WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

BORISSOV ON RELATIONS WITH N. MACEDONIA: PM of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov claims Bulgaria is the strongest EU country supporting N. Macedonia’s EU accession after Germany in an interview with a German news outlet. But he also denies there is a Macedonian minority and urges Skopje to review its history.

  • He said,The only country that wants our neighbor to open negotiations with the EU apart from Germany is Bulgaria.”
  • The Bulgarian added, “There is no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. What Macedonian minority should exist in Bulgaria.”
  • Speaking about WWII, he said, “The Bulgarians there were made to become Macedonian. Suppose during the EU accession negotiations some historic forgeries appear, and I don’t react. In that case, my political adversaries will say – Borisov is selling Bulgarian history and yields to the pressure from the European partners.”


EU ON KOSOVO-SERBIA DIALOGUE
: “In a video conference on Monday, chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, the members of the Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) reviewed Kosovo’s progress on its European path following the publication of the European Commission’s 2020 Report on Kosovo and welcomed Kosovo’s continued strategic commitment to its European path and the EU-facilitated Dialogue with Serbia, the Council statement said.” (N1)

SERBIA + BiH: Speaker of Bosnia’s House of Representatives Nebojsa Radmanovic met with President of the National Assembly of Serbia Ivica Dacic yesterday in Belgrade to discuss bilateral agreements and their EU paths.

  • Radmanovic noted, “It’s very important that we maintain good relations in the region, everyone is aware of that, but we don’t always behave that way. Parliaments are those who can contribute the most to good cooperation between neighbors even when something is not working well on other levels,”
  • He added, “Bosnia and Serbia have a very long border and no agreement on the border has yet been signed, but it’s only a matter of time before it will have to be signed. Work has been done on this issue, but the job is not finished by far.”
  • The Bosnian concluded, “We are bound by a common path towards the EU, which Serbia has made significant progress on while Bosnia is not even a candidate yet and expects to become a candidate every year. We think that we can make new steps forward in this regard in the future.”
  • Meanwhile, Dacic highlighted that “regardless of our disagreements on certain issues from the past, we are prepared to turn to the future and to seek joint interests and work for better cooperation between the peoples and states.”

MONTENEGRO + SERBIA: The Foreign Ministry of Montenegro has stuck with its decision to expel Serbian Ambassador Vladimir Bozovic despite pressure from the EU. Montenegro claims that Bozovic has interfered in local politics. After initially announcing reciprocal measures over the weekend, Serbia decided not to expel Montenegro’s Ambassador to Serbia.

LOCAL KOSOVO ELECTIONS: Special local elections in Kosovo over the weekend in Pudojevo and Serb-dominated North Mitrovica with surprising results in the former.

  • In Pudojevo, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) lost to Vetvendosje after Shpejtim Bulliqi won over 51% of the vote in the first round to become the next mayor of the town. Bulliqi succeeds LDK’s Agim Veliu who was appointed as Interior Minister.
  • Meanwhile, the Serb List continues its dominance of politics in North Mitrovica. The Serb List’s Goran Rakic who is taking a place as Deputy PM will be succeeded by fellow party member Milan Radojevic as mayor.

BOSNIAN ARMED FORCES MARKS 15 YEARS: On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of the Armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Defense Minister Sifet Pozdic highlighted the role the armed forces have played in combatting Covid-19 and participating in peacekeeping missions across the world. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Senad Masovic added that cooperation between the BiH Armed Forces and NATO allies has been increasing.

SERBIA + FRANCE: Serbian FM Nikola Selakovic met with French Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Louis Falconi on Monday to discuss the growing partnership between the two countries and the strong relationship between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

GET WELL SOON!: Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, a day after his wife tested positive for the virus. Plenkovic will continue his duties as PM while self-isolating.

NO BANJA LUKA PRIDE: Banja Luka’s new mayor Drasko Stanivukovic announced Banja Luka will not hold any sort of Pride Parade in the capital of the Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska. He said, “I think that these are values ​​that should not be promoted in that way in the squares. That is not in the spirit of the people to which I belong…I don’t think it should be in Banja Luka, that is my opinion.” And added, “I am sending a human message, one can live normally here.”

SLOVENIA + HEZBOLLAH: Slovenia has officially designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. EU countries have designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as early as 2013.

IN OTHER NEWS

ANALYSIS: “Serbian ‘Interference’ Adds New Twist to Montenegro ‘Coup’ Case” by Samir Kajosevic and Milica Stojanovic in Balkan Insight

ANALYSIS: “North Macedonia’s Digital Paradox – More Information, Less Memory” by Goce Trpovski in Balkan Insight

CULTURE: “Take a Look at Fascinating Footage of Sarajevo from 1920! (video)” in The Sarajevo Times

CULTURE: “Adriatic Café – Taste of the Balkans” by Eva Taucar in Spotted by Locals

TRAVEL: “As EU Closes Doors, BiH Skiing Season Opens, Hopes for Croatian Skiers” by Lauren Simmonds in Total Croatia News