WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE BALKANS TODAY

  • Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and Justice Minister Drazen Bosnjakovic are in Washington DC this week. Bosnjakovic met US Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday to sign agreements on mutual legal assistance and extraditions. Bozinovic is to meet US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on an unspecified day and will meet on Friday with State Department officials.
  • Attorney General Barr noted, “I commend the negotiators from our countries for their work on U.S.-Croatia law enforcement cooperation agreements, and for expeditiously preparing these texts for signature before Croatia begins its EU presidency next month… The instruments will further strengthen our bilateral law-enforcement relationship, improving the ability to extradite fugitives and exchange evidence needed for prosecutions.”
  • “The US embassy in Belgrade told Insajder, the independent production, that the embassy had several times clearly informed Serbia’s Government about Washington’s concerns which were the topic of the latest Treasury Department press release with the list of companies and individuals who were sanctioned for corruption, including the associates of Slobodan Tesic, who ‘directly or indirectly worked for him or on his behalf,’ N1 reported on Wednesday.” (N1)
  • Croatian Defense Minsiter Damir Krsticevic told reporters that the Armed Forces is to receive four more Black Hawk helicopters – two donated by the United States and two purchased by Croatia. Krsticevic remarked, “The Black Hawk helicopter is a powerful tool that would serve us to fulfill all three HV missions to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity, participate in international missions and operations, and assist civilian institutions and other bodies, which it actually is.”
  • Kosovo President Hashim Thaci slates December 24 for a constitutive session of the new parliament after elections were held on October 6.
  • But election winner, Vetvendosje, and its coalition partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), have yet to come to an agreement. The leaders of the two parties, Albin Kurti and Isa Mustafa, will continue intense dialogue to form a government.
  • Thaci took to Twitter to comment on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, “Messages from Belgrade that we have to compromise without recognition of Republic of Kosovo are provocations. Independence of Kosovo IS a compromise. Dialogue only possible on a principle: two countries recognizing each other as equal neighbors, moving twd Euro-Atlantic family.”
  • Croatian presidential elections – For the first time in twenty years, there will be no debate between candidates prior to the first round presidential on December 22.
  • President of N. Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski predicts his country will join NATO in the first three months of January. Spain is the last country of the alliance to ratify N. Macedonia’s accession protocol, but is currently without a government.
  • Meanwhile, N. Macedonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared a new draft law on rules and regulations to become an ambassador. It states that 80% of ambassadors must come from the career ranks which includes 15 years experience and 5 in a managerial role. Non-career diplomats appointed as ambassadors must have higher education and 15 years experience in related fields with 4 years in a managerial role.
  • Bosnian Serb Member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik spoke on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the formation of the government.
  • Meanwhile, Croatian FM Gordan Grlic Radman was in Ankara meeting with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to speak about the EU’s relation with Turkey ahead of its EU Presidency in 2020. Grlic Radman said, “The European Union and Turkey must continue an open dialogue on many important topics. Croatia will certainly continue to push for a constructive dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and Turkey, and in that sense Turkey can rest assured that it will have a true mediator.”
  • Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic finished his trip to Greece by meeting PM Alexis Tsiparas. The two noted their great relationship. Meanwhile, Vucic said Serbia supports Greece’s territorial integrity and rights in the Mediterranean which is currently being contested by Turkey.
  • “(Slovenian) Foreign Minister Miro Cerar advocated that rules be put in place for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), as he participated at the conference Advocating Human Rights in the 21st Century in Berlin on Tuesday. He also held bilateral meetings with German and Canadian counterparts.” (Slovenia Times)
  • Bosnian Security Minister Dragan Mektic says that the two Nigerian ping pong players  illegally sent to  Bosnia by Croatian police will return to Nigeria. He added, “They expressed a lot of fear of returning to Croatia, saying they could experience more abuse there and that they fear for their lives.”
  • After resigning as the head of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (KIA), Shpend Maxhuni has returned to the Kosovo Police where he previously served as general director.
IN OTHER NEWS…
  • ANALYSIS: “Baseless Clinton Conspiracy Theory Still Circulating” by Saranac Hale Spencer in Factcheck.org: “A Macedonian website is peddling a baseless Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory that has amassed tens of thousands of shares on Facebook. The story implies that Clinton was involved in the deaths of two Baltimore-area law enforcement officers, and makes the unfounded claim that they were scheduled to testify against her.”
  • SPORT: The NBA’s Golden State Warriors recalled Serbian rookie Alen Smailagic from its G-League affiliate.