WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

We would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you all will enjoy a day off and have a happy, healthy holiday! – The Balkan Insider team

INZKO CALLS FOR NEW BOSNIAN CONSTITUTION: High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko has called for Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt a new constitution after the initial success of the Dayton Peace Accords.

  • Inzko told RFE/RL, “I think that’s normal. We were younger 25 years ago. Take the example of Spain, and there was a civil war there. When Spain was preparing for membership in the European Union, they did not change the existing constitution, they wrote a completely new one.”
  • And added, “In Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is somewhat more difficult, as some think that will lead to a more centralized Bosnia-Herzegovina. We know that the Republika Srpska is completely centralized, but Bosnia-Herzegovina is not and will never be centralized — it must be functional. Functional to make some things just work.”

ZAEV COURTING BULGARIA?: PM of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev told Bulgarian media outlet Bgens that there was a common history between Macedonians and Bulgarians. He said, “We have a common history. Both Bulgarian and Macedonian nations and Bulgarian and Macedonian languages were created in it. The Yugoslav authorities kept us separated.” He continued to note “the Bulgarians are not fascists, but friends” and they were “administrators” of the territory of today’s N. Macedonia during World War II. Read more of the interview HERE (in Macedonian).

U.S. MAKES CASE FOR F-16s: “After opening works on a military hospital at the Eugen Kvaternik Training Grounds in Slunj on Wednesday, the cost of which is being funded by the US Army, to the tune of more than 1.8 million dollars, US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst, said that the United States would be happy if Croatia were to decide to buy American F-16 fighter jets, but that it will respect Croatia’s decision, whatever it may be, and expects the partnership between the two countries to continue.

“‘We have a long partnership with Croatia, going back more than 25 years. And it’s cooperation at many levels, the military, politically, humanitarian projects, so we’re thrilled. And of course we want to continue that partnership, and as I mentioned we feel that American F-16 fighter aircraft are the finest in the world, and we would love to see Croatia make that decision. We recognize that it is a Croatian sovereign decision, and we’ll fully support whatever that decision is, but we would like to see our partnership continue.’ Kohorst said.” (Voice of Croatia)

BANNED FROM KOSOVO: Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla announced Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and other Serbian officials would not be allowed into Kosovo unless they apologized for “genocide” and Serbs were tried in international courts for the crime.

  • Haradinaj-Stublla wrote on Twitter (in Albanian), “I repeat once again the only and permanent response to all future demands from Vucic and others: there is no permission for you to visit Kosovo if you do not apologize for the genocide committed on our people and until responsible persons of this genocide are held accountable.”

SERBIA SNAPS BACK: Serbia’s Director for the Office of Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petkovic sharply snapped back at FM Haradinaj-Stublla over her remarks about Vucic and accuses her of destabilizing the region.

  • Petkovic said, “Her statement that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will not be allowed to come to Kosovo until further notice is a manifestation of political violence and an unequivocal violation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreement which regulates visits of officials and freedom of movement, as well as all rules of civilized behavior.”
  • And added, “I remind you that Meliza Haradinaj made indecent and inappropriate comments during the three-day mourning for the late Patriarch Irinej. We did not react out of respect for the grief and pain of our people, but her unruly behavior can no longer be tolerated.”
  • Before concluding that “hatred and hostility towards Serbs and Belgrade are the dominant political ideology” in Kosovo.

MASS GRAVE IN SERBIA: A Serbian court has created an expert commission to determine the most suitable time to exhume the mass grave of suspected Kosovar Albanians in southwest Serbia.

  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic claims Kosovo’s authorities are not interested in investigating mass grave sites after proposing five potential sites in the latest round of talks in the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue.
  • Vucic noted, “They wanted to send their foreign minister to Raska for a political show and we told them that would be inappropriate at this time but that if they want I will go to the north (of Kosovo) and start digging in the Djakovica area in a week.”
  • Leaders from both sides are have requested to enter each other’s territory to no avail.

SLOVENIAN FM DISCUSSES EU PRESIDENCY: “Foreign Minister Anže Logar addressed participants of the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum on Tuesday to highlight the priorities of Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of next year and stress the importance of solidarity among EU member states, the Foreign Ministry said.

“Logar said that solidarity among EU members also meant the search for a comprise acceptable for everybody. EU countries have different starting points but the same goals, he told the meeting organised by the German Foreign Ministry and the Körber-Stiftung foundation.” (Slovenia Times)

CROATIA FOREIGN NATIONALS ACT: “The Croatian Parliament on Wednesday passed the new Foreign Nationals Act under which there will no longer be an annual quota for the employment of foreign nationals.

“None of the 32 amendments put forward by the opposition were accepted.

“Under the new law, the government will no longer establish an annual quota for the employment of foreign nationals, but employers will be obliged to submit a request to the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) to conduct a labour market test.

“If there are no unemployed persons in Croatia that meet employers’ criteria, employers will then submit an application for residence and work permits to the Interior Ministry, which then requests an opinion from the HZZ regarding hiring a specific foreign national. The procedure, including the labour market test, will last a maximum of 30 days.” (Croatia Week)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “Inbox: Getting Serbia-Kosovo Normalization Right” by Leon Hartwell in the Center of European Policy Analysis

OP-ED: “Two realities: Roma in the EU and Roma in the Western Balkans in the eyes of the EC” by Stephan Mueller in European Western Balkans

ANALYSIS: “Restoring individual rights and hope in Bosnia” by Daniel Serwer in Peacefare

ANALYSIS: “Amnesia Grips a Bosnian Spa That Served as a Rape Camp” by Andrew Higgins in The New York Times

ANALYSIS: “Pandemic Disrupts Southeast Europe Labour Flows” in Balkan Insight

HUMAN INTEREST: “Army of Serbia’s first female ‘Eagle’ fighter jet pilot” in N1

SPORT: “Matic asks Serbian government to help name Vidic FA boss” in Reuters

SPORT: “Luka Doncic forced out of the Slovenia NT” by Johnny Askounis in Euro Hoops

TRAVEL: “Croatia among best travel destinations for Americans” in Croatia Week