WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Governor of Wyoming Mark Gordan and First Lady of Wyoming Jennie Gordon spent their Thanksgiving visiting the Wyoming National Guard across the world over a five day trip. Their first stop was to visit C Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment in Kosovo. The governor noted, “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to personally thank our service members for their work in ensuring the safety and security of those of us back home. I understand that this can be a challenging time of year for our soldiers to be separated from their families. Jennie and I wanted to let them know that the sacrifices they and their families are enduring are not going unrecognized.”
  • The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, thinks one of the biggest errors in European diplomacy was not preventing the Yugoslav wars. He also noted that he understood he may not be the most welcome man in Pristina since his native country, Spain, does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
  • Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is on his way to Serbia to meet with counterpart Aleksandar Vucic. The Belarusian president’s press service said the two will discuss increasing economic cooperation, investment opportunities, and the global political arena. The Belarusian-Serbian Business Forum is today and contracts worth $100 million for Belarusian goods to be exported to Serbia are expected to be signed.
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski noted, “I shall mention the wheelchair access, the roads for visually impaired persons, literature using Braille Alphabet, translations for the people that are deaf and dumb. It is true that there is advancement and that many institutions and organizations are removing these obstacles, but as a state there is a long road and a lot of work ahead of us,” on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
  • There was no breakthrough on Monday after Vetvendosje leader Albin Kurti and Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafi met to discuss the formation of the government.
  • Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met with Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic on his first day of a two day official visit to prepare for the December 17th meeting between the two governments.
  • The government of Serb-dominated entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska (RS), are preparing plans for the December 9th Day of Republika Srpska which was deemed illegal by the Constitutional Court of BiH because it falls on the same day as the entity’s patron saint, St. Stephen, and is therefore discriminatory to non-Serbs in RS.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of N. Macedonia is drafting a law to modernize the ministry and reflect European policies.  The Unique National Electronic Registry of Regulations (ENER) said, ““The goal of the new law is to reform the diplomatic service towards modernization and professionalization, and drawing it near the modern European diplomatic services”
  • Meanwhile, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin visited Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen yesterday in Oslo. Vulin reiterated Serbia’s longstanding policy of military neutrality. He said, “Serbia will continue its policy of military neutrality and does not want to become a member of any military alliance but certainly wants to and can preserve its independence and sovereignty and guarantee peace in the entire Balkans by becoming stronger.”
  • Opposition leader Davor Bernardic slammed Education Minister Blazenka Divjak and PM Andrej Plenkovic for the “chaos in education.” He also said it was a priority of his party, the Social Democratic Party, to get kids back in school as soon as possible.
  • Meanwhile, Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic says that “Croatia will be in the green” by budgeting 2% of GDP by 2024 for defense in accordance with NATO guidelines. Croatia will increase its defense spending by 40% from this year to 2024 to reach the 2% mark. Krsticevic and Plenkovic will be at the NATO Summit in London today and tomorrow.
  • “Two external members of the Nobel literature prize committee have quit after criticising the Swedish Academy. Gun-Britt Sundstrom said the choice of Peter Handke as this year’s winner had been interpreted as if literature stood above politics and she did not agree. The choice of Handke was criticised because of his vocal support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war. Kristoffer Leandoer said he’d left due to Academy reforms taking too long following a sexual assault scandal.” (BBC News)
  • Montenegrin parliamentarians are calling for Petar Petrovic Negos’ birthday, November 13, to be declared a national holiday. Njegos is Montenegro’s most famous poet.
  • “A Canadian company looking to build a mine in North Macedonia has hired a British consultant whose firm is registered in Malta to run an advocacy campaign in Washington. Robert Winstanley of Halcyon Associates will reach out to American ‘media, politicians and civil servants’ on behalf of Euromax Resources, a Canadian company, according to a Justice Department disclosure filing. Euromax is seeking to build a copper and gold mine in North Macedonia. Winstanley is based in London, but Halcyon Associates was set up last year in Malta, according to disclosures.” (Politico Influence)
  • “USAID has helped BiH women move from the margins of society into the world of entrepreneurship. Vesna can afford her children’s school expenses thanks to money she earns gathering and selling herbs in Kalinovik. Sanela provides high-quality schooling in Teslić and employs six of her fellow citizens. Sanja is healing hearts at her own counseling center in Konjic.” (Sarajevo Times)
  • But Security Minister Dragan Mektic found the approval “shocking” because they will not know which people are actually returning to the country.
  • ENERGYBosnia’s Foreign Trade Minister Mirko Sarovic believes his country should be a gas transit country. He will attend the first meeting of the Bosnian-Russian energy working group with Russian Ambassador to BiH Peter Ivantsov.
  • ENERGY: Meanwhile, the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is near completion. TANAP is set to bring Caspian gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey and Greece before reaching a connector Fier, Albania. The TAP will run from Fier to Italy. Meanwhile, the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) is set to go north from Fier through Montenegro and Bosnia before reaching Split, Croatia.
  • ENERGY: “Kosovo will join Albania’s power grid from next April under a deal signed on Monday, ending decades of dependence on Serbia’s grid. There was no immediate reaction from Serbian grid operator EMS after the deal was signed in Tirana by Kosovo’s grid operator, KOSTT, and the Albanian operator, OST.” (Reuters)
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: The hearing for the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Kadri Veseli, at The Hague has been moved back to December 10th. Most recently, he served as Speaker of the Parliament until the October 6 elections.
  • CRIME: Kosovo has brought up charges against six Serbs for the assassination of Kosovo Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic. Meanwhile the trial of former Kosovo  Kosovo Minister of Local Government Administration, Ivan Todosijevic, began today in Pristina for “inciting national, racial, religious hatred, restlessness or intolerance” after his comments on the Racak massacre.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • OP-ED: “Wings of Denial” by Adnan Delalic in Mangal Media: “That photo says it all. Peter Handke on genocide safari in Srebrenica, mere months after the unspeakable crime. The great white European poet is front and centre, blocking the view of the Cyrillic town sign he presumably can’t read. In the background, we see some people, a car, an industrial plant, houses and hills (and the watermark of the Austrian National Library).”
  • HUMAN INTEREST: “Book of Sorrows: Kosovo War Rape Survivors Tell Their Stories” by Serbeze Haxhiaj in BIRN: “A new book tells the traumatic stories of 24 women and one man who were subjected to sexual violence during the 1998-99 Kosovo war, in an attempt to tackle the stigma surrounding wartime rape.”
  • HUMAN INTEREST: “USAID has helped BiH women move from the margins of society into the world of entrepreneurship. Vesna can afford her children’s school expenses thanks to money she earns gathering and selling herbs in Kalinovik. Sanela provides high-quality schooling in Teslić and employs six of her fellow citizens. Sanja is healing hearts at her own counseling center in Konjic.” (Sarajevo Times)