WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • US Charges d’affaires in Montenegro, Judy Kuo, has come under fire by conservative political party United Montenegro for labelling Sputnik a Russian government news outlet and linking Montenegrin outlets IN4S and Borba to Kremlin directives.
  • Bosnia’s tripartite presidency announced they have reached a deal to form a government and “send a document” to NATO. The presidency agreed to support Zoran Tegeltija for the post of Chairman of the country’s Council of Ministers. Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik took off for Belgrade immediately after the meeting and informed Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about the agreement.
  • Meanwhile, the Association of Survivors and Witnesses of War Crimes and Mothers of Srebrenica led protests outside the Swedish Embassy after the chairman of the Nobel Committee sent letters to the Publishers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the president of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo defending awarding Peter Handke the Nobel Peace Prize for literature.
  • European Council President Donald Tusk said after a meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic that Croatia’s role as EU President comes at a “critical time.” He has high hopes for its presidency: “I deeply believe that you (Croatia) will do everything in your power to restore EU unity and enlargement while demonstrating positive EU engagement in the region.”
  • In addition to Tusk, Plenkovic met with the European Union’s Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the EU Michel Barnier. Both European Union officials are in Zagreb for the European People’s Party (EPP) meetings which kick off today.
  • Foreign ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia penned a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urging the opening of accession talks with Albania and N. Macedonia. In addition, Donald Tusk called for EU unity on the opening of accession talks with the two hopefuls.
  • The Democratic League of Kosovo’s Vjosa Osmani met with Norway’s Special Representative to the Western Balkans Arne Sannes Bjornstad and Ambassador Jens Erik Grondahl. Osmani focused on kicking out corruption from the government in Kosovo.
  • Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the Vice Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, have met with the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship and during the meeting, they stressed that the Government will not call off the reforms despite it wasn’t granted a start of accession negotiations, inform the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” (Meta.mk)
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says his hospitalization was not a result of a question by an N1 journalist, rather he is a “chronically ill man.”
  • Montenegrin Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic noted on the recent US and Montenegro cyber cooperation: “We have seen that the (2016) U.S. election had also faced certain hybrid and cyberattacks…Americans can learn something from us about potential threats for their systems and networks because Montenegro was a real example of an all-out attack before the (2016) election and its NATO accession.”
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz hosted Grand Mufti of Kosovo, Naim Ternava,in Riyadh on Tuesday. Also in attendance: Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawa and Guidance Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh, and Assistant Special Secretary to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Tamim bin Abdulaziz Al-Salem.
  • Meanwhile, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama caused a furor after posting a video depicting rural areas that have a tap water supply. The issue? The map shows Kosovo as a part of Serbia.
  • Croatian Science and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak has called on teachers unions and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to start a dialogue. She said, “Since the start of the strike, I have been trying to reconcile two rights – the right of students to quality education and the right of teachers to fight for a better financial status. As of today, that can no longer be reconciled. The current situation, with the entire education system being in a state of blockade, is the result of a game of power between the unions and the prime minister. I don’t want to participate in that.”
  • Russia appoints Timur Rafailovic Eyvazov as new ambassador to Slovenia.
  • Meanwhile, “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not continue its current agreement with Bosnia & Herzegovina, but will propose a new one, Indikator.ba reported on November 18, quoting the IMF’s resident representative Andrew Jewell. The current deal, which provides Bosnia with much needed cheap cash, was put on hold in 2017 as political disagreements have frozen key reforms. According to Jewell, the IMF believes that there is no point in resuming the current agreement, which is due to end soon anyway.” (BNE News)
  • ENERGY: Italy linked an undersea electrical transmission cable to Montenegro. This is the first under the Adriatic and allows the Western Balkans clean reliable electricity especially during peak summer demand. Italian President Sergio Mattarella and his Montenegrin counterpart Milo Đukanović officially inaugurated the project.
  • CRIME: The appellate court in Skopje has approved moving disgraced Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva to house arrest after three months in prison. Her corruption trial starts on December 3.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • SPORT: Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers signed Croatian Dario Zuparic from HNK Rijeka.
  • ENTERTAINMENT: International pop star Enrique Iglesias has canceled a December 1st show in Zagreb citing “non-compliance with the terms of the contract between the promoter and the artist’s agency.”  In 2016, Iglesias wrote on his personal Facebook: “My favourite birthday present was my performance in Croatia. It was unbelievable, it was really cool. 18,000 people came.”