WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY
U.S. ELECTION CORNER:
  • Former VP Joe Biden’s campaign hosted a virtual town hall with the Serbian-American community.
  • Special Envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell campaigned for President Donald Trump at the American Serbian Club in Pittsburgh.
  • Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Hoyt Yee weighed in on how a Biden-Harris Administration would differ than a Trump Administration. He told VoA, “I firmly believe that Biden will be the champion in the integration of North Macedonia in the EU. This is certainly a decision that the European Union should make. The United States cannot impose its will, but we believe we share the same goals with most European countries. We want to see North Macedonia integrated in the European institutions.”
  • He added ,”If you have been following Joe Biden for decades, you will know that he has always stood up for the fight against corruption. Recently, during his presidential campaign, he made it clear that he sees the global fight against corruption as a US priority, which is not the case for the current administration. President Trump is most concerned about him, his party, America’s ultra-rich and wealthy corporations. “This is something that must be stopped.”
  • He concluded, “I think our reputation in the Balkans has been severely damaged by a lack of American leadership, by American initiatives to address the great global challenges facing all the countries of the Western Balkans and Europe.”
  • After U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey met with new FM Nikola Selakovic on Friday, Godfrey touched on U.S.-Serbia relations after November 3. He said, “We continue to strive to our ideals, but I’m convinced in the power of our republic” and said the goal is to get relations between to two countries to the level it was before Slobodan Milosevic.

BULGARIA-N. MACEDONIA
: Bulgarian FM Ekaterina Zaharieva on Friday threatened to block N. Macedonia’s path to the EU if Skopje doesn’t address “historical truths” on the Macedonian language and identity.

  • She said, “Our concerns come from the never-ending claims for a Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. The acknowledgment of Bulgarian roots would put an end to this.” She added, “We are not disputing their right for self-determination, neither their right to call their language what they like. We are ready to re-confirm the current realities, but they have to acknowledge the historical truth.”
  • Bulgarian Defene Minister Krasimir Karakachanov doubled down on Bulgaria’s stance towards its neighbor.
  • He said, “Even when they signed the agreement with Greece, we warned them. With such a policy, we can not allow you to enter the European Union. We have to solve the problem with history. It cannot be written in your history textbooks that the Bulgarians are a ‘Turkish-Tatar tribe.’ That the Bulgarians are fascists and occupiers. October 11, the day of the uprising against the Bulgarian occupier, should be your national holiday. You can not tell me that Tsar Samuel was a Macedonian king. That Cyril and Methodius and Clement of Ohrid were Macedonians. That the alphabet was Macedonian.”

AMFILOHIJE FUNERAL: Montenegrin Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church passed away on Friday after complications with Covid-19. Thousands gathered for a funeral in Podgorica. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik attended the services.

MONTENEGRO GOV’T FORMATION: PM-designate Zdravko Krivokapic announced he would reveal his cabinet early this week.

MINI-SCHENGEN LEADERS MET ON FRIDAY: “Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and prime ministers of North Macedonia and Albania, Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama respectively discussed on Friday the regional cooperation and revived the initiative known as ‘mini-Schengen’ between some Western Balkans countries.”According to Vucic’s post on Instagram, the initiative was in line with the Berlin Process.

“It would be a reasonable basis for the next Summit of the Western Balkans leaders in Sofia, Vucic, Zaev and Rama agreed at an online conference.

“The three leaders also agreed t the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic enlarged the need for intensified cooperation among the regional economies.” (N1)

ALTERNATIVE SLOVENIAN GOV’T?: Three junior coalition parties have been invited to join talks on the formation of an alternative government, after the original four opposition members of the Constitutional Arch Coalition reportedly reached a consensus on core priorities.

“‘I have invited them to participate in an alternative that would significantly improve the functioning of the state during the epidemic and restore the shattered trust after it,’ the economist Jože P. Damijan, who offered himself as prime minister of such an alternative government, said in a statement on Thursday.” (Slovenia Times)

ABDIC TO PARTICIPATE IN BiH ELECTIONS: “Fikret Abdic Babo was released from custody after his legal representatives yesterday submitted a request to the Cantonal Court in Bihac to allow him to participate in the election campaign.

“The current mayor of Velika Kladusa and the candidate for the position of mayor in the local elections in 2020 arrived in this municipality today, where he was welcomed by supporters and members of the Labor Party, Avaz reports.” (Sarajevo Times)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Joe Biden and the Genocide” (in German) by Michael Martens in The Frankfurter Allegemeine. Read a short summary in English HERE.

OP-ED: “U.S. Recognition of Kosovo Sets a Precedent for Artsakh” by Alex Galitsky in The National Interest

HUMAN INTEREST: “71-year-old Croatian to attempt world tower running record of 4,800 stairs – 320 floors in Osijek” in Croatia Week

CULTURE: “Finding Peace: Colorado’s Connection to Bosnia” by Sean Towle in The Denver Channel

CULTURE: “Trees of Friendship in the Western Balkans” by Mark Grzegorczyk in Emerging Europe

CULTURE: “How Balkan vampires captured the world’s imagination” by Nikola Djordjevic in Emerging Europe

SPORT: “The Srebrenica football club that rejected ethnic divisions” in N1

SPORT: “Ski jumper Peter Prevc Slovenia’s new sports ambassador” in The Slovenia Times