the expert level. He said, ” In order for the depth distribution to be expedient for the entire strategy we are making, it is necessary that professional competent staff prevail in all these functions, who will be able to respond to the challenges we will face.”

POPE TO VISIT BELGRADE?: According to Zagreb’s Jutarnji List, Pope Francis is preparing a trip to Belgrade to meet with the Serbian Orthodox Church and push for Catholic bishop Alojzije Spepinac to become a saint.

SERBIA + RS: Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska (RS) signed an agreement to build three hydropower plants for a total of 520 million euros. Serbian PM Ana Brnabic attended the signing in Banja Luka.

FORMER CROATIAN PM GETS MORE JAIL TIME: Croatia’s 67 year old former PM Ivo Sanader has been sentenced to an additional eight years in prison for siphoning off state funds for personal gain. He served as PM from 2003 to 2009.

KFOR’S NEW COMMANDER: Major General Franco Federici has taken over from Major General Michele Risi as NATO’s KFOR top official. Risi’s year-long stint was dominated by Covid-19. Most recently, he helped mediate between the Visoki Decani Monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Decan/i Municipality over building a road through the Special Protected Zone of the monastery.

NJEGOS’ B-DAY: Montenegrins celebrated the birth of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos who would have been 207 on November 13. The New Serbian Democracy political party has requested the day be added as a national cultural holiday.

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Why Biden’s victory may present an ‘opportunity’ for Bosnia” by Mersiha Gadzo in Al Jazeera

OP-ED: “Kosovo Wartime Leaders’ Indictment is Inaccurate and Biased” by Anna Di Lellio in Balkan Insight

OP-ED: “The KLA indictments: Is this justice?” by Andrea Lorenzo Capussela in EWB/Koha Dritore

OP-ED: “The Price of Democracy in Montenegro” by Austin Doehler in New Eastern Europe

OP-ED: “Mini-Trumps in the wilderness” by Slawomir Sierakowski in The Jordan Times

ANALYSIS: “Here’s what Western Balkans committed to in Sofia Declaration on Green Agenda” by Vladimir Spasic in Balkan Green Energy News

HUMAN INTEREST: “Today was a big day in my beautiful Croatian bubble” by Gillie Sutherland in The Dubrovnik Times

SPORT: “One of football’s all-time greats shows off his ‘Balkan roots’ in brilliant throwback picture on Instagram… but who is the cheeky kid who would go on to lift league titles in four countries and win 116 international caps?” by Max Mathews in The Daily Mail