WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey urged the country to increase the number of small and medium size businesses to stimulate the economy and create new jobs.
  • Former Serb minister in Kosovo Ivan Todosijevic was sentenced to two years in jail for inciting ethnic hatred after claiming the Recak/Racak massacre was staged. Todosijevic can appeal the verdict.
  • Serbia had a strong reaction – President Aleksandar Vucic said, “All members of the Srpska List will reiterate the same thing, and I will reiterate now – the crime in Recak was fabricated, when everything was falsified by the world falsifier, thief and vagabond called William Walker.”
  • Meanwhile, Serbia’s Director for the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric agreed with Vucic’s assessment of Recak/Racak and claims that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, outgoing PM Ramush Haradinaj, outgoing FM Behgjet Pacolli, and Ambassador to the US Vlora Citaku “built their careers on lies”
  • In Pristina, charges were brought against Vucic by Tom Gashi, a lawyer who represents families killed in Recak/Racak.
  • Kosovo’s likely prime minister, Albin Kurti, took to Twitter to address Vucic’s denial. He wrote, “He refused to call Srebrenica a genocide, now he denies Reçak’s massacre. He wants to move into a peaceful future without accepting crimes of the past. But genocide, mass-graves and massacres are Serbia’s truth. It’s time for Vucic to start dealing with it.”
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic accepted an invitation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Germany in January.
  • Prime Minister of N. Macedonia Zoran Zaev called VMRO-DPMNE’s initiative to ratify its NATO accession protocol a “deceit” and parliament will wait for Spain to ratify the protocol. In contrast, Montenegro ratified its accession protocol before the Netherlands and Spain ratified it.
  • “During its European Union presidency in the first half of next year Croatia will need to reconcile different interests regarding the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), notably the differences in the views of the European Parliament and the countries that contribute the most to the EU budget, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said after meeting with European Parliament President David Sassoli in Zagreb on Thursday.” (N1)
  • Slovenia’s Speaker of Parliament Dejan Zidan is in Germany today for informal meetings to discuss Slovenia’s role in the EU presidency in the second half of 2021.
  • Meanwhile, Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Miro Cerar is visiting troops today and tomorrow in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
  • Ukrainian Ambassador to Serbia Oleksandr Aleksandrovych condemned the visit of Crimean officials of the Russian Duma to Serbia where they met with members of the far-right Dveri party and ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj’s party. Aleksandrovych said, “Our two countries have a friendly relationship, and I hope that in the future there won’t be such provocations against our two countries.” He added, “On one hand, I’m glad that no one from Serbia’s authorities met the representatives of the so-called ‘Republic of Crimea.’ On the other, we don’t understand that the visit to Serbia which supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine, was allowed.”
  • Meanwhile, NATO Deputy Secretary General James Appathurai said the alliance respects Serbia’s military neutrality, but  “we would appreciate if Serbia’s leaders and media would inform the public more about how much the country cooperates with the West, and how much the West helps Serbia. That is not always known. We would like to have better communication.”
  • There has been no progress in the N. Macedonia-Bulgaria joint historical commission. Most notably, it could not agree on the identity of Goce Delchev who is celebrated in both countries.
  • The Serb National Council in Croatia put up billboards in Cyrillic with slogans from presidential candidates Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Zoran Milanovic, and Miroslav Skoro.
  • Chairman of the Croatian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Miro Kovac hopes Albania and N. Macedonia will open EU accession talks in the first half of 2020 which coincides with Croatia’s EU presidency.
  • Peter Handke, who will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, described a question he received about recognizing the Srebrenica Genocide as a “calligraphy of sh*t.” He continued, “I tell you, I prefer the anonymous letter with toilet paper inside to your empty and ignorant questions.”
  • The head of the Srebrenica Memorial Center Emir Suljagic said his organization would work to discredit the Nobel Peace Prize permanently. He said, “The Nobel Prize is a prize that canonizes an author. The Swedish Academy has canonized an author whose works promote the denial of genocide. The Swedish Academy has canonized the denial of genocide.”
  • Kosovo will boycott the award ceremony over Handke’s award.
  • The Turkish citizen who was arrested in Bosnia, Fatih Keskin, has been described a national security threat, according to his legal team. Keskin was the head of a Gulen school and has been living in Bosnia for 20 years.
  • Protests against Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic entered their second year over the weekend. There was violence between plain clothes police and the 1 in 5 million protesters.
  • Serbia signed a contract with U.S.-Turkish consortium, Bechtel-Enka, to build the Morava corridor to join the Corridor 10 and ‘Milos Veliki’.
  • The air in Sarajevo ranked second in the world for most polluted capital. Delhi, India edged out the Bosnian capital.
  • KOSOVO SPECIALIST CHAMBERS: Former Kosovo Liberation Army commanderNehat Basha, has been summoned to The Hague.
  • CRIME: Bosnian-born Aleksija Vrcar was arrested in Sydney, Australia for trying to bring $300 million worth of the drug ice into the country. Police raided her home and seized $650,000 in cash, over four pounds of ecstacy, and three firearms.
  • MIGRANTS: The Vucjak migrant camp near Bihac, BiH, described as horrid and shameful,  will be closed by the end the week. Migrants will move to the Blazuj barracks outside of Sarajevo, though many migrants wish to stay closer the Croatian border. There are more than 4,000 people in refugee and asylum centers throughout Serbia.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • HUMAN INTEREST: “Clinton man turns 100 on same day great-grandson turns 1” by in the South Whidbey Record (Washington): “Ivan ‘John’ Samuel Bozin smiles as his great-grandson crawls onto his lap during a birthday celebration for both of them Thursday at the Clinton home he shares with family members. John turned 100. Little Rahi Sanyal turned 1 years old.’He wants to play,’ John observes, as the squirrely toddler struggles to sit still in his great-grandfather’s lap. John lapses into Croatian as he holds the child fondly. Born on the tiny island of Rava in Croatia, John immigrated to America with his parents and brother in 1929. Ninety years later, he lives on Whidbey with his son, Rob, and his daughter-in-law, Tricia.”
  • TRAVEL: The Sunday Times, the oldest newspaper in the UK, profiles the rise of luxury travel and real estate investment in Montenegro.