WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

THACI CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES, RESIGNS: Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has resigned from his post after the Kosovo Specialist Chambers confirmed charges of war crimes. Speaker of Parliament Vjosa Osmani will take as acting president until a new president is approved by 2/3 of Kosovo’s Parliament or face new elections.

  • Elsewhere, former Speaker of Parliament and leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli and and MP Rexhep Selimi had their war crimes charges confirmed, as well.
  • Another former Speaker of Parliament of Kosovo Jakup Krasniqi was detained in an early morning raid. He will be heading to The Hague to face war crimes charges.

U.S. ELECTION CORNER:

  • Slovenian PM Janez Jansa on Wednesday falsely claimed Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidential Election. He said on Twitter, “It’s pretty clear that American people have elected ⁦@realDonaldTrump @Mike_Pence for #4moreyears. More delays and facts denying from #MSM, bigger the final triumph for #POTUS. Congratulations ⁦@GOP for strong results across the #US ⁦@idualliance.”
  • Twitter flagged Jansa’s Tweet with “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.”
  • He was quickly retorted by former foreign policy adviser to VP Joe Biden, Michael Carpenter, and Chairman of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger.
  • Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark sees more engagement with allies in Europe if former VP Joe Biden becomes president.
  • He said, “I think you’ll see strong leadership again, and a greater focus on Europe, and on American friends and allies in Europe.” And added on BiH, “This has been one of the issues always in Bosnia, not just from 1995 or 1991, but historically. Bosnia has always been the kind of place where local leaders – they look to someone else. t’s your country, we can’t do it for you.” See the full interview with N1 HERE.
  • But former FMs in the region do not believe the Balkans will be a priority area regardless of who becomes the next U.S. President.

VIENNA GUNMAN’S ROOTS IN N. MACEDONIA: N. Macedonia’s Ministry of Interior announced Austrian authorities are looking into three citizens that hold passports from Austria and N. Macedonia that attacked Vienna, leaving 4 dead and 23 injured. One confirmed terrorist is 20-year-old ethnic Albanian Kujtim Fejzulai whose family is from Celopek.

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DZAFEROVIC IN PAKISTAN: Chairman of the BiH Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic yesterday met with Pakistani PM Imran Kahn in Islamabad.

  • Speaking about recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Vienna, PM Kahn warned against using images of the Prophet Mohammed. He said, “European powers, Western countries must understand that you cannot use freedom of speech as a weapon to cause Muslims pain by insulting our Prophet. Unless this is understood, the cycle of violence will keep happening.”
  • VoA writes, “Dzaferovic also denounced what he described as ‘the rampant Islamophobia,’ saying while human freedom is and should be ‘unlimited,’ it is unacceptable that religious feelings of Muslims are insulted. We need to build bridges, we need to meet, we need to build unity around diversity,’ Dzaferovic said.”

MILANOVIC BLASTS BOSNIAN MEDIA: Croatian President Zoran Milanovic blasted media in Bosnia and Herzegovina for portraying Croatia as an anti-Muslim country after multiple reports of abuse against migrants and refugees on the BiH-Croatia border.

  • Milanovic said,”Those articles on some portals hint that Croatia is an enemy to Muslims. That is very ugly and potentially dangerous. Hence, I call on them to come to their senses, and on those who have influence on them and on the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to pay attention to that because that results in things such as those I discussed with Van der Bellen today.”

BULGARIA + N. MACEDONIA: Bulgarian FM Ekaterina Zakharieva announced Bulgaria is ready to block N. Macedonia’s opening of EU accession talks after meeting with leaders of N. Macedonia in Berlin at Germany’s request.

  • She said, “At the moment, Bulgaria is not in a position to approve the negotiating framework with the Republic of North Macedonia. There is a treaty of friendship and good neighborliness, which was signed in 2017 and ratified in 2018, but is not being implemented.”
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski and President of Bulgaria Ramen Radev spoke on the phone and discussed the situation in both countries and integrating N. Macedonia into the European Union.

MONTENEGRIN GOV’T FORMATION: PM-designate Zdravko Krivokapic yesterday announced his nominations for ministries. Here are some of the key nominations:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Djordje Radulovic
  • Ministry of Defense – Dritan Abazovic
  • Ministry of the Interior – Nikola Terzic
  • Ministry of Justice and Minority Rights – Vladimir Leposavic

HEAD OF SERBIAN CHURCH CONTRACTS COVID: Patriarch Irinej, the 90-year-old head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has contracted Covid-19. He led church services last week for Bishop Amfilohije in Montenegro. Many churchgoers were not wearing masks at the funeral. Bishop Amfolohije’s successor, Bishop Joanikije has been diagnosed with pneumonia. Those in attendance included Serbian President, Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik, and Montenegro’s PM-designate Zdravko Kirvokapic.

KOSOVO TO CoE?: Albanian’s FM Gent Cakaj applied for Kosovo’s admission into the Council of Europe at the 130th Ministerial Meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the European Council.

SERBIA + EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION: “The upper house of the Russian parliament ratified a free trade agreement between Serbia and the EurAsian Economic Union on Tuesday, with the agreement taking effect within 60 days after all the member state parliaments ratify it.

The agreement gives goods from Serbia equal treatment on all the markets of the Union and expands the number of products that can be imported without paying customs and raises quotas for limited-quantity goods. It also imposes the obligation of liberalizing mutual trade in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. It was signed by the prime ministers of Serbia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgistan as well as the head of the EurAsian Economic Commission in Moscow on October 25, 2019.  ” (N1)

IN OTHER NEWS

OP-ED: “A second Trump term could bolster like-minded populists and euroskeptics in Montenegro” by Rados Musovic in European Western Balkans

OP-ED: “The power of China’s economic narrative as exploited in the Western Balkans” by Tena Prelec in European Western Balkans

OP-ED: “How Bulgarian bullying against North Macedonia threatens EU enlargement, again” by Florian Bieber in European Western Balkans

OP-ED: “Spelling a Nation’s Name” by Erina Baci in Sapiens: “I’ve been rewriting a grant application that was rejected the first time. The grant does not provide a huge amount of money, but I need it to continue my archaeological research in the Balkans. As an international graduate student at a U.S. university without American citizenship, funding can sometimes be elusive. Determined to be successful this time, I sent my grant proposal to a colleague to look over. One comment stood out: ‘Why do you use Kosova instead of Kosovo? If the reason is political—I would be careful.'”

ANALYSIS: “Serbia gets Washington’s attention as China builds influence in Balkans” by Eduardo Baptisa in The South China Morning Post